I can always count on Gabrielle Williams for a fun story set in the Melbourne I know. Well, close to it at least, since her latest, The Guy, the Girl,I can always count on Gabrielle Williams for a fun story set in the Melbourne I know. Well, close to it at least, since her latest, The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex is set in the early 1980's, A time when an activist group, the Australian Capital Terrorists, managed to steal and replace a Picasso painting -- The Weeping Woman -- at the National Gallery of Victoria with an exact replica to protest against cuts to arts funding.
Using a true event as the backdrop, Williams has created young, impulsive, conflicted characters through four very distinct and interesting point of views, from Rafi, the studious year 12 student, to Penny, the 22 year old ex of Luke (the focused artist) and mother of his child, and lastly Guy, opposite in achievements to Rafi, nonchalant and a self-appointed hacky sack champion. They're all wonderfully crafted to tell this tale of art, love and loss in 1980s Melbourne. The characters were linked together in the narrative masterfully, proving that Gabrielle Williams is going from strength to strength in her storytelling.
This is a fast read for an older teen crowd, verging on new adult but not quite there. This is truly Williams's best yet and with two more companion novels to come, I can only see the stories becoming wilder and larger and just, well, more Melbourne-er.
From page one I was hooked in this tale of adventure through time across a changing world.
Having followed Snyder's work with Batman and Swamp Thing, aFrom page one I was hooked in this tale of adventure through time across a changing world.
Having followed Snyder's work with Batman and Swamp Thing, as well as listened to him speak at a panel at San Diego Comic Con 2014, I decided to read his limited series with Vertigo, The Wake, especially with its award-winning status at Eisner 2014. And I didn't expect anything less. I am currently reading his Image series, Wytches, issue by issue, and I now will order myself American Vampire volumes to the current story arc. Because Snyder's writing inspires me, it always conveys an enormity in character and emotions and worlds, from Batman all the way to Leeward.
The art by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth is remarkable.
This work was just... incredibly satisfying....more
Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty is for fans of Rick Riordan’s humour and adventures (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), with the dark wit and horror elementDarkmouth by Shane Hegarty is for fans of Rick Riordan’s humour and adventures (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), with the dark wit and horror elements of Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant) and the fantasy of Joseph Delaney (The Spook’s Apprentice). It's a brilliantly imaginative and exciting, monster-hunting, scare-your-socks-off adventure, which definitely marks Irish author Shane Hegarty as a new voice for younger readers.
Finn has descended from a line of Legend Hunters, protectors of the world against monsters with nothing more than the need to destroy it. But, you see, Finn isn’t the best Legend Hunter, despite the fifty generations before him of Legend Hunters in his town of Darkmouth. With help in training from his father and a friendship with the new girl Emmie, Finn succeeds through all the perilous, monster-sized obstacles in his way.
Pretty much the generic starting point, but what Shane Hegarty does with this dilemma is fresh, and the wit of the writing as well as the wonderfully drawn black and white sketches by James de la Rue kept me intrigued in the story from the get-go. Darkmouth is a brilliant start in a new series, great for ages 9 to 12....more
These kinds of stories are ultimately my favourite, psychologically haunting, sentimentally different, reflective and wise. Alice and the Fly is a nicThese kinds of stories are ultimately my favourite, psychologically haunting, sentimentally different, reflective and wise. Alice and the Fly is a nicely crafted yet ambitious debut novel by James Rice, stylistically written in a tell-all diary format by Greg, a boy plagued by fears of Them, of spiders, plagued by loneliness, plagued by his obsessive teenage devotion to her – Alice, to whom he writes to. Greg makes you see, because what happens then when you don't?
Anxieties. Fears. Desires. Mental illness. Greg presents the bleak side of life, even if he doesn't want to share about them himself. By the time I reached the first police interview transcript I was pulled into the web of perception and mystery.
