- Beastly - Alex Flinn (read this evening)
- Knife - RJ Anderson (ditto)
- Once - Morris Gleitzman
- The Agency: A Spy in the House - YS Lee
- So Lyrical - Trish Cook
- ...they are all up for debate, it's what I grab in the moment.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Review - Princess Ben is a complete departure from the Dairy Queen series in which I feel in love with Catherine Gilbert Murdock's writing. Princess Ben is set in fantastical Montagne where the young princess is orphaned when her parents and uncle, part of the royal party, are attacked. Ben's world is turned upsidedown, she needs to find the strength, courage and ingenuity that she has never needed to use before. Murcock is supreme at crafting complex, stubborn and very relatable female characters. Not only that but this novel, amidst the magical and the amazing, depicted very accurate binge eating as a coping mechanism.
The language used is so very different from Dairy Queen but equally strong. Each character is beautiful drawn with unique voices and motivations. Fairy tales are debunked, the truth of these stories interwoven effortlessly through the narrative. In some ways it reminded me of the Drew Barrymore movie, Ever After but far superior. Ben doesn't need rescuing, she just needs an opportunity.
Murdock plain amazes me and I am very excited to see what her next project will be outside of the Dairy Queen.
Published: March 2008
Format: Paperback, 344 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
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Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Text Publishing (Aust.) - September 2009
Set in a glamorous and seedy Los Angeles, Hollywood Ending is a story that will make your heart skip a beat.
Pink-haired Hilda and endearing punk Benji are two seventeen year olds with an obsessive hobby—they haunt the places where Hollywood celebrities have died.
In rundown Echo Park they find the squalid apartment where a second-rate silent movie star stabbed himself to death. Its current tenant is Hank, an old man with a mysterious past.
While Benji dives deeper into the cult of celebrity death, Hank and Hilda make an unlikely pair. Then Jake the screenwriter turns up. What's his story?
I had heard briefly of this title somewhere a while ago. My memory was triggered last night when the fabulously talented Stephanie Kuehnert tweeted: "...wrote my first "blurb" for a book. Hollywood Ending by Kathy Charles. Dark and disturbing the way good books should be. Unlike any other YA".
This novel has also been blurbed by Australian YA author (and one of my faves), Simmone Howell. She said this about the book "Dark, funny, endlessly fascinating and beautifully human. I stayed up all night reading Hollywood Ending and then had crazy dreams."
Now tell me that you don't want to read this book...
Here's the trailers:
Here's a list of online bookstores that might be able to help you out:
Angus & Robertson
Australian Online Bookshop
Australia's ...QBD The Bookshop
Leading Edge Books
Pages and Pages Booksellers
And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?
Review - Raw Blue can be described in one sole word - powerful. It's a book that examines the tough elements and people in life with a roaring crash tackle. Carly has experienced something (deliberately being vague) that has wiped her previous life away, instead all she looks forward to is the joy of surfing.
Carly's one messed up, ball of anger. She's alone, vulnerable, and in immense pain. She also a walking contradiction - an absolute slob at home but paranoid about food poisoning at her cafe's kitchen. Eager fills the page with the minutia of Carly's work life - her responsibilities as a cook, her feelings and concerns for her co-workers and how to make Eggs Benedict. In contrast, her life outside of her work and that of her past, is spotty at best. It's an excellent depiction of the effect unresolved anger has on every facet of one's life.
It's a truly impressive debut work - dark, full of turmoil with the occasional cloud break - just like the ocean. The characters are all well crafted. Danny is one that particularly struck me because he was so unexpected, for the reader and for Carly also. He adds some vital whimsicality to the novel, his synaesthesia is a condition that I have never heard of and now wish to know more about. It's a book that challenges the reader to stick with it, just as Carly challenges those to stay with her.
It's an extremely real, tense book that will move you. It's an impressive start to a promising career.
Published: 29th June 2009
Format: Paperback, 273 pages
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Website - http://www.kirstyeagar.com/
Blog - http://www.kirstyeagar.com/blog/
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Author: Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)
"Could she? Could she also tell that I was only dressing up in this pink cashmere jumper? And could she tell that I was really a quasi-goth-emo lesbian? I hoped not."
What is there not to gravitate towards with that enticing snippet? Quite possibly the MOST pink cover art I have ever seen without the benefit of an absurd amount of glitter.
Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he's staying behind in Chicago "to tie up loose ends," and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.
She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don'ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They'll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys -- an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.
But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston -- the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email -- Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.
Review - The concept of The Book of Luke isn't especially new - spurned girls take revenge on knuckle headed guys and learn about love. But had this book not been about revenge, it still would have been an enjoyable look at the different ways that our gender's approach courtship. Emily is a wet blanket for a fair chunk of the book but Luke challenges her repeatedly - in words and in actions - and from that she learns, grows and becomes decidedly less self-pitying. She is also able to be more honest with him than she is with her friends.
It's questionable whether a teen would want their friend to hook up with her ex in the effort to "train" him but I went along for the ride. O'Connell has a great rhythm with her dialogue, each character is defined. Emily experiences authentic growth and suffers repercussions for her careless actions. More focus on the family would have been lovely but that being said, the brother was the only odd beat in the novel. It might not be issue-based YA, but it has a strong heart and a nice message about embracing who you are with some snappy dialogue, some great URST and great girl interchanges.
A fun read about the games we play with the opposite sex.
