Monday 31 December 2012

Review: The Romance Diaries: Ruby By Jenna Austen

This book reads like a teenage girl's diary. Which is probably exactly what the author was going for but which made it totally unenjoyable for me. Because it's not the diary of a particularly interesting teenage girl. Ruby is not well-developed – in fact, all of the characters felt quite flat to me – and all she apparently cares about is romance. Not her own, mind you, but others'. Yep, she considers herself a matchmaker, and her diary is all about the love lives of her friends and family – and her own in time, natch. It's unsurprising considering the inspiration for this novel was apparently Jane Austen's Emma, but the thing about Emma is there's so much more than matchmaking in there. It explores identity, class and gender alongside the main romance. Ruby, however, is all about the romance – which itself is completely cheesy, predictable and rather unbelievable.

I might have still enjoyed the book as a fun bit of fluff if not for the language. Run-on sentences, way too many adverbs, and a ridiculous amount of slang all combined to make it seem like a 12-year-old had written it. Or an adult trying too hard to sound like a teenager. I'm not against slang; far from it. I actually adore being creative with words and have been known to throw the odd “totes” and “OMG” in to my writing, but this was just too much. Every sentence included at least one odd abbreviation, slang word, ALL CAPS, Random Capitalisation That Lost Its Meaning From Overuse, or broken up words (think LA. ME.) - and sometimes pretty much all of them at once! Some teenagers may write like that, but not many, and not to that extreme – especially if they want to be writers themselves, as Ruby does. It felt inauthentic and jarring, and frankly, extremely annoying.

Younger teens and tweens may get a kick out of this book, but it really wasn't my cup of tea.

Rating: 2/5

Fine Print
Published: January 2013, HarperCollins
Source: Netgalley

Ten Reasons You Need To Read The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

-The wonderful, intricate plot. Finnikin of the Rock tells the story of the the curse on Lumatere, which has caused half of its population to be trapped within the walls of the kingdom, with the other half caught outside. Finnikin is a young exile who believes his people's best chance of survival is to create a second Lumatere – until he meets the novice Evanjalin, who walks in the dreams of those trapped in the city and whispers of the survival of a royal heir, believed to be dead, who could break the curse. Because it was originally intended to be a standalone, the plot of Finnikin is largely wrapped up in the first novel, and Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn both focus on a different curse – the one on Charyn that means no child has been born there for 18 years.

I adored Finnikin and when I started reading Froi I was a bit skepitcal about there being another curse, but the way it eventually unravelled made a lot of sense – and was brilliant to read, of course. Marchetta skillfully laid the foundations of each mystery, revealing clues at key points before masterfully bringing everything together at the end of each book (although Froi and Quintana go hand in hand, there are still some great revelations in the end of the former).

-The fantastic world-building. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I really enjoyed the world of Lumatere and thought it was well fleshed-out and believable. The history, cultures, landscape and languages of the various kingdoms were all rich and strongly developed.

-Marchetta's beautiful writing. It's so easy to read but so incredibly lovely, creating a number of powerful moments and images that give you goosebumps and stick in your mind long after you've finished reading. (SPOILERS: Two of my faves involved Froi and a baby – the moment at the end of Finnikin, when he holds the baby high and the “future of Lumatere” is in his hands, and the scene at the end of Froi, when he sees Quintana with his baby and falls to his knees embracing them. Siiigh).

-The awesome heroes. There's one to warm your heart: Finnikin, a smart, skilled and sexy ginger (no, that is not an oxymoron), who is haunted by the past but plans for a brighter future. There's one who'll tug at your heart: Lucian, Finnikin's childhood friend, who is stubborn and somewhat cocky; his charm and sensitivity buried under a deep grief and sense of failure. Then there's one who'll obliterate your heart: Froi, who comes from nothing and becomes everything. I have to admit, after reading Finnikin I was a bit concerned about Froi as the main character in the rest of the series. He's only secondary in the first book and actually does something quite reprehensible. I knew Marchetta would redeem him, but I think that's what my problem was – I was afraid to like him after what he'd done. But Marchetta addresses it almost immediately in Froi, and makes it very clear that Froi is deeply repentant. As his past is slowly revealed, it becomes clearer why he did what he did. Not that that excuses it, of course – but Froi himself nor any part of the narrative ever does try to do that, which is important. He knows what he did was wrong, he hates himself for it, and he does everything he can to make up for it. The reader, like the characters, never fully forgets what he did – it is consistently brought up throughout the novels – but Froi's many other heroic actions make you begin to love him all the same. In the end, Froi was the character who most got under my skin. He's deeply flawed – like all of the characters – but therein lies his brilliance.

