Saturday, 28 February 2009
1. Every week we'll post about how music meshed with your reading that week. I want to make this a looser meme where you can briefly mention the link between music and your book of the moment.
* A song mentioned in a book that you were introduced to because of an author.
*An author's playlist - is there one (link if there is)? What did you think?
*A song that you thought while reading and how you think it fits to a scene or character, etc.
*Lyrics that reminded you of a book that you haven't read in ages.
*Basically anything that links your book with a song or playlist.
Preferably posts will be made every Saturday, but feel free to choose a day that works best for you.
2. You're participating? Great, welcome aboard. Please then make the effort to see what others are thinking by commenting on their blogs. Imagine the new musicians you might be introduced to.
3. Welcome one, welcome all. Join at any point and post when you can. Link back to Persnickety Snark as well. Cheers!
So great news - I received Major Crush yesterday. I heart Jenn Echols. So when I was thinking of a book/music combo for Soundtrack Saturday is was natural that I chose to focus on this book.
For those of you who don't know, Major Crush is about former teen pagent winner Virginia and her difficulties co-leading the band with the object of her affection, Drew.
Since this is a book about marching bands (in a nutshell) and about a girl finding her voice, I immediately thought of Gwen Stefani. Sure if prefer her No Doubt days but there is something intoxicating about Wind It Up with it's combination of a marching band and lyrics from 'The Lonely Goat Herd' that appeals to me...and it's delightfully bonkers.
Wind it Up!
Thursday, 26 February 2009
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir; she is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's--but their world is fraught with danger both inside and out of the Academy's iron gates. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...
Review - I wasn't keen on reading this particular novel. I thought I was all vampired out. I guess I'm not! Actually it's not the vampires that interested me at all, it was the Dhampir. And not even because they are Dhampir but due to the fact that Rose, Dimitri and even Rose's mother were vastly appealing characters that draw you into Mead's tale.
I think Rose is fabulous. She's impetuous, moody, passionate, loyal and flawed. Her attachment to Lissa is great but I don't necessarily see the appeal of Lissa. I personally found Christian to be much more intriguing and hoped that when Lissa scenes came along, that she would talk about him rather than anything else. While Rose is a character who is quite well detailed, the others aren't as much. I assume this is something that will be remedied upon reading the successive titles. Many characters are rather two dimensional, somewhat cliched but I found myself enjoying the story regardless.
Mead writes a quick paced narrative with an intriguing blend of sass and adventure. There is intrigue, adventure, actions, seduction and every type of relationship you can imagine. It's an interesting take on vampires and I applaud Richelle's efforts. I will definitely be checking out the following novels to see what happens.
Format: Paperback, 330pages
Publisher: Penguin Aust.
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Richelle Mead's Website
Below is a video of Richelle discussing series burn out - I like to think she's secretly thinking of Breaking Dawn when she's discussing what happens if a) you don't have a clear plan and 2) you extend a series longer than necessary for monetary reasons. (Wow, I am summoning the Snarktress this evening).
Two things bugged me enormously about this book though:
1) The Cover - They've made Rose look like a carbon cut out Angelina Jolie.
2) I think Vampire Academy is a horrible title for a series. Just plain lazy. I know, let's create a series called Zombie College (no wait, I think I would read that. Sigh.)
Review - This was a raw, raw read. Sophie's story is a gruelling exploration into how a person's pain can manifest in many ways. Sophie's been neglected and abandoned her entire life and it has left her perspective permanently skewed. Her way of dealing with the pain - cutting.
Bates details her protagonist's dovetail with clarity and subtlety. She succeeded in making Sophie's choices understandable but there were times where I wanted to slap some sense into the girl. Her roommates are understanding to the utmost point, I am not sure how anyone could be with the mood swings, depression and the shower scene. Yet it's still grounded in truth. Having a crush on someone completely unattainable, the need to be loved and hope are all universal. However, this story shows how these universal truths can be warped when a person's been robbed of the simple things many of us take for granted - unconditional love, stability and comfort.
It would be easy to make Sophie the cliched "crazy" and while she does have her issues, she possessed great empathy, understanding and insight in other's lives. It's sad to see all that stripped away as her obsession sets in. Her single mindedness is incredulous at times, polarising at others and yet we understand where she's coming from.
