Friday, 31 December 2010
The one where I tell you what I read in 2010
I was intending to borrow one of the rather brilliant meme’s I’ve seen around the internet, but inspired by a recent Friends marathon, I thought I’d bring you my 2010 reads, Friends style.
So here we go. . .
Saturday, 25 December 2010
A day early but. . .
Thursday, 23 December 2010
And the Winner is . . .
Thanks to Cass Christmas Spirit Sniffly Kitty also gets to pick one book.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Book Review – Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on…but are some questions better left unanswered? (from Goodreads)
Love and adore
Every character in this novel feels real and unique. Their relationships with each other complex and fraught. Sometimes it was hard to remember I was reading a novel and not a memoir. I spent a lot of time being absolutely furious at people on Eddie’s behalf.
Fall for Anything is out today. It’s not exactly a holiday read but it is a must read.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas Wrap Up
Monday, 20 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas Guest Post – Jaclyn Moriarty
My Favourite Couple
I’ll tell you who I like from tv. I like those two from Extras, Andy and Maggie (Ricky Gervais and Ashley Jensen). I like how they make fun of each other, sometimes gently, sometimes cruelly, but call each other late at night and talk about nothing like best friends. They’re so relaxed around each other, and they want to make one another laugh.
I also like Gavin and Stacey from Gavin and Stacey, but even more than them, their sharp-edged best friends, especially the chain-smoking woman dressed in black. Those two make a great couple, circling each other, him agitated and not making eye contact, her gazing steadily into the middle distance. (And the actors who play them were funny on the DVD special features.)
In movies, I always found the couple in Room with a View extremely sexy, and the opening sequence of Up made me cry. I wish Up had been more about that couple rather than about all those dogs. All those dogs bothered me, like a nightmare or madness.
In books, I like CC and Shrimp from Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread and its sequels. I also like this very old couple in an Alice Munro story that I once read, only I can’t remember its name. There was a moment of such tenderness right at the end of the story. I like many couples from the short stories and novels of Carol Shields – older couples again, with chipped and damaged relationships, who are now intertwined and enormously grateful for each other. But my favourite Carol Shields book is about a younger couple, The Republic of Love, the two characters drawing closer and closer together, along a stream of lively, lyrical, funny, warm prose.
Finally, at the moment, I am very keen on Jackson Brodie from the Kate Atkinson novels. Not him in a couple, but single, as I wouldn’t mind ending up with him myself.
Thanks so much Jaclyn. I must just add my own two cents and second Jackson Brodie as a truly wonderful character, and Kate Atkinson as a spell binding writer.
Tomorrow I’ll be doing a round up and then on the 22nd I’ll be picking the winner, or random.org will be. So there is still time to enter!
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 1 – Lyd, Cass & Em
In most of the YA books I’ve read, friendships are breaking up, or new friendships are being formed or one person is dominant, usually too dominant. It’s rare to find a friendship like this. Where the girls have been friends since they were little, and completely love and support each other. Where the fact of their friendship is never in any doubt. I have no trouble believing that Lyd, Cass and Em will live in a flat over looking Sydney harbour, that they’ll be bridesmaids at each others wedding (Lydia’s will be to Seb, naturally), godparents to each others children, and that when they are old and grey haired, they’ll be causing as much mayhem as they do at Ashbury.
In these books Jaclyn Moriarty has created some of the most authentic teen voices I’ve read. Both books are told in epistolary form, and all three girls as well as the other characters have such distinct voices. I barely needed the signatures at the bottom to tell me who was writing.
As well as being authentic, Jaclyn Moriarty is funny. The kind of, oh my god I’m going to fall off the bed in a minute because I’m laughing so hard, funny, that I love. She’s truthful, the way she captures that moment when your longing to be an adult, but longing to stay a child, is amazing. She took me right back there. She’s also slightly crazy, especially in The Ghosts of Ashbury High, which is crazy and genius. The plot is twisted and baffling, and yet it makes utter sense and is completely spellbinding too. It’s pretty much one of my most favourite books, ever.
Anyway, we were talking of the girls, and if you want a book with great female friendships and sassy, funny, confused, real girls, look no further than Jaclyn Moriarty’s books. I also must give a shout out to Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, which are equally wonderful.
Stop by tomorrow to hear about Jaclyn’s favourite couple.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Sarah Rees Brennan
I couldn’t wait to read her guest post and of course it is wonderful and funny. I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks Sarah!
