My Catchphrases

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Homosexuality in YA Literature

When I start work in September I have been informed that the PSE topic for the Autumn/Winter term is Homophobia. My homework for the Summer holidays is to create a list of YA books that deal with the issue of homosexuality.

I know of a few:

Plus Wikipedia have a huge list of both male and female gay-themed books. (Anyone else dislike the use of the word gay but for want of a better one it will have to suffice).
Instead of listing them all I will just put the link to the Wikipedia page.

I would be extremely grateful if any of you have read and reviewed any of these books, or know of any more, would you please leave a link in the comments for me to look at the reviews. Also your thoughts on how homosexuality is approached within teen literature would be invaluable : D

Thank you for all your help it is much appreciated : D

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Review: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Synopsis: From Amazon
Daniel tells me that he’s always loved me. That I feel the same. That I always have.
Not just in this life, but in my last life, and all my lives before.
But I don’t remember him.
He says he is always searching for me. Always hoping that one day I will remember. But it is only he that carries the memory of our love.
I know that finding true love is never easy. Perhaps you have fought for it. Perhaps, like Daniel, you have endured the pain of it being unrequited.
But I hope your quest ends happily.
I hope you never have to face the heartbreak that inevitably awaits us.
This is our extraordinary, unforgettable story.

As well as having a gorgeous cover I was captivated by the synopsis. The whole idea of reincarnation and soul-mates really appeals to me. I knew I had to read this one and thanks to the awesome Keris Stainton for sending me a copy, my wish was granted.

Unbelievably complex writing technique brings 1st and 3rd person narration with interweaving chapters of the past and present settings give a incredibly detailed insight into the characters/interactions within the book.

Daniel is such a wonderful character to create in your imagination. The whole past lives aspect is fully developed with detailed chapters written in first person narrative, starting at his earliest memories of life up until he present day. You can fully understand is complexity, his reluctance to get close to people and his inability to interact on personal level. Yet, he never fails to search for his soul mate, tortured by the memories of his past life with her many incarnations. Daniels happiness is directly linked to his ability to find this missing piece of himself in every life.

I have heard the saying 'this one is an old soul' a lot especially after having my children. The term takes on a more significant meaning after reading this book.

Hypnosis and Regression therapy are touched upon within the plot. It made me wonder what it would be like to access memories from a previous life. Would I be left wishing to be back in that time if it was better than the life I had now or would I be weighed down with guilt for some past wrongdoing.  Looking at the plot from this angle helps build empathy for Daniel and even Lucy. Has anyone else said to themselves when things go wrong in their lives; "I must have done something really wrong in a previous life to have to pay for it now". The whole ideal of karma and reincarnation blending together so you have to atone for mistakes made in a previous lifetime is flawlessly incorporated into the narrative.

The 3rd person narration for the rest of the book is very subtle, the narrator does not have a strong individual voice, instead the narrative is focalised  from either Daniel or Lucy's perspective giving it the feel first person narration.

Lucy is the current incarnation of Daniel's soul-mate. He is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. He is not subtle about the information he reveals to her. Completely shocking and bewildering her, at first she is incredulous. Yet, as we get to know Lucy we see her strength of spirit and her capacity to see below the surface of people (for want of a better explanation I hope it makes sense). Circumstances lead her to believe not only Daniels past lives but also her own.

Elements of the supernatural are incorporated into the storyline adding an extra dimension to the plot.

I adored this book - right up until the ending - when I could have quite cheerfully pitched the book across the room. I am hoping, praying and may even resort to begging for a sequel. I have too many unresolved issues outstanding with this one to leave it like that. Please someone tell me there is a sequel. Then if you know someone that can send it to me immediately.

I adored the characters and the theme, just about everything so *yes I will beg* please don't leave me hanging like this.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Monster Monday: In My Monsters Mailbox #2

The girls have gone book bananas the past few weeks with The Summer Reading Challenge and just their own book love *I wonder who they follow* : D

asacuties pile of first reads from the library

a few other random books that the girlies picked up at the library

A huge thank you to Jenny from the awesome Wondrous Reads for sending the big girl these. She is really rocking the graphic novels - tying her down to do the reviews is another matter :( She opens the envelope lets the books go for 5 seconds for me to take the photo and then scoots off to her room to read/hide them. I think she has already read 2 of them, lol.