-The amazing heroines. If you think the heroes sound good, just wait till you meet the heroines. They're each strong and compelling in their own way. Evanjalin is strong-willed, intelligent, independent, and manipulative, doing whatever needs to be done for her people to heal – even if it means people hate her for it (and there are times I kinda did, even though I loved her overall). Phaedra, oh Phaedra – at first she seems quite weak, but she's quick-thinking, caring and much, much stronger than she, and the other characters, think she is. But as with the boys, it was the most messed up character who really got under my skin when it came to the heroines: Quintana. She's got dirty hair, odd facial expressions, multiple personalities and a savageness bordering on crazy. But underneath all the apparent madness is a deeply hurting girl who has been through so much, but still cares about others more than she cares about herself. She's resilient and cunning and just a little bit charming. She's a survivor.

-The sensational secondary characters. Although I use the term “secondary” very loosely – they are anything but. There's a large cast of characters across the series, and each one is richly developed, with a story to tell and a connection to be made. It's hard not to fall for them all (or love to hate them, as the case may be).

-The strong narrative voice. While Finnikin is told primarily from the title character's perspective, the subsequent novels switch viewpoints regularly. But no matter who is the focus of the story at a particular time, the voice is always relevant to each character. The most distinct were Froi in the first novel (before his language skills are more developed, as they are in the later books) and Quintana in the third. Her anxiety and confusion shine through in her first person, present tense narrative voice that contrasts sharply with the third person, past tense narrative given to the other characters. It's fantastic to read.

-The authentic and powerful relationships. Whether it's lovers, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, siblings or friends, the relationships in this series are all amazingly written and realistic. Between them all there's love, hate, hurt, healing, joy, sorrow, yearning, desire, fear, jealousy, acceptance and incredibly deep connections. As you can probably tell, they will make you feel ALL THE FEELS.

-They're page-turners. The Lumatere Chronicles are completely addictive; despite their massive size I read them in a matter of days. They're the kind of books that you need to clear your schedule for, because once you start reading you literally won't be able to stop. I had more than one late night and unproductive day thanks to these books. I regret nothing.

-It's Melina Freaking Marchetta. 'Nuff said.
Rating: 5/5

Sunday 30 December 2012

Review: And All The Stars By Andrea K. Host

The first thing that attracted me to And All The Stars was the cover. Isn't it pretty? Reading the book made me appreciate it even more, because it actually depicts a character exactly as she's described, which is refreshing. The character in question is Madeleine, a budding artist who is caught in St James train station in the Sydney CBD when a massive spire erupts from the ground and spurts purple dust over the city. A purple dust that kills some, turns some green and others blue. Madeleine herself becomes a Blue and soon discovers she has more power than she's ever had before.

And All The Stars is a unique take on a familiar story. There was so much I loved about it. I loved the plot, and the way certain things were revealed that I never saw coming. I loved the setting – it's not often you come across these kinds of stories set anywhere other than America. It was brilliant and refreshing to know exactly where the characters were and what they were talking about. But most of all I loved the characters. Madeleine took awhile to warm to for me but I liked her in the end, and the secondary characters were all richly developed and likeable. I loved the group dynamics as the random collection of kids banded together to survive.

Often dystopian/sci-fi books are set far into the future, and this is the first one I've come across that is about the immediate aftermath of a disaster. A big chunk of it is about basic survival, the discovery of changes to the landscape and people's bodies, and figuring out what the hell has happened. Some might find this aspect of it a bit slow, but I actually really enjoyed it. It's not something you come across in every book, plus I think the slow build is totally worth it because when THINGS start happening, well, they really start happening.

The action was entertaining and there was a lot of humour, but what surprised me was how emotional And All The Stars made me feel. It was quite heart-wrenching at times – those who have read it will know exactly which times I'm talking about! Still, there were a few scenes that I felt were a bit too rushed or glossed over; the ending in particular happened a bit too quickly for me. But overall it was quite satisfying and left me with a smile on my face, and I can't complain about that.

