Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Meet Maggie Stiefvater

The author of 'The Wolves of Mercy Falls ' series and 'Books of Faeries' series talks about her love of reading, writing and all things books.

Come meet Maggie, an engaging and inspiring Young Adult author.

Maggie believes that people engage in her books through character and this is the best starting point when developing a story. Character is the most important with setting and plot coming secondary.

Maggie read quite a lot as a child, first with her mother, before her tastes changed and she turned to her father’s reading preferences for inspiration. Through books Maggie learnt how to be a ‘hero’, she developed a sense of morality and right and wrong.

Maggie is not one to cry much during a novel or movie but on her second read of the Time travellers’ wife, she found herself a snot-bubbling and snivelling mess and this is what Maggie aims to achieve as a writer; she wants to ruin someone’s afternoon. She wants to create characters you can know and grow to love and ultimately she wants to toy with readers emotions.

When Maggie writes she likes to leave breadcrumbs for herself; it’s something she feels might be interesting but doesn’t know why yet. She puts them in as a reminder and something she can explore more on later. In Shiver she does this through the use of Grace’s mother’s paintings.

Maggie compares writing a novel to being pregnant with a “really ugly baby”. Revising and editing her work is like sending a child to school to make it more presentable.

While most paranormal fiction, and indeed werewolves fiction, is centred on magic Maggie made the early and conscience decision to base her story around science. She wanted the audience to miss Sam when he was gone and therefore his change was dictated by temperature rather than the moon phases.

Throughout the whole Wolves of Mercy falls series the relationship between Sam and Grace remains stable and consistent, which is not the norm for YA romances. Maggie made the decision very early on to write the relationship this way because she wanted to write about a relationship “that you actually wanted to be in.”

Maggie writes her characters with absentee or dead parents because she doesn’t want the adult characters of the book making the decisions for her lead characters. As a reader it’s more entertaining to read about teens making their own choices and dealing with the consequences.

Maggie’s parents are dog-breeders.
For a writer Maggie is quite animated and engaging speaker.
While conducting research for the Wolves of Mercy falls series she went in and sat with a pack of wolves in Hungary.
Maggie hates poetry. Despite the appearance of poetry in her novels Maggie only really like two poets; Rilke and Teats because they “make dark things beautiful”.
David Levithan is Maggie’s editor at Scholastic.
Maggie is the song writer of Sam’s song in the books and those songs have been covered by artists such as Jonas and Plunkett.
Not only is Maggie a successful author she is also a musician and makes stop-motion animation (check out Maggie's website
The film rights for Shiver have been optioned by Warners brothers, a director has been hired and a screenplay written. Maggie’s perfect casting would be Rachel Hurd Wood as Grace and Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys as Sam.

Maggie's Books:

Shiver, Linger & Forever.

Lament & Ballad

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Angel: The only good Angel is a dead Angel

Alex is an Angel Killer
Willow is part angel
He is sent to kill her…
Instead he saves her.
Now they’re both running for their lives!

Willow has always been odd to those around her; she likes to tinker with cars and is psychic. Yet she never saw what would happen when she read Beth's future; her world is turned inside out.
Alex’s never been liked other boys. From the age of five he’s been trained to kill Angels and kill angels he does until of course he finds one angel unlike any other…Ordered to kill Alex defies all he knows to save the angel with no halo.

In a world where Angels survive by absorbing our life energy (leaving humans for illness, insanity or death) these celestial beings are beyond redemption and its war; Angels vs. Humans and unfortunately the human race is losing. That is until Willow, the half angel who shouldn’t be changes EVERYTHING. Can Willow stops the Angels and save humanity? Can Alex save Willow?

In 2002 Eoin Colfer reinvented the fairy, in 2006 Stephenie Meyer rewrote the vampire genre now L.A. Weatherly is reinventing Angels. No longer beings of light and goodness these Angels are fierce creatures neither of light nor goodness. Poor lifestyle has led to the destruction of their own world that now the Angels invade ours preying upon us to sustain them while destroying the human race. It’s a fantastic new twist to the whole genre that normally associates angels as beings of good.

