Christian College Geelong Senior Library: Lovers of literature

Book of the Year – Older Readers

Australia’s Story

Book of the Year 2016

Older Readers Shortlist

The Flywheel by Erin Gough

Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas. 
Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending? 
This hilarious and accident-prone novel is about how to be heartbroken and how to fall in love; about rising above high-school drama and wrestling with problems that are (almost) too big. It speaks directly to teens and assures them that they’re not alone, and does it all with an abundance of heart.

Freedom Ride by Sue Lawson

Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it’s nothing to do with him. That’s just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree’s way will blow things apart. It’s time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.

Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield

At seventeen, Jacklin Bates is all grown up. She’s dropped out of school. She’s living with her runaway sister, Trudy, and she’s in secret, obsessive love with Luke, who doesn’t love her back. She’s stuck in Mobius—a dying town with the macabre suicide forest its only attraction—stuck working in the roadhouse and babysitting her boss’s demented father.
A stranger sets up camp in the forest and the boy next door returns; Jack’s father moves into the shed and her mother steps up her campaign to punish Jack for leaving, too. Trudy’s brilliant façade is cracking and Jack’s only friend, Astrid, has done something unforgivable.
Jack is losing everything, including her mind. As she struggles to hold onto the life she thought she wanted, Jack learns that growing up is complicated—and love might be the biggest mystery of all.

The Pause by John Larkin

Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for. 
But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable. Declan feels as if nothing will take away that pain that he has buried deep inside for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left: the decision to end it all. 
Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the edge of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before he jumps. And this makes all the difference.
One moment. One pause. One whole new life. 
From author of The Shadow Girl, winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2012 Prize for Writing for Young Adults, comes a breathtaking new novel that will make you reconsider the road you’re travelling and the tracks you’re leaving behind

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Every girl dreams of being part of the line—the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. No work is more important.
Jena is the leader of the line—strong, respected, reliable. And—as all girls must be—she is small; years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first.
But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question the world she knows? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything?

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.
Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes.
But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight.
Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.
Wishes were not a thing.
They were not.
Wishes were a thing.
Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.
Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing!
Were they?


Read Across the Universe

Book of the Year 2013

Older Readers Shortlist

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The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant

A remarkable and gripping story about one refugee boy on a desperate journey from Afghanistan, and the Australian boy who befriends him.

Each step becomes a heartbeat and I feel the distance between Omed and me closing. I remember when I first met him – when he had showed me what bravery meant. How he had stood up for what he believed. In the end that had been his undoing.

Omed is a boy from Afghanistan. After making an enemy of the Taliban on the day the Buddhas of Bamiyan are destroyed, he undertakes a perilous journey to seek asylum in Australia. Hector is a grieving Australian boy who has given up on school and retreated into silence.

Their paths meet at a candle factory where they both find work. But secrets fester behind the monotonous routine of assembling wax and wicks – secrets with terrible consequences. And, ultimately, it is up to Hector to see how the story ends.

Omed’s and Hector’s beautifully told and compelling journeys will grip hold of your heart and not let go.

Themes: Refugees, asylum seekers, displacement of a people, intolerance, friendship.

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Why would I? People are uneasy enough with me – if I start bringing up sea-wives, they’ll take against me good and proper.’ 
‘It could be secret.’
‘Could it?’

Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.
Rollrock Island is a lonely rock of gulls and waves, blunt fishermen and their homely wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic – the scary, salty-real sort of magic that changes lives forever. Down on the windswept beach, where the seals lie in herds, the outcast sea witch Misskaella casts her spells – and brings forth girls from the sea – girls with long, pale limbs and faces of haunting innocence and loveliness – the most enchantingly lovely girls the fishermen of Rollrock have ever seen.

But magic always has its price. A fisherman may have and hold a sea bride, and tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she is. He will be equally ensnared. And in the end the witch will always have her payment.

Themes: –the power of love, lack of love betrayal, fear, loss, or feelings of rejection.

