Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Could this be the best book ever? Sure sounds like it to me

You guys, YOU GUYS. SA YA writer Sally-Anne Partridge just wrote a review for Books LIVE about a book I think I am destined to marry. At the end of her review she says " Imagine Supernatural crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with Christopher Pike."

You guys, I love all those things! Supernatural is currently on my PVR, want childhood would have been complete without Buffy and let's be real Christopher Pike is the man when is comes to YA of the 90s.

Here's the full review:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake tells the tale of seventeen year old Theseus Cassio Lowood, or Caz for short, who is a professional ghost hunter like his dad was before him.

After successfully doing away with the spirit of a murderous hitch hiker, Caz and his mother move to the small town of Thunder Bay which has a killer ghost of its own, Anna Korlov, better known as Anna Dressed in Blood, who died at sixteen when she was on her way to a school dance.

Anna turns out to be his most formidable ghost yet. A loner his whole life, Caz finds himself teamed up with a group of friends keen to help him get the job done – the prettiest and most popular girl at school, Carmel Jones; weird goth telepath Thomas Sabin, and jockish jerk Will Rosenberg, whose best friend Mike was Anna’s most recent victim.

Together they bind Anna and release her of her curse, but not before Caz discovers the real girl behind the ghost, and also unleashes the horror voodoo spirit responsible for his dad’s death.

It’s an unusual love story, a thrill-a-minute ghost story, and an unputdownable thriller. It’s the best book I’ve read this year and I don’t say that lightly. I loved that it started right in the thick of the action, its raw edginess and dark subject matter and its pace. Imagine Supernatural crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with Christopher Pike.

I must read this book.

Read more on Books LIVE

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Spoiled Review

What do you get when you give the girls over at the Fug Nation
three-hundred and sixty blank pages with the potential for their
signature wit and satirical hilarity? Spoiled, the story following the
aftermath of what happens when blockbuster-movie sensation Brick
Berlin introduces his long-lost love-child to the smoothie-drinking,
designer-wearing, yoga goers of Los Angeles.

Sixteen year-old Molly Dix is thrown from lukewarm life in Indiana
following the loss of her mother to cancer, and plunged into the
Hills, where nothing is as it seems, and the most prominent two-face
appearance is held by her half-sister Brooke. It’s the ultimate war
between worlds and a refreshing take on the culture clash between a
humble home-grown girl and a trust-fund baby forced to meet common
ground, and with plenty of obstacles (including alleged alcoholism, a
Marc Jacobs wardrobe malfunction, all sorts of sly new allies and cute
but confusing boys) in the way.

What I loved about this book is that it wasn’t an imitation of the
ever-glmaourous and even more so melodramatic style of Cecily von
Ziegesar-like novels of the same calibre. There were no smouldering
eyes and pouty lips, or teenagers trying to exude sexiness whenever
the hormonal opportunity arose, there were no over-elaborate schemes,
no sensationalised scandal, it was a little less sex, drugs and rock
‘n roll, and a little more real. It was short, sweet, and I do admit
it had it’s terribly predictable bits, even for a book that you
already expected not to be even 60% original (if I had a penny for all
the books on my shelf dedicated to detailing the lives of country
bumpkins disrupting sophisticated civilian life, I’d be well on my way
to buying me some Christian Louboutins) there were some moments when I
did some dramatic, heavy-duty eye-rolling at the nauseatingly clichéd
situations and interactions, but not enough for me to mentally slit my
wrists and not nearly enough for those few moments to take away from
the overall brilliance.

And above all, the Fug Girls can write. Like, seriously, they can
really REALLY write. It has all their biting punchlines, it had the
witty deliverance, but it was also sincere in a way that I hadn’t
expected from mockers of celebrity fashion. It was heartfelt and
although the style is still cutesy and fun, it had a visceral quality
at times which was really great to see unfold.

Bottom line, if you want to read a hilarious, genuine, no-nonsense,
classic chick-novel  (my own little adaptation of chick-flick…*laughs
at own hilarity*) then Spoiled is it. As I said, do expect to roll
your eyes and stick a finger down your throat in a mock-gag from time
to time, but it wouldn’t reeeeally be a classic chick-novel without
the cheese-sauce, would it?

A review by the reviewer extraordinaire herself-Bu.

An Oldie but a Goodie: Black Rabbit Summer

The Book: Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks

And it's About?

A smart, tense murder mystery twined with an emotional investigation of the ways love, sex, class, and celebrity can forever change friendships.

Thoughtful Pete, tough Pauly, twins Eric and Nicole, strange Raymond: As kids they were tight; now they've grown up--and apart. They agree to get together one last time, but, twisted by personal histories and fueled by pharmaceuticals, old jealousies surface. The party's soon over, and the group splinters off into the night. Into the noise and heat and chaos of the carnival. Days later, a girl goes missing. The prime suspect in her disappearance? One of their own, one of the old gang. Pete doesn't know what to believe: Could one of his childhood friends really be a cold-blooded killer?

