***OMGOSHJIMMYHAILER***

I have exciting news for you, friends.

Firstly, if you’ve hung around this blog for any time at all, you know that Australian author Melina Marchetta is my QUEEN. (See here, here, here.)

She is a master of characters, and my favorite crew of hers first appears in Saving Francesca: Frankie, Will, Siobhan, Justine, Tara, Tom, and Jimmy. After Saving Francesca, the crew reunites in The Piper’s Son, which is Tom’s story, set five years later. Everyone has been begging for years for Jimmy’s story.

Back in April 2013, in a Goodreads-sponsored discussion, Melina made my heart go BOOM when she teased:

Jimmy’s not going anywhere, but it’s just not his time yet. All I know about him is that he is the first of Frankie gang to start breeding (accidently).

In the four years since, she has posted on her blog about Jim from time to time. Earlier this month, she posted there was a forthcoming short story:

My short story is called When Rosie met Jim. It’s about a young woman who finds herself stranded in a Queensland town during a flood, where she meets a guy named Jim. (the title is quite literal, and yes, it’s him for those who know my previous work).

A couple days ago, she added this:

It will be a novel primarily about one house, four characters, five lives, and told through three points of view.

Jimmy is 23 years old in When Rosie met Jim.  In the novel, he’ll be about 25 because it takes place in Sydney about two years after the events of the short story. It’s not  YA, but regardless, I’m predictable. It’s a generational story and it’s character driven, relationship driven and pretty much about community, solace and the ties that bind. (and netball).

OH. AND THIS ALSO HAPPENED:

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Peeps, I read it last night, and it was everything I wanted it to be. More.

First, you don’t have to have read her other books in order to read this story. It’s brilliant even on its own, and of course, it has added meaning for fans who miss the Sydney crew.

Next, it works as a short story– yes, it is an excerpt (or something like it) from what will eventually be a full-length novel (PRAISE GOD), but it works on its own too as a short story. What I mean is that it’s got its own narrative arc; you won’t feel dissatisfied at the end (though you will feel so desperate for more).

Lastly, I don’t know how on earth she does it, but there is not one word extra in this, nor one word missing. It’s perfect and has the right amount of action and vulnerability to enamor you in so few pages. (Frankly, I re-read Marchetta’s books over and over, hoping that I will somehow take on her writing capabilities– and yet, every time, I’m reminded she is the master.) There is foreshadowing and the ideal amount of backstory to offer both grounding and intrigue. The characters are multi-dimensional, and … OMGOSH, I don’t know how to wait for the entire book. I guess if I survived the wait for Quintana, I will survive this too, right? Right?? (P.S. I bought the Australian edition of Quintana, since it came out 6 months before the American version. I am not excellent at patience.)

This issue of Review of Australian Fiction comes out tomorrow (er, um, maybe today actually, since Australia is ahead of the USA) and is available for only $2.99 at this link:

http://reviewofaustralianfiction.com/product/raf-152-volume-22-issue-6.

Go. Buy. Be delighted (readers) and envious (writers). While you’re at it, buy all her books. I promise you they are the best.

Love,
Jackie

Quick whatever-this-is: I want you to know this is not sponsored. I don’t get anything when you purchase this … except for the satisfaction of knowing I’ve introduced you to your new favorite author. Enjoy!

Amalgamation

writingI took a quiz, one that will supposedly analyze my writing and tell me what famous writer my style is most similar to.  I don’t put a lot of stock in it because I did it three times and got three different writers, including Chuck Palahniuk, Dan Brown, and Cory Doctorow.

So, which writers do I especially want to write like?  Great question.

I want to have the lyrical quality of Jandy Nelson and Peter Beagle and Leif Enger.

I want characters like those created by Melina Marchetta.

I want to raise thought-provoking questions just like John Green.

I want catch-your-breath imagery like C.S. Lewis and Markus Zusak.

And I want to command the senses the way Erin Morgenstern does.

Your turn!

Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Today’s topic is

TOP TEN AUTHORS WHO DESERVE MORE RECOGNITION.

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10. Annie Dillard | The Writing Life will blow your mind.  The Maytrees is incredible.

9. Luci Shaw | I deeply appreciate Shaw’s ability to write about Christianity without succumbing to over-sentimentality.  Her poems are like truth: good, hard-hitting.

8. Patrick Ness | After reading A Monster Calls (and sobbing like a baby) and then his Chaos Walking trilogy, I am convinced Ness is a different breed of YA author.  I love his depth.

7. Rainbow Rowell | She is definitely becoming more of a household name after the great success of Eleanor and Park— she deserves it!

6. Peter Beagle | I cannot say just how much I love The Last Unicorn, but I try to.

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5. Erin Morgenstern | Morgenstern only has one book out so far– The Night Circus— but the book is so utterly masterful that I want the world to know about her!

4. Leif Enger | Peace Like a River is sheer brilliance.

3. Yann Martel | With the new Life of Pi movie out, Martel is becoming more well-known.  But I am actually more intrigued by his other work: his novel Beatrice and Virgil and his short story “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios.”

