Saturday, 28 July 2007

Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block

We've had the Dangerous Angels series in the shop, unsold, for more than 3 years! How could that happen? I never even considered reading them, but I'm happy I gave it a go, thanks to Soleil, who picked Weetzie Bat for her "Something about me challenge". This book was a short but charming read, a urban fairy tale about love, strange names and magic wishes. Honestly I was a bit put off at the beginning with all those names of places and shops in L.A. that I don't have a clue what they look like, but after a while I just gave up and enjoyed the story. It's about Weetzie Bat, the (real) name of a quirky young woman, who wears "old fifties' taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter or dresses made of kids' sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters", has a dog called Slinkster Dog, and has a father who reminds her of a cigarette . Weetzie's best friend is Dirk, who is handsome, cool, and gay. Together they're determined to find the "Duck" of their dreams. I assume Weetzie and her friends are over 18 because they drink, smoke and have casual one night stands while still going to high school. But despite the daring themes that the story touches (including a threesome, Aids and pregnancies) all is told with such delicacy and tact, almost with ingenuity, that I wouldn't be afraid to give it to any teenager, and of course adults, if anything for the ease it shows in dealing with homosexuality and love.
Franscesca Lia Block writing is quick but poetic and musical. She managed to create a world and a way of being in barely 100 pages. Here's one of my favourite quotes:

"In Jamaica there is a night life like nowhere else - your body feels radiant, like orange lights, like Bob Marley's voice, when you dance in the clubs there. In Jamaica we climb the falls holding hands and the water rushes down bluer than your eyes. In Jamaica. In Jamaica it is hot and wet, and the people are hot and wet, and the shells look like flowers and the flowers look like shells, and when you drive down some roads men come out of the bushes wearing parrots on their shoulders and flowering bird cages on top of their heads"
Weetzie said, "Maybe in Jamaica I could find My Secret Agent Lover Man. I can't seem to find it here".

Now I'm in trouble though: I promised I won't be buying/reading anymore books beside those from my "Books I have to read before buying anymore!" list. But I'm afraid I won't be able to resist the next three books in the series for too long!

ps: I've seen another book by F.L. Block on Amazon. It's called "Ruby". I've ordered it for the shop. Has Anyone read it?

pps: I'm proud to say that the book has been finally translated in Italian. look at the cover,isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Brief comment on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Spoilers Free!) and a book meme.

So, I finished it,yes. It took me longer than many other people. So I found out I'm not that fast, and I'm glad I'm not. I like to live with the books a bit longer than few hours, I like missing them while I do something else, and come back to them with anticipation, I like knowing that there's still something to find out. And I'm happy I lived with this last Harry Potter for at least three days. It was so worth the waiting. The only thing I can say is "brilliant!". It has definitely become my favourite HP, replacing, at last, The Prisoner of Azkaban.
I won't say anything else, but if you want to discuss what happens in the book I suggest you visit this blog: Discuss Deathly Hallows