In a Word, it was... Unexpected.

Black Rabbit Summer takes place over the course of a few hot days in the English summer as a once close-knit group of kids hang onto the last remains of their innocence and their friendship. The segzy and damaged Nicole calls up a reluctantly apathetic and thoughtful to the point of neurotic Pete to join her and their old friends for one last hurrah before it's time for them all to go their separate ways. In their early teens, Nicole and Pete had shared that half-formed, half-serious romance of the first years of high school: the kind where you like like each other and that's all you know about luff. Despite some fooling around, nothing really happened and Nicole's call reignites the hope that something might happen inside Pete.

For moral support, he takes his odd friend Raymond along to the meeting. Raymond is the sort of kid who you imagine might actually have a mental disability: he lives almost entirely in his head, is totally neglected by his parents and has only two real friends: Pete and the pet black rabbit that he imagines talks to him.

Even with Raymond briefly around to tag along and keep Pete (temporarily) out of trouble, the mix of alcohol and prescription drugs soon mean that the evening escalates quite rapidly. People go on their own mission as the group descends on the carnival, some never to be seen again.

In a strange way, I never actually thought of Black Rabbit Summer as a thriller and yet now, retrospectively, I see how that genre fits just as easily as realistic YA. I love books set on one day or in a single week so the format was always going to be a winner for me. I also love quiet, intelligent and sensitive boys as the central characters in novels so Black Rabbit Summer already had two things going for it from the start. What I didn't expect were all the lies, secrets, jealousies, lust, love and general complications of being a certain age that that quiet, intelligent and sensitive boy would uncover.

Between the police, a gang of CHAVs out to get him, the media, his missing friends and a growing feeling that things have gone too far to be resolved, Pete has a lot on his plate. Trying to solve the murder mystery is the last of his worries but he realises, just as the reader does, that if he doesn't find out what happened, what he did and what his friend's did that night, by the time the police do, it will be too late.

Black Rabbit Summer is about one night at the carnival, five friends who don't know each other at all, that time just before you knew you were now an adult, class, sexuality, celebrity and a talking rabbit. Five hearts out of five.

An Oldie but a Goodie: Looking for Alaska

I spend a fair amount of time evangelising about some of my favourite YA books and the reasons I got into reading the genre in the first place. Looking for Alaska is definitely one of those books that I feel best represents what realistic YA lit should be about: complex characters, a story that takes you away from yourself and the unsettling feeling of not really being able to shake the book from your bones, even weeks after you're read it.

The Book: Looking for Alaska by John Green

And it's About?

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

In a Word, it was... Enigmatic.

Miles is a bookish but sweet kid, sheltered and used to spending too much time indoors when he escapes the lonelinesssand unpopularity of his pre-private school life. Miles' private boarding school if about 300 times cooler than any high school any of us went to but more than that, he makes friends that you wish had been your friends. The smart, subversive and tough Colonel, Takumi, the token Asian, and, of course, Alaska. She's that damaged girl that every boy wants to fix: beautiful, furtive and artistic.

Shit happens. Much like at his old school, Miles becomes a target for a group of popular bullies. A prank ensues war between Miles' group of friends and those bullies; the "Weekday Warriors" (local rich kids that stay at the school during the week and go back to their "air-conditioned" homes in the weekends). Miles' escalating love and lust for the unattainable Alaska has all the hallmarks of your three-year crush on so-and-so circa ninth grade. And, in a brave move for a YA book in this day and age of self-censorship and children's books with morals, there was enough booze, cigarettes and sex in this book to remind me of my actual days in high school.

Still, it's all the things that don't happen that stayed with me long after I finished this book. Miles' vision of Alaska never quite moves into focus, she's right then but he is looking for her but he can't quite find her. The truth behind a terrible tragedy that befalls on of Miles' group of misfits is never really uncovered. Miles goes to Culver Creek to seek what the poet François Rabelais called “The Great Perhaps" but instead it almost swallows him.

It's pretty rare to find a debut novel with such a punch, nostalgia, humour and the cold comfort of knowing everything did not turn out ok.

In many ways, it's Simón Bolívar’s words “How will I ever get out of this Labyrinth?” that drive each character in this book. They are all crawling, stumbling, racing to find their way out of their own Labyrinth of adolescence, of high school, of poverty, of privilege, of suffering and of grief.

Looking for Alaska is about life at boarding school, unbearable loss, best friends, first loves and last words. Who wouldn't want to read about that? Four hearts and hug out of five.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Faction before Blood: What Would You Choose?

So, while trying to write my review for Insurgent for Day Job, I came across these people who have created a blog dedicated to Amity, the factor of peace and happiness. And of all the factions to dedicate a whole blog to? Team Amity? For reals?

