Sunday, July 31, 2011

FYI: Where To Buy Aussie YA (internationally)

So... often all my "honourary Aussie" readers who live outside Australia lament that our most brilliant books are not available to them :/

There are a few places where the most desperate can buy and pay $$$ in shipping and have books delivered from Australia to your door.

HOWEVER ...

there is one place where you can get FREE international shipping ~ 

fishpondworld.com

screenshot of a pre-order of Melina Marchetta's upcoming book
only $15 ~ which is a bargain for an Aussie book


Oh happy day ;)

Of course, you may be a tad surprised at how much our Aussie books cost compared to what you're used to. (We are a smaller country, with smaller publishers, it's just the way it is). You will be paying the same price as what we pay over here.

BUT at least you now have postage-free access to any gorgeous Aussie books your little hearts desire :D

What to buy when you get there?

That's up to you :) You may like our Aussie editions of books better, or you may be after books that are not available in the US yet.

some of my Aussie faves 
(that are not available through The Book Depository or Amazon):



Aussie pre-orders (highly recommended):


I have no idea when Marchetta's FROI will be out internationally. I know The Piper's Son was out a full 12 months in Australia before the rest of the world. Blood song = AWESOME. Haven't read The Bridge, but I am insanely excited for it :D

Coming to US but already available in the Aussie edition 
(in case you can't wait/ want our cover)


Graffiti Moon will be out in Feb 2012 in the US. Saving June in Dec 2011.
Both have different covers. 

I have many other faves, but a lot of them are already internationally available :)

(I am also planning to update my Aussie YA page on the blog, which is sadly looking a little outdated :/ )*

Note: I am not an affiliate or anything, just passing on the info for any interested readers :D Also, being in Australia, my browser always defaults to the Australian fishpond site, so not able to link directly from here. make sure you use: fishpondworld.com (fishpond.com.au is for Australia/New Zealand). I've used our fishpond site a bundle of times and they have been awesome (although I haven't bought books from them~ have used them to send gifts interstate).

I am completely unaware of any other Australian sites which offer free international shipping (and I am pretty certain that it is a recent development with fishpond anyways).

* speaking of plans for the blog. It's been a little quiet around here lately. Huh. I do have a bundle of upcoming reviews, etc, but have been cruising a bit :)


Monday, July 25, 2011

Cover Reveal: Legend by Marie Lu



Today Penguin Australia revealed the cover for one of my most anticipated reads this year: Legend by Marie Lu. 


The cover above is the Aussie/UK edition.


I LOVE IT


I love the colour scheme ~ light and dark and shadowy and luminous all at once. I love the symbol imprinted in the top left corner. I like the glimpse of the dystopian world ~ and the girl in the combat boots on the cover <3 




 <-- The US cover of Legend.


I do like the US cover too ~ it's striking in it's simplicity ~ but I think my fave this time is the Aussie cover :)


Which cover do you like best?
Have you read Legend yet? (there are ARCs out there)
Are you planning on reading it?






The blurb of Legend: The United States is gone, along with its flooded coasts. North America's two warring nations, the western Republic and the eastern Colonies, have reached a breaking point. In the midst of this broken continent and dark new world are two teenagers who will go down in history . . .

Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake sector, fifteen-year old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. A mysterious boy with no recorded image or fingerprints. A boy who should no longer exist. A boy who watches over his family until one evening, when the plague patrols mark his family's door with an X - the sign of infection. A death sentence for any family too poor to afford the antidote. Day has no choice; he must steal it.
Born to an elite family in the wealthy Ruby sector, fifteen-year old June is the Republic's most promising prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country - until the day her brother Metias is murdered during a break-in at the plague hospital.
Only one person could be responsible.
Day.
And now it's June's mission to hunt him down.
The truth they'll uncover will become legend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart


A princess with a craving for blood. 

A stranger who knows her secret. 

A land where nothing is as it seems.
When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina's only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side - and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king's advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she's to uncover the truth - but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?
(what a blurb (!) )

Me + this book: I went to bed around 11pm @ night and thought I’d check out the first chapter of Blood Song before turning out the light. Fast forward 290 pages later and it’s around 3am and I’ve devoured the book in one leaping go. I was so sucked in, so loving everything about this book that I didn’t want to put it down. I spent time over the following week re-reading my favourite passages as I was not ready to let the characters and story go. Just sitting down and writing my review has made me nostalgic all over again :)

The review: Blood Song grabbed me from the start. The thing about this fantasy ~ is Hart writes in such a way that the reading experience was so effortless. Her writing is tight, within pages you have a sense of the world and our heroine. Her world-building is all show (not tell) and Hart masterfully places the reader in the story alongside Zeraphina, letting the world-building evolve as we go along. I marvel at the way she handled it without employing the “awkward info dump” scenario that so often bogs down books in this genre.

