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Posts from the ‘YA’ Category


#AWW 2019 Victorian Literary Best YA Novel

  • Author Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
  • Title: Catching Teller Crow
  • Genre: ghost story (speculative fiction)
  • Reading time:  2 hrs  40 min
  • Published: 2019
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters 
  • Trivia:  2019 Winner Aurealis Award  Best Young Adults Novel
  • Trivia: 2019  Winner Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Best Writing for Young Adults.



  1. A ghost girl who is staying with her father while he grieves.
  2. In doing so, she begins to help him with a murder mystery.



  1. The hook is the concept  that Officer Teller’s
  2. assistant while investigating a series of murders
  3. …is his daughter’s…ghost!
  4. Another hook is the witness’s statement that
  5. “This thing didn’t start with the fire…It started at sunset” (pg 24)
  6. And who is Tansy Webster and her angels?  Wings flapping? (pg 94)
  7. Now readers are turning pages
  8. ….curious….tension!



  1. Loss of a loved one and the stages of mourning or
  2. grief are overriding themes.
  3. Injustice towards the Aboriginal people
  4. …is also a strong theme.


Parallels: Mike Teller vs Derek Bell

  1. Both Officer Michael Teller (Beth’s Dad) and
  2. Officer Derek Bell grew up in small town and
  3. their fathers were also cops!
  4. Gerry Bell and  Officer Teller sr.


Parallels:  Father and daughter –>  epiphany moments (pg 132)

  1. Both Beth (daughter) and  Mike Teller (father) have
  2. epiphany moments:
  3. Beth realizes she does not belong here (with the living). (pg 130)
  4. Mike Teller realizes he is blaming himself
  5. …for an accident he could not prevent.
  6. He feels he failed his daughter.
  7. He was holding on to a burden
  8. …something that was not his to bear. (pg 133)


Contrasts:  Father  vs son  (pg 132)

  1. Officer Michael teller does not want to be like his
  2. racist father. He was a police officer who did not do
  3. enough to protect the Aboriginals.
  4. Mike did not want to be one of those
  5. people who didn’t pay attention.
  6. Officer Teller took any injustice
  7. ….personally (wife was Aboriginal)
  8. when Aboriginals  are not treated right.


Contrasts:  Beth in “Catching Teller Crow”  vs  Else in “The Endsister”

  1. Narrator Beth is just about the same age as Else in The Endsister
  2. One is dead….one is still alive
  3. …one is cheerful….and one is confused, isolated.
  4. Beth shows no signs of ‘the teenage brain’ as did Else.
  5. It seems once you’ve died…all your problems disappear!
  6. ….mood swings, erratic behavior, ill-tempered….
  7. I will try to find a moment in Beth’s
  8. narration that shows her in a bad mood!
  9. Yes, she does cry….she had to make an important decision
  10. …about the colours.


Strong point:  Beth’s ghost is Detective M. Teller’s assistant

  1. This is a great plot device.
  2. Beth can linger in places once
  3. her father has left to eavesdrop
  4. on suspects conversations and actions!
  5. #Clever


Strong point:    Role reversal literary device  (pg 11)

  1. “He and I were the reverse of each other:
  2. I couldn’t remember my death;
  3. Dad couldn’t remember my life…” (pg 11)
  4. Another role reversal….
  5. Dad was looking after Beth when his wife died.
  6. That had kept Dad going.
  7. Now Beth was looking after her Dad
  8. ….to keep him going. (pg 13)



Strong point:  Writing style varies… for certain effects!

  1. Chapters about CATCHING...
  2. Isobel  speaks in staccato sentences.
  3. Staccato sentences are short and often emphatic to
  4. focus the reader or listener on content.
  5. This technique borrowed from poetry intensifies
  6. Catching’s aboriginal storytelling…
  7. with base emotions….earthy!
  8. This conveys certain kinds of emotions in particular,
  9. namely fear, anxiety, anger, confusion and stress.


Strong point:     Izzy’s storytelling

  1. These chapters are fun to read.
  2. You can lose yourself in them…
  3. let you imagination soar.
  4. I’m sure YA readers can find something
  5. in these tellings to hold on to.
  6. I enjoyed these next few lines:
  7. — Courage eats fear.
  8. — Joy eats sadness.
  9. — Choose the opposite of grey.


#NoWeakPoints !!



  1. This was absolutely a stunning novel!
  2. I’ve never been so entertained reading YA fiction.
  3. I think the storytelling (Aboriginal influences) was spot on.
  4. But  the most important part of the book  for me
  5. ….was how people dealt with grief. (Officer Mike Teller)
  6. They say time is a healer.
  7. But grief is always in the hollow of your heart.
  8. It’s just waiting for something to shake it out.
  9. Beth was there to shake it out of her Dad.
  10. Because loss never really leaves you.
  11. Loss alters you.
  12. #MustRead….worthy winner
  13. Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  14. Best Young Adults Novel 2019



YA: Jenna’s Truth


Strong point:

  1. Ms King expresses the emotions of a young girl
  2. that feel universal…timeless. We all at one point
  3. have felt being an outsider in school….it hurts.


