Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Finding Freia Lockhart

'Finding Freia Lockhart' is a contemporary teenage novel by Australian author, Aimee Said.

Freia and Kate are best friends. That is, until Kate starts to hang around the 'B's' - the popular and witty Belinda, Bethanee and Brianna.

When plans are afoot for a school musical, Freia is given a non-acting part - that of assisting with the lighting. And she is to be working with Daniel, who has a reputation for drug-use and was purportedly expelled from his last school.

Freia struggles to find her place. Her parents embarass her and her friendship with Kate is changing. She doesn't feel comfortable around the 'B's' but in many respects wants to be like them.

And almost against her will, she finds herself drawn to Daniel.

Where does Kate fit in?

Readers will be on Kate's side, as she negotiates and weaves her way through teenage life.

Enjoyable reading.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Interview - Dee White

Dee White is the award-winning author of Letters to Leonardo, Hope for Hanna, A Duel of Words and Harry’s Goldfield Adventure.

What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?

My father used to censor what I borrowed from the library. He didn't approve of what he considered 'frivolous' reading so I guess I grew up reading fairly 'heavy books' by authors like DH Lawrence, Somerset Maugham and Charles Dickens. At the time it didn't bother me because I have loved books for as long as I can remember so I thought that any book was a good book. (I went back and read books like Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna when I was in my twenties). I always loved reading books about people and I liked really thick books because they last longer. Even today, I hate finishing a good book. When I wake up next day I feel kind of sad that I don't still have that book to read.

When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?

When I was seven I wrote a poem and read it out at school assembly. Everyone seemed to really like it and it was the first time I experienced the feeling that my writing could mean something. That's when I decided I was going to be a writer. I think I had written at least twenty novels by the time I left primary school (but none of them were finished). As a writer, I want my books to move people and perhaps encourage them to think about some aspect of the world in a different way. I guess like every other author I want my books to be life changing.

Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?

To be honest, I don't have trouble turning off my 'writer' microscope when I'm reading for pleasure. I get dozens of books sent to me for review every month and I try to read every book by Australian authors and illustrators. So I really have to set time aside to read for pleasure - and when I do have that time I savour it. I just immerse myself in the book and enjoy the experience.

Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?

No I don't avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing my own - quite the opposite. If I am having trouble getting a character's voice right, I find that it can be helpful to read other books and look at what has worked for other authors. I also find it hard to write endings of books and can spend days reading endings of other books to work out what techniques others have used and what might work for my book.

Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way.

DH Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, John Marsden, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?

This is an impossible question:) I'd have to say I would take my own book, Letters to Leonardo because it reminds me of why I am a writer and that truth is important in art and literature no matter how hard it can be to tell it.

What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?

When you get so engrossed in the life of the main character that you can't wait to find out what happens next - you feel almost as if the events of the story are happening to you. To me, this is a sign of a really well developed character.

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

When I can't engage with the main character so I don't care what happens to them. I think this is usually when plot and setting have taken over and that distances me from the character.

What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?

I read something like one hundred and fifty books last year so narrowing it down to one is impossible. But my most memorable are Girl Saves Boy (Steph Bowe) for its authentic voice, Jaguar Warrior (Sandy Fussell) for the way it has woven fact into fiction, 6 (Karen Taleur) for the intrigue and Beautiful Malice (Rebecca James) for its complex characters.

What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?

When it comes to publishing, I think we have to move with the times. I think that new technology will encourage some people to read more and I can see the benefits of taking an e-reader on holidays rather than a suitcase full of books. I still think there is a future for print books as some people enjoy the tactile experience of reading and a print book is easier to share with a group. People said that radio would die out when television came in, but it hasn't. I think that print books will survive and thrive in the same way.

Dee is passionate about encouraging new writers. Check out her blog http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/ for career and writing tips.

