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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perth Writers Festival 2013

This past weekend, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Perth Writers Festival. Ok it's not quite a pilgrimage given it is held at the University of Western Australia which is only about 10 minutes away from my house, but it has certainly become an annual event for me. I first attended the festival about 5 years ago, although this was in the capacity of a bookseller, as it was again for the next two years. This year however was my second year as a proper guest, having the freedom to attend any session that captured my attention, as opposed to catching 20mins of a session during my lunch break from the bookshop!

I will admit that the festival program didn't have me all that inspired at first glance, not because the calibre of the authors wasn't amazing, but for my own interests, it just didn't have quite the draw cards that there have been previously (David Levithan anyone?). That said, I still managed to find a few events to attend.

My favourite by far was Not Just For Kids which was about YA fiction and how, as the session title suggests, it is no longer written, and read, just by teenagers. Perth YA author AJ (Amanda) Betts chaired the talk which featured fellow Perth author Julia Lawrinson and Adelaide author Vikki Wakefield, each of whom talked about their latest books.

AJ Betts, Julia Lawrinson and Vikki Wakefield

Julia read the first chapter of Losing It, which had the audience in fits of giggles as did Vikki, who spoke about how her own teenage years and how they helped her draw inspiration for her characters in All I Ever Wanted and Friday Brown.

When asked what she thought makes a great YA novel, Vikki said heart, humour, hope and horniness (4 H's unintentional!) and I think I completely agree, particularly with heart and hope. All three authors agreed that the thing that sets adult books and young adult books apart is the hope the main character has. Many adult books focus on their generally middle-aged protagonist's life and where it is now. Whereas with YA, the character hasn't lived enough to dwell on what could have been, instead they are all about what life will be. 

Personally I often finish an adult book feeling quite depressed, let down, or to be honest, 'bored out of my mind'. Even though I am about to turn 26, I still connect with YA characters because I refuse to accept that 'that's the way life is'. I love how they fight for what they want, no matter what is thrown their way. Anyone who dares to give someone an earful about reading a YA novel should ask themselves if there is a better message that should be spread to the teenagers (and adults) of today? I challenge anyone to find a YA novel that will not leave a positive, inspiring...hopeful message upon its reader, whether it was the intended one or not.

It was lovely to catch up with Amanda again, who I have met several times, and it was a delight to meet Vikki, who recognised me from my picture on here (Hi Vikki! *waves*). I look forward to running into her again at the Reading Matters conference later this year. Also, I picked up signed copies of Losing It and Friday Brown which will be up for grabs sometime in March which is Aussie Author Month here at The Tales Compendium.

I also caught talks by Dianne Touchell, Ambelin Kwaymullina and Myke Bartlett, three other Perth YA authors.

Coming Soon

Friday, February 22, 2013

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Author: Joe Schreiber

Release Date: 19th September 2011

My Rating: 4/5

It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a much-anticipated gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag.

Infused with capers, car chases, heists, hits, henchmen, and even a bear fight, this story mixes romance, comedy, and tragedy in a true teen coming-of-age adventure—and it’s not over until it’s “au revoir.”

In A Nutshell:
An entertaining, fast-paced read with a female assassin, bad guys, bullets and blood.

My Review:
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is a fast-paced, enjoyable, light read that sees Perry accidentally on a roaring adventure one night through New York City when he discovers his Lithuanian exchange student, Gobi, isn’t quite who she says she is.

As Perry becomes Gobi’s chauffeur, in his father’s Jaguar no less, Gobi tracks down the five criminals responsible for the death of someone she cared about. Avenging death comes at a price though as they come face to face with bad guys, bullets and blood, and some knife wounds that end up a little too close for home for Perry.

What you see is not always what you get and this time, it ends with a bang!

I've always loved spy-type novels and Gobi, the kickass female assassin, was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s no deep read, but it is an entertaining one.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Enchantress by Michael Scott

Title: The Enchantress
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #6
Author: Michael Scott

Release Date: 22nd May 2012

My Rating: 4/5

About the Series:
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is an urban fantasy series set in present day time but relies heavily on some of history and mythology's best known heroes and villains, from Joan of Arc, Mars - God of War and of course Nicholas Flamel (best known to the children of today from the first Harry Potter book), to Medusa and William Shakespeare.

In the last five books we have discovered that Sophie and Josh Newman, two ordinary fifteen-year-olds from San Francisco, are actually the twins of legend, prophecised to save or destroy the world. As Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel take them from America, to France, England and various shadow-realms searching for those who can awaken the twins and train them in the four elements, they are also in a race against time to stop Doctor John Dee, magician, necromancer and all-round bad guy from using the stolen Codex to bring destruction to the world.

The two that are one must become the one that is all. One to save the world, one to destroy it.

Today the battle for Danu Talis will be won or lost.
But will the twins of legend stand together?
Or will they stand apart—one to save the world and one to destroy it?

In A Nutshell:
A fitting end to the series where everything comes full circle. Despite century-old rivalries, many of the Immortals, Next Generations and Elders come together, forming new alliances and friendships. The mysterious hook-handed man is finally revealed, honour is earned, auras weakened, lives lost and freedom is fought for as every imaginable beast rears its ugly head.

