Thursday, 16 July 2009
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
Review - Beastly is the modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast from the male perspective. Imagine the hottest, richest, most morally impaired guy from your high school days and then have him cursed by a witch who calls his bluff. It's perfection.
Flinn has managed to make Kyle, a thoroughly ghastly individual, evolve into the introspective, learned Adrian with an ease that her fellow authors would be envious of. The use of magic, while central in his predicament, takes a back seat to the human elements of the story. In seeing people through the magic hand glass he is able to see past the surface gloss that he was previously enamoured with. He can see how deep the people in his life are and learns about life, empathy and being a better person. It would have been easy to make him irredeemable but Alex has a world of hurt that he also needs to resolve to have the curse lifted.
At its centre, Beastly is about how loving a good woman (Linda) heals Kyle. While I appreciate the romantic sentiment, I would have preferred for Kyle to have healed himself with Will's assistance. If a modern story retelling can have a girl rescue herself instead of the white knight, then why not have the Beast save himself too?
Flinn has a direct writing style that I much enjoyed. The inside of the transformation chatroom were particularly amusing. She hasn't allowed the story to be bogged down with fluff, rather she's focused on the emotional turmoil of both Kyle and Linda. It was a great read that wasn't overly challenging but contained enough tweaks to the original formula to make it entertaining.
Published: October 1, 2007
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
_ _ _
I read Alex Flinn's Beastly over the weekend and was shocked to learn that they are already in production. I quite liked the book, the allusions to Beauty and the Beast, the integration of a tech-savvy teen and some magic as well.
But as a movie?
Here's my thoughts on the casting:
KYLE - Britain's Alex Pettyfer is pretty but has that sharp edge to him that James Spader used so well in the 80s, except he's prettier. (As you can see, I am really shallow). He was Alex Rider in Stormbreaker but I don't have any opinions on him acting wise. I am just impressed they didn't hire a 27 year old actor from the latest CW hit show. Do I think he will play a good Kyle/Adrian? I have a sneaking suspicion he might...and it has nothing to do with the 'pretty'.
The makeup? I am not so sure about because he's supposed to be beastly. Hence the title. Where's the hair? Instead he looks like the Joker after falling into the chemical tank and before the ridiculous makeup. Still it's enough to break a pretty boy's heart and that was the aim of the spell.
KENDRA - The witch who's behind it all as played by one of the Olsens (Mary Kate if you want to be exact but who really cares.) I know she's been in Weeds but it smacks of deliberate, publicity whoring casting to me. Couldn't they have hired an unknown?
WILL - The blind tutor will be played by Neil Patrick Harris. No complaints here, the boy can do everything and anything.
LINDA - Okay here's where I get super annoyed. Vanessa Hudgens? Really? That's the best you can freaking do. How are they going to make her plain? Put her hair in a ponytail? This girl has about as much talent as a paperclip. Her acting range is completely determined by how far she can lean her head to the left and depth of her dimples. I am officially aghast. I don't see a way that she can convey Lindy in an honest or real way. (Before people start crucifying me for hating HSM, I actually thought Zac Efron was reasonably good in the third movie, considering the material. Yes, I saw the third movie - I am offficially embarrassed. But I will reiterate, Miss Hudgens is in no way a thespian.)
Director/Screenwriter...Daniel Barnz was quoted as saying this :"It's sort of a curious mixture of Juno, Twilight and Say Anything. The premise is this incredibly magnetic good-looking 17-year-old guy is transformed into somebody who is hideously ugly and must find love in order to reverse that. So there are shades of Beauty and the Beast in it." This does not give me hope. He's definitely after the Twilight market like a Twilighter in heat. I don't see any of those movies in Beasty. It makes me genuinely scared for Ms Flinn.
Review - How can you be true to yourself, when you have no idea who you actually are? If you want to get to the centre of this pink-fetish delight, then that question is what you would find. Pink is fabulous because it's the antithesis of what it sounds like. There's nothing soft, fluffy or sweet about this novel. Wilkinson's slices, dices and shreds her way through dialogue to get to the real heart of the matter...and the characters. I mean that in the best way possible, teens don't cushion the truth and neither do the characters. In contrast there's are some lovely quiet moment. Pink was an immeslely funny and involving story that is populated with so many zingers that you'll think you're on a roller coaster while experiencing a sugar high. It's that good. But most importantly is possesses a heart.
Ava's gay but she's not a hundred percent sure. She wants to be normal and have the typical teen experience. Like all teenagers she has people all around her attempting to mould her into what they think she should be. In changing schools, Ava is working towards becoming what she feels she needs to be. She needs...to wear pink, to be with the "in" crowd and date boys. It's much, much more than the summary implies. Why? Because there are the amazingly obnoxious, whip-smart and adorable back stage crew of the musical that might have more in common with her than she'd like. I love this crew, particularly the wonderfully blunt Jules. I want to adopt that boy.
