Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bookmark Binge: November 18, 2012

Let's play some catch-up.  In case you haven't gotten enough of...

The Hollow Kingdom?
How cool is this? Clare B. Dunkle posted a bunch of deleted scenes from The Hollow Kingdom on her blog.  (Warning: Inevitable spoilers for those who haven't read it!)
Dunkle also answers questions specifically for readers of The Hollow Kingdom. (Again: spoiler alert.)
I had a feeling there would be some fan art for this series, here is my favorite I found: Prince Charming He's Not

My Most Excellent Year?
Apparently Steve Kluger made website for Augie (Enter the fabulous word of Augie Hwong!), but it's not running anymore. Sad. I'm sure it was fabulous.

Where to start with Quintana? How about Melina's casting choice for Perri.
One of my favorite reviews has some Joetry, poetry by Jo on Wear the Old Coat.
132 Minutes hosted a blog tour and had a guest post by Melina herself.
Danielle at Alpha Reader recapped 'Meet Melina Marchetta' and 'The Art of Writing for Children' at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
And of course, I have to mention the fabulous playlists by Noelle, Reynje, and Catie.

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight?
In case you need more reasons to read this, here is Nomes's fabulous review.
Like with My Most Excellent Year, I should've read this sooner because apparently I missed the extras and alternate scenes on However, the About page is still up.

Look at all these links lying around...
Laini Taylor announces the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Jewelry Collection! All proceeds for sales made through January 31 will go to the Red Cross to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief!
Leanne over at the Reclusive Reader is looking for a co-blogger.
Jo kicks off her new feature On Writing by interviewing Trish Doller on American Contemporary Fiction.
And if you missed this post last week, The Readventurer discusses fictional settings they wish they could explore in real life.

Upcoming Reviews and Reads...



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
By Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow
Reviewed by Maggie: November 15, 2012
Published January 1, 2007 by Penguin Australia
Goodreads • Buy at Fishpond ($15.97)

Remember the Britney and Justin Dance Off of 2002? (And Matt Damon's reenactment on SNL?) This book is the literary equivalent of that. Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

Joel and Cat, classmates and enemies, are paired together for a tandem writing project. They have to write a story one alternating paragraph at a time. But the first rule of tandem story writing is that you do not talk about tandem story writing. They can't discuss the plot or characters. Any problems? Take it to the page! (Sidenote: No wonder Australian YA is awesome -- their English teachers kick ass. Mr. Ashton reminded me a bit of Mr. Botherit and his Joy of the Envelope.)

The 'enemies who are forced to work together' is one of my favorite tropes. Done well, it leads to great chemistry and banter, and the reader falls in love along with the characters. You already know how I feel about Rebecca Sparrow. (In case you don't, I ADORE her.) There's just something about her writing that I connected to immediately and I loved Nick McGowan from the first page. Imagine my surprise when I didn't connect to Joel and Cat right away. I don't get it. Did I stumble into bad lighting? I put the book down after about 40 pages. A few days later, I decided to pick it up again, and this time, I couldn't put it down until I was done. I didn't stop laughing until a good 30 minutes after I had finished the book. I think the beginning felt a bit disjointed as the characters, the authors, and I got used to the tandem style. Once we were all on the same page (hardy har har), it was so much fun. It's obvious that Rebecca Sparrow and Nick Earls had fun writing this. I can't even mention a scene without cackling like Julia Roberts and wanting to spoiler the hell out of it for you so we can laugh about it together, but I won't!

There's a distinctly Australian feel to the book. I had to google references to Megan Gale, Andrew G, and Mary Kostakidis. I cracked up after looking up 'Ken Done scarf', which is how Cat describes Joel's hippy dippy mother's appearance, because that's exactly how I pictured her. I was surprised that Australia has Sizzlers. Of all the restaurants America could export! There are still a few around LA -- to keep people like my grandma happy. I loved that Sizzler was also a turning point in the book. Seriously, so much fun!

If Sizzler doesn't tempt you to read this book, maybe Cat's dad will. Remember that episode of Friends where Ross goes tanning? "I'm an 8!" Cat's dad takes that as a personal challenge.
When Joel and Cat are first paired up, Joel throws down the gauntlet and challenges Cat with two words: Amaze me. Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow did. They each bring such a charming, unique voice to the story. I'm no Nate Silver, but I predict you will laugh your ass off while reading this book.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
(Lumatere Chronicles #3)
Reviewed by Maggie: October 26, 2012
Published September 26, 2012 by Viking Australia
To Be Published March 12, 2013 by Candlewick
Goodreads • Buy at Fishpond • Preorder at Amazon

What can I say about this book but faith rewarded? How do I begin to talk about a series that turned me onto a new genre?

