Saturday, 23 May 2009
Ah… the guest blog. Otherwise known as “free reign to mention your book’s title a million times with no editor trying to limit the overly unsubtle, shameless self-promotion”. Well! I recognise a challenge when I see one. Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola… pauses for intake of breath… Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola.
Now that I’ve gotten the awkward advertisement bit out of the way, I can tell you all about the story I found when I was cleaning my room last week. I’ve considered myself a writer for a long time, but in retrospect, I’ve only been a good writer for a short time (at least… I hope I’m a good writer). Unfortunately, this story was not from the good days.
Being someone who’ll never turn down an opportunity for self-deprecation, and who’s always keen for a bit of procrastination, I gave it a read. One word: Ugh. I wrote it a few months after my friend died, so I was being a deep, broody, nihilistic, angst-ridden, woe-is-me, ponderous teenager in my writing. I decided, to make for lulz, I’d read it in my best attempt at a pompous British accent, which, like all my attempted accents, comes out sounding Russian (I don’t know why… I’m Greek). Anyway, it was good for a few chuckles, and then I reached one bit that really knocked the wind out of me:
“We've gotta stop living through what we write,” he said. “I mean, I wanna stop saying what I want to say through words and scripts and stories, through the Courtneys, the Tims, the Katies. I missed out on it all because I devoted my own time to them. Giving them memories, I reckon I forgot about getting my own.”
For the ill-informed, Courtney, Tim and Katie are the leads in Loathing Lola (a story I’d been working on for more-or-less half of my life). The paragraph makes an interesting point, so I’ll have to give deep, broody, nihilistic, angst-ridden, woe-is-me, ponderous William some props. It’s a shame everything on either end of it was absolute crap, but still…
I started thinking, who I would’ve been, if I’d had the ‘typical’ high school experience. What if I was out drinking from sacks of goon in the local park instead of writing about kids doing the same thing? It’s a question I guess I still ask myself, only nowadays, I don’t ask it feeling any longing or regret.
I know exactly who I am because of a childhood spent writing. I’m an author. And no amount of lost goon-in-the-park time will ever make me consider giving up what I have now, the coolest profession in the world and a book on shelves.
So, in conclusion, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola, Loathing Lola.
William Kostakis' debut novel is out now. He has a website that has a very complicated URL - http://www.williamkostakis.com and he's also the main man over at the Australian Lit Blog, Boomerang Books. It has been lovely having Will as a featured author this week and I would encourage you to seek Loathing Lola out, or at the very least read some of his freaking hilarious blog entries over at his site.
William's speaking at the Gold Coast Literati Festival, Saturday 30 May, 10:30 til noon, Robina Auditorium, Robina Branch Library. It's a free event, you can call 07 5581 1600 to make sure you don't miss out.
Friday, 22 May 2009
Sophie FitzOsborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray, along with her tomboy younger sister Henry, her beautiful, intellectual cousin Veronica, and Veronica's father, the completely mad King John.
When Sophie receives a leather-bound journal for her sixteenth birthday, she decides to write about her day-to-day life on the island. But it is 1936 and the world is in turmoil. Does the arrival of two strangers threaten everything Sophie holds dear?
From Sophie's charming and lively observations to a nailbiting, unputdownable ending, this is a book to be treasured.
Review - A Brief History of Montmaray is a like a fantastic soup -a hearty stock, warm and dense, clean flavours and a overwhelming feeling on satisfaction when you're done.
Told through the diary entries of Sophie, we see her amazing shambles of a home through her unaffected and self confessed, subjective eyes. I really liked Sophie, she's completely lacking of specialness (in her own eyes anyway) and yet undergoes this completely natural progression in maturity throughout the book's pages.
Each character is extremely well formed, their motivations clear, personalities strong and unique. Even the castle (sorry, I meant reinforced house) has a distinct presence that permeates the story. I could see Cooper's imagined world in my head; I tiptoed over the rickety drawbridge and plonked chamberpots under the roof leaks. The world of Montmaray was startlingly real.
To continue with the soup metaphor, reading this books is like ladling huge, delightful spoonfuls of character, intrigue, romance and action into your brain. I learned more about history, literature and the human condition in three hundred pages than I have in quite awhile (please don't judge me). Cooper has managed to weave The Great War, sexuality, mental illness, abandonment, familial responsibility and murder into Sophie's ramblings without it ever feeling contrived. To say that I am keen to read the continuing stories of the family would be an understatement.