Just as long as no-one brings up 1864.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 2 – Nick and Alan
Ah Nick and Alan, those demon fighting brothers, from Sarah Rees Brennan’s marvelous The Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy. This was the pair that started the whole alternative couples thing that I mentioned. Oh, I do love those Ryves brothers.
For those who haven’t read the books Alan and Nick kind of fall into the roles of good brother/bad brother. So of course Alan is my favourite. For those who have read the books, yes I’m completely willing to overlook both brothers, ahem, flaws, large as they may be.
Although I do get swoony over both of them, it is their relationship with each other that really gets me. I haven’t loved a sibling relationship this much, since the Mitchell Brothers in Eastenders (UK soap opera). The end of The Demon’s Lexicon made me adore them and just about killed me, but it was seeing the Ryves brothers through Mae’s eyes, in The Demon’s Covenant, that sealed my love for them. Their relationship is so wonderful and complex and heartbreaking. I cried twice during The Demon’s Covenant.
So Nick and Alan definitely deserve their place on the list. Although I have everything crossed that next year Alan will be making an appearance here with someone else!
Side Note: Mae is one of my all time favourite characters. How can you not love a girl who has pink hair, adores her brother, is independent and tough and wears t-shirts that proclaim Heathcliff had it coming. If you’re looking for a strong female lead, look no further than Mae. Plus she isn’t a slayer, witch, vampire, fairy, she can’t see dead people or read minds, no one gave her mystical powers. She’s just amazing, all on her own.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 3 Tom, Tara & Co
Tom and Tara from The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta.
Well I can’t have a list of favourites and not include Melina Marchetta. She’s absolutely my favourite YA author; her books are magic. Whether she’s writing about family dynamics in Australia or a fictional war torn realm I just fall into her books and lose myself there.
Anyway, we’re talking of Tom and Tara. We last saw them, at the end of Saving Francesca, on their way to a maybe relationship (well I did anyway). Five years down the road, Tom has managed to royally screw up both their almost relationship and their friendship, and Tara is now living overseas and dating someone else. While Tom is messing around causing his friends and family a lot of heartache.
They communicate solely by text and emails all through the book. Yet their chemistry and love for each other is as clear as if they were together on every page, you just need to read between the lines to find it! I wanted so badly for them to get back together or to at least be real friends again. Honestly, there were moments when I was set to climb into the book and slap Tom (well maybe shake him a little, because I do adore that Mackee boy).
I won’t spoil by saying how The Piper’s Son leaves them as I know a lot of people haven’t read it yet seeing as it’s not out here until February! But if you loved Saving Francesca, you’ll love revisiting old friends in and seeing what happens to Tom in life and in love.
Also bonus points in the countdown because the friendships are just so brilliant. Tom’s group of friends is one I want to hang out with.
Plus it contains my favourite romantic line of the year, spoken by my favourite YA boy Will Trombal
Honestly, whether you’re preference is for couples or friendship, this book has it all. Get it pre-ordered!
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 4 – Anna and Etienne
Well, I think you may all be sick of hearing me rave on and on about this book. Plus, Nomes wrote a rather fantastic guest post on why Anna and Etienne are so great together.
But all this swooning is with good reason.
This book is just perfect, PERFECT!
It’s definitely a re-reader and for me, it is a Christmas book, because – a) It makes me happy, which is always good at Christmas b) there are the most swoony scenes during the Christmas holidays.
Even though Anna and Etienne don’t spend Christmas together, I felt it was their emails and phone calls that really cemented there friendship.
And that’s reason 101 that I adore this book, because they are friends first.
So you may be wondering, if I have this level of LOVE going for Anna and Etienne, who can the other three couples possibly be? Stay tuned to find out, and if you haven’t, do go and enter the giveaway.
Monday, 13 December 2010
Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Tara Kelly
Tara can be found blogging at her personal blog and also at the fabulous new YA blog YA Outside the Lines. Her new book C-Side Tales is out 2011, I can’t wait.
Countdown to Christmas No 5 Drea and Justin
The title of this book, not to mention the cover, completely captured me. Then I read the first few pages and was hooked by Drea’s voice. I absolutely LOVE this book and I love Drea. I love how she sees the world and how passionate she is about music. Even though she’s convinced she’s different she’s so easy to relate.
And Justin definitely falls into the swoon-worthy category. A reformed bad-boy musician – there isn’t a surer way to my heart, except perhaps a reformed bad-boy welder – Justin is such a great character; strong, independent, trying hard to do the right thing and completely willing to accept Drea for who she is. I get swoony just thinking about him (I’m even willing to overlook the piercings).
