Tuesday, 28 June 2011

MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE


MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE by Annabel Pitcher.

What makes a family? Is it sunshine and flowers, rainbows and happy-ever-afters?
Not in the real world.

Jamie is ten. He lives with his father who drinks too much, his sister Jas who wears black and dyes her hair pink, and his cat Roger. He is bullied at school, waits for his mother to realise she has two children that need her, and has a sister whose remains are in an urn on the mantelpiece.

Jamie doesn’t really remember Rose. Hasn’t cried for her. His mother cried and abandoned them. His father still cries and escapes reality in his drinking. Jas cries, tells Jamie that losing her twin was like losing her shadow.

This book looks at Jamie’s realisation that sometimes the hardest part of death is letting someone go. That families are not perfect and sometimes you just have to be there for each other and muddle along as best you can.


Vicki from Pak

Below is a clip of the author talking about her book.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

POTTERMORE



Tonight at 9pm JK Rowling announced the arrival of a new website, Pottermore. It will be officially opened in October. The website shall be a virtual Hogwarts, you are given the chance to be your own Harry Potter. You will be sorted into a house and provided with your own special wand. The website displays a video of JK Rowling announcing the website and thanking the Potter fans for being so loyal over all these years. The website also will be selling Harry Potter audio books and e books. To help shape the experience of Pottermore JK says to "simply follow the owl".



As the movie is premiering in 19 days, fans are provided with something to look forward to afterwards . The potterheads community are able to forever revel in the wonders that is the Harry Potter series.



Keep calm and follow the owl.

Tessa

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Interview - John Marsden


John Marsden has had 40 books published, mostly novels for teenagers, but also novels for children, picture books, and a few non-fiction works. He has sold about 5 million books worldwide, and in 2010 his novel Tomorrow When the War Began was made into a movie starring Caitlin Stasey.

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


I'm embarrassed to admit that I was an Enid Blyton fan through and through! But I also enjoyed the Tasmanian writer Nan Chauncy, and the British writer Geoffrey Trease. I don't remember when I started reading, but by grade one I was a total addict!


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


My friend and I started a class newspaper in grade 4, and I loved writing articles and poems for it. That's when I first formed the intention to become an author. Most of all I want my readers to experience the lives of others, to go into different worlds, and to gain in empathy and experience as a result.


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


No, generally I get very caught up in whatever I'm reading, and enjoy the experience thoroughly. But when I do come to a book that has more than a few clumsy sentences, trite images, or stale language, then yes, I do become very critical!


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?


I happily accept the fact that everything I read, and for that matter everything I see and experience, may work its way into my writing. I can recognise the influence of other writers in passages in my own books. I don't have a problem with that – it's part of the creative process.


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


From Graham Greene I learned that characters should be complex, contradictory and hypocritical. Neville Shute was a great example for me of the power of storytelling. Paul Zindel introduced me to the new genre of fiction for teenagers (round about 1980). Hammond Innes and Alistair Maclean taught me a lot about tension and suspense. And Joan Phipson and Nan Chauncy showed me that people who live in the Australian bush or on Australian farms can be delightfully interesting subjects for a writer.


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


Probably
Impro by Keith Johnstone, because every time I read it I get a new insight into human behaviour, including my own.

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


Characters whose lives are so engrossing that I cannot bear to go on with my life until I find out what has become of them.


What makes you put down a book without finishing it?


Self-indulgent writing, characters who are essentially boring but the writer thinks they are absolutely fascinating (no doubt because they are based on his and her friends!), Vampire novels, clumsy sentences.


Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?


Not one favourite, but one I admire is the Australian author Scot Gardner, who writes for teenagers, but is sadly underrated. His books are fresh and lively, vivid and engaging. He writes about stuff that matters, important stuff, but in a way that is always accessible.


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


My Experiment with the Truth by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi's autobiography, which is stunning in its modesty but also in its obsessive commitment to virtue and integrity.


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?


It's all fine by me!


Find out more about John at http://www.johnmarsden.com.au/home.html

Friday, 17 June 2011

Kendra




'Kendra' by Coe Booth is a slice of life in the tough Bronx/Harlem streets of United States. Kendra's mother, Renee, had Kendra when she was fourteen; now Kendra is fourteen herself.




Kendra's relationship with her mother is rocky. Her mother has spent years studying and shows little interest in raising Kendra, so Kendra lives with her Nana.




When Kendra falls for Nashawn, matters come to a head. Kendra seems unable to stop her attraction to Nashawn, though she realises to some degree that the situation is not ideal or fulfilling.




Her Nana packs her off to live with Renee.




Coe Booth is an amazing author. The characters in her books are realistic and streetwise.




'Kendra' has won an award for ALA (American Library Association) best book for young adults.








-Ann

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Social Network- Facebook is born

'The Social Network:' A story of betrayal on the road to glory.

