Mar 25, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Aurealis Award Winners Announced


For those who weren’t there or weren’t following on Twitter like I was, here are the winners of the 2016 Aurealis Awards (for works published in 2015). Results reproduced from the official Aurealis Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners!

A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia) 

The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press) 

“Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press) 

“The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press) 

“Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press) 

“All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)

“By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)

To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin) 

Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications) 

In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin) 

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing) 

Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin) 

The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising(2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)


Letters to Tiptree, Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
The Ditmar Awards are being announced Sunday evening, Brisbane time, so stand by for more news.

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Mar 25, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas

Mar 18, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Presenting the 2016 Inky Awards longlist


Gold Inky Awards Longlist (for books by an Australian author)

Clancy of the Undertow –
Christopher Currie

The Flywheel – Erin Gough

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman &
Jay Kristoff

Sister Heart – Sally Morgan

Carousel – Brendan Ritchie

Inbetween Days – Vikki Wakefield

Zeroes – Scott Westerfeld, Margo
Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti

Green Valentine – Lili Wilkinson

The Guy, The Girl, the Artist and
his Ex – Gabrielle Williams

Cloudwish – Fiona Wood

Silver Inky Awards Longlist (for books by an international author)

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

Magnus Chase – Rick Riordan

The Marvels – Brian Selznick

Made You Up – Francesca Zappia

These fantastic books have been selected by teens, for teens as the best new reads to feast your eyes upon!

Congratulations to all the longlisted authors, thank you to the many teens who shared their thoughts to create it, and special thanks to Jordan, Melanie, Chris, Rehan, Diem, Vinhara, Catie, Oliver, Sarah, Kellie, Emily, Lauren, Genevieve, Phoebe, and Cleopatra for being the announcement superstars!

Mar 6, 2016 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: HOW TO BE HAPPY by David Burton

A funny, sad and serious memoir, ‘How to Be Happy’ is David Burton’s story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first ‘date’ is a disaster. There’s the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival – David is not sporty – and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of ‘Crazy Dave’, and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine.

And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.

‘How to Be Happy’ tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It’s a brave and honest account of one young man’s search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.

Honestly, the blurb explains this book better than I’m ever going to. Let’s try anyway.

It’s taken me a long time to digest this one. I’m roughly the same age as David, so a lot of my experiences (both personal and viewed) are reflected in this book, but the themes explored are so universal that everyone will get something out of it.

David has such a beautifully candid style, and there were several moments where I both laughed aloud and fought back tears (and sometimes at the same time!). While it is a wonderful and heartbreaking book, there is so much hope to be found, even in the darkest moments, and I loved that about it.

There were a few times where I wished there was more included about things like his home life, but at the same time, it’s a very introspective book, and the style of the writing doesn’t allow for much peripheral information, so it’s something I can easily forgive.

In all, there are some good things to be picked out regardless of whether you’ve struggled with sexuality/mental health issues, and while it’s not a definitive guide (or any kind of guide in the traditional sense of the word) on how to be happy, it IS a charming and challenging exploration of one path to happiness.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Feb 28, 2016 - Book News    1 Comment

Book Review: A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS by Mitchell Hogan

I am a sucker for big, adventure-y, journey stories. I love it when characters go on a physical and emotional trip through life, learning and growing and experiencing everything their world has to offer.

So, when everything goes to hell and Caldan is dragged out of his neat little world into the big, nasty world, I was very happy.

I love that it isn’t a complicated, convoluted mess of a story. I see that a lot in fantasy these days, and as much as I enjoy that kind of story too, sometimes I want something a lot more straightforward. Don’t get me wrong – there is a considerable amount of depth to both the characters and the plot, but I didn’t feel the need to take notes every time something happened (something that has been necessary in other series).

Mitchell Hogan’s writing reminds me a lot of Matthew Reilly’s – think The Tournament more than Contest – both have a very plot-driven style that strips out almost everything that’s deemed unnecessary to furthering the story. Compared to some of the great big meandering expositions found in a lot of fantasy, I think that makes a really nice change.

