Aussie Author Challenge: Done and Dusted!

I’m quite happy with myself at the moment. I have completed the Aussie Author Challenge, hosted by Booklover Book Reviews, which is the first challenge I have participated in online (well as a blogging one hosted by an individual and not a group).

The challenge ran from the 1st of January through to the 31st of December 2010 (there’s still time to join in if you want to) and the challenge levels are the following;

  1. TOURIST – Read and review 3 books by 3 different Australian authors
  2. FAIR DINKUM – Read and review 8 books by Australian authors (a minimum of 5 different Australian authors)

Because I’m hopeless with keeping up with challenges these days or a reading plan as I’m a reader by feel, I decided to take part in the Tourist challenge because I figured 3 books were reasonable.

They are;

  1. Slights by Kaaron Warren
  2. Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden
  3. Chasers by James Phelan

All of which are excellent books and I am considering doing it again because there are a lot of Aussie Authors out there who should be read and quite a few I would love to read still. I’m not sure yet if I will as I have so many reading challenges as it is, but I know the challenge is being hosted again next year. If you’re interested in checking it out click on the banner and it will take you right to the sign up page.

Did you take part in the challenge?

Review: Chasers by James Phelan

Four teenagers. One destroyed city. Thousand of infected predators.
Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Dave, Anna and Mini, crawl out from the wreckage to discover a city in chaos. Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators…

I have just finished reading Chasers by James Phelan (Alone #1) after starting it yesterday and it is my new favourite. It’s one of those books where I want to go tell everyone about it straight after I have read it and persuade everyone to read it. I’m so happy I read this book (I was meant to be reading Hunger by Michael Grant and then the book for my book club, but felt like reading something a little smaller over the weekend). I now have to hunt down all the other novels this author has written and read them all.

At first it was a bit disappointing because this author is Australian and the book is set in Manhattan, but at the same time it was quite refreshing. Yes it is set in America, but it has a definite Aussie edge to it, and it is relatable regardless of where it is set and who has written it.

I also see the attraction of the story being set in Manhattan. It really is a suitable place for a story like this because they’re so cut off. In Australia you can be cut off, but it’s a different isolation so I really do think the setting suited the story quite well.

Another thing was that there’s a prologue where speech marks are used and then after that for the rest of the story there aren’t any at all. I thought that was very interesting and it didn’t bother me at all. It suited the story and eventually it made sense so I wasn’t left questioning it all the time. I was at first, but luckily the story is so engrossing that eventually you don’t even notice it.

I think the characters are well written and diverse, not like some novels where the writer tries to diversify, but they all end up melding. They all react differently to their plight, they all have their own personalities which show, and there’s also a sense of humour there as well when it’s appropriate.

What I think I really love about this book though is the main character and the ending. I love a book that sucks you in and makes you question what is going on even if it’s a small amount only to have you go ‘wow’ or ‘no way’ like I did. I really did not see that ending coming which makes  me respect the writer’s talent far more then when I was reading the story as a whole. I can really appreciate the characters and what he did, but of course I’m not giving away spoilers so if you want to know what I’m on about I highly recommend reading it.

The only regret I have with reading this novel now is the next one isn’t out till next year. How fortunate that I have so much to read in the meantime.

  • Demographic: Young adult, but definitely suitable for an older audience.
  • Genre: Supernatural, Suspense, Post-Apocalyptic
  • Reminds Me Of: A cross between 28 Days Later, Cloverfield, and I Am Legend.
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge, RIP V Challenge

Review: Tomorrow When The War Began

I read this as part of the Aussie Author Challenge, I’m only reading three books in the challenge and this is my second one.

Ellie and her friends leave home one quiet morning, wave goodbye to their parents, and head up into the hills to camp out for a while; seven teenagers filling in time during school holidays.

The world is about to change forever. Their lives will never be the same again.
Would you fight? Would you give up everything? Would you sacrifice even life itself?

