Monday 21 March 2011

Poetic Ponders (6)

Thanks, Sara!

During this year studying English Literature and Creative Writing, I’ve developed a new appreciation for poetry. With this in mind, I thought that I’d start a new weekly feature on So Many Books, So Little Time in which I share with you my favourite poems. They may be ones I discover on my course or ones I’ve loved for a long time.

Hopefully some of you will join me in sharing some awesome poems. I’ve got two short poems for you today instead of one longer one. Enjoy!

The Lilly – William Blake (1794)

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn:
The humble sheep, a threatening horn:
While the Lilly white, shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn or a threat stain her Beauty bright.

The Sick Rose – William Blake (1794)

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

More Blake from A-level English Lit. I loved these ones so much that I memorised them so that I could use them in my exam. And I can still (sort of) recite them.


Friday 18 March 2011

Before Blogging: How I Fell in Love with YA

I was thinking the other day how much my reading styles and patterns have changed since I began blogging. I read differently now: priority presides over whim with choosing a book; I read to review and constantly think about things I can write about and I look for things I’ve read about in other blogger’s reviews. This led me to try and remember what books that made me fall in love with reading, and specifically YA. And here are the books that smacked me in the face with their awesomeness:
How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
This book took my breath away. It’s written in a style that’s truly individual and one I’d never seen, and haven’t since. I thought I might struggle with the lack of chapters, direct speech and traditional structure, but for me, it made it all the more special. Meg Rosoff has continued to deliver something new with every book and I never know what to expect from her.

Roxy’s Baby – Catherine MacPhail
Roxy’s Baby shocked me. It’s dark, chilling and utterly compelling. There is a tension and an overriding sense of fear throughout the novel that glues you to the pages. I remember being so involved in Roxy’s story that I took it everywhere with me for the day or two that it took me to read it. And then I read that it’s based on a true story that Catherine MacPhail had heard on the radio and it kind of imploded my world view a little bit.

Soul Love – Lynda Waterhouse
I went through a phase of reading all of the lesser-known UK author’s YA romance that I could find in my school library and this was one of the ones that captured me most. I began it again as soon as I’d finished it and proceeded to check it out again and again and again until I finally bought my own copy. Which I then read over and over again. It has a shocking plot twist that took my breath away as I’d never had this subject broached in a book before. It’s beautiful.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison
I don't think that this series really needs much in the way of an introduction. It’s brilliantly funny, utterly ridiculous and dangerous to read on the bus. I used my pocket money every Saturday to buy the first four books and then waited on tenterhooks for the next instalment every year after that. Georgia became a part of my tween/teen years in such a way that now the final instalment has been and gone, I genuinely miss her.

Diary of a Crush: French Kiss – Sarra Manning
This chance find in my local library began a love affair with Sarra Manning’s books that’s still with me around seven years later. I wanted to be Edie with her amazing fashion sense and general adorableness, I fell head over heels with the king of the toxic boys, Dylan, and I dreamt of an epic road trip across America. My copies are battered and well-loved (as well as signed!) and showcase just how many times I’ve devoured Edie and Dylan’s story.

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
Just Listen is another book that began a love affair. Sarah Dessen pulled me in with her complex, damaged heroine, Annabel, and her beautifully involving writing. There really is no going back once you read a Sarah Dessen novel. She writes the most amazing guys, real girls and actual stories that could happen to anyone of us. She’s kind of my hero really.

I’ve put a link to each book’s Goodreads page so you can check them out and fall in love too. Let me know in the comments which books made you fall in love with YA pre-blogging. If you want to do your own post, feel free! Just make sure you link back to me.


Sunday 13 March 2011

Poetic Ponders (5)

Thanks to the awesome Sara for this.

During this year studying English Literature and Creative Writing, I’ve developed a new appreciation for poetry. With this in mind, I thought that I’d start a new weekly feature on So Many Books, So Little Time in which I share with you my favourite poems. They may be ones I discover on my course or ones I’ve loved for a long time.

Hopefully some of you will join me in sharing some awesome poems.

This Room – Imtiaz Dharker

This room is breaking out
of itself, cracking through
its own walls
in search of space, light,
empty air.

The bed is lifting out of
its nightmares.
From dark corners, chairs
are rising up to crash through clouds.

This is the time and place
to be alive:
when the daily furniture of our lives
stirs, when the improbable arrives.
Pots and pans bang together
in celebration, clang
past the crowd of garlic, onions, spices,
fly by the ceiling fan.
No one is looking for the door.

In all this excitement
I'm wondering where
I've left my feet, and why

my hands are outside, clapping.

This is, once again, a result of GCSEs. I’m a big kid really and so the onomatopoeia in This Room really appeals to me. I still have no idea what it means, though!


Friday 11 March 2011

Featured on Friday: Ebony McKenna

Designed by the awesome Sara. Thank you!

Ebony McKenna lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and young son. Her first novel, Ondine: The Summer of Shambles, was released last April and its sequel, Ondine: The Autumn Palace, was released last month by Egmont UK.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing?

