Of ceiling wax and cabbages

YA, graphic novels and the spaces in between

Posts Tagged ‘YA novels

The Space after Pretty Monsters

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There’s a reason why movie theatres don’t encourage people to bring their goats.

I read Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link weeks ago and meant to blog about it before its 31 May release, unfortunately a strange encounter befell me, which could have jumped from the pages of Pretty Monsters.

shiny red apple by Dano on Flickr I met an old crone and she offered me an apple, the likes of which I had never seen before. Its ruby luster promised delicitude I’d never tasted, how could I refuse? And she wanted nothing in return. I took a bite, smiling my thanks for her generosity, but a nagging feeling of déjà vu tangled in the back of my mind. Then I fell into a deep sleep, perhaps never to wake again. No princes round here, but lucky for me a fallen angel texted me some lines from Danté’s Inferno. My phone has the loudest, most annoying txt noise ever. Sometimes it makes me jump if it’s near my ear. Obviously I woke up and Danté jolted that chunk of apple right out of my throat and I spat it on the ground. Danté’s good like that. Sheeba the sk8 dog* sniffed it, but she refuses to eat apple. So now I was awake and could blog again. If you’ve emailed me recently and are waiting desperately for a reply, now you know why I haven’t, but might one day.

After loving The Wrong Grave earlier in the year I was very excited to get my paws on Pretty Monsters, again with illustrations, sorry decorations, by Shaun Tan. The Australian editions are from Text Publishing. They’re publishing lots of cool US titles. Although we have to wait (2 years!?), they are much nicelyer produced with real white paper, not that grey crap they fob off on cheap US paperbacks, and bindings that stay bound – who’d o thought.

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Written by ClareSnow

15 June 2010 at 7:57 am

Justine Larbalestier vs Lili Wilkinson

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In my new(ish) blogging adventure (which is somewhat lonely without MJ*) I’m not meant to go off on tangents. I try really hard, but they just appear sometimes (and no one tells me off – occasionally I’ve been about to go too far, but I stop myself before uploading). eg. I was going to write a whole post about Craig Silvey’s nomination for Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year, way better than getting on the short list for the Miles Franklin Award :) My friend Cleo told me he’s a virgo. I once read virgos go together (and we have the same initials) so I thought I should ask him out. I’d better read Jasper Jones first – don’t want him thinking I’m shallow. I did like Rhubarb, particularly the hermit crab, but you can’t talk about hermit crabs for a whole date (well I could, but the other person mightn’t be so impressed). Luckily for CBCA WA blog readers I managed to relegate this little tale of no consequence to the comments, but here it gets first para!

Liar by Justine Larbalestier But hot guys and hermit crabs are not what I’m trying to blog about. How did I manage to start a post on a tangent!? At that other blog when I wrote about February’s Book Discussion Group of Liar by Justine Larbalestier (Allen & Unwin, 2009), things were going great, until suddenly Pink by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin, 2009) popped up without any warning whatsoever. Well, I was comparing them so there was a reason in my mind.

One of my points of comparison was both books

feature very odd schools (I have a theory JL and LW were competing to see who could imagine the most bizarre school, but I then discovered JL did go to an alternative school somewhat like Micah’s).

Pink by Lili Wilkinson LW commented that she went to a school similar to Ava’s in Pink. Being a catholic high school girl I’ve not experienced such schools, but catholicism caused my high school experience to be just as bizarre, it’s just I didn’t notice at the time. I did enjoy the class of no work, just sleep with your eyes open – religion. LW also said perhaps she and JL should have a competition for their next books.

I have the perfect idea for this comp, which hinges on JL’s recent gardening adventures, so here is another (very necessary) tangent. I was excited as an volcano to find out that JL was going to fill her very empty Sydney balcony with native plants, seeing as half my garden is filled with them (including a rapidly approaching 5m gum tree which might grow 10-40m). I do have a thing for locally native plants, rather than any old Aust plant, but I enthusiastically provided (way too many) Perth egs after someone suggested WA plants (many of which are happy to grow in sand with little watering) might be good for a sunny balcony.

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Written by ClareSnow

6 May 2010 at 9:13 am

A Book? What’s that!?

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Liz B, blogger at Pop Goes the Library and A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, commented on the LISNews post Ten Librarian Blogs to Read in 2010.

Hang out a little bit in library-land, and you’ll soon hear the talk about books.

Or, rather, not about books.

Yes, libraries are about more than books. I totally agree. No argument there.

But it does disappoint that ‘more than books’ has become ‘not about books.’

She provided some alternatives to the LISNews list – library ppl blogs about books and of course Liz B books it up at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. They’re USian, but have a look at my blog roll for some Aussie egs, as well as those US ones which provide me with just as many good reads. I find it much more fun to blog about books (and GNs are books) than the latest Twitter replacement :) which means I have to get back to blogging. After my thesis (and computer) free holiday, I got a job, I have three articles to write in the next two months and I’ve been neglecting this here blog. (This blogless time may have been compounded by the new blog of the WA Branch of CBCA where I’m not allowed to be as stupid creative as I want :P) I have not been neglecting my reading! Now I just have to blog about all the magical books my brain has been soaking up. This may include Patrick Ness (who finds the weather in Perth a bit too hot), Kevin Brooks and Eric Drooker, among other assorted delights.