Wilkinson knows her demographic and she's got a mighty deft touch in writing witty repartee. Pink is a fun read but it delves into many themes that are true to the teen experience regardless of sexual orientation. Disconnected parents, sexuality, emotional neglect, betrayal, self-doubt and the struggle for independence are all here in a wonderfully witty, pink package. There's no bow tied ending here but the conclusion will greatly satisfy with it's realistic edge.
A great novel that shades the line between what is and what can be. Be who you want to be, even if that does involve wearing pink ;)
Published: August 2009
Format: Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
_ _ _
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Karen Healey is one of the many fantastic Tenners that is currently roaming the YA blogosphere like graceful gazelles. Her debut GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD will be released via Little, Brown and Allen&Unwin in 2010. Karen's a top chick and she is giving away Australian and New Zealand YA titles on her blog. Catch it over here, there's a new title each week. Hurrah for OZ/NZ YA!
Book Blogger Appreciation Week
I am unfortunately seeing this movie on Friday night. It's unfortunate as normally I would go alone to the first screening but my friend has convinced me to be less anti-social which involves waiting.
I am a huge Hermoine/Ron shipper so I can't wait for the immense argy-bargy that will be occurring in this movie. Also, Jim Broadbent...I love him, he's Prof Slughorn and I so want to adopt him as a grandfather. My most fervent wish for this movie is that Emma Watson's eyebrows take a chill pill, her fake laugh becomes less fake and that she learns to express anger/sadness/frustration/anything with something other than scowl. Here's hoping!
I was awarded the The Kreativ Blogger Award from readergirl -thank you so much!
This is also a meme, so here are the rules: If you accept it, you are supposed to list seven of your favorite things (I am going to be superficial) and nominate seven blogs that deserve this award (I am changing this to 3 because my brain might implode).
1. Diet Coke
2. Pacey (VERY superficial)
4. Libraries and those that keep them running (not superficial)
6. Young Adult Literature
7. Public transport (my reading viagra)
Who am I passing this onto?
1. Khy at Frenetic Reader - Check my Gallery section if you need to know why.
2. Mitali at Alley of Books - she's a brand new blogger friend and I heart her
3. Kristi at The Story Siren - her ALA posts have made me feel a part of the awesomeness!
I have been given a HUGE honour but I can't say anything for another week. It's killing me.
I am working on a document that will provide a guideline for bloggers (new and old) on what's acceptable in the YA blogosphere. I have emailed MANY YA authors and bloggers about the different facets of blogging behaviour from ARC requests, public events, swag asks, blogger requests etc. I emailed all those people that were in my contact list so I have missed heaps of people. If you have something to contribute please email me at p.snark (at) gmail (dot) com. I am not revealing names of any contributors as I don't want to make this accusatory. BUT having read some emails already I have learnt a lot.
Buying Australian YA
I have added a link in my top link bar so that you can find an online Australian bookseller to order a title that's grabbed their interest.
The Cutting Edge
There was an extended twitter discussion about the 1990 movie, The Cutting Edge, last night. It's the perfect blend of ice skating, angry URST, bad music and plain old awesomeness. You'd be surprised how many people adore this movie. If you haven't seen it, do so...immediately.
And I'm done!
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Review - Upon reading Julie Gittus' debut novel, Saltwater Moons, it is easy to be struck by how authentic the novel is to the teen experience. There are no dashing leads, outrageously attractive people or supernaturally gifted species. It's about teens, the beach and the need for independence and it's written superbly.
Gittus has taken a fairly meek character and made her experiences and decisions intensely personal. She's taken such a gentle approach that at times you don't realise how much a moment had affected you until minutes later. It's definitely an emotion swirler! Each character is very clearly declined and understandable. Even the bad decisions are ones that you can empathise with, especially impressive when some of their actions are intolerable.
The use of poetry and art throughout is beautifully achieved. Reading this novel is life being swallowed by a warm, calm wave. It's all encompassing, soothing and moving. Romance might be at it's core with her interactions with Tycho and her lusty ones with Mark, but the family plot line is so truthful, strained and delicate that it pulls you in too. The writing is deliberate, effortless and intoxicating.
I can't say enough good things about this novel. It saddens me that it hasn't gotten more attention. It's about growing as a person, Independence, love and loss - it's about the real teen experience. It's this good - “I looked down at Tycho's painting and I thought: Is this me? Has all my goodness vanished within a week? Good … bad … I decided they were baby words. Meaningless …” When's the next one coming, Julie?
