Monday, October 25, 2010
This week is Halloween. I never think I am a huge fan of Halloween, but then, in the weeks leading up to October 31st I seem to love scary costumes and cutting pumpkins into amusing shapes. Here is where I should probably write about YA horror books, but I am a big fat wimp and really hate that stuff. I don't get a thrill out of horror books/movies, I just feel terribly unsettled for the rest of the night. So instead I will recommend something that is kind of close to horror (but really not at all): paranormal fiction.
Paranormal fiction is scary in the way that it usually involves things like werewolves and vampires, only it's actually not scary because these werewolves and vampires are just like us! But more mysterious. And attractive (sometimes).
Lately paranormal fiction, and especially paranormal YA fiction, has been very popular. This gets largely credited to Stephenie Meyer. I just wrote three sentences concerning that and deleted them all because of unsportsmanlike conduct, so I'll just continue.
I sometimes think I don't like stories with vampires/werewolves/demons etc., but lately I've come to realize that when I think this, I am completely delusional. Because, you guys, I think I love them. There are some really well-written novels out there about werewolves and their (surprisingly) varied brethren.
Specifically, let's talk about an Irish author I like named Sarah Rees Brennan. Sarah published her debut novel, The Demon's Lexicon, in 2009 with Simon & Schuster. Now, as someone in denial about her love for demons et al, I was skeptical about the title, but I read the first chapter on Sarah's blog and was pretty much immediately hooked by her writing style. The Demon's Lexicon universe is compelling and original, but what I think is the real strength of Sarah's writing is the way she presents relationships between people, and specifically familial relationships. Nick and Alan, two of the central characters of the book, will break your heart. In a good way.
This is another one of those books where I can't say too much for fear of spoiling things, should any of you choose to read this book (or the second in the trilogy—did I mention it's a trilogy?—The Demon's Covenant). But I will say that the author is outspoken about featuring strong women in her books, and this is another thing I love about the book: women in it are unapologetically fierce, demanding and, even when thinking romantic thoughts about Nick and/or Alan (listen, you don't understand. It happens. They can't help it), maintain their independence and rational thought. I know some books lead you to believe this is impossible, but it's not! It's actually very refreshing and realistic.
Do you want to read it yet? I hope you do. I kind of want to read it again. Maybe I will.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Have you heard about this? I know I’ve talked about my undying love for Sweet Valley High before. Haven’t I? I talk about it a lot in life, so I assume I’ve mentioned it here. Anyway, for those of us who miss those perfect size six Wakefield twins and their eyes the colour of the Pacific ocean, there is Sweet Valley Confidential, a new book due out in 2010 wherein Francine Pascal (not a ghostwriter! the real thing!) returns to the Sweet Valley universe years later. The twins are now thirty years old, and (gasp!) not speaking to each other. I need to know why. I am very excited for this book to come out. Other important questions: Does Jessica still wear one item of purple clothing per day in order to comply with the rules of the Unicorns, Lila Fowler’s prestigious club? Does Bruce Patman still have 1Bruce1 license plates? Is Todd Wilkins still insufferably boring? What of the beach disco?
In a conversation about SVH recently, my boss told me her favourite book was one in which Bruce Patman is dating one very nice girl whom everyone loves, but then at a party flirts with another girl, prompting his goody-goody girlfriend to snort coke and die. I personally favour one in which a strange girl, Margo, comes to town, where she discovers that she just happens to look eerily like the Wakefield twins. At which point she decides the only logical thing to do is to murder Elizabeth and take over her life. Naturally. What’s your favourite?
Friday, October 15, 2010
Not really, but it does always cause me some anxiety. I love books, but it's overwhelming sometimes how many of them there are. I had a lot of this type of anxiety in university, when it seemed absolutely essential to read every single classic, not to mention all the obscure essays/poems/novels that no one has heard of now but obviously changed forever the landscape of essay/poem/novel writing and because of which nothing will ever be the same. I eventually let this go, because it was either that or invent a time machine, and I'm pants at science. (I obviously got far enough into the British contemporary realm to learn the modern slang usage of the word pants.)
But, as some of you may know, I work in publishing. I'm pretty new at working in publishing, relatively speaking, and while I love my job I would eventually like to move into something different, and to do that I know that I'll need to be more up on the contemporary book scene that I am. So my anxiety about needing to read every book ever hasn't really gone away, it's just changed. Classics don't matter now; contemporary fiction does.
How do people do this? Libraries only go so far, and I never have the patience for them anyway. Plus, though I know award-winning books will probably be good, that doesn't mean they're always going to be my first choice. Do people in the industry just read enough reviews to sound like they know what they're talking about, or do they actually read everything relevant to them? I suspect the former.
Anyway, the point of this post is, I guess, to appeal to some rich book-buying patron. Anyone? Do you guys find yourselves wondering if you should be reading something, even if you don't particularly want to?