2. Jandy Nelson | Again, Nelson only has one book out so far– The Sky is Everywhere— but it’s gorgeous and has landed her on my auto-buy list.

1. Melina Marchetta | I have an evangelical zeal for spreading the name of this Aussie author.  She is my favorite, and I won’t be satisfied until she has ALLTHERECOGNITION.  There are a lot of reasons you NEED to read Marchetta’s work.

Your turn!  Which authors do you think deserve more recognition?

I judge you based on the books you read. :-)

(This post is meant to be in fun, so no one is allowed to be offended, kapeesh?)

I think we all do something like this, to some extent.  I have a dear friend who judges people based off of their favorite Beatles songs!  My choice of “Here Comes the Sun” passed muster, but if you were to say, for example, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” her opinion of you would drop pretty fast.  For some people, it’s the music you listen to; for others, the movies you enjoy.

But for me, it’s books.

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If you read C.S. Lewis, I like you automatically, but if you haven’t read his space trilogy, I start to doubt just how big a fan you are.  When I discover people who haven’t read Narnia, I jokingly ask them why they don’t love Jesus.  (JOKINGLY!  Calm down!)

If you read Melina Marchetta, I think you are brilliant and first-class.  If you’ve discovered Jandy Nelson’s one novel, I’m impressed and can’t wait to discuss it with you.  If you loved The Fault in Our Stars, I think you’re a deep-thinking intellectual.  Same thing if you like Yann Martel’s books.

If you read paranormal romance, I will probably automatically think you’re not serious about good books.  Probably.  Not for sure.  I rather liked The Mortal Instrumentsbut then again, I kind of judge MYSELF for liking them.  Ha!

If you’ve read Sophie’s World, I’d be blown away.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone else who has.

If you refuse to read Harry Potter, I will probably joke that, Yeah, the rest of the world must have been wrong.  But yet, I won’t let that argument work on me if you try to use it for another book.

If you’re a big fan of Christian romance, I’m going to raise an eyebrow.  (You can convince me of your sound judgment if you tell me they are a guilty pleasure.  I have one friend– you know who you are!– who avoids my judgment this way.)

I’m not impressed if you read Austen or the Brontes.  I’m not saying these are bad books at all, just that I don’t care for them much (excepting Wuthering Heights).

A friend of Billy Collins is a friend of mine.  Same goes for Anne Lamott.

I respect LOTR fans though I myself am not interested.

If “cancer books” are your thing (you know, those books where kids fall in love and one of them dies, and every story is almost identical), we should talk.  I can kindly redirect you.

Now, tell me yours!  Do you produce snap judgments, and if so, based on what?  Give me some details!

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Just finished …

Reached by Ally Condie | This is book three of the Matched trilogy (preceded by Matched and Crossed).  If you’re not familiar with the concept of these books, they are set in the future in a time when the Society rules and in order to “simplify” things, the Society has only retained 100 poems, 100 stories, 100 etc., etc. from the past.  As teenagers, couples are “matched”– and that is whom you will marry.  The first book was quite fascinating because Cassia was matched with her best friend Xander but was secretly falling in love with Ky.  The second book was much less interesting, particularly because Cassia, Xander, and Ky were all separated– I essentially skimmed Crossed.  I still wanted to know how the story ended, so I requested Reached from the library long before it was released and was relatively near the top of the waiting list (within the first 100 probably).  I started reading it, and it was more interesting than the second book, but the library book ended up being due back sooner than I could finish it, so I skimmed the rest of the book (a very thorough skim!), and I think I made the right choice.  It was good, and I liked the ending, and Condie has brilliant moments in these books, but all told, I think the third book might have been drawn out too long.  Can’t say for sure since I didn’t fully get to read it.  But I don’t think I will return to it to do just that.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta | I re-read this one, this time on audio, and was just as thrilled with it the second time through.  Finnikin’s country has seen half of the people in bondage inside the country’s borders and half of the people in exile outside of it.  He is on a quest to come up with a solution of some kind, and he has to take a young novice named Evanjalin with him.  This book has lovely twists and surprises, and it is such a delight.  This second time through (since I knew the ending), I would actually talk aloud to the characters in my car: “Oooooh, you’re gonna regret that later!!” and “Oh man, if you only knew what I knew!!”  I know I’m a nerd.  But it’s pretty awesome when a book can suck you in that much– especially with all its secrets already laid bare.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore | This book was recommended to me by a friend, but others warned me that I wouldn’t like the ending, so I devoured it … but nervously.  I loved the characters in this story about a land where some people are Graced– that is, they have a special skill.  Katsa’s skill is killing– or so she thinks.  She meets Po, another Graceling, and they go to another country in search of a secret.  It is fascinating, and the dialogue is incredible.  Loved this book, even though I read it nervous that I’d hate the ending.  And did I?  No.  Not exactly.  It wasn’t as disappointing as I’d been guessing from the warnings I’d been given.  Still– it is obvious that Cashore is a feminist, and she inserted her beliefs into this book decently, I thought (though I am not a feminist myself).