Format: Paperback, pages
_ _ _
Note - You can purchase copies of this book through sites listed in the Buy OZYA link at the top of the blog or through Julie for $20 which includes postage anywhere (contact her via juliegittus (at) bigpond (dot)com.)
Monday, 13 July 2009
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.
Review - Oh faery, where art thou? Well Knife's whooping it up in the forest and in the McCormick household. She's no ordinary faery, she wants and needs to know more about the outside, humans and the history of her own people. Anderson has created a rich world in Knife (Spell Hunter in the US). Both the faery and human worlds are very separate and very distinct. While there is much fun to be had in the magical aspects of faeries, and their general mythos, it's the relationships that really take hold of the reader. Not just the romatnic relationships either, that of maternal love, leadership and friendship are all explored in both worlds.
Anderson has managed to have two characters question their existence without weighing the concept down with heavy handed parallels. The romance isn't contrived or predictable. It doesn't rely on love at first sight, rather it explores the strength of inter-species friendship and how this can morph into love. I loved the evolution of this pairing and of Knife and Paul's separate arcs as well.
I particularly love the detail provided about faery existence, breeding and storytelling. Information was mixed throughout demonstrating a firm grasp of pacing and intrigue. Much of this tale revolves around self-sacrifice in the name of love and I fell for these characters. I want them to flourish and cannot wait until the second book is released.
Format: Paperback, 327 pages
_ _ _
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Serialised books have always been a part of reading, especially in Middle Grade and Young Adult titles. In fact, the Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High and RL Stine's horror filled books (prior to Goosebumps) were a huge part of my tween reading. Sequels are written and published for a specific reason, to quench the thirst of the audience but often there are issues:
My big problem is usually the second title. Why? Let me tell you...
- Long, meandering plots that usually fail to lead anywhere or even worse, a lukewarm, supposedly thrilling cliffhanger. Unnecessarily long!
- The introduction or ramping up of the third member of the love triangle. Occasionally there will be a fourth and I would argue very few of us have been involved in love quadrangles as teens. These relationships are usually depicted as snark, snogging and....then nothing. Just an excuse for two characters to have a fight over a third character that never really had a chance to begin with (but confusingly might have due to the next point).
- Huge inconsistent character turns that contradict what was depicted in book 1 or as I like to call it "the whoa-180". Like none of us have witnessed a character we know and love do something completely against type for the soul purpose of plumping up the narrative?
- Many allusions to events that will occur in book 3 with little focus on the events occurring in Book 2.
- Mary Sues
- In paranormal/fantasy- the doubling or quadrupling of supernatural interactions/fights because who can be bothered writing some character development?
- Book 2 is sometimes a necessary evil for a great home run (Book 3.)
My point is....sometimes standalone is better. John Green hasn't written a sequel and neither has Sarah Dessen. The latter has found a great way of giving the reader a glimpse at her older characters by sprinkling them in her subsequent novels. There's a brush of information and the rest is up to your imagination. It's brilliant.
Not every book needs to be a series. Not every author should be aiming to write a series. Let's face it, that first title was probably a WIP for a substantial amount of time. If that novel is then a success, there will probably be a sequel. A not-necessarily-planned sequel written in very little time or with any forethought. Hence my higher regard for titles that are spanned out over a longer space of time- not at the beck and call of the publisher. That being said, there are sequels that comes out quickly, that are of a high standard. They are usually titles that were always intended to be part of a multi-arc series. I can blather on as much as I want. People are sure to find fault in what I am saying.
The thing is...sequels should be well thought out, well written and not published purely for the dollar. They should be motivated by the need to genuinely tell more of the story. If there isn't much more story to tell - the protagonist's journey has been concluded - then there should not be a following novel. It's after this that many of the above points come into play...specifically the artificial conflict created to extend the life of a character.When you simplify a book it's all about what the character wants ...and sometimes all the character wants is retirement.
That being said, there are many novels that I am eagerly awaiting the next title of as they are well written and there is more for the protagonist to achieve. They have been planned as a such, but should the series not be released, then the first can be fantastic as a standalone. The balance is tough and not all authors are successful in achieving this balance. But then again, there are many that are and amazingly so.
I have probably missed many ideas but what are your thoughts on sequels...
I am in an incredibly lucky position where some very sweet authors are mailing me their novels of late, from both within Australia and abroad. I would like to thank these generous people for doing so personally or through their publishers (the fab F&F and MTV). I am not someone who asks people for their books, ARCs or not, so I feel incredibly blessed and very lucky that people think of me (despite the postage costs).
