Tag Archive | Australia

V is Vân Ước, wishing hard for love in Cloudwish, by Fiona Wood (book review)

book cover of Cloudwish by Fiona Wood published by Poppy  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWish for love, wish for happiness,
wish to stand out as an artist,
wish to fit in at her new school…

Vân Ước worries about so many things – her mother’s deepening depression as the anniversary of her parents’ escape from Vietnam nears and how to fit in correctly as a scholarship student at her Australian private high school.

And her wishes – becoming an artist instead of a doctor (her parents’ dream), being with handsome rower Billy (her craziest dream) – seem to be coming true after that creative writing class…

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, then search for Cloudwish at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your highest wish?
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Book info: Cloudwish / Fiona Wood. Poppy, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [podcast with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dreams of being with handsome Billy are fruitless; dreams of making her living as an artist get Vân Ước through tough days. But the Vietnamese Australian teen may have a chance at both, if the guest creative writing teacher is right!

The transition from her Sydney immigrant neighborhood where she shares strong coffee with her lesbian-in-waiting best friend to the private school where she’s a scholarship student is jarring, as is Billy’s transformation from popular prankster to nice guy in their International Baccalaureate classes.

When a tiny bottle marked ‘wish’ just vanishes into her skin during a creative writing seminar, odd things begin to happen to Vân Ước – like Billy really paying attention to her – in a good way!

Will she be able to magically change her parents’ expectations for her future?
Can Mama’s depression be cured, years after that traumatic journey from Vietnam?
What would Jane Austen do in all these strange, changed situations?

Her name means ‘cloudwish’ – and maybe, just maybe, her dearest wishes and dreams could come true.

Lucy and Linh, by Alice Pung (book review) – be her true self or viewed self?

book cover of Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung published by Knopf | recommended on BooksYALove.comSmart at old school,
struggling at new school,
where is her self and center now?

While the access scholarship admits Lucy to Laurinda, privilege and social power at the fancy private school will keep this child of Chinese immigrants from true success there. Her less-educated parents want her to be happy and do well, but aren’t demanding that she ace every exam.

Her letters to funny and outspoken Linh at her old school chronicle Lucy’s worries about fitting in, finding a friend, and her baby brother’s worsening health.

Entitled Laurinda in its native Australia, Lucy and Linh should be available at your local library or independent bookstore now – if not, ask for it!

How do you stay true to yourself while trying to rise?
**kmm

Book info: Lucy and Linh / Alice Pung. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As a new scholarship girl at Laurinda, Lucy suddenly walks into a world of generational privilege where acceptance by ‘the Cabinet’ of most-influential students at the historic Sydney girls’ school is more important than grades or kindness.

The distance between her scruffy immigrant neighborhood and the elegance of Laurinda is more than just a bus ride, thinks Lucy, as the disconnect grows between her home life where Ma assembles garments in the back room and school days where the Cabinet connives to discredit any teacher they dislike.

Why did the girls of the Cabinet seek out Lucy?
Why must Laurinda’s social order remain the same now as last generation?
Would Lucy return to her old school where she can be herself?

Worrying about baby brother’s health amid Ma’s sewing dust, trying to understand why the Cabinet gets away with so much, wondering if she can succeed at Laurinda without completely losing herself, this teen child of Chinese immigrants pours out her new life in letters to Linh.

Escape from peril to danger! Journey onward with free audiobooks

Tales of difficult decisions and travel travails in this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC.

Nearing the end of this great summer program, so please download either or both books (click on link following title) before Wednesday 3 August 2016, so that you can listen free as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of audiobook Juba! by Walter Dean Myers | Read by Brandon Gill Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.comJuba! (download here 28 July – 3 August 2016)

by Walter Dean Myers
Read by Brandon Gill
Published by HarperAudio

After Mr. Juba dances for appreciative crowds in England at the behest of Charles Dickens, the black freedman must decide whether to return to America where he could be captured and enslaved.

Pennies for Hitler (download here 28 July – 3 August 2016)CD cover of audiobook Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French | Read by Humphrey Bower Published by Bolinda Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Jackie French
Read by Humphrey Bower
Published by Bolinda Audio

Escaping from Nazi Germany, Georg becomes George as this child of British professor is smuggled to England, then Australia, leaving behind family and friends, encountering prejudice and possibilities.

What to do when it’s not safe to stay, dangerous to leave?
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Coming of age tales to read with your ears

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC examine growing up and discovering yourself.

