Tuesday, November 29, 2011

some books i read

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet is a brave and intelligent coming-of-age story in the Cold War Era. Clem is a council flat boy. Frankie is the wild(ish) daughter of a wealthy local landowner. They shouldn't be together but can't keep apart. But meanwhile the shadow of nuclear warfare and the Cold War looms and threatens. Indeed, we spend chapters with JFK as he botches the Bay of Pigs and tries to decide what the heck to do about Russian nukes in Cuba. It might take you time to get into it, you may at times think come on come on, get back to Clem and Frankie, but by the explosive end you'll be left reeling and want to start again immediately. The aftershocks will continue for days.

The Montmaray books by Michelle Cooper, A Brief History of Montmaray and The FitzOsbornes In Exile. Oh joy! What a wonderful discovery, even if I wasn't the first to land upon these rocky, historical fictiony shores. Sophie lives on the island of Montmaray, a tiny sovereign nation not too far from the coast of Spain with her eccentric family - frighteningly intelligent cousin Veronica, uncle King John who has become increasingly loopy, cheeky tomboy sister Henry and a smattering of villagers. Her brother Tom is in England, being educated, and their Aunt Charlotte has summoned Sophie and Veronica to be debuted. But it is 1936 and the world is a-rumbling with changes: Spain is having a civil war and in Germany a man called Hitler is threatening to invade Poland and Czechoslovakia and both of these things will impact on Montmaray. This book is told through Sophie's journal entries, in her engaging, amusing, intelligent voice and with wonderful observation, humour and humanity. It's full of literary, historical and political references, and just a little bit of talk about frocks and froufrou. You must, must read both.

And Jasper Fforde's Song of the Quarkbeast - The magical, adventure-filled and hilarious sequel to The Last Dragonslayer. Kazam is being challenged by iMagic, their magic company competition and whoever wins will be favoured by the King and have the monopoly on magic. They might even be able to get the mobile phone network back up. Our non-magic, foundling heroine Jennifer Strange just knows there is something more devious going on with the Amazing Blix, the king of the unUnited Kingdom...and just where and when will Kazam's missing manager the Great Zambini appear next to give them all some much-needed advice? Plus, should she go on a date with Youthful Perkins? Surges of magic that can send oak trees flying. Trolls out to rid their homes of human vermin ("here person person person"). A sneaky Quarkbeast looking for its other half. Big Magic, small magic, flying carpets, old grudges, new possibilities. It's explosive. Literally. Just read it - your sides will split with laughter and magic.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

here comes the sun

'Kate!' I hear you saying. 'What are you doing? Why no blog?' And here's me, just a-shruggin' and mumbling, 'I dunno, stuff, work, reading, summer, I dunno whatevs. Anyway, you're not my real mum!'

Here are some of the things I've been reading and watching and listening to and being generally inspired by lately:

Forever YA posted a list of the top ten british shows you could be watching, which made me laugh and reminisce. And I pop Misfits on there as the eleventh show for being hilarious and badass...and in a large part due to this scene (warning: bad swears! and spoilers!) and also the brilliantly anachronistic Ashes to Ashes for DCI Gene Hunt and all the blue eyeshadow and amazing music.

Also, one of my favourite anonymous and inspiring bloggers - The Intern - has outed herself and, extra-excitingly, has a YA book on the way.

And I still can't stop looking at the ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS.

I've been secondhand book shopping at Lost and Found in Brunswick:

Read as much as you can, and write. Keep notebooks. Be open to everything in the world. Don't give up. Tenacity is the most valuable asset for a writer.
This is a quote from an interview with Joanne Horniman here. I keep it on the wall next to Kerouac's Rules for Spontaneous Prose. I may be failing NaNoWriMo but am practicing tenacity.

The George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World by Martin Scorsese was a four hour cinema experience (including interval) that I hope you didn't miss (though I think you have, but just get the DVD). It is a fabulous look into his life, the contradictions in his personality and his relationship to death and dying. The music, the drugs, the religion. His beautiful son...

Then watch this scene from A Hard Day's Night. It is a hilarious and curious little jibe...maybe even relevant to today's hipsters, hmm? I challenge you not to laugh at lines like "the new thing is to care passionately and be right-wing".

I am also trying to read Haruki Murakami's new book 1Q84. But I'm worried I will drop it on my face while I'm reading in bed and it will kill me with its weighty tome-ness.

