25 February 2011

Friday stuff and Items **UPDATED**

This Friday is stuffed full of opportunity!

Here are just some of the things it has to offer:

1) The opportunity to DO GOOD + the opportunity to READ THE SHATTERING BY KAREN HEALEY!

Over at her blog, Karen Healey is offering the chance to win an advance reading copy of The Shattering, her new book, which isn't out until JULY. You can go into the draw by donating to the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

The Shattering is truly excellent. Not only are the three main characters loveable and flawed and strong and interesting, but the book has thrills and adventure; it has mystery and intrigue; it has magic and romance; it is heartbreaking; it is funny.


Ooo look, here is the cover....

And at the SAME TIME you can do good for the people of Christchurch. WIN/WIN!


Don't blame us if you don't get any work done for the rest of the day.

3) The opportunity to VIEW THIS LOLCAT...


"Every girl in publishing should own at least one pair of 'mint-green lounging pyjamas'."

24 February 2011

We're thinking of you

Everyone in Christchurch,
and everyone with family and friends there -
we're thinking of you.

Blue bird by Chris McKimmie

23 February 2011

A list of great beauty

And it really is a gorgeous thing.


Best Designed Children's Cover
Design by Bruno Herfst and Elise Hurst

Best Designed Children's Fiction Book
Cover illustration by Sebastian Ciaffalgione

The Best Designed Children’s Picture Book
The Vegetable Ark by Kim Kane and Sue deGennaro
Design by Bruno Herfst, Illustrations by Sue deGennaro

The Best Designed Young Adult Book
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Cover design and illustration by Lisa White

The Best Designed Children’s Series
Design by Sandra Nobes and Leigh Hobbs

The Moorehawke Trilogy by Celine Kiernan
Design by Bruno Herfst and Elise Hurst

And what's that you say? *modest cough* Why yes, I do believe that the whole Best Designed Fiction Book category is made up entirely of A&U books. Good work, Mothership team!

Congratulations everyone! And special cheers for our own Emily O'Neill, who has been nominated for Young Designer of the Year.

Thank you all for making us look so good all the time.

18 February 2011

Books, books, books

It seems like a good time to celebrate the joy of story in general, and the book in particular. Well, yes, it's true, we never stopped celebrating the joy of the book, but, you know, it's a bit like celebrating the joy of cake. Any excuse.

So here's a list of reasons to go out and get your hands on a good book, quicksmart.

1. The weekend is almost upon us and it looks as though many of us are in for a wet and woolly weekend - and the best thing about a wet, woolly weekend? It's a perfect excuse to curl up somewhere comfortable, listen to the rain on the roof, and read, read, read.

Thanks to BOM for keeping us in the loop.

2. Books in bookcases. You know what we mean. Especially those bookcases that line a whole wall. And if they have a ladder, well, they have us at hello. Even unread books have a place in the bookcase. And you know how when you go to someone's house for the very first time, it is almost impossible not check out their bookcases.

Of course, this can lead to awkward moments when you fail to follow the conversation because your eyes are roving the shelves and have lingered too long on that copy of the book you love, love, love and you thought no one else in the world cared about it, but there it is on the shelf and you can't look away, and it looks as though it has been well-loved, but perhaps it was purchased second-hand and was well-loved by someone else, perhaps it was even your copy that you lent to that friend you no longer keep in touch with, perhaps it has found its way back to you...

Oh, what were you saying? Oh, yes. Yes, I'm sorry, I was distracted by your wonderful books...

3. Effortless travel. No tickets to book. No packing. No passport. No airports. No foreign currency. No long-haul flights with scary strangers who want to talk all the way to your destination. No unfamiliar ablution facilities.

Novels or non-fiction. They can spirit us off to places familiar or unknown, anticipated or pined-for. So many opportunities for effortless and amazing overseas adventure - especially if you are a big chicken.

4. Being Here by Barry Jonsberg

What a thrill it was when we first read the manuscript of Barry Jonsberg's new novel Being Here - and now it's a very handsome book so everyone else can read it too. Hooray! Being Here is a wonderful novel about a girl who loves books, and seeks solace in story when the challenging reality of her own life overwhelms her - and her retreat into her imaginative life is well-rewarded. It's tender, clever, funny, a little heartbreaking, beautifully written, and ultimately a celebration of storytelling.