I first read Tomorrow, When The War Began by Australian author John Marsden back in high school and it’s odd to me because I remember the premise, but have forgotten so much of the story itself that the second time round it’s like reading it anew for me. I even thought I had not read the rest of the series at all, but discovered that I actually have. The point is it was like reading it for the first time so that’s how I’m going to be reviewing it.

I finished it last night after reading for only a couple of days. John Marsden has a way of writing that is very engaging and absorbing, but I don’t know how much of that is his writing story and how much of that is the character Ellie who is the narrator of the tale. Either it is really well written and easy to relate to even when you haven’t been in that situation. I love how the characters, unlike in a lot of survival novels, go through a realistic set of emotions in a realistic amount of time and that they’re all so well written that they come across as individuals.

Tomorrow had a chance of being frustrating being told in the first person because of information you could possibly miss out on, but Marsden has found ways to introduce that information so it doesn’t matter that it’s not in third person. This is something I was grateful for, but at the same time found it a little bit too convenient and I did have a problem with characters feeling certain emotions so quickly (I won’t say what to avoid spoilers), but that’s something I can’t stand in most stories. Other than those parts it’s a great novel, raises some very interesting moral and ethical questions, and it’s definitely a young adult novel that I can actually recommend to young adults.

I’m also really excited to see this at the movies when it comes out (which is one reason why I have re-read the book), I just hope they actually do it justice even though I can already see slight changes in the trailer. I recommend not watching the trailer unless you’ve read the book or plan on not reading it.

  • Demographic: Young Adult, but suitable for an older generation as well.
  • Genre: War
  • Reminds Me Of: Nothing actually springs to mind that I’ve read as I don’t read that many war novels or watch war flicks that have to do with young adults.
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

Old School Thursdays: Alien Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll

An old review from my old blog which I believe I wrote in late 2008 or possibly early 2009.

Aliens mating with Earthlings? It’s true. Now three of their other-worldly offspring have stolen a spaceship and are zooming toward Earth in search of – what else? – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Parking their saucer in Sydney, Australia, they shapeshift into luscious earthgirl form.

When the alien who calls herself Baby abducts Jake (the commitment-phobic young dude from Jaivin’s “Eat Me”) and straps him into the saucer’s sexual experimentation chamber, the global warming begins. The Babes form a band and skyrocket to rock ‘n’ roll stardom.

But trouble’s on its way in the small gray shape of Captain Qwerk, who has set out to recapture them, with the U.S. military and Eros, the excitable asteroid, right behind. The Babes are preparing for the biggest concert in interplanetary history, but they just might have to save the world at the same time.

Knowing Linda Jaivin wrote erotica (Eat Me) and that this book has aliens I was expecting something out there. Well my expectations were met and then exceeded!

From the first page I was hooked and by the sixth I was laughing my head off. Rock ‘n’ Roll Babes was refreshing. I’m so used to reading novels based in America or Europe and not using Aussie slang because they are either by American/European authors or they are Aussie’s trying to fit into that market. R&R was refreshing in that it is based in Sydney and is jam packed full of Aussie slang, Aussie place names, bands, and a language that I completely was at ease with. A language that involved a lot of swearing. Lets face it, I’m a gutter mouth at times and this book was right up my little dirty alley.

It’s not erotica, although it is permeated with sexual innuendo, sexual situations and it starts off with “sexual experimentation”, but it actually turns out to be a novel about 90’s sub culture more then anything else, just with aliens. And if you, like me, loved the 90’s and lived in the alternative music scene then you’ll understand it’s completely natural for it to have a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

I love how this novel doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s so fast paced and addictive. Jaivin doesn’t seem to be afraid or conform which is probably why within the first ten pages I decided I had to read her other books. To me it’s really no wonder that I’m hooked being a 90’s chick (spent most of my teens in the 90’s) and being into all the things mentioned in the novel (from grunge music to the X-Files) does help, but Jaivin has a way with words that makes the story fast pop and speed along.

If you want a laugh or if you are an Aussie and want something Aussie based filled with lots of slang you can relate to and feel at home with then I highly recommend it. Rock ‘n’ Roll Babes From Outer Space is excellent.

