Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pan's Whisper Giveaway

to round off Pan's Whisper day on Cherry Banana Split i'm very happy to tell you their one copy of Pan's Whisper up for grabs on Perth YA Fans Unite.

while you're there sign our petition and follow us. we've got lots of great stuff coming up :D interviews, great reviews and more giveaways.


Sue Lawson Interview

having read the review of Sue Lawson's latest novel Pan's Whisper you people are lucky enough to get an interview with her! any of you who've read my other Sue Lawson Reviews will know just how excited i was to have this oppurtunity.

Hi Sue, welcome to Cherry Banana Split. Make yourself at home. I really loved Pan’s Whisper, as well as all your other books.
Thank you so much for answering me questions: D

Thanks Anna. I’m so glad you enjoyed Pan’s story, and it is lovely to drop in on Cherry Banana Split.

The thing I love most about your books is the characters. They’re so realistic. How do you develop or get to know your characters?

Thank you. I’m thrilled you enjoy the characters. They become like real people for me, which I guess makes me rather strange. I spend most of my planning-time working on characters, creating collages and profiles, so I understand not only who these characters are, but what their motivations are.
I don’t use most of the stuff I gather about my characters, but nothing is wasted. Every detail makes the character more rounded and real for me.

You seem to love dramatic endings; they work really well for you. You build tension to have things ‘explode’ at the right moment, and then reveal everything.
Is there a reason you like this technique or does it just work well for you?

Yeah, I guess I am a bit of a drama queen when it comes to endings. I’m glad they are working for you. I must admit, I like to have an idea – a very rough idea – of how the story will end before I start writing. That way it helps me trickle out information to the end, so the ‘explosions’ aren’t deliberate, but just how my books pan out.

It is hard not to use the ‘dramatic event’ as a cop out to solve the problems or as an excuse for character development?
I guess by knowing where I am headed, I avoid the cop out situation. The development occurs along the way, rather than in that dramatic moment. I think my characters, like Pan, cope with the event because they have grown and changed through the course of the book.

Memories are really important in Pan’s Whisper. Could you have told Pan’s story without using Pan and Morgan’s memories as a story telling device?
I don’t think so. Morgan is as important as Pan, and gives us a much better understanding of Kylie’s character and her issues and so why Pan is as angry and mixed up as she is. Having access to Morgan’s memories as well as Pan’s helps the reader build a more rounded understanding of Pan and of the truth.

I love Hunter and Pan’s friendship, can you tell me a bit more about that?
I’m so glad you enjoyed Hunter and Pan – I love Hunter ( not in an old lady pervy way!) He was initially a bit character, but I realised his experience was integral to Pan facing her truth. His friendship, despite Pan’s efforts to chase him away, sparks the biggest leap of faith for her.
I’ve noticed in life people who have been through trauma and tragedy, even if the events are markedly different, often gravitate and have an intrinsic mutual understanding of each other’s situation. They ‘get’ each other’s situation without having to explain, which is why I decided Hunter could recognize pain and loss in Pan.

Do you use music when you write?
It varies. When I am editing I tend to prefer silence, but when I am writing, I usually have a CD playing, but never one I know really well. (Otherwise I’d become distracted and sing – no Powderfinger, Whitlams, The Police, Queen, or Midnight Oil when I write!) While writing Pan, I listened to ABC Digital radio station, Dig Music, relaxation CDs, the soundtrack from the movie Mongol (LOVE that soundtrack – very intense and emotional!), Pete Murray, and South African street music.

If you could befriend one of your characters who would it be and why? What would you like to do or talk about?
I guess I already have befriended them all. While I am writing and editing, I’m ‘talking’ to them the whole time, about how they would react in certain situations, what cards/clothes/stuff they would buy in shops etc.
I sound crazy I know, but the more I do this, the better I know them and the ‘easier’ it is to write about them and understand their situations. I actually miss my characters when I finish writing!

What’s your favourite Australian kids or YA book?
That is a REALLY tough one. Can I pick more than one? Please??
In no particular order…
Jackie French’s A Rose for the Anzacs, Julia Lawrinson’s Bye Beautiful, David Metzenthen’s Black Water ( And Jarvis 24 and Tiff and The Trout – in fact anything by David.) Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon and Karen Tayleur’s Six.
OOOH! most of those are my favourites too.

Thank you so much for having me Anna and for the sensational questions. What a great way to finish off a rewarding and fun blog tour!

thank you Sue for an amazing interview :D

Pan's Whisper

Welcome to Pan's Whisper day. let's kick it off with a review.

Title: Pan's Whisper
Author: Sue Lawson
First Published: 2011 by Black Dog Books

Pan Harper is angry. she's been placed in foster care, and is mad at her mum and older sister. she is sure she knows her life story better than anyone. but does she? memory is a tricky thing. then she meets her foster family, teachers, and most importantly Hunter. is he worth breaking her most important rule, Never Trust Anyone?

