A delightful series to sink your fangs into: Amelia Fang

Amelia-Fang-Cover-Image.jpgI love it when a tip from a fellow blogger leads me to a gem of a book.

And I adore it when it leads to THREE books, with another one just released!!

The Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson is – quite simply – fabulous fun! From the different coloured end-paintings on each book to the gorgeous illustrations they are a delight to behold and read.

<and I actually wanted to display them backwards on the bookshelf>

Filled with humourfriendship and adventure, not to mention the cutest pet pumpkin ever, this Junior Fiction series has excellent characters and great themes. I loved reading them aloud with my own little junior reader – especially putting on Florence the Yeti’s voice! Continue reading

As big and as bold and as awesome as a wingerslink – ‘Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt’

OCATNH.jpgThis book has stolen my heart! I enjoyed reading it so much.

I loved it on the first read, when I was captivated by the friendship, humour and exciting world filled with unknowns that I just wanted to know.

I loved it on the second read, as I discovered some of the tricks author Rhiannon Williams used to make it so super-duper awesomesauce.

And then…

YES! And then!

AND THEN!!!! I went out and bought it because my library only had an e-book and I love paper books. And I loved it on the third read with its beautiful cover and fabulous messages for kids.

‘Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt’ by Rhiannon Williams is a delight for middle-grade readers. It won the Ampersand Prize. I can see why. If I’d been judging, I would have hugged the manuscript after I’d finished it.

(I may have hugged the book) (I do that sometimes)

Why did I enjoy so much?

Because it has action and suspense and camaraderie with this deep underlying theme of challenging gender stereotyping and being true to who you are.

AND I enjoyed it because I felt like I was in safe hands with the author – the reason why came apparent in my second read because Williams follows a pretty standard structure for the book. This isn’t a bad thing at all – it’s standard because it works for the reader, keeps them hooked and reading to the end.

So, a quick summary (and careful if you haven’t read it, because I can’t explain without a few spoilers!!): Continue reading

Cool solutions for shady gardens: Why not plant a rainbow?

IMG_20180918_141720697.jpgWalls, fences, dense trees, high-rise neighbours, eaves, and patios… With the rise in urban living, we’re finding more and more shade encroaching on our gardens. And those gardens are becoming increasingly precious, as pockets of green in an urban landscape.

So what do you do with those dark corners of your block?

Do not despair, there are many native plants that can grow and thrive in shady areas. To prove this, we’ve compiled a rainbow of plants to brighten up the dark. All you need to add is a hammock, and your shady spot will be the ideal summer haven.

 Planting in shade – the basics

  • The deeper and darker your shady spot, the fewer flowers you’ll get. The plants we list in this article are happiest and most colourful in dappled shade, but will tolerate deeper shade.
  • Shaded plants often become ‘leggy’. Regular light pruning will help them to remain compact.
  • If your shade comes from a deciduous tree, the pileup of leaves in autumn can smother plants underneath, as well as provide too much nutrient to a native garden. Regularly rake up the leaves in autumn – you can make leafmould from them for your vegetables!

 

Our shady rainbow plants

Red- Holly Flame Pea Chorizema ilicifolium

This cheerful pea has yellow/orange and red flowers from July to October. It is low-growing, rarely reaching 0.5 m, and grows well in sand and over limestone. Continue reading

Full of colours and strength – ‘Catching Teller Crow’

CatchingTellerCrow.jpgHope against despair. Courage fighting fear. Joy beating sadness.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina is profoundly moving, at times painful, addictively suspenseful, and all woven together with strength and love.

This is a powerful novel. Filled with powerful female characters and a dad who could be a role model for dads everywhere.

The way it’s told pulls the reader in, and then makes them question everything.

I love the clever use of POV. Beth Teller is dead, and narrates in first person prose, past tense. Yet second narrator, Isobel Catching, narrates in 1st person verse, present tense, even though she’s mainly telling the “what has been”. Her narrative tricks you at first, until you realise the truth and your mind flips and the story suddenly gets a heck load deeper into your gut.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ is a jewel of a murder mystery with paranormal side serves and some intriguing gusts of wind. Continue reading

As gorgeous as a child’s painting of their mum – ‘Roses Are Blue’

rosesareblueOMG. I have just finished reading one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, full of heart and feeling, strength and healing.

The gorgeous ‘Roses Are Blue’ is by the fabulous Sally Murphy, and illustrated by Gabriel Evans, so it’s West Aussie through and through.

It’s written in verse, adding to the poignancy of everything that MC Amber relates. Amber is filled with so many emotions kids (anyone) (me included) can relate to – wanting to fit in, fearing being different, wishing for the impossible and not liking herself much sometimes for wishing that. Amber is a lovely narrator, the story is beautiful. Continue reading

AWW2018 roundup and 2019 launch!

AWW2019.jpg2018 is so last year! It’s time to rise to a new challenge! #AWW2019 is on, people!

I’ve taken up the same challenge – to read ten books by Australian women writers and review six – and I’m likely to blitz it (again). How can I not, when we have such amazing female writing talent in Oz?!

Here are the links to my #AWW2018 review blogs, covering 16 fab books by Aussie women writers:

It was a super year with huge talent. Bring on 2019, and more great reads by Aussie women!

xx

As exciting as a stint in an InvisiLounge -‘Skyfire’ (The Seven Signs #1)

SkyfireSeven teens from seven continents, trying to crack seven signs a day for seven days as the world progressively swirls down the proverbial toilet.

Gold. Total gold.

I was reeled in by Skyfire, the first in The Seven Signs series by Michael Adams, hauled deeper into the mystery the more I read. I’ll be honest, the first few pages I was totally thinking yeah, I know what this is all about. But then the characters came alive and the action began ticking. And awesome things began happening. And happening. And happening.

And then, hooly toolooly, the first signs arrived.

There was no turning back for me. I had to buy the rest of the series. I had to read them all, stat. I had to know what was happening and where were they going next and who was the Signmaker and for goodness’ sake, can someone let these kids sleep sometime!? Continue reading

Motivation: what makes writing fun and writers proud of themselves

Let’s talk about rejection and motivation and why we’re doing this writing gig. What motivates us?

And what maybe should be motivating us instead?

pablo (4).png

Because I’ve been writing a while now. Writing and querying and hoping. And getting a whole heap of (encouraging) rejections.

But… nonetheless… they’re still rejections.

I signed up to NaNoWriMo again this year. NaNoWriMo rocks. But – I’ll just come out and say it – my NaNoWriMo 2018 sucked. Badly. It sucked even before I got knocked down by the flu and had to completely stop to recover.

So… why did writing – one of my favourite things – suddenly suck?

Real talk here, people… it sucked because I was forcing the story

Whoever says that writing isn’t fun and you’ve got to push through the hard bits is talking a language I don’t understand. Kudos to them, but I’ve had an epiphany about how I write. And it ain’t about dragging a story out kicking and screaming, while simultaneously bashing my head against the keyboard.

Why was I doing it? Continue reading

As sweet as a Gub and as nerve-wracking as being tracked through the vents of a Freighter Class C – ‘In the Dark Spaces’

ITDS.jpgIf you want world-building of awesome and relatable characters and a super voice, then ‘In the Dark Spaces’ by Cally Black is for you.

It’s SciFi with added ethical conundrums and a dash of Stockholm syndrome. Prepare to cry. And grin. And be absorbed.

My library wants my copy back, stat, and I’m that working-my-shift-button-stuck kind of busy ATM. Plus I just spilt tea on my keyboard…

So I’ll keep this quick.

Fabulously Awesome Book.

Read it.

It won the Ampersand Prize and it’s so obvious why. Be prepared to get 3/4 of the way through and have one of those existential crises where you question why you ever bother to write because Black does it so well…

… Of course, we write because we can’t imagine life without writing, and we read because sometimes they’re as perfect as this book! 🙂

Take care everyone. Don’t spill your tea.

3 Awesome Series for Kids Who Thrive on Learning

If you, like me, have a voracious young reader who loves learning, then you probably also love it when you find a series you can trust to entertain your child and feed their love of knowledge. Educational books don’t need to be non-fiction, sometimes when the facts are hidden by the fun children learn even more!

Here are three of my favourite Junior Fiction series for making those synapses spark…

  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta
  • Juliet Nearly a Vet
  • Sage Cookson Continue reading