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Click the link for either or both titles for the quick and free download.

CD cover of audiobook Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo | Read by Angela Dawe Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comFat Angie (download here July 14-20, 2016)
by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Read by Angela Dawe
Published by Brilliance Audio

Mom demands weight loss, school is terrible, as Angie alone believes that her POW sister will come home from Iraq. When ultra-cool girl KC moves to her small Ohio town and sees the true Angie, life gets a lot more real in this not-traditional rom-com. (great book trailer here!)

 
On the Jellicoe Road (download here July 14-20, 2016)CD cover of audiobook On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta | Read by Rebecca Macauley Published by Bolinda Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Melina Marchetta
Read by Rebecca Macauley
Published by Bolinda Audio

Can senior Taylor keep order at between her boarding school classmates and the kids from nearby Australian town while she tries to piece together exactly why her mother abandoned her six years ago?

What other coming-of-age titles would you recommend?
**kmm

Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, by Melissa Keil (book review) – end of the world? with pastry?

book cover of Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil published by Peachtree | recommended on BooksYALove.com School days are over,
future looms ahead,
till Doomsday countdown starts?

Alba never expected
(a) sleepy Eden Valley as gathering place for the just-announced end of the world, 10 days from now,
(b) then-chunky pal, now-hunky TV star Daniel to return after years away,
(c) best friend Grady really expecting them to move to college at summer’s end,
(d) all of the above, plus a demand for vegan choices at Mum’s bakery (where they live, too).

Surely she can become an award-winning graphic novelist with her Cinnamon Girl character without leaving everything she loves about their little back-country town…

Published in Australia in 2014 and brought to the USA by Peachtree Publishers in 2016, the longing and love story of Cinnamon Girl is so worth asking for at your local library or independent bookstore – you’ve got to find out if the world ends, right?

So, the world ending – caused by humans, nature, aliens?
**kmm

Book info: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl / Melissa Keil. Peachtree, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Alba and Grady have been best buddies forever, but when a psychic’s ‘end of the world’ pronouncement names their little Australian town, the recently graduated teens must cope with strangers in the pasture and old friends with new perspectives, as she wants everything to stay the same and he longs to head for college.

Can’t she be a brilliant graphic artist without leaving her tiny hometown?
If her dad hadn’t died in a motorcycle crash and Grady’s dad hadn’t fled for the city, what would life be like now?
Wait, is old pal, now TV actor Daniel flirting with her? Grady is acting so weird these days…

Each chapter is headed with a panel from Alba’s graphic-novel-in-progress as her sorta-superhero Cinnamon Girl also copes with time passing too fast, enjoys terrible television shows, worries about the impending apocalypse, and stars in the Albany Bakery’s scrumptious menu.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Writing Clementine, by Kate Gordon (book review) – journaling secrets, reader optional

book cover of Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon, published by Allen & Unwin | BooksYALove.comWhen there’s nothing to write about
and you still have to write,
sometimes big truths appear…

Year 9 is tough on Clementine, with her best friends and family members growing away from her, until fascinating Fred arrives, dressed like a dandy from a bye-gone era, asking her to join his steampunk world and truly become the self she writes about in her philosophy class journal.

This Australian title arrives in the US on Sept. 1st , so your local library or local independent bookstore should be able to easily get it through Independent Publishers Group.

Several in-school personas in Writing Clementine  don’t match up with their leisure-time pursuits – what’s the most unusual public-private contrast you’ve seen?

**kmm

Book info: Writing Clementine / Kate Gordon. Allen & Unwin, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Clementine feels left behind as family and friends change, so a new student’s invitation to role-play in a steampunk society lets the Tasmanian teen experience acceptance and romance that she never even dreamed about in her journal.

Her best friends demand that Clem grow up in a hurry, then they move on. Her brother’s been holed up in his room for a year, and she feels responsible. Her philosophy teacher requires daily journal writing, but won’t read or comment on it unless asked.

A new student moves to town, like a reviving breeze with his elegant clothes and intriguing smile. Fred is such a contrast to creepy Sam and the other boys at school!

When Fred introduces her to the Burnie Steampunk Society, Clem finds new friends as they pretend to live in Victorian times.

Can she ever accept that Fred likes her just as she is?
Why can’t she just fix what’s wrong for her beloved big brother?
What should she do about Sam’s unwanted attention?