Mornings work best for me so long as I turn everything off and don't do emails or facebook or read the papers and oh dear it's 10am already. Once my husband heads off to work and my son is at school, I convert all that fresh energy into my current manuscript. I wish I could write all day but after about two hours my brain gives up on me and I’m eating chocolate out of a trough.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I gobbled up The Belgariad series by David Eddings. I became a total nerd and inhaled Frank Herbert’s Dune series too. I also loved the whole Narnia series - I loved the fact this adventure/fantasy series had a girl (Lucy) leading the charge.

I borrowed books from friends and the school library because we were in a recession - much like we are now - and couldn’t afford loads of new books. Uh-oh, just gave my age away!

Some of my favourite books today are William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Loads more. Oh, I’m hooked on Michael Grant’s Gone books and just read Mike Lancaster’s 0.4 (which is also an Egmont UK book, same publisher as Ondine) and it rocked. I loved the way he cleverly revealed the ‘big picture’.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
I’m going to cheat and take the iPad - it’s lighter and can store loads on there and - oh, but I couldn’t recharge it. Unless I had a really, really long extension cord. OK, how long will I be on this island? Is this forever? Will I go mad? Will there be coconuts to eat and how long until I get sick of eating coconuts?

To keep me entertained for a sustained couple of weeks - Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind
To make me laugh and forget my troubles - William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
For practicality, the third book would be something like Desert Island Survival for Dummies

4. How did the ideas for the Ondine series come about?
Back in 2006, I was walking to pick up my toddler son from daycare. An image popped into my head of a gypsy girl with an animal on her shoulder, who then became a real man. In the image, it was dark but there were fireflies or bright stars in the sky. I think the small animal was a rat at first, but then a few seconds later I realised a ferret would be a bit different. Then he spoke with a Scottish accent and I laughed at myself. (It was a long walk, by the way). More ideas followed on so I jotted them down and after a while realised there was enough for a book or two (or four if the publishers will have me!)

5. Is Ondine the first book you wrote?
Not by a long shot. I wrote six manuscripts before I began Ondine, all of which received encouraging but polite rejections. It was a 13-year road to publication for me. I think it took me that long to gain the skills and confidence to write Ondine’s story the right way. There were times when I thought about packing it all in. I am so glad I kept going, and now that the second book is out, I am having so much fun. You can’t wipe the smile off my face.

6. Are ferrets the new vampires?
I figure if I keep saying this, then it has to come true, haha! Wouldn’t it be awesome if ferrets were the next trend in publishing? In the crazy world inside my head, ferrets are heroes. They are fearless and loyal and change into handsome young lads in the moonlight. If things go really well for them, they have a chance to remain human nearly all the time.

In reality, ferrets do smell. They also like to nip. If they’re not housetrained, they amputate. They can be charming and curious, but that’s only for a couple of hours a day. The rest of the time they twist themselves into a knot with other ferrets and fall asleep.

And just in case you’re wondering if I’m really weird . . . no, I do not have a pet ferret, nor have I ever kept them. Perhaps that’s why I can only see their heroic qualities - I have no idea what it’s really like to care for and clean them.
7. Are any of your characters based on real people?
My imaginary friends are real enough! My theory is if you base a character on a real person, they end up not ringing true. Just because something happened in real life doesn’t mean it will work in a novel. In reality, people do crazy things for no good reason but in fiction, everything a character does has to make sense.

I love when readers tell me they’ve fallen in love with Hamish or their favourite character from book 2 is Anathea because she won them over. It’s so satisfying to know I’ve created believable characters - even if one of those characters is a talking ferret.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I always have something on the go. At the moment I’m madly trying to finish the next draft of The Girl and The Ghost (working title), which will appeal to readers who like Ondine. I'm really hoping my publisher likes it. I’m also writing the Ondine trequel, which is set in winter. I’m madly jotting things down for an Ondine in spring book as well, and in the mean time a tricky idea about a sweet little liar is brewing in my brain.

Thank you so much for featuring me on Friday, I’ve had a fantastic time.
Thanks so much, Ebony! You can visit Ebony at her website here.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Raising Demons - Rachel Hawkins

Raising Demons – Rachel Hawkins

Pages: 359
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: 1st April 2011

Other Titles in this series: Hex Hall


Sophie Mercer’s first term at Hex Hall was quite eventful. First, her evil grandmother’s ghost haunted her every move, then her best friend was accused of murder and, finally, Archer Cross (aka The Boy Of Her Dreams) turned out to be an undercover demon hunter; which would have been fine if Sophie hadn’t been the demon he was hunting...

Sophie is hoping for a quieter summer, but as she’s spending it with her dad – who just happens to be Head of The Council of Prodigium – at the headquarters of all-things-magical, that’s not going to happen. And, as she struggles with her new demon powers, Sophie finds herself surrounded by dark magic and conspiracies. The only way things could get more complicated would be if Archer Cross appeared again. But he wouldn’t...would he?

I loved Rachel Hawkins’ first book, Hex Hall, a lot. So much so that it was one of my favourites from last year and gave me high hopes for Raising Demons. I was not disappointed.

