GUESS WHAT GUYS. It’s Australia Day today! For Top Ten Tuesday this week, I’ll be honouring my love for this wonderful piece of land down under. ❤
I moved to Australia twice in my life: once when I was six (to Perth!) for a year, and then again when I was eighteen (to Melbourne!) for university. It’s not without flaws, but this is the country that has given me my independence, shaped a huge chunk of my personality, and produced many people that I have come to love and care about. I adore it to bits and pieces, so here are ten books that are either set in Australia and/or written by Australian authors!
1) Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.
Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
Saving Francesca is one of my childhood reads.
2) Stolen – Lucy Christopher
Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?
The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.
Stolen is different. Read it, love it.
3) Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the no-nonsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.
Looking for Alibrandi is a coming-of-age book that I think really feels like a teenager’s book as it deals with various issues to do with that stage of life. Sex, boys, parents, school, friends… it’s all there.
4) Wildwood Dancing – Juliet Marillier
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
Somewhat based on Twelve Dancing Princesses and involves elements of other fairytales. I read Wildwood Dancing for a book report back in Grade 9 and my teacher deducted marks because he thought the story has satanic elements (I went to a very devoted Christian school).
5) Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier
For Paula, accompanying her merchant father on a trading voyage to Istanbul is a dream come true. They have come to this city of trade on a special mission to purchase a most rare artifact—a gift from the ancient goddess, Cybele, to her followers. It’s the only remnant of a lost, pagan cult.
But no sooner have they arrived when it becomes clear they may be playing at a dangerous game. A colleague and friend of Paula’s father is found murdered. There are rumors of Cybele’s cult reviving within the very walls of Istanbul. And most telling of all, signs have begun to appear to Paula, urging her to unlock Cybele’s secret.
Cybele’s Secret is the sequel to Wildwood Dancing. Less cliched as I think at this point, the story is no longer inspired by any sort of fairytale (that I know of).
6) The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Yes, The Book Thief is still on my TBR. Has been for literally years. I have never seen a bad review for it.
7) Life in Outer Space – Melissa Keil
Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.
Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies… but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.
This one is on my TBR too. I know where to get it (the library has it, thankfully!) but review copies keep taking priority so this keeps being pushed down the TBR pile. Sorry, Melissa Keil. D:
8) The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Meet Don Tillman. Don is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. One thing he already knows, though, is that it’s not Rosie. Absolutely, completely, definitely not.
I can’t escape any Australia-related book talk without mentioning Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, one of my favourite books of all time. It’s the book we talk about a lot in my publishing classes as it had a stellar marketing strategy!
9) How A Moth Becomes A Boat – Josephine Rowe
A person will go blind if they stare at the sun for too long. She learnt this when she was very young and tried to reverse the process by turning her face towards the warmth of it and waiting. Wondering what people who were not blind dreamed about.
A father teaches his daughter how to break whiskey bottles.
A woman looks for an old lover in a satellite photograph.
A man finds the voice of his dead wife on an unlabelled cassette tape.
A blind girl dreams about the taste of the moon.
I’ve mentioned time and time again about Rowe’s writing: it’s short, it’s beautiful, and it’s often lyrical. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at one of my creative writing classes, and while I barely remember what was actually said (this illustrates my general feeling towards school now that I’ve graduated), her writing has an impact on how I, in turn, approach mine.
10) Zac and Mia – A. J. Betts
“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.”
So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.
Zac and Mia is a recent read and has been hailed as the Australian version of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Now, I’m actually not a big fan of John Green’s writing, so I was pleased when I discovered these books are actually not that similar. Review coming up… eventually. 😛
Have you read any of these books? What’s your Top Ten Tuesday topic today? Leave me a link and I’ll check it out. ❤