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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ushers, INC by Rusty Fischer

Title: Ushers INC
Author: Rusty Fischer

Release Date: 22nd June 2011

My Rating: 4/5

When the streets are full of bloodsuckers, werewolves, zombies and ghouls, where will you turn? The cops don’t know how to stop them, the Army’s pretty much given up and even the Marines are stumped when their bullets and grenades fail to stop the onslaught.

Have no fear, Ushers, Inc. is here! Four high school movie ushers, who collectively have seen over 42,000 hours of B- and C-horror movies know just what to do.

Did you know copper pennies can stop a zombie in its tracks? Abby Cooper, Head Usher, does.
Did you know garlic paste is twice as effective on vampires as garlic cloves? Abby Cooper does.
Did you know werewolves are absolutely petrified of seeing a Hershey’s kiss? Abby Cooper does.

Unfortunately, the monsters aren’t too happy about four geeky ushers beating their butts all over creation. Now the League of Associated Undead (LAD) is converging on Cypress Cove, determined to stop Ushers, Inc. once and for all.

In A Nutshell:
If you like zombie, werewolf and vampire stories that still have the undead being bad, but with plenty of humour and sarcasm thrown in, then Ushers INC is for you.

My Review:
Ushers INC is the story of four relatively normal teenagers; Abby, Zach, Tracy and Cliff who all live together at the Meriwether Home for Wayward Boys and Girls (they are not actually wayward, just orphans). Outside of school hours, they spend every waking moment at Flickers Cinemas, where they not only work as ushers, but also spend hours upon hours watching B and C grade horror movies. The story is set in the future when the undead are known to exist and are allowed to roam the streets, but go pretty much unrecognised to the majority of humans, except when they choose to show their true nature (in the case of vampires) or are forced to (full moon for werewolves).

Our heroes are unwittingly thrown into the spotlight one night when a zombie uprising disrupts Theatre 6 and the four ushers use their collective knowledge from their favourite movies to stop the carnage from spilling out onto the streets. It just so happens that when the police were called, the reporters followed and managed to catch four normal teenagers taking out a bunch of zombies. In a split second decision, ever the opportunist Cliff, declares they are ‘Ushers INC’ and so their little monster fighting team is born.

There is all the usual highschool trouble such as the mean girls, hot boys, crush dramas and who is going to take who to the fall formal, but with that comes the hilarious situations that the ushers get themselves into and the unique ways they manage to pull themselves out of them!

Usher’s INC features lots of humour and sarcasm and a great bunch of friends that stick together, no matter what. There is also a cool female lead in Abby who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty if she has to and who somehow always has lady-luck on her side.

Rusty’s stories revolve around the undead, but with a new spin. The zombies still want to eat your brains, vamps will still suck you dry in the locker-room and werewolves are still going to rip you to shreds, but more often than not, they just want to get on with their lives, even if their true nature does get in the way some of the time!

Rusty Fischer is the author of countless short stories (my current favourite being Zombies Don't Sleep) and poems, as well as newly released novels Zombies Don't Cry and Ushers INC. Many of these are available to download for free on his website and I found that being able to read some of Rusty's work before buying was really helpful and I was left craving more.

I’ve really been quite taken by Rusty's tales of the undead. If I didn’t have so many books sitting on my shelf waiting to be reviewed, I would honestly love to curl up and devour every single one of Rusty’s stories (although I’ve already made quite a dent!). I love them, they’re like comfort food.

Buy Ushers INC on Amazon or Smashwords
Rusty’s website: Zombie’s Don’t Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Winners, Blog News, Publishing Announcements and Author Events

I would like to share with everyone my new feature here at The Tales Compendium. I was thinking how awesome it would be to be able to look up what state in Australia you are in and be able to see what author events are happening in your area. So, low and behold, I have created one myself!

I am very excited because I have also just found out that Maggie Stiefvater will be making a fleeting visit to Perth on her Australian tour, not just over east! Did anyone else in Perth know about this?! You can find the details at What's On Where.

Also to share with you are the winners of my Winter 'Spring Cleaning' Giveaway.
1st - Tara from Agrippina Legit
2nd - Karen Hounsham
3rd - Evk
4th - Cheyenne from The Hollow Cupboards

Congratulations to all the winners and thankyou for getting back to me so promptly! Your books are on the way.