Rating: 4/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • Theoden! OMG, Theoden broke my heart. I did not see that twist coming, and it makes me want to reread the book again soon to see if I can pick up any clues. However, I felt the big reveal and Theoden's death was one of the parts that was too rushed. I would have liked a bit more emotion in there, and a better farewell between Madeleine and Theoden. I can understand why this didn't happen, as she'd only just found out the truth, but still, it felt kind of anti-climactic. I did like how Madeleine struggled with her feelings for Fisher afterwards, and  that he too had difficulty coming to terms with the situation. It was nice that the happy ending in the epilogue was well down the track, allowing them both time to figure things out and properly mourn Theoden. Of course, it was completely cheesy, but I liked it.
  • I couldn't quite wrap my head around the whole alien cycle thing. Maybe I'm dense or maybe the information was crammed into too small a space – I actually had to reread the explanation a few times – but I just didn't get why they invaded planets, fought, then left only to come back again eight years later and do it all over again. Where did they go in the meantime? I was confused.
Action Shots
I embraced my inner tourist and snapped some pics of some of the locations featured in And All The Stars while I was in the city one day.

This is the entrance to St. James station in Hyde Park, you can see the Archibald Fountain in the background.

Side view of the entrance to St. James station.

The Archibald Fountain with St. Mary's Cathedral in the background.

Centrepoint Tower.
Fine Print
Published: September 2012
Source: Netgalley

Friday 28 December 2012

Friday Link Dump: Pemberley, Gingers and Melina Marchetta


The brilliant Jo at Wear the Old Coat has done a brilliant Q&A about brilliant heroines with the brilliant Melina Marchetta. Can you tell it's brilliant?

Have you been watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? If not, now is the time to catch up. Because Lizzie is going to Pemberley! Check out the cool Pemberley Digital website here. Can I work there? Sounds amazing.

Uproxx has dubbed 2012 the Year of the Gorgeous Ginger, and I'm not complaining.

Here's an interesting fact: former Seventeen editor Midge Turk Richardson, who worked on the magazine for 18 years, was actually a nun for the same length of time before that. She died last week aged 82. I'd love to get my hands on her memoirs, but it's so rare it's fetching $247 on Amazon. Yikes!

There are a lot of movies and TV shows to be excited about in 2013. Except the Oldboy remake. Nobody should be excited about that.

New Year's Eve is officially The Worst. But I for one am looking forward to bidding good riddance to 2012, so that's something.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Ten Reasons To Read The Sea Of Tranquility By Katja Millay


1. Katja Millay's lovely, emotive writing. It's raw and real; romantic without being cheesy; touching without being maudlin; and contains just the right amount of humour mixed in with the more harrowing elements of the story.

2. Josh, one of the two narrators. He's had everyone he's loved taken from him, and isolates himself as a result, but underneath all the hurt is a big, adorable heart. He's creative with wood (get your mind out of the gutter! Oh, is that just mine?) and makes beautiful furniture. Plus he's easy on the eyes. In my mind, kinda like this:

3. Nastya, the other narrator. She's even more messed up than Josh, and is hell-bent on getting revenge on the boy who attacked her and robbed her of her passion - her ability to play piano. She's fierce and furious; her anger is palpable and and her hurt is heartbreaking. You can't help but be pulled in to her story as it intertwines with Josh's and they both begin the journey to healing together.

4. The narration switches between Nastya and Josh's perspectives; I know not everyone likes dual narrators, but it really works for this story. With two such damaged protagonists who don't necessarily let other people see their real selves, it's helpful to get inside both of their heads. It makes it all the more interesting to see each one from the other's perspective, and contrast their view of themselves with how the other sees them.

5. The secondary characters. They're richly developed and not only important to Josh and Nastya's story, but also have their own subplots happening that make the narrative feel all the more real. I especially liked Drew, who turns out to have more charm and depth than your average douchey jock.

6. It's an addictive book; you'll start reading and the next thing you know five hours have passed and you haven't moved, except to turn the page.

7. The characters and story are so powerful that they stick in your head even when you're not reading it, and hang around for a long time after you've finished.

8. It's about love and family and grief and loss and identity and death and ice cream and creativity and everything that's important in life.

9. It's incredibly painful at times and will put you through an emotional wringer, but in the end there's a lovely sense of peace and closure.

