Posts Tagged ‘Alison Goodman’

So, I’ve done it again. Agreed to be a Clayton’s judge for Qld in the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

I’ve gorged on books: eighty-odd were entered in the Older Readers category this year.  The REAL CBCA Shortlist and Notables will be announced nationally on 3 April.

My Clayton’s Notable Books for Older Readers for 2012 is being announced right here, right now (Shortlist to follow… well, shortly).

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel by Michael Gerard Bauer

Hilarious third and final book in the Ishmael series where our cast of lovable larrikins finish Year 12 at St Daniels. A must for every kid’s library.

Votive (Curse of the Bond Rider #2) by Karen Brooks

Compulsively readable second installment in Karen Brooks’s fantasy trilogy. The gentle candlemaker Tallow has been suborned by the corrupt Maleovellis and transformed into courtesan and assassin Tarlo. The machiavellian intrigues of this beautifully realised world will have you on tenderhooks for the final installment. Bring on Illumination!

Silvermay by James Moloney

The first in James Moloney’s brlliant new fantasy series where a young village girl battles the Wyrdborn, a race of corrupt wizards, to save a baby prophesied to lay waste to the world.

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

Gritty yet sensitive tale of a troubled boy apprenticed to a kindly undertaker. A celebration of life in the face of death.

All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

A difficult-to-put-down, warm and gritty novel about a girl from a rough neighbourhood who is desperate to escape her small-time crim roots. The engaging storyline and characters, fluid narrative and evocative writing make for a fantastic debut novel.

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson

Deliciously fun geek-girl detective story set in a museum with bonus gross-out natural history trivia wrapped up in a treasury of mystery genre references. Something to nurture your inner nerd. Highly recommended.

The Extinction Gambit (The Extraordinaires, #1) by Michael Pryor

Entertaining romp through a richly re-imagined 1908 London, where magic flourishes, an enclave of Neanderthals survives in hiding, and a wolfish young man and a beautiful albino are all that stand between a trio of Immortal magicians and their plans for world domination. Wry and witty, for those who love their steam punk.

Being Here by Barry Jonsberg

Beautifully told story about the power of imagination. An unlikely friendship develops when an elderly woman relates the grim story of her childhood to a teenage girl for a school assignment. Keep tissues handy for the ending when the ghosts of the past come to claim their own.

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Life and happiness can turn on the toss of a coin. A lovely, affirming story by a writer who keeps coming up with the goods. If you liked Herrick’s last YA novel “Slice”, you’ll love this.

Crow Country by Kate Constable

A time-slip novel exploring black/white relations over three generations in rural Victoria. Deftly weaves Aboriginal spirituality into a magical realist framework. Highly recommended as a class novel for early high school.

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

Exquisitely written story about the mysterious disappearance of a teacher from a 1960s girls’ school in Sydney. Haunting and lyrical, with shades of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan

All the hallmarks of a swash-buckling classic from Miles Franklin award-winning author Andrew McGahan. The first instalment in the Ship Kings series brims with adventure, heroism and secrets.

When We Were Two by Robert Newton

Beautiful, funny and deeply moving story set at the start of World War One about runaway brothers marching towards their future. Deftly deals with the best and worst that men can teach boys as they conquer mountains, prejudice and the pain of their shared past.

The Shadow Girl by John Larkin

Thoughtful and edgy story about teenage homelessness. Recommended for upper secondary due to mature themes.

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon

Claire’s world is commonplace and familiar; Clara’s, post-apocalyptic and dangerous. A music box provides the key to their worlds colliding in a shared dreamscape. Fascinating and adventurous in its writing, “Only Ever Always” is for those who love reading to be both challenging and mesmerising.

Shift by Em Bailey

Is the new girl at school a parasite or something far worse? Is she imitating other girls or cannibalizing their lives? A genre-busting, riveting gallop of a read that examines toxic friendship through a more sinister lens.

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2) by Melina Marchetta

In this mesmerising sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, loyalties are tested and dark bonds of kinship revealed as Lumatere strikes back at the heart of its enemy. Richly imagined, powerful story telling, with characters that will steal your heart.