Andrew Smith is an inspiration as a storyteller to me.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith was a standout novel in 2014, regardless of its youngAndrew Smith is an inspiration as a storyteller to me.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith was a standout novel in 2014, regardless of its young adult categorisation. With a film in development and Edgar Wright attached as director, it will surely become a cult classic in years to come. Now, in 2015, Andrew Smith brings us The Alex Crow the story of fifteen-year-old Ariel, a Syrian refugee living with the Burgess family in West Virginia. Ariel, along with Max, his adoptive brother, is sent off to Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys, a summer camp where technology is void and interactions are key. Not that Ariel and Max are addicted to technology... but their inventor father is just making the most of the perks involved in being a researcher for the company involved in the Alex Project.
Simultaneous with flashbacks of Ariel's village under attack to arriving in America, two other narratives come alive: Arctic explorers venture into the unknown aboard a ship called the Alex Crow in the 1800s in one, uncertain of failure or success, while the other details the chronicles of the "melting man", a schizophrenic character with voices in his head compelling him to commit various violent acts. There's also mention of Alex, a talking robotic crow, owned by the Burgess'.
Despite the present near-future setting mixed with the historical period of the 1800s, The Alex Crow is a multi-faceted human story. Ultimately, it is about the failure of male-dominated societies and their misguided attempts at success, where compassion is mistaken for control, in navigational and scientific adventures and discoveries. On a thematic level, just like Grasshopper Jungle, The Alex Crow makes you think. The US publisher has promoted Smith's latest novels under the 'Keep YA Weird' banner, and they surely are weird and witty and smart.
If you're new to Andrew Smith, I'd say begin with 100 Sideways Miles and then move onto Grasshopper Jungle and The Alex Crow. After that then read The Marbury Lens, Winger, and Stick. And then In the Path of Falling Objects, Ghost Medicine and Passenger. Oh, fuck it! Just read them all....more
Davina Bell's The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade was so good that I've put my name on it for my March Book of the Month at work, and consequently, willDavina Bell's The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade was so good that I've put my name on it for my March Book of the Month at work, and consequently, will follow Allison Colpoys because of her illustrations and the desire for her to illustrate my picture book(s) if I ever do get one published. I just love this picture book, the colours used and the technique shown....more
If you needed closure after Winger, or thought there was more to Ryan Dean West's story at Pine Mountain, Stand-Off will help you with both of those lIf you needed closure after Winger, or thought there was more to Ryan Dean West's story at Pine Mountain, Stand-Off will help you with both of those like a passionate social worker.
It is grievous and pitying, but also hot and incredible and funny, packed with heart and TSEs.
It illustrates the strengths of old and new relationships, whether they be of love or mateship, to help us through dark times, to help us become happier, more free, and to realise that we cannot remain alone to deal with our thoughts and feelings forever.
What I find sensational is that Stand-Off, two years on from Winger, still has exactly the same voice (of Ryan Dean), a style that is considerably different to the novels that have come between the two, such as The Alex Crow or 100 Sideways Miles or Grasshopper Jungle. Andrew Smith understands the power of voice to craft entirely likeable and distinct characters.
What I find depressing, however, is that I have to wait a bit longer for Andrew's next book donation in this reality. But what helps is that the electronic proof had partially completed comics, so I'll just have to do a re-read upon release with a stunning finished copy in my hands. ...more
The Great Zoo of China is out on Monday (November 10). Need a break from your emotional and thought-provoking reads, a la Narrow Road to the Deep NortThe Great Zoo of China is out on Monday (November 10). Need a break from your emotional and thought-provoking reads, a la Narrow Road to the Deep North? Get Matthew Reilly's newest offering: an action-packed, blockbuster-styled, dragon-infested thrill-ride from beginning to end, in the vein of Jurassic Park with some thematic ties to King Kong (while crushing the cuteness-factor of Dreamworks' 'How To Train Your Dragon' in the process). CJ, our heroine, is a ripper warrior, always questioning, always fighting on.
Matthew Reilly is back, bigger and badder than before!
An early readers' copy was provided by the publisher via my work as a bookseller....more
Best adult fiction novel I've read all year. Named my October book of the month. And listed in my top ten for Christmas.
I guess having travelled on mBest adult fiction novel I've read all year. Named my October book of the month. And listed in my top ten for Christmas.
I guess having travelled on my own for three plus months just this year (in the US) I related. Perhaps it was the family on the brink of extinction that I related to, having experienced and endured my parents' separation and divorce (in my second year of high school) and then a few relationships from then that didn't survive; the unestablished relationship between Douglas and his son, Albie; the journeys of discovering the self.