Clementine faces choices, changes, and challenges during her first year of high school, as recounted in the pages of her philosophy class journal. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Girl Defective, by Simmone Howell (book review) – summer of music, mystery & weird

book cover of Girl Defective by Simmone Howell published by Atheneum Books for Young ReadersScary-sad missing girl mystery.
Little brother thinks he’s a super-detective.
New guy at their vinyl shop has a secret.

Sky isn’t sure what’s worse – Dad ignoring the eviction notice, seeing friend Nancy drift away, or her dreams of drowned Mia.

Watching Gully all summer will be dreadful, since the 10 year old wears his pig-snout mask always and logs every scrap of conversation like a secret agent – can’t Sky just work at the family record shop and go to concerts like everyone else?

Snag a free excerpt of the book here, then ask for Girl Defective  at your local library or independent bookstore.

Did family expectations every make you defer a dream job?
**kmm

Book info: Girl Defective / Simmone Howell. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: This summer, Sky just wants to run her family’s vintage vinyl shop and fall in love, but dire secrets percolate up in their scruffy Australian neighborhood, and her social-skills-lacking little brother Gully keeps calling the police with clues.

After Mom left them to “follow her art” and Dad crawled into his homebrew bottle, it’s been up to Skylark to take care of 10-year-old autist Gully (who melts down when everything isn’t just-so) and keep the doors of their vintage vinyl record shop open for collectors.

Stylish pal Nancy tries to get Sky out for concerts before a developer razes local venues (“progress” – ha!),  a missing person case is deemed suicide (who’s making those memorial murals?), and Dad hires new guy Luke to work in the shop (very cute, in a hidden-sadness way) – quite enough happening in St. Kilda before the eviction notice arrives.

What will become of the vinyl shop?
Did Gully really find clues about Mia’s death?
Could Luke really be interested in Sky?

Music, dreams, lies, love, death, and clues – not quite the summer holiday that Sky had envisioned! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Cheers to authors from Down Under! (fiction) – Australia Day

Australia Day is tomorrow, so let’s look at some great BooksYALove by authors from Down Under.

book cover of Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

Cristy Burne writes adventurous tales about Miku who encounters many creatures from Japanese folklore, like Takeshita Demons (my review) who followed her family to London and  The Filth-Licker (review here) that her classmates meet up with at camp.

Not sure if Sherryl Clark herself has heard the dead, but her character Sasha in Dying to Tell Me  (my review) certainly can! Visions of blood and death in sleepy little Manna Creek at the edge of the Outback…

A being condemned to inhabit another body as camouflage, over and over; she calls herself Mercy  (my review) in the first book of the series by Rebecca Lim. Book 2, Exile, is in my overflowing to-be-read pile and promises a few more clues about who Mercy might be and why she’s existing this way.

book cover of Butterflies by Susanne Gervay published by Kane Miller

Only males may become Dragoneye lords, but one young woman knows she has the power to mind-link with dragons in Alison Goodman’s Eon  (my review) and must save her world in Eona  (my review), both now available in paperback.

Susanne Gervay interviewed many teen burn patients as she wrote Butterflies (my review), which follows Katherine through surgery, school worries, and her choices for the future.

She expected snow, festivals and historic shrines, but there was no way to predict that Hannah’s Winter (my review) in Japan would include ancient evil spirits and a donut-throwing ghost! Kierin Meehan packs plenty of mystery and historical tidbits into this intriguing story.

book cover of I Lost My Mobile at the Mall by Wendy Harmer published by Kane Miller

Elly has such bad luck! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, she cries to her parents, who tell her that she’s not getting another cell phone from them. Wendy Harmer ably turns her comic touch to this too-common young adult crisis (my review).

The Reformed Vampire Support Group  by Catherine Jinks got to the bestseller list, but I snuck it onto BooksYALove anyway. Be sure you meet this Sydney self-help group that finally has to venture out of its decades-old comfort zone to help someone else (my review).

Mary Arrigan follows a family from Ireland’s Potato Famine to the goldfields of Australia in historical fiction of a time period that we usually don’t see. Surely the dream of Etsy’s Gold  (my review) can come true if they work hard enough?

book cover of The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar published by Candlewick

A gentle story of love, loss, and friendship starts and ends in the mural-painted rooms of The Visconti House  in a quiet Australian country town – my review of Elsbeth Edgar’s debut novel here.

Stolen: a Letter to my Captor, by Lucy Christopher, might be the scariest book on this list, as it tells of a carefully plotted kidnapping that lands Gemma far, far in the Outback in terrible danger (my review).

