KOALA Awards 2013

The young adult shortlist for 2013 KOALA Awards

Fiction for Years 7 to 9


The Phoenix Files: Contact by Chris Morphew (Hardie Grant)


The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (Pan Macmillan)

After by Morris Gleitzman (Penguin)

Find out more about KOALA – the NSW children’s choice book awards – at the KOALA Awards website. Meanwhile, start thinking about your favourite Australian books of the past year. Nominations for the 2014 awards begin in the new school year.

CBCA Shortlist 2012

The following books are part of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s, Older Readers Shortlist.

  • Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, by Michael Gerard Bauer
  • A Straight Line to my Heart, by Bill Condon
  • The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky
  • The Dead I Know, by Scot Gardner
  • Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool, by Andrew McGahan
  • When We Were Two, by Robert Newton

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel – Michael Gerard Bauer:

The author’s website provides numerous great reviews an information about the author.


There is also an interesting fan made trailer of the book.

A Straight Line to my Heart – Bill Condon:

Information  for this book is contained within this website.


The Golden Day – Ursula Dubosarsky:

The book Trailer for the Golden Day gives some information about the story and the author.

There is also a website which provides a variety of information.


Know – Scot Gardner

See the link below for a previous post on this book

       The Dead I Know      

Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool – Andrew McGahan

See this link to a previous post on this book.

       The Coming of the Whirlpool      

When We Were Two – Robert Newton

Also, see this link to a previous post on this book.

       When we were two      



Book of the Week

Dirty Money: the true cost of Australia’s Mineral Boom by Matthew Benns

I recently attended a presentation at Mosman Library to hear Matthew Benns talk about his latest book Dirty Money. This was quite an eye-opener to me to listen to stories of possible greed, corruption and even murder in the pursuit of mining opportunities both here and overseas.

Matthew is an investigative journalist for the Australian Sun-Herald.

Read his book and balance it against the images that are popularly portrayed in the media, by the Government and the mining companies themselves.

Mosman Library, The Orpheum and Pages and Pages Booksellers in Mosman, have an inspiring line-up of authors throughout the year. Keep aware of what is on offer at the following website.



BOW factor: 8/10



The Website of the week, Neat new

Neat New

A useful site put together by Marylaine Block, a Librarian in the US.  Explore Marylaine’s collection of the latest new websites that she has chosen with a view to reliability and depth of information. This is just one of many resources that can point you to the latest websites available.

For all the latest Tech updates, take a look at Techjunkeez.com


WOW factor: 9/10



My Interesting App of the Week– Weird but True

Weird But True

Keep your children or grandchildren amused educationally during the holidays by purchasing this informative app from national Geographic.  Good for “kids” of any age!

You can even rate the weirdness of each fact. Over 300 fascinating facts to discover.

Cost is $1.99

MIAOW factor: 8/10

AND – a bonus app this week      QI Lite for iphone

 Q1 Lite

Based on the facts presented on the fabulous QI show on the ABC. You can also share facts with others who have downloaded the app.



Book of the Week

The lady and the peacock by Peter Popham

From the blurb….


“Peter Popham’s major new biography of Aung San Suu Kyi draws upon previously untapped testimony and fresh revelations to tell the story of a woman whose bravery and determination have captivated people around the globe. Celebrated today as one of the world’s greatest exponents of non-violent political defiance since Mahatma Gandhi, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize only four years after her first experience of politics. In April 1988, Suu Kyi returned from Britain to Burma to nurse her sick mother but, within six months, found herself the unchallenged leader of the largest popular revolt in her country’s history. When the party she co-founded won a landslide victory in Burma’s first free elections for thirty years, she was already under house arrest and barred from taking office by the military junta. Since then, ‘The Lady’ has set about transforming her country ethically as well as politically, displaying dazzling courage in the process. Under house arrest for 15 of the previous 20 years, she has come close to being killed by her political enemies and her commitment to peaceful revolution has come at extreme personal cost. In November 2010, after fraudulent elections in which she played no part, Suu Kyi was again freed. She was greeted by ecstatic crowds but only time will tell what role this remarkable woman will have in the future of her country.”We can now add to her remarkable journey with her recent electoral victory.


BOW factor: 9/10


The Website of the week, Technology explained

Technology Explained

A very clear explanation of various technologies such as streaming, downloading and podcasting as well as useful information about home media centres, mobile platforms, protecting your privacy online and how to use ABC iview.

WOW factor: 8/10



My Interesting App of the Week– OmniDazzle



Give your presentations a zing with this free app. It follows your mouse pointer around the screen giving amazing special effects.

