Saturday, September 29, 2012

Just a Girl

Title: Just a Girl
Author: Jane Caro
First Published: may 2011 by university of Queensland press

I do not remember when I discovered how my mother died, it seems to be something I always knew, a horror I absorbed through my skin.

Determined, passionate and headstrong, Elizabeth I shaped the destiny of a kingdom.

Her mother; Anne Boleyn, was executed by her father Henry VIII. From that moment on, Elizabeth competed with her two half-siblings for love and for Britain’s throne. In the gilded corridors of the royal palace, enemies she couldn’t see – as well as those bound to her by blood – plotted to destroy her.

Using her courage to survive and her wits to confound those who despised her, this young woman became one of the greatest monarchs the world has ever seen.

Even though she was just a girl, she had already lived a lifetime

(blurb from goodreads) 

Quick Review
plot is brilliant and Elizabeth is a intriguing characters, but the suspense and tension needed was't there. The writing was good, but the past tense narration made it seem a bit anti-climatic.  

Ramble Review
i love a good historical novel, and the english monarchy around the Elizabethan Era was full of scandal and drama, making it perfect for a novel. it started well, with Elizabeth looking back over hr life the night before her coronation. From the very beginning Elizabeth was an interesting character, very insightful. unfortunately choosing to write the novel in this reflective, past tense style wasn't the best choice. there were many great dramas in Elizabeth's life, but the wisdom of her narration made it seem like nothing was really happening. I kept waiting for 'something to happen' even when people were dying or fighting. 

One thing I did love was the atmosphere. This is hard to describe, but it was perfect. The writing was very tight. the feeling created, and the settings were not only believable but fascinating. 

Over all it's a shame the exception of plot let the book down, because it had such potential. definitely worth reading it you like historical fiction or have an interest in the British royalty. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

The End of Potterthon

I recently posted about how much i was loving celebrating the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter with like-minded people through Potterthon at Saz101. Well as tomorrow is the 31st of July, and Harry would be turning 32, Potterthon is ending.
Today they posted the most touching post to date. many people wrote in sharing their stories about their love of the series. Some of them are so touching, and all worth reading. I loved every single one.
So, anyone who is a potter fan should really check it out, to celebrate our Harry's birthday.

Thank you Sarah and Lauren for this month, it's definitely been s great way to celebrate the anniversary

Saturday, July 21, 2012


By now, you all know how much i love Harry Potter. From the basis of this blog you could correctly assume i love Aussie book bloggers, so you can imagine how delighted i was to discover Potterthon being run by two young Australian bloggers in honour of the 15th anniversary of the release of Philosopher's Stone.

Let me just tell you some of the awesome things they're doing:
  • firstly, a Read Along of Book 1
  • competitions 
giving away a preorder of Casual Vacancy, 2 snitch necklaces or boxset of classic books from the hogwarts library 

All this from Sarah from Saz 101 and Lauren from Lauren's Loquacious Literature

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Orchard Road

Title: On Orchard Road
Author: Elsbeth Edgar
Published: 2011 by Walker Books

Her baby sister has just been born, but Jane and her father are moving out of Sydney to a new town while her mother wait in the city with baby Sylvia in the hospital.
Jane's mother has consoled her 'that sometimes good things happening in the most unpromising situations', but she is convinced she will be miserable. Occasionally though, friendship can bloom in the most unexpected of places.

Quick Review
 Oh i just loved it! i picked it up thinking it would be a nice, easy holiday read, which is was, but enjoyed it so much more than i expected. The characters are sweet and well-rounded, especially Jane. The description is just spot on. The storyline is simple, but the book is gorgeous. This is perfect for people in the gap between kids and young adult books, or '12-yr-old' books as i call them, or for anyone who loves a sweet story about plants, friendship and books. 

 "It was the first time Jane had held Sylvia. Really held her on her own. She felt so light Jane thought a wisp of wind could have blown her away"

"First, she was told to sit in the only free seat, which happened to be next to a sullen boy (at least he was sullen as soon as he realised Jane was going to sit next to him) who gad been sprawled out comfortably across two desks" - Jane's first class at her new school  

Ramble Review
First off, the characters. Usually in books were the protagonist if forced to move against their will they're whiny, think  Have You Seen Ally Queen, but Jane is quite lovely. She whine's occasionally, snaps at her dad sometimes, but doesn't complain the Whole Time. Also, her parents were characters, even her friend Michael's mother was a character. Jane was genuinely concerned for how her parents were feeling! This is not only more realistic, but brilliant for the 12 year old readers as they're about to start the horror phase of being fourteen. All Jane's friends were unique and cute, i especially loved Miss Harrison and her magical garden...