Drea and Justin together are magic, they have conversations, they have fights, they learn to deal with each other and what makes the other tick. . .oh and of course they share some rather fabulous kisses.
So if I haven’t been clear enough I really do love this book. I’m so sad I haven’t seen it everywhere, so go buy it for Christmas or an end of year gift if Christmas is not your holiday.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by James of Bookchic
One of my favorite couples this year is Alex and Nathen from What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson, which was originally released in 2008 but I only just now read it this year. The book itself is amazing and I really enjoyed seeing the romance blossom between these two guys. It happened very sweetly, but also very realistically as well. Wilson doesn’t hold back with these two and there’s more than just hugs and kisses going on. It’s such a positive portrayal too of a gay relationship and, in these times, that’s sorely needed. Seeing a relationship like this in a book gives hope to gay teens out there that they can find love too, that they aren’t alone in this world. That’s the same sort of thing I’d like to portray in my own writing and so it’s nice to see it here.
Countdown to Christmas No 6 – Plain Kate and Taggle
Plain Kate by Erin Bow was one of my favourite books of the year and the relationship between Kate and her cat Taggle is one of the reasons why. They’re not a couple in the traditional sense of the word, but their friendship is real and true and heartwarming.
Kate is a fantastic heroine and Taggle is probably my favourite animal in a story ever! I don’t want to say too much about why, because I don’t want to spoil anything. If you haven’t read it though, get it on your Christmas List, it is amazing and beautiful. A book you will want to linger over.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas Guest Post – Andrea Cremer
Andrea can be found blogging at A Blurred History. Her novel Wolfsbane, the second book in the Nightshade Trilogy, is out July 26th 2011!
My favorite couples are those who are pairings of equals – complementary, but not too similar, who have at least a little tension between them, and who end up saving each other. In 2010 a new couple showed up that I adored: Rapunzel and Flynn (aka Eugene) from Tangled. I’ve never been a fan of Disney’s princesses – they spend too much time pining, while I like to see my heroines wielding swords. But Rapunzel won me over and Flynn – well, I have a soft spot for rogueish guys, ‘nuf said. Finally – a princess who’s funny, imaginative, and full of infectious idealism and a hero who isn’t prince charming! I adored the constant banter between Rapunzel and Flynn. I loved that he was an anti-hero, quasi-scoundrel who was living an invented life. I loved that they were both willing to give up everything for each other. This pair definitely ranks as my favorite Disney couple (though book-loving Belle is still my favorite princess) because they worked so well as a team. They both had flaws, but by exposing those faults to one another they were each able to become their true selves and fall in love with who the other person actually was, not some idealized version of them. Rapunzel and Flynn were both heroes. They had equal parts to play in the story and in each other’s lives. I like my romance spicy and spunky and filled with moments that make me laugh as well as swoon – Tangled pulled that off beautifully.
Sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to see Tangled, I just have to find someone to go with. Thanks for sharing Andrea.
Countdown to Christmas No 7 – Calla and Shay
Now I must admit that I am a huge fan of the friendship first romance. You know, lots of talking over coffee, long walks, wistful gazes, finger tips brushing and the does he/doesn’t he like me angst. I adore tension. I love sitting there, gripping the book, screaming, oh my god just kiss already, because I can’t stand it! I just finished such a book and it will almost certainly be featured here next year!
However, sometimes a book comes along that I love because there is so much kissing, so much chemistry. Where the characters desire for each other seems to seep from the book into your skin and every interaction is just so Hot, you are racing ahead for the next one.
This doesn’t mean they don’t have talky, soul connecting moments, but it’s the kissing you remember. Last year that book was Prefect Chemistry. This year it is Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.
If you haven’t read it, let me just tell you that Calla and Shay and Calla and Ren, burn up the pages. Yes, it involves a love triangle, and yes she kisses both boys (more than once) but she has her reasons and I liked Calla, so I’m letting her off.
Nightshade is such a wonderful story and such a brilliant world. There is loads going on besides the kissing, but this is the couples countdown, and the kissing is very hot. So that’s why Calla and Shay make the list. Yes I am firmly Team Shay, well until Ren strolls into view 🙂
Have you read it, which Team are you?
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas Guest Post – Nomes of Inkcrush
I couldn’t wait to see who her favourite couple was. Of course she picked a wonderful one and then explained, so perfectly, why they are wonderful!