Quick Review
Pan's Whisper is a story of family and friends. Pan may be angry, but you can't help but like her. the more of her story you learn, the more you respect her, even as she makes mistakes over and over again. Sue Lawson once again has created an emotional rollercoster of a story which is amazingly true to life.

know where i am? right in the heart of legoland, living with plastics and going to a school filled with spastics. why? because of You. Pan- page 37

"come on Panda, we have to get to Grady's before the hairy-nosed, boogie-bummed bunyip catches us." Kylie stomped up the hall..."get back here now"- page 95/96

i grab the 1st harry potter book and settle into read. Sure I've read it 1000 times but there's something comforting about the familiarity of the characters- page 236

Pan's Whisper is told in three forms. most of the story is in 1st person from Pan's point pf view, but the story is also told in letters to Morgan and in memories from Morgan. they link together in little groups to tell the story. you slowly build a picture of what actually happened, as pan does. it's really clever. it builds suspense also me and you get to know Morgan.

they characters are fabulous. you don't really meet Morgan, or Grandy or Kylie but you know them really well, which i think is quite an achievement. in building them up you really get in Pan's head. the new people she meets, like hunter, Ari and her foster family were good characters, but i would have liked to get to know them even more, but you got their background story, which really added to the story.

over all i really enjoyed Pan's Whisper, and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

luckily for all you Perth readers a copy is going to be up for grabs on Perth YA Fans Unite very soon. so follow us to be eligible to enter.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pan's Whisper Blog Tour

Cherry Banana Split is excited to announce that we've been invited to take part in the blog tour launching theSue lawson's new book Pan's Whisper. the tour kicks off tomorrow at Let's Have Words and will finish here on the 21st.
i'll have exclusive content including, an interview, a giveaways, reviews and perhaps a guest post from sue lawson herself, here and over at Perth YA Fans Unite, so follow both of us to keep up :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brave Love

Title: Brave Love- a story of being different
Author: Romi Foster from the Dreamy Tree and where the writer comes to write

Brave Love is a mini-zine story written by Romi. each book is hand written and illustrated by Romi herself. this is a sweet story about being yourself. i think everyone could relate to how she felt, that lost feeling Romi talks about. it such an honest little story. I'd love to see it extended, more about the girl and more about the friend she made at the end. i loved how the writing's in different colours and each page is decorated with little pictures. the only thing I'd recommend is not writing in yellow. I'd like to see some Bigger, Bolder images, as well as the little ones.

a sweet story of loving yourself and waiting for friends to find you :)

sorry not to include a picture. for more info on these zines contact romi!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Young Adult Fiction is too Dark for teengers. True or False

Young Adult Fiction is too Dark for teengers. True or False

this is the question for my history enquiry. we're researching topics which interest us. i'm using Meghan Cox Gurdon's 'article' Darkness to Visable as the jumping board for my research/report.

so if anyone wrote responses or knows of any respones could you send me links or titles via comments.
i'd also appriciate any other information on the topic, books, articles, websites. ANYTHING.
i'm researching book banning and anything relating.

thank you so much.

Have you seen Ally Queen

yes, I'm a lazy blogger. sorry :) i did in fact read this a week or so ago :/ so if it's a little vague i apologise.

Title: Have you seen Ally Queen
Author: Deb Fitzpatrick
First Published: 2011 by Fremantle Press

Ally Queen is 15 and not happy. forced to move from her home, friends and well-stocked deli down south go the tiny beach town of Melros near Mandurah. and now they've moved things seem to go from bad to worse. all the kids are bogans and surfies. the only good thing she can find is the beach.

i really enjoyed Have you seen Ally Queen for the most part.
to start with Ally annoyed me a bit, she complained quite a bit and she was Dramatic, but to be fair, teenagers are. i grew to like her though, her voice is genuine and the writing is spot on except for a few words, like poxy. Capitalism and her identity are big themes. as she learns to like herself, you find yourself fond of her too. if you find her annoying to start with it IS worth persisting. 100% worth it.

i quite like that her parents are characters too, more prominently than in most YA. i like that they were flawed!! while they showed Ally's faults the parents weren't perfect, which was nice. so often as a teenager i see something the teenager's doing wrong, often something I've done, and the parents being perfect. the author trying to teach the teen (often nicely) that they're over-reacting or upsetting their parents when they shout. never though have i read a book where the parent and child were both responsible for the fight.

the description in the book was good, especially of Ally's feelings, but i feel Deb Fitzpatrick missed a great opportunity to describe the beautiful beaches and scrubby mountains that are down-south of Perth. i really loved how i could picture it all because these are places i know, or at least roughly. it's so nice have a book set in Western Australia. i love it if other people got a little more of the view.

i found the discussions of the happiness a bit full on, though very interesting. i really took a lot of it to heart. characters with such strong convictions made for an strong story. i loved the deceptions of Ally and Rel's relationship, it was much more realistic than normal in YA. they were friends, and the Love stuff was a little awkward, unsure, but beautiful. the descriptions of some of the things Ally did like mountain climbing and fishing made me jealous. it was familiar of holidays and school camps, and made me want to do things like that more often.

the best thing i can say though, is that it captured Australia's love of the beach in the best way I've read.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


title: Mice
Author: Gordon Reece
Published: Allen and Unwin 2010

Shelley and her mother are mice by nature. they have been bullied their whole lives and in a desperate attempt to escape they move to an isolated cottage in the country. they think they will be safe there, but trouble has a way of finding you. Even Mice have a breaking point.
a mind twisting, electrifying thriller.

Quick Review
i was expecting a typical adventure, thriller story. this wasn't. the boundary between good and evil characters was broken, i had never realised how much i relied on that basic idea. it has the gore, horror, violence and action typical of a thriller, but the interesting part of this story is the psychological side. the journey in Shelley mind is the interesting, in many parts Confronting aspect of Mice. the story shows the effect of violence and it is disgusting, but so fascinating.

i really thought mice was a good read, but not in an enjoyable way. there was one point where i wanted to stop reading, it was really bothering me, but i had to finish. i found it really confronting, the ideas of violence and personal character were new, even if i don't agree with all of Shelley's views. in the moments where good and evil almost swap places i was shocked, horrified almost. like watching Of Mice and Men almost or The Kite Runner.