Find out more about Dee at http://www.deescribe.com.au/

Mare's War

Grandmother Mare has a 'tetchy' relationship with her two grand-daughters in Mare's War by Tanita Davis. Her grand-daughters are none too happy when they are asked to accompany their stiletto-wearing, sports car driving grandmother on a road trip across America.
But, little by little, Mare tells the two teenagers about her life; of her difficulties living with her mother's boyfriends and of living in virtual poverty.
To escape her circumstances, Mare lies about her age and joins the African American battalion of the Women's Army Corpse in World War Two.
She enters the world of the military, travels overseas and makes some lifelong friends.
Mare's world is brilliantly conveyed: a world where white people hold the reins of power and control.
The differences between Mare's world and the world of her two grand-daughters is stark, and the two girls gain a greater appreciation of the struggles of their grandmother.
This book was awarded a Corretta Scott King Honor Book.


Monday, 9 May 2011


Dru’s done listening,
She’s done taking orders.
Dru’s playing by her rules now
And the order can get on board or kiss their svetocha goodbye

For anyone not familar with the Strange Angels series have a read of my review of the first book in the series and join the fun :)

Dru listened to her father till he went zombie and tried to kill her. She listened to the order only to be shot by the traitorous Anna, the woman who betrayed and killed her mother. She listened to Christophe but still lost her best friend to the king of all vampires. So Dru is done listening she’s playing the game by her rules now. It’s Dru’s way or the highway. Dru’s use to the hard life and things are no different at the Schola Prima where she is confined and followed constantly for her own protection. Her best friend is in the hands of her worse enemy and to top it off Christophe is keeping secrets from her. Is Dru really safe and can she trust those around her? What about Graves, Anna and Serjei? What’s a girl to do when rescuing her best friend could also mean signing her own death warrant? And of course Dru is experiencing the changes that come along with blooming into a full svetocha and the emotional baggage she’s been carrying around is finally catching up to her. Defiance see’s Dru re-emerge stronger and tougher than before. As with the first novel Strange Angels, Defiance is an action packed thrill ride that readers won’t be able to put down.

The Strange angels series is unlike any other out there and while aspects may be familiar (there is a love triangle) this is one story you won’t feel you’ve read a thousand times before. Dru as a character is just a confused young girl trying to navigate her way to who she really is; of course it’s a slightly different destination than the rest of us will find ourselves at. But totally an absorbing read. While Jealously may have lacked the action Defiance certainly doesn’t. New characters and revelations are made that will leave readers stunned and hook you into a great series all over again. Defiance defiantly trumps its predecessors and takes reign as the best book in the series. Its climatic ending will have you on the edge of your seat for the final book in the series Reckoning released later this year. Dru Anderson is back and she does so with a BANG!!!

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Insiders

How can I have missed 'The Insiders' by J Minter?

I had so much fun reading this novel: I didn't want it to end. Then I discovered there are additional books in the series, so I started on the sequel.

'The Insiders' centres around a group of very rich teenage boys.

There's Arvo (who looks like a model), the outrageous Mickey, David (the neurotic and talented basketball player), Patch (the laid-back surfer type) and Jonathan (fashion conscious and obsessed with shoes).

They have one rule that they agree on - they must not kiss any girl that anyone else in the group likes. Then they repeatedly break this rule.

Events lurch from wild scene to another. In the opening chapter, the gang are at a party at Patch's house. Cool Patch is nowhere to be seen. He hasn't turned up to his own party.

Jonathan ('jittery Jonathan' as he is called behind his back) is forced to escort his 'trailor trash' cousin to the party, then he promply deserts her.

Mickey drives his Vespa to the party, accidently setting fire to a rug in the process. After the fire is extinguished (by dousing it with beer) Mickey partakes in some roof jumping to try and reach his girlfriend, falling and breaking his arm in the process.

Arvo and Dave's girlfriend are doing unmentionable things in the bathroom whilst Dave, unaware, mopes on the couch, drinking beer with a straw.

Hilarious novel that had me laughing aloud on every page.


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