And finally, Pan Macmillan has recently announced the launch of Momentum, their new digital-only imprint which will go live in February 2012.

Momentum will publish an exciting and vibrant list of new works from established and emerging authors, as well as partnering with agents and individual copyright holders to digitally republish titles that are currently unavailable in print. Publishing ebooks and utilising print‐on‐demand (POD) technology, Momentum aims to make new and old books more accessible than ever before.
- Momentum Press Release

Saturday, August 20, 2011

National Bookshop Day!

Today, August 20th, is the first annual National Bookshop Day!

Held in hundreds of locations throughout Australia, we will be celebrating bookshops, their contributions to the local community and to Australian literature, culture and society.

Throughout Australia, individual shops will be focusing on their uniqueness, inviting local authors and members of the community to participate in readings, conversation about books and other activities.

-taken from the Australian Booksellers Association website

With the days of the humble local book store appearing to be numbered, what with the rise of online shopping and e-books, what better way to spend a Saturday than to go down to your local store and support them by buying a nice shiny new book?!

Friday, August 19, 2011

CBCA Winners 2011

The Children's Book Council of Australia announced the winners of their annual CBCA awards this morning. The winners and honour books are:

Older Readers Book of the Year 2011

Winner - The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
Honour - Grafitti Moon by Cath Crowley
Honour - The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher by Doug MacLeod

Younger Readers Book of the Year 2011

Winner - The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody
Honour - Just A Dog by Michael Gerard Bauer
Honour - Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford, Illus. Sarah Davis

Early Childhood Book of the Year 2011

Winner - Maudie and Bear by Jan Ormerod, Illus. Freya Blackwood
Honour - The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion and Kilmeny Niland Illus. Deborah Niland
Honour - Look See, Look at Me by Leonie Norrington, Illus. Dee Huxley

Picture Book of the Year 2011

Joint Winner - Mirror by Jeannie Baker
Joint Winner - Hamlet by Nicki Greenberg
Honour - Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft
Honour - My Uncle's Donkey by Tohby Riddle

Eve Pownall Book of the Year 2011

Winner - The Return of the Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky, Illus. Tohby Riddle
Honour - Drawn From the Heart: A Memoir by Ron Brooks
Honour - Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon by One Arm Point Remote Community School

Congratulations to all the winners and honour books!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Winter 'Spring Cleaning' Giveaway Update!

Over the next few days I will be emailing the winners of my Winter 'Spring Cleaning' Giveaway. If you entered, keep an eye on your inbox because you will only have 48 hours to respond before I select a new winner. Once I have contacted everyone and they have responded, I'll post the winners on here for everyone to see but for now, since the prizes change for each winner, I need to make sure everyone replies first before doing an official announcement.

I have just emailed the first Aussie winner who has first pick of the books. Get checking those e-mail's people!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon

Title: A Straight Line to My Heart
Author: Bill Condon

Release Date: 1st August 2011 (Australia)

My Rating: 4/5

School is over, not just for the year, but forever. Tiff and Kayla are free, which is what they've always wanted, but now summer is nearly at and end and that means life decisions. Tiff is hoping her job at the local paper will lead to something more... But 'The Shark' soon puts her straight on what it takes to become a hard-nosed reporter like him.

At home, Reggie - the only grandad she's ever known - has quit the smokes and diagnosed himself as cactus. Then Kayla hits her with some big news. And into all this stumbles Davey, the first boy who has ever really wanted to know her.

Tiff is smart with words and rarely does tears, but in one short week she discovers that words don't always get you there; they don't let you say all the stuff from deep in your heart.

In A Nutshell:
A great new Aussie contemporary read that looks at what happens when you are faced with the fact that everything in your life might change and how you cope when there is nothing you can do to stop it. A fabulous story of growing up and going with the flow.

My Review:
You know how some books just make you feel at home? Aussie books such as Feeling Sorry for Celia, Guitar Highway Rose, Swerve, Graffiti Moon and Six Impossible Things evoke a feeling of comfort for me and Bill Condon’s latest release has now joined this list.

