I didn’t hear the characteristic rattle of the loose roof iron above the kitchen, heralding a change in the wind. Hot easterly turning to a south-westerly that on a normal day would promise a drop in temperature. My brain didn’t register the growing smell of smoke, creeping up like an intruder.
The shrill clamour of the smoke alarm finally halted my study halfway through working out the molar weight of an unknown substance in question 34a. Fear buzzed as chemistry fled my brain. I made it halfway to silence the alarm before the power went out, plunging me into a dark that was simply too dark for the time of day it was. Continue reading
When you’ve shimmied through as many windows as I have, you develop a strong appreciation for why doors were invented. This one’s a prime example. Clearly not designed for ease of entry.
To be honest, I’m kind of wedged.
My butt is stuck out in no-man’s-land, legs dangling Humpty-style. It’s starting to rain back there. If this wasn’t so serious it’d be funny. If it was funny I could laugh. If I laughed it might just help me wriggle all the way through.
I brace my arms against the chill inner wall, empty my lungs, and push. Eyes bulge with pressure, fabric rips, then I slither headfirst to the floor with a boom that resounds through the whole damn place. I hate floorboards.
As I groan to my feet lights are appearing out in the hallway, voices raised and alert. But there’s no way I’m heading back out that curse of a window.
No. I’m going to get what I came here for.
Because it’s fun (and seriously, who needs a better reason?) I’ve instigated a Fiction Friday post, where I pop up something short and (not always) sweet from my recent writing efforts.
This one is from the #scbwiwestchallenge, which encourages us SCBWI West Aussies to #createeveryday. The prompt for this piece was ‘window’.
Check out Instagram to see other creations of awesome from myself and SCBWI Aus West!
If I eat enough ice-cream the brain freeze might zap the memories of what I just did. It’s worth a solid try, anyway.
‘It could be worse,’ Hoz says.
I level a Grade-A Death Glare at him. ‘How, exactly?’
His mouth opens and closes goldfish-style, then he collapses back against the wall. ‘You’re right, you’re screwed.’
I hand him the cookies and cream. He immediately scores a monster cookie chunk. Just my luck. We eat in silence until our spoons scrape the bottom of the tub.
It hasn’t worked. I still remember.
Hoz points his spoon at me. ‘At least you didn’t try to kiss him.’
I have to smile. ‘There is that.’
The #scbwiwestchallenge encourages us SCBWI West Aussies to #createeveryday. The prompt for this piece was ‘comfort food’.
Check out Instagram to see other creations of awesome!
This was an unexpectedly extra-super-dooperly beautiful book. ‘The Stars at Oktober Bend‘ by Glenda Millard had been recommended to me, so I was prepared to thoroughly enjoy reading it.
I was even prepared to cry. Quite a lot.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the depth, the intensity of the characters, and the extent to which this book covers new and interesting perspectives.
I read the blurb and expected a love story with extras. It’s way more than that. The back calls it:
A beautiful, heartfelt novel about transcending past troubles and learning to live with trust and hope.
And it absolutely is. Like the ocean is water, or chocolate is yum.
3 things that were super-dooper
- Diverse backgrounds and issues
- Great use of POV
- Poetry you really do want to leave around the place so people read it.
Hello beautiful cover. I think I’ll read you…
It started with the gorgeous cover, but this is a clever and crisp novel that followed through on expectations. ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was a fab accompaniment to a great holiday.
And it only got better on my second read, because it was so crafty I didn’t notice some of the cool things the authors were weaving into it until I started analysing.
‘These Broken Stars’ is the first in the successful The Starbound Trilogy. We have society girl, Lilac, and low-born army hero Tarver. Sparks fly, their spaceship fails to, and they find themselves stranded together on a planet with too many mysteries.
I loved the clues and suspense, and the gentle beauty that came from two people hiking and learning about themselves as they went. I also love hiking, but I don’t think that’s a prerequisite to enjoying this fab book.
So, what was great about it?