Friday Brown by Vicki Wakefield

‘I am Friday Brown. I buried my mother. My grandfather buried a swimming pool. A boy who can’t speak has adopted me. A girl kissed me. I broke and entered. Now I’m fantasising about a guy who’s a victim of crime and I am the criminal. I’m going nowhere and every minute I’m not moving, I’m being tail-gated by a curse that may or may not be real. They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown…’

Seventeen-year old Friday Brown is on the run – running to escape the memories of her mother and of the family curse and of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghost of her past. She will learn that sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started and often, before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you were never meant to be.

Themes: family relationships, belonging, street kids

The Shiny Guys by Doug MacLeod 

‘Wouldn’t it be funny if they were real?’
‘Shiny red men?’
‘What if I were the sane one and everyone else was mad?’


The Shiny Guys is a dark, sometimes funny novel about how fantasy and reality can merge, especially when electricity is involved.

Colin’ family has not been the same since his sister Briony disappeared at Pichi Richi Pass, so no one is too surprised when Colin attempts to kill himself?

One night, the shiny guys visit fifteen-year-old Colin Lapsley.  They don’t speak, but Colin can read their thoughts.  They want him to pay for the terrible thing that he has done.  When the shiny guys won’t go away, Colin is admitted to ward 44.  There he discovers an alien world, a powerful weapon, a gentle giant, and a girl who may be able to see what he can see.

Dr Parkinson runs a tight ship and it’s all meant to help Colin get better. Then how come Colin is seeing giant talking cockroaches?

Themes: suicide, mental health, repressed traumatic experiences

Creepy & Maud by Dianne Touchell

I am in love with the girl next door. Our windows are almost opposite each other’s, over the side fence.
I call her Maud. That’s not her real name but that’s what I call her. She’s sort of shortish and curvy. Titian hair. No freckles. A dark, smudgy birthmark on the back of her left calf. A nose piercing her dad knows about and a bellybutton piercing I assume he doesn’t. All right, so I have spent a bit of time looking in there.
Am I sounding creepy? Love is sort of creepy.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, Creepy & Maud charts the relationship between two social misfits, played out in the space between their windows.

Creepy is a boy who watches from the shadows keenly observing and caustically commentating on human folly. Maud is less certain. A confused girl with a condition that embarrasses her parents and assures her isolation. Maud is a “puller”. She pulls her hair out, leaving bloodied bald spots as evidence – she’s developed this condition (called trichotillomania) as a means of dealing with stress and anxiety.

Together Creepy and Maud discover something outside their own vulnerability — each other’s. But life is arbitrary; and loving someone doesn’t mean you can save them.

Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.

Themes: coping with fears, love, mental illness

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail

The story of a Jewish girl sent to Auschwitz with her family. She falls in love with the wrong boy – the German son of the camp commander.

The Wrong Boy draws a compelling picture of life in a concentration camp from the point of view of a determined but naive teenage girl.

Hanna is a talented pianist, and the protected second daughter of middle class Hungarian Jews. Relatively late in World War II the Budapest Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. Hanna and her mother and sister are separated from her father. Her mother becomes increasingly mentally ill until she too is taken away somewhere. Her sister Erika is slowly starving to death. Hanna is quite a naïve 15-year-old but when presented with the opportunity to play piano for the camp commander, she is desperate to be chosen. She goes each day under guard to the commander’s house and stands waiting in case the commander should want some music. Also living in the house is the commander’s son, Karl. A handsome young man who seems completely disengaged from what is happening around him. Hanna hates him as he sits drawing in the music room. But the longer Hanna goes to the house, the more she realises there are other things going on. Secret things. Karl may not be the person she thinks he is. Before she knows it she has fallen in love with the wrong boy.

Themes: Holocaust, love, survival

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Champions Read

Book of the Year 2012 – Older Readers

Once again many hours were spent reading and discussing the merrits of numerous Australian fiction….infact 365 books, before the Children’s Book Council judges were able to create a Notables list of 22 books and then finally narrow it down to 6 books short listed for the Older Readers category.