Published: April 2007
Format: Paperback, 290 pages
Publisher: MTV Books
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Review - It's a truth universally acknowledged that Adele prefers Maureen Johnson's secondary characters over her protagonists. Suite Scarlett was a cute read - it was fun, frothy and focused on the apple of every YA blogger's eye, Spencer. It has a nice heart, some nice introspection but it failed to rock my world.
First of all, Spencer is great in that he's the male focus of this novel, being the big brother rather than the love interest. He's funny, he's charming, he's flawed. Like 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I found the protagonist (Scarlett) to be a little blah. Johnson tends to overwhelm her leading ladies with swirling events and larger than life secondary characters. Ultimately, it is these characters that you remember, the kooky Spencer, the dramatic Mrs Amberson and the tantrum-throwing Marlene.
While I have been critical, I did enjoy Suite Scarlett. The protagonist learns that her brother is fallible, her older sister isn't an icicle and her little sister has a heart. The love interest Eric is blandly tolerable, which is kinda the point with the events that occur. I couldn't help but wish the novel was from Spencer's or Lola's point of view, which could be a reflection of my age. Regardless, it was a fun, light read.
Published: May 2008
Format: Hardback, pages
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Note - I am not giving up, I have purchased Girl At Sea with the hopes I will be won over by MJ's books (rather than just her blog).
Sunday, 5 July 2009
IMM is a concept by Alea and Kristi - long may they reign.
Sprout - Dale Peck
How many secrets can you hide in plain sight? Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible.
The reviews I have read so far are making me eager to read this one. Not that the reviews are bad, just so-so.
The Bride's Farewell - Meg Rosoff
On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees - determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. And then she meets a hunter - infuriating, mysterious and cold. His fate appears to be strangely entwined with her own.Will he help her to find what she seeks? Or must she continue to wander the earth, searching for love and lost things . . .
I am embargoed on this one until late October so I won't read it for awhile. Not sure what to expect other than an entrancing read.
Pink - Lili Wilkinson*
Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she's a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.But while she's busy trying to fit in - with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew - Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined.
Totally fun cover. In the midst of my own musical upbringing (meaning I watched them, I have no talent) and my recent fascination with Glee, I am excited to read this little, pink jewel. (Side note - I love a movie from a few years back called Camp, which is all about a musical theatre sleep away camp - mountains of naughty fun!)
Saltwater Moons - Julie Gittus*
In the beginning it seems so simple. A poem in the mail. A weekend invitation to the coast. But when Sun says yes to a midnight walk, her life becomes suddenly complicated. Saltwater Moons tells the story of Sun Langley during her final months of Year Twelve. There's the intensity of her first relationship, complicated by the fact she continues to exchange poems with her boyfriend's best mate. It's a story about love and betrayal, about constantly longing for the things we can't have.
Such a lovely cover. Published last year, I think this might be starting off a theme of books that are hard going at the moment. By "hard", I am referring to emotionally taxing. Can't wait to get stuck into it.
Once - Morris Gleitzman*
ONCE is the story of children in the Holocaust, poignant and powerful without being frightening or graphic. With his gentle and utterly alive manner, Gleitzman reads the tale of Felix, a Jewish boy who runs away from the convent where his parents had him hidden and roams the countryside with an orphaned girl until they find their way to the cellar of a print shop in the Warsaw ghetto, where an old dentist has been protecting lost children.
I am thinking of using this as my term 3 class text. I can't believe I haven't read it yet but that will soon change. It's apparently both moving and amusing, which is Gleitzman's calling card.
Knife - R.J. Anderson
As the Faery Queen's appointed Hunter, Knife alone has the courage and skill to fight the crows and other predators who threaten the Oakenfolk's survival. Yet neither she nor the Queen can do anything to stop a mysterious magical disease from claiming the faeries of the Oak one by one. But there are humans at the bottom of the garden, and a glimpse inside their House convinces Knife that they have powers and knowledge that could help her people. Still, if the human world has so much to offer, why is the Queen determined to keep the faeries away from it? Is there a connection between the House and the Oakenfolk's loss of magic? And why is Knife so drawn to the young Paul McCormick — that strangest of creatures, a human male?
Knife determines to learn the truth about the Oakenfolk's relationship to humanity, no matter what the Queen might do to prevent her — a quest which threatens the growing friendship between herself and Paul, puts both their lives in jeopardy, and challenges everything Knife has ever believed about humans, faeries, and her own heart's desire. And when at last Knife discovers the secret the Faery Queen has been hiding, she is forced to make an agonizing choice between love and freedom that will change her life, and the lives of her people, forever.
I told RJ that I hadn't seen it on the shelves anywhere and I hadn't. One hour and four bookstores later, I found it's delightfully purple (and shiny) loveliness. I suspect this will be a faery week for me!
Girl At Sea - Maureen Johnson
Sometimes you have to get lost.
The Girl: Clio, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.
The Mission: Survive her father's annoying antics. Oh, also find some underwater treasure that could be the missing link to a long-lost civilization.
The Crew: Dad's absentminded best friend Martin, his scary girlfriend Julia, her voluptuous daughter Elsa . . . and then there's Aidan, Julia's incredibly attractive, incredibly arrogant research assistant.
What's going on behind Aidan's intellectual, intensely green eyes, anyway?
As Clio sails into uncharted territory she unveils secrets that have the power to change history. But her most surprising discovery is that there's something deeper and more mysterious than the sea—her own heart.
I didn't like 13 Little Blue Envelopes and warmed up to Suite Scarlett. This is my third attempt at seeing if I can fall for MJ's writing - I love her in person, just not so much in words...yet. I have been told this is many blogger's favourite so I am giving it a go.
Note - *'s indicate Australian authored titles.