Last, but not least, our favorite Witty Waiter down at A Minor Place recorded this song, Against the Grain, and a guy called Dropbear has made this incredible stopmotion video to go along with it. Pencils! What a mad dog. Enjoy.

Hudson - Against The Grain from Dropbear on Vimeo.

Friday, November 11, 2011

early harvest

New from the kooky and brilliant brains behind the Pigeons Project (the very talented and good looking Jenna and Lachlann) comes early harvest. It's a literary magazine written and edited by kids. Kids! With the help of harvest's Davina Bell and community development worker Emma Hewitt, as well as Jenna and Lachlann, these kids spent the last few months learning all about calling for submissions, editing, publishing, marketing...and just look at what they've done!

I went in to have a chat with the editorial board fairly early on and we discussed things from a broad bookselling point of view: what makes a book look good (ie. how to judge a book by its cover), the process of getting a book from publisher to store, starting to think about the blurb and a good sales pitch - and pricing. I think the pricing might have been the most exciting part of our session...

The final product is in stores now and it looks a.m.a.z.i.n.g. And it reads e.x.c.e.l.l.e.n.t.l.y. I am so impressed and pleased and excited!

Come along to the launch tomorrow at the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville. It's all on at 11am in the foyer of the Sun Theatre. Come and meet the gang and hear some reading from the mag. It's going to be a gas - launched by Sally Rippin!

Visit the Pigeons Project website.

Monday, November 7, 2011

graffiti luna

cath crowley's graffiti moon is now available in italy, all translated into the italian for italian YAs to read as they're eating pizza and gelato, riding on vespas and drinking caffe latte.

<-- here be the cover! (i love it)

and the blurb:

Cinque minuti¿ anche stasera l'ha mancato per soli cinque minuti. Da mesi Lucy insegue Shadow, il più originale, inventivo e misterioso writer di Melbourne. Nessuno lo ha mai visto, ma tutti parlano di lui. Nessuno sa chi sia, tranne Poet, l'amico che dà i titoli ai suoi murales. Lucy sa che Shadow è il ragazzo giusto: geniale, creativo e appassionato di arte come lei, ed è decisa a incontrarlo. Solo Ed sa dove si trova e, anche se è l'ultimo ragazzo con cui vorrebbe passare il suo tempo, Lucy accetta di seguirlo in una folle notte di scorribande, confidenze e rivelazioni sotto i cieli azzurri che ricoprono i muri della città.

i don't speak so much of the italian, and i'm procrastinating, so i put it through an online translator:

Five minutes ¿even tonight he missed just five minutes. For months, Lucy chases Shadow, the most original, inventive and mysterious writer in Melbourne. No one has ever seen, but everyone talks about him. No one knows who he is, except for Poet, the friend who gives the titles to his murals. Lucy knows that Shadow is the right guy: brilliant, creative and passionate about art as you, and is determined to meet him. And only he knows where he is and, even if it's the last guy you would want to spend his time, Lucy agrees to follow him into a crazy night of raids, secrets and revelations in the blue skies that cover the walls of the city.

if you want to buy an italian version you can do so here.
if you don't own the australian version then head on down to your local independent bookshop. preferably this one.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

chapter by chapter

The Mask of Destiny, Richard Newsome (Text) - The Billionaire's Curse Trilogy winds up in this third installment that hurls Gerald (and trusty sidekicks Sam and Ruby) from London to France, to Italy and Greece. Gerald's on the lam because that nefarious Sir Mason Greene DIES during his court case and our man Gerald is BLAMED. Ye gads! He can't access his billions! There's danger and action galore - including an excellent bike chase through Paris - and a lot of mayhem and mysteries and myths. The final showdown is set in the most remarkable place and I wish I could give it away to you all. Feast for the imagination. I loved this whole series to bits.

Darius Bell and the Crystal Bees, Odo Hirsch (A&U) - the sequel to the CBCA-Book-of-the-Year-winning Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool is a ripper. Are you as worried as I am about all the bees dying? I actually think about it a lot. Oh my, oh my. But in Darius' world the bees dying brings problems closer to home - if the plants in the kitchen garden are not pollinated then the gardener, Mr Fisher, and his family won't have any plants to garden and will have to leave. Also, there will be no honey! The Mayor doesn't give two hoots, but Darius just may be able to concoct a plan - so long as there's a great swarm of helper-outers at the ready. This is beautiful and fun and community minded. Top stuff for 9+.