Bookopoly Junior – a Summer Reading Challenge for children

The summer’s holiday has sneaked up on me! I just wasn’t ready for my son to finish this school year… Last year, I created a reading challenge using tasks & points to be earned by completing tasks (2016 challenge). It didn’t seem to work quite as well as I’d like (ie. he lost his booklet halfway through). At least I got him reading more than he would’ve! So this time, I thought to adapt a board game he knows & loves using ‘reading books’ as currency. It’s all set up on our wall and he appears to be excited to start! I’m excited to start! Here’s what it looks like:

I have made up this board myself and I’ve used images that are familiar to my son… If you’re making your own board, pick ones your children are familiar with.

Before you start playing, each player should have a stack of their own TBR pile. We plan to go to the library and max out our cards with books. This should give us enough variety & choice throughout the summer as we play.

Bookopoly Jr – How to play:

Following Monopoly Jr rules: roll 1 dice and move along the board. If you land on un-owned property, you have to buy it and if you land on owned property, you have to pay rent.

1. Roll 1 dice and move along the board
2. If you land on:
a. Property square:
*with no owners: Read a book from your pile as picked by someone else (‘buying property’)
*with an owner: Read a book from your pile as picked by the owner (‘paying rent’)
*owned by you: Read a book from your pile of your choosing
b. Chance square: Pick a chance card and follow instruction
c.- Just Visiting (Jail): Read the thinnest book from your pile
JAIL: Read the thickest book from your pile
d. Free Parking: Roll a dice and read the nth book from your pile (n being the number of your dice roll)
e. Go!: Roll dice again and move along the board
3. You can only roll the dice again after you’ve finished reading your book and/or completed following instructions per chance card
Here are the Chance cards:
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Review: Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Written twenty years ago, Puberty Blues is the bestselling account of growing up in the 1970s that took Australia by storm and spawned an eponymous cult movie. It also marked the starting point of Kathy Lette’s writing career, which sees her now as an author at the forefront of her field.

Puberty Blues is about top chicks and surfie spunks and the kids who don’t quite make the cut: it recreates with fascinating honesty a world where only the gang and the surf count. It’s a hilarious and horrifying account of the way many teenagers live and some of them die. Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey’s insightful novel is as painfully true today as it ever was.

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Ok, wow, now I get all the controversy surrounding this book! I still don’t know whether to cry or laugh…

Cry because it’s saddened me, as an older woman, to hear these young teens (starting at 13 when they still haven’t had their periods yet) giving in to sex just cuz it’s what the boys wanted. And sorry but those boys sound like such losers! Gorgeous maybe but err all the girls did was what the boys wanted to do; I wanted to scream!!

Laugh because well, weren’t we all boy crazy at that age? I didn’t get to any of the shenanigans these girls got up to but then again, my life was very sheltered and I did go to a private Catholic girls school where most girls in my class are rather intelligent so yea… but I did remember the slathering baby oil to sunbath; ah, those were the days.

This book was set in the 70s so please do take that into consideration when reading. If you are a parent, be prepared for a fully open & honest conversation with your teens. If you are a teen, please please please have a chat with a trusted adult especially with your questions.

Really, these girls were just dreaming of romance and why shouldn’t they? We dream of romance at any and every age; I still do 😉 I am, however, thoroughly GLAD (capitals required to stress my feelings) with the ending. You go, girls!

 

Review: Draekora by Lynette Noni

Draekora (The Medoran Chronicles #3) by Lynette Noni

“I swear by the stars that you and the others slain tonight will be the first of many. Of that you have my word.”

With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies—and adversaries—push her towards a future of either light… or darkness.

One way or another, the world will change…

My Blurb

The future was a terrifying thing… But she did have a choice. 

Woah, a fantastic installment of The Medoran Chronicles especially since it’s got one of my fave bits in books (possible (view spoiler) – I won’t specify though it probably won’t be hard to find, I’m sure someone will have mentioned it somewhere). I’m just going to state some points of what I love in this book:

💗 New Mayeran character (a real toughie!)
💗 Different perspectives to some familiar characters
💗 Alex consistently being funny, kind, and generous
💗 Oh, that heartache!!!
💗 A very good conclusion to that problem from book 2

I don’t want to give anything away so this is oh so very vague. Despite the missing ‘romance’, Draekora will not disappoint you because all of the above points. It has fantastic setting with some literally awesome characters (*wink wink*) and great plotting. The best book in the series yet! I cannot wait for Graevale! *Is it February yet?*