The story focuses around Tiff, who has just finished high school and lives in the small country town of Gungee Creek (a fictional Australian town that is described so well, I felt like I was sitting right there next to Tiff and Kayla, watching the Gungee Gunners lose the footy). Aside from knowing she wants to be a journalist, everything else in Tiff’s life is a bit uncertain. It’s the uncertainty of the future; growing up, friendships changing, moving away from home, the awkwardness of a potential boyfriend, family illnesses, the confusion of finishing school and expecting to know what you want to do for the rest of your life (in the case of Tiff’s best friend Kayla). And then Tiff starts to have doubts about wanting to be a reporter…

I think my favourite aspect of A Straight Line to My Heart is the character of Tiff. She’s a bit of a loner, somewhat quirky and a bit awkward, and she doesn’t always say the right thing. She’s very real. Tiff lives with grandpa-figure Reggie, a local legend and die-hard footy fan, lover of the Beatles and John Wayne movies, and Bull, part father figure, part big brother. While the three of them are not actually related (Tiff’s mother died when she was a baby and Tiff was taken in by Nell, Reggie’s wife and Bull’s mother), they have a comfortable and loving life. Most of the story skirts around the outside of what may happen when this little family unit will have to change with the natural progression of life, until the decision is made for them. I also love how Tiff’s love interest Davey is completely different from what you would find in many other YA male characters. While he doesn’t make me swoon, he is sweet and tries very hard and I think that is exactly what Tiff needs.

A Straight Line to My Heart was a quick read but by no means insignificant. It’s realistic and down-to-earth and reminded me a bit of The Big Crunch which I gushed over last year. A wonderful addition to the Aussie contemporary scene.

“There’s nothing quite as good as folding up into a book and shutting the world outside. If I pick the right one I can be beautiful, or fall in love, or live happily ever after. Maybe even all three. If you can’t get a boy, get a book, that’s my motto.”

Thankyou to Allen & Unwin for this review copy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Tales Compendium in Sydney

As many of you know, I want to work for a publishing house, specifically children's books if possible. Unfortunately, there are not many publishing houses here in Perth where I live so about a month ago I flew over to Sydney to spend two weeks doing work experience at Walker Books. For those of you who don't know Walker, they specifically publish children and young adult titles, fiction and non-fiction.

Over my two weeks with Walker I spent the majority of my time working with the marketing team as this is the area I would like to go into. I also spent a small amount of time with sales and also editorial just so I could get an idea of what it is they get up to and to make sure marketing really was the area for me, which I found out that yes, marketing is definitely my area! I would like to say a big hello to the wonderful staff at Walker and an extra special thankyou to Michelle, Alida, Jenny and Leonie for making me feel so welcome and letting me inhabit part of their office space for two weeks.

Walker books that are new additions to my TBR pile!

Unfortunately I got a cold/flu halfway through my time in Sydney which wasn't much fun but I still managed to get out and play tourist on either side of being sick.

Sydney Harbour view from North Sydney

Chocolate Sundae Goodness from the Lindt store!
Bondi Beach on a rainy Sunday arvo

Me (on the left) visiting the Blue Mountains with my wonderful friends who let me stay at their place while in Sydney :)
An added bonus of my time in Sydney was that I was able to scheduled in time to meet some of the staff at Random House who were busy preparing for YA author Lauren Kate, who was going to be in Sydney for her Fallen tour at the end of July (I have since heard it was a wonderful night and am so upset I flew back to Perth before she arrived). Hello to Sarana, Zoe and Dot, it was lovely to meet you all!

New Random House titles on my TBR pile!

So that was my trip to Sydney. I'm sure I will be back soon since my chosen industry barely exists here in lil' old Perth!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray

Release Date: 1st June 2011

My Rating: 5/5

Teen beauty queens.
A lost island.
Mysteries and dangers.
No access to email.

And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives deep in the heart of every girl, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.

The horror, the horror!

Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

Join Libba Bray in this wicked satire of beauty pageants, reality TV and pop culture.

In A Nutshell:
A hilarious story filled with sexy pirates, killer snakes, temperamental beauty queens and accessories that can be used as weapons, Beauty Queens shows that just because you may be pretty, doesn’t mean you can’t fend for yourself when everything turns to mud (literally!). Highly recommended!