Shelley was quite an annoying character, very weak. i still felt sorry for her. while she was always reliant, she had been a victim of great violence. the transformation towards the end was satisfying. the ending was average in general, it was all to sudden and neatly tied up for me. i feel if had been part of the story i would never had recovered that fast. i did think that the change in the character of Shelley and her mother was good to see in a literary and personal sense.

the book was written to build suspense and Reece certainly managed that. the interesting thing about the writing was how in some parts it seem to be told from the present, in past tense, but some bits were like Shelley was remembering it, recounting it later in life. it flowed seamlessly, but had an interesting affect.

a decent book, worth reading, especially on a psychological level.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Perth YA fans Unite!

do you live in Perth?
are you sick or never meeting your favourite authors?
sick of authors who always skip Perth?

a group of us Perth bloggers have decided to band together to bring YA authors to Perth.
to do this we are contacting publishers and authors showing our interest, BUT we have to prove that coming all the way to Perth is worth the time and the money. THIS is where we need your help! we need to show you to show that YOU want them to come.
there are 3 ways to do this:
1. sign our petition
- just click here to sign. by signing you are just showing your support you won't get told anymore information about blogging and author events.
2. subscribe to our blog- Perth YA Fans Unite!
by subscribing you will be kept up to date about what we are doing in terms of meeting up and our plans of action. as well as author events.
3. like us on facebook.
if you have facebook please like us! hopefully this page Will work as a way to spread the word about events and to show publishers the size of our YA fan base.

we are just starting off and desperately need to spread the word about our group and get as many people liking our page and signing the petition as possible.
not only are we aiming to bring authors to Perth, but it's nice to connect our YA book blogging community.

see our blog for more information about us. email or if you would like to come along to our meetings or have any ideas.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Graffiti Moon

Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.

Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.

Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn't the best way to show it.

Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.

An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.
From the Pan Macmillan Australia Website

loved it, one of my favourite reads of the year.
i loved the characters, the original plot line, the dynamic writing. it dips into memories building to this night, while driving the adventure forward smoothly.
the use of detail was so good, i could almost feel the heat.
my favourite thing though were the poems. Amazing.
it's funny as well :)
i read this months ago while i was having tests/assessments etc and didn't get t review it, but i feel I've said all i need to.
so sweet, so true. not quite like anything I've read before.

"Your idea of romance requires a corset and a time machine. Loosen up for once." - Jazz

"... but I guess love's kind of like a marshmallow in a microwave, on high. After it explodes it's still a marshmallow. But, you know, it's a complicated marshmallow." -Lucy-

"he can't remember when he lost them
But he lost the daytime things" -Leo-

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Friendship Matchmaker

Title: The Friendship Matchmaker
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
First Published: Scholastic 2011

Lara Zany in Potts Court Primary's 'Official Friendship Matchmaker'. she is writer of the Friendship Rules-which she is certain work, all friendships are approved by her and people come to her to sort out all their fights. she can take the Loneliest Loser and find them a best friend. Then Emily Wong turns up on the first day of 2nd term and disagrees to conform, why should she have to eat cheese sandwiches instead of meatballs for lunch? why shouldn't she paint her nails in different colours? Lara's rules are about to be put to the test.

Quick Review
a brilliant book for girls of about the age of nine. a nice reminder of how special friendship is, how it works and the importance of being yourself. it's simply written, with a big font, only about 170 pages with lists of rules from Lara's Friendship Manual.

She was obviously in the mood for looking like a zebra: black & white striped t-shirt, black skirt with a thick white hem, black headband and white hair tie, and one black and one white earring. Plus black runners and white socks. "is it international Save the Zebra Day?" i asked.
she smoothed and her skirt. "Thanks" she said enthusiastically "i do look great"
What Cheek!

i enjoyed the friendship matchmaker, though it's clearly meant for a younger audience. though it's clearly bad the way Lara encourages people to completely change who they are to make friends you understand why she does it. it's clear there's a story behind it. this is a laboured point from the beginning, i found it to be a bit too obvious, which would be fine for nine year olds. the back story of Lara comes out at the end, but it was a bit rushed.

Emily's a great character i loved hearing about her ideas and clothes. she has a shirt, but i won't ruin the surprise :) she's also kind, and smart and determined to be true to herself and unique.
Lara's lovely to because behind her rules is actually a desire for everyone to have a best friend, she just isn't sure how to go about it.
it also has a cute cover ans swirls and stars throughout the book.
best of all i think there's going to be a sequel

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nightpeople-The Darklands trilogy

title: Nightpeople
Author: Anthony Eaton
Published: 2005 Queensland Press

Saria is the last of her kind, the final child of the Darklands, a quarantined expanse of outback desert, contaminated hundreds of years earlier by the remote and mysterious Nightpeople. In a dying world, she is the last ray of hope.

Spirited away at her birth before the Nightpeople could remove her from the genetic pool, Saria, now in her early teens, is summoned to appear before the Council of Dreamers. There she discovers the story of her past, and the nightmare truth of her people's future, and as history draws the Darklanders towards an inevitable fate, Saria determines to take the only course available to her, whatever the cost.

Nightpeople, the first book of the Darklands trilogy, explores a society turned in on itself and a future which readers will find both alien and disturbingly familiar.

I love the sound of this book, fantasy and Aussie books and two of my favourite things so i thought that i was set to love this book. i met Anthony Eaton last term and the way he described it the idea sound fantastic as you'd think from the blurb pinched from his website. i was very excited when i got it for holiday reading from the library.

the book begins really well, you really want to know what's going to happen to this baby saved from the 'nightpeople', and the 2nd chapter was good as well. Eaton has you wanting to know what's going to happen and what makes Saria special, but the story seemed to fizzle out after the first 2 chapters, for me at least. i kept reading but it seemed like nothing was really happening. i tried on many occasions to finish is, but i just didn't get through it. it went back to the library unfinished. I'd like to try it again some time, because i love the idea of an Australian set fantasy and the premise was brilliant, but the writing let t down. not enough happened, or enough was given away to keep me hanging on. it seemed to drag.

this said, i plan to try some of his other novels, because he was just lovely and hilarious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 Parts Dead

Title: 5 Parts Dead
Author: Tim Pegler
First Published: 2010 by Penguin

Dan is 15 and had just dodged death for the 5Th time. his friends weren't so lucky. just weeks after the accident, he goes on holiday to an island on South Australia, staying in the lighthouse keeper's old cottage with his parents, twin sister, and sister's friend. angry and grieving he discovers the old lighthouse log book and a mystery that's gone unsolved for over a century. add in ghosts, romance and the 'twin thing' and you get a powerful story about friendship, death and family.

