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Best of 2013

I’m not sure I really like doing best of lists because I am so sure I am going to miss something that I thought was really cool. I look at the books on my shelves to see if anything prods my memory. Using this method is very scattershot but does give me a couple of titles I had forgotten about. There is no real rhyme or reason to this list, they are simply the books that stayed with me the most or caught my attention for longer than others.

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff (YA)

9780230768963

Acid by Emma Pass (YA)9780552566148

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (8+)

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The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (9+)

the-school-for-good-and-evil

Extra Time by Morris Gleitzman (8+)

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Princess Betony and the Rule of Wishing by Pamela Freeman (5+)

princess-betony-and-the-rule-of-wishing

Violet Mackerel’s Pocket Protest by Anna Branford (5+)

9781921977572

Noah Dreary by Aaron Blabey (picture book)

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Journey by Aaron Becker (picture book)

9781406342307All of these are worth more than a quick look.

Continue reading throughout the new year, I know there will be heaps of great books out in 2014.

 

Being a Book-a-holic

So here’s the thing, I don’t think I’ve really done a post like this before but I figure now is as good a time as any.

It should be quite obvious to anyone that I am a book-a-holic. It’s not a secret, not even a little bit of one. I unashamedly love reading, books and well all things booky, though sometimes films from books make me a little crazy, in a bad way.

Books though are no different from any other fandom. Those of us who love some authors can have fan girl or fan boy moments. One of my first was when I worked my first Matthew Reilly book signing; I asked when I could get my book signed and was told just add my book to the pile for the store – my response ‘no you don’t understand I will be meeting him,’ and that’s how I ended up working my first signing.

It was AWESOME!

Since then I have worked a few. I have also been fortunate enough to network with some of my fave authors and as such have met some.

Marianne de Pierres is truly lovely and such a generous lady with her time for fans and bloggers.

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This year I met Raymond E Feist – whose book Magician I read when I was 11 or 12 and loved it so much I read bits of it by torchlight when I was supposed to be asleep.

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I also got to meet Michael Pryor, who is a wonderful and fascinating conversationalist. I loved every minute of my time with him, just talking writing, processes and what ever else took our fancy.

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I have also met Jay Kristoff, who writes the Lotus War books. I even stayed in the same hotel as Jay this weekend just gone, how spun out was I? A bit.

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The thing is though for me these things are as cool as meeting the movie and tv show stars I get to meet at SupaNova and similar cons.

Fandom is an awesome thing and authors love to meet their fans and get positive feedback. You know I’ve gotten to witness some wonderful moments of fandom over the years and I don’t think fanboys and girls should ever be ashamed to put their hand up to acknowledge their fandom. Sadly I have seen some terrible things said in the name of fandom. There is never any time you should think a writer owes you, don’t ever tell them how to do their job. They don’t report to you.

(If you noticed that there are a couple of book covers instead of pics of me with the author it’s because sometimes it really isn’t appropriate to ask.)

And for heavens sake if there was something you thought wasn’t great, you don’t need to lambast them for it. They make their writers choices, you make readers ones. I will say though, I love meeting writers and don’t begrudge the fact that they like to do things other than writing. This topic is a whole other thing really so I’ll leave it there. I prefer to focus on the positive.

I love the places authors can take me to. I love to sink into their worlds and I love to meet them. Sure my ‘I love your work’, is unlikely to stand out amongst the others but each one counts. I think there is a Authors Appreciation Day, and if there isn’t there should be.

Also, next year I will be going to an event just to meet one of my other all time favourite authors- the incredible Tamora Pierce, and man will I ever be a fan girl. I’ll be the one with a bag of books for her to sign and if she only signs one well that will be fine because I will have gotten to say ‘wow I love your stuff and recommend it to as many people as I can’.

So if you haven’t already read anything written by these authors I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favour and do so.

Kinslayer

I received my copy from the publisher

9780230768963

By: Jay Kristoff

Yukiko, the Stormdancer started a whole lot of things happening when she assassinated Shogun Yoritomo. The rebellion, The Kage, were given new inspiration; The Lotus Guild sees a way to increase their influence and civil war looms as a new Shogun needs to be found.

There is a candidate who does not come from one of the predicable places, he has a drive to kill Yukiko that over rules anything else. He will rule and he will bring the downfall of the snip of a girl he thought he loved. To do this he forges an alliance with The Lotus Guild.

Yukiko is being hailed a hero but she is consumed by rage at her father’s death and the increase in her Kenning ability. It is becoming so much stronger and she battles to control it. Kin, once Guild member, who made it possible for Yukiko and Buruu to escape tries to find his place in amongst the Kage rebellion but the distrust between them and who he was is strong.