But don't just take our word for it. Here's a snippet of what the Australian Bookseller & Publisher said:
Along with Carly, the reader is drawn into the story of Leah's childhood - even as she points out the various narrative devices she is using (cliff-hangers, plot twists). Carly is kept interested with the promise of murder and betrayal. Jonsberg's writing is as beautiful as ever and Leah's love of language is perfectly conveyed to the reader - this book is in part a tribute to the art and power of a story.
Ah, yes, the power of story. Even better than a super-power.

11 February 2011

Friday Stuff and Item

Did you know you can WIN a copy of the awesomely awesome Pink over at Lili Wilkinson's blog.
It's the US hardback edition. Fancy!

This puts me in mind of a word game I used to play with my US family on long road trips.
It's called Stinky Pinky* and here's how it goes:
  1. Think of a two-word rhyming phrase. eg 'Stinky pinky'
  2. Give everyone a two-word (or thereabouts) description of that phrase. eg 'Smelly finger'
  3. Everyone tries to guess the rhyming phrase from just the description.
  4. The person who guesses correctly gets to go next
The more syllables in the rhyming phrase the better.
  • One-syllable 'stink pinks' (Description: amphibious web-diary, Answer: frog blog) are relatively easy.
  • Two-syllable 'stinky pinkies' (Description: cool primate, Answer: funky monkey) are more advanced.
  • But the most coveted of all is the a three-syllable 'stinkety pinkety'. (Description: ever-young vicar, Answer: peter-pan preacher-man)
Sometimes two people will come up with different but possible answers (Description: Imitation baked-good. Answer: fake cake OR faux gateau). Then you can fight about who gets to go next all the way to your destination. Good times. good times.

So, here are a few Pink stinky pinkies** for your Friday afternoon entertainment:

Theatre tantrum
Protagonist rescuer
Mountainous author

* If you've played it before - yay! If not, bear with us, it's not what you're probably thinking.
**We will provide answers to the Pink stinky pinkies. But not till Monday.

09 February 2011

How Sweet It Is

In an unexpected, but by no means unwelcome, departure from her usual cakery, the Cake-Maker Virtuoso has been cooking her way through this:

Every few days the biscuit jar in the kitchen is filled up with new morsels of deliciousness. Chocolate, date, peanut butter - such much! And the speed at which they disappear is bordering on scary.

In honour of the all the lovely sweet nothings we are being spoiled with, and because it's coming up to Valentines Day, here are some of our favourite literary romances.

Sabriel and Touchstone, Sabriel by Garth Nix
Romance is not high on Sabriel's list of important things to worry about now that her father, the Abhorsen, is dead and so is basically everyone else around her - only not dead enough, most of them. It also doesn't feature in her impressive list of past accomplishments. But then there's this handsome young man with a curse on him, and the poor thing desperately needs her help, and one thing leads to... a scene in an inn where Sabriel thinks Touchtstone is, ahem, having it off with someone in the next room - GENIUS!

Tom and Alice, Somebody's Crying by Maureen McCarthy
It's wrong in some fairly major ways. Wrong, and yet so right. The chemistry between them is extraordinary. The scene where he's developing photos of her in a dark room (A DARK ROOM, people) and she comes in - but he has a cold and his nose is blocked and... and... KISSING!

Jem & Mackenzie, Always McKenzie by Kate Constable
Jem is an Invisible Girl. Mackenzie is a Golden Girl. And at school camp they solemnly swear never, ever to be friends, as long as they both shall live. And we all know what tends to happen when rash statements like that are made...

Katniss and Gale... and Peeta, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
We are Team Both! They each give her such different things. She needs both in her life. We, the reader, need both in her life. What if, in the new world order, Katniss shacked up with Gale AND Peeta? Gale would hunt, Peeta would cook and Katniss would be the president of Panem, coming home to have her... um... feet rubbed.

Amelia and Chris, The Good Oil by Laura Buzo
She's young and inexperienced and head-over-heels. He is a bit older and a good bit more streetwise, but a bit lost and a good bit infuriatingly attractive. The shifting viewpoint of this novel lets you see both sides of this relationship - and boy is that interesting!