Also a big shout out to the marvellous people within the Australian publishing houses who I have established (dare I say) strong friendships with. These awesome people have been so unbelievably generous with their books and their time (the gushy emails) that I am constantly pinching myself.
Gush over. Now onto the books.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder - Julie Halpern
It's Jessie's sophomore year of high school. A self-professed "mathlete," she isn't sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved off his mohawk and started dating...the prom Princess!)... Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way--the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes? If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?
I am a self-confesses geek, so nerds are my brethren (social outcast cousins, so to speak) so I am excited to read this one. I like approachable older brothers in YA too for some reason. I think it speaks to my ongoing wish for one.
Get Well Soon - Julie Halpern
Anna Bloom is depressed -- so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her.But wait!Being trapped in a loony bin isn't supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it?
Julie was super lovely and sent me this one too. It's yellow and had me at the upside down smiley face. It's a hardcover too, something we don't see regularly here so it always gives me a buzz. Though I agree with A2 (Alea), they are bothersome to carry around. Anna Bloom is what I'd like to call the perfect name, it works.
Grace - Morris Gleitzman
In the beginning there was me and Mum and Dad and the twins.And talk about happy families, we were bountiful.But it came to pass that I started doing sins.And lo, that when all our problems began.
I don't love the cover but I am so excited to read this little gem. Morris is so fantastic as melding humour and issue in a seamless way that kids love. I am going to be interviewing him (soonish) so if you have any questions please tell me.
Billionaire's Curse - Richard Newsome
Someone has stolen the world’s most valuable diamond and a constable lies unconscious in the British Museum, two sedative darts protruding from his backside.
Not something Gerald Wilkins knows or cares anything about.
Not until he finds himself on a private luxury jet heading for London to attend the funeral of a great aunt he has never met. Not until he inherits her estate, worth twenty billion pounds. Not until he opens a bundle of envelopes from his dead great aunt.
Was she murdered? Who stole the diamond? And what is the mysterious casket that everyone seems to be looking for?
With the help of the Valentine twins, the rat-fearing Sam and the gymnastic champ Ruby, Gerald’s got a mystery to solve. A mystery that will take them into secret passageways, a musty bookshop, an ancient crypt, a ruined tower and a colossal cavern where the secret of a priceless treasure lies protected by deadly booby traps.
Sounds a little more MG. I am not overly fond of the action-y novel but let's see.
Beatle Meets Destiny - Gabrielle Williams
Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle.And then you meet your Dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney.But what if you're already with the perfect girl?A novel about change, chance and everybody doing the wrong thing.
I have heard smashing things about this book, CANNOT wait to crack it open and have a look.
After - Sue Lawson
CJ has been banished to the country to live with his grandparents.
His attempt to fade into the background at his new school is thwarted when Luke Bennett, a boy suffering from a brain injury, befriends him.
Here he learns that no matter how hard you try to run from the past it is always right there in front of you, waiting.
I reviewed this book awhile back but it won't be posted for another month. I was lucky enough to be asked to write a comment for the back cover and since I loved it, I was like 'YES'. As for the comment, I won't post that picture just yet...just know that Persnickety Snark sounds a lot more cluey that I would normally. It's all me but I sound smart, shock horror.
Choices - Dianne Wolfen
Elizabeth has to make the choice of her life. Seventeen and pregnant: does she sacrifice her dreams for a baby, or do something she’s not sure she can live with? Under pressure from her parents, she’s juggling a boyfriend she’s not sure she can trust, a best friend she keeps pushing away and her own indecision. Something’s got to give. It’s the hardest year she’s ever faced — what choice will she make?
Issue books require me to psych myself up to reading them. This one sounds intriguing.
Shutterspeed - AJ Betts
Living alone with his silent father and the shadow cast by his long-dead mother, Dustin waits. All he wants is to slip under the radar and survive what’s left of high school; get through his work at the photo lab, get by. Beyond that lies real life. Then one Sunday, a single photo gets stuck in the processor and it changes everything. The bike in the picture is decent, for once, a Ducati Monster 620, cherry red. The woman beside it is striking too. What begins then as an innocent curiosity in Terri Pavish, her photography, her freedom, her speed, becomes something else, and the past swings full-circle to haunt him.
In Ecstasy - Kate McCaffrey
Mia and Sophie have been best friends forever — but that’s all about to change. Experimenting with alcohol, flirting with boys, and dabbling in drugs, their lives quickly spiral out of control.
This one is supposed to be a doozy. I have yet to read any of Kate's work but I guess an award winner is a great place to start :)
Many of you have asked where you can get Aussie books that haven't been published in the US. I have added a link at the top of the blog (Buying OZYA) full of different online bookstores that will help you out. Cheers and happy reading.