Thursday, June 9, 2011

Random crap

Having spent the morning at the library I now have a lovely little stash of YA novels to puruse.

I love YA.  I find it much harder to find adult fiction that I really like, I suspect due to the way in which we relate our stories changes from age to age. Perhaps that's why I gravitate towards sci-fi and fantasy, where authors take you by the hand and share a whole other world, where you hear the whispers  that reassure you fairytales need not be one of those childish things we put aside as our years advance.

Being the mother of teens has also meant that I spend a lot of time reading books at the urging of my children. They bring me these books like offerings and implore me with wide eyes and shouted whispers of how much they want to share this world with could I refuse?  In turn I place little tomes in their eager hands, classics, literature and mainstream fiction candy and they sit curled with hot tea, blankets and a cat who changes his allegiance  as often as a mug is refilled. 

YA reminds how grown up I am in some ways, and how in many others, I am not very grown at all. And since I have a wounded man home with me, there is nothing more wonderful than curling up on the couch with tea, blanket, cat and man.  If only it would rain...


  1. Which authors do you like? I read a lot of older children's and YA fiction.

  2. Rhiannon! Hello!
    I read almost anything that's put in front of me. (With the exception of Dan Brown...I will NEVER read Dan Brown)
    Authors I like change with my mood. And at present most of my YA reading has been very mainstream. (My library doesn't seem to have the less popularised YA fiction) But I do love and adore Melissa Marr. I read her Faery Court series right after having read twilight...where Myer shattered my faith in YA Marr lovingly resurrected it.
    I also really like Nick Lake. I am currently reading The secret ministry of Frost. It's such an awkward, funny little tale, it's not one I have been able to read candy. Bits of the story have required me to digest them before continuing. Not for any other reason than Inuit mythology being very new to me. (I also just bought Lord Oda's Revenge, although, I am going to have to go back and read Blood Ninja again before starting it)
    I also just finished reading Kathy Reich's Virals. Which I quite enjoyed. (I read it aloud to my kids who all adored it.)

    My current favourite YA novel though, is The Little Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of her own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. It is a glorious little book.

    Who/what are your favourite authors/ titles? I am always looking for new material to read.

  3. Oooh dear that's a big question!
    I read a lot of 'classic' detective fiction - Josephine Tey, Georgette Heyer, Ngaio Marsh, Patricia Wentworth - and some American detective fiction particularly either 'feisty and/or academic woman PI' like Sara Paretsky, Amanda Cross, Karen Kajewski,....and Janet Evanovich, and Charlaine Harris.
    I also read a lot of modern-ish, genre and historical detective fiction such as - Reginald Hill (awesomely brilliant), Peter Robinson, Robert Van Gulik (written in the 60s and 70s, set in mediaeval China) Harry Kemelman, Ellis Peters, Susanna Gregory (Wonderful mediaeval and Restoration detective stories)Simon Brett, Caroline Roe, Jaqueline Winspear, Kerry Greenwood, The Feng-Shui detective series written by someone whose name I can't think of right now, having trouble remembering names now...!

    My favourite sci-fi/fantasy authors are - Julian May (But noooooot the Trillium books - far less than the sum of their parts) The Saga of the Exiles and Galactic Milieu books are absolutely mind-blowing.
    Um, let's see - I like Elizabeth Lynn who wrote about gay and lesbian characters a lot earlier than most fantasy authors, as far as I can tell, without actually sub-categorising them - no 'special name' for various different kinds of relationships, which is quite an achievement.
    I love Diana Wynne Jones (YA and fantasy -seriously, seriously amazing and well worth looking for)
    I read rather an embarrassing amount of my guilty-pleasure fantasy author, Mercedes Lackey.
    I like some of Juliet Marailler's books.

    I read a certain amount of chick-fic since I had the kids - I like the less shopping-and-drinking-and-perfect-figures ones and the more poverty-stricken, laddered stockings, DIY and madcap sort, like Katie Fforde and Jennifer Crusie. (That said I am sadly, very sadly addicted to Jilly Cooper)

    I love love love Georgette Heyer's regency romances.

    I also love Jane Austen, Dickens, and some Hardy and Anne Bronte, and some Elizabeth Gaskell.

    I also particularly like Robertson Davies (contemporary - well - 20th C Canadian novelist), Rumer Godden, Elizabeth Goudge, Gerald Durrell, Miss Read. (for general, fiction)

    I like historical and quasi-historical fiction like Patrick O'Brian (utterly brilliant) and George McDonald Fraser.