Check out these stellar books from Aussie authors today at your local library or independent bookstore!

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These are among the 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com. All review copies and cover images courtesy of their respective publishers.

D is Dying to Tell Me (fiction) – hearing the dead, dog on a mission

D for a dying man, red flashes of light,
D for dread, cold whispers of wind on a still night…
Approaching the old stone jail cell, Sasha’s visions get worse.
Red flashes, a dying man,
The past or the future??

Do you believe in messages from beyond the grave? Are premonitions true indicators of what may happen in the future? Can there be mental communication between people and animals?

Moving to a strange small town is bad enough, but being immediately tagged as the policeman’s kids and mostly shunned makes it that much worse. Sasha wonders if her more-frequent visions of blood and peril are part of the town itself or simply mean that she’s losing her mind. Hearing King somehow speak to her makes her suspect the latter – retired police dogs do not talk to grumpy teen girls, they just don’t!

Many mysterious things in this novel by Sherryl Clark, who firmly places readers in Manna Creek, Australia, with the town itself as one of the book’s main characters. Look for Dying to Tell Me at your local library or indie bookstore.
**kmm

Book info: Dying to Tell Me / Sherryl Clark. Kane Miller, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Strange chills and odd visions – doesn’t anyone else in Manna Creek sense them? Sasha and her younger brother aren’t impressed with the little town where their dad has moved them for a “fresh start.” After the troubles that landed her in Teen Court, Sasha doesn’t have any voice in this, of course.

They nearly hit a scrawny dog as they drive up to this shabby little house that can’t even hold all their furniture. The shops in town look dusty and tired, and the townspeople aren’t very friendly to the new policeman or his family. Sasha knew that her mum wouldn’t un-divorce her dad, but she never dreamed that they’d move away from Melbourne, out to nowhere.

On their first walk around, Sasha slips off the trail and into icy Manna Creek, hitting her head on the way. Rescued by little brother Nicky and the local ambulance squad, she keeps getting visions of a man, a hunted-looking man. The visions are worse in their backyard, which they share with the police station – flashes of red and the image of a man in the old stone building.

A gun-shy retired police dog comes to live with the family. At least King likes them! Bored during the long school break, Sasha and Nicky visit the local history museum and learn about a man who hanged himself in that police cell 100 years ago. And the small art gallery includes original masterworks of famous Australian painters that Sasha recognizes from her art classes. Out here?

As Nicky and Sasha roam Manna Creek and discover more about its people and past, her visions get worse. Images of fire and death – are they shadows of the past or premonitions? Can she stop a tragedy before it happens? Why does King seem to understand what she’s thinking before she says it? And that man in her visions – who is he?

More than one mystery hides in Manna Creek and in the pages of this well-written novel by Australian author Sherryl Clark. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fun Friday – fiction A to Z and then some

Friday! Time for some fun books and taking a deep breath before plunging into April’s AtoZ blogging challenge. Click the links to get straight to the no-spoiler reviews.

Tallulah wants to grace the stage, to be in lovvvve, to have a figure like her cousin Georgia. Will these wishes come true at summer drama school on the Yorkshire dales? Withering Tights begins this funny series (and owls are also involved).

Since she’s messed up so many decisions, Brook finally turns to blog readers for advice, letting them vote on every choice she has – from which novel to read in English class to trying out for rugby – in My Life Undecided.

Not again! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, but Elly’s parents won’t buy her a new cellphone, then burglars steal the family’s computers! How can the Sydney teen stay connected to her friends? Yikes!

A missed flight, a changed seating arrangement, meeting a new stepmom in a foreign country – no wonder Hadley imagines that The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love is zilch.

Lillian loves the idea of a road trip with her best buddy Josh right after graduation, even if they’re heading cross-country after a kidnapper… and Josh has never realized how much she loves him – Don’t Stop Now.

Some years after high school, Simon and his pals are still social dorks. But pretending to be someone else is too strange – so why is Nancy answering letters to a previous tenant as if she were that Sarah person? Same Difference is a graphic novel with sarcastic bite.

Try some hands-on yummy fun with the step-by-step instructions for creating Insanewiches, from the East Meets West Dog to the famous Rubik’s Cubewich.

Head up to Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity with Hakata Soy and friends for classes in dinosaur racing, cute hats, run-on sentences, and spying…

Read any other fun and funny books recently?
**kmm
(Take a smile image courtesy of Nana who retains all rights – http://nanaisreal.tumblr.com/post/3323260821)