Genre map!



Genre Map, source: Book Country


I was looking around on the internet for some information on Young Adult readers today when I came across this great, interactive genre map on Book Country. As you roll over certain parts of the map, labels pop up to show you different genres of books. There is a fiction area, a non-fiction area and an area specific to Young Adult literature. All of the countries on the map are shaped to suit their genre and when you click on a particular country, it takes you to a page showing you books that fit within that genre. Rolling over those books gives you a short synopsis of the text and clicking on them takes you to the publisher pages for the text. The book lists are by no means exhaustive and some countries don’t have any books listed at all as yet, but the idea is fun. Who doesn’t love a good map in their novel?


Mini Review: Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found ‘Girl in Pieces’ such a powerful, eye-opening story and I’m so glad that Kathleen Glasgow decided to write it. I think it’s so important for us to hear more of these kinds of voices, to become more aware and develop a greater understanding of mental illness. Beautifully written, with real, gritty characters, ‘Girl in Pieces’ tells the story of main protagonist Charlotte Davis. Charlotte or Charlie is a young girl whose life seems to be breaking apart. As each heartbreaking, terrible thing happens to her, she seems to get a little bit smaller and feel a little bit more insignificant. It seems inevitable that nothing will change for her, but through her art and the kindness of friends Charlie is able to start putting herself back together.

Mini Review: Black, by Fleur Ferris


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love, love, loved this book! The protagonist in this story, Black Marshall and everyone else in town think she is somehow cursed. So far three of her friends have died in seemingly tragic “accidents”. After the new guy in town, who invites her to prom, ends up in hospital after another accident, Black begins to wonder if what they’re saying is true… or is there something more sinister going on? Are the accidents somehow related to an event from her parent’s past? The secrets and strange goings on that follow, along with Black’s sleuthing make this a fast-paced, twisty, turning thriller that you could easily read in a day… like I did. 🙂

bookfession {no. 1}

“I always buy another book, when I still have ten to read…”

It’s been such a long time since I posted about reading and books, that I thought I should catch everyone up on the print I’ve been diving into lately. I was lucky enough to have Santa bring me a lovely slew of titles over Christmas and I just happened to grab a few more myself, just in case. Then there are the books that friends have lent me as recommendations. If you didn’t already guess, the pile is pretty big now and because I’m back at Uni again, it will be super slow going. So without further ado, here is my current reading list:


cover images via Booktopia


1. The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman
I picked up this Alice Hoffman treasure while I was on holiday down in Phillip Island this January. I’ve read and enjoyed one of Alice’s other novels… her 1996 novel Practical Magic, which was adapted for a 1998 film of the same name, so I was excited to see this one on the shelf. I’ll admit that I’m sometimes guilty of judging a book by its cover, I really can’t help it. I’m drawn to interesting fonts and beautiful imagery and this particular cover drew me in. With the dreamy photograph of a woman in white, her long waves of hair and the doves I was immediately enticed. The Dovekeepers tells the story of four women and their life paths leading to the Masada massacre of 70 CE.

*Excited to add that the US broadcaster CBS has produced a mini-series of this book. Check out the teaser trailer here!

2. The Maze Runner – book #1, by James Dashner
Unfortunately for The Maze Runner, I got two-thirds of the way through it when the movie came out. I have to say {and I apologise to those like my son Noah who are big James Dashner fans} I didn’t really enjoy it and now I’m struggling to find the inspiration to go back to the book and finish it off. The book, so far, is definitely better than the movie and because of that I’ve left it on my current reading list. I don’t like to give up on books, but it won’t be the one I reach for next.

3. Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
Year of Wonders was a recommendation from a friend and from her review and the synopsis I read online, I thought it sounded really interesting. Just like The Maze Runner, I managed to plow about two-thirds of the way through and found it really, really dry. It is set in the 17th century, in a small town 100 miles outside of London, called Eyam (pronounced ee-am). The heroine is young widow, Anna Frith and Year of Wonders tells the story of how she and her fellow villagers fared during a year long outbreak of plague. When I started this bookfession, I had just about given up on finishing it, but am now pleased to say that I did get there in the end and I actually enjoyed the almost universally, unpopular ending… my review is here on Goodreads.

4. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
This was my recent train-reading fodder with it’s very light-hearted, amazingly dialogued style. I find I can fully relate to the nerdy heroine Cath who has a slight crush on the two leading characters in her favourite fantasy novels {sort of Harry Potter style books*} as well as on a cute classmate. I like that the story is super easy to read and I don’t have to think too hard or concentrate too much on any over-stuffed verbiage. Very handy as Bendigo is a bit of a hike from home and a girl gets a little sleepy on her way to uni sometimes! Fangirl is a lovely read which is very relatable, enjoyable and fun. I highly recommend it… and in true fangirl fashion, have pinned some lovely quotes and things for your enjoyment up on my Pinterest board “geek“.