This book is very simple, i sat down one afternoon and read for a couple of hours and found myself 2/3s of the way though before i knew it.This is indicative of how much of a joy and how easy it is to read. Even though I've labeled it perfect for 12-year-olds it would be great for anyone above 9 or 10. The language is crisp, the descriptions spot on.  I really hope this becomes one of those books like Harriet the Spy, or the Magic Faraway Tree, or Charmed life by Diana Wynne Jones which have lasted years.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Oil

Title: Good Oil 
Author Laura Buzo 
First Published: August 2010 by Allen & Unwin

Having loved Laura Buzo's new book Holier Than Thou I decided to read her other book Good Oil. I've always seen Good Oil in libraries and bookshop and the cover and title caught my eye, but i never liked the sound of the plot, i thought Amelia would be a silly, whiny, bimbo who has no thoughts except about some jerky guy. Well, i am pleased to say this is not the case.

Amelia is an angsty, clever 15 year old who's just got a part time job at her local Woolworths, which her charming 22-year-old co-worker calls the land of dreams. From her first shift with Chris she's sunk, can't get him out of her head. And how could she? he's clever, cute, he listens to her like she's an adult, they discuss everything from school, to parents, to feminism.
Chris is almost 22, single, still living at home and about to finish a degree in sociology with no job prospects other than the beloved Land of Dreams. His friends are buying houses, starting careers and getting engaged. He is searching for the perfect woman, and the perfect candidate has abandoned him and moved back to Perth.

Quick Review 
A lovely, realistic story more about friendship, family, and growing up than love. Don't worry, this is not the stereotypical story of a girl falling for an older boy and whinging about how she can't have him for 200 pages. it's a sweet, slightly quirky book which was actually very intelligent.
Oh, and you'll just love Amelia.

Favourite Quotes 
“She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally.” 

Rambling Review 
My favourite thing about this book was Amelia. I just LOVED her, she was so frank and clever. In fact, she reminded me of myself a little, i think we'd get on well. She's constantly reading, thinking and turning things over in her mind. I never quite new what was going to come out of her mouth next. She was just such a gutsy character. I found it really true to life how she could be so clever and confident, and yet so self-doubting at the same time, sure in some areas, completely lost in others. 
I can also see why she liked Chris so much, he was positively charming, and Buzo captured him perfectly from both points of view. I know EXACTLY what was meant about his smile each time it was described. 

The story being told from both Amelia and Chris' point of view was a surprise, but it worked really well, it added the extra depth which really makes his novel shine. I liked how similar the characters seemed from both point of views, they saw their co-workers in a similar way. This also applies the the protagonists, I'd have hated if Chris or Amelia weren't as awesome from the other's point of view. once i realised it was multi-POV i had one major concern, and that was that Buzo would make Chris hate Amelia, it would be a completely one-sided relationship, all in Amelia's head. I was relieved to find he really liked her. it would have ruined the story if he found her a pain. Because it became a story about friendship, between the two of them, and other characters like Amelia and her mother, Amelia and Penny, and Chris and his sister.          

i also enjoyed all the literary allusions, especially when i had read the texts they were talking about, which wasn't too often. instead of seeming like the author or characters were showing off, they really added to the book. In fact, it's a great advertisement for teenagers to read classics, much better than adults going 'it's better than that junk you read'. BUT, would someone please explain to me why Amelia ans Chris said Gatsby killed himself? did i miss something when i was reading that chapter of Good Oil

The ending was realistic, and while not opened ended in the way Holier Than Thou is, still was left rather open. I was expecting a more dramatic ending, the book seemed to be building, but the ending did work well, and it has grown on me. I'm now glad Buzo ended it the way she did. 

All, in All a gorgeous book, rich with detail and typical Australian and teenagey things. i Loved reading it. 
in Nomes from Ink chrush's review she said 
"I think some of the best contemporary novels are the ones that don't strive to be LOUD and edgy and OMG all the time but that have the confidence to quietly bleed emotion and genuine characters on to the page."  
this is the Perfect summary. Like other Australian YA, Markus Zusak, Melina Marchetta, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Bill Condon etc, the book seems to bleed truth and emotion, but in this case in a quiet, gentle way.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Holier Than Thou

Title: Holier Than Thou
 Author: Laura Buzo
 Published: Allen & Unwin may 2012

 Holly is a young social worker who's life should be falling into place. she's just moved in with her gift-from-God boyfriend Tim, a great group of friends from high school, and a job where she gets to help change the world. the Layer of steel around her heart is beginning to tarnish. she's being drawn back to the dream boy who could have been and memories of her father, just as she's grasping for the future.

  Quick Review A brilliantly written novel, loaded with sadness, pain, and beautiful moments. it has those little touches and the humour which really make a book unforgettable. it's also very true to life. not a sweet book, some parts a quite gritty, definitely for an older YA audience. also not great for those who don't like open endings. Good for Fans of the Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta, Deadline by Chris Crutcher and My Candlelight Novel by Joanne Horniman.