Marchetta took me on a journey through an unfamiliar genre and story landscape, through curses and the Citavita. Looking back on Finnikin, I couldn't even finish my review because I was so unused to fantasy. I was exhausted by the little I did manage to write. By the time I read Froi, I was better prepared and any exhaustion I felt was due to the emotional ride from the book.

With Quintana, I could talk about how Lucian and Perri should star in their own buddy cop show, or how being in Quintana's head seemed like the most natural place to be. I loved so many of the characters, but for me, this series comes down to two people -- Isaboe and Froi. The things that bond them are at the heart of the series. They are the faces of children of war.

In Isaboe, we see what war does to a once beloved, sheltered child. Her experiences in Sarnak and Sorel shape the fierce queen she’s become. She’s unflinching. However, sometimes that results in a harshness that had me wincing. It's how she survived on her own, but it may not be the best way to ensure her people's survival.

For Froi, it was Sir Topher who prevented him from going down an irreversible path, but that and a belief in a girl with magic, shaped the man he became. His journey of redemption -- never once forgetting what could have been -- is about overcoming all the experiences that can break you and turn you into someone you're not. I loved seeing the person Froi came to be when given love and when he gave his love in return. It was so wholehearted and pure. It was devastating to think what war did to the boy with that much heart.

One character I didn't feel much affection for was Lady Zarah. To quote the great Dionne Warwick, I got your number, hussy!

Quintana of Charyn tested the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and family, and what it meant to be Lumateran, Charynite, Queen, husband, wife, lover, and friend. It's about having faith first, like a boy with cats once did, so it can be rewarded later. I loved being in this world and I hope Marchetta revisits it again, as I know I will.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

I leave the playlist-making to Noelle, but one song that played over and over in my head while reading Quintana was This Woman's Work by Kate Bush.

YAA Soundtrack: Lumatere Boxset

by Noelle

If you scroll through my favorite books on Goodreads, chances are I have a soundtrack for them on my iPod.  And like any music-obsessed person, I live to force my favorite songs on others.  For any other playlist aficionados out there who enjoy making and listening to book-themed soundtracks, you've come to the right place!  We will occasionally be posting links to playlists from my personal soundtrack collection.

This is a very special multi-blog soundtrack collection that I'm super excited to participate in: The Lumatere Boxset!  The idea came about chatting with the lovely Catie (of The Readventurer) and Reynje (of the brand new wordchasing) and our mutual love of book soundtracks.  Before long, we decided to try our hand at a trilogy, specifically a playlist for each book in the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.  I chose Finnikin of the Rock.  

Visit wordchasing for Reynje's soundtrack for Froi of the Exiles and The Readventurer for Catie's soundtrack for Quintana of Charyn next!

First up is Finnikin!


Since the Lumatere Trilogy is a fantasy, I tried to go for cinematic soundtrack choices for my tracklist.  I could imagine most of these songs playing in scenes from a Finnikin of the Rock movie or trailer.  Besides that, I tried to choose songs about epic journeys and the ol' standby emotional ANGST.  

Take a listen to the Grooveshark playlist or check out the tracklisting below:

1. O Death - Jen Titus
2. Endless Night - The Lion King Broadway Original Cast: What? First of all a) this is a total father son song for Trevanion and Finnikin and b) this entire show has something in common with Marchetta: they both make me sob.
3. Wading Deep Waters - Crooked Still
4. Ivory Tower - Tripod
5. Sorrow - The National: Sorrow found me when I was young... 
6. Cold, Cold Water - Mirah: This song always reminded me of Evanjalin.
7. Poison and Wine - The Civil Wars: My Evanjalin/Finnikin song.
8. Do Not Hang Your Head - Elizabeth and the Catapult: Sometimes manipulating loved ones to achieve the freedom of your people can really wear you down.
9.  You Will Be My Ain True Love - Allison Krauss
10. Just Breathe - Pearl Jam 
11. Hold you In My Arms - Ray LaMontagne: Because I'm a sucker for ending on a happy note.

Thanks for listening!  How'd I do?  And don't forget to check out Reynje's Froi soundtrack and Catie's Quintana soundtrack to listen to the complete set!