*Very excited to add that as it turns out, Ms Rowell is going to actually write these Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basildon Pitch {aka Simon and Baz} books as a stand alone series!!!

5. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
I’m currently reading Pippi to my six-year-old daughter on and off as a bedtime story. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Pippi. While I love the illustrations in this version of the book, by the fabulous Lauren Child {of Charlie and Lola fame} and I applaud the oddball, strong female character, there are a lot of strange themes in this story that I just can’t wrap my head around. I love that Pippi’s friends include some neighbourhood children {one with the same name as my SIL who was named for the character}, a monkey and a horse, but I don’t like her sometimes blatant disregard for safe and respectful behaviour… maybe I’m just too north of ten to appreciate her, or maybe I’m not quite Swedish enough to understand the humour?

6. The Bees, by Laline Paull
I recently devoured this book that was given to me by a fellow bookworm and friend. I really loved it… here is my review from Goodreads:

“An amazing glimpse into a rich, fantasy world where the characters are all bees. A society where everything is strictly controlled by the powerful… every member of the hive has a place and is expected to behave accordingly. All but one bee, Flora 717 who becomes our heroine because she is different. An underdog, a bit of a rebel and most definitely a survivor.”

I also loved the Goodreads synopsis, “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games”.

And here are just a few more titles that are patiently waiting for my attention:

  • Time and Time Again, Ben Elton
  • This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman
  • A Trail of Fire, Diana Gabaldon
  • The Warlock, Michael Scott
  • The Bane Chronicles, Cassandra Clare
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
  • Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
  • Life in a Jar, Jack Mayer



writing, still an important skill?!

While I won’t say that my grammar is beyond reproach, I will say that I try. I’m a self-confessed bookworm and, as a result, know first-hand how important it is that people write well. It’s not simply a matter of having a great story or topic, of having well-rounded characters or a great plot… you must be able to tell that story in a readable way. It needs to flow well and be free of error. Having the skills to deliver your thoughts, ideas or even your personal profile in a resume in a coherent and readable way is very important. It’s a skill that we use every day, whether we are five years old or fifty. We write stories, we write in journals, we write essays, poems, emails and text messages. In short, we rely on our writing a lot, no matter our age or profession and it’s interesting to see how the development of this seemingly simple skill can have such a big impact on our futures or even our pockets!

A little while ago, I was sent a great infographic from the team over at Grammarly, which showed the correlation between a person’s writing skills and the impact of those skills on their career. You’ll need to click on the image to open up the full infographic, but it’s really no surprise to see that writing well pays off {pardon the pun}!


source – Grammarly

I think we all prefer to read things that are well-written. Text that is badly phrased, clunky or misspelled is often harder to read and not nearly as enjoyable. You can imagine that this kind of text might also make a bad impression on future employers or colleagues. Writing as a form of communication is really a cornerstone of any career. The more effectively you can communicate, the better off you will be.

From a teaching point of view, this is also one of the reasons I’m so passionate about really good children’s literature, and encouraging young people to keep trying different books until they find the ones that appeal to them. Just as different topics appeal to different people, so to do different writing styles and mediums. My middle son, Gabriel prefers stories that are action packed and loves books with cartoon-style illustrations included by teams like Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, whereas my elder son Noah has always been drawn to fantasy/fiction novels with no illustrations. They’ve both found their niche and hopefully this impacts on the way they write as well. When you learn to appreciate and understand what makes writing, good writing, then I think you’re halfway there!

2012 Reading Challenge!

Last year I decided to just post a list of what I was reading in 2011, rather than setting any particular challenges or targets… but this year {as I’m now in a bookclub} I’ve decided that each month I will try to read my bookclub book, plus an extra one or two! That makes at least 24, with a challenge at 36. Whoohoo!

I’ve made a little button {that I’ll be updating soon} which I’ll pop on my left-hand side bar which links to this post so you can sneak a peak at my list whenever you like!

You can take a look here at my master list for 2011, and here is where I’ll post my challenge list for 2012. I’ll add to it as I read along… let me know if you’re challenging your mind for 2012!

1. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern {b}
2. The Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
3. Spin the Bottle – Monica McInerney
4. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry {b} !


5. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
6. All That I Am – Anna Funder {b} *
7. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins * 










* Currently reading these!!
** Read/Reading to the kids…
{b} Bookclub book
! Really not enjoying and struggling to finish.

a real prince…

I’ve just finished a great book in Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince. It’s the second in her Infernal Devices series and I loved it. I know it’s classified as “young adult fiction” but Cassandra has a very engaging writing style and her subject matter is very original and easy to relate to. I suppose {if you know anything about the books} that might sound a bit odd, considering the subject matter, but the characters are very three dimensional and you can quite easily imagine yourself among them.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of picking up one of Cassandra’s books yet, do yourself a favour, they’re great. In essence {and without spoiling anything specific to the story} they are about the fey creatures {vampires, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, etc} who live amongst us and the race of angel/human warriors, called Shadowhunters, who police them.