Older Readers Short List

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

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel  by Michael Gerard Bauer

Ishmael has made it to the Senior School and things are really looking up. His nemesis and chief tormentor Barry Bagsley has finallydecided to leave him alone, while his dream girl and chief goddess Kelly Faulkner has finally decided not to. Has he broken free of Ishmael Leseur’sSyndrome at last? Could his remaining two years at St Daniel’s College actually be described as ‘normal’? Absolutely not. Ishmael’s mates critique the Ishmael books: Ignatius Prindabel: I found 37 factual errors. Scobie: Harry Potter for those with an IQ higher than the mean. Bill Kingsley: Funnier than the Arcturian Grendel-Worm. Razzman: Short on chicks, that’s all I’m saying.

A Straight Line to my heart by Bill Condon

A funny, poignant, heartwarming story of first love, first job, friends, family and the inevitability of change in the first summer out of school.

School is over, not just for the year, but forever. Tiff and Kayla are free, which is what they’ve always wanted, but now summer is nearly at and end and that means life decisions. Tiff is hoping her job at the local paper will lead to something more… But ‘The Shark’ soon puts her straight on what it takes to become a hard-nosed reporter like him. At home, Reggie – the only grandad Tiff’s ever known – has quit the smokes and diagnosed himself as cactus. Then Kayla hits her with some big news. And into all this stumbles Davey, the first boy who has ever really wanted to know her.
Tiff is smart with words and rarely does tears, but in one short week she discovers that words don’t always get you there; they don’t let you say all the stuff from deep in your heart.


The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

There were only eleven of them, like eleven sisters all the same age in a large family. Because it was such a very small class, they hada very small classroom, which was perched at the very top of the school. ‘Today, girls,’ said Miss Renshaw, ‘we shall go out into the beautiful garden and think about death.'” So off they go, and in the garden they meet a poet – a dreamy young man with a voice like an owl who takes them to a cave at the nearby beach. The girls wait while the poet and Miss Renshaw explore the cave. They wait. And they wait. And they wait. But Miss Renshaw and the strange man never reappear. So the girls make their way back to school alone. As the days turn into weeks and innuendo turns into scandal, they remain loyal to Miss Renshaw. But what really happened that day on the beach? And do the girls know more than they are letting on?

The Dead I know by Scot Gardner

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘Steady. We’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.” Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain, and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night

The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan

Young Dow Amber is no sailor. But driven by a strange sea-longing he ventures from the high country of New Island all the way down to a grim fishing village on the shores of the bay known as the Claw. There he finds a cursed people living in dread not only of the mysterious Ship Kings that rule their country, but also of the fury of the ocean itself. When the Ship Kings sail their tall ships into the Claw, Dow’s forbidden longing only grows. Who are the Ship Kings? How do they navigate the high seas? And what of the strange and fascinating girl who lives aboard one of their ships? When the whirlpool rises, will the call of the sea lead Dow to his heart’s desire or to certain death?

When We Were Two by Robert Newton

Dan has had it with his Dad, He’s not going to take the abuse anymore. He’s sixteen , old enough to leave: maybe he’dd find his long-lost mother in the process. What Dan doesn’t count on is being followed by his younger brother Eddie, and what began as a reckless solo journey becomes one of responsibility. Their bond is tested by the characters they encounter and when they fall in with a small group of would-be soldiers marching overthe mountains to join the fight in the Great War, who take the boys under their wing, the experiences they share together with this rag-tag crew will shape all their lives forever.


One World, Many Stories

 Book of the Year  2011

Again it’s been another year of fantastic Australian literature  with over 403 books submitted to the Children’s Book Council of Australian. In the Older Readers section 97 books were entered and this was narrowed down to a Shortlist of 6 books.

The winners were announced on Friday………….

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Harnett was announced as the Book of the Year: Older Readers

Two young Romany gypsy brothers, escaping war, find themselves in a zoo,
at night, amid a war-ravaged village. The starving animals tell the boys what
has happened, and as the moon shines down on these motley survivors, their
stories, dreams and fears are set free in this midnight refuge. As natural
foes, the animals’ inherent characteristics scare the boys, but they also
understand that all creatures need their freedom – bars should not imprison
beast or man!

