sonya hartnett

My Picks: MWF 2014

It’s that time of year again, when I buy my one newspaper for the year, and carefully extract and peruse the Melbourne Writers Festival program for 2014. I booked my leave from work and bought my Paperback Pass.

I spent the better part of an afternoon working my way through the program, with an incredibly diverse range of writers, readers and thinkers to choose from, I didn’t want to rush it. There are over 400 events to pick from, on almost as many different topics.

After much consideration these are my selections…

GeraldineGeraldine Doogue: Women of Influence
“Geraldine Doogue and Louise Adler discuss The Climb: Conversations with Australian women in power, Doogue’s inquiry into how the beliefs and values of Australian women are changing, informed by candid and personal conversations with 14 of Australia’s most powerful women.”

I don’t know who the fourteen women are, but I can’t wait to find out. I’m fairly sure I’ll be inspired but the end of this session.

Sonya Hartnett: In Conversation
“Sonya Hartnett is an outstanding and versatile author who can probe psychological states with uncanny accuracy and depth. A writer who has always pushed the boundaries of literature for both adults and young people, Hartnett returns to adult fiction with Golden Boys, a dark suburban tale. In conversation with Jo Case”

Probably no surprise to anyone that I booked a ticket for this one, quick-smart. I’m a big fan of Sonya’s writing, particularly her books Of a Boy, and The Midnight Zoo. As an special treat, this is a free session, being held mid-week at the Wheeler Centre.

mwf2014fullPhilip Hensher: Handwriting
“When English writer Philip Hensher realised he didn’t know what a close friend’s handwriting looked like, he felt that something essential was missing. Hensher explores the lost art of handwriting, how it made us who we are, and why it still matters. In conversation with David Astle.”

I love handwriting, and am always buoyed when I hear of someone else who does too. Plus, I’m looking forward to hearing from David Astle, I’ve been part-way through reading his book Cluetopia for months.

Media Makers: Media Darlings
“Simon Crerar (Buzzfeed), Emily Wilson (The Guardian) and Barrie Barton (The Thousands) will take part in a broad-ranging and diverse discussion about media in Australia and how a new spate of international online mastheads are changing our media landscape. In conversation with Gay Alcorn.”

In today’s life and times, this topic is not only interesting, but incredibly important. Diversity is key.

Limits of Fiction
“Australian Mark Henshaw and British writer Philip Hensher discuss the interplay of voice, form and structure in their writing and how novelists can exploit other forms of writing, such as thrillers and memoir, to create something new. In conversation with James Ley.”

With this session, I continue my quest to pin down exactly what makes a good novel tick. What makes some writing work and some not, how can an author drag you in to their tale and not let go until the final page (and them some)??

john safranTrue Crime
“John Safran (Murder in Mississippi) and Julie Szego (The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama) have each turned their hand to writing true crime after stumbling across their Truman Capote moment. They discuss their immersion into the complex worlds of crime and justice. In conversation with Damien Carrick.”

Having read Murder in Mississippi earlier this year, I’m keen to hear from John and Julie. I’m hoping they might be able to shed some light on what it is about True Crime that fascinates readers so much, despite (or because of) all its horror.

There are also a handful of free sessions I’ll try and get along to as well. As you can see, I’ve been able to pick a really interesting range of sessions – different topics, people, opinions. Now to just wait until August!

The festival will be held, at venues around Victoria, from 21 – 31 August 2014, and you can find out more about MWF 2014 at their website. You can check out this year’s program here…

Are you going to be at MWF 2014? I’d love to hear about what you’re going to see…

The conversation begins…

Our first bookish conversation starts now!

The TBYL Book Club’s first discussion is now posted, and you’re invited to join in and share your thought’s on this amazing book Of a Boy.

You can join in here

There will be a new discussion topic each day, from Monday through to Friday.

I can’t wait to hear what you think!

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Skipping and jumping through my reading pile

I love the Summer break, if for no other reason than that is allows for a little extra reading time. There is nothing quite as nice as sitting in my reading chair, air-conditioner on, kids otherwise occupied, getting neck-deep in one fictional adventure or another.