While I wouldn't call myself a romantic or an adventurer, A Brief History of Montmaray definitely appealed to those long buried (perhaps non existent) qualities in me. A great read and a worthy winner of the Ethel Turner Prize.
Published: June 2008
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Random House
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Michelle Cooper's Website
Thursday, 21 May 2009
In the hopes that this doesn't become a negative suckfest, I will try and inject some humour...(I said try.)
Comments - Okay I am someone who makes sure that if they comment, they write something that matters. I have heard from someone recently that it's the writing of any comment that matters more. I thought about this for awhile, commenting is something I can definitely do more of, feel guilty when I don't. But am I the person who's just going to write 'great haul' or 'looks great'? No. Why? Because when I get notified that I've received a comment, I get excited. But I am always disappointed if it's a throwaway line. I would prefer they didn't bother. This might sound harsh but I am also the teacher that will never write 'great work' for my student's work - I expect them to give reasons for their opinions, why shouldn't I? They get lots of feedback, messily written notes and questions, that cause them to inevitably bug me to mark immediately...the point is, I like to see the person in the comment.
Vow - to make a huge effort to comment originally on more blogs (I need to explore outside the realms of those bloggers I know of better) more frequently. I want to shower the blogoverse with my effervescence lol.
I also think leaving links to your blog in my comments section (without a purpose) is cheap advertising. I have no problem with you linking to your review of the same book or your IMM but don't just link cause you can...it cheapens you. I am not your billboard.
Verifications - I don't like them. When I am typing in bed and I have made the effort to construct a comment, the verifying process it's the last thing I want to do. Usually because it involves some extra neck craning time and words that don't actually exist. I don't ever want to see the words 'flomple' or "bloompel' (what's with the oo's?) again - the fact that I just labelled them words sickens me. And yet, we all got hit with a friendly visit from a spammer a few weeks ago that made me enable my verification toggle for 24 hours. The point here is that I am lazy.
Vlogs - I like vlogs but for me they are like oral presentations - better when planned out, time conscious and showing personality. My internet blows, so uploading can take awhile and if it's nine minutes of um-ing and ah-ing, a few coughs, some inane ramblings and no real point - then I am irritated. This isn't specific to anyone but if you are talking about a book I want to know why you want to read it or why you liked it. Just like my spiel in the comment gripe, I want you to give me a reason to buy it. Khy did a great job in a recent vlog, she focused only a few titles and talked about the style of narrative, characters that she liked and the genre without issuing a single spoiler. But then again, not everyone is blessed with the magical bangs of light and love. I guess the question is vlog or not to vlog - definitely vlog, but make sure you are doing it because you have something to say.
Issues - Of late there have been many posts that cause us to examine our own blogging community. I like healthy discussion but too often the posts and/or comments tumble into accusatory territory. To be honest, I am always a little skeptical when someone posts on an "issue" because sometimes it's a passive aggressive shot at another blogger, or group of bloggers. More often then not it results in hurt feelings, multiple hits and plethora of comments. Oh, I forgot the paranoia that runs rampant. Yet I also find myself commenting, regardless of my thoughts on people's motivations for posting or commenting, but I always feel dirty after.
Kristi recently posted a issue blog where she brought it up in an objective matter. I couldn't discern her personal feelings (always a plus - not like the post you are currently reading) and thus people could remark freely. Her post set the tone but a few anonymous commenters eventually caused her to shut it down. I liked that she did this. She could have kept it up, stirring the controversy and getting more hits but she made the right decision and closed that baby down. If you are posting an "issue" post make sure you are monitoring it.
Anonymous - I think it's poor when someone hides behind that moniker but I do understand. When your opinion, which is valid, is inevitably going to get shot down...it's easier to hide in the shadows. I flirted with the idea when I commented on another blog a few weeks back. I knew what I was saying was morally right but would be unpopular with the posters. I pressed send anyway and then got labelled 'uptight'. That hurt. But I still know that I did the right thing so I guess I can sit here somewhat reassured. Interestingly, some people chose to email me their support rather than support me in the comment thread. I guess this shows some of the pressure to tow the line.