I seriously *loved* Zeraphina (& from the first page). She’s spirited without being overly in-your-face-feisty, she’s confident even while aching and confused inside. She’s got a gorgeous persona ~ exactly the kind of character I would love to be friends with. She has a smart sense of humour and she fiercely, spectacularly loves her pets (her cat, Leap, and Griffin, her eagle)

[detouring here to say ~ Leap and Griffin are such fab characters to add to the cast, they’re brought to life with all the nuances of a 3D human character. <3]

The other thing you should absolutely know about this book is it is crazily original. The plot continually heats up and the villains (!) are insanely, genuinely creepy. I had chills even as I couldn’t look away ~ they are fascinating and dark and make for some completely vivid imagery. The stakes are raised and the truth is equal parts creative and horrifying.

Deep into the plot of the book, some of the imagery and scenery depicted reminded me of the way Marianne de Pierre’s crafted such an intense setting in her book Burn Bright. While in Lharmell, the setting was so strongly evoked: ashey and dark and mysterious and incredibly foreboding. There is a kind of cult-esque feel with the Lharmellins which I gave me tiny little sparks of horror (and raised my curiosity ten-fold). Absolutely-deliciously-cannot-look-away-creepy.  

Apart from the all mystery and darkness, there's a lot of fun in the book (including balls, a wedding, and an archery tournament).

So you want to know about the swoon factor ;) ? YOU GUYS. *dies of the swoon* Zeraphina and Rodden have one of those relationships that keep me glued to the pages. Rodden’s 22 years old, dark, broody, effortlessly sexy and impossibly hard to read (oh-so-very-intriguing). He’s enigmatic, charismatic and utterly appealing. And, wow, how he and Zeraphina spar. They have an amazing chemistry even as (okay, especially as) they antagonise each other.

It is the first book in a series, and while it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, it provides a whole bunch of answers while psyching you up for the next installment.

I can feel my review growing with everything I want to say. But I am worried that the more I ramble on, the more you’ll skim and the less you’ll read ;) So to summarise the essence of my review:
oh my gosh, I loved it so.

Recommended: Blood Song is written with astounding talent, stunning creativity and complete heart. It’s thrilling and mysterious and fun and creepy and dark, (with some sexy undertones). It’s on my favourites list, best of 2011 list and tops my list of fave fantasies. I had no idea I would love this so. I cannot wait to see it in stores (in Australia from Sept 1). I cannot wait for you guys to all read it and see what you think!

... in the meantime ... read the first chapter (!)


thank you ever-so-much to Rhiannon Hart and Random House for providing me with the ARC *grins* 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

All I Ever Wanted by Vicki Wakefield


Mim knows what she wants, and where she wants to go—anywhere but home, stuck in the suburbs with her mother who won’t get off the couch, and two brothers in prison.
She’s set herself rules to live by, but she’s starting to break them.
Now Mim has to retrieve a lost package for her mother. Does this make her a drug runner? Why is a monster dog called Gargoyle hidden in the back shed? And Jordan, the boy she sent Valentines to for years, why is he now suddenly a creep? How come there’s a huge gap between her and her best friend, Tahnee? And who is the mysterious girl next door who moans at night?
Over the nine days before her seventeenth birthday, Mim’s life turns upside down. She has problems, and she’s determined to solve them herself. But in the end, she works out who her people are, and the same things look entirely different.(from publishers site)

All I Ever Wanted is blurbed by two of my all-time fave Aussie YA authors:

‘One of the most memorable YA books I’ve ever read. Original, real, startling and beautiful.’ Cath Crowley (Graffiti Moon) 
‘In a tarnished world, Mim is tough and sweet and true. Utterly charming’ Fiona Wood (Six Impossible Things).

Okay, I nearly feel like my work here as a reader/reviewer is done as I fully (crazily) endorse both those statements.

All I Ever Wanted captivated me from the first few pages. I adore Mim, she’s tough and brave and bold despite her fears and failures. She’s smart and funny and fierce and looking at her world through her eyes was just gorgeous. She has strong convictions and secret dreams and is spirited in that Josie Alibrandi way (Melina Marchetta).

The prose in this book (!)

[pauses for a moment]

Absolutely, genius-like, divine.

I am billing it as a mix between Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon and Leanne Hall’s This Is Shyness (both amazing-brilliant-wow books to be blended up with).

It is, in some ways, a gritty read but without it feeling gritty. It’s like a diamond in the rough kind of read ~ all tough on the outside but absolutely shining and beautiful at its core.

I love books like this: original, unpredictable, delightfully strange, completely real and shining with hope. It felt utterly Australian. The characters are unabashedly flawed and all the more lovable for it.


