There 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 🙂
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
‘Dragonkeeper’ p 264… made by me using pablo
This super book has won heaps of awards and admirers since it was published. ‘Dragonkeeper’ by Carole Wilkinson is the first in a series that splices history and fantasy.
I enjoyed this book on many levels. It is intricate, reserved, rich, and beautiful.
And I had to chuckle at Ping’s utter belief that there is no need for bathing more that once every summer or so…
This year I committed to reading a dino-load of books and absorbing, by capillary action, every awesome aspect I could find within them. I managed to read 60 Young Adult and Junior Fiction books this year, and I’m overjoyed with that.
So, what were my favourites? In precise alphabetical order, by author (that’s the librarian in me coming out…) here they are:
Young Adult Contemporary
Powerful. This got into my head. Beautifully written.
See my review here.
‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Young Adult SciFi
Like nothing I’d ever read before. Mind-blowing.
See my review here.
Young Adult Fantasy
Hello Fantasy and welcome back into my life! This was addictive.
See my review here.
Junior Fiction Historical
Beyond powerful. A must-read that both broke and filled my heart.
See my review here.
Junior Fiction Fantasy
Love love loved this series! It reminded me of landmark books of my childhood and left me filled with joy.
I haven’t published a review yet, I want to figure out how it all worked…
Young Adult Dystopia
When a book helps define a genre, you expect fireworks and meteor-shower-spectaculars from it. I got everything I was looking for with this one. And more.
No review though, because I read it well before I started this blog… sorry you’ll just have to read it yourself… if you haven’t already!
So there they are, my best reads from a very good year!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Made by me using pablo…
Back in 1910, this was how children’s books rolled. It’s one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite series as a child – the famous Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce.
I can just imagine turning up to my critique group with a sentence like this in a middle-grade manuscript… I don’t think they’d laugh me out of the house, but only because they have excellent self-control. And yet I spent hours dreaming of riding horses on a cattle farm in outback Australia because of these books!
The power of words, be they strange or familiar…
Recently someone was telling me how historical kidlit fiction should use modern language to avoid alienating the readership. I’m not so sure. There was something about Bruce’s writing that immersed me in her time.
However, I draw the line at anything like the quote above…!
Family. History. A girl-meets-boy story with <all out cheering> no romantic angle… (yes, that’s right, boys and girls can actually be teenagers and be good friends)…
I’m calling it!
If you’re looking for some truly sweet kid lit, then The Lost Sapphire is for you. I’d hazard a guess the entire of Belinda Murrell’s time slip series would be too. It was a relief for me to read something interesting, exciting and fascinating, that wasn’t peppered with swearing or murdering or shooting or shagging.
A breath of fresh air. Continue reading
Made by me using pablo
The book promised a ‘toxic triangle’ and mate, did it deliver.
This quote marks the point where uber-tough deposed princess Lada freaks the bojangles out of the Ottoman court and the ‘foul man’ chosen to be her husband. And Mehmed, son of the Sultan, is so amused by her antics he makes her and her beautiful brother Radu his companions.
Thus starts the ‘toxic triangle’. It’s a pivotal moment, and you’ve got to hand it to Lada for pure attitude. I’m not a huge fan of toxicity, but if you are, jump on in! Because this is a brilliantly written book with a captivating level of world-building that absorbs you into 15th Century Transylvania.
Check it out – ‘And I Darken‘ by Kiersten White.
‘Ten things I hate about me’ by Randa Abdel-Fattah is a fab and supremely recommended read. I couldn’t resist making a list of ten things I loved about it!
So here goes…
1. This book is all about believing in yourself and being true to who you are.
2. It’s dealing with race relations in the wake of the Cronulla riots in 2005, but the message is (sadly) still very relevant today. The Main Character, Jamilah or Jamie, is a Lebanese Muslim. That’s a fist-pump for diversity!
3. The email chat between Jamilah and ‘John’ is funny and caring and a great way to show the other side of Jamilah just bursting to come out. Continue reading
A powerful, empathy-inducing book, ‘Sister Heart’ by Sally Morgan beautifully tackles the terrible truth of the Stolen Generations. It is aimed at kids aged 9-14. This book had me crying and questioning and hugging my own little girl close.
I invite all Australians to read it, indeed all people. This story surpasses country or race to resonate deep inside what makes us human.
The narrator is a young Aboriginal girl taken from her family and placed in an institution far south of her home. Her voice is unique, her struggle in the face of unassailable odds is vivid, the friendship and support she finds from others like her is heart-warming.
This whole book is a triumph of character and voice. Continue reading