***The Tales Compendium blog is currently on hiatus. However you can still following along via the Instagram feed!***

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

I know, I know, I'm a little late in announcing these winners. But I have a good excuse. Well I think it's a good excuse. I've been in Sydney the last couple of weeks doing work experience in a publishing house (more about that to come soon) and I've also just started studying for the first time in five years!

So yes, I've been busy. But anyway, on to far more important stuff, such as giveaway winners!

The winner of The Taste of Apple Giveaway is...

Jillian Heise!

The winners of the Michael Scott books are...

Jammie Godkin has won The Alchemyst
Aik has won The Magician and The Sorceress
Mendy has won The Warlock


Emails have been sent to the email addresses you provided. You have 72 hours to respond otherwise I will draw a new winner.

Remember, you can still enter my Winter 'Spring Cleaning' Giveaway!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alaska by Sue Saliba

Title: Alaska
Author: Sue Saliba

Release Date: 27th June 2011

My Rating: 2/5

mia's heart made a sound that no one heard except for mia late one night when she woke from dreams into darkness. ethan was asleep beside her, and em was a forest away. outside it was night and dark and alaska. the sky was upside down.

When Mia follows her sister halfway across the world to Alaska, she discovers that love can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful of places. But can Mia find the courage to follow her heart in Alaska? And what if the one you love is not all that you wish them to be?

In A Nutshell:
I'm sorry to say that I just couldn't connect with the story or it's characters.

My Review:
I have read quite a few good reviews of Alaska so I think I am most definitely in the minority here when I say that Alaska really didn't grab me. I don't like writing reviews for books that I haven't enjoyed so I am going to try and keep this short. I found Mia, our main character, quite difficult to like and just couldn't connect with her. I thought she was a naive, lost little girl who seemed to think her life would become a fairy-tale and that all the bad things in life would go away once she had arrived in Alaska. I realise it is a coming-of-age story but I still didn’t feel 'it’.

Mia has come to Alaska to visit her older sister Em, and to disappear from her undesirable life. Em escaped to Alaska a few years ago and left Mia in Melbourne, caring for their alcoholic mother.

The story follows a couple of different storylines. Firstly we have Ethan, the boy Mia meets in the forest and who seems to be her perfect fairy-tale guy. I couldn't warm to Ethan either and pretty quickly thought there may be something 'off' about him. While I had my suspicions, I wasn’t completely right. Then there is the storyline of Mia’s mother who is in hospital back in Melbourne. Mia battles with the feelings of wanting to stay in Alaska with Em and Ethan, and the responsibility and love she feels for her mother back home. There is the relationship between Em and her husband Terrence that Mia ponders and how it has changed Em from the sister she used to know to someone else. And finally there is the forest, a beautiful Alaskan forest that an oil company wants to get rid of in favour of a pipeline. Mia takes an interest in the protest group who are fighting to save it but can’t quite get Em or Ethan to be as enthusiastic as she is.

With so many different storylines, the only one that really gets any sort of closure is the one concerning Mia and her mother, with a semi-conclusion to Ethan, and I was left wondering the outcome of the other plots. My favourite part of the book was the environmental aspect and fighting for what you believe in but it’s fate is left unknown. I also wanted to know more about the relationship between Em and Terrance. There is the suggestion/implication of a controlling spouse but it just never really develops into anything.

I understand the story is about Mia’s journey, how she changes as a person due to the time she spends in Alaska, but I didn’t like being kept at arm’s length with the other characters. I suppose the story is supposed to show that you can't run away from your problems and expect everything to turn out bright and shiny. But who knows, maybe I just totally missed the ‘magic’ of the whole story?

FYI, there were no capital letters throughout the entire story and this bugged me. But, isn’t the cover pretty?!

Second Opinions
Words on Paper

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Twitter Bird Has Landed

I tried to avoid it for so long, but The Tales Compendium now has a twitter account!

Come and follow!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Interview: Jayne Fordham

I would like to welcome debut Aussie author Jayne Fordham to The Tales Compendium! Jayne has been working her way around the blogosphere lately, taking part in her book blog tour for A Season of Transformations.

I recently reviewed A Season of Transformations here on The Tales Compendium and you can read my review here.

Where did the idea to write A Season of Transformation come from?
I’ve always loved to read and write romance novels but I wanted to write something with a supernatural element to it. I already had in my mind that I wanted a group of teenagers to develop special abilities and I also had an idea about the relationship between Makenna and Lucas. It was a matter of filling in all the gaps. When I came up with the idea of the ancient wooden box that brings the teens together, it all seemed to fall into place from there.