Unfortunately cutting is becoming more prevalent in society, or maybe we're just all more aware of it. This book takes you into the murky reasoning for self-harm and in Sophie's case it's all about the emotional release. The relief. I think what I liked the most was there was a distinct lack of a pretty red bow tying everything together. Life isn't divided into chapters that can be nicely separated from one another and this book doesn't resolve everything either. Threads were left hanging and that really appealed to me, it added to the reality of this story - Sophie's story. Crossing the Line was written with great care by Di Bates and I highly recommend it.
Format: Paperback, 214 pages
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
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Di's Website, Enterprising Words
Two notes -
1) This book is available in the US from March 2009 at Barnes and Noble.
2) There are some lighter moments - I dog-earred this page (I know, Melina Marchetta's mother would kill me) as the humour of this drunken moment greatly appealed to me:
"Spunk. Sunk. Dunk. Drunk. The words swirl around in my head. I can see them bobbing up and down like ducks in the water. They make me grin."
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
I ordered it three weeks ago after reading The Boys Next Door and I have another three weeks to wait. I was holding up pretty well until I read Going Too Far and now I need my fix...stat. I need all Simon and Schuster books to be more readily available in Oz. Or just available would be nice.
Tired of the beauty-pagean circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles -- drum major of the high school marching band.
Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute...
But as the drum major's heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything -- including the band's success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.
Jenn Echols Junkie signing off.
Summit Entertainment is trying to make lightning strike twice. The studio behind the Twilight movie series has plans to adapt a buzzy young-adult novel called If I Stay with Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke at the helm, EW has learned exclusively. The studio would not confirm the plan; a Summit insider said the parties are negotiating and a deal is not yet complete.Catherine Hardwicke is the talented director of Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and Twilight. Her script for Thirteen is so powerful in its narrative that I know she will look after this novel, should everything come to pass. Catherine's visual style is very gritty (don't think of the more romantic scenes in Twilight) and her use of interesting visual elements will be key in this movie's development.
The book, from author/journalist Gayle Forman (Sisters in Sanity), doesn't hit shelves until April 2 but was scooped up by Summit last month. The project centers on 17-year old musician Mia who, after a violent car accident, finds herself watching her damaged body taken from the wreck. She must decide whether or not she has the will to live.
It's interesting that Hardwicke and Summit would team up again considering how the two parted ways after Twilight became a massive worldwide box office success. This reunion suggests that rumors of discord between the director and her studio may have been greatly exaggerated.
I am beside myself with joy for Gayle. In the interview for If I Stay that I will post closer to it's release (April 2009), she lists a Twilight cast member as someone she sees as one of the novel's key characters. Kismet! Yay Gayle.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge—and over...
Review - I was overjoyed to get this in the mail yesterday, OVAH-JOYED. Thank you so much to Jenn for organising it's journey across the ocean to this uber-grateful Aussie. Now Jenn's act of kindness has nothing to do with the review I am about to give because as I stated in my review of The Boys Next Door, I consider Jenn to be the drug of choice in YA-verse. I was already biased.
And she didn't disappoint. I wasn't sure upon reading the first chapter, I was wary of Meg. I wasn't sure that I could relate or see the world through her eyes but I was oh so very wrong. Meg is a complex, strong, contradictory protagonist with boatloads of humour, snark and moxie. She's tortured, yet exuberant. All her characteristics, her dialogue, her motivations and her decisions are all clear to understand and as such you are just plain sucked into her interplay with John After.
Why do I love Jenn Echols' narrative?
"My knee radiated heat. As I watched him pull himself from the car and walk casually across the brightly lit parking lot, I thought dumb things: I will never wash my knee again. I will never wash those jeans again. I will cut the knees out of those jeans and sew a pillow to sleep on every night, just to have a molecule of him in bed with me."Echols writes a delightful mix of randomness, absurdity and truth. She doesn't sugarcoat teen world but instead adds the right amount of sweet and sour. Meg and John are in a constant battle for the upper hand and their discussions ranged from barbed, snarky, humorous to doe- eyed. Their relationship is a like a mood swing, you never know when things are going to change up and how it might affect you. I loved the package though. John's seeming calm is at direct contrast to the fire that is Meg. What we soon realise is John's burning up too, for a multitude of reasons. I did at times want to know more about John but the quick pace swept away any reservations I may have possessed.
Echols has attempted a different kind of narrative with this novel. The world is more fully realised and the characters are greatly detailed. I devoured each page with a fervour I wasn't sure I possessed and was fully immersed in each event of Meg and John's lives. I am more hungry than ever to get my hands on future Jenn Echols works and want to congratulate her on a truly wonderful read that made me travel a gamut of emotions and invest in her tremendously real characters.