Interestingly, this holiday’s reading has taken shape a little differently than usual. Somewhat uncharacteristically for me, this extra time to read over the break has seen me skipping and jumping from one book to another, dipping in and out of a number of different novels in turn. This might sound infuriating to some, but in some strange way it seems to be working for me at the moment – the books are so different from each other, meaning that I can pick the particular story that fits my mood, and then swap to something more serious/adventurous/humorous when I feel like it.

And so, I thought I’d give you a quick run down on the books I’m flicking between…

My main book at the moment is Defender of the Faith, by Chris Allen. I’ve talked about this one before, here and I’m now making some real head-way into the exciting novel.

Very soon, I’ll be having a bit of a catch up with the author of this action-packed thriller, and I’ll let you in on the behind-the-scenes of this book. I’ll follow this closely with my review and another chance to win a copy for yourself. If you’re curious to check out this book, you can actually get a copy of the first twelve chapters of the novel for FREE! Check it out here.

The next title is a re-read, and it’s a particularly important one for me because it’s the TBYL Book Club’s book for January. I’m re-visiting Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy, and putting together some ideas for our discussion about the book at the end of the month…questions and talking-points that should get some good conversations going. I’ve talked to a few people who’ve just finished this novella, and they seem to have been quite moved by this rattler of a book. You can join the TBYL Book Club here, and buy the book here.

The next couple of books are, for me, something quite different (again). They’re two youth fiction novels, one of which I’ve been able to share with my eleven-year old son.

Firstly, is Glow, by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Pan MacMillan). A dystopian tale of space travel, romance and survival, this story for older teens seems to have been well constructed, nicely told, and set well to establish an engaging, ongoing series.

I’ve almost finished this book (it’s a quick read) so I’ll review it early next week.

Next is Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock Holmes – Fire Storm (Pan MacMillan). The forth in the Young Sherlock series, this novel is suitable for 11+ year olds and so, rather than have it sit ideal until I had a chance to read it, I had my son Evan read it first.

He seemed pretty impressed, read it pretty veraciously and has now gone a bit crazy for all things Sherlock. I’m looking forward to reading this, I’d expect it wont take me too long to get through and it’s nicely timed given the revival of Sherlock on big screen and small.

On a more serious note, the book that I’m reading for my (off line) book club at the moment is horribly haunting. The group has agreed to read We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver for our next catch-up and it’s hard going. There is a lot of talk at the moment about this disturbing story, due to the release of it’s film version.

A mother’s story, telling what it is to face absolute and undeniable shame and horror in your own child, this book has been ominous from the outset, and I’ve no doubt it’s only going to get tougher.

Lastly, I’ve a most luscious-looking novel in the reading pile, taunting me to start reading it. I’m resisting until I get through Of a Boy, but then it’ll be time to delve into Makeda, by Prue Sobers.

This story promises to take me on an Ethiopian adventure, travelling with the beautiful and spirited Makeda, the Queen of Sheba. Romance, intrigue, and royalty, it has it all.

Keep an eye out, I’ve a couple of signed copies to give away later this month!

It’s quite a list I know, and my head is spinning a little bit. But it’s spinning in the nicest possible way, as I skip from war-torn Africa, to suburban Sydney to the depths of outer space, I’m enjoying the narratives, the diary-entries, and the dramatisation of these compelling adventures. What better way to spend a Summer?!

I hope you’re having a chance to have a bit of read, and don’t forget, it’s not too late to sign up for this month’s TBYL Book Club…we’d love for you to join in!

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TBYL Book Club is up and running!

I’ve rubbed my bleary eyes, shaken off my hangover(s) and come to terms with the fact that 2011 whizzed by too quickly, and another year has started with a bang.

My new family planner is up and running, and I’ve had my first dinner party (Resolution #1). I’ve been busily getting some new items ready for the mini-store, and most excitingly, most importantly, most anticipated-ly (a word? not really) I’ve started to chatter with the wonderful members of TBYL Book Club!

Our brand new online book club officially kicks off this month so I thought it might be a good idea to give a little run down on how it will work.