I haven’t said much about the plot ~ honestly, I liked reading it having no idea what to expect from it ~ but for those of you who need more a teaser ~ here’s a blurb from author Vicki Wakefield talking about her teen experience that inspired Mim’s story:



As a teenager, I always had one leg dangling over the wrong side of the tracks. When I was seventeen I went to house-sit for a friend who was an unmarried teenage mother. It was a half-house in a lost street in a forgotten suburb – just like the book.

It wasn’t hard to dredge up memories of that month – I lived in a perpetual state of fear and desperation. I dared myself to stay there. During the day the street was deserted; at night it was alive and menacing and I was terrified. Law seemed to exist outside of that street, but by the end of the month I was braver, wiser and I’d changed my mind about some of the residents. The people who lived there didn’t have money or material things – but what they did have was pride, a sense of community and bucketloads of humanity. (taken from her author page @ Text)

I am sold on Wakefield’s debut and she has entered my ranks of hallowed Aussie quthors and auto-buy, must-reads.

And YES ~ I did reference Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood all in one review for this stunning debut :)

All I Ever Wanted has been longlisted for the inky's (wooT!) 
Fingers crossed it will make the cut into the short list :)

Go forth and read it ;)

More reviews:

All I Ever Wanted @ Text Publishing (including preview of first chapter)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. 


Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. 


A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister. 


Mary Hooper oh-so-comfortably captivates in FALLEN GRACE. From the out-set, the book feels authentic to the era, the atmosphere and setting and overall vibe are so Victorian London 

The tale has a Dickensian feel to it: the plot manages to weave it's way through street urchin-type life, to the lives of the incredibly posh upper class folks of the day.


While the story is constantly unravelling (the plot is quite pacy and from one chapter to the next a lot of things seem to go down) it still doesn't read like a tension-filled adventure-y read. It's a story you have to relax and settle yourself into.  

It *kind of* reminded me of some of Jeffrey Archer's tales ~ how he weaves characters paths across each other, fortunes shifting and foreshadowing is used to heightened effect. There's a mix of suspense ~ sometimes the reader is clued in to details the characters don't know (which is all very 'O.o can't wait to see what happens when they find out' and 'hurry up and find out already') and other times we are taken along for the ride, kept in the dark.


Despite the (multitude of) horrendous and sorrowful things that occurred to our (spirited and enduring) protagonists ~ the story did not feel all grief-y and drowning-in-my-sorrows. It was actually a fun kind of read, like settling into a storyteller of old around a campfire and drifting away into another time and era.


Oh! Final note: I liked the random stuff in there (eg: like Grace becoming a muse ~ someone employed to attend funerals, doning a sorrowful and haunting manner to add to the atmosphere of the graveside service O.o ~ creepy [but cool]). There's plenty of random asides that add authenticity and are ever-so-curious.


Fallen Grace is available in Australia now


Fallen Grace @ Bloomsbury Australia
Fallen Grace @ goodreads

Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing the review copy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister.


Oooh ~ what a blurb O.o 


I am not sure if FORBIDDEN needs much introduction? It's been making it's waves through the YA reading world since it's UK release last year and has had a recent boost with it's Aussie release and (upcoming?) US release.


The premise is as per the blurb. The drama is as per the tagline on the cover. The overwhelming verdict (as per goodreads and bloggers) is that this book will break your heart, shock, anger and resonate. 


As for me ...

I am out on my own little limb here in saying I did not care for this book *waves to all my buds who love it to the max*

It is not the subject matter that irked me but rather the heavy-handed and melodramatic way in which it was handled.

This book, IMO, is the equivalent to a daytime drama ~ complete with sappy character names (Lochan, Maya, Kit, Tiffin and Willa are the children), over-wrought "true love" sentiments, sensationalist parental issues of alcoholism, abandonment and abuse, and an oh-my-gosh extreme climax (designed either to make a statement or just for forbidden love shock angle?).

The love Lochan feels for Maya (his sister) is all-consuming. In his mind it is love, no doubt, but it is a dark, all-consuming force. He is possessive, jealous, brooding and manipulative as he clings (and wrestles) with his desire for his sister. His intense love for Maya, and the way in which he declares it, is reminiscent of the romance Edward and Bella share in TWILIGHT (in intensity/forbiddeness/ and i-would-rather-die-than-face-the-world-without-you sentiments). It's hard-core, and Suzuma goes all out with poetic prose and cheesy statements.


While Lochan's behaviour is certainly plausible (in a teen who's view of himself and the world is so polarised), I struggle with this version of "love" being shown as romantic ~ and being written in such a way to gain the sympathy of readers. It is rather creepy and obsessive (although softened somewhat by Lochan's own 
social phobias/mental health problems which make him a character some readers would long to care for).

The only characters I really cared for in this book were Lochan and Maya's siblings, who are neglected and abandoned and I genuinely ached for them (although their problems take a back seat behind the incest-love-drama).