But using 'anonymous' when you are blatantly attacking someone is a no go. If you feel that vehemently, make the effort to contact that person and express your concerns. I do understand that the thought of being blackballed might make this an unappealing idea.
Twitter - Gosh I love it. But boy is it addictive. The one thing I want to say about Twitter is how many ways you can interpret 140 characters. What you might mean as a tongue-in-cheek line might come across as an attack to another. Context is key. However I always wince when I see people asking authors for ARCS via twitter - arghhhh. I think it's the epitome of yikesville. Write them an email, better yet write a politely worded request to the publisher. Twitter is not the place to be pleading, begging or putting authors on the spot like that. If you feel the need to use Twitter, use the DM function please. If you think you are good enough friends or acquaintances to be asking for an ARC...still ask them via email.
The copious RTs get me too.
As do people repeatedly linking their blog posts. Once is quite enough, thank you.
Now that I have branded myself the uber-stuck up, whiny adult with too many qualms and a stick up her butt, I shall finish up. I love the blogosphere, I love bloggers but I think we can be nicer to each other. Nice isn't always a bad word.
** I do realise that by posting this I have opened myself up to calls of hypocrisy but my goal is to ask people to treat one another with decency and good manners. Also that you shouldn't do on the Internet what you wouldn't consider doing in real life, the person on the other side of the comment or post is a real person with real feelings and we should NEVER forget that.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
From the serendipity of an unexpected moment of connection, to the sadness of leaving home, and the pain of the desperate decisions we make, these stories take a personal and uncompromising look at life. Love and loss, grief, humour and passion. Hope and hopelessness. Thirteen linked short stories, spanning a year in the lives of thirteen young people, from a town near you.
Review - Before this week I had never read a James Roy novel. I had heard his name of course, he had won the NSW Premier's Literary Award in 2008 for this title, but I had never had the pleasure of reading one of his books.
Town is a curious little creature comprised of a series of short stories all revolving around the teens in one small Australian town. Each vignette is from one teen's perspective, written in their voice, telling their story. You'd have to be a complete sourpuss not to revel in the authenticity, the humour, the pathos and the utter delight of this novel. Roy knows small towns, there was a feeling of familiarity and yet, the characters were all unique.
It is easy to be captivated by the novel. One vignette would have you chuckling over a small victory, the next you would find yourself tossing between anger, frustration and sadness within a couple of pages. The tales would intertwine with characters appearing to large and small degrees in other's stories just like an actual country town.
A whole range of subject matter is tackled - disability, family disintegration, death and grief, racism and sexuality. However, you will not, at any time, feel as though you are being hit over the head with the dumb cliche stick. Roy has a natural style and authentic voice that works simply with the stories he's telling. He sweeps you along for the ride with relatable characters that you will find something to like in them, no matter how small.
This may have been my first Roy but it will not be my last. Colour me impressed and eager for more!
Published - October 1, 2007
Format - Paperback, 312 pages
Publisher - University of Queensland Press
Origin - Australia
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James Roy's Website
James Roy's Twitter
Title - Vulture's Gate
Release Date - August 2009 (Aust.)
Summary - One girl - could she be the last girl alive? One boy, pursued by reckless men who have kidnapped him from his fathers. Bo and Callum go in search of a safe haven, a place to call home. But where can they turn and who can they trust? When every stranger is a threat, does their only hope lie in reaching Vulture's Gate?Following a journey that takes them across barren deserts and lost valleys, Bo and Callum must discover how to survive alongside runaway boys and crazed religious terrorists, in a world with an uncertain future.And what is the disturbing secret at the ruined city's core?
This might be cheating but I know this title is on its way to me. The lovely Kirsty Murray (not Kristen Murphy - easy mistake to make...for me) has peaked my interest with mentions on her blog. The cover art is truly amazing and the premise is really compelling - a setting where the XX chromosome is nearly kaput.
The hilarious William Kostakis is back again to answer the many questions I had about his debut novel, Loathing Lola.
How much did editing change your initial draft of Loathing Lola?
Well, it made it readable, for one.
Over the years, I've made so many changes, that have each resulted in Loathing Lola becoming a completely different novel.
The title wasn't ironic for the first half of its lifetime - and it was just your typical teenager-hating-stepmum story. I was a teen writing because I didn't feel books I was given to read at school spoke to me, but I'd fallen into the trap of just regurgitating the clichéd representations of teens. So, I looked at my life - I mean, I personally don't hate my stepmother, so why was I writing a character that did, for no reason other than to defend her mother's honour?