What I love about Angel was its unpredictablity; I saw none of the plot twists coming. Weatherly's attention to detail both in plot and character devlopment make this 500 page novel easy and thrilling to read; it's worth the time it takes to get to the end. I gurantee Angel is one novel you'll won't feel you've read before. It is a wonderful mix of romance, adventure and action. By the end enough questions are answered to satisfy the reader yet enough are left unanswered to leave the reader wanting more. (Book 2 is due out later this year and book 3 in 2012).

Courtney :)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Free music downloads

"Music is what feelings sound like." ~Author Unknown

We all love music and spend plenty of time listening to it on our iPods and MP3s, in the car, on the radio and more. It can be found nearly everywhere you go.

Building your own collection of music is satisfying, but can also become quite costly.

Libraries have always lent music, beginning with LPs, then moving through cassettes to CDs. And the library is now moving on to digital. You can now download popular music, FREE, via our website, using only your library card. The songs are yours to keep and can be played on a variety of devices.

This FREE service is made available by the library, through Freegal, which offers the entire Sony Music back catalogue and includes many current day popular artists as well as a variety of other music genres from children's to world.

How freegal works:

Login with your current library card number and PIN.

You have a weekly download limit of 3 songs per week, per card. This count is reset at midnight every Sunday night.

Keep track of your downloads in the upper right corner of the site. You can download songs from this week or last week's downloads up to an additional 2 times. Click on 'Recent downloads' and follow the prompts.

Every song has a sample clip that can be listened to before being downloaded.

The downloads on this site are all in the MP3 format.

Be sure to check out the browsing areas, especially Artists A to Z (bottom of page) and the genre lists (menu bar). Click on see all genres to view dozens of categories.

Once you have downloaded the songs to your PC, you can move them to your MP3 player, convert them and add them to your iPod and more.

So get onto the library website, login to Freegal - get browsing, downloading and enjoying your music, FREE from your library.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

All I ever wanted

Just when you think you've read all the best teenage novels you can find, along comes Vikki Wakefield with her first novel, 'All I ever wanted.'

Vikki is an Adelaide writer. Her personal philosophy of reading is 'if she can't read, she can't breathe.' Hear, hear!

Vikki's novel is set in the impoverished outer suburbs of an Australian city. It is a scorching hot summer and you can practically feel the parched surrounds, so vivid are her descriptions.

The main protaganist in the story is soon-to-be-17 Jemima (or Mim as she is known.) She is determined to leave her street and her circumstances behind her. These include two older brothers who are on remand, her poverty-stricken neighbours and her seemingly no-good mother.

To this end, she has a set of rules with which she must comply so as not to end up in Tudor Crescent all her life. These include finishing school, no drugs, no alcohol, no tattoos and no swearing.

Vikki's observations of people and landscape are truly magnificent.

For instance, Mim describes a man she knows as having 'a face like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces have been pushed together to make them fit.'

Mim sees the boy she has a crush on and says her heart has 'blown up like a puffer fish.'

She lives in Tudor Crescent (not a Tudor or a crescent in sight).

We enter the orb of Mim's family and friends, sharply defined characters who feel real and authentic.

The novel begins with Mim picking up a dubious package from Feeney Tucker (the aforementioned character with a face like a jigsaw puzzle). But before she can take the package home, the love of her life steals it from her. It is a cruel world.

But Mim can be mistaken about the people who surround her and their motivations, and we find as the novel unfolds that things and people are not always as they seem.

I hope that Vikki receives all the recognition and accolades she deserves for this wonderful book.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Comet Box

'The Comet Box' is the latest novel by Geelong based author Adrian Stirling.

The novel centres around the family and community of Andrew, a teenage boy. It is 1986, and the setting is suburban Australia.

For those of you who are wondering, a Comet Box is the invention of one of Andrew's teachers. She conducts an experiment with her class. They are all asked to write down a wish on a piece of paper. The wishes are then placed into a box called a 'Comet Box'. Once the comet has passed, the teacher will give the class back their wishes.

The temptation is too great for Andrew and he steals the contents of the box, reading everyone's wishes. He becomes burdened with the knowledge of his classmates' secrets.

Andrew's wish, however, is no secret to anybody. His sister has left home and no-one can understand why. Andrew continues his life with his sister's disappearance burning away in the background.

As the novel unfolds we begin to see that his neighbours and even his parents and best friend have huge secrets and problems with which they are dealing.