Sonya Hartnett’s parable highlights man’s greed and cruelty, and yet
from these, hope and courage can prevail. Particularly moving is older brother
Andrej’s stoicism and wisdom. As always, Hartnett’s prose weaves its magical,
poignant spell.

Honor Books were Graffiti Moon and The Life of a Teeenage Body Snatcher

Picture Book of the Year went to Jeaninie Baker’s book Mirror


Book of the Year 2010

After a very lengthy process in which the judges would have read hundreds of books they were able to narrow the field down to 22 notable books and then finally a short list of 6.

The final winner will be announced on  Friday August 20th.

Read the book trailers and see you can guess which one will be the winner!

These are the 6 short list book:

Jarvis 24 by David Methzenthen

I know that the choices people make hopefully lead to something better. But it’s also true that some things that you have no choice about can change your life.

ANY 15-year-old will tell that love is tough. Ask Marc E. Jarvis. His comfortable Camberwell life has suddenly become very complicated. There’s work experience, which, in typical Jarvis fashion, he has left to the last minute to organise. So he’s spending a week at a used car yard.

There’s footy, where the coach has gone cold on him. And suddenly, there is Electra, a freakjarvis 24ishly

gifted runner who has entered his world.

Electra has arrived in Melbourne on a sports scholarship and will turn Marc’s life upside down.

Jarvis 24 is slice-of-life novel that chimes with recognisable places and people. Award-winning author David Metzenthen catches his characters with a balance of humour, insight and tenderness but it is the emotional journey that makes this book a lasting pleasure.

Reviewer Mike Shuttleworth, The Age

Stolen by Lucy Christopherstolen

It happened like this.

I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everthing I was used to. Takento sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him. This is my story.

A letter from nowhere

Gemma is standing in line for coffee at Bangkok Airport, when a cute guy helps her out, drugs her and kidnaps her. She wakes up in a rough bare room in the middle of the outback, where the only person visible is Ty (the cute guy from the airport). What follows is a fascinating thriller in which Gemma tries to get back home and Ty tries to convince her that home is with him in the vast central deserts of Australia.

Lucy Christopher was raised in Melbourne and now lives in the UK and she has done an amazing job of portraying English Gemma’s fear and awe of the vast middle of Australia. What sounds like a straightforward thriller becomes a nuanced, complex take on a landscape of beauty and danger and one girl’s fight to regain control of her life.

Review by Marie Matteson, Readings

The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarkethe winds of heaven

An unforgettable and deeply moving story of two young women, and how their childhood experiences and the choices they make as teenagers determine their fates – told exquisitely by the acclaimed writer, Judith Clarke.

When Fan was little she dreamed of magical countries in the far away blue hills. As she grew up she dreamed of love, and the boys came after her one by one by one.
Clementine thought her cousin Fan’s house in the country had a special smell: of sun and dust and kerosene and the wild honey they ate for breakfast on their toast. But then there were the feelings: the anger that smelled like iron and the disappointment that smelled like mud.
Fan was strong and beautiful and Clementine thought she’d always be like that. But Fan was seeking something, and neither she nor Clementine knew exactly what…
With sharp poetic prose, insight and compassion, Judith Clarke tells a moving and beautiful story as she traces the lives of two young women, separated by circumstance, but linked forever by blood and friendship.
‘Some descriptions were perfectly formed and original, and they stuck in my mind long after I’d finished reading.’ Isabella, 19

Liar by Justine Larbalestier7073569

“The chilling story . . . will have readers’ hearts racing. In the end readers will delve into the psyche of a troubled teen and decide for themselves the truths and lies.”

School Library Journal

Liar is my first thriller. It’s from the point of view of a compulsive liar. And I mean compulsive. Micah’s been messing with my head for years and she’s about to mess with yours. You cannot believe a word she says, which means that her revelations cannot be taken at face value. So what you think is the big spoiler probably isn’t because there isn’t one big spoiler, there are many.

