Bookstagram: For the Love of Aussie YA

This month at Aussie Owned and Read, our theme is For the Love of Words. I love all kinds of books — ebooks for the convenience (mostly), audiobooks for the hands-free alternative, and paperbacks for, as much as anything, the experience. I’d been increasing my collection of the first two types, but in the last 18 months or so paperbacks have really had a resurgence in my collection.

The reason is that in May last year I joined Instagram and became an avid bookstagrammer.

We’ve blogged about bookstagram before here on the blog. but as a refresher, a bookstagrammer is someone who is part of the Instagram community whose posts consist largely or entirely of photos of books.

The photography approaches can range from dusty, scruffy piles of library books dumped on a coffee table through to elaborate, professionally lit works of art. The amount of time that some people put into their bookstagram photos is mind boggling. Here are five amazing bookstagram photos by talented bookstagrammers, all linked back to the site so you can go, explore their work and follow them. (Because we are on WordPress I can’t embed them in a way that directly links back to the site; still, I’ve done my best to credit each of these amazing artists.)

All these photos were found via the #LoveOzYA hashtag — an Australian book-lovers movement that has even spawned a brilliant anthology: Begin, End, Begin. As a bonus, you can read my review of the anthology here!

Source: Booktineus, showing off Ellie Marney’s new cover (and with a nice use of a Kindle rather than a paperback … though mine is too old to do a book cover justice!)

Source: commasandampersands, with the amazing Undercurrent by Paula Weston

Source: Former Aussie Owned blogger Emily J Mead, showing off her eye for colours and a gorgeous copy of Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Source: Another former Aussie Owned blogger, Cait Drews, displaying the gorgeous interior art in Amie and Jay’s Illuminae (and, btw, contrats to Cait on her BOOK DEAL — OMG!)

Source: lostwithannie, with a minimalist style, gorgeous colours, and the #LoveOzYA anthology

Do you have a bookstagram account? Leave your handle in the comments so we can check it out!


Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who spends more time than she should taking photos of her book collection. You can find her Instagram account — which is heavy on both books and PopVinyls — here.

For the love of it

This month at Aussie Owned and Read we’re all looking at the topic ‘FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS’. I was super happy to be first up because I could probably write a sonnet:

Words how I love thee, let me count the ways…

With a slight nod to Shakespeare involved of course. I love to read and (mostly) I love to write. I am so lucky I get to spend a lot (never enough) of time doing both. It takes a certain love (insanity?) to write a whole book, let alone several. And I have so many books that I love (love, love). But today I wanted to focus on two trips I’ve made for the love of words.

Harry Potter words in particular.

Back in 2015 I was lucky to be able to visit Harry Potter World in Orlando. I think is says something to have a whole theme park in your honour. And it wasn’t a short trip. I wasn’t disappointed. My only regret was that I didn’t BUY ALL THE THINGS.

gringotts

Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago.

I may have mentioned this not-buying regret a few times, and to surprise me my hubby flew me to Brisbane to visit a Harry Potter shop – THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT and told me to go crazy on the butterbeer and frogs and socks and all of it. Bliss!

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Back to Shakespeare, I have quite a fondness there too and visited Stratford-Upon-Avon to see his home a few years ago.

Any books you love like this?

 

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction. My next book LAST DAYS OF US is out in Dec with HQ Young Adult.

Do people know you’re a fraud?

This month, we’re talking fear on the blog.

At first, I was stumped. I’m one of those strange people who love scary movies, who thrives on books that set my hair on end and who gets a thrill out roller-coasters. I haven’t been truly afraid in a very long time–

Or, so I thought.

And then I remembered the thing I am most afraid of. People finding out my dirty little secret.

Before I tell you what it is, let me share with you a few things about myself. Let’s get to know each other a little before I dump my heartache out.

  1. I’m a hybrid-published author of nine books. I make a living in this industry, and love working on all things fiction.
  2. In my time as an author, I’ve hit the top of several lists. I’ve had some glowing reviews, and a decent number of downloads.

BUT here’s the thing: while I can write that down, categorically note it as fact, it doesn’t change the fact that at least once a week, I wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. No, it’s not menopause. It’s fear that someone is going to find out I’m a fraud. Fear that the rug will get pulled out from under me when people realise I’m just pretending to be a writer.

You see, I worry that people will find out I’m a fraud. Don’t get me wrong, I pen my own work. But I worry that the things people seem to like about it will fall away. They’ll realise they made a mistake, and that they want their $2.99 and hours of their life back, and I won’t be able to give it to them.