    I like children's and YA authors such as Rumer Godden (again) Diana Wynne Jones (again) Leon Garfield (for truly amazing flesh-creeping Victorian gothic-horror...for kids. Including a full cast of ghosts, murderers, gallows' widows, prostitutes, alcoholics, and pickpockets),Joan Aiken, K.M Peyton, John D Fitzgerald, Beverly Cleary, Frances Hardinge, Susan Cooper, Elizabeth Enright, Noel Streatfeild, Rosemary Sutcliff( for beautifully-written historical fiction) Geoffrey Trease (ditto),Arthur Ransome (I adore the Swallows and Amazons series) loads more that I can't think of right now.

    I also read a lot of literary biographies and memoirs especially food-related ones, and I read bucket loads of cook books. From cover to cover. So I like the heavily-text-based ones! (My husband and I own about 15 document boxes full of cookbooks that are waiting to be rehoused in a new bookshelf, when Craig gets around to it....)

    That's all I can come up with for now!

  4. I read an awful lot of classics (I always forget some of them are actually YA) I have conflicting emotions when it comes to reading Charlaine Harris though. (Granted I haven't read her Sookie Stackhouse series. Or her Harper Connelly series.) I've only read The Aurora Tea Garden Mysteries and the Lily Bard series. Both had me grinding my teeth. I mean, enjoyed them (ATG more than LB) on a superficial level...but I was pretty disappointed.

    I love Diana Wynne Jones. I haven't read any Beverly Cleary. A lot of the uber religious women I know often recommend her books. I read mostly Literature style novels I suppose when I am not reading YA. (The YA I usually read is whatever my kids have picked up and said, "Mum read this" or stuff I pick up in the shops or library and think, Hmm, okay I'll give it a shot.)
    I occasionally pick up a chick-lit book here and there. (I adore Looking for Andrew McCarthy and I am almost entirely positive it is purely because she calls her landlord Fat Bastard. Yes, I am that puerile.)

    I'm trying to broaden my range of reading by reading more Australian novels, particularly books written by Indigenous Australians. (I keep a copy of Anita Heiss's 100 books by Indigenous Authors challenge nearby so I can mark them off one by one.

    I am a curriculum junkie. My house is full of books related to the education of my kids. Our case worker just sent me a copy of the report she's submitting to the Department of Ed for our registration purposes. (I am lucky, she thinks I should get the longest term before needing to re-submit which is two years) I giggled when she mentioned our extensive library. I don't have enough book shelves for all our stuff, but I certainly don't consider it extensive. Not yet anyway.

    ANd thanks, there are quite a few names on your list that whilst I recognise them, I have never read of them and a few I have never even heard of. This makes my library card burn...

  5. Charlaine Harris is mental mashed potato. i like the 'American-ness' of them - I haven't read the LB ones but I did like the ATG and SS ones.

    Beverly Cleary is great. She wrote 2 volumes of autobiography, the second of which is winging its way to me as we speak. I am interested that it's the uber-Christians recommending them, as they are not overtly Christian at all (And she certainly despises the Jehovah's Witnesses philosophies). I really enjoy her 1950s and 60s teenage girl's books - they are just SO FIFTIES! One of her children's books, 'Dear Mr Henshaw' still makes me cry every time I read it. And her Henry Huggins and Ramona books are just fun kid's books. She avoids contemporary references, so the Ramona books were written over a 40 year period but don't have jarring references to specific technology, which is a good tactic for a writer who intends longevity.
    I consider my library unwieldy and large but not extensive because i don't read very many 'literature' type books - well - except much older ones. I feel like a dunce a lot of the time because since I had the kids I read 'genre' rather than 'good' books. I also find Australian authors hard going sometimes. I love Ruth Park and Colin Thiele, I am a *little* embarrassed that I also love the phenomenally sexist, cultural-supremacist John O' Grady/Nino Cullotta so it's all a little (a lot)old-fashioned.
    I also like many of Norman Lindsay's (sexist, anti-semitic) novels - my favourites are 'Age of Consent', 'Dust or Polish' and (YA) 'The Flyaway Highway'.
    Speaking of the Lindsays, I really enjoyed both volumes of Rose Lindsay's autobiography, 'Ma and Pa' and 'Model Wife'. (Much more so than Norman Lindsay's self-congratulatory and dismissive-of-Rose's-contribution autobiography!)
    I am SURE I read/have read more Australian authors than that, but my brain hurts. I know it's an embarrassingly old-fashioned and 'easy-listening', I don't have an excuse)

  6. D'Uh Pirra! *face palm* I am confusing Beverly Cleary with Beverly Lewis. (Somehow I knew she wrote Ramona, but not having ever read a Ramona book myself...I confused the names. Even still, I do come across the occasional Christian lady who uses Ramona books in their home school curriculum.)