I found the prose a little heavy to trudge through and the sex scenes a bit too explicit (okay, they were too tackily explicit) for my preference.

FORBIDDEN is like a Romeo & Juliet forbidden love story with a sensationalist incest twist and an ending designed to shock and enrage readers on behalf of the characters. I get why it has garnered so much curiosity and also why so many people are gasping and weeping at the end. It is gripping and shocking and makes for an unrelenting read. It's quite dark and I felt like a heavy weight was sitting on my chest as I was reading it.

Unfortunately, melodrama and all-consuming sweeping love acts/declarations in a "day-time drama setting" is just not really my thing.

Forbidden @ goodreads


on a side note: remember when Flowers in the Attic was all the rage? LOL. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.
         
In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—about God, your family, and yourself—is transformed



Author Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous stories but I think Once Was Lost is my favourite so far. 

While the religious premise may make some mainstream readers hesitant, it is so honestly portrayed that it's not about religion at all, rather one girl coming to terms with faith, hopelessness, searching for the truth and trying to find her place in the world: not issues unique to Christians, rather relevant to everyone regardless of religious belief. There was nothing preachy about it (phew!) 

It's a subtle book, unfolding in layers which continually drew me in until it got to a point where I felt deeply invested in the characters lives. It is the kind of book where I held my breath and somehow felt touched and empowered after completion. 

Zarr has an amazing talent and teen voice. Her stories may not feature "original" twist-y premises or jaw-dropping OMG climaxes. Rather they feature layered, flawed and achingly real characters in circumstances that are relate-able ~ her stories feel like the truth and challenge me as a reader. They cause me to think beyond myself and to hope. Once Was Lost felt simultaneously effortless to read yet there was constance depth bubbling away under the surface. 

This was completely absorbing and absolutely touching and the kind of YA contemp that keeps me coming back to the genre for more. 

Also: I should mention her prose is just lovely: simple and flowing and occasionally quietly metaphorical. Gorgeous. 



Recommended: for fans of quiet and compelling and utterly absorbing contemp YA. Sara Zarr is one of my must-read authors. Her books are completely tailored to my taste :) (my taste here being genuine, brave and emotionally resonating reads). It's quietly brilliant <3


Have you read Sara Zarr?


Once Was Lost @ goodreads
My review of Sara Zarr's Sweethearts

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 Inky's Longlist wOOT (!)

I insanely love it when longlists for Aussie awards start appearing ~ and one of my fave awards to follow is 'The Inky's"


click click forEverything you need to know about The Inky's

The inky's are Australia's only teenage choice book award.

There are two inky's awarded every year:
The Golden Inky goes to the #1 Australian YA title of the year.
The Silver Inky goes to the #1 International YA title of the year.

The longlist was announced on Inside a Dog today



and here it is *drum roll*


GOLD INKY LONG LIST
(Australian titles)
  • Pigboy by  JC Burke 
  • Good Oil by Laura Buzo 
  • Just a Girl by Jane Caro 
  • The FitzOsbourne’s in Exile by Michelle Cooper 
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley 
  • This is Shyness by Leanne Hall 
  • Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick 
  • Silvermay by James Moloney 
  • The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling 
  • All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield 
SILVER INKY LONG LIST
(International titles)
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  • Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
  • The Agency: The Body in the Tower by YS Lee
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • First Light by Rebecca Stead
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
  • Violence 101by  Denis Wright 
The short list will be announced on September 1st with the voting open until October 18th.

oh i am so thrilled with a few of the picks on this list.

for the GOLDEN INKY ~ I am excited to see:

  • GOOD OIL and (as always) 
  • GRAFFITI MOON <3 
  • and the awesome THIS IS SHYNESS (which has a sequel coming out next year (!)
* still desperately want to read BLACK PAINTED FINGERNAILS and ALL I EVER WANTED.


For the SILVER INKY:

  • can I say I LOVE seeing NO AND ME (!) (go forth and read it!)
  • plus VIOLENCE 10, 
  • and (aww) WHERE SHE WENT <3
  • and the charming ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS
* and I so want to read MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD and FIRST LIGHT 

I love how the inky lists are always so eclectic (really, something for everyone) 

What are your picks for the short list?
Or your fave for the winner?
Which book are you hanging out to read the most?

and FYI :D

Previous winners:

2010
Golden Inky: Stolen by Lucy Christopher 
Silver Inky: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater



2009
Golden Inky: Randa Abdel-Fattah - Where the Streets Had A Name
Silver Inky: The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

2008
Golden Inky: James Roy (teen author) - Town
Silver Inky: Before I Die - Jenny Downham

2007 
Golden Inky: Simmone Howell - Notes From the Teenage Underground
Silver Inky: Looking For Alaska - John Green


(oh, Aussie teen readers have fab taste ;)

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

How do you know if your friends actually like you? Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year for some days away together. ...