Quick Review
I LOVED it. the two time lines flow together seamlessly, making for easy reading, except for a few of the boring captain's reports about weather in the log book. this story will get inside your mind so easily it's almost scary and leave you full of questions, wondering about horrible things. the description of the car crash was literally breath-taking, i stopped reading and clutched my throat, read and you'll understand why. the description of how people reacted was perfect, though horrible and the characters were realistic and lovable. you'll fell so sorry for Dan, yet you understood what rested on his shoulders. the ghost story was a great parallel, and the romance sweet, yet sturdy. A MUST READ ESPECIALLY FOR TEENAGERS.

i feel that my quick review sums it up pretty well.
i want to talk more about the brutal honesty of this book, at least that's the best way i can think to put it.
death in books is pretty much always sad, yet it's so much more than that in 5 Parts Dead. you almost feel Dan's pain and confusion. the feeling that he is, in the smallest way possible, responsible. you know he's going to fight that for the rest of his life. the talk about death, responsibility, and just how people react was so powerful I'm still thinking about it.
it's a sign on an amazing book when you're still thinking about it 6 hours later.

i also just want to say how much I love Pip, she's so strong. she reads Markus Zusak, you guys know how much i love him. her relationship with Dan is so tender, they just need each other. she's individual, but for once that didn't mean really weird.

i also love how the book showed the effect on Dan's family as well.

all in all an amazing book, very powerful and informative. it was sad, yet the ending left me hopeful. i really want to know what happened to Dan once he went back to school, which shows just how much i love him.

please read this book-give it to all the teenagers you know.
you'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll leave with something.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss Giveaway

The lovely Isme from the Book Slooth is having another great competition.

up for grabs is a copy of Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

this competition is open internationally. to enter go to her blog here and fill out this form.

good luck!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Straight Line to my Heart

title: straight line to my heart
author: Bill Condon
Published: to be published August 2011

Tiff and Kayla have finished school, they know things are about to change. the summer is coming to an end, and decisions are being made about the future and in one week everything is going to change. Tiff has a cadetship at the local news paper, but her boss is a crazy old man who insists everyone calls him 'the shark'. her grandad Reggie seems to be fading away, her uncle/brother Bull's girlfriend is around, her and Kayla can't stay in this small town forever, what will happen once they leave, and most importantly there's a boy who seems to be interested in Tiff. in one week Tiff's world crashes down and she builds it up again stronger than before.

Quick Review Straight Line to my Heart is a great novel. Bill Condon really hits what it's like to be a teenager on the head. without any melo-drama or soppy romance he's created a light-hearted novel all about the massive changes that occur once school finishes forever and first love. add in the great humour, and interesting characters and you've got a clear winner. i was up all night giggling while i finished it.

favourite quotes
"she could help me in my never-ending campaign. some people want to save the river or save the whales, or even save the whole planet-i just want to keep the toilet seat down" the whole book is full of funny lines like this.

Babbling Review
Bill Condon has an incredible style which doesn't fit a genre, it just seems like a real story. the characters are flawed, every character has a different personality. the blokes, Reggie and Bull, are typical Aussie blokes. the love footy, beer, action films and burping, yet they're sweet and kind.

the setting of Gungee creek is also full of character, and well characters! it's a typical town. the thing that got me was the description of footy on the weekends, it just seemed so familiar. everyone cheering, even though they play terribly. it turned out to be rugby as opposed to AFL, which is footy in Perth, but the atmosphere was the same. for us who live in Australia it'll be so familiar that you'll be laughing going 'that;s so true' and to others it'll be just as enjoyable.

i loved Kayla and Tiff's friendship. best friends since they were very young. there was very little talk, just silliness and closeness. they weren't always lovely to each other, but it was so honest.

the romance element in this novel is quite small, but important. he's an idiot, tiff admits he an idiot, but they like each other anyway. it's all awkward, yet sweet moments. it ends just leaving you wondering where it would go.

the humour is also genius. it's a simple, lovely funny novel. a perfect light read dealing some important teenage issues.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pin-up Post: Great Books with Happy endings

in that horrible Wall Street Journal article is was suggested by Meghan Cox Gurdon that all YA novels were about "vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff" i felt it would be good to remind people that this is far from the truth. so this Pin-up post is just to show a few Australian books which have no dark content and happy endings.

Blueback by Tim Winton
this book is set in a beautiful deserted beach town. Able grows up spending almost as much time in the water as out of it, even though his father was the victim of a fatal shark attack when able was a little boy. he lives alone with his mother as they run their farm and sustainable house. things intervene with this idyllic life of course, like school, developers, fishermen and growing up. no matter what happens though Able never forgets his friend Blueback, a giant fish.
a sweet, simple tale. short and well written, like all winton's work.