The magic system is really interesting, and helps set it apart from every other sword-and-sorcery type story. I would have liked to have a bit more detail about how it worked, but more than enough is provided to get the point across for the story. I also really enjoyed the characters, and many of the sub-plots are just as interesting as the main one. There are a few characters I’m hoping to see a lot more of, especially Felice.

All of this to say that it’s a fantastic example of Australian fantasy, with a great story and great characters and great magic. AND it’s now one of my go-to recommendations. Do yourself a favour, and go read this book!

Purchase: Booktopia | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Post: Turning negatives into positives with Thomas Brooke

It was an October night, and I was returning home from a night out with a few friends in my local pub in London,
when something happened that changed my life dramatically.  The nights were closing in, so it was already dark by the time I left the pub, but I was in a good mood.   I’d recently returned from a trip to Pompeii , so I’d been telling everyone of my excitement at walking through the Roman streets, marvelling at the murals and depictions on the well preserved houses, and laughing about the seedier aspects of the ancient city – the brothels and street graffiti that had also survived the great volcanic eruption of AD 79.

It was probably because I was so preoccupied with these thoughts, that I didn’t see the guy who came out of an alcove and wrapped an arm around my neck.  My first thought was, ‘Am I being mugged?  Who’s going to mug me??’ – I’m a big guy, over six feet tall and I keep myself in pretty good shape, so I’d always thought the chance of this happening in London were pretty remote.  But I was wrong.

When the second guy came out from behind a car, then the third from behind a bush I knew I was in trouble.  This was no ordinary street robbery; these guys were out for blood, and the three of them surrounded me and between them punched, kicked, and smashed me to the ground, beating me to an inch of my life.

Afterwards, as I tried to hobble home – one of them had crushed my foot, to prevent me from getting up – another passer-by saw me covered in blood and called an ambulance.  I was lucky, I got to live another day.  And within a few weeks, my bruises healed, and I began to walk without a limp, all physical signs of my encounter disappeared.  But that was just the start of my nightmare.

I was completely unprepared for the mental-trauma that such an incident inflicts on you.  That winter was torture for
me.  After any night out, I was terrified to go home; I found I was scared of the dark, constantly thinking that people
would jump out of the shadows at me.  I’d never previously been a heavy drinker, but over that winter I found I needed to drink a lot just to give me the courage to walk home.  I could have called a taxi, but then people would wonder why I was taking a cab for such a small journey – this became another all-encompassing fear:  that
others would find out about my terror. This might seem irrational, but at the time, that fear was almost as
great as being mugged again.

Those first six months were very difficult, but then as the nights started getting lighter, an idea came to me.  After
visiting Pompeii I’d been searching for a character to be a lead in a novel set in ancient Rome – someone who fully embraced the entirety of Rome, its seedier aspects as much as its magnificence.  Why not put my experiences to good use, rather than having it a weight bearing me down, let it be something that produces something positive.  At the time, the news on the television was full of stories of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with
post-traumatic stress and it made me think how soldiers dealt with such issues in the ancient world.  My experiences had shown me the power that traumatic events can play on the mind, and I quite simply didn’t believe anyone who claimed that in the ancient world such a thing was not a concern because life was different back then.   The human mind was biologically exactly the same then as it is now, and just as fallible to conditions we now diagnose and
understand the importance of.

So I came up with the character Cassius, a great soldier, but someone who’d been affected by a terrible battle a few years before in the forests of Germany.   I knew from my own experiences how easy it was to fall into a trap of blaming yourself for your own perceived weakness, and I knew how living a lie to hide that same weakness can become a part of life.  I then started my novel in Rome so I could show Cassius being seduced by the many vices of that ancient city – something that is all too easy under such circumstances.  I then returned Cassius to Germany where he learns to understand and come to terms with his fears, just as I did whilst writing my novel.  The novel culminates in the Teutoburg forest and one of the most dramatic and historically significant battles of the ancient world. Cassius needs to draw on all his courage and strength in the midst of that terrible event.

I’m now pleased that I encountered those three men, that fateful night in October.  It was a terrible experience, but it gave me something so much more – I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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