As someone who felt as though Douglas, Connie and Albie were parts of a whole – or me – was surprising.
This book will remain beside my DVD of 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', and my shelf of travel guides and art and inspiration, and things that make me endeavour to search for my purpose in this life, to venture into the unknown, to try new things, to still be careful but even more adventurous than before.
Eli Glasman's debut novel is just what the Australian contemporary young adult scene needs. It's diversity in its main character Yossi – Jewish-born aEli Glasman's debut novel is just what the Australian contemporary young adult scene needs. It's diversity in its main character Yossi – Jewish-born and gay - will make it fit perfectly alongside such novels as Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil and The First Third by Will Kostakis (both 2014 CBCA shortlisters by the way). There's no preaching about Judaism or any shoving of Yossi's sexuality down your throat - everything is done respectfully to both communities. Instead of disregarding aspects of the Jewish culture, The Boy's Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew teaches you but also subtly questions elements of the religion, the errors of conformity and the freedom inherent in individuality. At 170 or so pages this book is a quick read and its straight-to-the-point plot helps....more
Saga gets progressively better in complexity and world-building, but despite this third story arc doing just that it also was lacking in meat. If anytSaga gets progressively better in complexity and world-building, but despite this third story arc doing just that it also was lacking in meat. If anything this ties in with the second volume as it interweaves and shows the other side and characters to what volume 2 had shown. Nevertheless, there were some great moments in this book and as always the art and colouring are engrossing beautiful.
Now I guess I can collect in monthly issues....more
I must admit, after everyone saying to start the New 52 Green Arrow from #17, I had to obey word, and, boAnd that's how you write and artify a comic!
I must admit, after everyone saying to start the New 52 Green Arrow from #17, I had to obey word, and, boy, was I glad I did. I knew who Oliver Queen basically was, so getting into the series from #17 was done with ease and satisfaction. The entire arc was fantastic!
2014 is the year of good fantasy, and Jen Williams’s The Copper Promise (previously available as novellas from Headline) has started the year off with2014 is the year of good fantasy, and Jen Williams’s The Copper Promise (previously available as novellas from Headline) has started the year off with a ba– … with a dragon. Williams’s published debut novel is a classic fantasy quest story, and thanks to the novellas, there’s a “cliffhanger” after every quarter that makes you eager to read what happens next.
In The Copper Promise there’s crippled Lord Frith, whose family was slain and castle ravaged, and so, on a quest to reclaim his castle and seek vengeance, he employs Wydrin (The Copper Cat) and Sebastian (The Ynnsmouth Knight), leading them to the Citadel with promise of gold and riches. But unbeknownst to the mercenaries, Frith has his own plans, with a desire to regain his strength and earn the powers he needs to defeat his foes. However, Frith’s plans go awry when he unleashes a dragon (and subsequently her brood of daughters) upon the world, a God hiding beneath the Citadel. The trio must then fulfil and play a greater role in their world that none of them had foreseen.
George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is driven forward by the characters of the story rather than the plot. In fantasy, personally, there’s no story without there being developed characters that you can find an attachment to, that you would want to read about, hoping for the length of the book and series that your favourite characters don’t die – tough luck, Ned Stark! What Williams gets remarkably right in The Copper Promise is the characters of Frith, Wydrin and Sebastian, all so different yet so much alike, relatable and developed. Each of those three become tied into this quest together and then must conquer it together. Throughout all of it they each have their own arcs to realise and make right.
There’s also griffins in The Copper Promise, and you know how much I love griffins in fantasy. Oh, yeah, and dragons – but griffins!
Though I’m thinking I may have enjoyed this novel much more when it was previously released in four novellas. For me, the narrative wound down in the final third of the book, when it should have picked up. Perhaps that is because each novella took their own time to build momentum to a whopping cliff of an ending. I found myself getting restless at times, but thankfully the ending had made it up, and now I’m eager to see what quest Williams puts Frith, Wydrin, and Sebastian on next.
So if you’re a fan of quest fantasy (a la The Hobbit) then The Copper Promise will be that adventurous, perilous, and rewarding journey that you’re frothing for.