The knockabout beginnings of Facebook gets a fast-paced spin in the new movie

'The Social Network.'


I can pretty much guarantee anyone reading this review will have a Facebook page. If you’re in the small minority (and I do mean small) that don’t you’ll know someone who does. That is just the reality of Facebook. It’s everywhere with everyone. Debuting in 2003 Facebook is now the largest social networking site worldwide and has made creator Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire at 27. Not bad for a Harvard college dropout. Of course there is more to this story than just the happy ending. As with any amount of success there comes a price to pay.

In ‘The Social Network’ the origins of the Facebook cultural revolution are explored. From the dorm room of a couple of bored college kids to fame and fortune, we delve into a world of girls, money, popularity and ultimate betrayal. The film is superbly shot and while it does take a few liberties with the storyline the general premise is accurate. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield give stand out performances and Justin, who knew you could act and sing :shrugs: I’m not a Facebook fanatic like some, I mostly use it to chat to friends overseas but still I found myself engrossed in this movie. It’s hard to summarise such an in-depth film but what I will say is it’s an insightful and dramatic look at the creation that has revolutionised they way we communicate. It’s out on DVD now so get into your comfy pyjamas, sit on the couch and be entranced as I was. And of course if you do enjoy, the movie is based upon the book ‘The Accidental billionaire’, if you’d like to have a read.







Courtney :)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Interview - Beth Montgomery


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

Mum always read A.A. Milne’s poetry to me as a child. I read E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web eleven times, Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three and The Black Clauldron countless times and Dodie Smith’s A Hundred and One Dalmatians eight times. Nancy Drew mysteries and abridged Greek legends were my other favourites. But I was usually immersed in How and Why Wonder Books. I was a non-fiction nerd. As a teen I read every Agatha Christie I could find and Dr Who books. I first discovered that books were like gold when I was given a wildlife book for my birthday in grade one. I took it to school and lost it. I was devastated.

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

I first started writing in High school. I wrote chunks of an awful Sci Fi for years every time we had a creative writing session. As for now, I hope my readers manage to be transported to another place when they read my books and that they enjoy the characters and stories. Nothing mind-blowing here.

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

I’ve always had a critical eye so I can’t remember ever reading anything without picking it apart. For me, it’s rare to find a book which scores well in every aspect.

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?

When I write YA fiction I try to read more nonfiction or adult titles. I avoid reading too many YA books in a row anyhow. There’s something irritating about the generic teen voice that a lot of mediocre books have. However writers who do a cracking good teen voice must be avoided when I’m doing a first draft or I find a few of their words/phrases popping onto my screen uninvited.

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

I’m an eclectic reader and I find so much of what I read is influential, either positively or negatively. A lot of my favourites are international authors. Nigerian Ben Okri and Kiwis Alan Duff and Witi Ihimaera are definitely my top three. I guess Scot Gardener and Markus Zusak are my favourite Aussie authors. Why are they all men?

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

When I travel I don’t have much time to read because there’s so much to do, observe and record. A big book of short stories would be the best option here.

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

The best book is one that has a distinct voice, developed characters and pace.

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

Shallow characters who have boring voices and don’t do much will make me close the book for good. I do this quite a lot. Life is too short and there are millions of books out there that are still on my reading list.

Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?

This is hard to answer as there are so many authors I admire. I suppose Ben Okri is my favourite. I love his everyday characters who battle to find enough money for food and rent. I love the smells and sounds and colours of Africa which come alive in his writing.

If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?

Top Ten Reads (fiction):

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Mr Pip - Lloyd Jones
The Famished Road - Ben Okri
The Handmaid’s Tale - Margret Attwood
Those Who Save Us - Jenna Blum
Dangerous Love - Ben Okri
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Once Were Warriors - Alan Duff

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

I try to read a minimum of 50 books a year. 2010’s best book for me was The Crossing by Mandy Hager. It’s YA speculative fiction set in the Pacific, which ticks a lot of my boxes but her writing is so tactile that I could feel and taste and smell the atoll and the ship and the toddy... Just read it. It’s brilliant.

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?

There’s something great about the smell of books and the weight of a book in your hands that I fear an ebook will never replicate. That being said, I suppose it’s the way of the future. I’m in wait-and-see mode on this one.

Beth Montgomery lives in regional Victoria and writes Young Adult Fiction. She grew up in the Dandenong Ranges and worked as a teacher in the Pacific for seven years. Her first novel The Birthmark was short listed for the inaugural Gold Inky, the State Library of Victoria’s Teenage Choice Award, in 2007. Her second novel Murderer’s Thumb was a White Raven exhibit at The Bologna Book Fair in 2009. Beth is currently writing more novels, a few short stories and contributes regularly to her blog, Island Stories. http://aelanstori.blogspot.com/

 
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