It’s pretty simple really, just a couple of simple steps and you’ll be connected with lots of bookish people, sharing some excellent novels:

1. The club is run online via our online community, which you can join here…

2. You can use the online community to socialise with other members, leave updates, make friends, send messages. The community is moderated, and it’s a safe place to share your enjoyment of all things bookish.

3. Once you’ve got a TBYL profile, you can join ‘Groups.’ This month’s book club will chat in the group called ‘TBYL Book Club: January 2012‘. You can join the group here..

4. Each month there will be a new book to read. You can borrow the book from the library, from a friend or buy a copy locally. Of course, if you’d prefer you can purchase a copy from the TBYL Mini-Store for fast delivery.

5. In the last week of each month, I’ll post discussion questions in the group – one each day for a week. Hopefully this will generate some really amazing conversation about the book of the month, I know I can’t wait! There’s also a ‘General Discussion‘ thread where you can share your thoughts and reading experiences at any time throughout the month. You’ll find this discussion here…

I’ve caught up with a few people already this month, who have started reading ‘Of a Boy’, and by all accounts it’s having quite an effect on them. It’s an amazing little book, and I can’t wait to hear what other people think of it. By the sounds of it, lots of you are equally excited.

If you have any troubles creating a profile, logging on, or any other questions about the TBYL Book Club, please email me at info@thatbookyoulike.com.au

It’s a really quick book to read, so it’s not too late to sign up for the January group.

Join the club!
Read the review…

Plus, I’ll be announcing the February book early next week. I really hope you’ll join us!

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Winning, Christmas Eve style!

I’m pleased to announce, that Jane O is the winner of That Book You Like’s Christmas Eve give-away.  Jane, I hope you’ll enjoy your bundle of bookish wonder!

Just email me your details (email address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Saturday, 31.12.11 and arrangements will be made! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 02.01.12

Again, to everyone, I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Thanks so much for following That Book You Like around, and getting involved in the fun and conversations. I look forward to getting to know you all even better next year when we get the first TBYL Book Club rolling.

TBYL Xmas Eve give-away: A bundle

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!

Santa has popped by and left me a most delightful bundle of bookish delight, with strict instructions to give them away to one lucky winner in the last Christmassy week of Christmas.

It’s a wonderful little reading pile, a set of four books for one lucky reader. One winner will win a copy of:

 

Die, Yummy Mummy Die, by Allison Rushby (e-copy) Read More…

Defender of the Faith, by Chris Allen (e-copy) Read More…

Makeda, by Prue Sobers (paperback)  I’ll be reviewing this new release early in 2012…

Of a Boy, by Sonya Hartnett (paperback) which is of course, our very first TBYL Book Club book…

 

To go into the running to win this Christmas Bundle, all you have to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit That Book You Like‘s Facebook page

…and tell us about what you most hope to get from Santa this year.

The winner of this month’s competition (selected at random) will receive this lovely bundle of four titles.

Entries close Friday, 23 December 2011. The winner will have seven days to claim their prize, or a redraw will be held (I’ve allowed a couple of extra days given that it’s Christmas and all!)

A very Merry Christmas to your all, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday…great times with family and friends, lots of great food and drink and of course some time to put your feet up and read awhile.

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

A tough choice, but decision made!

It was tough choice, but I’ve finally made it. I’ve chosen the first book for us to read for the TBYL Book Club.

There were so many amazing books to choose from, many of which I hope we’ll have a chance to read together over the coming year. I’ll make sure there’s a great range of different book types and genres to explore, and I’d love to hear your suggestions for future inclusions.

For this month, I’ve chosen a book that will be a pretty quick read for most of us. I’m fully aware of the fact that January can be both the best of times, and the worst of times for reading, and I didn’t want our first title to be in any way onerous.

At the same time as being a quick read, it is still one of great substance…it will give us plenty to talk about at the end of the month.

Lastly, I was really keen to choose an Australian author to start off the TBYL Book Club with, and the author of this novel is one of the best authors Australia has to offer.