About the author

Lynette Noni grew up on a farm in outback Australia until she moved to the beautiful Sunshine Coast and swapped her mud-stained boots for sand-splashed flip-flops. She has always been an avid reader and most of her childhood was spent lost in daydreams of far-off places and magical worlds. She was devastated when her Hogwarts letter didn’t arrive, but she consoled herself by looking inside every wardrobe she could find, and she’s still determined to find her way to Narnia one day. While waiting for that to happen, she creates her own fantasy worlds and enjoys spending time with the characters she meets along the way.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  |  instagram

 

Plans for #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

Well I just cannot resist a challenge! Despite my failures in completing them ha ha ha

Still I own quite a number of un-read #LoveOzYA books so I thought this will at least kick start me to shift some off my TBR 🙂

I love just love this gorgeous Bingo grid by Read At Midnight 😻 Do join in the challenge, here’s the original post: #LoveOzYA Month

So, I’ve spent heaps of time considering my plan of attack. I’ll share my planned books below and if you’ve read any of those and loved them, please do let me know so I’ll bump them up!

I’ll also be posting the books by row of tasks on instagram, so follow me to check their covers out: @babemuffin

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith
Part of a series: Vulpi by Kate Gordon
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Free Space: Thyla by Kate Gordon
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza

Now, I have to admit that I guessed the fits of some of these books (eg. ‘a book you related to’, etc) so if you spot anything that definitely won’t fit, please DOOOO tell me! I’d very much appreciate it 🙂

I’ve dug up Draekora and that’s what I’d start with this coming Friday, woot! Can’t wait, I’ve really enjoyed the first 2 books & found them to be absolutely fun reads. I’ll catch you next week when I post my progress with this challenge (if any ;p)

A.V. Mather: Q&A

Thank you, Alison, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. I enjoyed Refuge very much and am looking forward to your soon upcoming book!

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?  Both have a place in my heart and my greedy little mitts. 
Coffee or Tea?  Tea is my first choice. I can only drink decaf coffee, but I love the flavour and the smell. 
Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark?   I use whatever comes to hand. Failing that, I have been known to dog-ear and to lay books face- down but only in extreme circumstances. I hate losing my place.
Plot or Character? Generally, I would say Character. I have written two books and one is driven by Character and the other by Plot, so I guess it depends on what I want to say with each story.
HEA or unexpected twist? I delight in an unexpected twist.

Please tell us a little of yourself including when you first started to write.
I came to writing late in life, when I was nearing forty. I suppose that I had to live a while first and build up a store of observations and experiences. I had spent most of my twenties working as a Scenic Artist and my thirties as a high school Art teacher. I am a person who finds it difficult to do several things at once. I tend to give my total attention to whatever I am working on, so I didn’t really think about writing until I had quit my job as a teacher. Despite leaving the education system, I still felt a passion for communicating concepts and messages. I didn’t really have an ‘Aha!’ moment. The story and characters came to me in little flashes for about
six months before I wrote anything down. Once a couple of the characters had dug in I was able to concentrate on those images and flesh them out. My first story was an adventure for children, which grew from a unit of work I had developed as a teacher and became Violet Green. Once I started writing in earnest, I found it difficult to stop and the rest has evolved from there.

What was the road to publication like for you? How did you come to a decision to publish via Amazon?
I wrote the first finished draft of Refuge nine years ago, and then took a further two years to edit it. The road since then has been bumpy and taken many a turn. Attempting to forge a career as a writer is very hard work and there is more competition than ever for publisher attention. I decided to publish Refuge on Amazon after parting company with my agent of four years. I had almost made the decision to put it all in a drawer and walk away, when my husband urged me to back myself one more time and give Amazon a go. A couple of writer friends who ePublish were equally encouraging and helpful. The response so far has been hugely positive, and I am so glad that I took the leap.

What inspired you to write ‘Refuge’?
I had been thinking about the main themes behind Refuge for about a year before I started to write it. I knew that I wanted to write for an early teen audience and the message that I wanted to convey. My studies and experiences as a teacher, combined with my own childhood memories, had provided an insight into the psychology of youth and the challenges and dangers young people face. It is often a very turbulent time in a person’s life, fraught with challenges and issues around identity and self- worth. If you throw in any kind of instability it can be very easy for a young person to become lost, confused, or lured into dangerous situations. Sometimes they are irrevocably altered, or lost forever. Although the narrative of Refuge is an adventure story, I also wanted it to highlight these themes and serve as a cautionary tale.

