Thursday, April 22, 2010

POC Reading Challenge

I decided to join the POC Reading Challenge after clicking the link in the left sidebar at Once Upon A Bookcase. I would also like to join the GLBT Challenge but I only have 1 book (as far as I am aware) in my TBR which is eligible. Loads on my wishlist, but wishlist is wishlist and not TBR. I'll probably do a similar challenge in 2011 instead, as I hope to have gotten my TBR down below 100 by then, which will give me enough space for all those wishlist books! Every time I think about this I have to resist rubbing my hands in glee at the anticipation.

(I realise this post is full of acronyms. POC = person/people of colour, GLBT = gay lesbian bisexual transgender, also often spelled LGBT, also often with a Q or two added at the end as well for queer and/or questioning, sometimes with other letters as well, see Wikipedia. TBR= to be read (pile/box/mountain/list). Some people use TBR to refer to all the books they want to read, but like most people that use the term, I use it to refer to the books I own and have not read. Books I don't actually own but want to read are on my wishlist. Wishlist is sometimes abbreviated to WL, but I don't abbreviate it as it takes me less time to type the word than two capital letters.)

I intend to get to Level 2 of the challenge, which means I have to read four to six books this year. I actually have enough books in my TBR to get up to Level 4 (ten), but I don't think I'll be able to read all of them within the year as I am also trying to read for Body Image and Self-Perception Month and my main priority is the teen/YA books on my list (if you're not aware, I'm writing a teen/YA novel - or twelve - myself.). Only two of those ten are teen/YA.

This in its own way actually shows why this challenge is so necessary - I have about 130 books TBR and the vast majority are by white authors, which makes a phenomenal amount of no sense.

So far I have read for this challenge:

1. Push, by Sapphire (also for the Mooky Book Club)
2. Girl Overboard, by Justina Chen Headley
3. to be read
4. to be read

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: Breakers, by Julia Clarke

17-year old Cat Meredith has a difficult life in London with her mother, Bianca, an actor, beautiful, glamourous, but self-absorbed. For most of her life, she and her little sister, Ana, lived with Cat's grandmother, but when she passed away, they had to move into their mother's flat. Bianca is highly emotional and pays little attention to the needs of her daughters. Cat has to work as much as possible at a local shop just so she can earn money to pay for basic things that they both need and Bianca has forgotten about. Cat had a boyfriend, Tim, but he went off backpacking, and has failed to phone her since.

But the most annoying thing is Bianca's current lover, Hugo. He has Bianca wrapped around his little finger, and when one night they go out but he comes back, having told Bianca he forgot his wallet, and tries to seduce Cat, she can't help telling him how much he irritates her. Big mistake. Hugo walks out of the flat, never to return or bother to tell Bianca he was going. Newly-single Bianca decides the best thing is for them all to leave London.

So Cat finds herself in Yorkshire, in need of a new job, new friends, and new love interest...

This is a pretty quick read, a small paperback, designed for the impatient teenagers of the world I think! The characterisation was very good and and I got emotionally involved in the story quickly, which unfortunately was why it disappointed me. There is a lot of conflict in Cat's life, and she has difficult relationships with all her relatives - as well as her mother, she has problems with her sister, who is highly dependent on her and is 11 but acts like she's four most of the time and her father. I expected the novel to resolve some of these issues, or for these relationships to at least change fundamentally, but they don't. When I put the book down, I realised with considerable dismay that it had ultimately been a romance with a bit of family drama thrown in. At times Cat's life just gets so bad I wondered when she was going to explode, and she never did. I wanted the family issues to be dealt with. They took up so much of the book, I felt cheated by the rather flat conclusion. This may have been down to publishing restrictions, the author might have had to rush the ending. Either way it is a shame as I enjoyed what I read until the ending, which seemed to come far too soon, without covering all the ground the book should have.

I would recommend this book, it is very well written despite the issues I have outlined above, but bear in mind that it will be a romance in the end! Like I said above, the size makes it ideal for teenagers with a short attention span, and teenagers will probably not mind so much about the ending. It is out of print at the moment, as far as I can tell, but can be bought from Amazon Marketplace and other stores that sell second hand books.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Book Review: The Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

After a terrorist attack in her old home, Metro City, Jane Beckles' parents decide to move away to the suburban town of Kent Waters. She joins the local school and decides that she doesn't want to have the superficial friendships she had in Metro City any more. When the most popular girl in school invites her to sit at her table, Jane walks away, choosing to eat with the group of misfit girls instead. She asks them their names and decides that she, Theatre Jane, brainy Jayne, and sporty Polly Jane should be a gang immediately.

Jane is still making trips back to Metro City - when the bomb exploded she found herself lying in the street beside a man who is now in a coma, they call him John Doe. Jane treasures the sketchbook she 'borrowed' from him, which has 'Art Saves' written on the cover. She writes to him regularly, and we see these letters in the book. Jane decides to see if art can save, to try to make the outside world more beautiful for her, and the Janes become an art gang, called P. L. A. I. N. - People Loving Art In Neighbourhoods. They start sneaking around at night, creating public artworks - like putting bubbles in fountains and a whole load of garden gnomes together - but since the bomb went off in Metro City, people have closed their minds and they are frightened by the anonymous displays, leading to curfews and police warnings...

I really enjoyed The Plain Janes. It has a fast paced yet emotionally striking storyline, and I liked the idea of a gang of girls secretly making public art pieces. The art works for the most part, although it is sometimes too sparse, I would have liked more detail, especially in the interior of buildings. The Janes' characters do rely too much on clich├ęs, and the main Jane, Jane Buckles, and Theatre Jane, have more space spent developing their characters than the other two. I would also have liked to see some aspects of the plot explained in more detail, to see some of Jane's life before the terrorist attack. There is a lot crammed into to this short book, which is overall a good thing, but I often wanted it to be fleshed out more. The book doesn't have a real ending, it just cuts off - but there is a sequel, Janes In Love, that concludes the girls' story. There were originally meant to be several books in this series, but the Minx imprint was cancelled.

I think The Plain Janes is a fantastic read for teenagers, with its themes of rebellion and friendship. Jane is a great heroine for teenage girls to look up to, but the story could appeal to boys too. It would be especially good for reluctant readers, as the style is very filmic and it is quick to get through, thinner than the average paperback and light to carry around. Adults should enjoy this too but they are more likely to wish it was longer and that the characterisation and plot was filled out more.

The Plain Janes was the first release under the DC Comics imprint Minx, aimed at young girls and cancelled after only two years. It is the first book in this imprint that I have read, I have now read four and hope to read all the others that made it to print before the line was cancelled, look out for more Minx reviews coming up!

The Plain Janes is written by Cecil Castellucci, who has three published YA novels and is also a musician. Her website is . The art is by Jim Rugg, best known for his work on the comic book series Street Angel.

The BookDepository

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Mooky Book Club

An online book club has been set up on the Mookychick forum. The first book that we will be reading is Push by Sapphire, the book that the recent film Precious was based on. We're in good company, as the SYP's London Book Club read it last month.

I got my copy from the library a couple of days ago, hopefully I will be reading it soon. This year, to cut down my huge TBR (to be read) pile, I resolved to read two books I that I own for every one library book, but a few days later I decided more drastic action needed to be taken and decided to read three books I own for every library book. The last book I read (The Diamond of Drury Lane) was a library book, so I now have to read three books of my own before I can read Push.

If it is really 'The Color Purple for the nineties' it's going to make me cry and I'll read it all in a day, because that's how The Color Purple went for me!

If you want to join in, all you have to do is become a member of the Mookychick forum, which is free. It's a nice place and the members are very welcoming.


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