Anna and Flynn, About A Girl by Joanne Horniman
What happens when bookish, daydreaming Anna gets her girl, Flynn, a rock chick gleaming with light and danger? Uncertainty and heartbreak, that's what. But such beautiful, wistful heartbreak to read about rather than live through. There are teapots, and guitars with names, and shabby share-house twilit kitchens with cats and bowls of apples on tables, and mother-of-pearl buttons that stand in for kisses like in Peter Pan, and real kisses, most tender ones...

Leah and Adam, Being Here by Barry Jonsberg
She has a powerful imagination and is lonely and lives on an isolated farm with a puritanical mother. He has scuffed boots, wild hair and a sense of adventure. They meet in the orchard. And what happens next is extraordinary.

Anna and St Clair, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
He's French-American with a British accent and great hair. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?

Guy Bennet (Rupert Everett) and James Harcourt (Cary Elwes). Another Country by Julian Mitchell, directed by Marek Kanievska
1930s British public school. There is sneaking out of the boarding house in the middle of the night to recline together in boats. There is secret Public School Business. There is conspiracy. There is trouble. But there is also '... a little hollow at the base of his throat which makes me want to pour honey all over him, and lick it off.'
Oh my.

Margaret Mahy excels at good romance:
Laura Chant and Sorenson Carlisle, The Changeover - She remakes herself. He learns to be a better him. Together they are pretty much invincible. He has some rather odd romantic notions, but Laura gives him what-for, and gets to ride on his motor scooter.
Angela and Tycho, The Catalogue of the Universe - She is better looking than any person has any right to be. He is... not so much. But he knows about the stars; he is brave and true. And that makes all the difference.
Harry and all those Carnival brothers, The Tricksters - It's a little bit muddy exactly who they are. It's a little bit cloudy what they might be. But their magnetism is crystal clear.

And, of course, a bit of JA:
Lizzie and Darcy, Pride and Prejudice - NOTHING FURTHER , YOUR HONOUR.
Marianne and Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility - even though (or maybe because) he is BAD.
Elinor and Edward, Sense and Sensibility - oh wub.

Georgette Heyer
One Onion has only just dipped her toe in the crystalline stream of romance that apparently flowed from Georgette Heyer's pen. She read The Nonesuch and thoroughly enjoyed it.
What next?

Okay - so that's just a very small sampling. What else? What is compulsory Valentines Day reading?

03 February 2011

Riveted cat is riveted

Many thanks to Marissa Baker for this magnificent photo.

01 February 2011

Introducing... Karen Wood

We are nickering and neighing for joy to be introducing the fabulous, multi-talented Karen Wood!

While we celebrate her arrival by galloping up and down the stairs on our resident bay mare,* what better way to usher Karen into the House than to offer her very own Vivid Recollection:
I have a vivid recollection of hanging out the window of a big horse truck, waving to my parents as they ran down the road after me yelling, 'Get out of that truck, young lady! You're not going anywhere! You haven't even finished school!'

I ran away with my horse, Robby, to do show jumping. I worked with some hugely talented riders and got to ride some of the best horses in the country. I travelled from show to show and lived in the back of a truck like a gypsy having a wild old time, much to my parents' dismay.

See, that's talent, right there. Keeping that red jacket and white show-jumping shirt immaculately pressed and those tall boots polished to a mirror-like shine while living in the back of a truck and having a wild time? Respect.

Karen was persuaded to develop her other 'more responsible' talents, which included horticulture and an MBA (which she promises to finish one day**), but her love for the colourful world of horses would not be quietened for long. Next stop: campdrafting, which is slightly less focused on ironed shirts and spotless jodhpurs, but still wild fun camping in the backs of trucks.

As Karen has lashings of talent and boundless energy, last month saw Diamond Spirit, the first of her mighty horse trilogy, canter through the House paddock gate, with the second, Moonstone Promise, and third, Opal Dreaming, snorting at its heels in February and March.

Karen's feisty, funny, asparagus-loving and utterly charming characters have captured the hearts of real horseriding people as well as the rest of us in our city abodes who dream of escaping the concrete and bitumen on a midnight-black steed.

* She's lovingly known as Broomy, and is stabled in the corner of the kitchen down beside the fridge.
** We promise not to hold you to that promise, Karen. More horse stories, on the other hand...