I’d be dead pleased if you could keep quiet about all of them.

I deliberately wrote the book to be read in at least two different ways. You may think you know what kind of book it is and what kind of person Micah is, but you’ll find other readers will disagree with you completely. There is no one right way to read this book. And that’s why I’m so keen for readers not to spoil it for others. Because I want each reader to come to their own conclusions.

Liar is as much a jigsaw puzzle as a novel, but one where the pieces can go together in many different ways. Writing it was a puzzle, too. I wrote it back to front and inside out. Not from start to finish, but scene by scene. As I wrote I shuffled scenes around, rewriting them with every move. It was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences of my career. I could feel my brain stretching as I wrote. (In a good way.) I hope reading it has the same effect on you.

Just don’t spoil it, okay?

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millardsmall kiss

A teen novel about homelessness, resilience and hope.

“Skip was my running-away name. It seemed like a good name because of how I skipped to school whenever I was doing a runner. A skip is somewhere you can shelter when there’s nowhere else, and getting a new name is a bit like being born all over again. I hoped my new life would be better than the one I’d left behind.”

Tender but tough, magical yet real, this is a break-out novel for young teenagers by prize-winning author Glenda Millard. Skip is an outsider, an artistic young boy who has never fitted in. After being shunted around various foster homes, Skip takes to the streets, where he finds a friend, an old homeless man named Billy. But then life is turned upside-down when bombs shatter the city.

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is a captivating story about Skip, old Billy, little Max and a beautiful lost dancer with her sweet baby Sixpence- rag-tag survivors of a sudden war, holding together in the remnants of a fun fair until violence shatters their fragile world.

With its theme of war and homelessness, there are echoes here of How I Live Now and Tomorrow When the War Began, but Millard has her own simple, luminous style, with great depth of feeling. A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is a special book- touching, atmospheric, beautifully written- a book that will resonate long after you’ve finished reading it.

Loving Richard Feynman by Penny Tangey9780702237256

Reviewed by Katherine Dretzke, Readings Hawthorn

I read Loving Richard Feynman in one sitting (actually it was one lying, I was in bed) and by the end I was a very satisfied reader. It’s a small book, which is a wonderful and rare thing at the moment for young adult fiction as nearly every book is a series that is about 500 pages and goes for 4 books! I fancy an author who can tell a story in a small number of pages, captivating and entertaining their readers with a modest sized book. Which is exactly what Penny Tangey does with her first novel.

Catherine loves science, believes herself to be unattractive, nerdy and socially inept. Does she care that she is all these things, sometimes. But, in the words of Richard Feynman: What do you care what other people think? And so it is with this quote that Catherine begins to vent her angst and life problems on the now dead scientist.

While writing to a dead scientist may seem weird, Catherine’s problems are far from it. Dealing with her parents split, hormones and regular teen problems of generally not fitting in (free dress day truly is a nightmare for every teen, especially the not so cool ones….I speak from personal experience!!) Catherine’s letters are simply another form of diary writing, but made more interesting by bringing in another person whom she can vent to.

Loving Richard Feynman tackles many issues that are often present in young adult novels, yet are never tired, however the one thing that I found a present theme, and a very important one to remember, is that no one in this world is perfect, and sometimes you just have to forgive them for being human.

For more information about the the Chidren’s Book Coucil of Australia visit their website


1 Comment »

  1. “Stolen” by Lucy Christopher
    I have just finished reading Stolen by first time author Lucy Christopher. This was a book I just couldn’t put down. It’s the fascinating story of 16 year old Gemma,who is drugged,kidnapped and then taken to the remote Australian desert. Told in form of a letter to Ty, her kidnapper, you can sympathize with her hatred towards the man who has taken her away from her family and friends and you get the sense that escape is impossible. As the story continues there is an unexpected twist in the relationship between Gemma and Ty that at first seems unbelievable. The ending is every bit a good!

    Comment by ccgsnrlib | May 5, 2010 | Reply

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