Monday, 8 February 2016

Sound the Trumpets – or at least, y'know, blow one of those squeaky party thingies

I’m kicking off the year with a few fun bits of news:

The first bit, is that I’m about to smash champagne bottles over metaphorical bulkheads, as I help launch two #LoveOzYA books by two (incredibly talented) writer friends into the universe. Summer Skin, by Kirsty Eagar (Raw Blue, Saltwater Vampires), is about a university-student romance, with characters who shine a light on sexual politics, love, lust and identity – it’s a gutsy book that all young men and women should read.  My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Liar, Razorhurst) is a sometimes-scathing, something-poignant – but always terrifying – story about a boy whose little sister has an antisocial personality disorder (she’s a sociopath, in other words).  It packs a psychological wallop, and manages to cram some incredible insight about family, faith, identity, nature and nurture, in there as well.

I would love to see you all at the Melbourne launch, which is Wednesday 10 Feb, at Readings Carlton in Lygon Street.  Justine and Kirsty are both coming from Sydney to be here, after joint- launching their books in spectacular fashion at Kinokuniya Sydney – I’m looking forward to embarrassing myself in speech, and saying hi to two women whose writing I’ve read and admired for a long time.  The celebration starts at 6pm, and you can book or get more details here at the Readings page.

And the second bit of news is… I’m in the middle of writing a new book.  I can’t give too much away about it at this stage – it’s a bit Secret Squirrel – but I can say that I’m almost a third of the way through the first draft, and it’s got a few new characters in it that I think might grow on you.*

Apart from the Summer Skin/My Sister Rosa launch tomorrow, I see a few other events on the horizon – I’m visiting Tintern schools next week, and I’ll be in Sydney in March and May.  Most definitely May, as I’m joining Will Kostakis, Melissa Keil and Gabrielle Tozer on panels at the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2016 conference.  But if I don’t see you around at events, I’ll still say hi on  Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if you drop by, or you can catch me at the #LoveOzYabookclub discussion threads on Facebook.

I hope you’re having a really excellent start to this new Monkey year, 2016 (also a leap year, something I’m sure you realised before me), and talk again soon!


*That is an in-joke.  To do with the book.  Which you don’t get yet.  But you will.  All will soon be revealed.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

#LoveOzYAbookclub – February 2016 book selection

Welcome to a brand new year of bookclub! After a slightly, er, hectic start to the year, we’re back on track with our first title for 2016.

This month’s title was selected by Lili Wilkinson, the author of our Dec/Jan book, Green Valentine – Lili has chosen the new book by Alison Goodman, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club.  A Regency adventure story about a society miss who becomes a demon hunter - Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy?  I’m twirling my parasol with excitement!

Kirkus Reviews describes Lady Helen as a ‘deep, deliberately paced journey’ through a Regency London filled with Reclaimers and Deceivers, a supernatural reflection of what was then the polite ton society and the seedy underworld of the period.  Lady Helen Wrexhall – led by her guide, the mysterious Lord Carlston – finds her destiny is a lot more unusual and deadly than she was originally led to believe…

This is the first book in a new series, about which Kirkus says: “Goodman’s prose is assured; her impeccable research shines through on every page … and brings to life questions of freedom and choice for women.”  All right, I’m convinced – sign me up!

For this month only we are having a very special bookclub event: Readings independent bookstore is also reading Lady Helen for their YA bookclub this month, so we thought we’d join forces and make things extra awesome for everybody.  So, lovely #LoveOzYAbookclub members, please make welcome visitors from the Readings YA bookclub on the title selection and discussion threads, and #LoveOzYAbookclub members will of course be welcome to join in the Readings bookclub discussion on Wed 17February, 7pm, at Readings St Kilda, hosted by St Kilda Children’s book specialist, Isobel Moore (click the FB link to book).  To make things even better, you now have two options for purchasing this month’s title: you can order it through Boomerang Books, with the special ‘loveoz’ promotional code, to receive free shipping, or – for February only – you can buy the book in-store at Readings for a 20% discount (just mention bookclub with your purchase at Readings).

I hope you enjoy Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club – stay tuned for some contact from Alison Goodman during the month, I’ll let you know when the discussion post goes live, and happy Leap Year!


Thursday, 28 January 2016

#LoveOzYAbookclub – January 2016 Book Discussion Post: Green Valentine (Lili Wilkinson)

So here we are – we’ve reached the moment of truth!  What did you think of Green Valentine?  I admit to being a little biased with this book, cos I launched it when it was released…but then I admitted to bias with our last book too, so I think I should just give up and admit that I have a general case of bias where books are involved.  But It was a very special launch, where all the participants went home with little seedlings for their gardens, and I got to mix a lot of metaphors involving 'growing' and 'sprouting' and 'putting down roots' into my launch speech, and a good time was had by all!

Green Valentine is the sweetest little book – this review by Trisha Buckley on the CBCA Reading Time website says it well:

“[Lili Wilkinson’s] books challenge expectations, and ask teenagers to look at their choices, and be sure they are making them for the best reasons… [Green Valentine] incorporates social justice concerns without sounding preachy or teachy… Astrid’s personal growth happens organically (see what I did there?) and in parallel to the guerrilla garden she and Hiro create. The issues are relevant to the target audience, and add in the romance, the humour and the diverse range of characters, and what we have here is a winner.” 

You can read the whole of Trisha’s review here.

What did you think of our Dec/Jan title?  Add your comments to the discussion thread on the FB page, where you can join in the conversation, or feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.

Next week, be ready for the announcement of our #LoveOzYAbookclub title for February – see you then!


Monday, 25 January 2016

#LoveOzYAbookclub – Author Q&A - Lili Wilkinson (Green Valentine)

Hi all, welcome to a brand new year with #LoveOzYAbookclub :)  To kick things off for 2016, our author for Dec/Jan’s title, Lili Wilkinson, has graciously agreed to answer some slightly ridiculous questions about herself, her writing, and Green Valentine.

The discussion thread for Green Valentine will be going up shortly (ie. when I pull my finger out, ieie. in the next few days)  Meanwhile, thanks for getting your sillies on with me and Lili, and happy reading!

* Something important about your writing process you’d like to share:
I don’t write chronologically. I like to put together a detailed chapter outline before I start writing, and then every day I write the bit of the story I’m most excited about. It works really well, and I never get stuck… until I get to the last 20% of the draft which is all the tricky bits I’ve been avoiding.

* Your book makes No#1 with a bullet on the NYT Bestseller List, and a famous bartender at the Ritz-Carlton makes a cocktail in its honour.  What’s in the cocktail and what is it called:
Green Valentine seems like a pretty good name for a cocktail. It’s basically a gin and tonic, but served with muddled mint, kaffir lime and cucumber, garnished with a home-grown strawberry.

* If your book was a ride at SeaWorld, it would be…:

* We’re at a dance party right now, and the DJ wants to know which song gets you out on the floor for major boogies and you say…:
Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield.

* The zombie apocalypse strikes, but it’s okay, cos you have your choice of weapons, and you choose…:
My iPhone, so I can google what to do in a zombie apocalypse.

Thank you Lili!  And now I totally want a cocktail with G&T and muddled mint, kaffir, maybe hold the cucumber.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Lili chooses for next month’s bookclub pick, and I'll be updating again VERY soon (I promise).