Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Amusements 18

It's a short one today as I've been away and been ill, and I'm about to go out!

SisterSpooky's Blogger Thoughts: Swearing in YA explores an issue that I've been thinking about over the last few days. On Friday I  finished reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which has a lot of swearing in it. The f word appears a lot, sometimes several times a page, and I thought it was perfectly normal, but I've read several reviews since by people who find it really offensive. Personally, if I was offended by swearing, I'd give it a one line mention in my review. But it's almost all these reviewers talk about! They don't write about the characters or the plot, just the swearing, and I find that unfair and really quite bizarre. At the same time, when I'm writing, though I'll put in the odd swear word where it seems natural, I'm afraid of putting too many in, in case I'll be asked to remove them all later!

Another thought-provoking post is Relationship History and what I'd like to see more of in YA... at Fluttering Butterflies. It would be great to see more characters dealing with breakups, or long periods of being single. All the talk of soulmates and destiny makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

A list of time-travelling teen fiction, at Stacked (via @strangechemistry).

How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at:
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! is another great post, with advice for getting over a blogging slump.

The Broke and the Bookish ask: If you had to be a book villain, which one would you choose to be and why?
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at:
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at:
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at:
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: The New Girl, by Emily Perkins

In an unnamed town, during a hot, dry summer, Julia, Chicky and Rachel are celebrating the end of school and waiting for the exam results that will determine their futures, whilst trying to decide what to do next. Although their town is dull - so boring that they sign up to a free class at the local library - it's a difficult place to leave. Everything they've ever known is here, and only Julia really thinks that she might leave, inspired by Miranda, their beautiful, charming new teacher.

But Miranda is no angel, having come to escape the city, and the mistakes she made at university. She seems like a positive influence, a breath of fresh air with big ideas and pretty dresses, but the longer she stays, the more her darker side comes out, and her presence cannot remain benign.

The main protagonists are Julia and Miranda, though the novel cycles through many other points of view. I found them both really interesting. Miranda is a narcissist dressed up in Manic Pixie Dream Girl clothing - black hair, fringe, and all. She enjoys inspiring people and getting them to adore her. She's convinced that she knows best and doesn't care about the emotional fallout of her actions. Julia is naïve but intelligent, and she knows that she has to leave the town if she wants to do anything really exciting with her life, though she has a strong emotional connection to her friends and family, especially Chicky, Rachel, and her mother.

I also loved reading about Julia's mother, Mary, who had Julia when she was young, and is now a kind woman who loves her daughter and husband, but is aware of everything she missed out on by staying in the small town. She struggles with her husband's lack of interest in their daughter, and with the possiblity that Julia might leave.

There were some characters that I would have liked to read more about, and some scenes that seemed skipped over. When Miranda first comes to the town, she goes to meet the local women, most of them mothers, at a party hosted by the woman who hired her to teach, Gretchen. We only get to read about the party before Miranda arrives, and I would have liked to have seen how it went. I would also have liked to find out more about Chicky and Rachel, especially Chicky, who is brash and brave and yet seemingly content to stay in the town.

I'd like to read more books that deal with these type of issues - books about deciding what to do next, about the mistakes new adults can make when dealing with people who have been adults for a lot longer than they have. If you like the idea of 'New Adult' but not the fact that most of the books sold under that category are romances, give this a try and let me know what you think, though it is literary fiction - rather than NA or YA - because the story is sometimes told from the parents' point of view. If you have any recommendations for me, please do leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love to See as a Film or TV Show

We don't really say 'Movie' in the UK, so I changed the heading to 'Film'. What? It made me uncomfortable.

Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This is my twenty-seventh Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Books I Would Love to See as a Movie or TV Show

1. Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller - because how many films about awesome girl gangs are there? Not enough. I'd love to actually see the Shadow City.

2. Night School, by C. J. Daugherty - I would love to see the beautiful buildings of the Cimmeria Academy, and all the intrigue would make a great television show.

3. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman - just imagine all the detail that could go into a television adaptation! There is so much drama and angst and heartbreak - it would be devastatingly good TV. Massively controversial though, I'm sure...

4. Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar - you could just pretty much directly adapt this book into a surreal comedy film without making any changes to the plot or characters.

5. Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Vossi - When I read it, I thought that I would definitely watch a film adaptation!

6. The Diary of a Crush trilogy, by Sarra Manning - I'm not so sure that the third book would work (better as a TV film?) but all the ridiculous drama in the first two book would make fantastic telly. And the wardrobe designers would have so much fun dressing Edie, Shona, Poppy, Grace and the art boys...

7. Everything Beautiful, by Simmone Howell - I've never heard of any summer camp films with stories like Everything Beautiful, and I think it would be nice to see.

8. The Forestwife, by Teresa Tomlinson - I have longed for this trilogy to be a TV show ever since I finished reading the first book for the first time. Come on TV bosses, stop making all those standard adapations of the Robin Hood legend and bring this to the small screen instead!

9. Ten Things I Hate About Me, by Randa Abdel-Fattah - I was reluctant to pick any books with 'internet stuff' in them for this list, because we all know that it's usually cringe o'clock when films or television shows feature anything to do with e-mail, but I think this one could work as a television show.

10. A Great and Terrible Beauty, and the rest of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, by Libba Bray - I think this could work as either a film or a TV show. There is so much atmosphere and I'd love to see all the locations!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Monday Amusements 17

I love the barcode scanner on the Goodreads app so much.

YA Contemporary is currently celebrating a School Days Theme Week. I really liked this post by Liz Filleul about how British boarding school stories have changed since the start of the millennium.