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 8 – Sam & Grace
The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite series and I just love Grace and Sam. I’m not normally a fan of a duel narrative (or the quadruple narrative that Linger employs) but it really works in these books.
I don’t think I would feel as attached to Grace if I never got to see her through Sam’s eyes but all the little things he notices about her, not to mention the way he feels about her make me like her. As for Sam he is definitely up there with the swoonth-worthy guys. He’s sweet, sensitive, a musician, and he tries really hard to do the right thing.
I love the connection these two have, it feels like a love that can last forever, and the way Maggie describes everything is just so beautiful. It gets you lost in Sam and Grace’s world and relationship. Like this
You’re beautiful and sad,” I said finally, not looking at him when I did. “Just like your eyes. You’re like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again.” For a long moment there was only the whirring sound of the tires on the road, and then Sam said softly, “Thank you.”
I can’t imagine anyone else with Grace or anyone else with Sam and as the last book is called Forever I’m hoping that’s where we are going. The only question is will their forever be as humans?
Monday, 6 December 2010
Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Kim Harris Thacker
ATTENTION! HARRY POTTER SPOILERS (movie and books)!!!
My favorite couple of the year would have to be Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. I just saw the movie of Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and while I adore the Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling is a genius), it was nice to see the romantic tension on screen. Though Hermione and Ron don’t officially come together in this first part of the seventh movie, I could see their romantic relationship building. And after all the books and all the movies, I thought, “It’s about time!” Their romance is just so right. They’ve been friends for years, they’ve been through more together than the average couple (at least, they’ve face a heckuvalot more death together than the average couple), and they’re just plain perfect for each other. Ron tries so hard to impress the ever-intelligent Hermione, and Hermione is so understanding of Ron (except for that bit where he ran off in the forest–but he deserved what he got from her, in my opinion, horcrux hanging around his neck and making him wacky or not!).
Ginny and Harry also have a tender romance, but perhaps because Ginny doesn’t get as much book or screen time as Hermione and Ron, I just don’t long for her and Harry to be together like I long for Harry’s best friends to be together! Don’t get me wrong–Harry deserves love in his life, if anyone does. But his romance with Ginny doesn’t make my heart zing like Hermione’s and Ron’s romance does.
What’s your favorite romantic or hinting-at-romantic scene in the seventh Harry Potter book or in part one of the seventh movie?
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Countdown to Christmas No 9 – Lennie and Joe
Lennie and Joe from The Sky Is Everywhere. If you’ve read this wonderful novel you’ll know exactly why Lennie and Joe made my list, and if you haven’t, you must. There’s a reason why it’s popping up on so many end of year lists. It’s gorgeous and heartbreaking and it will make you ache and swoon.
I absolutely adore this novel, although my favorite aspect is the notes Lennie writes and leaves everywhere (they break my heart), Joe Fountaine is a close second. Imagine the boy that name should belong to and you have a good idea of Joe. Sweet, sensitive, funny, a stunning musician and owner of the worlds longest eye lashes; he’s one of the swoon-worthist boys I’ve encountered this year.
I love Lennie too, I didn’t always like her but I could always understand her. I just wanted to reach into the book and press her and Joe together. Talk about soul mates, these two are meant for each other, but do they end up together? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Here’s a taste.
This is it – what all the hoopla is about, what Wuthering Heights is about is about -it all boils down to this feeling rushing through me in this moment with Joe as our mouths refuse to part. Who knew all this time I was one kiss away from being Cathy and Juliet and Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Chatterley!?
Any other admirers of Joe Fontaine out there?
Side note: If you haven’t read this and are planning on buying it I recommended hunting down the UK copy (it;s the cover I used above) it’s beautifully illustrated inside and the cover is lovely too, unlike the US edition which freaks me out!
Friday, 3 December 2010
Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Caroline Tung Richmond
I’m delighted to welcome Caroline to the blog today. I discovered Caroline’s blog Adventures in Space recently and it quickly became a favourite. She is an interesting, funny and thoughtful blogger. She mainly talks about writing and books, but occasionally film and fashion and her hatred of pancakes (yes you read it right!). I couldn’t wait to see who her favourite couple would be – she didn’t disappoint!