Features include pixie dust (turns your mouse pointer into a virtual magic wand); flashlight- can change intensity and colour (used by Tori Potts from Beyond Chalk in her presentation last term); cutout (highlight areas of the screen in different shapes); scribble; bullseye (control the sixe, number of rings, colours and aim before you click); waves (form ripples around your curser); comic (gives sound effects- Pow, blam, etc); footprints (leave a curser trail); zoom (click to magnify a section of the screeen to a full screen)

MIAOW factor: 9/10





Book of the Week

Saltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar




On 29 May we are hosting a King’s Literature Festival and one of the authors presenting on that day is Kirsty Eagar, coming to talk to Year 9, 10 and 11 students. She has written 3 novels, Raw Blue, Saltwater Vampires and her latest novel, released on April 30, Night Beach. I managed to find a copy of Saltwater Vampires in the Moranbah Public Library of all places during the last holidays but didn’t quite finish the book before I left and had to return it. I had to wait until our own copy arrived from the bookseller this term. I have literally just finished it at 6.30am today. It is certainly gripping, although not my usual taste in books. Vampires and surfing are not really my thing. It does have a touch of history however with the origins of the story revolving around the wreck of the Batavia in 1629, but there the historical reality ends. I hope!

Jamie Mackie and his friends are engaged in a life or death struggle against four vampires to ensure the survival of patrons of the local music festival in Rocky Head on New Year’s Eve and to also save themselves from becoming immortal vampires.

There is so much blood in this novel that you become desensitised to it within a few chapters of the book. The characters are engrossing and the plot is detailed and riveting with an intriguing ending leaving the potential for a sequel.


  BOW factor: 9/10



ABC Arts: 10 Aussie Books to read before you die


Aussie Books

As part of the celebrations for The National Year of Reading this year, the ABC has launched a competition to select the top 10 Aussie books from a shortlist of 50 selected by famous Australians from sport, politics, and entertainment.  Your vote will count!  Winners will be announced on the First Tuesday Book Club on December 4 on ABC1. You may also win a copy of the ten books selected.

WOW factor: 8/10



My Interesting App of the Week this week is Caffeine Zone 2 

Caffeine Zone

This app monitors and predicts caffeine levels in your body and can let you know your best cognitive zone, most active zone and best sleep zone. It assists you to use caffeine products wisely and effectively for optimum health.

Cost:  $0.99

MIAOW factor: 7/10

Coming of the Whirlpool

The Coming of the WhirlpoolThe Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dow is born to be a woodcutter, being the eldest son, but finds his excitement quickly dulled once he begins his apprenticeship. But then he climbs to the headland on the edge of the forest and views the ocean for the first time. He is memsmerised – even more so when he sights great ships in the distance. But what use is a passion for the sea when you live in a village on the edge of the forest? And, what’s more, where would such a notion come from?

Andrew McGahan has written a pleasing new world where these questions pose very difficult problems for Dow. Difficult, but not impossible. And even when it seems he will be able to follow a life which at least aproximates his heart’s desire, unthoughtof barriers arise. New Island is his home. It was once a strong naval community, but has generations hence lost the right to pursue a life on the seas. Now the people work to provide tribute to the Ship Kings – the nation that has ruled the seas since the Great War, generations ago. A life at sea is in fact forbidden to New Islanders.

The travails of Dow provide for an original and engaging story. I did find that the middle section of the novel spent too long on too few incidents, yet by the end I was immediately hoping that McGahan’s publishers would get that second volume of Ship Kings out quick smart.

View all my reviews

The Dead I Know

The Dead I Know The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first person narrative begins as Aaron Rowe has just been taken on as a trainee at a funeral home run by a good soul, John Bolt, who is willing to give him a go. We only know that Aaron is leaving school to take the job and that he has not been happy for a long time. He is quiet and wary but compliant. He seems to have no hopes. But immediately he finds a sense of purpose and calm in the job of being an undertaker’s assistant. He is comfortable with and respectful of death, but fearful of emotion. How has a young person come to this?

At home we find Aaron lives in a caravan with Mam – his mother, grandmother, guardian? Mam is loving but disoriented, confused, a danger to herself and perhaps to Aaron also. But he copes. There are other dangers in the caravan park – some dodgy neighbours who are threatening the delicate balance of Aaron’s life. Then there are the nightmares – every night for a very long time – and the sleepwalking. The nightmares seem related to Aaron working in the funeral business, but is there more? There sure is.

In The Dead I Know Gardner has written a poignant picture of a young man under all sorts of pressure, fighting for his life in a world that can be cold and lonely. But Aaron is also intelligent, caring and resilient. But for how much longer can he succeed in balancing this tottering load?

My only frustration with this book was that the backstory is kept a secret for longer than was comfortable. There was obviously more to the story but it wasn’t really revealed till very late. Perhaps this discomfort is a sign of the power of the story, but I felt very disturbed by Aaron’s predicament and would still have had I known a little more a little sooner. Highly recommended.

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Sea Hearts

Sea HeartsSea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sea Hearts is the story of an island community where seals frequent the seas and beaches. But there are some people – women, witches – who are born with a special affinity for and power over the seals. The old stories of the seal wives – women who have shed their seal skins and married fishermen – are made real on Rollrock Island. And it seems a man once entranced by a seal woman cannot be released. Or does not wish to be released – why else lock away the seal skins, thus preventing the women returning to the sea?

Lanagan teases out the consequences of this choice. Can it be considered a choice at all if it is an enchantment? Who has the power – the witch, the women, the men? And what of the children of these unions? Lanagan tells her story from the points of view of several of the children over several generations, culminating in a surprising turn of events, and a redemption of sorts.

A beautifully rendered telling of an old tale made new. Highly recommended.

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