Let’s do some deconstruction… and beware the occasional (read: frequent) blatant spoiler… Here are three areas I’m going to focus on for this novel.
- Multiple plot themes = ongoing interest
- Characters and POV (I know, I sound like a broken record…)
- Subtle introduction of ideas so you don’t even notice you’re noticing them
When I finished reading this book, I hugged it. Arms. Book. Chest. Smile.
‘Take Three Girls’ by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood is a raw and sometimes confronting book that is also funny, heartfelt and inspiring.
The friendship is fab, the character arcs super, the characters themselves so realistic. I ache for them, I cheer for them, I worry for them.
The book is chock-full of positive ways for teens (especially girls) to learn to feel good about who they are, but without that terrible feeling you’re getting a super-side-serve of preaching with your fiction. It’s simply a beautifully masterful, exciting and enlightening book.
I find I don’t want to dissect ‘Take Three Girls’ like I normally would.
No. I want to hug it.
I think it’s because I’m now a teacher, and I’ve seen both ends of these character arcs, and that’s why this book hit me so deep. I’ve seen the terrible sadness and missed opportunity of kids who can only deal with hate by hating on others. A dreadful spiral.
The cover of this book drew my eye. A girl, a gargoyle, a rooftop race. I grabbed it for my library bag. So glad I did!!
What a ripper of a yarn!
I really enjoyed ‘The Luck Uglies’ by Paul Durham. It’s a fab piece of middle-grade fantasy, with a crafty and strong female lead.
I often read books to figure out what they did to become popular, win awards or fans. That doesn’t always mean they connect with me. But sometimes, like now, I don’t just read – I LOVE. I get absorbed. I chuckle. I smile.
Seriously, this has to be one of the best first sentences I’ve read in a while:
Rye and her two friends had never intended to steal the banned book from The Angry Poet – they’d just hoped to read it.
So, without further ado, what was fabularytastic?
- The narration and humour
- The world-building
- The House Rules
It’s hard to just pick three, but these encompass why I enjoyed the book so much.
The Embassy Row series seemed to be popping out at me from everywhere, and I was intrigued. So when Book 1 showed up at my library, I grabbed it.
‘All Fall Down’ by Ally Carter was an unexpected surprise for me. I had very little idea what the series was about, and what I did know had me thinking it was going to be something a bit Selection-y (perhaps because of the cover of Book 3). It’s not.
It’s got more grit and less glamour, with an ace setting and many twists and turns that will have you wishing you’d trailed string behind you in those dark underground tunnels so you could crawl out to safety.
And check out the cover. I love the fractured font above the soft image.
It is a bridging YA text, you could be confident giving it to middle-grade readers who are looking for something more, as well as more seasoned YA readers. The book combines adventure and mystery with the gaining, and losing, of friendships. As well as some harder issues around mental illness and grief.
So, what worked?
- The inspired setting
- The plot twists
- The supporting cast
Yet another book that I’d heard rave reviews about and was forced to wait until I had time to be devoured by it.
Once again, not disappointed.
‘An Ember in the Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir is an epic book. It has its occasional flaw, but the strength of the characters and the poetry of the writing is so much I just pushed those issues to the side and kept reading.
The characters are older (19 and 20) and the readership should reflect this. There is torture and an uncomfortable rape culture. But if you can stomach that, then the book is a gem.
Totally awesome bits…
- Narrator changes
- Real, 3D characters
- Intricate world-building
- Diversity and inclusivity
Let’s go through in more detail…
I’d heard a heap of good about this book, earning it a place in Swifty the caravan on my latest holiday.
I was not disappointed. This is classic YA.
It’s fab to see a debut book that is so polished. ‘Spark’ by Rachael Craw ticks all the YA boxes. Happily it does so without the sort of contrived staging that would drive me to make a list of all the ticks it ticks as I tick each off. If you get my drift.
Anyhoo… Let’s look at what I think worked for this one.
- Straight-into-it structure
- Super-solid world-building
- Intrigue with some good ol’ fashioned whodunnit
- Off-limits romance.