    Charlaine Harris is a competent enough as a writer, (I liked ATG- though there were no real surprises in the plots, just nice easy writing) however, with Lily Bard... thing is the LB series is actually better written, the characters are much better constructed and far more believable (though not necessarily as likeable) what ground my buttons was the victim blaming/ slut shaming and racism. (both overt and subtle racism- there's a bit of Nice White Lady syndrome happening in there too) I guess I expected more from her having been a sexual assault survivor herself. But the slut shaming of one character and the victim blaming (again both overt and subtle) really ruined the series for me. Other than that, it shat all over ATG.

    I love Ruth Park! Playing Beatie Bow is one of my all time favourite books from childhood. I even own the movie on DVD and I still love it, dodgy acting and all. Outside of childrens books I haven't read a lot of Australian authors either (or even within childrens books) which is why I keep copy of the list, so that I can read more Australian literature.

    I have trouble thinking of titles and authors name off the top of my head also. One of my favourite books is Serpent Dust by Debra Adelaide. I picked up in a discount bin for 50 cents. It is honestly one of the most hauntingly beautiful stories about the birth of our nation I have ever read. She manages to do it IMO without blaming either side. And it's gorgeously written.

  7. Have you read 'The Drums Go Bang' by Ruth Park and d'Arcy Niland? It is the memoir of their early married life, travels and becoming professional writers and it is seriously rib-splittingly hysterical. I laughed out loud in sooo many places in that book - really, really worth seeking out if you haven't already.
    (Also love Playing Beatie Bow)
    Someone else I love reading despite appalling jingoism, racism (which quite obviously diminishes and becomes actual RESPECT (of a sort) over her writing career, thank goodness), paternalism, cheesiness and anti-Unionism is Mary Grant Bruce. I guess being able to overlook that sort of thing is part of my privilege! (She wrote the Billabong books, among others.)

    I suppose I like books that allow one to completely immerse in a different time/milieu/socio-economic despite my total working-class-becoming middle-class background, I really like 30s/40s/50s English detective stories which are ALL based around middle/upper-middle/gentry/aristocracy. I like American novels which go into detail about the flora and fauna, the food and cooking, and so on - ('Cross Creek' by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings for instance). I have a bizarre fascination with English village-and-C of E types stories. I like stories set in first-half-of-20th-C circuses.
    I like really good fantasy that has a consistent world-view or background. (Guy Gavriel Kay for one - totally fantastic. I even named my second son Cadar after the name of a minor character in 'A Song for Arbonne'..yes yes - it's embarrassing and I wish he had a more correct historical or literary name but what can I do...)

    I'll keep an eye out for Serpent Dust.

  8. I'd still recommend reading Lily I said, her writing for that series was much tighter, more believable and I personally feel the characters were better developed. I actually wonder how much of Lily is shaped by Charlaine herself. Even though Lily annoys me because of the slut shaming/ victim blaming/ nice white lady syndrome, she's still a really well written character. (I'm ot sure why the bug up my arse is so big about it)

    I will definitely look that book up. Ruth Park is just wonderful.

    I love stories. As bad as the writing can be in places I loved The Red Tent. (Biblical fiction that tells the untold stories of the women both named and unnamed of the bible, is something I love though I haven't read much of it.) I really liked Leslie Cannold's Book of Rachael, even though I found myself at times a little annoyed with certain characters, it was still worth the read. (I think that's part of the allure of these books, all the writers created flawed women, so believable, so relatable.)

    But stories are what I love most. I love Diane Setterfield, Markus Zusak, Rani Manicka, Neil Gaiman, Maruki Murakami, Chekov, Nin and pretty much most of the Bloomsbury Group. (I am particularly fascinated by Vita Sackville-West.)

    I think Candar is a lovely kids all have very ordinary hebrew names. I think that's why I name pets stuff like Virgil, Amos, Boo Radley...

  9. D'Uh, Haruki Murakami...*sigh* past my bedtime me thinks.

  10. I haven't read almost any of the authors that you mention - I read the Red Tent when I was in my mid-teens but not since, and Neil Gaiman but none of his adult stuff!

    (Back on C Harris - I recently read the first Harper Connolly ($3 from Vinnies)and it was good. QUITE different from the other ones.)