What was the hardest thing about writing it?
I think the hardest part was the redrafting and editing process. The structure of the story, the plot and the characters certainly evolved during this process and there were many times when I questioned whether it was worth continuing. But eventually I got it to a stage where I was happy with the finished product and it was well worth the 2-3 years I spent working on the manuscript to get it where it is today.

What was your road to publication like?
I chose to self-publish. I hunted for an agent and I looked into independent publishers but was rejected by an agent and couldn’t find a publisher which was a good fit so I took the plunge and did it all myself. It was a lot of hard work (and still is!) but I am glad I took the risk because I am learning so much from readers’ feedback that is truly invaluable.

Can you describe A Season of Transformation in three words?
Teens transform together

In highschool, which stereotype do you think you were?
That’s a good question; I haven’t been asked that before! To be honest, I don’t think I fit into any of those stereotypes in high school. Perhaps each of the stereotypes reflect me in some way- I did well academically at school, I was a bit shy but also a bit of a clown sometimes and I was also the ‘good listener’ among my friends. I certainly wasn’t the popular rich kid!

Who are some of your favourite YA authors?
Definitely Aussie authors John Marsden, Melina Marchetta and Maureen McCarthy but also Stephanie Meyer and P.C and Kristen Cast.

What are you reading now?
An Aussie memoir titled ‘Biting the Big Apple’ by Bella Vendramini and Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz.

If you could trade places with any fictional character, who would you choose?
As much as I love the paranormal genre, I also love historical romances and English literatures so I would have to say Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I am very curious about this era and meeting Mr Darcy would certainly be a bonus!


Thankyou Jayne for stopping by The Tales Compendium!

Read my review of A Season of Transformations here.

Jayne Fordham's website.
A Season of Transformation on Goodreads.
Purchase ASOT from Amazon or Lulu.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Season of Transformation by Jayne Fordham

Title: A Season of Transformation
Author: Jayne Fordham

Release Date: 30th March 2011

My Rating: 3/5


A Season of Transformation is a young adult fantasy/ romance novel set in the contemporary world. It is the story of five young people drawn together to complete a Quest, to protect their town from destruction. In order to defeat the story’s villain, Maxvale, the five virtual strangers must come together and not only forge a bond of trust but become proficient with the ‘abilities’ temporarily bestowed upon them.

In the midst of the lead up to the battle each of the young people has their own personal struggles they are trying to deal with. Lucas, an adopted and bitter teenager struggles to become the person he wants to be whilst developing feelings for Makenna, a rich kid who doesn’t like his attitude. Bonnie is a ‘gothic’ that is dealing with an alcoholic father, Ben the school nerd and Adam the class clown are trying to break free from their high school stereotypes. Can these five teens put their differences aside to defeat Maxvale and save their town?

In A Nutshell:
A Season of Transformation is a middle grade/young adult fantasy novel set in a small community outside of Sydney. It's a story about looking beyond stereotypes, having confidence, courage, and somewhere to belong.

My Review:
When five unlikely high school students are mysteriously granted magical abilities so they can save their town, they must work together, despite their differences, to avoid a centuries old act of revenge from ruining their community. From the perspective of Makenna, we see how the characters are challenged to look beyond stereotypes, as they become more efficient with their new abilities, their confidence builds as they face their insecurities, new friendships and feeling emerge and each person individually shines.

As a title, A Season of Transformation refers to all five main characters. Over the course of three months, they not only experience having some pretty cool new abilities but each of their lives transform in their own way. Each of our heroes all fit a particular stereotype - the jerk (Lucas), the nerd (Ben), the class clown (Adam), the goth (Bonnie) and the rich girl (Makenna). It looks at how each of them are treated in a high school, their feelings because if this, and why they have allowed a stereotype to represent them. The story brings these five together, who would normally never be friends, let alone even talk to each other.

To me, the fantasy element only played a small part of the story. Their new found powers (telekineasis, super speed, photographic memory, invisibility and the ability to walk through walls) are what brought them together and what they will ultimately use when the time comes, but it wasn't a main genre of the story. The powers overall aren't too ridiculous and they simmer away to a degree that I forgot it was a fantasy and not a general teen fiction. I really liked this since I have trouble with some fantasy novels. I got very caught up in the lives of each of the characters and really hoped they would find their place in the group. There was also a delicious new romance with all those early feelings of excitement that I got totally caught up in.