Halley's Comet is hurtling towards earth; it is a long parched summer and tensions are at breaking point.

Great reading for teenagers.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Interview - Belinda Murrell

Belinda Murrell is a bestselling, internationally published children’s author currently writing her eleventh book. Her latest book, The Ivory Rose, is a Gothic ghost mystery set in nineteenth century Sydney.

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

One of my very earliest memories is of snuggling up, reading picture books with my mother. I don’t remember a life before loving books! As a child I loved books by Enid Blyton, C.S Lewis, L.M Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and Tolkein…. The book that most fired my imagination was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I loved its enticing mixture of adventure, action and fantasy. My sister and I would dress up in silver chain mail, with swords and bows and arrows, and play Narnia. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to pass through a secret door into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure.

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

Writing was one of my other favourite activities as a child. From about the age of eight, I wrote poems, plays and hand-illustrated adventure stories, heavily influenced by Enid Blyton. When I was younger I wrote purely for my own pleasure, but as I have had my own three children, my writing has been influenced by what they love to read.

Firstly, I hope my readers really love reading my books. I hope they feel a sense of joy and fun, adventure and excitement, and ultimately share a belief that an individual can change their life for the better.

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

Yes, it can be difficult to read for pleasure, partly because there is so much reading to do during the research for my books, or to keep up with what other children’s authors are writing. Life is so busy with three children, working, writing, running a house and family, that it is hard to find time to do anything just for pleasure! However during holidays, I just love escaping into a really good book. For some reason on holidays I find it much easier to suspend my ‘writer eye’ and stop trying to analyse what the author is trying to do.

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 am writing I tend to choose books that I feel will help me with my own book, whether that is historical research or just trying to analyse what I love about someone else’s writing. For example when I was writing The Ruby Talisman, which is set during the French Revolution, I read biographies of Queen Marie-Antoinette, memoirs written by her ladies-in-waiting, eighteenth century etiquette manuals and French history books, as well as a variety of fiction set during the late eighteenth century. I am searching not so much for historical facts but for details about everyday life during that time and how people felt and behaved.

I also try to keep up with what my own children are reading so we can talk about what they love and why. So I am influenced not just by what books I personally enjoy, but also by what my children love to read.

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

It would be an empty notebook so I could fill it up with ideas, descriptions, experiences, images, impressions and hopefully, a concept for a new book of my own.

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

Characters that are so vivid, they seem to come alive so you really care what happens to them. An interesting plot filled with surprising twists and turns. An evocative setting which makes you feel like you are really there. Finally language that is beautiful and and clear and sparkling.

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

Characters that I couldn’t care less about. Boring, pompous writing. Writers who seem to love the sound of their own voice. And depressing books – books that make me feel that there is no hope for the world!!

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

That is such a hard question! I love so many authors!!! If I had to name just one, I would have to say my sister Kate Forsyth. She has inspired me in so many ways. Her writing is beautiful, intelligent and so vivid that I feel like I am actually there with her characters.

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

Again – such a difficult question. I adored Kate Morton’s book – The Forgotten Garden. It was a fascinating tangle of family secrets, the mysteries of the past and its impact on the present, with interesting historical detail and evocative settings. It is exactly the sort of book I love to read.

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?

I believe there will always be a future for print books, at least this century! For those brought up on books, there is something so special about owning and reading a book printed on paper, curling up somewhere cozy and turning the pages. I love seeing children in bookshops or libraries – they cuddle books to their chests.

I think eBooks are wonderful and I can see how this generation of children use the internet so efficiently and easily. There is no doubt that eBooks will become more and more popular and accessible – especially non-fiction books. The internet has made being a writer so much easier – in moments you can be reading the firsthand memoir of one of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting or looking up the nineteenth century remedy for arsenic poisoning in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

Some of my latest books are available as eBooks, but somehow I can’t get quite as excited about seeing them, as I do when the postman delivers the first copy of one of my books straight from the printer and I get to hold it in my hands.

Belinda has also worked as a travel journalist, technical writer and public relations consultant. Her books include four picture books, her fantasy adventure series - The Sun Sword Trilogy, and her three time-slip adventures The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman and The Ivory Rose.

Find out more about Belinda at

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