30 May, 2011

I'm Back!


We've been home from our holiday for just over a week, but it's taken me that long to get everything sorted again and in a place where I can think about blogging.
Along with my husband, two kids and another family of four, I just spent two weeks camping on an island called Humpy Island.

Our family
For me, one of the best things about camping is the lack of stuff to do. You get up, have breakfast, wash up, tidy up the tent, maybe do some hand washing and that’s it! Your whole housework routine takes no more than 30 – 60 minutes! After that, all there is to do is make a cup of tea and sit down with a book while the kids run wild on the beach!




















And we ate lots of fish and cray fish - yum!

The hunters return successful!


We also walked. This is the view from the top of the island.

For me, one of the best things about being on holidays is being able to read – lots!  However, once the holiday ends, you are left with a stack of books you have read and a need to review them! Given I finished 7 books while on holidays, I thought I would post a bunch of short reviews in one hit. Apart from anything else, I just don't have the time to do full reviews of each book! Five of the seven I read are shortlisted for this years  Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Older Readers Book of the Year. The last one was waiting for me when I got back so I'll get onto that soon. So without further ado, here are the short reviews of the books I read while on holiday!

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Fiction

Series: If I Stay
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - Library


What I thought: After being the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her parents and younger brother, Mia must make a choice, should she stay on earth or go with them? Told from Mia's point of view, she roams the halls of the hospital listening to her family and friends. I have a bit of a morbid streak and have been known to play scenarios like Mia's out in my head. Her gradual realisation that the choice was hers and her final choice made me feel for Mia and her family. I think it could create some interesting talking points with young adults and what they see as the important things in their lives. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Where She Went.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge

Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley
Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult Format: Book - Library

Short listed for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year - Older Readers.
 
What I thought: It's the last night of year 12 and Lucy has promised her friends to stay out all night to celebrate, but she has an ulterior motive - she wants to find Shadow - the graffiti artist whose work she admires. Ed, who she has a history with, says he knows Shadow and can introduce her and begins a night of hunting. I like Lucy - she knows what she wants and where she is going. The interesting thing about this book was how Crowley maintained suspense even when the reader knew the secret. It becomes about how Lucy will find out who Shadow is and the effect it will have on her and Ed's new found friendship. It well deserved it's inclusion on the shortlist.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge





Title: The Midnight Zoo
Author: Sonya Hartnett
Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult Format: Book - Library

Short listed for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year - Older Readers.
 
What I thought: Andrej and Tomas have been doing exactly what theri mother told the to do - run. But now in a deserted town, they have discovered a most unusual zoo and they need to stay until they work out how to save themselves and the animals. I'm a fan of Sonya Hartnett and I did enjoy this book. Not as confronting as The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, The Midnight Zoo still opens the door for discussion around events during WWII. I did feel it lost something towards the end - almost like an uncertainty about how to end the story. Maybe there would be more to gain from a second reading.
Challenges:  Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge


Title: About A Girl
Author: Joanne Horniman
Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult Format: Book - Library

Short listed for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year - Older Readers.

What I thought: Anna is trying to find out where in the world she fits. Then she meets Flynn and she is sure she fits with her - but Flynn has a secret and it hods the power to destroy all Anna thought she knew. There are some big themes in this book - homosexuality, depression, acceptance and divorce. I love the fact that Anna is gay is not the main focus of her character - in fact she is very comfortable with her sexuality. I loved Anna and wanted to protect her and her new found freedom. This made me wary of Flynn who I thought would hurt Anna. It's also partly set in Canberra, which is my hometown, so although venues weren't specifically mentioned, I think I identified a few - I'd love to know if I'm right!
Challenges: Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge



Title: The Piper's Son
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - Library

Short listed for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year - Older Readers.

What I thought: Life since hight school ended has been tough for Thomas Mackee - his parents have spilt, his uncle was killed in the London bombing and his friends from high school seem to be moving on. Can he , his family and friends rebuild and move forward? Billed as a sequel to Marchetta's Saving Francesca, The Piper's Son could be read as a stand alone. I found it a bit slow to start with but was soon enthralled. I swayed between wanting to slap Thomas and wanting to wrap him in my arms and rock him. Marchetta has this ability to layer who characters so by the end you feel you know them completely. A good read, but I don't think it's this years winner.
Challenges:  Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge



Title: The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher
Author: Doug MacLeod

Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - Library

Short listed for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year - Older Readers.

What I thought: While exhuming his grandfather's body in order to fulfil his wish of being donated to medical science, Thomas Timewell meets a body snatcher called Plenitude and all of a sudden his life is heading in a direction he would never have predicted. This was a very different book and I'm not sure about it's appeal to a YA audience. Some characters such as Thomas' mother were very two dimensional and unconvincing. At times I felt MacLeod was trying to be funny but fell short of the mark. Having said that I did enjoy it, but I won't be seeking out other Doug MacLeod books.
Challenges: Aussie YA Challenge, For the Love of YA Challenge, 100+ Challenge



Title: The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Genre: Fiction

Series: The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle

What I thought: The wedding between Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti is fast approaching and many plans must be made. In the meantime there are still mysteries to be solved and people to help. This is the 12th book in series and I loved it! The series somehow manages to stay fresh and enjoyable despite it's longevity. Reading one of these books is like sitting down to a pot of tea with an old friend you haven't' seen for a long time. Just gorgeous!

Challenges: 100+ Challenge

2 comments:

  1. Looks like a gorgeous holiday destination! I tend to read less when I am on holidays!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ow!
    http://inthefrontroom.blogspot.com/
    ;-)

    ReplyDelete