  Quotes "A nurse and social worker took fifteen minutes out of their shitty thankless jobs in the roughest corner of town, sat on a couple of milk crates drinking coffee, flopped their real selves out on the cement and both liked what they saw"

"I knew that in my darker moments he wanted to reach out and soothe me somehow. He Wanted to protect me, to bathe my wounds. He's such a nurse that way. And my darker moments, my darker preoccupations we're okay with him.

 " 'what are your legs?' he asked 'steel springs' i said"

  Ramble Review
this book absorbed me from the very beginning. the writing had a certain gentle quality that worked well with the rough topics and characters. it really is quite a disillusioned book, i was realistic. there was no unbelievable happy ending, nor no massive change character in Holly. The ending was left quite open, it almost seemed to have just trailed away without giving you the last piece, but it grew on me, the more I've though about it the more i like it.

 the characters were great. they didn't seem overdone which was nice. I grew to really love Holly, in all her cynical glory. Nick was so sweet, but in a good way. it wasn't too sweet. in the same way, Tim wasn't portrayed as the typical, too perfect boyfriend. the way the characters were flawed, how you could see their mistakes and how they were changing, how you could see the relationships changing before their eyes was almost painful. it was so well done.

 Holier Than Thou is so true to life, there are moments when you wish they would give the characters a fantasy ending. But the bitter edge makes the beauty of parts all the more stunning, very much like real life. My only real complaint is that i wish i knew what happened next! grrrr :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One Long Thread

Title: One Long Thread
Author: Belinda Jeffrey
First Published: 2012 by University of Queensland Press

Ruby's life was torn in two when she was 13, her mum and twin sister moved to Darwin to be part of The Aberdeen, a new church with very strict rules, while she and her father stay in Melbourne. Now, at 17 life seems to be going well for Ruby she's about to finish high school, she likes her friends and she has a great job is the local fabric shop. Then tragedy strikes and is at risk of losing what seems like her whole family.

Quick Review
A solid novel about first love, family and vocation. One Long Thread is well written and has well developed, unique characters. the description and setting was vivid, leaving us with an interesting and textured novel. If you like Sue Lawson, and even most fans of Melina Marchetta should enjoy this novel.

"No one is responsible for our happiness or lack there of. No one except us."

“I began to understand what bound Pearl to their simple mystery because i felt the same connection. in front of us, all around us, was the energy of life and growth. beauty was only a month away and it depended, in part, in what i could do.”

Ramble Review
The thing that made this novel was the characters. I really liked Ruby, or Button as her family call her (you have to read the book to find out why. hehehehe). there was nothing stand out spectacular about her she was just solid, sensible and well, likable. Her twin sister Sally, who we really only meet through Ruby's memories, also came across as a lively character, though we don't get to see her much. Her mother was painted as a terrible character, but slowly. as the novel was written in first person you could hear words of love, compassion and shared memory as well as the bitter, hurt and digusted ones. It's her actions towards the end of the novel that really show, unfortunately, her true colours. the best character was Pearl, Ruby's grandmother. She was so lively, she shone with originality. while at times it seemed a few characters had cliche characteristics, Pearl never bought into the stereotype of 'crazy grandma'. I Dare you not to love her. While this novel is about the relationships between Ruby and her female family members, sister, mother and grandma, the male characters in this novel are so lovable. Ruby's father, Brett Moon, is the ultimate pacifist going to have no opinion to save himself conflict. He shows himself to be an Amazing father and funny character in himself-and i loved that he got his happy ending too! The other male of note is Mr Grandy the middle-aged man who runs the fabric shop. He is just so sweet, and his relationship with Ruby is almost grandfather like. they have the best jokes and he gives her the advice she could take from no one else.

The plot was pretty typical, not bad, but no surprises. the use of cult like religious groups was well done, but always results in drama, but it does work well. i did feel that i didn't quite connect with the 'dramatic events' in the middle as much as i wanted too. it didn't quite feel real enough, especially compared to the fantastic beginning and end. The other major fault was that the author abused the use of first person. In parts, mainly the middle scenes in Darwin once again, a little more 'show not tell' would have really added to the book. the words 'i felt' were a little too common.

The other thing i LOVED was the use of fashion and the silk worms, which fitted together nicely. Not only did silk worms and fashion fit with each other, but with the story. it was really what took the novel from average story to lovely. There were some really special scenes and simile and metaphors using these to themes which tied the novel together. it added to the texture, if you'll pardon my fashion pun.

Over all a really book, it was definitely a book which somehow left me smiling.
Also, don't you just love the cover?