So, with no further ado I’m pleased to be able to announce the first book as being…


Of a Boy
, by Sonya Harnett

Please visit our website at www.thatbookyoulike.com.au to find out more about this special novel.

 

 

Join the club!
Read the review…
Buy the book!

I can’t wait to see you all online!

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The Midnight Zoo, war-torn magic…

A little while back, I read and reviewed Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy. At the time, this novel surprised me with its impact, its subtle realism and its quiet sadness.

I was also fascinated by the fact that Sonya is one of those rare authors who very successfully writes for both adults and children, and this fascination lead me to push the award-winning, The Midnight Zoo to the top of my reading pile.

One of Hartnett’s most recent publications, The Midnight Zoo is the haunting story of three gypsy children Andrej, Tomas and little Wilma:

Under cover of darkness, two brothers cross a war-ravaged countryside carrying a secret bundle. One night they stumble across a deserted town reduced to smouldering ruins. But at the end of a blackened street they find a small green miracle: a zoo filled with animals in need of hope.

We are immediately endeared to Andrej and his siblings, worrying for them, as they pick their way through a war-torn landscape. The town is nameless and now devoid of life…or so they think.

Magic and myth are present from the outset, but it is not until the children come across the Zoologicka Zahrada, the Zoological Garden – that the real magic of this story begins. After yet another air-raid, seemingly waged to ensure not a single thing is left standing in this cursed little town, Andrej and Tomas awaken to voices. Voices in the lifeless town come as a shock, as does the fact that it is the lioness, the bear, the monkey that are sharing their concern, their resentment and their life-stories with the children.

This novel is magic realism used to full effect. The fairytale narrative makes this a compelling read for older children, and a surreal experience for adult readers, requiring a refreshing suspension of disbelief for the duration of the story.

And, like many traditional fairytales, this story has a very dark side. The contrast between these dream-like conversations, and the memories of Andrej – horrible recollections of the day that the gadje war impacted his gypsy clan, and stole his parents – is stark and confronting.

Reading The Midnight Zoo reminded me a lot of some of the more serious books that I read as a child, and most particularly of  I am David, by Anne Holm. The impact of I am David has stayed with me for decades, and I’m fairly certain that this story would make a similiarly lasting impression on a young reader.

It is beautifully written, perfectly paced, and Hartnett skillfully balances the multiple stories and character-developments throughout.

The resolution to this novel is open-ended, and bittersweet. It felt very much to me like when you wake from a very vivid dream, just before it finishes…

Sonya Hartnett was this week awarded the ‘Older Readers Book of the Year 2011’ by The Children’s Book Council of Australia for this wonderful novel. In my humble opinion, I think it is a most deserving winner.

I’m a bit hooked on Harnett now, and am keen to read some more of her work…I’m thinking Thursday’s Child  might be next on the list. I’ll also put The Midnight Zoo on the pile for Evan to read in a year or so (I think he might be just a little bit too young now) and I’ll be very keen to hear what he thinks of it.

***

Excitingly, Stories Unbound, the Melbourne Writers Festival starts tomorrow. Don’t forget to check out their website for details of all their wonderful events!

Buy your own copy of The Midnight Zoo at the TBYL Store!

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And the winner is…

I’m pleased to announce, that Alex M is the winner of our very first competition here at That Book You Like.  Alex, a copy of Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy will be coming your way very soon!  Thanks to all for joining in, and liking or subscribing to my blog, and stay tuned for more little prizes.

If you’d like to read a review of this novel, you can find mine here.

Also, don’t forget to follow my blog around on Facebook  and  Twitter.

Join in and win!

I want more friends. I want more friends so badly, I’m willing to engage in bribery.

This week, I’ve got a copy of Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy (reviewed yesterday) to give away to a lucky player…

All you’ve got to do to be in the running is to ‘Like’ the Facebook page of That Book You Like…, or refer a friend to the page (they’ll need to ‘Like’ and then mention your name in a post on the wall, e.g. “Mandi J sent me”)  The more times your name is mentioned, the more entries into the competition!

And because we like you so much, those who are already friends of TBYL will automatically be entered into the comp.

So come in spinner, entries close Friday 13 May 2011.

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