Caroline’s Guest Post for Alexa’s Lovely Blog Readers
First of all, I want to thank Alexa for asking me to write this guest post. I’ve been very lucky to have met Ms. Barry in person and she is awesome—smart and funny and absolutely lovely!Plus, she doesn’t think I’m weird. That’s a definite bonus. 🙂
Okay, onto the guest post…
When Alexa first asked me to write about my favorite TV/film/book couple, I was tempted to choose something literary. Perhaps Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre. Or Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca. But then I remembered that I haven’t read Jane Eyre or watched Casablanca…so my grandiose idea of being cool and suave went straight out the window.
To be honest, I’m pretty cheesy when it comes to romance. Movies like “27 Dresses” and “Valentine’s Day” may have gotten panned by the critics, but I love them anyway. And so, I decided to choose a couple from one of the cheesiest movies of all time.
Want a hint?
The Pamchenko Twist.
Want another hint?
Yep, my favorite couple would have to be Doug Dorsey and Kate Moseley from the 1992 flick “The Cutting Edge.” Come on, you have to admit you love this movie! I mean, what’s not to like? A hunky hockey player, a sassy figure skater, awesome ice skating, and the freakin’ Olympics! A recipe for awesomeness!
I think the best part of Doug and Kate’s romance is the tension. It’s one of those movies that crackles with sexual chemistry. (In a very PG way, of course!) Doug and Kate get off to a rocky start, but you can tell that they secretly pine for one another after working together day after day on the rink. In one scene of the film, Doug accidentally walks in on Kate after she gets out of the shower and the look on his face is priceless. In one simple look, he’s conveying: “Oh, wow. I never noticed how hot you were before. Um, I’m going to look away now because I’m not supposed to hate you.”
And the ending! *Swoon* Doug and Kate profess their love for one another and then they go on to win Olympic glory. Like I said, complete awesomeness!
So there you have it—my favorite couple of all time comes from a cheesy movie from the early 90s. Speaking of which, I really need to dust off my copy of “The Cutting Edge”…
Hand up who else swoons over The Cutting Edge? I know I do. Thanks again Caroline.
Countdown to Christmas No 10 – Molly and Spill
Molly and Spill are from one of my favourite dystopian reads Restoring Harmony. Their romance is not the main focus of the plot, but it will steal your heart. Molly is the kind of girl I’d like my daughter(if I have one) to grow into – kind and resourceful and smart. While Spill is, at first glance, a bad boy he’s really a good guy with an edge.
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Christmas Countdown Contest
The build up to Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the dark evenings, the twinkling lights, the carols, the movies, the food, the advent chocolate, the hope of snow and a white Christmas. Basically me and Christmas are a a love fest.
Last year I was planning to count down my favourite books, in a kind of extend end of year wrap up.
Then I had a better idea. A much better idea.
I would countdown my favorite couples of 2009, because I love romance nearly as much as Christmas. First kisses, crushes, snarky conversations, sweet moments, finding love in unexpected places, the butterflies in the stomach, the does he like me/hate me swings of emotion, the swoon-worthy boys (oh the boys, there were some good ones in 2009!). My favorite books generally involve two people falling in love.
So last year was all about romantic couples, but this year, as I sat scrolling thought my five star reads on goodreads, a particular book caught my eye. It’s the second in a series and I loved it. There is a lot of kissing in it and so many twisted tangled pairings it brought joy to my heart. However, my absolute favorite “couple” in the book was a pair of brothers. Oh how I love them (you’ll find out who they a soon, if you haven’t guessed already) and how I love their bond, because bonded they are. These two come first with each other.
I made a note of the book thinking I might give it an honary mention, but as I kept scrolling I found that while I still love a good romance, many of the books I have loved this year have been about friendships. So I thought I’d broaden the scope of the term couple..
Anyway I hope you enjoy the posts by me and my fabulous guests. Thank you SO much guest posters, you’ve out done yourselves!
Anyway if you’ve still reading, your reward is
Last year I picked the books, but this year I thought I’d let you guys pick. So if you win you get to choose three books from my top ten couples list.
It’s open to everyone as long as The Book Depository ships to where you live. Sorry if it doesn’t but books are heavy.
Contest Ends 22nd December 2010
Just fill out this FORM!
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
NaNoWriMo – The Finish Line
Let’s celebrate with a photo of Chuck, which is so good at the moment.
Congrats to all the other NaNoers! Before you begin editing you might want to check out my friend Joelle Anthony’s fantastic post
Edit: Well you know what I forgot to do in all the excitement of finishing? Umm verify and win on the NaNo site – doh! – but I know I’ma winner which is what counts 🙂