My Review:
I totally loved Beauty Queens! It has been described as Drop Dead Gorgeous (the movie) meets Lost (the TV show) but what I found was that Beauty Queens is so much more. While it is absolutely hilarious and does take the mickey out of beauty pageants, it is ultimately an uplifting story filled with heart and featuring a great cast of characters. It is a story about personal discovery, empowerment, comradery and the pressure put on girls, not just in beauty pageants but in today’s society.

When a plane carrying the contestants and crew of the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant crashes on a remote island, the girls must set aside their competitive streaks (although they certainly still appear every now and then!) to join forces and survive.

There are only twelve survivors, all beauty queens, and with only suitcases full of beauty products and accessories at their disposal, the girls have to fend for themselves and avoid the unknown perils of the island. And what do they come face to face with? Killer snakes, quicksand, secret agents, sexy pirates, a stupid trust fund Yale graduate, an arms dealer with a love of Elvis, hallucinogenic berries, a former Miss Teen Dream who is no dream at all and of course each other! Oh and not to mention a lack of food, water and bathroom facilities!

Over the weeks following the crash, the girls begin to discover who they really are, now that they are not being influenced by their pageant obsessed mothers and coaches. They start to realise what they really want for themselves in life, discover talents they didn’t know they had and allow their real passions to come to light.

As friendships are forged and secrets revealed, we get to see some amazing uses for beauty products, hair-straighteners, eyelash curlers and ugly evening wear as the girls create new homes and an interesting but effective range of arsenal to protect themselves from the unknown dangers of the mysterious island.

I loved almost all the girls but my favourite beauty queens would have to be Adina (Miss New Hampshire), Jennifer (Miss Michigan) and Mary Lou (Miss Nebraska). I highly recommend Beauty Queens and am now looking forward to reading Libba Bray’s previous novel, Going Bovine.

Thankyou to Allen and Unwin for this review copy.

Second Opinions
bean there, read that
Words on Paper

Monday, August 1, 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Fallen Angels
Series: The Mortal Instruments Book 4
Author: Cassandra Clare

Release Date: 1st May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Clary is back in New York and life is good: she's training to be a Shadowhunter and is finally able to call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. When Jace inexplicably begins to pull away from her, Clary is forced to acknowledge that she herself has set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the loss of everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever...

In a Nutshell:
I loved the exciting new storyline and characters and the development of Simon's character but I'm not all that happy about the ending. Bring on City of Lost Souls!

My Review:
I loved books one to three of The Mortal Instruments but after almost two years since City of Glass was released, I had forgotten why I loved the series so much and doubted my desire to pick up City of Fallen Angels. I bet this happens to alot of people. Yes? Now that I have finally read it, I can’t believe I ever doubted that COFA would measure up to its predecessors.

City of Fallen Angels is very exciting and suspenseful. It focuses a lot more on Simon and his troubles with being a powerful Daylighter, and his dating troubles; he’s dating both Maya and Isabelle! I really like how his character has evolved throughout the books and he finally discovers just what the Mark of Cain can do. We also meet newcomer Kyle who has joined Simon’s band, but he comes with a past, unbeknown to his new band mates.

Clary and Jace's relationship is strained with some unexpected complications which annoyed me to no end. Why can’t they ever just have one moment of happily-ever-after?! There are however some smoking-hot scenes between them (who remembers the pre-release teaser set in an alleyway…?), to keep us all happy.

After all the action, mystery and excitement of the first three books came to an end with City of Glass, COFA presents new problems for our favourite Shadowhunters. There is a mysterious new player in town and someone is killing Shadowhunters and leaving them in Downworlder territory in an attempt to start a massive feud between the two groups. And it seems Simon may be right in the middle of it!

While I was completely hooked the entire way through the book, I wasn’t very happy with the ending of COFA, not so much because it’s a bit cliff-hangery but because of the direction Cassandra Clare is going to take book five. I understand there has to be conflict and that everything has to go to hell…again… for the storylines to progress and to keep it interesting but (excuse the cryptic-ness) did it have to be that?! That said though, I can’t wait to get my hands on City of Lost Souls in January 2012 and see what will happen to Clary, Jace, Simon, Maya, Isabelle, Kyle, Magnus and Alec; hopefully someone will get their happily-ever-after!

Thankyou to Walker Books Australia for this review copy.
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