So they have had rather a major book haul : D

Monster Monday: Summer Reading Challenge

The girlies always do the reading challenge at the local library. Before we changed schools the main incentive was to have a medal given to them from the Librarian at a special award assembly in school : D The school they go to now is out of the area covered by the library we use. So this year they are reading just for the joy of reading : D I must be doing something right for them to read like this *happy dances*

This years theme for the challenge is Space. The library is having free events on this theme throughout the holidays. Unfortunately our local library only has one event. It was fun; a story and plenty of arts & crafts but one a week would be fantastic. I know it is down to staff resources that they are unable to hold more but it really makes a difference to keeping their attention.

The challenge is to visit the library 6 times during the holidays, borrow and read a book each time. A record card is kept by the librarians and each visit marked off the card. As you can see from my previous Monster Monday posts, the girlies read a bit faster than 1 book a week. We are now into our 2nd week of the 7 week holiday and the girls have just done their 3rd visit  to the library. The librarian has asked us to try to space it out or they will finish the challenge before the end of the holiday :( So for the next few visits we wont mark their cards.

They have been so many times as the two older girls have got stuck into a few series books and are working their way through the series : D

asastar is currently working her way through:

As you can see she really likes the girly books : D Losing herself in the fantasy world appeals to her.

asacheekymonkey has discovered a passion for:


As you can see they have very different tastes in books : D

asacutie has decided to work on her reading to impress her teacher when she goes back to school. We picked up a few first reader books at the library but they didnt have a big selection which was a bit disappointing for asacutie :( I guess we will have to go to the main library to ransack that one ;) *good excuse*

I haven't signed up for any reading challenges yet. They wont let me do the one with the girlies ;) If you know of any you think would be suitable for me/or 'my' library please let me know : D

In My Mailbox #11

Hosted by the lovely Story Siren : D

I had a great haul from the library this week. The only problem I find when I borrow from the library is the time constraint, although I really want to read these books I don't like having to re-priorities my TBR pile to move them all to the top. Hey Hoe : D

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn (30p in a charity shop)
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (30p I just couldn't leave it there)

I have a lovely book swapping chain happening at the moment with some of the lovely people I have got to know through RISI, it makes me all warm & fuzzy to share the book love : D

From the lovely people at Random House Children's Books (you guys can stalk me anytime, lol)

This is the fourth book in The Nicholas Flamel series, I have read the rest of the series and love the way it combines fantasy, reality, history and adventure. I am really looking forward to finding where this story is going to take us : D

Finally, finally Linger turned up at my doorstep on Friday : D Maggie if you look at my blog *in my dreams* how can you do this to me. I have to read this most awesome book in small chunks due to the emotion you have woven into the narrative, which hits me like a tidal wave as soon as I open the book. I turn each page with trepidation, my heart pounds with the tension. Maggie thank you for such a fantastic book *will now stop acting like teen fangirl : D*

Sorry the post is late this week but we went out for the day yesterday with the girlies and I forgot to schedule it. The Big Cheese Festival in Caerphilly. If anyone is wondering *like my hubs* why it is called The Big Cheese it is because Caerphilly is quite famous for its cheese : D J thought it was an actual cheese festival until I explained it to him *sniggers*

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Boys into Books

One of the questions I was asked in my interview was How much did I know about did I know about Boys Books. Obviously the people who were interviewing me knew I have 3 girls. The Head Librarian had also checked my blog so she had an idea of the sort of things I read myself (she likes vampires too).

This was something I hadn't really considered before - luckily I had done some research before my interview, trying to anticipate the kind of questions I would be asked.

Some of the books that are classed as 'boys' didnt really come to mind at first as my oldest daughter *asacheekymonkey* reads this classification as well as more 'girlie' books.