Publisher: MTV Books / Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback, 245 pages
Published: March 2009
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Jenn Echols' Website
Jenn Echols' Blog
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Teaser 1 -
"Oh, Jace," she said, her voice soft as Alec has ever heard it. "How on earth are we going to explain this to the Penhallows?"Teaser 2 -
"Maybe Jace was right. Maybe she was rash and thoughtless."
City of Glass is released on the 24th of March. I will feature my interview with Cassandra Clare the week previous to that and my review of the book itself in two weeks. I have a City of Glass competition coming up shortly too. Keep your eyes peeled (if the green hasn't already stripped them back!)
Halley Brandon Just back from art camp, Halley can't wait to share her funky new style with her best friend, Avalon. But when Avalon cries fashion foul, Halley realizes her best friend's true colors may clash with her own. Has their ultra-fabulous friendship finally gone out of style?
From sharing custody of their puppy, Pucci, to drawing up a list of who gets which friends, Avalon and Halley discover what happens when you battle the person who knows everything about you—and isn't afraid to use your secrets to get what she wants.
Review - This is the first MG novel I have written a review for and as such I am trying to keep in mind the target audience and not think about how old I am! There is so much brand dropping that I was lost in the knowledge that I have zero fashion recall. But I know that the girls that I teach will relish in every label, every description and every colour and it's fabulously fun.
Halley and Avalon came across as blatantly superficial but I really didn't mind as their exploits were freaking hilarious. But this book has a heart, it may be clothed in Stella McCartney but these girl's actions are always motivated by the hurt the other has inflicted upon them. Friendships inevitably change and/or grow as we age. Despite their preoccupation with their garb, these girls are terrified they will lose one another in the shuffle. I did wonder what bonded them in the first place. We read of their Vogue fascination and being neighbours, was that all it took to become besties? What united them before art school and the summer forced them to grow independent of one another? It will be interesting to see what the fallout of the last event of this book will lead to in Faketastic.
This is a great, fun representation of what happens when you let snark go too far. As a teacher, I am no Ms Frey. I have the style of a blind woman with no friends but I was supremely irritated that she let it get as far as it did and then allowed it to go further. That being said, I loved the Daily posts and the comments made by random school bystanders.
There is a great sense of fun in Young's words but she also has a grasp on what the emotional beats of the story are. The snark keeps the story propelling forward while the introspection allows for the girls to question their actions (retrospectively of course!) I hope some of my students will read it, enjoy it, laugh at the hi jinks and maybe think twice about saying or writing something that may harm a beloved friendship.
**I also want to add that I felt the Aussie love in this book (or maybe I was reading way too much into it lol). From the Dead Romeos playing a birthday party as The Wiggles to a Crowded House t-shirt, I felt appreciated. Cheers.
Published: March 3 2009
Format: Paperback, 245 pages
Publisher: Random House, Aust.
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Alexa Young's Website
Alexa's blog Alexicon
Monday, 23 February 2009
Review - I admit to buying this book as I knew that both Jordyn and Jocelyn were contributors. I would have bought it anyway as the whole concept intrigued me, as did the idea that it has been made almost immediately available on Australian shelves.
I loved this book as it was so affirming of the many different events (big and small) that we survive as teenagers. Technology has made life even more complicated for teenagers but essentially we have all had to muddle through the same experiences to varying degrees of suckage.
Of the contributions that struck me the most...
Mascara Wands Are Instruments of War - Jordyn's essay covers how the most innocuous of words from one's mother can pierce your heart. This was an immensely personal read for me. Her honesty about how much her mother's words cut to the core, her admission that her words might have the same affect back and an overarching sense of humour made this an emotional and smile invoking reflection.
Sleeves - Amy Hunt's insight into becoming invisible was heart wrenching awesome. She brilliantly gave insight into what it is like to be the fat girl. What it's truly like to go shopping, to hide behind online communication and suffer the slings and arrows of bullying. Essentially this essay boils down to the fear of being alone, a universal fear, one that unites us all.
Lucky - Caro Fink's essay is hard to read. It encompasses her dealings with sexual identity, cutting and self-acceptance. Her words are touching, moving and inspiring because she's been so honest, so real, so unfiltered. And yet there is a sense of hope that I felt stayed with me. I need for her to be still in that place of luck.