10. The cover is not only gorgeous, it's relevant to the story and highlights the rich symbolism to be found throughout.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fine Print
Published: Atria Books, November 2012 (Kindle edition)
Source: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
Get It: Amazon

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Bookish Buys: Penguin Pretties by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. But how awesome is Boxing Day? The stress of Christmas is over and you can chillax with the fam and your new toys. Or plan what to spend your money on, if Santa blessed you with cashola. Like the pretties in this post. And hey, even if you're not up for spending in the post-Christmas haze, you can still enjoy the book porn.

See, Penguin sure knows how to do the classics - which basically means they know how to make you want to pay for them as opposed to getting them all online for free. They just have to wrap them in gorgeous covers and put them together as part of a collection, and suddenly I want to give Penguin all of my money. A lot of their best covers are designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, including:

(click to embiggen)

Aren't they all just beautiful? So far (ahem) I've got The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle from the Clothbound Classics collection, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte from the English Library collection. Needless to say, there's many, many more I'd like to get my hands on!

Are you a fan of collecting series? Do you judge choose books by their covers? Because I totally do, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Much.

Friday 21 December 2012

Friday Link Dump: Best Books, Dog Gifs and Inspirational People

If you are reading this that means the world didn't end. Unless it's going to happen at midnight. That could be awkward. Anyhoo...

Here are the books that appear most frequently on the 'Best of 2012' lists. I don't think I've read any of them.

Can negative reviews be good for authors? I'm not an author so I can't confirm, but I do know that negative reviews can be helpful for a reader. If every review were positive, how the hell would we know what to read (or not)?!

This article is about the new Twitter feature that allows you to access your old tweets, but I really liked the observation at the end regarding the historical significance of the social network. At no other time has there been such an extensive public record of people's real-time reactions and experiences during world events. It's pretty brilliant when you think about it.

This post of dog gifs is full of happy.

You know what's awesome? People who don't take themselves too seriously - like these writers who don't mind taking the piss.

Also like Barack Obama. Here is reason #463 he is amazeballs.

Humans can really, really suck sometimes. But they can also be amazing and inspiring and heartwarming. Especially people like these.

And these. The 26 Acts campaign is inspiring people to perform 26 random acts of kindness to honour the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. I really want to do this, it's such a good idea and what people have already done is amazing.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Talking Point: Apocalypse Survival By The Books

Tomorrow is the day. The end of the world the Mayans predicted. Or just, y'know, when their calendar ends. Just in case the world does end tomorrow, I thought I'd get prepared by refreshing my knowledge of apocalypses (apocalypseii?) from the place I get all my life skills (or lake thereof): books. I hereby present the (un)Official Apocalypse Survival Guide of 2012. There's only one problem: it's limited to the books I've read. But time is running out, so here goes nothing...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Apocalypse: Unspecified disaster followed by a despotic government that controls the population by forcing them to send their children into The Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death television extravaganza.
Survival Skills Required: Archery, running, cunning, a strong stomach, knowledge of plants, hunting, skinning squirrels, charisma, style and possibly cake frosting.
My Chances: 1/10 a.k.a. Doomed

And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host
The Apocalypse: Alien invasion via purple dust that infects humans, causing them to turn weird colours and manifest powers before being taken over.
Survival Skills Required: Running, hiding, baking, eating.
My Chances: 7/10 a.k.a. Let me eat cake.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
The Apocalypse: Zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
Survival Skills Required: Running, being quiet, shooting, hacking, hitting, stabbing, decapitating, foraging, raiding, a strong stomach.
My Chances: 2/10 a.k.a. I'm hiding upstairs.

The Children of Men by P.D. James
The Apocalypse: The human race is suddenly infertile.
Survival Skills Required: Strong mental health and resilience.
My Chances: 6/10 a.k.a. Depressed, much?

Legend by Marie Lu
The Apocalypse: This is never really clear, to be honest.
Survival Skills Required: All-round perfection, money.
My Chances: 4/10 a.k.a. I'm too confused to give up all hope.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
The Apocalypse: Invasion of the alien body snatchers.
Survival Skills Required: Running, hiding, being really strong-willed.
My Chances: 5/10 a.k.a. Nobody messes with my brain but me.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Apocalypse: Terrorist attacks + low fertility = Biblical-inspired misogynistic, extremist society where women are reduced to the archetypes of the pure (and barren) wife and the objectified (and fertile) whore.
Survival Skills Required: A fertile womb and subservience.
My Chances: 3/10 a.k.a. I don't know about my fertility, but I do know I probably wouldn't want to survive in this world.