Triple Ripple by Brigid Lowry
this a stories rolled into one. the fairytale of Glory who is sent to work in the castle and uncovers some big secrets, the life of Nov as she battles through high school, and the writer who has to pull the story together. the stories blend together, giving us a great books as yummy as ice cream. it's a book that most girls would enjoy, mixing fantasy and contemporary together.
Ten things i hate about me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
as far as i can remember this book has nothing dark in it, the few mentions of death, racism and other things aren't described, but from the point of view of Jamie. Jamie is fighting to understand her father and his sexist over-protective rules. her brother doesn't have to be home before dark, why does she? through the book Jamie fights with her Muslim identity, and her identity as a person regardless of everyone Else's views. set in a typical Australian school. gives a good cultural insight (at least for me) and as far as i remember mainly very friendly to read.

this is just a small selection of great books, which i see as having nothing that would scare a 13 year old. people should actually read YA before they judge it. I've never found a community like ours :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dear Wall Street Journal

this is my delayed response to Meghan Cox Gurdon's article "Darkness Too Visible" and YA in the Wall Street Journal.

Dear Wall Street Journal,

I am a young adult. I read young adult fiction. As I was reading “Darkness Too Visible” I found myself wondering where Meghan Cox Gurdon had been book shopping. It seemed laughable to me that she was claiming that YA was all about self-harm, rape, drugs or incest. It was been proposed on this piece of ‘journalism’ that all teen fiction is dark, and that it is harming young adults. Not one book that fitted this description came to mind. As I thought about the books I read I had to admit that they had some serious or mature themes, but nothing I would call “ a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is.” Adolescence is a time of creating who you are, becoming an adult. This is why young adult books are about people fighting to become the person they want to be in a scary world. this is what we want and Need to read as we step out of our protected childhoods, or realise that other people have gone through bad things like we have.

Books are one of the best things in my life, and I have a very good life. Nothing bad has ever really happened to me. They allow me to enter a world of experiences I know nothing about. A good book awakes my every nerve in my body and sets it alight. It leaves me feeling charged and actually changed me. These books with there themes which ‘are too scary for teenage girls’, allow me to connect with a character who is going through something I don’t understand, and I come out of it a better person. These books are teachers. They talk to me in a way that the adults me my life don’t. At 13 I read Forever by Judy Bloom, and I will admit that is was confronting. No one had ever really talked me about Sex, I knew what it was and how it worked, but this book taught me the pressures and confusions.

The reason I look to books is because they can often explain what I’m going through. Whether they’re struggling after a horrific event or just struggling with school they sometimes know what it is that I can’t explain and help me to understand. If these books were banned young adults would lose one of the things that really helps them to express themselves and cope in a good way. When I read a good book, like If I Stay about a girl in a coma or Wintergirls about anorexia, it holds me tight as it introduces me to a scary world, it lets me experience it and then it stays with me while I gather the information and leads me to see the beauty in the ending, because both these books have life affirming endings. I now understand life a little better. I am intelligent young woman, I know when I’m reading crap. All teenagers are capable of thinking and forming an opinion; if every little thing that happens around us traumatised us then all girls who played with Barbies would end up with self-confidence issues. If I don’t agree with what a character does it just helps me to realize I don’t want to live like that.

This article really shows the fear Meghan Cox Gurdon has of the world. The problems teenagers are facing cannot be blamed on literature. These dark issue need to be discussed by parents and other people who Really influence their lives. Literature for young adults is better than it has ever been before, with more variety, good quality writing, and significant issues. Books educate, they help us to understand others and ourselves. We relate to them. They are a brilliant form of communication that can be spread globally. Articles like this are discouraging teenagers from reading, and parents from encouraging them to, which would be even more damaging. One day I want to write a book which makes a young person go “she understands me, I now know” this is my aim, to help a person by writing an uplifting book about a serious issue to show the light. The world is a dark place, and adolescence is when we discover this. YA novels just show us how to find the light.


Reviewer for Australian YA blog Cherry Banana Split.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

After January

title: After January
Author: Nick Earls
first published: 1996 University of Queensland Press

Meet Alex Delaney, awkward teenage boy of 17 waiting for the 20th of January, the day the university offers are printed in the appear. school is over, a far off memory, the future has to wait, and here is Alex stuck in the middle. he and his mum are at their beach house, expecting a normal summer, of early morning swims, reading, pool and poetry with Len next door and cricket. as long as Alex can remember this has been summer, slowly though people have stopped coming and development has changed the little town, this summer Alex meets a girl.

this is a fabulous summer romance told from the perspective of the guy, which I've never read before. it was charming, are very realistic, it was sweet in parts, but in a believable way. i think the thing that made it so true to life was the awkwardness. this was their first relationship, there were awkward moments, meeting parents, being given money for condoms because 'protection is important' or offering to fix a car when you have no clue about engines.

Alex is a quiet, deep thinking, poetry writer, and just gorgeous. he isn't characterture, or based on a stereotype of jerky jock or unbelievably sweet, but not cute guy, which are the typical boys in romance, he fits in the middle. he can't fix a car, but he makes a great loaf of bread. it's nice to get a story that's about average people, not broken souls, like in Sarah dessen (though i love her work) this is about talking to a girl because you have noting to lose, kissing on the beach and falling asleep holding hands. NO SEX! it's a sweet novel about a summer of growth. have i raved enough yet? all the characters are unique and hold their own. the relationships they all have with each other and Alex add to the story. Len and Alex are funny, talking cricket, poetry and pool each summer, and Fortuna's mother and father and so different, yet in love.

it's also has talk of parents lives, not as parents but as people, respecting the environment/anti-development talk and what you're offering the world, where you want to go. this makes it a deep novel and is well aimed for teenagers, though i found it a touch hard to read, but i think that was my mood. it isn't exactly a page turner or an all- time favourite, but it is probably my favourite teenage romance, it's what i want from my 1st boyfriend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

competition time!

the lovely and talented Romi from where the writer comes to write has two copies of Chasing Odysseus S. D Gentill up for grabs, one to an international reader and one for an Aussie. to win you have to email the answer to these 4 questions:
-why do you love books?
-what do they mean in your life?
-why do you want to read Chasing Odysseus?
-a brief description of what your life would look like without books.

for more information and some interesting posts about the book and author click here

1 girl, 3 brothers... 4 daring young heroes...