My only tiny issue with the story was that I sometimes got the feeling that it was being told to someone who hadn't experienced high school before. There was a lot of detail explaining each stereotype, especially the goths, but also the general school day. I personally don't think some of it was needed.

There are many issues discussed throughout A Season Of Transformation, some in depth, some only lightly touched upon. Bullying and confidence are the main ones but so is adoption, the death of a parent, friendships, relationships, and having an alcoholic parent. I believe it would be a good text for ages 12 to 15 to study, or in the very least, read. While I know the author is a psychologist, I wonder if she has been a school psychologist. The content suggests so.

You can purchase A Season Of Transformation via Amazon (Kindle) or Lulu (Kindle or Paperback).

Jayne Fordham's website.
A Season of Transformation on Goodreads

Saturday, July 16, 2011

POD by Stephen Wallenfels

Title: POD
Author: Stephen Wallenfels

Release Date: 27th June 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-­surviving humanity is another.

I'm all cried out. I'm still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I've only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don't have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other.

In A Nutshell:
POD is a sci-fi, apocalypse/armageddon–esq story of survival. It is suspenseful and looks at bravery, resilience, desperation, relationships and peoples humanity, or lack of.

My Review:
POD is a sci-fi, apocalypse/armageddon–esq story of survival that centres around sixteen year old Josh in Washington, and twelve-year-old Megs in Los Angeles. It is a suspenseful novel that looks at bravery, resilience, desperation, relationships and peoples humanity, or lack of. The chapters alternate between both characters, chronologically what they go through each day over the space of a month, beginning when the alien PODs first arrive. The question is, what do they want? Will help come? When will they leave? How long can it continue?

We know very little about the PODs except that they make anyone not inside a building, disappear. While there isn’t any specific sightings of aliens, both characters deduct that because of the black spaceship pods and death-by-laser beams, plus some other strange occurrences, (high pitch sounds assaulting their heads, mysterious fog that allows them to see inside people) it must be aliens.

Josh is stuck at home with his OCD dad and old dog Dutch. At first Josh thinks his dad is crazy for rationing food and filling the bath tub with water but as food runs out, the electricity is cut off and the water stops running, he realises the reason behind the madness. While Josh doesn’t have it quite as bad as Megs, his relationship with his father is really tested and he only has the girl he can see across the street to give him something to smile about. Josh is also plagued by nightmares of the PODs and the damage they have caused as well as constantly worrying about the fate of his mother who is in LA on business. As food and water run out, Josh and his dad start to consider their options, death by starvation or death by POD, and have to make some tough and surprising decisions. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Megs is alone in a hotel parking garage, hiding from the tyrannical hotel owner and his ‘security guards’ who like nothing more than smashing things and contributing to the aliens death toll. The poor thing is left to fend for herself, dodging dead bodies and scrounging through cars for food and water, not something that is easily found. Aside from hiding and putting up with hunger pains and thirst, all she has to occupy herself with is a kitten and an Alien vs. Predator comic she finds in one of the abandoned cars (ironic since she is essentially being held hostage by aliens). Megs is only twelve but she is gutsy and smart and is a very likable character.

What makes POD different to other books about invasions is that usually the characters can survive by raiding buildings and fighting back using guerrilla tactics. But in POD, you can't leave your house without being zapped by the aliens and disappearing. So what can you do??? Is any attempt at survival a lost cause?

While the ending doesn't really finish on a cliff-hanger, it does leave the reader with (a lot of) questions, questions that enable the author to continue on with a second book. In my opinion, this is where the story is let down. There are so many questions about the aliens that to reach any sort of real satisfaction, a sequel will need to be read. I am content with the ending and I’d like to think I will be able to wait around until its release, but patience isn’t a virtue of mine when it comes to books so fingers crossed it won’t be a long wait.

Try this if you enjoyed Gone, The Enemy, Chasers or The Road (by Cormac McCarthy).

Thankyou to Allen and Unwin for providing me with this review copy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Author Interview: Hannah Harrington

I would like to give a very warm welcome to Hannah Harrington, debut author of the totally amazing Saving June. Hannah has very kindly taken the time to stop by and answer some questions here at The Tales Compendium.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Saving June and completely feel in love with it, raving about it to anyone who would listen. Not only is it one of my favourite reads so far this year, but it will have a permanent position on my All Time Favourites list too.

Saving June was released in Australia in May and will be available in the US and UK come November 22nd.

Read my fan-girl review here.