That's about as far as my apocalyptic reading has gone to date. Here's hoping the world doesn't end tomorrow and I can add to the list! In the meantime, feel free to share your book-inspired survival tips in the comments.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. An instant favourite – I’m talking top ten books of all time. I loved Silvey’s style, the authentic characters and the intriguing story.

2. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Its Melina Freaking Marchetta. Nobody does beautiful, heartfelt and realistic character-driven stories like she does. This is probably my favourite of her contemporary books.

3. Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver. This was a magical little book about grief and friendship and love. And magic, of course.

4. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. A unique contemporary novel featuring a bunch of broken and messed-up characters who burrow under your skin and take up residence in your heart.

5. Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. The compelling biography of an ex-homeless,  ex-junkie psychopath", it's the type of book that stays with you long after you've finished it,

6. Fury by Shirley Marr. A darkly funny mystery featuring a smart and spunky heroine, I was hooked from the first line.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Yes, I only read this for the first time this year. And of course it was brilliant.

8. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta. Another Marchetta, I know. I went on a bit of a MM-binge earlier in the year, and it was probably my best reading period of the last 12 months. So much gorgeous writing.

9. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. This rich retelling of Rapunzel weaves together the stories of three powerful women: the "real" Rapunzel, the witch who entrapped her, and the woman who wrote down her story.

10. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This was the scariest book I've ever read. While I wouldn't say I particularly enjoyed it, it had some powerful (and creepy) imagery, a haunting story and beautiful writing.

What were your fave books of the year?

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Review: Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron

I was a bit dubious about reading Cinnamon Rain. Mainly because it centres around a love triangle and I’m very tired of those. But thankfully, Cinnamon Rain has a few things going for it that make it very different from your standard YA love triangle fare:

  • It’s a verse novel.
  • There’s no insta-love. Far from it – these characters have known each other for years.
  • It’s told from the perspectives of all three characters.
  • These aren’t your average heroes and heroines. They screw up, act out, hurt themselves and each other – in other words, act like totally real human beings.
  • Speaking of which - it’s not paranormal. Yay, contemporary!
  • The focus is on their individual lives and journeys as much as (or perhaps more than) the love story. They’re all trying to find their way in the world and figure out who they are and what they want as they leave school and home for the first time.

In other words – don’t let the love triangle put you off. I’m glad it didn’t stop me. I’ve been wanting to read another verse novel since I read and loved Sarah Crossan’s The Weight of Water about a year ago, and I finally got to it with Cinnamon Rain. I have to say it didn’t touch me in quite the same way as The Weight of Water did, but of course it’s a completely different story with different characters and themes. I still enjoyed the verse form; it was sparse but said so much. There were more than a few elegant and beautiful passages I connected with. However, the verse did mean that, for me, the three character voices weren’t as distinct as they could have been otherwise. But it was still great to get inside all of their heads.

The story structure worked really effectively, with Luke’s version of events opening the book, followed by Casey revealing her side of things before Bongo closes out the tale with his harrowing experience.

I appreciated the fact that the main characters were ordinary teenagers, and that this didn’t mean the story was boring. Far from it – because STUFF happens in real life, and STUFF definitely happens in this book. I sympathised with all three characters for the most part, but I especially felt for Bongo. He’s the one who has gone through the most in his life, and the one who by outward appearances seems to be a bit of a deadbeat – when really he has a big heart that has the potential to break just as much as anyone else’s. Perhaps more so. My own heart broke a little for him.

I liked Luke’s story, although it didn't have the same emotional impact as Bongo’s. It was a good starting point for the trio’s tale, and set the foundation for the other characters that we got to know better in their own sections. I hate to say it, but Casey drove me a little nuts. I felt for her at times but didn’t really connect with her character as a whole. Even though a third of the book is told from her point of view, I still felt a bit distant from her character and didn’t understand many of her actions.

The way the three stories intertwined and came together at the end was beautifully done. I thought the ending was great; without being too abrupt, it avoided wrapping everything up in a neat, cheesy little bow. Because life doesn’t work that way - and Cinnamon Rain is achingly true to life.