Jo of weartheoldcoat reviewed Stone Cold by Robert Swindells, as part of her I Dream of Carnegie challenge, and brought back the memories I have of reading it for the first time!

Unpacking why adults read young adult fiction is an amazing piece by Malinda Lo that pretty much does what it says on the tin. I'd really love to steal that PhD idea!

Call Me Maybe – a quiz of literary pseudonyms (via @bookriot). I got 6/10, which I'm quite surprised by! But I can't answer any of the questions in So Many Books, So Little Time's Book Quiz!

The One Thing White Writers Get Away With, But Authors of Color Don't - sadly, not all that surprising.

I could read about cool libraries all day. 4 Innovative Libraries Transforming Lives Around the World, at Mental Floss.

The Bookette's Guide to... Where we are with children and eBooks and School Libraries is really interesting. I loved my school libraries but remember that they didn't seem to acquire new books very often, unless there was some kind of donation promotion event going on. My secondary school library seemed to be mostly stocked with random adult fiction donations (I read some very odd stuff as a teen thanks to that), and this was long before the recession, so I'm not surprised that they're still short on cash.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Book Review: Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar

My most mundane review photo yet?

I was still ill when I finished Persepolis. I wanted to keep reading, but I didn't want to dive into anything too long and taxing in case my slightly-feverish brain couldn't keep up with it. I surveyed my shelves until I spotted Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, Martin Millar's first novel. I read the book that he is  probably most well known for, The Good Fairies of New York, a couple of years ago, and have slowly been collecting more of his work. Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation is very short - 152 pages - and knowing that it was likely to be easy going, surreal, and silly, I decided that it was perfect for the occasion.

Alby Starvation, the main character, is a small time drug dealer living in Brixton, hiding from an assassin sent by the Milk Marketing Board. At first I thought he was just paranoid, but as the book switches viewpoint and introduces all the other characters, we find out that there is a Milk Marketing Board, and that they are pretty evil. It's not all so unrealistic. There is also a supermarket manager who mainly just wants to buy a hot tub, and his wife, dreading it. Two men, one desperate for attention, the other a master of meditation, battle each other in the video game arcade, with a crowd of fans cheering them on.  Professor Wing is secretly hunting for the crown of Ethelred the Unready, having stolen council equipment for digging up roads. Okay, I'll admit, that's a weird one, but June, the Brazilian assassin, is pretty normal, except for that whole killing people business!

There is only a little magic, in the form of a nurse with healing powers, but most of the events have at least a touch of the surreal. I did find it a bit confusing at the start, as there are a lot of different characters and the narrative jumps around in time a bit, especially in the sections from Alby's point of view. It's very fast paced, but eventually everything falls into place.

If you like stories in which one coincidence after another pushes the characters together in ever more entertaining ways, you'll probably love this. If you need a clear and definite plot and don't like silliness, this won't be the book for you, especially as it ends quite suddenly. Little is resolved, but there are clues that suggest how the characters will end up. The Good Fairies of New York has more of a plot and a more linear narrative, so if you're not sure, try that one first.

I finished this book in a much better mood, and resolved to a) make more of an effort to track down copies of Martin Millar's other books, and b) convince more people to try his work! I should probably hurry up and review The Good Fairies of New York already...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Reading in the Afternoon, Blogging in the Evening

I've been a slow reader for the last couple of years. If I remember rightly, in 2009, the year I finished my MA, I read 91 books. That's my all-time record. I've hit 50 a few times, but that year I read books like it was my job, because it was my job.

My MA is in Creative and Life Writing, and for me, reading and writing are co-dependent. I've never been one of those writers who has to put reading on hold when they're working on a project. Reading helps me to write. There are other things that help me write quickly - green tea, walks, anger, the sudden resurfacing of ordinarily-buried memories. But I have to keep reading too. I can't go too long without it. I have to fill myself up with words to compensate for those I'm putting out. Writing requires reading, and reading induces writing.

Only, there's this thing called blogging...Oh, blogging! How I love you! It's kind of like creative writing, except with almost-instant gratification thanks to comments and retweets. It's very easy to get carried away with it. To find yourself making schedules and other plans and ignoring the little voice that says 'Can we PLEASE work on the novel now?'.

So I get up in the morning and do my morning pages and look at my blog schedule and go 'Oh yes, I must write that before Friday' and I draft whatever it is and then I go to work. I come home and finish it and post it and then I'm too tired to do anything else so I play Flash games on the internet until it's time to go to bed. Or if I don't have work, I fit in some procrastination and some more Flash games instead.

And I don't read any books, and I don't write any books.

After deleting a load of old feeds from my RSS reader a few weeks ago I reached Peak Internet. This doesn't happen very often, but it's a powerful state to be in. Basically, I'm bored of the internet. I can hardly bear the sight of it anymore. I don't want to surf Wikipedia or read depressing articles on The Guardian or play Flash games for longer than ten minutes at a time. This has freed up my mind to do some problem-solving.

I need to read so I can write. I prefer not to read under the light of my yellow lightbulb, which is right above my bed so I can't lie on my back to read without it blinding me. Therefore, I've started reading in the afternoons, after I've done some writing.

IT'S AMAZING. I still manage to blog, but now I'm forced to be more organised, and to procrastinate less. Excellent.

When do you prefer to read? Mornings? Evenings? Afternoons? Do you get most of your reading done during your journey to work, or do you read more at home in the evenings? I read a lot more during the week than at weekends, when I have more social activities competing for my attention. How about you?


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