These are a few that came to mind:

The Goosebumps Series - that asacheekymonkey is addicted too : D

The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz (my hubs has read these)
The Young James Bond by Charlie Higson

Along with graphic novels, anime and manga.

I also discovered the School Library Association website that has loads of really useful information.

I know a few families that have boys, some are voracious readers yet others have to be bribed in order to read a book. Surely this cant just be gender specific, or is it just a statistic that girls read more than boys.

If anyone knows of any initiatives to encourage reading (whether it is boys or girls) I would be extremely grateful.

If you have any suggestions/advice/links please comment.

Thanks for all your support : D

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Review: Wasted by Nicola Morgan

Synopsis: From Amazon

Jack worships luck and decides his actions by the flip of a coin. No risk is too great if the coin demands it. Luck brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life. But Jack’s luck is running out, and soon the stakes are high. As chance and choice unravel, the risks of Jack’s game become terrifyingly clear. An evening of heady recklessness, and suddenly a life hangs in the balance, decided by the toss of a coin. In the end, it is the reader who must choose whether to spin that coin and determine: life or death.


My head is still reeling days after reading this book. I will attempt to be coherent : D

Written in 3rd person narrative. The narrator has a strong and powerful presence. Omniscient within the prose, it provides a clever way in which to reveal different aspects of the plot. At times this can be disjointed as the narrator steps into the story to explore alternate avenues for the plot. I am one of those readers that fully immerse themselves in the storyline, I read as if I am viewing a movie in my head. So for me to take a step back from the main storyline to look at alternative threads with the narrator took some getting used to. I have to say it is a very powerful tool used to its utmost effect within this book. The narrator actually became a character within my imagination.

The protagonists are extremely well developed and easy to relate to. Background details are revealed piece by piece, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle to reveal the whole picture when the last piece is dropped into place.

Jess has always been in the background, putting other people before herself; especially her alcoholic mother, when it comes to taking control over her life and doing the one thing she loves above all else - music. Then fate/destiny brings Jack into her life, helping bring her out of herself. Showing Jess what the world could be like if she let fate take control of her decisions.

However, Jack is almost OCD in his use of tossing a coin to make decisions. Due to events in his childhood he believes he owes fate if something good happens to him. For every good thing that occurs in his life, he has to tempt fate with the toss of the coin. The more contented he is with his life, the further compelled he is to toss the coin for every single decision.

J always says if he could have a super-power it would be the ability of hindsight followed by time travel in order to alter some of the decisions we have made over the years. Obviously we are looking at the big decisions that we regret and wonder where we would be in our lives now if we had chosen a different path. Yet we do not consider all the little everyday decisions that we make subconsciously that may also alter the way in which our lives will be affected. Even down to which way we turn at the end of the street. It is these little decisions that can also alter the complete course of your life.  Jack's coin game is the most powerful example of how even these little decisions can have huge consequences.

A complex and compelling storyline weaving psychology, quantum physics, philosophy and reality into one. Thought provoking on so many levels. A topic of  much debate in our house. J has now gone off on a tangent about string theory and parallel universes. We are such a cool couple LOL.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Monster Monday: Review: The Tiara Club by Vivian French

Synopsis: From Amazon

Where do princesses go to school? The Royal Palace Academy for the Preparation of Perfect Princesses! Titles Include: Princess Amy and the Golden Coach, Princess Chloe and the Primrose Petticoats, Princess Jessica and the Best-Friend Bracelet, Princess Georgina and the Shimmering Pearl, Princess Olivia and the Velvet Cloak, Princess Lauren and the Diamond Necklace, Princess Hannah and the Little Black Kitten, Princess Isabella and the Snow- White Unicorn, Princess Lucy and the Precious Puppy, Princess Grace and the Golden Nightingale, Princess Ellie and the Enchanted Fawn, Princess Sarah and the Silver Swan.

Review by asastar:

I like these books so much because there is always an adventure or a problem to solve within the story.

My favourite character is Rachael because she saved a baby dolphin from a net and she didnt care about getting wet.