But it did get me thinking: what faction would the people I am friends with choose?

Having taken the quiz on the official Divergent fan page, the natural authority on these things, as I suspected: I'm Dauntless. Yay! I have a feeling that I would have had to transfer though because I also suspect I would have been Erudite-born...

But what about the rest of YABC? Here are my guesses:

Dauntless: Bu, Victoria
Erudite: Zhe, Andre
Candor: Jane
Amity: Ti

That's what I think the aptitude test would have said, anyway but what would you have actually chosen?

Staying on topic: Veronica Roth has a blog and she did a five factions, five days thing. I LOLed.

Happy Divergent reading! (or Insurgent reading for some of you...)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bu Blogs About YABC's Awesomeness... and Why Sex-Lives are Also Awesome

The first meeting of Young Adults Book Club has been a success (photographical evidence included so you know this actually happened and I'm not making this up to make my life seem more exotic.) There was food and WINE, which I have a beautiful love/hate relationship with (the wine, not food), but am willing to swallow the potent, sickly sour grape-juice that’s been sitting in an oak barrel for a hundred years in order to give a false-air of sophistication.

Along with the cupcakes and liquor included some heated debates which ranged from actual YA novels (and even The Di Vinci Code) to the atrocities committed by North Koreans in World War II, although apparently the Japanese and the America’s took the cake for being evil, which is hardly surprising. Also, I picked up some significant lessons from people who are significantly older than I am.

Being the only person born in the vicinity of the 90’s, I picked up some knowledgeable info on what it's like to be a real actual adult:

1) Wine is awesome…drink it. Though not the stuff in the calibur of Four Cousins, because apparently the wrath of that hangover is not even worth it.
2) Jobs suck. Which means I’m shit outta luck, I was hoping high school would be the most hellish 4 years imaginable and then I can finally be a happy, healthy, sane person but clearly that's not going to happen when I have a real actual job.
3) I will have to deal with stupidity for what looks like, the rest of my life. 4)Earning 10 000-15 000 a month is apparently not a large sum of money
5) Sex-lives are also awesome.

I was blind but now I see.

read more of Bu's ramblings about YABC (unite!) and see the pics of our first meeting. yayness!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Go Fug Yourself

Holla lovers!

For those of you interested in reading Spoiled and want to see the tone of the writing, here's the website that the writers of the book started and write on. It's fun!



Bontle's Review of Divergent

Hi y'all, Welcome to YA Book Club's Book Blog. After what I shared last night, thought I should give you a proper review of Divergent so here it is, re-posted from the original I wrote got my day job:
There’s a lot of buzz around this book but for a changed, it’s warranted: this book really is an incredible debut by Veronica Roth. Tris’s life is transformed when she joins the fearless Dauntless faction. Unlike Abnegation, the faction Tris was born and raised in, Dauntless values courage over selflessness, kindness, knowledge or truth. The implications of this are understandably sinister and Dauntless is far from the honourable, brave faction Tris always imagined that it was.

Facing the choice that many young people must eventually make and having to figure out where she fits in to her world makes Tris believable but also likeable. She doesn’t have all the answers but she also doesn’t dwell on the uncertainty and teenage angst. She chooses to embrace Dauntless for what it is and learn all she can to make it through initiation. Being a young adult novel, there is naturally a swoon-worthy love interest and Tris still faces the ordinary problems of all 16 year girls; trying to accept their bodies and their shortcomings. However, the constant threat of death – or worse, failing in the Dauntless initiation and living a life without a community or a home, being factionless – makes the rest seem appropriately trivial.

The writing is lean without too much description or fuss and it’s paced perfectly to get the heart racing with violent and often brutal action from the moment Tris enters the Dauntless compound.   This best thing about this novel is undoubtedly the strength of its female characters. The Bella Swans and Katniss Everdeens of YA have not exactly been the epitome of strong, independent young women: often too caught up in love-triangles and their insecurities to notice that they accidentally become heroes. Tris Prior is a girl with insecurities and issues but also with focus and grit. While she has a somewhat controversial love interest in the form of her instructor, Four, her story is not about love and it’s not about her crush on a boy. Instead, it’s the story of a girl in a brutal environment, where children play with dangerous weapons for sport, people jump off trains for fun and everyone will have to conquer their greatest fears or literally lose everything they hold dear.

Tris’s mother, though initially seeming meek and submission, is just as compelling and complex as Tris is. In their own ways, they prove that it’s possible for a woman to be strong in many ways, to (literally) kick butt but also to be selfless, honourable and smart.   This is probably not a book that most parents would be happy for their 12 year old to read but it will be suitable for readers over the age of 16. While boys way enjoy it for the action, it will definitely strike a chord with any girl longing to find her inner Tris. It would be incredibly surprising if there wasn’t a Divergent movie in development already. And as a bonus, there’s no vampires, no werewolves, no drawn-out love-sickness and no backing down from this book.