Rating: 3.5/5

Fine Print
Published: February 2012, Walker Books Australia
Get It: All Books 4 Less

Interestingly, the US edition of this book is called Out of This Place. It probably makes more sense than Cinnamon Rain (which frankly doesn't make a lot of sense at all) - although it's less "poetic".

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2012

1. Craig Silvey. I read Jasper Jones in one day on my honeymoon and it instantly became one of my favourite books. I totally have an author crush on Mr Silvey, thanks in no small part to meeting him at an event for his novella, The Amber Amulet. I totally fangirled.

2. Kat Zhang. As I mentioned in my review, I had a lot of problems with Whats Left of Me, Zhangs debut novel, but I still loved it nonetheless. Theres something special about her storytelling ability, so Im looking forward to seeing what she does in the future.

3. Shirley Marr. I was first introduced to Ms Marr when I won a competition to have a cameo in her book, Preloved. I was beyond excited – even more so when I became friends with her on Goodreads (her author profile is sadly no longer active) and quickly discovered how witty, funny and lovely she is. I finally got around to reading both Fury and Preloved towards the end of the year, and adored them both!

4. Lauren Oliver. Ive had Olivers Delirium on my bookshelf for awhile and still havent read it, but I did manage to fly through Liesl and Po earlier in the year and thought it was absolutely beautiful. I really need to read more of Olivers books now!

5. Sarah Beth Durst. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Drink, Slay, Love; especially how funny it was. Considering how over all things vampire I am, I was very impressed that Durst delivered a fresh and fun take on the genre.

6. Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I finally read The Language of Flowers this year and it was every bit as emotional and beautiful as I expected it to be.

7. Alexander Masters. I dont often read non-fiction, but Masters biography of Stuart Shorter blew me away. It was clever, funny and incredibly raw (in a good way).

8. Kate Forsyth. Bitter Greens was a complex, gorgeous historical retelling of the Rapunzel story, which made me eager to try out some more of this talented Aussie authors work.

9. Gabrielle Williams. I wasnt really expecting to like The Reluctant Hallelujah, but it completely drew me in – and broke my heart. The writing was powerful and I loved the characters. I must check out more of Williams writing.

10. Katja Millay. The Sea of Tranquility has been getting a lot of buzz in the blogosphere, and for good reason – its a moving story about two broken people who are slowly helping each other to heal. It reminded me a lot of The Language of Flowers.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Friday 7 December 2012

Friday Links: Marchetta News, Dying Libraries and Alex Mack

I've been hyperventilating all week because JIMMY HALLIER is back. Also, Saving Francesca is being made into a movie. So much Marchetta awesomeness.

What do your bookshelves say about you? I love the idea that books are like photographs for readers, representing who you were at a particular time in your life. 

A eulogy for Fisher Library at Sydney uni. Tear. On a more positive note: this slideshow of the best college libraries in America makes my mouth water a little bit.

This Facebook page of "reviews" of books that are TL;DR makes me laugh. My fave: "1984 by George Orwell. A book about events that happened 28 years ago, published 35 years earlier. Irrefutable proof that time travel is possible."

Last month Harlequin launched their new digital imprint Escape Publishing and it's currently open for submissions.

Can season three of Game of Thrones come out already?! Here's a peek behind the scenes of production. Squee!

The Hawkeye Initiative is highlighting the ridiculousness of how women are portrayed in comics by rejigging the art to feature Hawkeye. Brilliant.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is not only the greatest A Christmas Carol adaptation, it's also the best Christmas movie, IMO. Here are 25 reasons it rocks.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are the cutest couple of the year. Officially. If they break up, I will be devastated. Unless she hooks up with Ryan Gosling and he gets with Rachel McAdams. Or they all get together and form one big polygamous family of adorable.

Julia Gillard's apocalypse speech is probably the most awesome thing she's ever done. Aside from, you know, being Australia's first female prime minister or whatever.

This has to be the greatest selfie ever taken.

Here are 45 powerful images from 2012. 

Having a bad day? Laugh at these people. That's not mean, right? Ahem.

Where is Alex Mack now? And did she ever take the cure? The answers might surprise you.

YouTube Clip of the Week
This made me smile.


