Australia

Guest Post: Small Things Become Big in Markus Zusak's I Am the Messenger

Guest Post: Small Things Become Big in Markus Zusak's I Am the Messenger

 

Note: This is a guest post from CEFS reader Anushree Nande, who blogs at Lost in Translation, and wrote this stellar tribute to Friday Night Lights aka The Greatest Television Show of All Time for Sabotage Times.

Interested in writing a guest post for Clear Eyes, Full Shelves? Drop Sarah a line!

My love for Markus Zusak is a very well documented fact (you can read my reviews for his other books here and here), so you can imagine my delight at receiving a reply to my tweet about his I Am The Messenger (simply The Messenger for the Australian editions).

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a few years now but couldn’t get around to before. In the mean time, I had managed to read Zusak’s The Book Thief, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting The Girl and fall in love with his prose. Hence it was with a lot of (perhaps unfair) expectations that I started this book, and it says a lot about the quality that I didn’t feel let down. There were a few disappointing bits but we’ll get to that later. 

Read the rest--> 

 

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Review: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati

Review: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati

Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati explores the double life of Ditty, a young Haredi Jew, when she discovers the beautiful world of ballet and the passion it invokes in her. Along with this passion the darkness of an invisible wall of fundamentalist religion held together by the rigidity of her family and community.

Bavati breathes life into Ditty's dream of dancing and the depth of deceit she had to descend into to bring her passion for dance into reality.

As a young girl, Ditty happens upon a DVD of The Nutcracker while watching television in a forbidden venue--her dear friend's mother had surreptitiously purchased a television that she hides far back in her closet. Ditty could not turn herself away from the transfixing dance before her.

The movements seemed to ripple through me as my  body flowed to the music, and my spirits lifted. I felt vulnerable and vibrant and intensely alive, bursting with feeling I hadn't know existed, couldn't name.

The  television and DVD player opens a door to another world.  Ditty and her friend become enamored with the life that spread before them. Ditty, at twelve begins to question the dictates of her faith that should, according to her religious parents and community, fill her with all the happiness and joy she could want.

But what, I wondered now, did they actually mean? I knew what I'd been taught – that happiness wasn't something a Jew should strive for, it was a bonus that came from keeping the laws and strictures that had been passed down from one generation to the next.

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Kirsty Eagar's Books Come to the U.S.

Am I worried about the future? I don’t know. When I think of the word it’s like seeing a cavity, a space where a tooth used to be.
— Kirsty Eagar, Raw Blue
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar - Made of 100% Awesome

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar - Made of 100% Awesome

Today marks a momentous occasion.

Brilliant Australian writer Kirsty Eagar's books are now much more accessible to readers in the United States, thanks to the ebooks finally appearing in the U.S. Kindle and Kobo stores.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Raw Blue and Saltwater Vampires when the Kobo store had their shop misconfigured and they had no geo-restrictions (I bought so many incredible foreign books during that three-month time period). I haven't had the chance to read Night Beach yet, but I'm so excited to read it now that it's available for Kindle.

Eagar's books stand out because because of the brilliant characterization and rich settings. I wrote a bit about Raw Blue in the early days of CEFS. 

Sadly, it doesn't appear that they're available for Nook yet (BN seems slow to populate their store), but Nook users can buy epubs from Kobo and side-load them onto their Nooks.

If you have an ereader or tablet, Eagar's books should go to the top of your to-read list. Start with Raw Blue, even if you're not usually a contemporary fiction reader; it's a special book, one that won't likely leave you long after you've read the last page.

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Cover Chat: Love in the Years of Lunacy

I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the Australian and U.S. editions of Mandy Sayer’s Love in the Years of Lunacy. 

First the original Australian cover from Allen & Unwin:

Cover Chat: Love in the Years of Lunacy - Australian Edition

Cover Chat: Love in the Years of Lunacy - Australian Edition

And the U.S. version from Atria/Simon & Schuster:

Cover Chat: Love in the Years of Lunacy - U.S. Edition

Cover Chat: Love in the Years of Lunacy - U.S. Edition

It’s interesting, the image is essentially the same in terms of the scene depicted, but the covers feel so, so different.

Having read the book, I far prefer the Australian cover, because it better depicts the feeling of James and Pearl’s relationship, the isolation because of the many obstacles to their being together. There’s also a sense of in the moment wistfulness in the female model’s expression that works in the context of the story. 

The U.S. cover also does not make it as obvious that James is African-American, as the Aussie cover does, which is disappointing. Also, in the U.S. edition, the female model’s hands are really, really small, which kind of creeps me out, but that’s more of a personal thing than a real criticism. 

In general, the details are more vague in the U.S. version, which seems to be a trend in this sort of book (it shares a similar look to a lot of Harlequin’s “women’s fiction” novels). 

Which do you prefer, the American or Aussie version?

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