The Stormdancer’s influence has reached into the very city of Kigen, where one who thought she could never amount to much has realised that sometimes you have to stand up and fight if you want things to change.

Kristoff builds a solid sequel on the foundations of the first book Stormdancer. It is a nuanced tale filled with pain and struggles. It is not simply a case of good and evil fighting, it is a case of shades. This story is made more real by the author making things not quite so clear cut.

Yukiko’s battle with her rage and trying to come to terms with who she is and who she can be, is bleak in places. It is no easy path she takes. It is that very bleakness that pulls you along in the story. You want to follow her, you want to see her come out the other side. The bond between her and Buruu is tested and much is learnt through this process. Their relationship is a fascinating aspect to this story.

Kin’s struggle to fit in is heart wrenching at times. He battles his own demons and those of the Guild he came from. Two other key characters Michi and Hana, give this story depth from other perspectives. These women fight for their own reasons and their drive makes the story all the more tangible, you can feel their fear and their passion.

Darker than the first, it is still a wonderful read. The world seeps off the pages as you sink into the grittiness of it; the difference of the classes and the anguish of survival. You want to embrace it, it is the sort of book you want to put the time aside to read and the sort of book that makes it hard to pick up when you only have a few minutes because you know you will find it hard to put down.

I cannot wait to find out where Kristoff takes these characters next.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Tor

Published: 1st September 2013

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Steampunk

ISBN 13: 9780230768963

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

Kinslayer

Lookie what arrived in the post for me today!

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I am so excited!

I shall be meeting the author Jay Kristoff this weekend and will be getting both books signed.

Yes I am fully aware of just how much of a fan girl I am.

Faves of 2012

Okay it is that time of the year again where anyone and everyone puts together lists of their top picks of the past year. I am going to be no different, I will, however, not be doing a top 10. What I have put here are the ones that really stood out, but truthfully I had many wonderful reading experiences this year just about gone, and I did limit this list to those books published in 2012.

Let me start with the youngest first and believe me there were so many really cool picture books this past year but here are a few that stood out.

The Snorgh and the Sailor : Will Buckingham and Thomas Docherty

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore : William Joyce

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I Love You Little Monster : Andreae Giles and Jess Mikhail

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Plant a Kiss : Amy Rosenthal and Peter H Reynolds

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What Does Daddy Do? : Rachel Bright

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Fiction 4 – 9 years.

Secret of the Swords : Frances Watts and Gregory Rogers

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Hey Jack! series : by Sally Rippin

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Billie B Brown series by Sally Rippin

9781742971414Fiction 8 – 12

Floors : Patrick Carmen

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Summer’s Dream :  Cathy Cassidy

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Dork Diaries series : Rachel Renee Russell

9780857071194Young Adult Fiction

Stormdancer : Jay Kristoff

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The Fault in Our Stars : John Green

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Team Human : Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

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Stormdancer

By: Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium is a land on the brink. The Lotus Guild worship machines and have given the country clockwork industrialization. The downside of this is that the skies are coloured like blood and mass extinctions of all kinds of wildlife. It is a land being choked by toxic pollution, a by product of production of the blood lotus, a plant that provides everything from their fuel source to a drug to numb the public.

The hunters from the Imperial Court are sent on an insane mission to capture a legendary beast, a griffin (or thunder tiger) half eagle and half tiger. Everyone knows they have been extinct for years. The price for failing the Shogun in this mission is death, the leader tolerates no failure, no matter how ridiculous the task.

Yukiko is the daughter of Black Fox (Masaru), the Shogun’s Master of Hunter’s. She also has a secret that if discovered will see her dead at the hands of the Lotus Guild. Yukiko accompanies her father on this hunt and starts to see things that cause the thoughts she has suppressed, come to the surface. When things go horribly wrong she finds herself lost in the wilderness with creatures from stories and an injured and angry thunder tiger for company. Together though they may be able to change an empire.

So much about this story had me gripped and eager to get my hands on it way before it hit the shelves. Honestly I wasn’t let down.

Yukiko is a wonderful character; young, stubborn, strong and conflicted. She grows through her challenges, she sees beyond to understand things she never thought she would. She engages you and you want to go on this journey with her.

The world Kristoff has created is wonderful. It is dark and compelling. There is a grittiness in the telling that just draws you in. Complex friendships and family dynamics give things a believable edge. The plot is tightly layered and there are strong characters in some suprising places..

I really did love so very much of this book; the characters, the world, the politics, the environment and the creatures. I really can’t wait to read the next installment.

This will probably make my top five of the year.

Publisher: Tor

Published: 13 September 2012

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Steampunk, Adventure, Action

ISBN 13: 9780230762886

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Stormdancer – Book Trailer

This is just because I have finally gotten around to starting this book and it is awesome!

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