First off, congratulations on the release and rave reviews of Saving June. How does it all feel?
It's exciting! The publishing process is so drawn out that for people to finally be able to read the book and to hear what they think of it is a fantastic, gratifying feeling, and still a little surreal. The US release isn't until the end of November, so I'm sure it'll feel exciting and surreal all over again when that rolls around.

How did you come to write Saving June? Did it come to you in an instant or were little parts of it simmering away in your head for a while?
There was definitely some simmering. I kicked the idea around for the story for awhile before I buckled down to write. I wrote the first snippets of it when I was eighteen and still in high school-- I'm pretty sure the first I wrote of it was the dance scene between Harper and Jake, which made it into the final draft, only slightly changed. But the majority of the story was written within a three month span a few years later, when I pounded out a first draft.

Are the personas of Harper, June, Jake and Laney based on or inspired by people you know or are they entirely works of fiction?
None of the characters are based on anyone specifically. Some of the dynamics I had in relationships as a teen-- familial, friendship, and otherwise-- sort of informed the characters in a broader way. When I was a teenager I was friends with a group of anarchists, for example, so there was some drawing upon of my own experiences for scenes like that.

Do you have any fun road trip memories?
I've been on a lot of road trips-- one memory that sticks out to me is when a few years ago, my best friend and I drove to Chicago together, and she had one of those iPod jacks to hook to her cassette player. I spent most of the drive there scrolling through her iPod and picking the most embarrassing music she had to play, like songs from The Little Mermaid soundtrack and Ashlee Simpson, and both of us laughed a lot over it (and sang along, of course). Everyone has those "guilty pleasure" songs they're a little embarrassed to love but do anyway. I'm much more shameless these days about liking what I like, though.

**Haha awesome, I know I certainly have some guilty pleasure songs!

Jake has a pretty awesome taste in music. Is it inspired by your own?
I'm less of a music snob than Jake is, but I do love a lot of the same bands as him. I grew up on a lot of classic rock, like The Doors and Hendrix and Janis Joplin and Queen, so I've always had an appreciation for that genre. It was fun to use him (and at times Harper and Laney) as mouthpieces to express my opinions on music.

**I love classic rock, which is probably one of the reasons I fell in love with Jake!

Which band/artist would you love to see live but haven’t had the chance to yet?
Ooh, this is a hard one. I would really love to see Paul McCartney live some day. I've seen Ringo in concert, but not Paul, and I think he'd be incredible.

What are some of your favourite YA reads?
Some of my favorites are "The Year of Secret Assignments" by Jaclyn Moriarty, "Gingerbread" by Rachel Cohn, "What I Saw and How I Lied" by Judy Blundell, "Looking for Alaska" by John Green, "Love is the Higher Law" by David Levithan, and "The Possibility of Fireflies" by Dominque Paul.

**Yay for the Aussie love in there! I loved Looking For Alaska and I am a big fan of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I must check out the others :)

I believe many people have added Jake to their ‘literary crush’ lists. Do you have any literary crushes?
Marcus Flutie from Megan McCafferty's "Sloppy Firsts" immediately springs to mind! I read that book when I was fifteen, and remember thinking he was very crush-worthy.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
Right now I'm preparing for my second book, SPEECHLESS, which is due out in September 2012. I'm also working on my third book, but I'm not sure what'll be happening with it yet, so I don't want to go too much into detail!


A big, big thankyou for stopping by The Tales Compendium Hannah! I look forward to everything you write in the future and can't wait to read Speechless next year!

My review of Saving June.
Saving June on Goodreads.
Hannah's website.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Winter 'Spring Cleaning' Giveaway!

My book collection has gotten to the point where I can no longer keep all the books I have accrued over time. So I have decided to cull my collection and because I would never, ever, throw out a book, I have decided to hold a giveaway so they can go to new homes where they will be loved (not that they haven't been loved by me!).

There will be 4 prize packs you can win.
1st prize - Your choice of 4 of the below titles.
2nd prize - Your choice of 3 of the below titles.
3rd prize - Your choice of 2 of the below titles.
4th Prize - Your choice of 1 of the below titles.

1st prize will have first pick of the books, then 2nd, then 3rd and then finally 4th. Unfortunately, because of the cost of shipping, 1st and 2nd prize will be for Australian residents only but I haven't forgotten everyone else, 3rd and 4th prize will be international. Entries are open until August 11th 2011 until 11:59pm Australian Western Standard Time. To enter, please fill out the form below. You must be a follower via Google Friend Connect and there are many ways to gain extra entries.

