This post could also be titled Why the Book is Always Better than the Movie, by Nancy Dunne. This is, in my grown up opinion, one of the best YA/9-12 series of books I’ve seen in a long time. The main character, Greg, is an awkward pre-teen who has been given a diary journal by his mother, and the books are basically his handwritten words with cartoons drawn in to help explain the story. These books are hilarious, especially to those of us who were awkward but didn’t really know it at the time.
Greg’s mother and father play important roles in his story, as do his older brother Rodney and baby brother Manny. Greg’s best friend Rowdy is the typical kid who has hit pre-teen land but would rather stay in little-kid world. There are other characters who, when they make appearances in the book, will remind you of kids you knew growing up and will surely remind younger readers of other kids they see every day at school.
The movie…well, I’m not a movie reviewer, but I tend to always think that the movie/TV show is better than the book. In this case, I believe it to be true. There is so much in the book that can’t be put on the screen faithfully. While I think the movie makers tried their best (and there is even a book to prove it that shows how the movie was made), this is one work that needs to remain on the page. It’s the Diary…not the web log.
I loved these books and anxiously await anything else that Jeff Kinney writes. Get them for your kids but read them yourself. Neither of you will be disappointed.
I spoke in an earlier post about the Immortals series, by Alyson Noël. If you remember, it was not one of my favorites of the YA fiction series I’ve read recently. However, there is something in the books that keeps me reading them. Perhaps I just need some closure.
I have not made it to the point that I’ve read Dark Flame, the latest in that series published here in the UK (I believe that the next one, Night Star, has already been published in the US, but there you are). But when I was given an ARC of Radiance by a co-worker, I was intrigued. In the Immortals books, one of my favorite characters has become Riley, the younger sister of Ever who became a ghost after the car wreck that killed the rest of Ever’s family.
Radiance is, I believe, classified as for the 9-12 crowd rather than teen, and that’s appropriate because one of the biggest complaints Riley has is that she died before she could become a teenager. The story tells us what happens after she crosses the bridge with her parents (the one that Ever didn’t cross because she was brought back to mortal life). She takes on the task of helping those that have become stuck in between the worlds to cross over, and it is said to be the first in a series.
I think that Ms. Noël should stick with this age group because Radiance is an extremely well written and engaging novel when you put it in the 9-12 year old context. I think that’s what bugs me about the Immortals series…they come across as juvenile, which is saying something considering they are YA fiction and not adult fiction. Read Radiance, it won’t take you long…but it will stay with you long after you’re done.
Yep, that banner across the lightbulb says “Participant” because that’s what I’m going to be, come 1 November 2010. The National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its closer friends, is a project out of the Office of Letters and Light. I can’t hope to summarise it better than they have themselves, so from their website:
“What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.
Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.”
I have friends who have done this and I watched from the sidelines, wishing I had the skill and ability to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I was missing the point. Published or not, this program encourages people to write…which is the only way to become a novelist, blogger, or just interesting person to have at parties. It’s good for my creativity, it’s good for my ability to meet a deadline (which currently is nil), and it’s good for meeting other people just as insane and fascinated by writing as I am. Should be a good time…I’ll check in here with my progress so stay tuned.
Back I go to YA fiction, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. I want to talk today about Angel, by L.A. Weatherly. I read an ARC of this book (thanks much to my colleague, Roz, for lending it!) because I needed a filler for a weekend. Honestly. Roz had been telling me at work that I HAD to read it and she thought I would LOVE it…something that usually puts me off a book immediately, regardless of who it is that is doing the pleading. I guess that’s because my taste in books is pretty eclectic…no really, I do read more than just books with pretty covers and/or the latest YA Kissy-Bitey/Growly/Floaty book that turns up in the bookshop. I promise.
Let me start by saying this is NOT another Fallen Angel Meets Teenage Girl/Boy and Falls In Love book. Not by a longshot.
At first seeming like yet another in the constant parade of supernatural romance books for teens that we’ve seen in the wake of Twilight, Angel soon becomes something very different. Though written for teenagers, it is lacking in the misguided and immature longings for adult intimacy that plague many YA novels. While there is a romantic aspect and interest in the plot, it doesn’t subsume the rest of the story, but serves as a secondary plot that helps the primary cause along, if that makes sense?