There are many contributions that stuck with me but to talk about them all would be way too time consuming. I would definitely recommend buying it as I felt like part of a sisterhood as these girl's words washed over me. Plenty of congratulations need to be sent Amy Goldwasser's way for choosing such a vast array of well written, insightful and humorous pieces on the teenage condition. Lastly, I would like to offer the contributors of this collection a big hug and much applause for being brave in revealing so much of themselves so as to positively affect others.
Published: November 2008
Format: Paperback, 267 pages
Publishers: Pearson Aust.
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Red The Book Official Website - This site is worth checking out regardless of whether you have read the book or not.
(Update - I have been talking about this book with people within my sphere of friends and colleagues. I now have a three person waiting list to borrow it. Words matter. Experiences matter. Free expression matters.)
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Review - Looking for Alaska was my introduction to John Green-ville and I fell hard. I fell hard for his unique turn of phrase, for his rich characters and the broad spectrum of ridiculous, yet plausible events. He has this way of writing quirky...depth (if that makes sense at all). I gel with the characters and I learn something about the human condition as well.
I love that this novel was an exploration of the object of one's love term affection versus the cold, hard reality of day. Haven't we all adored someone from afar (or in Q's case, next door)? Margo is an incredibly selfish, narcissistic girl with a great sense of frivolity and life about her. She's like the moth that flutters too closely the flame and meets a ashy end. Q's too good for her and yet I could see myself being friends with her, being drawn within her sphere. The main and supporting characters are all extremely well crafted, endlessly amusing and thought provoking.
The plot of this narrative sprints along at a rapid pace through the first magical evening to the clue ridden days (then weeks) that follow. I did feel that it got bogged down in the middle section but then it picked up again once the road trip started. The road trip was my favourite aspect of this entire novel, the gas stop stop of three thousand tasks was particularly amusing. We've all had a family member or friend that suffers from a never ending need to pee on car trips.
The protagonist, Q, is a darling but he didn't grab my interest as much as Miles did in Looking for Alaska. I was much more interested in Ben and Radar. I was hoping against hope that Q might do something against type and cut Ben's lunch (Lacey) but alas it didn't happen. I liked this novel a lot, recommend it highly and wish I had a Black Santa.
Published: 2 February 2009
Format: Paperback, 358 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Aust.
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John Green's Website
Once Bitten - Kalayna Price
Kita Nekai, on the run and the smallest of her shifter clan—a calico cat among lions and tigers—is being hunted. She was expected to accept her role as her father’s successor whether or not her cat was up to the task of leading the clan. She disagreed. Now she’s less than a step ahead of the hunters, bone-tired, cold, and living hand-to-mouth in the city of Haven. And that’s the high point of her day. She’s also drugged, "accidently" turned into a vampire, and sentenced to death for recklessly creating a rogue shifter who tortures its human prey. She’s got seventy-two hours to find the rogue, evade a city full of hunters, prove she’s not responsible for the rogue, and keep the vampire council from killing her. All while sorting out an apprentice mage, a married ex-boyfriend shifter-hunter, and the vampire who made her.
I am really not sure about this one. The tag line cracked me up - "Meow. Purr. Die. Repeat" OMG too funny for words.
Bite Me - Parker Blue
Barely eighteen-year-old Valentine Shapiro got a raw deal in the parent lottery. Her father was part incubus demon, and her mother's never forgiven her for that.
Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon. Thrown out of the house by her mother, Val puts one foot in front of the other and does the only thing that seems to make any sense--she takes aim at the town vampires. A stake a day, keeps the demon at bay.
Her dark side makes everyday life a roller coaster, but means she's perfect for her night job as a bounty hunter. San Antonio's vampires are out of control, and it's up to Val, her faithful hellhound Fang, and her new partner, a handsome San Antonio police detective, to get the deadly fangbangers off the city streets.
While it sounds like an awful lot happens in this title, I am intrigued by the family drama rather than the action packed elements.
Moonstone - Marilee Brothers
The girl voted least likely to save the world may have to do just that.
A sickly mom. A crappy travel trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guys with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there's that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil.
Welcome to the funny, sad, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who's struggling to keep her act together (not to mention her mom's) in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. A zap from an electrical fence sets off Allie's weird psychic powers. The next thing she knows she's being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town "witch," gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a "Star Seeker" is meant to command. "Who, me?" is Allie's first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she's got a destiny far bigger than she ever imagined. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.