And while I have had many lovely reviews for my work, they’re not the ones that stick in my head. They’re not the ones I remember. At two a.m, when the world is quiet but the voices in my head are SO LOUD, when people sleep but I feel as if I’m running on a treadmill in my mind, all I see are the negatives. The bad reviews that I can remember word for word, because for some reason, they cement themselves in my brain.

Yes, you can chuck me in a screening of Stephen King’s IT and I’ll leave the cinema with a smile, but tell me you’re onto me and that you’re going to let everyone know I’m a fraud, and you’ll send me into a cold sweat.

So why have I written this post? Well, my theory is in order to conquer your fears, you need to face them. I’m putting this out there into the universe because I want this fear to go away.

I’m also sharing it because I feel like I’m not alone. Ever since I told a friend of mine about this horror, she said she felt it too. I think a lot of us just feel as if we’re winging it, when really, we’re not doing so badly.

In order to try and quiet the voices in my head, I’ve started a mental checklist I go through before I sleep. This helps me feel better about my choices, and I hope, if you feel fraudulent at times, that it helps you too.

  1. Did I do the best I could with the time and resources I have? If you can answer yes to this, you at least know you gave it everything you had.
  2. Did I learn something? If you’re learning, you’re improving. If you’re improving, you’re on track to become better tomorrow than you were today, better next year than you were this.
  3. Did I enjoy it? And this is the kicker. Because there’s so much about writing that’s hard, so much loneliness, so much self-doubt and negativity, that if you’re not having fun, you have to reassess. And invariably, for me, the answer to this question is always a resounding yes. I am having fun. I’m having the time of my goddamn life.

And that’s how I manage to keep the mental boogey monsters away.

What about you? Do you have a fear of people figuring you out?

 

lauren k mckellar_ms
Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. You can find out more about her at her website or on Facebook.

Birthday Terror

October is the month of scary and here at Aussie Owned and Read we’re looking at all things frightening.

I’m not looking for singing or anything (🙂) but last week was my birthday.

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My terrifying Tasmanian Tiger cake

Not just any day last week but Friday…. Friday the 13th. In October. I was kind of expecting something bad to happen.

It didn’t.

(I was amazingly spoilt in fact, although I did get another year older)

However, it made me think of how often in books a birthday plays an important part and it’s not always a good one. A birthday is a time of change and in some cases of fear. Not just of getting old but of a shift, in society. In contemporary books that can be the shift of being able to drive or drink legally. Leave home, vote or leave school.

All of which can be a source of fear for a character (or a reader).

Then there’s becoming a wizard in a certain series.

Or perhaps a time of a choice that must be made and can determine one’s whole life like in Divergent by Veronica Roth. Then there’s Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins where every birthday gives you a greater chance of being selected.

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Are you afraid of a birthday?

Should a character be?

 

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction. My next book LAST DAYS OF US is out in Dec with HQ Young Adult.

Halloween Reads for Cowards

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Image via Pixabay

October means ghosts, ghouls and all things ghastly for those who enjoy Halloween. So this month on Aussie Owned and Read we thought we’d tackle the frightening and scary in all its different manifestations.

I confess, I’m not a fan of scary. I won’t be lining up to see the new remake of Stephen King’s IT. Ever. I’m more of a Ghostbusters kinda girl. You know, where the ghosts and ghouls are tempered down with quirk or humour (and a dose of Chris Hemsworth). So here’s a list of Halloween ‘horror’ novels for scaredy Kats like me:

  1. The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher by Doug MacLeod (Penguin)

Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher Cover

Thomas Timewell is sixteen and a gentleman. When he meets a body-snatcher called Plenitude, his whole life changes. He is pursued by cutthroats, a gypsy with a meat cleaver, and even the Grim Reaper. More disturbing still, Thomas has to spend an evening with the worst novelist in the world.
A very black comedy set in England in 1828, The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher shows what terrible events can occur when you try to do the right thing. ‘Never a good idea,’ as Thomas’s mother would say.

I read this wacky Aussie historical when it was first published seven years ago. It’s got its share of the macabre but it’s not exactly scary. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well as gross bits. Not one for the squeamish, but heaps of fun.

2. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner (Allen & Unwin)

The Dead I Know Cover

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘Steady. We’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain, and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

The Dead I Know is an intense psychological thriller, but it also fits a Halloween theme nicely because the protagonist Aaron works in a morgue. Interestingly, it’s not the dead people who he needs to be afraid of most.

  1. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinx (Allen & Unwin)

The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Nina became a vampire in 1973 when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun either, because her life is so sickly and boring.

It becomes even worse when one of the other vampires in her therapy group is staked by a mysterious slayer. Threatened with extinction, she and her fellow vampires set out to hunt down the culprit. Trouble is, they soon find themselves up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing.

Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Is there more to being a vampire than meets the eye?

I love me a good vampire spoof and this book delivers. Not only does it provide a hilarious alternative addition to the vampire genre, it’s got romance and action to boot!

  1. Gap Year in Ghost Town (Allen & Unwin)

Gap Year in Ghost Town

The Marin family run a two-man operation in inner-city Melbourne. Anton has the ghost-sight, but his father does not. Theirs is a gentle approach to ghost hunting. Rani Cross, combat-skilled ghost hunter from the Company of the Righteous, is all about the slashing.

Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – but with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, they must find a way to work together.

And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must use his gap year to decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost-hunting biz . . .

I am yet to read this, but it looks PERFECT for horror-cowards like me. According to the publisher it’s smart, snappy and funny. And scary. It DOES say it’s scary. Still, the cover alone might be worth the risk.

What are some of your favourite scary – or not so scary – Halloween reads?

 


Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA The Third Kiss is out now with ENTANGLED TEEN and is definitely more swoony than scary. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Blasting into the Past

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and not just because I enjoy writing it! It has to be one of the most wide ranging and encompassing genres available. From Europe to the Americas, to Asia, and Africa, even the Pacific, Hist Fic can tell tales of any culture or nation in the world, add into that thousands of years of time to work with and there’s a smorgasbord of potential stories to be explored.

My favorite thing about Hist Fic is learning about other cultures, how they developed, and why people within them do and feel in current times due to those historical influences. There’s so many sub genres within Hist Fic, like Regency, WWI & WWII, American Civil War, but outside of those popular western histories is Native American, South American, Ancient History, Chinese, Japanese and so many more. You can literally travel the world in Hist Fic and meet incredible people that are mere blips in Western culture.

Historical Fiction can also include Mythology. This sub genre is where things get interesting as this too includes myths from all around the world. While most people think of Greece or Rome, I have read some amazing books about Hindus, Native Americans, and Celts. Even Disney with Moana has ventured into this realm.

So, here is some of my favorite Historical Fiction. Click on the links below to see their details and my reviews. What are your favorites, and why do you enjoy Hist Fic?

Mrs. Poe,  The Woman on the Painted Horse,  SarahThe Sword of Attila

Fire of the Covenant,  Horrible Histories,  The Cenote

Souls EntwinedEchoes of Dark and Light

 

Exploring Genre: Urban Fantasy

September’s theme is genre, so this month we’ll each be focusing on a different genre and highlighting what makes it great. Today I’m taking a look at my favourite genre to read (and write): urban fantasy.

“Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban setting. Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the arrival of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined.”Wikipedia

As a reader, urban fantasy can be a tricky genre to love. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it’s true — quite often I go into a book thinking that it’s urban fantasy only to discover that it’s urban fantasy’s kissing cousin, paranormal romance. They share a lot of the same trappings, in that they tend to feature paranormal beings in the real world. And the covers are sometimes quite similar, though urban fantasy book covers lean towards a solo character rather than an embracing pair, and generally feature less pretty dresses and more, well, leather and weapons.

But the fundamental difference is whether the plot emphasises romance as a central element. In paranormal romance, the romance is, unsurprisingly, the main plot (think Twilight), whereas in urban fantasy there is often a romance, but it takes a back seat to other goings on in the world (think Sookie Stackhouse or The Mortal Instruments).

In urban fantasy, you quite often see elements of other genres: mystery, thriller, adventure, superhero, sci-fi. My favourites are the ones with a mystery, a plot twist … and some steamy romance. (I do love a juicy romance, but I’m greedy: I like to have that and more. 😉 )

I was going to include maybe three of my favourite urban fantasies, but who am I kidding? I can’t stop at three!

(Looking at these covers, I think I should add tank tops to “leather” and “weapons”.)


Cassandra Page is an author, editor, geek, coffee addict, Ravenclaw and bookstagrammer. Her fifth urban fantasy novel, False Awakening, was released on 26 August