Treachery, transformations and a deadly quest.

A thrilling adventure of ancient myth, monsters, gods, sorcerers, sirens, magic and many evils...the fall of Troy and a desperate chase across the seas in a magical ship...

Hero and her three brothers - Mac, Cad and Lycon go on this exciting and dangerous quest to prove their murdered father's honour, the betrayal by King Odysseus and the loyalty of their own people to the conquered city of Troy.

blurb from the publisher Pantera Press. the 1st chapter is available on their website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pin-Up Post: Aussie books for ANZAC day

today is ANZAC day, so I'm posting fabulous war stories by Australian authors (of course). this is our first pin-up post. each Pin-Up post is a list of books fitting a theme, all as Australian as i can manage.

A rose for the ANZAC boys by Jackie French
The 'War to end all Wars', as seen through the eyes of three young women It is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen–year–old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge's brothers are in the army, and her twin, Tim, is listed as 'missing' in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli . Desperate to do their bit – and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society – Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over–stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls – and their Anzac boys as well – discover that even going 'home' can be both strange and wonderful. <

Soldier Boy by Anthony Hill 28 June 1915, young James Martin sailed from Melbourne aboard the troopship Berrima – bound, ultimately, for Gallipoli. He was just fourteen years old.
Soldier Boy is Jim's extraordinary true story, the story of a young and enthusiastic school boy who became Australia's youngest known Anzac.
Four months after leaving his home country he would be numbered among the dead, just one of so many soldier boys who travelled halfway around the world for the chance of adventure.
This is, however, just as much the story of Jim's mother, Amelia Martin. It is the heartbreaking tale of the mother who had to let him go, of his family who lost a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend.
It is about Amelia's boy who, like so many others, just wanted to be in on the action.

Once by Morris Gleitzman
Once I escaped from an orphanage to find Mum and Dad.
Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.
Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.
My name is Felix.
This is my story.
Everybody deserves to have something good in their life.
At least once.
this is my favourite war story, the perfect balance between emotion, action and facts. the sense of understanding gained is incredible, and it's beautifully written.

Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French
Four kids tell a story at a bus stop in country Australia on a rainy Monday. But the story seems to have a life of it's own. It's the story of a girl in another time and another country. her name was Heide, and she was Hitler's daughter.
Could- just possibly- the story be true?
this was the 1st story i really read about war, i read it in year 6 for our reading groups, and though the protagonist doesn't have a clue what's going on it was an enlightening read, i loved it.

the blurbs to these are from the author's website or penguin, for more details check those websites or our reviews.
I'm planning to do more of these posts, they're quite fun :)
what do you guys think of the name Pin-up posts? like a list of books you plan to read. I'm still working on it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Soldier Boy

Happy Easter everyone. in australia tomorrow is ANZAC day,a very important day in australia, so i'm doing an ANZAC series on both my blogs. this is a mini-review i posted in 2009 of a book that i found incredibly interesting, that i thought i'd repost. enjoy!

Title: Soldier Boy: The True Story of Jim Martin, the Youngest Anzac
Author: Anthony Hill
first published: Penguin 2001

i thought Soldier Boy was a fabulous book, but most of my year hated it. It is the true story of Jim Martin the youngest ANZAC, written by Anthony Hill. This story is so thought-provoking in understanding peace and war that I was asking so many question to my parents. Jim Martin was 14 when he went to fight; this I think was the scariest part because I can't imagine people in year nine at my school going off to fight in Iraq.the realistic quality gained from being a true story makes Hill's book really effective at showing bravery and idiocy of war, which is quite an achievement. this is more of a book for a keen reader because it isn't an action book, it isn't like your average YA or kids novel. while most people found it boring i thought the ideas and the questions it made me ask were well worth the more factual writing style. i'd be REALLY interested in your opinions on this book.

Everyone should read this book. You understand so much more of what World War One was really like, why people lied about their age to go and get shot at, why they thought it would be fun and exciting. I have gained a new respect for all soldiers, ones from past wars, ones from the present, dead and alive. it gave me a new understanding of their stories and their importance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Diary of a Would-Be Princess

I've decided to do a series review of The Diary of a Would-Be Princess series, now published just as books 1 to 3. the first to were published as Diary of a would be princess and a Tyranny of Toads, but with the release of the third book this year they have been reprinted and just named books one to three.

This series is aimed at girls of about 9-12. i read the first two books when i was 10 and really loved them, so when i spotted the third in the library last week i grabbed it, and I'll admit i still love Jillian James as much as when i met her when we were both in year 5. these are about the average life of an Australian school girl pretty much, but they're hilarious and interesting. Jillian always struggles with making and keeping friends, and excepting her self in her current situation. the moment she gets things sorted the next year seems to rush in with new challenges. she says in the second book "last year i got in trouble for not compromising enough, now I'm in trouble for compromising too much!" that's an annotated quote because i donated my copy to the local library and can't check the exact quote. every year has adventures and surprises, like the dreaded sports carnival, new teachers, new students, homework, horrible brothers, unfair parents and always a happy ending at the end on the school year. it's hard to explain all 3 books, but that's the best can do. search the titles and you can get good blurbs.

these books start with Jillian in year 5 with the lovely Mrs Bright having to start a journal. the book is scattered with comments by Mrs bright, it's such a nice touch. in the 2nd book, sometimes called a Tyranny of Toads Jillian is in year 6 with the terrifying Mr Rose and her diary is kept carefully at home hidden in her undies draw, as all girls do with their precious things (i swear, i actually do). their are no teacher comments this year, instead her older brother Richard leaves her sticky notes, which get stuck in. in the most recent, third diary Jillian is starting high school, and it's an exciting year. this year Richard leaves her famous, inspiration quotes from a calender he received for Christmas, usually cleverly annotated to annoy his little sister.