It’s hard to write a proper review of this book, really, without giving away spoilers, so I’ll tell you what I know and then take away the bits that you need to find for yourself, fair? The main characters in the book are Alex, an Angel Killer or “AK” and Willow, a girl who has grown up without the knowledge that she is half Angel.
In the story world of Angel, we’re not looking at the celestial beings that sit on clouds, strum harps, and eat Philly cream cheese…we’re talking about creatures who feed on energy to survive, and have searched for a new home now that theirs can no longer sustain them. The energy rolling off humans in waves is perfect for the dietary needs of these beings, and the Angels find humans to be easy prey due to their need to “believe.” Churches of the Angels are formed and the populace flock to be touched by these beings, so that they may know the peace and love this contact brings. Peace, love, and total mental destruction, that is. So-called Angel Burn is irreversible and devastating, and is the thing from which Alex is fighting to save humanity. He was born and raised for this life and it is all he knows…until he meets Willow, half-angel yet a direct threat to the beings and their invasion of Earth.
The twists and turns the plot takes weren’t new, but put together into a story took me along, breathless, for the ride. Angel is well worth a look for those fans of YA paranormal romantic fiction as well as sci-fi/fantasy readers. You have GOT to read this book. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.
(edited from a review originally posted on Goodreads.com)
To be honest, I chose this book because I am a part time bookseller (at the time, in the children’s section) and I want to be well versed in what I’m selling. What I found was a gem of a book that, while a bit shaky in parts, overall has fascinating cast of characters that I truly came to care for as the story progressed. Michelle Harrison, former bookseller with the same company for whom I now work, has hit the mark in this series and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the third book in the series, 13 Secrets, will be even better than the first two.
Tanya is a young teenager with the second sight, and has been plagued all her life by the fey that she can see. She experiences many of the same feelings all teenagers do, not being understood by her parents, that she is somehow different…but Tanya’s feelings are based in fact. It’s only when she is sent to spend summer holidays with her grandmother that she finds out just how different she is.
The twists and turns in the story kept me guessing and involved in the book until the very end. What started out as an exercise in good bookselling turned into a lovely story that I can read over and over. Now to wait until February for the next one!
I am going to take a second here and admit that I was hesitant to read these because I normally don’t chose werewolf fiction. I’m more “kissy-bitey” than I am “kissy-growly.” However, I’ve been looking at these books in the store for months and finally, on the recommendation of a friend, I bought them.
These books are, in a word, excellent. While described by some as Twilight with Werewolves, I didn’t think of it that way. It’s written for teenagers, sure, and it does delve into typical teenage angst, but the concept is new and different, and that is something sorely missing in YA/teen fiction these days.
Grace was attacked by wolves when she was a little girl. She remembered vividly the feel of the blood and the teeth, and the one wolf that watched from a distance, his yellow eyes troubled. Every year, she waited for her wolf to appear in the woods behind her house in winter time, and every year he came, yellow eyes searching for her. When she and her friends meet a boy with familiar yellow eyes, her world turns inside out.
Shiver, the first book in this trilogy, introduces us to Grace and Sam, the yellow-eyed werewolf. Grace is level-headed and serious, and has been basically taking care of herself for most of her life. When Sam introduces her to his world, all she can do is think about his last summer, and how the day is coming when he will shiver into wolf form and forget all about her.
The descriptions of the transitions are painful at times, but so realistic that it left me feeling as though werewolves could be real. As a dog lover myself, I could tell that the author has and understands dogs and pack mentality, because the behavior of the wolves with each other and with humans seemed very believable to me. The characters were fully formed and I found myself really caring about them.
There really is no way for me to talk about Linger, the second book in the trilogy, without spoilers, so I’ll just say that I was not as happy with it as I was with Shiver. But the thing that made me unhappy was not the writing or the flow, but the actual plot. Ms. Stiefvater tells a very good, very complex story, and it seemed to me at a few points in Linger that she was rushing to tie up that chapter so that the book didn’t get too long. I’m now anxiously awaiting the next installment, something I thought I’d never do with a werewolf book.