Review: Slights by Kaaron Warren

Stevie is a killer.

When she kills people she asks them: “WHAT DO YOU SEE?”

She’s about to find out…

After an accident in which her mother dies, Stevie has a near-death experience, and finds herself in a room full of people — everyone she’s ever pissed off. They clutch at her, scratch and tear at her. But she finds herself drawn back to this place, again and again, determined to unlock its secrets. Which means she has to die, again and again. And she starts to wonder whether other people see the same room when they die

Sometimes I finish reading a book and I swear it’s like I’m shell shocked. I’m dazed, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t really want to listen to anyone. I feel like I’m stuck in some sort of limbo that only happens after certain stories. The thing is, it’s not always the story that leaves me shell shocked, but that the story is over.

I’ve just finished Slights by Kaaron Warren after two days of gobbling that story up like a starved kid in a fast food restaurant whose body is craving fat to get it’s strength back and I’m a bit shell shocked. Not because of the story, but because it went so fast and my absorption was close to being unrivalled (I don’t have an addictive personality, I have an absorbing personality). Slights wasn’t what I was expecting. It was meant to be disturbing and I’m starting to think that perhaps when people tell me it’s disturbing or critics say it’s disturbing I shouldn’t take their word for it. Their view of disturbing is pretty tame compared to my view of disturbing.

I must have a pretty warped imagination or just desensitised to otherwise disturbing scenarios because I’ve been waiting for it and it never came. The story was over and I never saw disturbing. I guess it’s no Georges Bataille (The Story of The Eye was disturbing in another way. He tried too hard to be offensive and his effort was… uncomfortable), but I still feel that for a lot of people it could freak them out.

It’s the first novel by Kaaron Warren and I want to say it’s well written, but I can’t. I also can’t say it’s badly written because it isn’t. It’s not written by common grammatical or structural standards and I think that might be one reason why I liked it so much. Her way of writing is similar to that stereotypical view that when women start talking they ramble on for hours without any actual path (which is bull because I’ve experienced men do that too). It’s got that rambling way about it, but at the same time there is a structure. You can see a plot unravelling and in the process you get to learn a lot about the main character, her past, the characters around her, and her obsession.

For some it might actually be disturbing, but for me it wasn’t at all. When there is a label on a novel that says it is disturbing (and I quote – “one of the most disturbing novels of 2009”) and horror then I expect as much, but unfortunately I was disappointed on that count. It’s ok though because I usually am so I’m  not going to hold it against the story or the writer. The story actually deals with a lot of death, and hints at some pretty obscene and horrific acts, and yet in all that darkness I found quite a sense of humour. I don’t usually laugh when I’m reading. I’ll smile, maybe, but not laugh and I did with this one. I think the character Stevie is great and hilarious even though she is so crude. I even had to write down some of the lines because they entertained me so much.

It was a really enjoyable, entertaining book (500 pages in a day and a half which is pretty good for me), and I really wish my friends were into that this sort of subject so they could read it and talk to me about it. I’m really glad this was written by an Aussie author and I’m looking forward to reading her next novel.

The Aussie Author Challenge

I was going to try and avoid doing challenges seeing as I already had books put aside to read this year, but I realised I have been making a list of Aussie authors and works to check out, but hadn’t gotten around to it.

I’m going to be doing The Aussie Author Challenge which is being hosted by Booklover Book Reviews.

There’s two challenge levels;

  • Tourist – Read and review 3 books by 3 different Australian authors
  • Fair Dinkum – Read and review 8 books by Australian authors (a minimum of 5 different Australian authors)

I’m going to be doing the Tourist one as I don’t know how much I’d be reading this year as it is and I’m paying more attention to writing. It could end up being more then three anyway because I have been picking up Aussie authors lately (John Flanagan being one).

I’m also yet to decide what authors to read as well, but when I figure that one out I will update the Planned Reading page.

Read So Far

  1. Slights by Kaaron Warren
  2. Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden
  3. Chasers by James Phelan