Jillian is another of my favourite characters. she's so clever, funny and insightful. i challenge you not to love her. in my last review i talked about how i couldn't believe Cameron Wolfe from Fighting Ruben Wolfe wasn't real, i feel the same way about Jillian.she's so perfectly flawed, always solving her problems, and causing more. I wish she was my best friend, we'd get along so well. her insight makes this a great book for mothers to share with their daughters. Diary of a Would-Be is not yet another, shallow, sugar-coated book, it's a good read, with character development. i was a bit too old for the 3rd book, it really is not the under 12s, but i could understand exactly what Jillian was feeling, and apply parts of it to year 10.all three book are filled with quotes from famous people, books and plays, like hamlet and Buddha, and new words like scapegoat. this is the perfect book for girls about 9-12, funny, interesting, with a happy ending.
honestly, these series is one of my favourites in case you haven't guessed, though all you lovely readers are a tad too old :)

sorry this post is such a mess, i ramble a lot. I'm working on it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fighting Ruben Wolfe

Title:Fighting Ruben Wolfe
Author: Markus Zusak
First Published: 2000

The family is broke, ever since their dad's accident at while on the construction sight no one has wanted to hire him and things are getting desperate. Ruben and Cameron join a boxing competition to try and make some money, though they know their father will never accept charity this is the reason to go into the ring. as they season continues though they both have to realise that it is not their real reason. Fighting Ruben Wolfe is a story about fighting as opposed to winning, a story about family, but most of all it's a story about having heart.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe is the book before Getting the Girl. i never knew they were in an series until i picked up this book in the library last week. i knew that there was another book about the Wolfe Family, but i always thought that with Ruben's name in the title that it would be from his perspective, not Cameron's. this is another boo told by good old, awkward Cameron. i assure you, you will love him. he is so perfectly flawed, and has such a heart you'll want to be his friend, to protect him from everyone. i swear every time i read a Markus Zusak book his characters never leave him, but Cam, i just want to know him more and more. i recommend you read Fighting Ruben Wolfe first and then getting the Girl, their order they were intended to be read in, because you see the characters change in the right order, which is the joy of reading Markus Zusak.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Am Number 4 Giveaway

Isme from The Book Slooth is hosting yet another competition. isn't she amazing? i found it effort to organise 1!

John Smith is not what meets the eye.
He looks like your average teenager, but what you don't know is that he is actually an alien from another planet called Lorien.
Invaded by Mogadorians, the people of the planet Lorien are forced to flee to Earth.
There Were Nine. The Mogadorians have killed three.
John Smith is Number Four.
Can he save his life and those of Paradise, Ohio, before it's too late?

Isme has a copy of I am Number Four up for grabs. just go to her blog and comment on the post. just click right here. this competition is open internationally.

you can read her review here


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dare You

Title: Dare You
Author: Sue Lawson
First Published: 2010 by black dog books

for those of you have been hanging around this blog for a while you'll know that i love Sue Lawson's novels, so you would guess that when i walked into the school library for a reading period and discovered this little gem on the bookshelf i was extremely happy. this was before I'd even started reading.

Dare You is the story of a childhood friendship that starts to fall apart as Sas, Ruby and Kahden reach the middle of high school. they'd been best friends since the beginning of kindy, they've never known it any other way. Now though, with summer holidays around the corner, all there little problems are coming to light. the girls bickering and competing is reaching a dangerous point and Kahden and Sas are starting to think of each other very differently, but they can't let go. so they cling to their childhood games, but they aren't little kids anymore so the rules start to change. it starts to get scary. each of out main characters has their own secrets and problems hidden away, in usual Lawson style, which are making things tense and come to head at a critical moment.

the story is divided up into chapters from all three of our characters, Ruby's in first person, Sas' in first person diary style, and Kahden's in third person. i thought it worked quite well and though i had a favourite character, i LOVE Kahden, it didn't affect my reading of the story and it was nothing to do with the quality of the writing. there were moments where i wanted to grab Sas and Ruby and yell at them, because they were so believable. i felt the language was spot on, I'm about the age of the characters and it was the way i would speak or write. I'll admit i did sometimes find myself checking which character was supposed to be narrating because i was confused, but this is a common occurrence for me once we get 3 or so characters. i really thought the characters were fantastic. though we don't know much about the parents, you feel their side of the story as well, which is true to life and really nice to read.

one thing to know about this book, DON'T be tempted to flick through. i found myself wanting to know what happened next and flipping forward. this was a mistake because Lawson starts her chapters with sentences about Major events. i was unlucky and flipped to the chapter with i very informative start and regretted it for the rest of the book.

the only significant problem i had was with the ending, I'll try my best to keep this spoiler free.
there is a Massive event towards the very end and then the ending seemed to go very fast. i felt a bit cheated almost. i don't think this big event was a cop out, so she wouldn't have to solve the friendship problems. i would have liked to read a bit more either before the big event or after it, just to see that everything was resolved properly. it might have just been me, I'd really like to hear what you think. keep that in mind if you every read Dare You. i strongly recommend you do.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A wicked giveaway on The Book Slooth!

the always lovely Isme is hosting a great competition over on her blog The Book Slooth.
she is offering a copy of Mellisa Marr's book Wicked Lovely. it's open internationally and all you have to do is comment on this post.

