Monday, March 2, 2015

YA Fiction Sampler: SK Picks, Round 2

I am not an authority on this matter, but I am an enthusiast.  If it is high time you dabbled in s'more YA, here's another selection of books flagged for younger readers that I have thoroughly enjoyed and recommend for adults.  If you're not sure about all this, perhaps start with a genre you're already comfortable in -- if you don't usually like soppy romances, for example, you probably shouldn't measure Young Adult fiction on the back of a YA romance.  If you're already a delver in the ways of YA, perhaps there's one on this list you haven't devoured yet -- huzzah!

Straight-up Science Fiction 
Spark, Rachael Craw ^

Science Fiction: Post Apocalyptic
The Maze Runner, James Dashner *
Reboot, Amy Tintera *
The Chimes, Anna Smaill (NZ author)

Blackbringer, Laini Taylor *
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (technically "adult" but with a mature YA feel)

Dystopian Romance
The Selection, Keira Cass *

Contemporary Fiction
On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
Wonder, R. J. Palacio
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

New Zealand Fiction
The 10pm Question, Kate De Goldi
Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox *

*There's more than one book published in this world / with these characters
^There's more coming written in this world / with these characters

Want moooore?
I completely understand.
You must swing by Stella's place, because she has also posted her second round of YA pics today.  You should know: more than one of the titles listed in my second round of recommendations?  From Stella's first round.  Yup.  Get over there.

Missed the Round 1 Sampler?  Check it out here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sabbath Amusements XXII

Having recently attended a baptism at our church, we were expecting to see a confirmation as part of our Sunday meetings.  Esky had a number of questions about exactly what this involved.  As we rode in the car, en route to church, Haki and I explained that, for us, a confirmation means someone receives the Holy Ghost as a gift.

Ivy commenced eagerly interrupting on repeat; "I want to go on the rollercoaster too!"

Top 10 Mondegreen, for suresies;
thank you, kiwi accent, for gifting us such wonders with your lazy R's and sloppy ways.  /bow

Friday, February 27, 2015

Wonder, R. J. Palacio
  • This book immediately had my interest.  It commences with a 10-year-old voice (in first-person) that feels 10 years old...instead of like an adult pretending.  That's something.
  • I think a mature 10-year-old would cope with the content, but I would want to read it with them.  There are a few moments that I would want to discuss.  Who am I kidding?  I would want to discuss all the moments!  This book is brimming over with discussion items!  It is a great case study!  And it isn't just great material and morals for young people to consider, there was so much the parents were going through that had me thinking.
  • It has excellent plotting.
  • It surprised me.
  • The adult dialogue is superb.
  • It was one of those books that I finished and thought, "I think everyone should read that book."
  • It's an easy read and it doesn't have anything nasty in it (sex, drugs, pornography, alcohol, crazy cussing etc.).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Simple Greek Food Cookbook

Taking You Home, Helena & Vikki Moursellas
When I saw review copies were available for the MKR twins' new cookbook, I was as keen as.  (Yes, that's where the sentence ends, pats).  I am very interested in tapping into recipes that have been passed down through generations, that feel authentic, and require ingredients I can find and afford.  Taking You Home does all of this...and more.  The "and more" I could have done without, but hey.

I believe these are old, authentic, achievable recipes because the twins are in a perfect position to play gatekeepers to their Yiayia's kitchen.  Their dear ol' Yiayia was not going to compile this cookbook, get an agent, and see it to our shores and my shelf.  But the twins?  Totally. 

I love Greek food, and I think this cookbook has a great selection of doable stuff.

When I say that it has even more than this, I am referring to how it also doubles as a scrapbook for the twins.  While this adds personality, it's not my favourite thing to see their selfies alongside my dinner plan.  C'est la vie!  It makes me laugh, and may or may not make me approach the meal by first proclaiming, "I've got this!"  (that's one for the MKR fans).

Available today, in bookstores.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dystopian Debut

The Chimes, Anna Smaill
Want a review copy, Ange?  A debut dystopian novel by a New Zealand author about music and memory?
Yes, I do.

  • Brava!  This is a literary debut?!  Really? (Smaill's previously published poems)
  • The overall concept, if I were to mini-market, is wondrous and fantastic:  Most people are without long-term memory; music is employed by those hoping they might cling to memories -- both for nostalgia and process; objects are bestowed with memory by touch.  This idea, alone, made it something I am pleased I read, and something I think true dystopian fans should read.
  • I find the idea of weaving musical language throughout a fictional novel very fitting, given the novel's premise.  I think it is unfortunate that this felt overdone in some sections. Althooooough...the portions where it arguably was used overmuch were within the "murky times" for the protag, so one might argue it mirrors the groundhog-dayness of a human life without memory.  This seriously diminishes the awkwardness of overuse. 
  • The novel has a poetic, lyrical, disjointed start and is scant on details.  I don't think this is oversight, I think it is deliberate.  But it means Smaill's one of those.  She wants you to work for it a little, at least half-concentrate and persevere; form mirrors content.  It's pretty clever.  I imagine this combination would lose a lot of readers presto though, for being so consciously unusual and ungraspable. I hung in there, because I believe in a pay-off. 
  • There is a pay-off. 
  • The details and mechanics of the world were initially hard to buy into, but the originality and growing strength of the narrative enticed me to suspend away and get my Imagine on.  At times I cringed in fear that the book was only a desperate bid for an author to marry their two loves (music and writing), and that it wasn't going to be enough.  But I kept reading.  There was enough intrigue, and a happy marriage was made and a story was told...even if it was foreseeable.
  • I didn't know or care for the narrator as well as I'd like (it is told in first person), but I certainly didn't dislike him.
  • I enjoyed reading dialogue reminiscent of days gone by -- which made the sudden appearance of an early f-cuss more abrupt and disappointing.  There are only a handful of real swear words, so that was nice.
  • There is some intimacy, but no real sensuality, and there are reports of violent acts, post-.  I wouldn't recommend the book to younger YA readers, but I think there is enough thoughtful restraint here to make it great for around 14+? (Anyone else's thoughts?)
  • Merciless and rough comparison? 1984 plus The Giver plus a dash of something extra I cannot name else it would spoil it too much for you.  But if you've read it, I would love to share my opinion on a third comparative ingredient.
  • Overall: I found The Chimes pretty strong.  It isn't paced ideally for my taste, but it does what it does well and is (how fitting again!) memorable.
Sound like something for you?  This is now out in bookstores, go grab it!

Review copy received from Hachette.

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