Well, there are two characters that I didnt really like, Aimonde & Graellua because they are horrible twins and they always seem to start the trouble.

I absolutely love the pictures in the book and I do think it helps the story. When they have the pictures of the mean parts they do look really mean and horrible so they go along with the story.

Thank you asastar for that interesting review : D

asamums thoughts:

Theses are great for quick reads. asastar devours a book in one sitting, so she gets very pleased with herself that she is reading so quickly.

It is a lovely piece of escapism touching on global issues in a light hearted manner that will enhance their PSE work in school without weighing young ones down with social 'guilt'.

The black & white illustrations are beautiful and really add to the imagination and immersion into this fantasy world.

The only problem I find with any series of this sort is that it becomes quite frustrating as a parent that there always seems to be a new title to buy. I also like to encourage my girlies to have a wide variety of books and reading the same series continually does not broaden their reading skills. However, any reading is better than no reading : D

Sunday, 18 July 2010

In My Mailbox #10

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting this wonderful meme every week : D

Some fantastic swaps. I have made friends with some really generous people through the swapping site. Thank you all again for your kindness : D

Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls (recommended by Clover to save for when I need a good cry)
Doing It by Melvin Burgess (part of the Sex in Teen Lit book-list from Once Upon A Bookcase)

Won from Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

I have taken this one into the library I will be working in from September. Going back to one of the interview questions about getting Boys into Books I thought this would appeal to boys. What do you think????

 From my awesome book buddy Clover. We regularly swap our books as we have such similar tastes - I will admit she is more diverse than I am ;) Plus she reads insanely fast, I have to keep track of her wish-list books to make sure I have what she wants : D Check out her IMM's to see what I sent her this week ;)

So another amazing book week for me. What did you get????

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Saturday Spotlight: News

Apologies for the lack of consistency this week. It has been rather busy and emotional.

Firstly for those that don't know - plus I had the official letter this morning - I have a job : D

From September I will be a Middle Grade/Teen Librarian at a local Comprehensive School. I had the interview Tuesday. My first interview in 12 years. So you can guess how nervous I was. I had arranged to stay for the day and work in the library just for experience, I was told to go back to the office after 10 that morning and the decision would be put to the short-listed candidates. We were all in the office together. I think if I hadn't been chosen I would have burst into tears : D So that is the reason I haven't been about much this week. I have been back and for the library to get used to it and not feel overwhelmed in September. I am sure I will be a little overawed to start with but that is normal.

I also wanted to get used to dealing with the lunchtime rush to the library. Surprisingly it is used for otehr things than reading. I have already come across a young girl with food issues - she likes to hide her lunch among the bookcases (: So I have had to think of ways to tackle that problem. She already thinks I am strict and not nice : D

Plus this couldn't have come at a better time. It is a lifeline for our house, as my poor hubs has been unemployed for nearly 18 months now. It has really taken its toll on our family & relationship. So here is a wonderful opportunity to rebuild our lives : D

Secondly, it is asastars 8th Birthday today. I really don't know where it has gone. She had a birthday tea in the house last night and then 2 friends to sleepover. One of which went home at 10:45 as she wanted her Mum. You forget how little they really are.

So I would just like to wish my little/big girl a very Happy Birthday and tell her how much I love her and how proud I am that she is my daughter *sniff*.

I am hoping next week will be a bit more productive with regards to the blog : D Thank you for putting up with me *hugs you all*

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Birthday Giveaway at Girls Without a Bookshelf

Firstly Happy 20th Birthday Dwayne, I hope you have a lovely day and much happiness at all times : D
In celebration of Dwayne's birthday she is having a giveaway at her blog Girls without a Bookshelf

I will show you what she is giving away but you have to promise not to enter as I really, really, really NEED these books : D

Dwayne has given the option of having 7 winners with one book each or 1 winner with all 7 books - being a complete bookaholic I want all 7 (Sorry I know its greedy but I really, really - yep you get the picture)

*Drum roll* The books are:

So now I have told you - but you still can't enter *pokes tongue out*

Good Luck Everyone : D
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