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Written by ClareSnow

7 March 2010 at 3:15 pm

Posted in books, reading, teenagers

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Sweet Scarlett

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I’m very close to having a thesis to submit but it’s taken quite a bit longer than I planned, due to a nasty monster which kicks at my heels, waiting for the right moment to trample mud all over my life. Monster isn’t the clinical term, most would call this monster depression, but I find euphemisms much more fun. Visits from the monster have been a bit too frequent for my liking this year, so I’m really looking forward to Halloween, when I will have a thesis to submit.*

the monster by Zoë S. At one time I thought I would submit at the same time as Zoë S. but she beat me to it and provided some useful advice on comments to be prepared for in the final stages of writing a thesis, in order to avoid a sociopathic outburst. I also found Zoë’s artistic post-it-note monster of great use. This looks just like the monster scribbled on the inside of my skull which runs circles round my mind, at the most inopportune times.

I haven’t been depressed constantly this year (in between I wrote a thesis with only editing keeping me from submission), but during the times I was, I came to the disconcerting conclusion that I couldn’t write a single coherent thesis sentence, but I could read book, after book, after book. Sadly none of these books were part of my lit review. Runaways is listed in my Literature Cited (as opposed to my Reference List) but reading all the vols I’ve got one after the other without a break in between (and this wasn’t the first time, so I already knew what happened) didn’t improve my thesis.

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Written by ClareSnow

13 October 2009 at 2:36 am

Inky Goodness

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Matata the reading Bengal cat by Justin Atkins on Flickr The longlist for the 2009 Inkys has been out for a while, but I’m experiencing some thesis induced insanity at the moment and the Inkys just remind me of all that YA reading I have to catch up on. You may notice Matata the reading cat has a predilection for classics, but she’s not averse to YA in between. I think she could out-read Inky the dog any day of the week.

When I first saw the list I thought the best book of recent times, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, outranked everything else, even the books I hadn’t read :P

Skim by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki But then I read Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki which utterly captivated me and The Hunger Games moved down my list. I hadn’t noticed Skim was on the Inkys list at first, but how could such a masterpiece of word and image (my two fav things) not be. I didn’t think its graphic novel-ness was the deciding factor in my opinion. But perhaps it was because it’s the combination of the words and pictures which I love so much, especially the full and double page spreads of illustration, with Skim’s diary creeping across the scene. My favourite is Skim and Lisa trying to summon the dead boy’s spirit in the woods, and missing him because they’re facing the wrong way (right). Its partial repetition on the end papers makes for a beautiful book design.

My favourite words in Skim are repeated in the blurb. The Inkys page also has them, but they missed the most important line (you can’t trust a dog with ink on his paws :P)

I had a dream
I put my hands
inside my chest
and held my heart

to try to keep it still

The unusual angles, tantalizingly crossed out words of Skim’s diary and obscuring of Skim’s face so much of the time, until she finds herself and an unexpected friend, combine to make a work of art on a very different level to The Hunger Games. And I much preferred the UK/Aust cover to the Canadian.

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Written by ClareSnow

20 September 2009 at 10:24 pm

Steampunk Dreaming

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Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Scott Westerfeld’s next book Leviathan is due out in October. I knew a bit about it: that it’s set during an alternative steampunk WWI (note to Edward) and I’d read the first chapter. I like steampunk, but it’s not my fav genre and although I’m going to read Leviathan, I wasn’t all that excited about it. Until now.

I hadn’t visited Westerblog in a while but today I did and discovered two things:

Westerfeld wanted the finished book to have the period feel of the era in which the story is set, Simon & Schuster is using 70-pound paper, full-color endpapers depicting an allegorical map of Europe, and 50 interior illustrations — lavish bookmaking financed in large part by Westerfeld himself.  — Publishers Weekly [2]

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Written by ClareSnow

5 August 2009 at 7:01 pm

Confabulating Beastly Hunger Games*

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Beastly by Alex Flinn The other day I mentioned Beastly by Alex Flinn and mistakenly said it was by Suzanne Collins. I would love to read Beastly by Suzanne Collins, but sadly it’s only available in a parallel universe.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I enjoyed Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (although I only read the first in the series) but her latest The Hunger Games is much darker and thought provoking. I read Beastly and The Hunger Games in quick succession and they morphed into one in my rantings about the Productivity Commission’s report on removal of parallel importation restrictions on books. I said the copy I read was printed in the US. Subsequently I looked more closely at the paperback Beastly and found no mention of where it was printed. I’m pretty sure it’s a US produced book due to the not-so-white paper and a second barcode on the inside front cover, which I don’t think Australian produced books have. Most books state where they were printed, as did the hardback of The Hunger Games I read (printed in the US).

I have a thing for pictures in books (in case you hadn’t noticed) and when a book has no pictures, I have to make do with the cover, thus I’m passionate about cover design. Despite my non-existent design skills, I have an amazing ability to establish just how lacking someone else’s design skills are :P which is what I’m about to do with Beastly and The Hunger Games.

I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the cover designs of either book. They’re both true to their contents but the “futuristic” font of The Hunger Games grated and the rose on Beastly annoyed me. You can’t really see this from the small pic of the cover, but it had some strange texture thing going on, which I obviously didn’t get. The roses in the story are real and the cover rose just looked photocopied. (Spanish cover is way better.) But I don’t hate everything, if you remove the dust jacket of The Hunger Games the golden mocking-jay on the plain binding is stunning.

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Written by ClareSnow

19 July 2009 at 4:33 pm


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