Review: All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is about magic, darkness, and fighting your inner demons. I’m a huge fan of all of Stiefvater’s work, so I went in with excited expectations and wasn’t disappointed! It’s incredibly heartfelt and written in such a whimsical style that you can’t help being addicted to every page.

The story follows three cousins who live on a ranch, Bicho Raro, in Colorado, where their family gives out miracles. The trouble with miracles is that you have to accept your darkness to deal with it, and it often comes out in strange ways. Their world is populated by the weird and wonderful and magical, on a backdrop of deserts in the 1960s. The three teens are: Beatriz, who claim she has no feelings. Then Daniel, who is the resident saint, at 19, and used to be a pure child brat. And then Joaquin is the youngest and he runs an illegal radio station under the name Diablo Diablo (um, don’t tell his family, he’ll be in super big trouble). They watch pilgrims get their miracles all the time, but what happens when Daniel, the only saint who can help them, goes missing?

I loved how magical it was! The miracles are portrayed so interestingly. The Sorias family saints give the miracle and the trick is you have to deal with it yourself. If they help — everything will get dark and worse. Often pilgrims get stuck and are just living on the ranch for months trying to put themselves back together. It’s just accepted that everyone is freaking weird and magical here. Like there are girls entwined with snakes, a giant, someone who gets rained on all the time etc. etc. And everyone is chill with that.

It is written in an omnipresent style, which isn’t typically my favourite, but I loved how it transformed this book into a mythological fairy tale sort of vibe! Weget dozens of POVs and perspectives, from the Sorias to the pilgrims.  I really loved how beautiful, whimsical, and melodic the writing was. It felt so rich and extravagantly magical and the extra perspectives actually made it feel juicy and deep. The story is about miracles, not just the Saints and not just the Pilgrims.

The setting was gorgeous too. I could totally see the ranch and the desert and the box truck. You could taste the dust and see the owls and tumbleweeds!

The characters are just so amazing and complex and different. They are odd little tumble weeds and I loved them. I adored the three Soria cousins and their illegal radio station and their inner darkness. I loved Beatriz who was very firmly convinced she had no feelings and Joaquin who loved his hair and Daniel, the childhood-devil-turned-saint. I loved Pete who loved to work (what the heck is wrong with him though) and was so earnest and pure. And I loved the dogs who wanted to eat everyone alive. #relatable

All The Crooked Saints the kind of story that definitely leaves you wanting more, which is amazing. It’s whimsical and bizarre and addictive. This book is a bit like being told wild dusty folklore stories with black roses and owls with strange eyes and strange box trucks and girls who like boys’ elbows. It’s unusual and it’s slow and it’s pretty and there are SAINTS. It’s every scoop of magic you need in your life.

Reviews – YA fiction addiction

YA stackAccording to teen author, Charmaine Clancy there are a few issues that rate more highly than others for teen readers of YA fiction. These include problems dealing with: sexuality, freedom, relationships and friendships, social power, anger, fear, risk taking, social responsibility and bullying, to name a few.

The following YA titles represent modern day takes on common reoccurring teenage dilemmas, ticking at least one or more of these boxes. They are all highly recommended reads for young people plummeting into puberty and new belief systems as they navigate the next course of their lives. All riveting, well-crafted stories that will leave your nerves tingling, your heartbeat racing, and your tears well and truly jerked. Enjoy!

Intruder Intruder by Christine Bongers

I ripped through this one like a dog on steroids at an agility trial. Terrific. Gutsy, three-dimensional characters displaying equal parts humility, vulnerability, and bravado while tossing around some cracker one-liners people this teenage angst-y tale about losing and finding.

Kat Jones is left exposed and violated after an intruder invades her home. Feeling alone and isolated after the earlier death of her mother, she must rely on her despised next-door neighbour, Edwina, and Hercules, Edwina’s ugly canine companion to overcome her current dread and face her former demons. Fortunately mutt love and new bloke on the block, Al all help to rebuild Kat’s fragile lines of defence.

Christine Bongers writes with dramatic heart and unabashed confidence. Her reference to devils-on-horseback was a marvellous slingshot back into the 70s for me too. Great that teens can be entertained and educated in one fell swoop of the pen. A pure pleasure to read. Teenage somethings will suck this up.

Woolshed Press imprint of Random House June 2014

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain by Steven Herrick

Eleven year-old Jessie is a boy with seemingly insurmountable problems not least of which is accommodating his square-fit self into the round-fit ideals of his communal-based school and community. Local bully, Hunter complicates the mix further until enterprising, Kate rallies with Jessie to ‘Save the Whales’ and inadvertently, Jessie’s sense of humanity and place.

Delightfully, Hunter proves that even the most malignly misunderstood antagonists can be real modern day heroes when ‘some things are too big for (one) boy to solve’ alone.

The conclusion was a little soft and spongy however, a sense of optimism as sweet as bubble bath fug hung about long after the end. Slightly eccentric, more than a little funny, warm, tender, and witty. The back cover blurb does not do this story justice; it meandered on a bit but I don’t think that will stop upper primary aged boys and girls thoroughly enjoying this sometimes acerbic, mostly uplifting read. I certainly did.