This book does an excellent job of touching on subjects that are very real and very important to teenagers, while delving into aspects of adult life as well. It truly has something for everyone and is not to be missed or overlooked in favor of more fangy reads. Team Jacob? This is your book.
Right, what kind of writer wanna-be would I be if I never shamelessly promoted my own writing? Why, on the front page I’ve listed my other blog, Isn’t the Lettuce Brave? as well as touted my contribution to Touring Old Blighty. I’ve even mentioned NERDA’s World, an ASL v-log that is seriously suffering from neglect at the moment, and that’s not written in English!
So, here you are, my shameless plug about my own writing, so that we can get it out-of-the-way and get on with talking about real authors, already.
When I was working for the Department of Mental Health in South Carolina as a sign language interpreter, I was sent often to a psychiatric hospital to play the hurry up and wait game. The rules of that game include being on the hospital grounds for a set amount of hours a day so that any Deaf/Hard of Hearing patients that might be receiving treatment at the hospital could have language access. The reality of it was a lot of sitting around, reading books, finishing paperwork, and waiting to be called down to the ward.
During one of those long days, an idea began wiggling its way out of my head and into a word processing program. I missed my dogs dreadfully every time I had to be away from them, and I guess that day I was missing my first greyhound, Hunky. I started thinking about how his life was before he came to me, when he was growing up, training, and eventually making a go at racing. In a few days, the first in the Proud Racer Series, One Greyhound’s Journey was finished and I was looking for a publisher.
In a nutshell, the story starts with a puppy being born on a greyhound farm in Florida. He is given his Name and sent to School, so that he can learn to be a Proud Racer like his father was. In truth, Hunky was a mediocre racer, but his father, Fond A Hulk, was a star of the Florida racing circuit. The story follows Hunky to a few tracks, then back to the farm before he is Petted Out, which means he is released to an adoption group for re-homing.
The other star of the novella is Hunky’s sibling, Marky. Called Re-Marky-Able by the Nice Lady who whelped and raised them, Marky was born with a defect that caused all of his feet to be flat. This prevented him from racing, so Hunky had to leave his brother behind every time he left for School or to go to the track to race. In the end, he left Marky behind one last time to be Petted Out, but met a whole new cast of characters at his new home, including a new “brother” called Henry, a sister called Jeany, and cats called Franny and Zooey.
In the greyhound owning community, One Greyhound’s Journey was met with cries for a sequel, so that those who followed Hunky’s story would know what happened with Marky. Who knew that shy, flat-footed boy would become almost more of a star than Hunky? Along came A Tail of Two Brothers, the sequel to One Greyhound’s Journey, in response to Marky’s fans. It seems that Marky has been released for adoption as well, and unbeknownst to Hunky has come to Hunky’s New Home as a foster dog. The brothers are reunited and spend some time catching up, before Marky goes to live with Hunky’s Aunt Lisa, and has a New Home of his own.
The third book in the series is probably my favorite (well, after Hunky’s, because you never forget your first love, do you?) and definitely the one of which I am the most proud. Blind Faith is the story of a greyhound that changed my life when she came to live with me at 10 years young and left far too soon just a week shy of her fourteenth birthday. Shotgun Liz, or Lizzard, finds a lot of the time that she can’t remember her early life on the farm, or at the track, except for in her dreams. She has come to live at Hunky’s house, and meets his housemates Jeany, Bo, and Profile along with the foster dogs that are there with her. Lizzard, who is mostly blind, hits their lives with hurricane force and doesn’t let go, whether she is breaking out of her wire crate, re-arranging the trash on the floor in the den, or generally bossing the young pups around. Through it all, she has faith that this home will be hers soon, and she’ll no longer be a foster. Copies of this book are available only through me at this stage.
Finally, the fourth book is about the newest member of my family, Daisy. Racing at Jacksonville and Sanford Orlando as FTH Oopsie Daisy, she is guided through the process of adjusting to her new life by Profile, now a Bridge Angel who appears only to Daisy. There is a Mommy to look after, a Jeany NOT TO CROSS, and scores of other new experiences waiting for Daisy in Half Crazy. To be honest, I am the least thrilled with the cover of this one and will most likely be re-releasing it with new cover art, if I don’t put all of them in one book first…which I may do. Stay tuned, if you’re one of the handful of people interested in what my dogs have to say.
