Winter reading

Home these last few days and weather is bitter outside. Decided to sit inside and read some books I have had on my bookshelves for a while now.

The first is by an Australian YA author, Tristan Bancks. I often read his blog posts and pass on many of his tips and advice to my students.
The FallThe Fall by Tristan Bancks

This is a nicely plotted crime thriller for middle-years readers, with shades of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Sam Garner, staying at his Dad’s 5th floor apartment whilst recovering from leg surgery, is hampered in his movements because he is on crutches. He has not left the flat since arriving almost a week before. In the middle of the night he is awoken by an argument in the apartment above. Hobbling to the window to hear better, he is further shaken when a body falls past the window onto the ground below. He goes to find his crime-reported dad only to find he is alone. Going back to the window he sees another man below bending over the body. Was it the killer and did he spot Sam? Although very frightened he goes to investigate a little further only to find the body has disappeared.
Sam begins to wonder if what he saw was real until someone breaks in to his Dad’s apartment.
The reader is drawn into the story and is pulled along with Sam as he tries to make sense of what he has seen and what he suspects might be happening. Sam is a realistic character. He has anger issues he has been dealing with and idolises his father, who until now has been absent from his life, and wants to follow in his fathers crime-reporting footstep. He’s no superhero on the surface, instead is scared most of the time but what he endures proves that he has strengths he didn’t know he had. All the characters, including his mum and dad, are believable and you can sympathise with all of them.
Tristan Bancks has created strong characters, recognisable settings and a suspenseful plot that should keep the readers totally engaged to the end.

The second is a biography written as a graphic novel about a long-time favourite Agatha Christie.
Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha ChristieAgatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti

This was fun read. A long-time fan, I read all her books when I was a teenager and occasionally go back to them for some light entertainment and relaxation. It is written as graphic novel which offers a very insightful glimpse into Agatha Christie’s life, ranging from her childhood to her death and covers her mysterious disappearance to Harrogate. It was also an interesting device – using imaginary conversations she had with her most famous characters, Poirot, Miss Marple and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
Last year I read The Mystery of the Blue Train, and visited her home Greenway in Devon as well. This slim biography is another nice acknowledgement of the amazing writer and woman known as Agatha Christie.

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The Inkys and other stuff

The Inkys longlist is out. I unfortunately didn’t get there (vitually or otherwise). However you can read about the list in the insidadog site and also listen to the recording.

Golden Inky (for Australian titles)

Silver Inky (International titles)

  • Exposure (Mal Peet)
  • Girl at Sea (Maureen Johnson)
  • If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
  • Love, Aubrey (Suzanne La Fleur)
  • Paper Towns (John Green)
  • Skim (Mariko and Jillian Tamaki)
  • Ten Mile River (Paul Griffin)
  • The 10PM Question (Kate de Goldi)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)
  • The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

I have linked to the titles I have read (or skimmed). I really enjoyed reading Anthony Eaton’s Into White Silence and Broken Glass was very confronting at times. It reminded me of how uncomfortable I felt when I read Wake in fright (many years ago now). I have been saying I must read Jarvis 24 properly as I find that David Metzenthen’s voice is very Australian and he captures a lot of our character. It is a great list of Australian titles and the International titles that I have read are certainly worthy of being on the list.

Speaking of lists, Tristan Bancks (author of the Mac Slater series) is going to be a guest-blogger at least twice a week on the Boys, Blokes, Books and Bytes site. He has started with the question “what is the best book for boys ever? and he would like everyone to answer. It should get some great conversations started.

To start with he asked a handful of Australia’s favourite children’s writers to give their tip on the best book for boys ever and got the following results:

  • James Roy: The Machine Gunners (by Robert Westall)
  • David Metzenthen: The Really Nearly Deadly Canoe Ride (by David Metzenethen)
  • Pat Flynn: Holes by Louis Sachar and Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs (by Gerard Michael Bauer)
  • Nick Place: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (by Douglas Adams)
  • And my tip? My Side of the Mountain (by Jean Craighead George)

This is such a great question I am going to ask my colleagues at work for their nominations. I want to then share the results with the students and try to get some ideas from them. It should fit in well with the Book Week activities next week.

It will be interesting to see if there is much of an overlap. There are usually quite a few differences between the winners lists of the CBCA  book awards and the Yabba and Inky winners.

I would love to get any other thoughts as well. If you don’t know Mac Slater, have a look at the little video trailers below;

and listen to the ideas behind Tristan’s books