Reality TV wasn't a big part of it at first because it the first draft was written before the first season of Big Brother - whoa, I feel old. Reality TV didn't really exist. When it did pick up steam, I was drafting a sequel. Realising the idea of a teen having a TV show was infinitely more unique than my original novel, I combined the two - I had the best events of the first book play out in front of a camera, and huzzah, a novel was born.
Less than a year out from its publication, I realised I didn't like that novel :P I changed it from third-person past, to first-person present, and that was when it really, REALLY started to shine.
Obviously, I haven't brought myself to read it in book form yet... I mean, I'm so used to drafting it (I've been doing it since primary school), what if I can't accept the fact that I can't edit it any more?
Were there any conscious changes you had to make to write from a female's perspective?
I'd spent so much time writing Courtney that her voice just came naturally to me, so I just imagined her relaying the story to a friend, and it came naturally. *Goes and spits in a bucket and does a variety of other manly things to make up for that statement*
Chloe is a royal headcase and sadly, a personality many of us are familiar with in our lives. How difficult was it to avoid a caricature?
It's funny... I never gave it much thought. I know some people who, if you put them on TV as characters, critics would say they're caricatures. I think it's funny that we think that caricatures only exist in the realms of poorly written fiction, but just as in fiction, in life, there's a balance of characters and caricatures. I don't think I avoided caricature, I just kept a healthy balance between characters and caricatures.
But it was tempting to up the crazy-factor on Chloe and Mrs Hammond a bit... There was a bit where Mrs Hammond kicked down a door (after the chase scene), but reading it, it wasn't funny, it wasn't silly, it was stupid. And I guess I avoided "stupid" more than anything else.
How long would have Liam and Courtney lasted, had he lived?
A couple more weeks, tops. That's the thing about death, everyone's instantly sainted the moment they die. Courtney didn't get the opportunity to see how incompatible they really were, and she's forced to grieve their relationship longer than if she had broken up with him in real life.
Which character is the most closely based on someone in your own life?
Well, I like to think I'm Tim, through-and-through. There are a few old teachers sprinkled through the book, and I can't ignore Mrs Hammond. She's an amalgamation of some of the scariest schoolyard mothers I've encountered through the years.
You're a publisher author and a uni student, when do you get to be the stereotypical, beer swilling, video game addicted, nineteen year old guy? Well, stereotypical, beer swilling, video game addicted guy = uni student. I'm not going to pretend my 12-hour uni week is taxing at all, but that's not to say I'm always drinking / playing video games. They're... hobbies. And I don't like to see writing as a profession (the second I do that, 1. the money I make looks crap, 2. if I force myself to write, I don't think I'll enjoy it as much), it's more of a hobby, something I've always found time for throughout my life, so I'm sort of programmed to make time for it.
Loathing Lola's film rights are purchased. Who is in your dream cast?
Hm... if only Natalie Portman were younger, I think she'd be a perfect Courtney. Or Jennifer Garner. My biggest thing would be to actually have teenagers play the teenage characters. I'm so sick of seeing thirty-five-year-old teenagers onscreen. I think Mrs Hammond would have to be Nicole Kidman, simply because she's got that "i'm an uppity snob" thing completely downpat in real life, so if anyone can bring Mrs Hammond's self-important lunacy to the screen, it's her. I think Nicole's the only concrete casting I can really think of... I can tell you Katie's English grandmother who'll pop up in the eventual sequel's a dead-ringer for Judi Dench.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm plotting a sequel to Magnum Opus (still tossing up on a title, do I keep the alliteration going?), as of right now, it's called Celebritart, and it's a hoot. Still don't know how to juggle the plot lines without it being too bloated. Even thought Courtney's still the narrator, it's really Katie's narrative arc, and it's a doozy [whoa... hoot and doozy... am I kidding?!]. It won't be my next release though, I'm working on MAGNUM OPUS, capital letters and all. And you'll only get a title out of me at the moment :P
Okay I need to stifle the giggles and remind you that Will's back on Friday with his guest blog that is sure to entertain you all. Big thanks to the man himself for sharing his time with me.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Author - James Roy
Title - Town
"And to Mr Richard Foster who is joining our geography and maths facility. He's apparently quite the cyclist, so those of you wanting a good hard ride might like to track him down." p.15
What's a normal day for you at Text Publishing?