Sophie is a brilliant heroine. She is funny, clever and very snarky. Some of the things that she says and does are hilarious and I would love to have to cheek to pull them off so effectively. There are so many things that make me want to be her friend: Sophie’s relationship with Jenna is heart-warming, her learning to get on with her Dad is very sweet and her weariness of her demon heritage was realistic and genuine.

As well as Sophie’s awesomeness, you’ve got Cal and Archer. Could there BE two hotter guys in her life?! Seriously yummy. I wasn’t too bothered about Cal in Hex Hall but we saw so much more of him in Raising Demons and I found myself falling for him every time he popped up. I think he may even have eclipsed Archer for me as I was a little wary of Archer and he didn't play as major a role in Raising Demons as he did in Hex Hall.

With Sophie’s arrival in England, complete with very English terms and traditions that were employed by Rachel Hawkins and made me smile to myself, there came to amazing library of Thorne Abbey. How much do I want to stay there for a while?! There were also new characters introduced. The two that made the biggest impact on me were Nick and Daisy who live at the Council Headquarters and made me suspicious from the beginning; they unnerved me with their creepiness.

After Raising Demons’ explosive ending and rather evil cliffhanger, I’m dying for the next instalment in this addictive series. Hurry, please!


Monday 7 March 2011

Poetic Ponders (4)

This banner was made by the awesome Sara. Go check out her blog!

During this year studying English Literature and Creative Writing, I’ve developed a new appreciation for poetry. With this in mind, I thought that I’d start a new weekly feature on So Many Books, So Little Time in which I share with you my favourite poems. They may be ones I discover on my course or ones I’ve loved for a long time.

Hopefully some of you will join me in sharing some awesome poems.

Havisham – Carol Ann Duffy (1998)

Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then
I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for it
so hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes,
ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.

Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days
in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall; the dress
yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe;
the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this

to me? Puce curses that are sounds not words.
Some nights better, the lost body over me,
my fluent tongue in its mouth in its ear
then down till I suddenly bite awake. Love’s

hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting
in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake.
Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.
Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.

This poem was in the same GCSE anthology as Love After Love and was one that stuck with me. I read Great Expectations two years later at AS and hated all of it bar the scenes with Miss Havisham. I think my love of her character may have begun here...


Friday 4 March 2011

Body Swap - Jerome Parisse

Body Swap – Jerome Parisse

Pages: 167
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: 7th October 2010

Other Titles by this Author: The Wings of Leo Spencer

From Goodreads: William and Pat receive a mysterious text message pleading for help from a girl in a deep coma. They try to help, but a disastrous mix up occurs, and William ends up trapped in her body, leading him to difficult and sometimes comedic situations. The situation becomes even more desperate when Pat falls in love with Stephanie. The boys confront awesome challenges and meet with an unexpected enemy.

As I really enjoyed The Wings of Leo Spencer, I was quite looking forward to this. But I was a little disappointed.

My main problem with Body Swap was that I didn’t find that William and Pat spoke naturally. It often seemed a little stilted and unrealistic; almost forced sometimes. There was no slang and very little abbreviations as well as their topic of conversation being very unusual for thirteen year old boys. I wasn’t entirely convinced.

I also thought that their immediate response to Stephanie’s text was unrealistic. I think that it would take a little longer for an average person to be convinced by receiving texts from the other side. There was so little hesitation in their decision to help her.

The thing I did love about Body Swap was William’s reaction to being in a girl’s body. His confusion over putting a bra on, immediate discomfort in dresses and the horror at heels were brilliantly funny. It was excellent seeing a boy struggle in a girl’s world.


Wednesday 2 March 2011

Across the Blogosphere Challenge


Come on board and enter the ‘Across the Blogosphere’ challenge to celebrate the UK launch of Across the Universe by Beth Revis & WIN the chance to experience zero-gravity!

All you need to do is follow the blog schedule below and make a note of just ONE item that ONE of the bloggers would like to add to a time capsule of 2011. You will also need to make note of Beth Revis’ time capsule item, which will be uploaded to the Across the Universe UK Facebook page AT RANDOM during this week.

Become a fan now, so you don’t miss out!!/pages/Across-the-Universe-book-UK-page/135193489876515

So, that’s only TWO items in total- ONE from any of the blog sites listed and ONE from Beth Revis that you’ll find on facebook.

Monday 28th February: Wondrous Reads  
Tuesday 1st March: Once Upon A Bookcase  
Wednesday 2nd March: So Many Books, So Little Time  
Thursday 3rd March (PUBLICATION DAY!): Narratively Speaking  

THE PRIZE IS AIRKIX KIK-START vouchers for you and a friend to experience the thrill of indoor skydiving! (Manchester & Milton Keynes). Find out more here:

Enter here to WIN!

Good luck!

I found the decision of what to put in the time capsule very difficult to decide. I began thinking about this with my favourite things and the first thing that came to mind was my housemates. But that's slightly impractical and so I had to think further.
Then I came up with books which is way too obvious, then chocolate which Jo beat me to and so i decided to go with something I genuinely couldn't live without: my laptop. Here it is in it's shiny, red glory on my hideously messy desk: