Getting my Stone Age on – ‘Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile’

TarinOfTheMammoths.jpgThere is a happy place where the reader and the scientist in me combine to devour both books and chocolate, all with a smile on my face. Only found amid the pages of truly fab books, I found that happy place reading ‘Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile’ by Jo Sandhu.

Hey if your kids (or you!) love history and science and all things Stone Age, then this is the book to read. It’s got danger, adventure, friendship and a diverse set of characters.

It’s got mammoths, too.

The things that work so well in this book are the basic building blocks of any great read: world-building, narrative and character.

 

World-building so epic you forget how to use a zip

I loved how Sandhu built the world for her book, with historical gems like reindeer hide and flints and boots with stuffing, and then added magic. Look, I’m no expert on Stone Age life, but I get the strong feeling Sandhu might be close. Her writing is alive, her world works. And no one slips up and lights a fire with matches or zips up their jacket or anything ūüôā

Brilliant. The authenticity of the world is what really drew me into this story. Like I was learning at the same time as I was enjoying the read. Continue reading

A scrumptious second instalment – ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’

WundersmithNow, I’m the sort of person to approach a series with trepidation … Sometimes I LOVE the first book SO MUCH, I don’t want to ruin it by reading a substandard follow-on. (Who’s with me?)

But then, there are series that are totally ace at being a series. Where the whole premise just gets better and better with each new book. I’m thinking Harry Potter, Lintang, Chronicles of Prydain, The Old Kingdom …

When authors get it right, I’m eagerly awaiting every new book.

Thankfully (because – mate – I really enjoyed ‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’ and there was no way I wanted to mess with that level of love) the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend only got more awesome with the second book, ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’.

Like, if awesome went out kayaking and then had a lemon and lime tart and some hot chocolate in a comfy armchair by the fire to celebrate how awesome the day was. That kind of extra awesome. Continue reading

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¬†humour,¬†friendship 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

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

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?

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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! ūüôā

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