So instead of giving you an unnecessary review of HP7 I'll do this meme which I've been wanting to do in a while :-)
I stole it from Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Dragon. Oh if you want to steal it too, please post a comment with your answers here!
so there you go:
Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror? Fantasy! I can barely stand horror on screen. I'm not a fan of scary books, even if sometimes creepy is good. I'm interested in science fiction, but I haven't read enough to choose it over fantasy.
Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? Few days ago I would have said "Mass Market Paperback!" with no doubt, but now, even though I still don't like the Trade paperback because they look too big and ugly, I sometimes enjoy the good old Hardback. I decided it while I was reading HP7. It gives a feeling of reading something really important, to treasure. I'd still go for pocket sizes most of the times though!
Amazon or Brick and Mortar? Er, what's Brick and Mortar? I like buying books in bookshops anyway, and on second-hand stalls if possible.
Barnes & Noble or Borders? I don't live in the States, so neither of those.
Hitchhiker or Discworld?Hitchhiker. But only because I haven't read any Discworld books. YET!
Bookmark or Dogear? I like Bookmarks, I have a very cute one at the moment,with Piglet from Winnie the pooh on it, but I tend to loose them very often, like I do with most of my belongings, so I'm not against dogear at all. It makes the book more used, and more mine. I really don't like random bookmarks though, for some reason, like a piece of paper, or anything you find at hand-reach. Don't know why!
Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction? Fantasy & Science fiction, like Bradley's Darkover series for example.
Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or random? In my house? none of the above. They are divided by To be read and read. That's it. In the shop though, is a completely different matter. Chapter books and picture books HAVE to be by author. The rest by subject OR publishers. No excuse.
Keep, Throw Away or Sell? Before I discovered Bookcrossing I was all for keeping books. Now I just released them in the wild.
Keep dust-jacket or toss it? Oh keep it,I don't like them without, they look naked and anonymous. I tried to read HP without its cover,but it didn't do, it had to be on!
Short story or novel? Novel. I don't like short stories.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I read the first two books of Lemony Snicket series, but even though I enjoyed them, I didn't find them great. Harry Potter is good, but His Dark Materials even better!
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? when tired...if I have time. Otherwise when lunch break is over, when I reach my stop on the bus, when 15mins break is over...
"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time? hmm, what about "Once upon a time it was a dark stormy night..."? can't choose.
Buy or Borrow? Buy. I want to be able to keep the book if I liked it.
Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse? Usually browsing, but I take recommendation every now and then. I like reviews also.
Lewis or Tolkien? Tolkien.
Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?Not a fan of any of those, but maybe Collection.
Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? Tidy tidy ending. even if it's a series.
Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? whenever I can, but I prefer quite afternoons.
Standalone or Series? Both. I like standalones, but when I really loved a character is such a pleasure to read more about them in the next books.
New or used? Both again. There's something good in both. I loved the smell of new books, but I like used books history.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Hmm,hard question. can't think of any...
Top 5 favorite genre books of all time? Norther lights, The tiger in the well, A wizard of Earthsea, Momo, Thendara House.
Favorite genre series? Let's mention something else than Philip Pullman: The Renunciate's Trilogy by M.Z.Bradley.
Oh also Daniel Pennac's Malaussene books. But hardly any English speaker knows Pennac. He's great!
Currently Reading? Just finished HP7 so technically I'm not reading anything at the moment.
Uhhh it's done. Longer that I thought!

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Book quiz!

Oh I love these things, especially when they make me find out about a book I should read. Apparently I'm like "The giver" by Lois Lowry. I'm pretty sure it's a book chosen by someone on the "something about me challenge" so I'll have to add it to my list!

You're The Giver!

by Lois Lowry

While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you're pretty sure
everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were
tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by
your prior upbringing and now you're tormented by how to reconcile these two lives.
Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Setalux - Simona B. Lenic

I’ve bought this in Italy because I wanted to check what is going on in the Italian literary scene at the moment, and because the cover was beautiful. It also helped that the book was advertised as “The Italian Harry Potter”! It turned out to be a delightful read, but nothing to do with Harry Potter, except that both are fantasy fiction. This is definitely written for young adults, and surely for adults as well, but not for children. The writing is not as simple as in Harry Potter. It’s almost poetic, dreamy in its descriptions of the Salty Land, of the silky beams of Setalux, of the first meeting between two of the main characters. It really shows that the author, at her debut, made an effort to find her own special style. It could have done with a bit more of proof reading though (so many typing mistakes!). Unfortunately this book only exists in Italian. I’m writing the review hoping that one day it will be translated, and also because it was such an excellent read.
It’s the story of four kids in the mid teens, Sfaira the ballerina, Leon the brave, Matt the knowledgeable and Joshua the artist, in a world that could be our own but it’s not. The four of them are destined to bring back the Setalux, an ancient source of wisdom, made of light and silk, that used to fill the humans' lives and bodies, and bring full consciousness of themselves. “The Setalux was the only way to happiness, knowledge and true joy in life”. The source died mysteriously and now the four teenager are the only hope for the legend to become true again.
This is not a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy. Yes, it has its adventurous and dangerous moments, but the story takes its time to develop the characters’ relationships, their fears and their strengths, the bond that links them, the tensions, the crushes, their everyday lives. Not to mention the important part played by a strange and funny group of concerned adults, that instead of being annoying and stupid as usually in YA fiction, they really bring something to the story.
I particularly loved the way Simona B. Lenic described all the lovely food that the characters have: cherry-foamed cappuccinos, water-melon ice cubes and all sorts of incredibly yummy delicacies are mentioned throughout the book. This, and the fact that all the main characters are really likeable, made me lived their story with pleasure. Needless to say, the story is an allegory of our world, filled with “mortivì” (dead-alive people) who can only think about their own greed and don’t believe in true happiness. So, where is our Setalux source? Let’s hope someone finds it soon!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The first edition of the Bookworms Carnival is on!

Just go here: Bookworms Carnival.
This edition's theme is "novels". Make sure to check it out and maybe think about submitting a post for the next edition! I'm going to browse all those blogs very soon (well, I've already looked at a few). Enjoy.

Friday, 13 July 2007

New Poll! Which character do you think will die in "Harry Potter and the deathly Hallows"?