What came first:
1. The characters: Nell or Fray?
2. The beginning or the ending?
My first peek into the world of Refuge was a scene between Dr Fray and Gideon, virtually in the
middle of the book. The story grew backwards and forwards from there. It may be unusual not to begin with the protagonist but when I was just setting everything up it really was all about Fray. Once I had him and his motivations completely fleshed out, I had a world for my story to inhabit and I could view it within those parameters. Working on his character involved a lot of research and the story really came to life.
I suppose starting in the middle of the story seems odd. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I
began with that scene, which then ended up in the middle as the story evolved. I think that the
drama of that scene really defines who the Doctor is and the reasons for his power. Once I had that example of him on paper, I could think about how he came to be this way and who might be affected by his mission. It was a very exciting and satisfying process.

Could you please tell us more about Bedlam and why you used it as part of the story?
My mother was a student of psychology. As I was growing up, she passed on bits and pieces that she had learned or experienced. She often talked about how badly people suffering from mental illness have been treated through history, which fostered in me a sympathetic interest.
Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam, has always been a place of morbid fascination for me. It was the first hospital of its kind, established in London in 1247 to house and study the mentally ill. They moved and enlarged it in 1676 and it is still used to this day. It is this second incarnation of the hospital that I chose as the setting for Dr Fray’s practise. It was the obvious choice for a man who could be seen as the great, great-grandfather of modern psychiatry. Bedlam was a place of extreme darkness and light – daily acts of torture committed under the guise of care – and the inmates had no rights at all. In its early days, the hospital served as a kind of catch-all for all kinds of people who were outcast from society. Bedlam was run by the Monro family, father to son, who were all members of the Royal College of Physicians and known for their unsympathetic views on mental illness. Fray starts out as something of a shining light against this attitude, living at a time of discovery and advancement and driven by a desire to do away with barbaric treatments. This concept of darkness and light features heavily in the Bedlam scenes, and is symbolic of the struggle in Fray’s own character.

Are you a planner? Do you known how the story will end and how it will get there?

I am definitely a ‘seat of your pants’ type of writer at heart and have had to learn how to plot when inspiration runs out. I have never studied literature or creative writing, so I’ve learned everything through my own research and trial and error.
I literally wrote the ending of Refuge at the ending. I had an idea of where I wanted Nell to end up, but the logic of the how, why and who did not happen until I got there. Quite a bit of the story happens at the end and it took a lot of rewriting before I was satisfied. This made for a frustrating time, but I feel that the story took some wonderful twists and turns that I would not have entertained if it had all been mapped out from the beginning.

What’s next for you?
I am publishing the first story that I wrote, Violet Green. It is a Fantasy adventure story for young readers and will be available as an ebook on Amazon.

Before you go, please share your favourite books where there is a door to another world (asidefrom ‘Refuge’)

Readers will expect me to say the Chronicles of Narnia but I did not particularly enjoy them. I am expanding ‘door’ to ‘doorway’ to include many of my favourite stories that explore the theme but do not feature a traditional door.
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll – feature a hole in the ground and a mirror as doorways to a world that is at once familiar and bizarre. I love the imagery, the imagination and the overriding presence of danger. I enjoy it as a metaphor for a child trying to navigate the world of adults and as symbolic of childhood alienation and isolation. I love the character of Alice. She is courageous and pragmatic, emotional and logical. She solves problems by asking questions and thinking.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – a wonderful urban fantasy featuring a character called ‘Door’, who has the ability to open anything. Neverwhere is an exciting, intriguing and mysterious tale in which an act of kindness leads a misfit to discover a world beneath London. I love the symbolism in this story, particularly of the ways in which experience can shape and change us.
Peter Pan by JM Barrie – I may be stretching the ‘doorway’ theme a bit here to include fairy dust but I think it qualifies as a portal to another world. The idea that there is a place just for lost children is a fascinating one for me and provided inspiration for the world of Refuge.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – doorways are bountiful in this story, beginning with the lovely round one in Bilbo’s hobbit hole. The Fellowship are always stepping, or falling through openings and ending up in unexpected places. I particularly like the abundance of secret, or hidden doorways, that often belie the nature of the place that they lead to. The magnificent gate to the Mines of Moria is an image that has stayed with me since my first reading.