UQP May 2014

Sinner Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the fourth book in the immensely popular Shiver series. I can’t comment on the first three having dived into this instalment without preamble or past research, but found it stood proud and solid on its own and at no point whatsoever did I experience any confusion or wonder what had taken place previously in the lives of main protagonists, Cole St Clair and his love interest, Isabel. Like the storyline itself, they and the characters surrounding them are crafted with stinging conviction.

Cole has a secret that only a select few are privy to. He is the epitome of a genius, self-abusing, addictive personality, overachieving rock star whose Achilles heel is Isabel, a girl with a macadamia tough exterior he is desperate to crack. How Cole sheds his former demons and absolves his misdeeds with the help and hindrance of those he meets under the surreal light of California is page-turning material.

Stiefvater masterfully tells Coles and Isabel’s story in a raw and powerful way that often leaves you chuckling at their darkest hours. Thrilling stuff for older teens.

Scholastic Australia August 2014

State of Grace State of Grace by Hilary Badger

‘A utopian rose in a bed of dystopian thorns’ is a fairly accurate description of Hilary Badger’s (aka H.I. Larry of the bestselling Zac Power series) first venture in YA fiction. From the first sentence, an unsettled, creepy air descends upon the reader beautifully obscured by a veil of lush garden-of-Eden idealism. Since her creation, Wren has lived an idyllic life in a perfect paradise with life-loving companions and a deity like no other to worship, Dot.

However, not all is as ‘dotly’ as it seems (per the local non-negative lingo of the inhabitants of Dot’s Paradise). When cracks begin to appear in Wren’s memories and belief system, she and fellow creation, Blaze must decide whether to confront their horrid pasts or succumb to an unreal future.

A disturbing and illuminating combination of our not too distant future lives that rests lightly on friendship, authoritarianism, blind faith, and facing truths. There are zillions of twists, some no bigger or harder to appreciate than a butterfly but most are comfortably homed in a solidly built world thanks to Badger’s bright imagination. 14 + year olds will enjoy the mystifying experience A State of Grace provides.

Hardie Grant Egmont October 2014

 

Inkys 2010 winners announced

The winners of the 2010 Inkys were announced at a special ceremony at the State Library on Thursday.

Lucy Christopher’s Stolen took out the coveted Gold Inky, rewarding an Australian novel, while Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater won the Silver Inky, rewarding a book by an international author.

The shortlist was selected by judges Randa Abdel-Fattah, Broede Carmody, Grace Bell, Esther Crowley and Andrew McDonald. It was then up to the public to decide the winners.

You can view Lucy’s video acceptance speech below.

Interview with Charlotte McConaghy (Part 3)


Sadly, this is the last installment of Charlotte’s interview. If you’ve enjoyed reading what she has to say, why not pop over to her website to check out what she’s up to, before she gets too popular to answer your questions or hear about how much you’re enjoying her novels. If you have a niece (or nephew), daughter, sister, roommate who is craving something now that Twilight is done, I highly recommend Miss McConaghy’s writing. It might just fill the hole left by Edward and Bella. I know it’s a big hole to fill, but still…

Miss McConaghy, do you find that your young age is an advantage or a disadvantage to your ‘author’ status?

I think the thing about writing for a particular audience is… to not write for a particular audience. I don’t set out to write for teens – I just write what I love, and hope that there are people who enjoy it – of course because I’m so young my books naturally fall into the category of young adult readers. I think that a lot of literature for kids really underestimates its target audience because everyone’s so focused on writing for teens, instead of just writing an awesome story for whoever likes it. And yes, I definitely have trouble getting taken seriously in the writing world because I’m almost a teenager myself, but I don’t really mind so much. ‘Status’ isn’t something you can really hope for anyway if your passion is for writing – it’s kind of a hermit’s job – unless you’re JK of course.

Who knows what the future holds! Any authors or books in particular that influenced your writing?

I really love Isobelle Carmody, Melina Marchetta, Guy Gavriel Kay, and have recently just fallen in love with Maggie Stiefvater because of her book Shiver.

What’s the absolute best thing about being published yourself?

Seeing my books in the bookshop, or hearing from people who’ve read either of them and really enjoyed them. That just makes my day.

Best advice for budding writers?

I know its super cliched but don’t ever give up! Finish something! Even if you get to the end and don’t like it, its a really good exercise in discipline to actually finish something you’ve started. Once you’ve got a draft done, make sure its as good as it can be, and then start sending it out. Rejections are an inevitability, but you also never know who might read your stuff and love it. Don’t get disheartened. And the big rule: don’t write something just because it happens to be popular at the time. Write about what you love, and what you’re passionate about. If you stick to that rule, its the most rewarding job in the world. I plan to be doing it for the rest of my life.

So since you’re sticking with writing – what’s in the works for you in the near future?

At the moment I’m working on finishing Book 3, then I’ll get straight into Book 4. Beyond that I’ve also got a few other stand-alone novels which I’d like to publish and release – the more the better! I love working on several things at once so I can jump between them depending on my mood. And of course, the more books I release, the closer I’ll come to being able to live off them. I’m sick of my clothes shop job!

And finally, if you had wings for a day, what would you do with them?

I’d use them to seduce a really cute boy. Wings are irresistible. 😉

Haha, good to know there’s still a bit of the everyday teen in the famous author. Thanks to Charlotte – ’twas a pleasure, and a special thanks to Black Dog Books as well.