We’re a friendly, and busy, lot at Text and we discuss what we’re reading at every opportunity, not just at our regular Editorial Meetings. Editing is a fascinating and very time-consuming activity, so most of my time is spent editing, talking to writers on the phone, or in person, as well as reading, discussing marketing and publicity for our books with our members of staff, researching other books, proofing, planning the list with the rest of the staff, answering emails, discussing cover designs… and the occasional breather walking down Flinders Lane.
What do you believe are the popular themes in YA at the moment?
I heard a publisher at the recent Bologna Book Fair yelling down a hall: “I’m just looking for books about YEARNING!” In the wake of Stephanie Meyer, the old URST (Un-Resolved Sexual Tension) is back again in earnest. And the paranormal is definitely a hot area at the moment. Just as young people dying seems to be featuring a lot. But I’ve never liked talking about “Themes” as such. Writers should write the books they want to write, have to write, without trying to slot into a passing trend that may be passé before the book’s even published. Humour is a perennial and works well in serious books, too. By definition, many of the stories in Young Adult writing usually contain themes of coming of age. In Australia we have always had terrific migrant stories written for all readerships. Historical fiction seems to be making a comeback, along with the futuristic tale, but not too far into the future and not pure Sci-Fi. And you can’t go by the tried and true well written, pacy adventure story.
What do you believe is the future direction of YA?
More crossover in both directions. The lines are blurred line—as they should be.
Your big recommendation at the moment?
Amra Pajalic’s The Good Daughter.
What are some of the upcoming releases that readers should be chomping at the bit to read?
Debut author, Richard Newsome’s The Billionaire’s Curse is the first book in a terrific trilogy and was the winner of Text’s inaugural Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2008. It is an irresistible adventure story that has been described as The Famous Five meets Indiana Jones. We have done some extraordinary overseas rights deals already for Richard and are getting great feedback from advance readers, both young and old here. The Billionaire’s Curse is a well written story with a plot that will keep people up reading.
Anna Mackezie’s The Sea-wreck Stranger is one of those intensely powerful novels that stayed with me for a long time afterwards. It’s a YA novel about secrets, strangers, superstitions in a small community, and the choices a young girl has to make. It reads like a classic.
Bernard Beckett’s Malcolm and Juliet is a funny and sweet book about sixteen-year-old Malcolm who has decided to do his school science project on sex—and maybe he’ll get to have some in the process. Author of the philosophical thriller, Genesis, Bernard Beckett can turn his hand to anything and is a star writer. As of course is John Marsden, whose wonderful YA version of Hamlet, a novel, will be out in October. This novel takes you places with Hamlet that you never dreamed of going.
Hollywood Ending, by debut writer Kathy Charles, is a novel we are publishing this September, into the adult market, but which I believe has huge appeal to a crossover audience. And the same goes for Kelly Link’s The Wrong Grave also being released in September, as a Young Adult title, but which will have terrific appeal to an adult audience as well. Kelly’s delightfully weird stories have elicited praise from the likes of Garth Nix: “I believe she is a story-telling elemental who has unearthly powers that she uses to create wondrous and deeply fascinating tales.”
And I know there are a lot of Young Adults who are into Nick Cave — we are publishing his new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, in October this year.
Next year you can look forward to the international megastar Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind) whose Young Adult novel, The Prince of the Mist we will publish, along with a YA novel set in Byron Bay, by young newcomer Daniel Ducrou, whose manuscript was shortlisted for the Vogel, and for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (Best Unpublished Manuscript), as well as new YA novels by Paul Griffin, Sally Rippin and Beth Montgomery. We’ll also be publishing a great non-fiction title, The Western Front, by Leon Davidson, the sequel to The Billionaire’s Curse (already much anticipation for this!), Part Three of veteran YA writer Maurice Gee’s Salt trilogy, Blood Burrow, as well as Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters, and the sequel to Anna Mackenzie’s The Sea-wreck Stranger, which I can’t wait to read.
Thanks Penny (and Kirsty) for taking the time to chat and share some of their amazing upcoming titles.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Review - If you read my In My Mailbox review for last week you will see that I was not all that keen to read this book. The blurb didn't ignite any interest in me at all. I was wrong...I love when that happens!