I don't know...I guess I will see. It's like the Book Nerd Gods decided to challenge my newly found sci fi/fantasy tolerance.
Samurai Kids:White Crane -Sandy Fussell
Can a one-legged boy train to become a great samurai warrior?
Niya Moto is the only one-legged Samurai kid in Japan, famous for falling flat on his face in the dirt. None of the samurai schools will teach crippled Niya, until an offer arrives from the legendary samurai warrior Ki-Yaga, sensei of the Cockroach Ryu. Together with the other Cockroaches, Niya must defeat the fierce Dragon Ryu at the Samurai Trainee Games.
The fifty years of peace that has ruled over the samurai ryus is coming to an end and only the Emperor can stop it. The kids from the Cockroach Ryu are back and make it their mission to get the Emperor to stop the coming war. But the last time the Emperor saw Sensei, he threatened to cut off his head! Will they be able to protect their Sensie and stop a battle?
Sandy kindly sent these to me to review. The kids in my class were grappling over them so that's a positive sign.
Paper Towns - John Green
When Margo Roth Spiegelman, the über-cool and very beautiful queen of school and town, chose Quentin, her next-door neighbour to accompany her in one night of wild misdemeanor and witty revenge, he wondered how things would be changed between them at school next day. But Margo Roth Spiegelman never came back, leaving the only clues to her whereabouts in an old Bob Dylan poster and the poetry of Walt Whitman. Quentin and his friends search for her in paper towns and abandoned subdivisions, while Quentin tries to puzzle out who she is – this beautiful paper girl.
Review will be posted within the next 24 hours.
Red: Teenage Girls in America Write What Fires Up Their Lives Today, Edited - Amy Goldwasser
For every teen girl who thinks she's alone and every adult who's dared to try to figure her out comes thi s"heartbreaking, hilarious, and often harrowing" (Francine Prose) collection. American girls - ages thirteen to nineteen, from across the spectrum of geographic, socioeconomic, racial, and religious upbringings - write about body image, family, politics, and pop culture. From their accounts of post-Katrina New Orleans to Johnny Depp to the pain of losing a friend, the authors of Red are brave and honest documentarians of their own lives.
Review to be posted in the next few days.
Her bedroom has been overrun with unsavoury guests from the visiting carnival, her career as a journalist seems to have ended before it has even begun and, since ex-best friend Kat started hanging out with the popular Sock sisters, she doesn't have any friends.
When a school project leads to a surprising discovery inside a weasel ball, Ant thinks she is onto the scoop of the century. But someone else knows what Ant has discovered and they are willing to do just about anything to get their property back.
Ant has to quickly unravel the mystery of Operation Weasel Ball - but who can she trust? It seems like everyone is in on the heist - even her mum!
This is definitely more Middle Grade than YA but I wanted to check out another Aussie author. It won't take me long to read either, which is a massive plus at the moment.
In Too Deep - D C Grant
Josh's family life has suddenly changed - they are bankrupt and their house is to be sold. Josh is furious. How could his father be such a failure? But then Josh makes a few mistakes of his own.
Another male protagonist, I've been hitting the jackpot with them of late. The blurb intrigued me.
Melina Marchetta sent me a signed copy of Jellicoe Road this week and I sort of cried. That's right, I screamed, fanned my face and acted like a beauty queen that had just won a tiara. She also sent me her copy of this title because we both love Veronica Mars. Rob Thomas (the one that's not the lead singer of Matchbox20) created Veronica Mars and was a YA author before that success.
Rat Saw God - Rob Thomas
For Steve York, life was good. He had a 4.0 GPA, friends he could trust, and a girl he loved. Now he spends his days smoked out, not so much living as simply existing.
But his herbal endeavors — and personal demons — have lead to a severe lack of motivation. Steve's flunking out, but if he writes a one-hundred-page paper, he can graduate.
Steve realizes he must write what he knows. And through telling the story of how he got to where he is, he discovers exactly where he wants to be....
Brought to you by Story Siren
I imagined Margo Roth Spiegelman and summoned any song that might encompass her, what did I think of ...?
Yeah I know, sounds a little bizarre. But link it to Dirty Dancing and it's still a little whack. But seriously the words to 'She's Like the Wind' sound like Margo this far into the novel, specifically the first verse and chorus.
Lyrics Patrick Swayze - She’s Like the Wind lyrics
Remember I haven't read the whole book yet.
Information on this meme can be found here. Thanks so much to those who have started intergrating this meme into their weekly blog routine!