  11. You were in your mid-teens when The Red Tent came out? (You're a little younger than I would have guessed!)

    Harper Connelly is the Grave Sight series isn't it? It's a good thing I have a library card and know how to use it. (The only downside is when you fall in love with a book and have to give it back...)

  12. I'm turning 32 in October...Mum bought it when it came out which would have been the year that I was faffing around doing a bit of volunteer work and going to parties between school and uni (I skipped year 9 purely because I didn't want to ever be sent back to a normal highschool, so I wanted to get year 10 over and done with as quickly as possible.) So late teens actually, I was 17 for most of that year!

    Yes Grave Sight is the one I found at Vinnie's...and on related topic I MUST stop buying secondhand books all the time and join the library...! Because I read a book or two a day normally, I like to own books because I re-read them endlessly.

  13. My husband now drives me to the library all the time because he got sick of me buying books (new & second hand) He couldn't for the life of him understand why I had to have a book about Fish that fake orgasms and other curiosities of the animal kingdom. (It cost me a whopping $4.)

    He has a handful of books he likes to reread, but he's not as prolific a reader as I am. I always have a book in my hand, even when I am watching tv. (Although over the years I must have rubbed off on him...he's almost as bad as I am at buying books. Hence the pushing me towards the library.) The only thing bothering me right now about the library is that all the books I want to read I cannot find in their catalogue...that's what I get for having a penchant for steam punk and new weird.

  14. Hmmm - steampunk - have your ead anything by China Mieville? I have only read 'The Scar' but...whoa. Hardcore.

    On the subject of children's books, I just read this interview...

    I hope that link works!

  15. No, it didn't, entirely. It was the interview with Norton Juster, anyway. I can't seem to get a more specific link. I am computer UN-literate.

  16. I've been trying to get my hands on Perdido Street Station for so looong.
    His City and the City tied for first place with The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi for the 2010 hugos. (They beat out a friend of mine. Her novel Palimpsest is so worth the read. It spawned the YA novel The Little girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making. [Catherynne M Valente]) In fact all Cat's books are strange little tomes that eat their way into your bones. Her poetry is epic. You can read some of it at

    and you can read excerpts of the Little Girl Who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making

    (lets see if my computer literacy is up to scratch? Hmm doubtful. Comments won't accept my html....cut and paste is good.)

    Oooh, what a great interview. I have never actually read his work, but feel compelled to. I mean The American Alice? I adore Alice. And everything Alice related.

  17. Purely my own opinion but I love The Phantom Tollbooth so very much and never *quite* got the appeal of Alice...possibly because it is quoted so much but I keep finding the absurdism sort of contrived.
    The Tollbooth is really good and very funny in an odd, frustrating (for the main character!) and slightly dark way, but it is a brilliant story about maintaining imagination and individuality in children.
    I haven't read The Dot and The Line but I have seen the animation and it is superb.

    Is 'goblin fruit' referring the Christina Rosetti poem 'Goblin Market' I wonder?

  18. have got Perdido St station in paperback for AU$7.88 and free postage...just saying.

  19. Ooh ooh just thought of a couple of Autralian authors I enjoy - Garth Nix and Kate Forsyth.
    Strangely I have trouble remembering and am unflatteringly surprised when Australian authors write good fantasy, which is deeply unfair of course. Kate Forsyth's series 'The Witches of Eileanan' is REALLY good, except for the amazingly irritating habit her characters have of saying o' instead of of. Whioch would be less AWFUL if they didn't (wait for it) ALSO say could o' and should o' and might o'.


    But apart from that her mythology is interesting, her plots are good and her characters are engaging.

  20. I love the book depository...I'm trying to exercise's not working very well.

    Wait Garth Nix and Kate Forsyth....

    Nix wrote Trouble Twisters right? I picked up the free excerpt at Dymocks one day, took it home and read it out loud to the kids, I have to get a copy next time I am in Kmart (they had it for $11) they get disappointed if we go wondering the shops and leave Kmart without it.

    I have heard of Kate but never read anything by her. You're dangerous to chat to. My fingers are itchy now, just wanting to go order books...

  21. The books by Garth Nix I have read are the first four books of the 'Mr Monday' series which are incredibly surreal, I have read the first three of the Lirael, Sabriel, Abhorsen series, and I have read Ragwitch (which reminded me of 'Time of the Ghost' by D. Wynne Jones. I have no idea abut Trouble Twisters.
    I really enjoyed all of Kate Forsyth's books and in fact ,may just go and re-read them all! (Again.)