Amber and Siggy is an extremely well crafted storyline of young love amongst the mysteries of a country town. The world that MacLeod has created is unique, hilarious and poignant. It's the people that make this story such a fantastic read. Siggy is a character that anyone can relate to, he's self-deprecating, bumbling and will completely win you over. Whether it be the burgeoning love with the straight talking Amber, his fond sibling relationship with Helenka, the youthful shenanigans with Fergus or the shift in the family dynamics, it all makes the world of Samsara very real.
What I enjoy the most about MacLeod's writing is the humour throughout. There are many jokes that are ongoing and so well placed that I found myself laughing aloud while on public transport. The humour isn't cheap or clunky, it strikes to the heart of the matter, allowing the characters to make fun of themselves but always remaining true.
You cannot help but find yourself entangled in the mysteries and interactions of this town. From random mentions of Highlands dancing, Scooby Doo t-shirts, beautiful slow-mo running brothers, abysmal works of art, thick Scottish accents and friendly ghosts - you cannot help but fall for MacLeod's characters and the romance of Amber and Sigismund. A great read!
Published: 1 June, 2009
Format: Paperback, 227 pages
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Which book is memorable from your teen years?
There are too many books I've read / pretend to have read to choose from. And plus, I've got 15-odd more days of "teen years" left... so how do I know I won't find a book that completely eclipses everything I've ever read? :P If I had to pic a book, it'd have to be Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. It was one of the only books I studied in high school that I actually enjoyed (the others being Stoppard's plays and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four). I read it before everyone had spoiled to twist, so I was just absolutely floored by it.
Describe your high school English teacher in three words...
Crazy batshit insane.
...meant affectionately, of course.
Your book of the moment?
I just finished Revolutionary Road for uni. I don't think I've ever read anything that's so simultaneously bleak and beautiful. I mean, it's a painful read - it's awkward, it's uncomfortable, it's slow torture - there were parts where I just didn't want to read it, but Yates is so damn good at this writing-words-down thing that I didn't want to not read those parts - if that makes any sense :)
What do you use to mark your page when reading?
It depends on how much I like the book. If I like it, I'll use anything - it's receipt, a bus ticket, a loose bit of paper. If I don't like it, I vent my frustration by folding the hell out of the pages :P
Favourite place to read?
On the bike at the gym. I do it for the message. So while you might be able to ride twice as hard as me, and for twice as long as me - I can read. :P
Favourite book store?
I think I'm contractually obliged to say online book store Boomerang Books :P
Character you wish you had created?
Granny Weatherwax by Terry Pratchett. An absolute scene-stealer. She's good for poignant philosophy and lulz. If you've never read Pratchett, some great quotations: http://home.planet.nl/~jgmetsel/quotes.html
BQ - Interpretive dance in schools? Is there really a place for them?
I spent enough time acting as a tree in Drama to know that anything can be passed off as and justified as education these days, but I think, to save us both the rant, I'll say: No Comment.
Also, I misread it as "BBQ Interpretive Dance" and was like... what is it, and more importantly, why haven't I heard about it sooner?
Big thanks to W (we're on an initial letter basis now lol) for allowing me to ask him a combination of inane and insightful questions :P Make sure you check back in on Wednesday for an in-depth interview into Will's debut title, Loathing Lola.
Look forward to TBS-orientated posts daily - reviews, guest blogs, interviews etc.
Today I am up to the plate, detailing my pathetic, uber-embarrassing and lukewarm romantic past.
You can read it here - Fire Engine Fail.
Our only hope? A team of loser teens with gross mutant powers like wall-melting farts, acid vomit, and super-glue zit-pus - Stinky Squad!
Review - While I am in no way the target audience for this book, I definitely get the appeal. Kids wake up one morning to discover their world has been taken over by zombies and that their most grotesque flaw has morphed into a superpower. Green has peppered this novel with tonnes of humour - tummy rumbling toilet humour and plenty of puns. You have to laugh when the setting is Oztrailer (get it?) with the zombie onslaught possibly being a result of experimentation by the Allmerikans.
This could sound like the average potty humour titles that are prevalent for kids in the tweens but there's are many social issues swirling beneath the surface. For instance the kids are all different colours: green, purple and blue, so racial stereotypes are discussed throughout. There is also some social commentary on immigrants, as well as bullying.