Pig Boy by J.C. Burke

A confronting and compelling read that confounds expectations. An unlikeable outsider teams up with a Bosnian pig shooter so that he can learn to shoot. But the Wake in Fright elements mask author JC Brennan’s real and more subtle intentions. Impressive story telling.

A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon

“Gungee is an ancient word meaning: this place is a hole.” Join Tiff from Gungee Creek in her funny, poignant and heartfelt tussles with life, death, first love, first job. From one of Australia’s finest writers for young people.

Eona (Eon, #2) by Alison Goodman

Stunning conclusion to the Dragoneye fantasy duology that started with Eon (also published as The Two Pearls of Wisdom). Eastern fantasy with spirit. Highly recommended.

Dangerously Placed by Nansi Kunze

Alex’s dream work experience placement becomes a nightmare when a co-worker is murdered and Alex becomes the prime suspect. A virtual reality thriller for high schoolers.

Just a Girl by Jane Caro

Atmospheric first person account of the young Elizabeth I on the eve of her coronation. A compelling fictionalisation and fascinating glimpse into the life of a great queen when she was just a girl.

Whisper by Chrissie Keighery

A fascinating story of a teenager who becomes profoundly deaf after contracting meningitis. Her attempts to reconcile her hearing and non-hearing worlds make for riveting reading.

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

Lanagan’s latest short story collection is beautifully written, mesmerisingly strange, yet oddly familiar. She tilts the world on its axis, we lose our balance and topple into the bizarre. An original and unique voice in Australian literature.

If, like me, you plan to end the year skidding in sideways with a book in each hand, then read on for this year’s hot Xmas pressie ideas for family and friends…

For the Teen Miss, it would be hard to go past Shift by Em BaileyA genre-busting, riveting gallop of a read that examines toxic friendship through a more sinister lens. For me, this is the Young Adult psychological thriller of the year, with a doozy of a cover that booksellers tell me is walking off the shelves.

For tastes that run more to funny and poignant, first job, first love, then get Bill Condon’s A Straight Line to My Heart. All Aussie humour and heart, with cracker dialogue and characters you can’t bear to say goodbye to when the last page is turned.

For the young fella in the house, you can’t go wrong with The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings 1This new series has all the hallmarks of a swash-buckling classic from Miles Franklin award-winning author Andrew McGahan.  Brimming with adventure, heroism and secrets. A must-buy for boys 12+ this Christmas.

Michael Gerard Bauer’s Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel is a corker of a read for anyone aged 12 and over. In this hilarious third and final novel in the Ishmael series, our cast of lovable larrikins finishes Year 12 at St Daniels. The colourful rejacketed full set will make a terrific addition to any kid’s library.

For the knee-highs, Katherine Battersby’s adorable picture book Squish Rabbit is a winner with a squishy cover as sweet as the gelati palette used in its collaged pages. I have a very special three year old in mind for this one…

Lovers of fantasy are spoilt for choice with wonderful offerings from award-winning authors Melina Marchetta, Karen Brooks, Alison Goodman and James Moloney.

Froi of the Exiles is the riveting sequel to Finnikin of the Rock  and once again proves that Melina Marchetta is gifted with the grace of writing characters who steal your heart. Powerful story telling coupled with a nuanced understanding of human nature creates a richly imagined tale peopled with unforgettable characters. Froi of the Exiles is compulsive reading that will leave you clamouring for the final book in the series.

In Karen Brooks’ Votive, the second in her Curse of the Bond Riders trilogy, the gentle candlemaker Tallow has been suborned by the corrupt Maleovellis and transformed into courtesan and assassin Tarlo. The machiavellian intrigues of this beautifully realised world will have you on tenderhooks for the final installment. Bring on Illumination!

Alison Goodman’s Eona is a stunning conclusion to the Dragoneye fantasy duology that started with Eon (also published as The Two Pearls of Wisdom).