Ok, I know it's not the most original of the questions, but I wanted to try out the new poll feature and this is the first question that came to my mind. I went to see Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix yesterday and I quite liked it, even though I'm not a big fan of the films. And it's only 7 days to go now!!! So the Harry Potter feaver has officially starte for me! I've had a debate with my friends. Some think Harry will die for sure, but I don't think so. Wouldn't it be too obvious? What do you think?
ps: Luna Lovegood is now officially my favourite character!

pps: I've taken the Harry Potter personality test and I'm disappointed to say that I'm like....HARRY POTTER!!!???Maybe I should take the quiz again....

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Bookworms Carnival

I first read about this blog carnival on Metaxu Café. I had never heard of a Blog Carnival but it sounded like a good idea. This one is obviouly about books and since the only thing I had to do is choose a post about "novels" I've submitted one of my reviews immediately. Check the link on the sidebar for more information on how to take part. The first blog host is The hidden side of leaf.I can't wait to see the actual carnival and maybe take part in the next editions (one for every month)!

Monday, 9 July 2007

The last elf - Silvana De Mari

I’ve read this in two days, lying on the beach and enjoying the sun on my skin. It was a perfect summer reading. Not those silly, frivolous books that people associate with summer. But something that can keep you glued to it, for hours and hours, except for a quick dip into the sea to freshen up a little. Summer reading means pure, undiluted pleasure. And this book was all of this.
Imagine “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” mixed with a classic fantasy tale, all spiced up by irony and intelligence. This is “The last elf”.
I’ve read this in Italian, because I know it has been translated recently into English and wanted to check if it was worth it for the bookshop where I work. I will definitely order in some copies, hoping that the translation will be just as good.
It’s the story of Yorsh (short for Yorshkrunsquarkljolnerstrink), the last elf in a fantasy world where elves are despised, feared and deported, just like the Jews were. The reference to the Jews is more than obvious when the author mentions their ability with trade, and also, at the end, when Yorsh leads a group of slaves through a land of freedom and peace (yes, I’m telling you the end, but you’d better read it all anyway!).
However, this is not a simple retelling of Moses and his journey. It’s an extremely funny adventure that involves an old annoying dragon who loves sentimental fairy tales, a brave little girl in a “oliver twist” sort of orphanage, and a prophecy engraved on a wall.
It’s mainly a condemn of any kind of dictatorships and racism. A hymn to freedom, friendship and love. It’s a fairy tale that speaks to children but with a wittiness that should appeal to adult as well.
Some scenes are so hilarious that made me laugh out loud. Especially the meeting between the little ingenious elf and the big bad troll (“You’re beautiful!"), or the funny, old way the dragon speaks, a kind of medieval Italian. But the whole book is full of these great comic scenes entwined with a moving story of loss and pain, poverty and hate. Silvana De Mari is a true storyteller.

Monday, 2 July 2007

The tygrine cat - Inbali Iserles

The first thing I noticed while I was reading this book is the way it flew so easily without me even noticing it. It's the kind of story that grabs you from the beginning and won't let you go till the end. Even though I never thought it was that short, it was over before I knew it.
The whole novel is told from a cat perspective. Humans are there but they have never a big role. Of all our domestic pets, cats are the most mysterious. We all know that they are independent, free spirits, hunters, that they don't belong to anyone. After reading this, you might start looking at your kitten in a different way. Humans, or "hinds" in the cat language, are actually owned by domestic cats, who provide protection and company in exchange of food and shelter. For Inbali Iserles, cats live in a world of their own. They have tribes, hierarchy, mythology, superstitions, culture. Some can even perform magic. All under the unaware eyes of humans.
The story takes place in a market square, where the cats of Cressida Lock have established their home. Life is relatively easy among food stalls and the nearby catacombs. But when young Mati arrives at the market things start to change. His different look is not welcome and he struggles to be accepted in their community, but he has no choice. He doesn’t know where he comes from, he doesn’t remember his past. His ruddy fur, long pointy ears and gold eyes are looked at with suspicion. Different is not always easy to accept. However, he is given a chance to prove he is trustworthy and he tries eagerly to be a part of the group. What happens next is out of his control though. He finds himself trapped, accused of murder and exiled. Someone is after him, Mati has enemies that are trying to kill him. And to defeat them he will have to discover his past, find out who he really is and save not only himself, but also every cat on earth.

Full of inventiveness and completely absorbing, this is a very enjoyable read that will leave you wanting for more. Its simple story is engaging, its main characters are easy to love and the writing is skilful and confident. For readers aged 9+. And for all cats lovers. To be published on 6 August 2007.