Fire by Kristin Cashore | This is a companion book to Graceling, although it has a new set of characters, save for one important person.  This. Book. Was. Great.  Wow!!  I think I liked it even better than Graceling— maybe since I could relate better to Fire, the protagonist, than to Katsa.  This book takes place in a kingdom east of the lands where Graceling occurs, in The Dells, a kingdom on the verge of civil war and filled with gorgeous but dangerous “monsters”– monster animals … and even a few monster humans.  Fire is a monster human, with bright orange-red-gold-pink hair that is so beautiful that many people can’t control themselves around her.  She can also read minds and influence them, although she has been careful with her power and guards herself against manipulating others.  She can read almost anyone’s mind … except for Prince Brigan, the younger brother of the king.  When the royal family asks Fire to use her powers to save the kingdom, Fire has to make some big decisions … and she is mysteriously drawn to and scared of Brigan, who looks at her with hate.  I loved these characters– so real, so flawed, so layered.  I love the conversations Cashore creates, and I love the secrets she reveals at strategic times in both this story and Graceling.  This is a must-read.  And while you can read this book without reading Graceling, it is even more fascinating if you have.

Every Day by David Levithan | I have been intending to read this book for so long, and I finally got it on audio from the library (though I purchased the hardcover months ago).  Audiobooks I seem to get through faster, since I use a lot of my free time for writing instead of reading– but you can’t write while driving! 🙂  This. Book. Was. Fascinating.  First there is A, who inhabits a new body every day.  A has done this for 16 years without questioning it too much until one perfect day A spends with Rhiannon.  After that, A wants to spend EVERY day with this girl.  This is a problem, obviously.  I have never read a more gender-bending book in my life– some days A is a girl, some days A is boy, all days A loves Rhiannon.  I just gobbled this book up, could not wait to find out what would happen next.  The ending was PERFECT and unexpected, but I can’t tell you how it made me feel because I want you to experience it for yourself.  Interestingly, the audiobook was read by a girl.  I didn’t know if that was subliminal or not … on the other hand, although A is the protagonist, since A changes bodies daily, Rhiannon’s voice is the most consistent one, so in that sense, it fits that they chose a female reader.  The book was really, really, really good– except for the moments Levithan got on his homosexual soapbox.  Those diatribes interrupted the story and felt as if Levithan were intruding out of nowhere.  The book already makes the reader ask a lot of questions; I didn’t think Levithan needed to provide his own answers.  All that said, though, this is an EXCELLENT book.  I loved it, as in, really, REALLY loved it.  Highly recommend.

 

Currently reading …

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | Got this on audio for Christmas and so am re-reading this one.  Jim Dale is the narrator!!!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore | The sequel to Graceling … I AM LOVING IT!!!  Almost done … review to come.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Just as brilliant the second time around.

 

Up next …

Son by Lois Lowry | The brand-new fourth book in The Giver series!

Divergent by Veronica Roth | It’s about time, right? 🙂

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why you need to read Melina Marchetta’s books

Having just read Gorgon in the Gully, a children’s book by Melina Marchetta that is not available in the United States (thank you, Fishpond!), I can now say that I have read every single one of Marchetta’s books.  And you need to read them too.  Here’s why:

1) The writing is unbelievable.

“Guess what?’ Fitz said.
‘I don’t know,’ Jude said. ‘What? Narnie smiled?’ He glanced at her for the first time.
‘When you guys see a Narnie smile, it’s like a revelation,’ Webb said, gathering her towards him.
Jude stopped in front of her and, with both hands cupping her face, tried to make a smile. Narnie flinched.
‘Leave her alone,’ Tate said.
‘I need a revelation,’ Jude said. ‘And you’re the only one that can give me one, Narns.”

2) The characters are people you want to know in real life.

“We make weird friends,” I say instead.
“I’ve never been into the f-word with people.”
“I’m privileged, then? Why me?”
He thinks for a moment and shrugs again.
“You’re the realest person I’ve ever known.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“It’s fucking awful. There’s not much room for bullshit, and you know how I thrive on it.”

3) The books are laced with wonderful humor.

“…what was it like out there? Kind of describe it to us,” Jessa says, beaming at them and then at me. Trini beams at her and there’s a lot of beaming happening.”

4) You can’t guess what will happen next.

5) She knows how to write about teen romances without being cliche.

Finnikin of the Rock – Sun and Moon
deviantART by ~leabharlann

6) She is consistently good.  Every. Single. Book.

Start with Jellicoe Road.  Then choose Saving Francesca or Finnikin of the Rock, depending on whether you want to stay in Australia or enter a fantasy world.  The Piper’s Son follows Saving Francesca, and Finnikin is the first of a trilogy (Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn round it out).  Looking for Alibrandi was her break-through novel, but it’s probably last on my personal list. Gorgon in the Gully is meant for younger readers.

Every single one of them is like eating an incredible fruit– but all of different flavors.  Her talent is incredible and enviable.