It's a great book, full of belly laughs, colourful characters and snappy dialogue. There's also some awesome vomiting, adhesive snot, noxious farting and some sneezing that would knock Mother Nature off her rocker. Stinky Squad is a highly entertaining read with an important message and a lot of heart.
Format: Paperback, 217 pages
Publisher: Barrel Books
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DC Green Yarns Blog
Chapter One Preview
Stinky Student Activities
Sunday, 17 May 2009
It's been a great week with some books that I am very excited to delve into. This is a concept by Kristi and Alea - two of the most loveliest of the lovely.
Bloodflower - Christine Hinwood
(Allen & Unwin)
Cam has a hunger, an always-hunger; it drives him from home, to war, from north to south. When he returns from war alone - all his fellow soldiers slain - suspicion swirls around him. He's damaged in body and soul, yet he rides a fine horse and speaks well of his foes. What has he witnessed? Where does his true allegiance lie? How will life unfold for his little sister, his closest friend, his betrothed, his community, and even the enemy Lord who maimed him?
I am already chomping at the bit to read this book but then someone that I admire greatly gave it this recommendation -
'I can't tell you how much I loved this novel. I cried through the whole of the last chapter from the sheer beauty of these characters and their world.'
Can you hear me squealing?
Broken - Daniel Clay
(Harper Collins Aust., 17 June 2009)
Skunk Cunningham is an eleven−year−old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad‚ an absent mother and a brother who plays more X−Box than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish father Bob‚ vicious bullies all of them‚ whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over their otherwise quiet suburban street.
And yet terrifying though they undoubtedly are‚ the stiletto−wearing‚ cider−swilling Oswald girls are also sexy − so when Saskia asks shy‚ virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car‚ he can′t believe his luck. Too bad that Saskia can′t keep her big mouth shut. When‚ after a quick fumble‚ she broadcasts Rick′s deficiencies to anyone who will listen‚ it puts ideas into her younger sister′s silly head − ideas that will see Rick dragged off to prison‚ humiliated‚ and ultimately‚ in his father′s words‚ ′broken′ by the experience.
I am intrigued...I think this is a book that I will adore or just not "get". We'll see, but Broken will have to wait until May is done and dusted.
Beige - Cecil Castellucci
Now that she's exiled from Canada to sunny Los Angeles, Katy figures she'll bury her nose in a book and ignore the fact that she's spending two weeks with her father - punk name, "The Rat" - a recovered addict and drummer for the infamous band Suck. Even though Katy doesn't want to be there, she won't make a fuss. After all, she is a nice girl, a girl who is quiet and polite, a girl who smiles, a girl who is, well, beige. Or is she?
Beautiful cover, nice premise. Will be reading it once my Aussie Month May has concluded. Isn't Suck the best band name?
Dairy Queen: A Novel - Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Welcome to the summer that D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say. In Dairy Queen, an extraordinary debut novel full of humor, football, and dairy farming, Catherine Gilbert Murdock introduces one of the most likable young adult heroines to come along in quite some time.
Grandpa Schwenk was a dairy farmer, and D.J.'s ex-football coach father was one, too, until he messed up his hip moving the manure spreader. With her dad injured, her mom always at work, and her football star brothers off at college and not speaking to the rest of the family, it falls to D.J. to run the struggling farm as best she can, including the five a.m. milking of all thirty-two cows by hand.
If that wasn't enough to deal with, the Huge Family Fight over Christmas may mean she'll never see her brothers again. Dutiful D.J. takes it all in stride — until she decides to try out for her high school football team, her best friend, Amber, starts acting strange, and she falls in love with the opposing team's quarterback, whom she just happens to be training.
Ahhhhhh I have been drooling over this little gem for awhile. There's so much weighed down reading matter at the moment that I want permission to smile. This sounds like it balances the line between fun and meaningful - just the kind of book I badly need. A book with a girl pushing boundaries when it comes to gender expectations is always great too!
Teach Me - R.A. Nelson
Teach Me invites readers inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between a teacher and student—and gives an up-close-and-personal answer to the question: How does this happen?
I think I saw this one on Alea's blog for the cover art. As a teacher this subject matter immediately makes me sqeamish. But that being said, books aren't always about making your comfortable. The reviews I have read sold me on this one so I am eager to take it all in.
What are you folks reading?