My Review: 
After six years, The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel series has come to an end. The time has arrived for Sophie and Josh, the Immortals, Elders and Next Generation beings to choose a side.

There is a huge cast of characters in The Enchantress as everyone has a part to play on Danu Talis or in San Francisco. It really took some effort getting my head around the time warp as half the characters are now on Danu Talis, 10 000 years in the past, and the other half on present day Earth. To make it more confusing, some of the characters are featured in both realms so you can get a bit mixed up at some points, particularly as it feels like it is all happening at the same time.

On Danu Talis, there are two sides; Elders seeking to rule Danu Talis and destroy the Humani who reside there, and those from the present day who know Danu Talis must fall. Sophie, Josh, Dr John Dee, Virginia Dare, Scathach, Joan of Arc, Saint- Germain, Shakespeare, Palamedes, Prometheus, Osiris, Isis, Abraham the Mage, Tsagaglalal, Marethyu, Mars, Hekate, Bastet, Anubis and Atens are all key players in what will unfold here. There can only be one outcome, but who will be on which side, and which side will triumph, remains to be seen.

In San Francisco, present day, is Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, Niten, Prometheus, Tsagaglalal, Mars, Hel, Odin, Billy the Kid, Machiavelli, Areop-Enap, Quetzalcoatl, Xolotl and Bastet, fighting to save or destroy Alcatraz and the city of San Francisco. Nicholas and Perenelle only have one day left to live. But even with their new-found allies, will they be enough to stop the monsters on Alcatraz and the destruction of the human race?

With so many characters, it might be difficult to remember who everyone is and their history, so I suggest re-reading The Warlock, or my review of it, to get yourself back up to speed.

All is revealed in this final book as the fate of Earth and Danu Talis are decided. Despite century-old rivalries, many of the Immortals, Next Generations and Elders come together, forming new alliances and friendships. The mysterious hook-handed man is finally revealed, honour is earned, auras weakened, lives lost and freedom is fought for as every imaginable beast rears its ugly head.

“When in doubt, we follow our hearts. Words can be false, images and sounds can be manipulated. But this...' He tapped his chest, over his heart. 'This is always true” 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane

Title: Indigo Awakening
Series: The Hunted #1
Author: Jordan Dane

Release Date: 1st December 2012

My Rating: 2/5

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He's warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish. On her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can't explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy — even though he scares her.

They discover Lucas is running from the Believers, a fanatical church secretly hunting psychic kids — gifted 'Indigo' teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind. Now Rayne's only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power — a force darker than either of them imagine. A force that could doom them all.

In A Nutshell:
Not for me. Too little in some areas, not enough in others.

My Review: 
I’m sorry to say that Indigo Awakening really didn’t do it for me. There are a lot of characters involved and we are shown what is going on from all of their perspectives, at least nine different points of view. There were lots of characters to ‘follow’ and I got to the point where I really wasn’t caring about what was going on. At times, I found the descriptions of what was happening, what the characters were thinking and their reasons for doing things, over explained or repeated and I felt these could have been edited down quite a bit.

In terms of the storyline, the abilities of the Indigo Children are not really explained. After finishing the book, all I really understood about them is that they can communicate telepathically with each other, but I don’t really understand what else it is that they can do. Gabriel’s abilities were both under-explained and over-explained. When he uses his abilities, there is lots of detail about what is going on and the process that leads to the manifestation, but it’s not really clear exactly what it is he is doing.

While I’m sure there are plenty of people who enjoyed Indigo Awakening (see second opinions below), it wasn’t what I was expecting. I spent most of the novel wanting to skip past the other characters and just focus on the developing relationship between Rayne and Gabriel.

Second Opinions
The Eclectic Reader
I Heart YA Books
Books With Bite

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

Title: The Rise of Nine
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Lorien Legacies #3

Release Date: 30th August 2012

My Rating: 5/5

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I'd been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we're looking for the others--including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They caught me in New York--but I escaped. I am Number Six. They want to finish what they started.

But they'll have to fight us first.

In A Nutshell: Awesome, awesome, awesome!

My Review:
The Rise of Nine was truly awesome. Four and Six are back, each accompanied by the new Garde members they tracked down in The Power of Six. There is no rest for the wicked as Six, Marina, Ella and Crayton travel to India in search of Number Eight and encounter rebel fighters in India. Meanwhile, Four and Nine travel across the US, hiding from new enemies and trying to find a way to contact the rest of the Garde.

In the third adrenaline-filled instalment of the Lorien Legacies, the Garde are frustrated to discover that the US Government has stupidly joined forces with the Mogadorians. As lives are lost and new legacies are discovered, the Lorien Garde finally starts to come together, just in time to face the head of the Mogadorians, Setrakus Ra.

New characters, new gadgets, new legacies, new challenges – this series just gets better and better. Book four, rumoured to be titled The Return of Lorien and to be released in August 2013, cannot come soon enough. If it is anything like The Rise of Nine, it will be mind-blowing!
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