Strong point:

  1. The devil is in the details.…and Ms King knows that!
  2. I rarely read in stories about women’s perfume.
  3. People I remember from school had signature fragrances.
  4. It was your ‘calling card’… L’Air du Temps, Blue Grass, Miss Dior.
  5. Jenna can finally sit next to Tina
  6. ….the in-crowd… and whiff her perfume.


Strong point:

  1. Ms. Nadia has translated a tragic story of Amanda Todd
  2. into a poignant book.
  3. The book is enriched with teaching notes and
  4. discussion questions.
  5. Sometimes young people don’t know how
  6. tell people they are being bullied.
  7. Ms. King has added a ‘need help’ page with
  8. addresses and phone numbers children can call.



  1. Here I am a 60+’er reading about the
  2. pain of being an outsider (Jenna)  in high-school.
  3. Ms King describes  details that  STILL resonate
  4. …taking me back to the 1960’s.
  5. It seems then and now
  6. ….the feeling when someone saves
  7. you a seat in class is  “like basking in the sun” !
  8. And yes, I agree with Ms King and her character Jenna
  9. Physics never made any sense.
  10. Of course Insta page, selfies and Snapchat are new
  11. …but that just adds to the 21st C feel of the book.
  12. This book deserves the praise it has reaped.
  13. Young girls should be aware…
  14. There is so much more to life
  15. …being snubbed or bad-mouthed,
  16. and worst of all cyber-bullying by puerile girls.
  17. #Heartbreaking


Last thoughts:

  1. I’ll tell you a two secrets….
  2. I had this book flown in from Australia!
  3. I read the book aloud to my cats.
  4. It was great fun and I could put on my snarky voice.
  5. But this does not dampen
  6. …the effect the book had on me.
  7. So young, so unhappy with life
  8. ….so tragic, I can hardly imagine
  9. …the pain Jenna/Amanda Todd went through.
  10. #Cyberbulling must stop.

Aurealis Award Best YA Novel 2017 short list


Quickscan plot:

  1. Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta.
  2. He is a legendary  geneticist who has been kidnapped
  3. by a shadowy  organization called Cartaxus.
  4. Cat  is left to survive the last two years on her own.
  5. She can no longer escape involvement with the Cartaxus.
  6. This is where it gets personal.
  7. Cole, a Cartaxus soldier, arrives with
  8. …news that her father has been killed.
  9. Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie.
  10. But Cole also brings a message.
  11. Before Dr. Lachlan died…
  12. he managed to create a vaccine against the killing virus.
  13. Cole needs Cat’s  genius-hacker skills to
  14. …crack Cartaxus’ encrypted code and save the human race.



  1. Classic hook:  the reader is in the middle of the action
  2. ….then chapter two begins with:
  3. “Two years earlier….”
  4. The characters are in a technological wonderland with
  5. a hellishly corporate backdrop (Cartaxus).
  6. “They want your brain, but don’t need your legs” (ch 2)
  7. Cat Agatta (hacker nickname: Bobcat)
  8. must use all her skills to decode her late father’s message.
  9. But is her father, Dr. Lalhan Agatta….really dead?
  10. There is a lot to digest in this book.
  11. The reader who loves…
  12. computers – files – servers – code – apps – databases
  13. …smash-and-grab hacking, Fibonacci search technique
  14. …ribbons of synthetic DNA
  15. …and swarms of drones…will love this book.
  16. If you are not tech-savvy…you may lose interest.
  17. The book tackles challenging issues:
  18. …a daughter trying to understand (break free of) her father
  19. ..a daughter mapping out
  20. …her boundaries in ethics (DNA) and in love.


Last thoughts:

  1. In YA books….the voice of the young includes
  2. …lots of swearing.
  3. Not in this book….just a few shit’s, batshit and shitloads.
  4. M.J. Ward in Psynode  cleverly avoided this problem of swearing
  5. …that might influence gatekeepers and not include the book
  6. …in school libraries.
  7. She used her urban-brand of swearing…fugg  and shiz!
  8. Of course YA would not be YA without
  9. …a love triangle Dax – Cat – Cole.
  10. blurring the boundary between romance/erotica.
  11. “We spent the week trying to ignore
  12. …the energy crackling between us,
  13. like two humming electrodes just waiting for a spark.”
  14. Hmmm… personally I prefer words like:
  15. “We’ll always have Paris.”  in a love scene.
  16. Not planning to read  Suvada’s #2 book in this series.
  17. …It is just “not my thing.”
  18. I am looking forward to Sally Abbott’s next SF book.
  19. Try reading Abbott’s  Closing Down
  20. ..and see if you agree with me! (score: 5 star)