This book is a memoir. It reads unlike a memoir. When people say we read to find ourselves (in fictional characters and universes), I can say I've fouThis book is a memoir. It reads unlike a memoir. When people say we read to find ourselves (in fictional characters and universes), I can say I've found a real somebody to relate to, who has actually experienced what I have experienced, who makes me realise now that I am most definitely not the only one with particular thoughts due to particular teenage situations.
David Burton's memoir is ultimately a story about identity and relationships, and the internal struggles we experience when those two variables – which we try to ground during our teenage years to fit in and find our place – change. Burton lets teens know that although these years may be difficult or stressful, if they just give themselves room to grow and be open to new experiences they will eventually come out of it happier and optimistic. If various things become unclear or become a massive clusterf**k, that the 'things' will align at unsuspecting times.
We all deserve to be happy. And David Burton proves that. How To Be Happy is truly a marvellous memoir for teens. It's not about a celebrity. It's not about a YouTube star. And that's what made it truly unique.
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 because of 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 Artist) and mother of his child, and lastly Guy, opposite in achievements to Rafi, nonchalant and 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....more
In her third novel Cloudwish, Fiona Wood introduces the reader to Van Uoc Phan, who loses a glass vial with the word 'wish' trapped inside, a prompt hIn her third novel Cloudwish, Fiona Wood introduces the reader to Van Uoc Phan, who loses a glass vial with the word 'wish' trapped inside, a prompt her creative-writing teacher gave her class to write about. Her teacher guarantees that Van Uoc will find it, but she remains distracted over the vial's disappearance, especially when she has a liking for Billy, a boy who wouldn't be into a Vietnamese-Australian girl like herself. Her Bronte obsession forces her to ask herself what Jane Eyre would do in particular situations. Then somehow she captures Billy's attention, and the two hurdle their school and home environments to find themselves and each other.
Cloudwish is not only a sweet, heart-melting Romeo and Juliet-styled romance set in Melbourne, but it is a book that uses identity as a theme to reflect on political issues pervasive in Australian culture, for example, immigrants and 'boat people'. Giving Van Uoc a family of the immigrant nature adds another layer to the story – the pressures Van Uoc must deal with to do the best that she can do in her studies and be the best that she can be because of the sacrifices and choices her parents made for a better life. Cloudwish also touches on the effects emigration has on someone's health, with Van Uoc tending to her mother's needs as her health declines.
Wood has written another beautiful novel to stand alongside Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. The three are linked, but ultimately present three individual stories about Australian teen/young adult experiences in a genuine, delightful and relatable manner. Fans of Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi will see similarities but will also find a new favourite.
"Listen to me," he says, sounding angry. "We've got prom, we've got graduation, we've got the summer. Then everything changes. Are you going to live a"Listen to me," he says, sounding angry. "We've got prom, we've got graduation, we've got the summer. Then everything changes. Are you going to live all that time until we go afraid?" "Probably." "Please don't." He's still weirdly angry. "Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway."
Patrick Ness's forthcoming novel The Rest of Us Just Live Here was, put simply, a load of fun. It was different. It played – quite well, I might add – on the tropes and the types of stories that have flooded young adult literature to date, such as vampires, zombies, mythological gods, cancer, and so on. But this isn't a book that will leave you emotionally traumatised.
I felt as though I related to the struggles of Mikey, of being an ordinary kid but seeing so many others around you achieving things you only wish you could achieve as well. Or feeling like you're unimportant. Or even the whole trying to break out of the 'loop' thing. However, I waited the last third of the book out for there to be an emotional pull in the novel, but there was none. An extensive talk between Mikey and his psychiatrist or the scenes between Mikey and his best friend Jason may be the answer, but they weren't enough. For me, there was more plot than there was story.
But who said this was going to be heavy in the first place? No one. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is not a book I'll remember for what it held; rather I'll remember it for what it was: entertaining. A plane read. A beach read. ...more
Part mystery, Fleur Ferris's debut novel Risk hits all the right marks when viewed as a reflection on the possible dangers and realities of the modernPart mystery, Fleur Ferris's debut novel Risk hits all the right marks when viewed as a reflection on the possible dangers and realities of the modern online environment. Risks were taken with the characters - Ferris has created realistic portrayals of teenagers, engaged daily with the internet. Taylor's slow realisation that her friend Sierra could indeed be missing after meeting with a guy in person having spoken briefly before online feels honest, as well as the eventual guilt that slows Taylor's world and the subsequent determination she has of finding her friend. I look forward to Ferris's next novel.
Following her debut novel The Whole of My World, Nicole Hayes continues to imbue an Australian sensibility in One True Thing; although set in MelbournFollowing her debut novel The Whole of My World, Nicole Hayes continues to imbue an Australian sensibility in One True Thing; although set in Melbourne and toying with Victorian politics, Frankie's story is relatable country-wide.
Even if you're not politically-inclined -- like myself -- Frankie's struggles to be herself amid family, friend, and love problems are the main act that just happen to be set against a backdrop involving state politics. ...more
Written simply but beautifully, blogger-turned-author Trinity Doyle's Pieces of Sky packs a punch in the grief department. Doyle, like the heavy pullWritten simply but beautifully, blogger-turned-author Trinity Doyle's Pieces of Sky packs a punch in the grief department. Doyle, like the heavy pull of a rip between thrashing waves, doesn't let Lucy's emotional trauma and fears get away from you so easily.
From the suspicious death of her brother Cam after a night surfing, to her depressive mother and distant father, and the fears she has herself of returning to the pool, Lucy is dealing with it all. And when Lucy finally pulls through, and the weight of the water falls from her shoulders, you'll feel it too.
Pieces of Sky is a touching but ultimately uplifting novel for fans of Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Vikki Wakefield. ...more
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