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Sarah's Library

I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad).  The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.

Currently reading

The Last Honeytrap
Louise Lee
Progress: 100/346 pages
Complete Works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

Top Drawer: A Collection of Short Stories by Alan Baillie (editor)

Top Drawer: A Collection of Short Stories - Allan Baillie

28/6 - I think this was a school book of my brother's, I've certainly never read it before, which I would have if it had been one of mine. This will definitely be a 'donate to the library' book when I've finished it, but I've got moderately high hopes for my level of enjoyment while reading as it features stories from some of Australia's top authors for young adults. To be continued...


29/6 - As this is a collection of short stories, I'll review them as I read them.

Sixty Minutes by Allan Baillie. This was really good, really interesting. A very unique take on death and the afterlife.

A Perfectly Lovely Time by Robin Klein. Sweet little Laura and her fantastical tales of sinister tree spirits, hemlock masquerading as tasty watercress, and more reminded quite strongly of Luna Lovegood and her similarly disturbing tales of supposedly mythical creatures that, according to her father aren't mythical at all.

Eyes Knows by Paul Jennings. A familiar story of not letting luck run your life, of making your own choices, told through the eyes of a young boy going through the divorce of his parents.

The Boy Who Wouldn't Get Out of the Pool by Libby Gleeson. Cute little story about the dangers of not listening to all those warnings your parents give you about not overindulging in your favourite pastimes - you're going to turn into a book if you don't stop reading so much.

Only Ten by Allan Baillie. A poignant, and timely, tale of a child refugee living with the memories and scars of war.

After reading the first five stories I've added a star to my rating. I'm enjoying this as much as I hoped I would, but more than I realistically expected. To be continued...


30/6 - Up Taree Way by Libby Hawthorne. This is the first (and possibly only) story that could only be set in Australia, all the previous stories are set in a generic town or suburb that could be anywhere. It was an interesting story about knowing who you are, who your people are and not being ashamed of it, but it felt unfinished. The reader's left with a number of big questions regarding the motivation of one of the characters, and because we don't know why she left her family and felt she had to hide their existence from everyone around her, it leaves the ending open and the reader guessing.

Foragers by Lee Harding. When I realised that this was a post apocalyptic dystopian story I immediately assumed I would love it because that's a favourite genre of mine. Unfortunately this was at the bottom of the pile for me. I really disliked the way the narrator talked about Brenda's disfigured face (the word ugly was used a couple of times) and didn't get the 'message' as clearly as in the other stories - of course there's a message, these are young adult short stories that were considered worthy of being a set school book, this kind of book always has a message, it's just a matter of being able to hear it through all the background noise.

A Husband for Jubilinka by Kate Walker. As I read past the halfway mark I almost immediately noticed the drop in the quality of stories. A Husband for Jubilinka was a very short, short story about a girl from an Aboriginal tribe who's intended groom dies, leaving her without a husband and subject to mockery from the other women of the tribe. Jubilinka is eleven and at no tome later is it mentioned that she has aged - not a favourite theme of mine, child brides. After the death of her first husband-to-be another one comes along, but he is not satisfactory to Jubilinka due to being very young (not sure if that means younger than her, or simply younger than her first husband-to-be), clumsy, and weaker than the majority of other potential husbands of the tribe. To get out of having to marry him (not because she's only eleven, but because he's a weak hunter) she tricks him into killing a brolga. The brolga is the spirit of the people of the tribe, so killing one is enough to get husband-to-be sent number two sent home, but tales of Jubilinka's intelligence and ingenuity attract another 'lad' from the tribe and he comes running, eager to meet her. Due to cultural differences, although I don't think that excuses anything, I found the subject matter of child brides a bit unpalatable and that coloured my feeling about the whole story.

Making Waves by Jenny Pausacker and Nancy Peck. This one was a bit boring and clearly written a long time ago. When they were discussing money it was tuppence and shillings and the only time a date was mentioned it was 1950, which was sometime prior to the events of the book, but it couldn't be too far back because the child remembering the events is still a child. Nothing much happened and in the few scenes where some excitement could have eventuated, the characters did what would now be considered unusual and diffused any tense situations, leaving the scene to fizzle out. A bit disappointing really.

The Owl Boy and the Goddess Athene by Gillian Rubenstein. This was a weird one. If I hadn't known any better, plotwise, I could have been convinced that a 14-year-old boy wrote this. It read a bit like the start of a teenage boy's wet dream, only it had a sting in the tail instead of a happy ending. A boy meets a Greek goddess, who he recognises as such due to English class. He knows how dangerous a Greek goddess can be and does his best not to anger her. Other people fail to recognise her power and aren't careful of her mercurial moods, these mistakes result in them getting turned into various inanimate objects as punishment. Unfortunately for Grant (real name Ulysses, which he uses to get an in with Athene, a move that ultimately backfires) Athene meets the girl of his dreams, Affie (short for Aphrodite, apparently) and immediately mistakes her for her namesake, an arch rival of Athene's, and turns her into a houseplant. When given the chance to make one wish, Ulysses is finally smart and makes the one wish that a tricky Greek goddess can't corrupt and turn to her own purposes, that everything would go back to the way it was before she arrived.

A Secret Place by Victor Kelleher returns us to the higher quality of the first half of the collection. Kelleher is quite a well known (internationally as well as more locally) YA author whose books have become very popular and well-regarded. A Secret Place is a good example of his high quality of work. This was a bit Gary Paulsen's Hatchet but in a more condensed version. A boy is travelling with his father when their plane crashes in the Australian bush and the boy has to survive, mostly on his own as his father is injured and becomes sick with fever. Fortunately, the plane is coincidentally well-stocked with supplies that allow the boy to catch fish, light a fire, build a shelter for the fire and a raft for a possible escape down the river (which is not particularly successful, but fortunately the rescue arrives before they are forced to rely on it).

A collection of Australian YA short stories that is well worth the read.