it sounds like a brilliant book, sort of like Fairie Wars by Herbie Brennan, which i loved. this is the blurb Isme posted:
Aislinn has always seen faeries. She has always lived by the three rules:
RULE 3: Never stare at Invisible faeries.
RULE 2: Never speak to Invisible faeries.
RULE 1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But these rules alter dramatically when a faerie pursues Aislinn. Disguised as human and oddly trying to become part of her life, can Aislinn keep her secrets, fall in love and make the right choices?

to find out more about Wicked Lovely read the review

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Noah's Law

title: Noah's Law
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
First Published: 2011 by Pan Macmillan

Noah's Law is the most recent Randa Abdel-Fattah book. Noah is a prankster, his father is a high ranking barrister in Sydney. this combination can result in some disagreements. Noah's father decides he needs to learn responsibility and to fix his attitude, so he's sent to work at his aunt's law firm for his whole holidays. Noah is outraged to not be spending his holidays sleeping, watching DVDs, swimming at the beach and hanging with his mates. luckily for him he makes friends with a cute, smart girl called Jacinta and an interesting case, to say the least, turns up.

This book is not like Randa Abdel-Fattah's other books. Her other 3 books are on much more serious topics and you get a lot further inside the characters heads. Noah's Law is more of a light summer read than Does my Head look Big in This or Where the Streets Had a Name, which explore identity and religion. while the character's were realistic, i felt i didn't get to know them particularly well.

i also found it just a little far fetched. what is the chance of a 16 year old boy actually getting involved and basically solving a case that large and crazy? it wasn't unbelievable, but it didn't quite fit together perfectly.

Noah's Law also uses a lot of lawyer talk, i think you could easily understand what was going on even if you didn't understand the terms. i am one of those people who always has to ask questions and luckily my dad was a lawyer before he became an English professor, so all my questions were answered. if you aren't this lucky google should be able to help you out.

i thought Noah's Law was a good book, with interesting characters, great humour and a thrilling plot. the law vibe made it quite unique.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting the Girl

title: Getting the Girl
Author: Markus Zusak

Cameron Wolfe is a loser. his brother Steve is the local football star, his brother Ruben has a new girl every week, even his sister Sarah and his parents, in his eyes, are bloody amazing. All this changes though when Octavia comes on to the scene. she may be just another of Ruben's girlfriends, but Cameron is in love with her.

like The Messenger this is set in the poorer parts of the Sydney suburbs, with the same harsh way of talking to each other. similarly it's about someone who has been considered second best, not worth any body's time learning their worth. once Octavia shows up somehow Cam begins realise he is okay. he learns that he is as impressive as either of his brothers, just in his own way.

Cameron has a really awkward, but sincere and lovable voice. he has incredible insights into everything going on around him, which he writes down and calls 'his words'. these are like journaling/poems placed between the chapters. he's hidden away and in this book people finally realise that you just have to stop and look for awhile to see what Cameron is actually like. this is exactly what Octavia and his sister Sarah do.

with a quiet, reactive protagonist like we have in this book, you expect them to be rescued and then be shown about themselves. this is not what Zusak does. Cameron fights for himself this whole book, even before that with visiting his brother Steve, he's doing something not everyone could do. that in essence is what this book is about, knowing that you have something everyone around you doesn't.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Aussie YA Book Challenge 2011

Nic @ irresistible reads is hosting The Aussie YA Book Challenge 2011. isn't that just great?? thanks Nic. and thanks Nomes who's great blog let me know about it. let me explain the what's happening.

Australian participants - Read at least 12 young adult books by Australian authors from 1st January, 2011 to 31st December, 2011.

International participants - Read at least 6 young adult books by Australian authors from 1st January, 2011 to 31st December, 2011.

and NO RE-READS!!!!!!!

you sign up on Nic's blog, do a sign-up post and then post a review for each book.
check out irresistible reads for more details.


Bridge of clay by Markus Zusak

the book thief by Markus Zusak

Dreaming of Amelia by Jaclyn Moriarty

saving Francesca by Marlina Marchetta

Triple Ripple by Brigid lowry

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where the Streets Had a Name

Title: Where the Streets Had a Name
Aurthur: Randa Abdel-Fattah
First Published: 2008 by Pan Macmillan

Where the Streets Had a Name is about the journey that Hayaat and her best friend Samy take from their homes in Bethlehem to Hayaat's grandmother's, Sitti Zeynab, ancestral home in Jerusalem. Hayaat believes that she can save her sick grandmother if she gets soil from her homeland. luckily they have a curfew free day to go ahead with their adventure.

this book tells the story of 3 people's loss and how because of it they lost who they were. we also are shown how strong people find a way to move forward and keep living, even though it's a hard thing to do. those 3 stories are of 13 year old Hayaat, her father and her grandmother. it's written in first person from Hayaat's perspective, but we are learn of the others' through Hayaat and more importantly we can see the effect it has on everyone and how they feel.

i found the book a bit slow to begin with, but it wasn't long before i wanted to know all about what had happened to Hayaat. the story unfolded neatly and naturally, without leaving you in suspense for too long, but not just giving things away either. i think the reason it took me a while to get into was because i knew nothing of the politics relating to Israel/Palistine. i must also admit i was greatful for the glossary at the front of the book as well.

my favourite thing was being about to look at the loses of all the family members and parallel them.. i also LOVED how much Where the Streets Had a Name stresses that all people are people and deserve respect and that live is always worth living brilliantly.

i think everyone should read this book, just as a chance to see what racial conflict can do and how it makes the people feel. the characters are easy to get to know. if you don't know anything about politics in Israel/Palestine just get someone to explain the basics to you, it's well worth it.