And finally, James Moloney’s new fantasy Silvermay is guaranteed to please his myriad fans with Wyrdborn and common folk fighting over a child destined to destroy the world.

PS I’ve just realised this list is top-heavy with speculative fiction and kids, so next time I’ll post some recommendations for Nana and other significant adults in your lives. 😉

So tell me, what books are on your must-buy list this Christmas?

I recently made the mistake of sharing a complimentary email from a reader with one of the funnier bastards in my larger-than-life clan. He read it, snorted and accused my correspondent of “just blowing wind up your arse”.

Well, pardon my billowing skirts, but is there anyone out there who is immune to the unexpected thrill of walking over an air grate?

Yes, it makes us blush, wondering what we may have inadvertently revealed. But don’t try to tell me that a well-placed jet of air doesn’t feel good. Particularly when it comes unexpected, in the midst of a long, hot, dry spell.

Novel writing can be such a tortuous exercise in delayed gratification. Sometimes years of silence separate writer and reader, and when that silence is finally broken, it might be thrilling, disappointing or even shattering for the lonely worker of words.

The wonderful YA author Michael Gerard Bauer recently posted some tongue-in-cheek advice on facebook, quoting no less a source than John Steinbeck: “Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”

Hear hear. The risk in giving unqualified praise is that it opens one up to some unpleasant accusations. But I’m in the mood to throw caution to the wind and ask the following authors to step over the air grate.

Firstly, Melina Marchetta. Having privately gushed over Finnikin of the Rock,  I am happy to blow wind up her skirt publicly. One jet each for the well-rounded characters (especially the diabolical Evanjalin), the fiendishly good dialogue and an all-round rollicking good read.

Ditto, Alison Goodman with The Two Pearls of Wisdom. A standout amongst the dragonesque fantasy series that have become popular in recent years. I devoured it in a weekend, back glued to the couch, legs propped in the air.

And finally, Sonya Hartnett, famously dubbed ‘the greatest Australian novelist of her generation’ (though Tim Winton might dispute the claim, being only seven or eight years older).

Her latest offering, Butterfly, wraps the reader so convincingly in the prickly skin of a fourteen-year-old that it is impossible not to feel for her in shuddering detail. Hartnett is no less convincing in the viewpoints of the child’s charismatic and enigmatic brothers and the self-deluding and adulterous housewife next door. A masterful rendering with a disturbing ending that may well elude younger readers.

I’m a fan of all three writers and am happy declaring my colours. There are enough fine books in this world to keep me busy; I’ll save my breath for them and let silence serve as comment on lesser offerings.

PS. Don’t buy me books for Xmas, that’s what the library’s for! xxx.

Don’t you just love teenagers and their Christmas wish lists?

I’m thinking of punishing mine by giving Breaking Dawn, the latest of the Stephanie Meyer vampire bestsellers, to her eleven-year-old sister. Letting Ms I-need-a-cooler-phone watch her baby sister curl up with that vampire hottie Edward Cullen will teach her not to taunt the writer in the family.

Given the choice though, Ms Eleven would prefer Inkdeath, the latest Cornelia Funke novel, in her Christmas stocking. For those who haven’t yet discovered the literary pleasures of a story where books come to life, get in before the rush. Inkheart, the movie, is coming out at the end of January.

Nine-year-old boys can be won over by the latest in Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series about child spies – “for official purposes these children do not exist.” Though it’s a bit of a worry when the sixteen-year-old footy players tell him they are reading them too!

For the eighteen-year-old who is moving into his first shared house, it just has to be the John Birmingham classic, He died with a Falafel in his hand.

Nana will love anything from the classy Kate “I don’t write crime” Atkinson (oh, yes you do!) And for men in your life who are more fascinated by fact than fiction, how about the magnificent hardcover The New York Times – The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008?

For me, just fill my stocking please with the sublime pleasures of Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels, Alison Goodman’s Two Pearls of Wisdom, and Peter Temple’s Truth, his sequel to The Broken Shore. That, and anything you’ve read, loved and care to recommend in the space below, is all I want for Christmas this year.  🙂