Now, you’ll notice if you’ve clicked on any of the links above that some of them link through to Amazon and some to Lulu.com. I have published all of these books with either Penman Publishing, Inc. (One Greyhound’s Journey, A Tail of Two Brothers, and Blind Faith) or Lulu.com (Proud Racer, Proud Racer: Half Crazy) but only some actually have ISBNs. (That would be a lesson I’ve learned along the way…always get an ISBN on your book or it won’t sell anywhere save out of your car’s boot.) I hope that you’ll give my little books a chance so that you can get to know the greyhounds that have changed my world for the better.
In loving memory of Hunky (Fond A Hunk), Jeany-Bean (Bud’s Lady Jean), BoBo (Flashy Jo Star), Profile (Mo Tivator), Lizzard (Shotgun Liz), and Marky (Re-Marky-Able) as well as Franny and Zooey, my fearless feline greyhound-testers. Thanks to all of you for making my world a more complex and beautiful place.
Lately my reading tastes have leaned toward what one of my colleagues at the shop calls “Kissy-Bitey” books, i.e. those that have characters who are vampires. I think you can figure out what’s kissy and what’s bitey. The first foray into this sub-genre for me, as for many of us adults that now frequent the YA or teen sections in bookstores and libraries, was the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer.
By the way, may I just take a minute to address those adults in question: There is nothing wrong with getting your books from the YA/Teen section. A lot of fiction aimed at kids aged 13-21 these days is very well written and worth a look, so stop pretending you were really browsing the tail end of adult fiction or catapult yourself toward sci-fi when someone catches you standing in front of the likes of the aformentioned Ms. Meyer.
Right, so back to the review.
Evernight is the first book in this series (which at this point has three books but I understand will have six by the conclusion). While I feared the worst when I picked this series up, it completely surprised me with its depth of characters and realistic teenage dialogue. Veering off sharply from what seems to be the prescription for a best seller in the Kissy-Bitey category (girl moves to new school, girl meets fascinating boy, one of them is a vampire and BAM, unrequited love), the focus of the first book is on Evernight Academy where Bianca (who, she explains, was named for a Shakespearean character, a bonus point in my geeky book!) is to begin school in the fall. There is a very sweet relationship between Bianca and her parents, which breaks rule number two of the current trend toward angst-ridden vampire loving teenagers. I found myself torn in several places in the novel between cheering for her to go back to her parents (who turn out to be vampires, sorry if that’s a spoiler but it’s not that hard to figure out) or hoping she will run off with Lucas, the mysterious guy who starts off trying to save her from herself and ends up being the only one that can save her at all.
Stargazer is the second book in series, and while it does leave me reminded a bit too much of New Moon when Edward leaves Bella for the majority of the book, I didn’t find Bianca to be quite as maudlin as Bella. Lucas has a secret that is revealed at the end of Evernight, and has to flee Evernight Academy and leave Bianca behind. While the bits of the story that focused on her clandestine meetings with Lucas left me a little cold (pun most definitely intended), her relationships that form with other students and teachers at the school in his absence are a lot of fun to watch as they unfold. I suppose you could carry the Twilight similarity a bit further and say that I am firmly Team Balthazar, but really I’m too old for that sort of thing. Now where was that Douglas Adams book again? Is this the Sci Fi section? Where is George Orwell, because THAT is what I was really after…
Hourglass was the most frustrating of the three books in this series for me, but it was a good kind of frustrating. Unlike other series where the story is neatly wrapped up in a bow at the end, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with where the story ended up by the last page of the book. I don’t want to give too much away, but big changes happen for Bianca, Lucas, Balthazar and some of the others, starting with a fire at the school and including some time on the run for Bianca and Lucas with a gang of vampire hunters called Black Cross. I think the fact that I was so frustrated by the book was a good sign because I came to really care about the characters, so much so even that I was outraged by the ending. But the good thing is that there is another one in the works called Afterlife, due out in March of next year. If only I can wait that long.
Fans of other Kissy-Bitey teen fiction will like this series, I think, if they can hang in there past the first bits of Evernight. As I am finding is the case with a lot of YA/teen fiction, the beginning of the book is slow going but I promise you won’t regret it.