The first series Cassandra published was The Mortal Instruments, which is set in present day US and the second is the Infernal Devices series which is a prequel and is set in Victorian England. I believe Cassandra is now writing the two series concurrently, with Clockwork Prince – book two of ID – having been released September last year and City of Lost Souls – book five of TMI – to be released in May of this year… yay!

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Cassandra {be it ever so briefly} back in May of last year at her “meet the author/book signing” event at Dymocks in Melbourne. It was pretty funny for Ariana and I who turned up all excited {because we both really enjoy her writing} to hear Cassandra talk about her books. With the exception of about three or four other “non-young adults” we were probably the oldest folks in the room. I think the average age of the crowd was 15 or so… ha ha! I have to say though, even though Dymocks ran some pretty geeky competitions during the event {and handed out way too many chupa chups, which should’ve been a clue} I still really enjoyed listening to Cassandra talk about her writing, inspiration, motivation and her life in general.

It’s very nice to see that authors are real people, not just names on book spines and they think and feel the same things as we do, particularly about their characters. And while that sounds a bit geeky in and of itself, I think because we’re always a little removed from the people behind the stories, meeting them face to face is very refreshing. You get to hear their voice and humour that you normally only “hear” in their writing which to me makes the books that much better because you know a little bit more about what makes them tick. I also managed to have my copy of City of Fallen Angels signed, which is another bonus!

If you’re a Cassandra Clare fan, you might be interested to take a peek at these pages from her website where she lists who she {and fans} might like to see cast in movie versions of her books. Here is The Mortal Instruments imaginary castings and here is the Infernal Devices imaginary castings… all I can say is Gideon Lightwood, oh my!

For anyone who is interested, I’ve started a new reading challenge. Click the button on the top right of my blog to learn more {or join in}.

What I love Wednesday {no. 6}

A lovely friend gave me this beautiful book for Christmas today. We recently read the novel, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh in our book club {which was a wonderful, wonderful book FYI}.

Thank you Miss Amanda! I really love it and can’t wait to sit down and read through it. I also loved the beautiful inscription of feverfew, water lily and freesia she included inside the front cover.

Come and link up with us for


and tell us what you’re loving!

book review: Becoming Scarlett by Ciara Geraghty

I finished this lovely little story on Monday night and truly recommend it to anyone who likes a sweet, sometimes funny, easy to read novel.

You know the basic boy meets girl storyline already, but this one has a few unusual twists! Wait for it…

Boy leaves girl {to join an archeological dig in South America} and after drinking too much, girl hooks up with new boy, in a bar. Much later, girl discovers she’s pregnant {with no idea who the daddy-to-be is} and takes on a new client {in her job as a wedding planner} only to then discover that her client’s fiancé is the boy from the bar! Oops!

Girl is one Scarlett O’Hara, boy in the bar is… Daniel “Red” Butler. Didn’t I tell you it was cute?! Anything more is spoilers, so if you have time for a little more cute in your life, find a copy of Becoming Scarlett. It’s nice… really it is!

Loving the Little Lady!

Another busy day in the shop today, with more coffees made and no major dramas unfolding… yay! Although to be honest, I don’t really mind it when things are quite hectic. Usually I find that the busier it is, the faster the day seems to go. Besides, when you have someone fun and interesting to spend your time with and are surrounded by lovely fabrics who can complain? Today was no exception with the lovely miss Amanda, who is not only good company, but a fellow bookworm. She lent me a big bag of books to read… which of course was wonderful!

I didn’t get any sewing done when I got home this afternoon as I was feeling a little bit tired and lazy, but I did enjoy a cup of tea and the rest of Hester Browne’s The Little Lady Agency. It’s a lovely story, with two other volumes in the series, Little Lady, Big Apple and The Little Lady Agency and the Prince. I’ve read it a few times before, but it’s one of those stories that is just so warm and fuzzy and so incredibly well written, that I find myself enjoying it every time I pick it up.

Fantastic fiction describes it as “a romantic comedy about men, manners and multi-tasking” which is actually pretty accurate! The heroine of the tale is Miss Melissa Romney-Jones who although very sweet, is incredibly naive and has an alarming tendency to be taken advantage of by all and sundry. Through the course of the story you get to see that she is also a bit of a modern-day Mary Poppins, with an amazing repertoire of skills in organisation, etiquette, party-planning, wardrobe-overhauling and gift-shopping… among other things. Along the way, she organises a wedding, lots of hopeless English gents and of course meets her handsome prince… but if I say any more, it would spoil the fun! If you’d like a bit of light-hearted, easy to read, fun, think about reading The Little Lady Agency. It was book 16 in my 2011 reading list