You can check out my thoughts on Refuge, here, and you can purchase it, here 

About the author

I was born an only child in a remote gold mining town in Canada, My family moved to Australia when I was very young and I grew up on stories of eccentric characters in wild places; of exciting rescues, bears that destroyed helicopters and the silence of wolves. My life since has continued to take a few eccentric turns of its own, from studying Visual Arts in Northern NSW, to set painting on a TV series, to teaching art at a boy’s boarding school in Central QLD. Through it all, my love of stories — telling, watching, reading and hearing them — grew stronger and eventually I answered the compulsion to write. I enjoy reading widely across genres and am also interested in art, nature, satire, history, photography, popular culture, psychology, road trips and good stories – real and imagined. I live in Brisbane, Australia with my husband and a constant sense of foreboding.

Find Alison: website | facebook | twitter | goodreads | instagram

Review: Godblind by Anna Stephens

Godblind (The Godblind Trilogy #1) by Anna Stephens

For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Mark Lawrence comes a brutal grimdark fantasy debut of dark gods and violent warriors.

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

My Blurb

When I picked this book up, I thought it was a stand alone. When I got around halfway and things still did not progress to enable a satisfying ending in this book, I started to get a bit confused. It was around then that the Goodreads’ page was updated to reflect that this is the first book of a trilogy. I was rather upset…

Nevertheless, it was an interesting but very very dark book. It was also so very violent (I am thinking of one particular incident from which I literally winced & I think all males may just have run to the bathroom and vomit from imagining it only). So, yea, this author was certainly NOT shy! I haven’t read all the books in the world so I can’t say if it’s ever happened anywhere else or if any male author would have written such a scene. Can you tell that it’s totally shocked me?

The beginning was quite slow but then again there’s a new set of world being built. There were also quite a number of perspectives from a number of different locations. It wasn’t that easy to get into but a couple of the characters were easily likeable so that helps. When the battles begin, the rest of the book flew by in what felt like minutes.

If you like your fantasy dark and full of action, I’d recommend this first book of The Godblind Trilogy. It’s a brutal world filled with bloodthirsty power-grabbing villains with a vision to rule the world. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for the sequel (warning: a bit of a cliffhanger of an ending).

Thanks to HarperCollins Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Anna Stephens works in corporate communications for an international law firm by day and writes by night, normally into the small hours, much to her husband’s dismay. Anna loves all things speculative, from books to film to TV, but if you disagree keep it to yourself as she’s a second Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate.

Godblind is Anna’s first novel.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  |  instagram

 

Review: False Hearts by Laura Lam

False Hearts (Pacifica) by Laura Lam

One twin is imprisoned for a terrible crime. The other will do anything to set her free.

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Zeal, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information – then if she brings down the drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.

The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine. But as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to divide their shared heart – and escaped. Taema discovers Tila was moulded by the cult and that it’s linked to the city’s underground. Once unable to keep secrets, the sisters will discover the true cost of lies.

My Blurb

If you’ve read One by Sarah Crossan and if you’re anything like me, you’d have cried your heart out and wished for a somewhat different ending. Without giving too much away, it could have been like False Hearts though of course, False Hearts is set in a very distant future. There isn’t actually a specific date but technology-wise, they seem to be far ahead of us.

The world setting is fairly similar though differences lie in technology including medicine. So, it was pretty easy to get into. Taema as the main protagonist is also easily likeable and therefore, memorable. Tila, on the other hand, was not quite present in the story for me. She provided only certain perspectives that the readers need to fill in the blanks. Otherwise, we mainly follow Taema.

I felt that this book is quite different from other dystopians though most dystopians I read are YA so maybe that’s one difference. But it also incorporates a cult living in isolation from the world though not without communication. In addition to this, there is bloody murder or is there? Let’s just say that this book has everything that I like in a book and that’s why I’ve really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Originally from sunny California, Laura Lam now lives in cloudy Scotland. Lam is the author of BBC Radio 2 Book Club section False Hearts, the companion novel Shattered Minds, as well as the award-winning Micah Grey series PantomimeShadowplay, and Masquerade. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in anthologies such as Nasty WomenSolaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, and more.  She lectures part-time at Napier University in Edinburgh on the Creative Writing MA.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  twitter  | facebook  |  instagram  |  tumblr