Thursday 6 December 2012

Ten Reasons You Should Read The Amber Amulet By Craig Silvey

  • Craig Silvey's wonderful, beautiful prose that perfectly encaptures the whimsy, imagination and uncertainty of childhood.
  • The gorgeous illustrations and design of the book overall. It has a really cool vintage vibe and is just lovely.
  • The Masked Avenger, a lonely 12-year-old boy by day and a fearless hero at night, who saves his neighbourhood from evil - and flat tyres. He has so much heart, I just wanted to give him a hug. 
  • Richie the Powerbeagle, The Masked Avenger's trusty sidekick, who has an in-built alarm system (a.k.a. muzzle), trouble detection (a.k.a. nose), ocular friend/foe identification (a.k.a. eyes) and a semaphorical communication device (a.k.a. tail).
  • It's about the power of gemstones and metals and the natural wonders of the earth, and makes me want to have an Amazing Powerbelt of my own.
  • It's also about love, and loneliness, and family, and friendship, and frustrated dreams, and fulfilling dreams, and life-changing moments, and the way we're all connected.
  • It showcases the best side of humanity and gives you hope that there are people out there who just want the best for you, even if you don't know it.
  • It's funny, and touching, and a little heartbreaking but a lot more heartwarming.
  • It will only take you an hour to read but it will put a smile on your face for longer than that.
  • Do you really need any more reasons? OK, how about because I said so? No, seriously, you won't regret it. 

This one time I met Craig Silvey and I totally fangirled.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Top Ten Books I Want Santa To Bring Me

1. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling. I feel like the only person in the world who hasn't read this book.

2. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Everyone I know adores this book, and every time I see a new, glowing review, I kick myself for not owning it.

3. Metamorphoses by Ovid. I love Greek mythology and I've been meaning to read the Metamorphoses for years, so I'd love to get it as a gift.

4. Saved by Cake by Marian Keyes. This not only looks like a totally adorable cookbook, it also sounds like an interesting and potentially moving read, focusing on how baking literally saved Marian's life as she recovered from depression.

5. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. This twist on the Peter Pan tale sounds intriguing and has gotten amazing reviews from people I trust.

6. The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens. I loved The Emerald Atlas when I read it last year, and I've been looking forward to reading its sequel for awhile. I just need to get my hands on it!

7. Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart. I'm obsessed with Miranda's self-titled sitcom, and her book sounds just as hilarious and delightful.

8. On Writing by Stephen King. I'm hoping to focus more on my creative writing in the new year, and it seems like this book is a must-have for all aspiring authors!

9. The Illiad and The Odyssey by Homer. I specifically want the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics edition of Homer's work, because it looks gorgeous. I'm obsessed with this collection.

10. The Original Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. This edition of Mary Shelley's classic includes two versions of the story: the original that Mary wrote, and the version we all know, which was heavily edited by her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. I'd love to see the original and compare the two.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

What's on your wishlist?

Monday 3 December 2012

December TV Addict Challenge Links

Post your 2012 TV Addict Reading Challenge links for December, and any round-up posts, here.

Friday 30 November 2012

Friday Links: The BSC, The Hunger Games and Google Poetry

New photos of Sam Claflin as Finnick, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in the watery arena (a.k.a. Hawaii) in Catching Fire have emerged. They look awesome. Also awesome: This Hunger Games/Mean Girls mash-up.

Flavorwire has listed 10 TV shows that are better than the books they're based on. I totally agree about True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, but I haven't read any of the others so I can't really judge. Even though that was my aim for this year, with my own challenge and all. Sigh.

If you like charts, you might want to check out this data on 50 Shades of Grey (specifically, the sex scenes). Apparently, the first book is 13 per cent sex, the second is 11 per cent and the third is eight per cent. But you don't have to wait as long to get to the sex scenes in the final two... so there's that.

Did you know David Levithan started out as an intern working on The Baby-Sitters Club? In honour of the BSC's 30th birthday, he's done a Q&A with Ann M. Martin for Scholastic. Super cute.

Who knew Google suggested searches could be so poetic? And hilarious - but we all knew that part.

I would really love to know how some people's minds work. Like what kind of mind goes, "hey, you know what would be a great idea? Taking celebrity mug-shots and giving them a 1920s makeover". An awesome mind, that's what kind. An awesome one.

I loved looking at these vintage photos of Australian kids, especially all the Christmas shots.

This super-cut of Barack Obama in relaxed moments will make you smile.

YouTube Clip of the Week
Poor puppy is never going to get his toy back.