If you win I will email you and you have 48 hours to respond before I draw a new winner. When you receive your email, please reply with which books you would like. If the prize winner before you has already chosen one of your choices, I'll notify you and you can pick another book on the list

Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw - Paperback ARC
Glass Houses: Morganville Vampires #1 by Rachel Caine- Paperback original US edition
The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody - Hardback
Infinity by Sarah Dessen - Paperback short story
You Against Me by Jenny Downham - Hardback
The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards - Paperback ARC
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey - Paperback
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han - Paperback ARC
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes - Paperback ARC
Monstroso by Charlie Higson- Paperback short story
Ghost Girl by Tonya Hurley - Hardback
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James - Paperback
Rise of the Wolf: Wereworld by Curtis Jobling - Paperback
The Thornwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones - Paperback ARC
The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan - Paperback
February: Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord - Paperback
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - Paperback
Hamlet by John Marsden - Hardback
The Ring of Five by Eoin McNamee - Paperback
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - Paperback
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando - Paperback
Mission Telemark by Amanda Mitchford - Paperback
The Valley of Blood and Gold by Tony Palmer - Paperback
Vamoose by Meg Rosoff - Paperback short story
Physik: Septimis Heap #3 by Angie Sage - Hardback
Little Sister by Aimee Said - Paperback
Definance by Lili St.Crow - Paperback ARC
The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling - Paperback ARC
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - Hardback
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld - Hardback
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld - Paperback
Pretties by Scott Westerfld - Paperback
Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood - Paperback ARC
Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray - Paperback

Thankyou to Ramona Wray, Elle, Penguin Books Australia and Walker Books Australia who originally supplied me with some of these books.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prime Minister's Literary Award Winners!

Big huge congratulations to Cath Crowley who today won the 2011 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Best Young Adult Fiction for Graffiti Moon!

**happy dancing**

I totally fell in love with Graffiti Moon when I read it last year and I think everyone should read it. For those of you not in Australia, Graffiti Moon will be available internationally February 2012.

The Children's Fiction category was won by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod for Shake A Leg.

For the other titles that were shortlisted, visit here.
For the winners in the adult categories, click here.
My review of Graffiti Moon.

And in other news, Graffiti Moon was today announced as a finalist in the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards for Book of the Year for Older Children!
Click here to see the other nominees.

Cath Crowley, can you feel the love?!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just So You Know...

I just wanted to let everyone know that tomorrow I am heading to Sydney (that's the other side of Australia from me here in Perth for those of you who don't know) for two and a half weeks. While I will still be posting, it won't be as often and I will be a bit behind on leaving comments.

Why you may ask? Because I am going to Sydney so that I can take part in some work experience at the wonderful Walker Books!

I have quite a few things scheduled for the coming weeks including another giveaway, an author interview and some new-release reviews.

stay tuned for news of my adventures in the publishing world!

Jess xoxo

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011 Inky Awards Long List Announced

The long list for the 2011 Inky Awards was announced yesterday. They make me want to be a teenager again because to be eligible to vote, you must be a teen!

From Inside A Dog:
The Inkys are international awards for teenage literature that are voted for online by the readers of insideadog.com.au. It recognises the fantastic home grown writing talent from Australia with the Gold Inky and also titles that come from across the ocean with the Silver Inky.

I'm really excited about this list because a lot of the books are absolute favourite's of mine! And other's are currently contributing to my insanely massive TBR pile :)

(Australian titles)

Pigboy by JC Burke
Good Oil by Laura Buzo
Just a Girl by Jane Caro
The FitzOsbourne’s in Exile by Michelle Cooper
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
This is Shyness by Leanne Hall
Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick
Silvermay by James Moloney
The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling
All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

As always, my vote goes to Graffiti Moon because I am such a Cath Crowley fan-girl. I would also be happy with Black Painted Fingernails, Good Oil or The Comet Box which are all titles I have read and enjoyed. I'm dying to get my hands on All I Ever Wanted and This is Shyness.


(International titles)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
The Agency: The Body in the Tower by YS Lee
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
First Light by Rebecca Stead
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
Violence 101 by Denis Wright

It's a really tough call for me between Where She Went and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. I loved both of them so, so much and really would not like to have to pick between them. I would also be happy if Anna and the French Kiss won because , well, le *sigh*. I have both Violence 101 and Clockwork Angel taking up space in my TBR too.

Congratulations to all the long-listed nominees!

The short list will be announced on September 1st and then the voting is open until October 18th. The award winners will be announced September 25th when we celebrate all things inky!

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