Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived thr...moreArt is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and also experience them. —The other Leo, Leo Tolstoy
You know, if my high school teacher had just handed me Graffiti Moon to explain aesthetics, Tolstoy and Kant would've made so much more sense. And been so much more enjoyable.
What can I say about Cath Crowley and this book that Tolstoy hasn't? How about I show you how people have been infected by her feelings and experienced them.
Noelle did a painting inspired by Graffiti Moon after reading it. Click on the picture to see a larger version in her review. I'm still harasking (not a typo) her to make prints.
Graffiti Moon is art. It takes you along as it follows Lucy and Ed on the last night of high school, but it's also about their relationship with Ed's secret alter ego, Shadow, the guy who paints in the dark. Lucy doesn't know who he is, but she knows enough about him from the pieces of himself he leaves around the city via his paintings. Ed is... lost. Except when he's Shadow. As Ed, he's just lost his job, his boss/mentor/confidant, his girlfriend, and his direction. One thing Lucy and Ed have in common, aside from Shadow, is their art. Lucy is learning to be a glass blower from her own boss/mentor/confidant, and she's as good in her art as Shadow is in his. Through their friends, Lucy and Ed end up thrown together despite their mutual reluctance. The reason for that reluctance is classic Crowley. (See Faltrain, Gracie.)
I knew I loved Lucy from the moment she tells off a guy with, "You don't do that on a first date. Atticus Finch would never have done that." My girl! And she has parents who say things like,
Mum laughs. “We raised a very conservative daughter. Too much Pride and Prejudice.”
“That could change,” Dad says. “There’s still time to get her onto Margaret Atwood.”
How is it that I simultaneously want to be the daughter and the parent in this situation?
Leo/Poet is right there too. Lucy's description of Leo in the Australian edition nearly, very nearly, made me forget about Ed for a second.
I once saw him from a distance and thought a tree was strolling towards me. An oak tree with a shaved head, soft eyes, and a tattoo.
Perhaps that's why they chose to leave that little snippet out of the US edition, which brings me to my next topic.
Cultural Differences Between Australians and Americans as Evidenced in YA LiteratureClass to be taught by Professor Crowley at the University of In Our Dreams at a date TBD
Catie does a brilliant job of breaking down the Aussie vs US editions in her post at The Readventurer. To piggyback on her discussion, the main thing I noticed based on what was cut vs what was added in the US version is that Australians are rock 'n roll and Americans are emo. Rolling Stones "I can't get no..." references cut! Alanis Morissette reference added. My notes had a giant "MEH!" here. Also, the noble single mother goes down very well with an American audience. Whereas Ed's mum was a figure in the Aussie edition, she is now a PRESENCE in the US edition. Ed's absentee father also gets a bigger role in the US edition with his absence. Ed wonders about what kind of legacy his father has left for him by leaving. These things don't detract from the story at all. In fact, I think most audiences would embrace Ed's struggles. However, having read the Aussie edition first and loving that story as it was presented, it felt unnecessary to me.
Still, I can't hate on the US edition when one of the added lines is one I absolutely love:
“I know that,” I say, trying to act like I’m not embarrassed for thinking love and sex are the same thing. I know they’re not, but I want them to be close enough to at least brush each other as they pass.
The US edition also has two new poems by Leo, which is a nice bonus.
Regardless of which edition you have, you're good. If George Lucas can come out with 125 editions of Star Wars, Cath Crowley can have 2 editions of her books. Like the Star Wars geeks I can never make fun of again, I found myself ordering the Australian version, the US version, and today, the audiobook version. I may not be able to express my love for this book by painting, but I can do it by shopping! (less)
Had I seen this book in a bookstore (when they still existed, I mean), I would have immediately dismissed it based on the cover alone. The flames, the...moreHad I seen this book in a bookstore (when they still existed, I mean), I would have immediately dismissed it based on the cover alone. The flames, the red lips, Lips Touch... come on. However, after seeing Tatiana and Meredith's reviews, I decided to give it a try. Plus I had just finished Jellicoe Road and knew that whatever I read next wouldn't compare, so I might as well try something different. Lips Touch, to put it simply, was lovely. This book of grown up fairy tales, each beautifully illustrated, was an unexpected treat. I highly recommend it, especially after reading something as rich and emotionally complex as a Melina Marchetta.(less)
I really didn't think I'd like or relate to this book at all -- I mean, cows? Farms?? Wisconsin??? -- and I definitely wouldn't have picked it up had...moreI really didn't think I'd like or relate to this book at all -- I mean, cows? Farms?? Wisconsin??? -- and I definitely wouldn't have picked it up had Noelle not Kenneth Parcell-GIF recommended it, but I'm so glad I did! DJ kicks ass. The story is told from her perspective, and her character and the tone of the story reminded me a little of Ellie in the Tomorrow series. My one (and I do mean ONE) criticism is that at times, DJ sounds so young she's veering on childish, but I definitely needed the simplistic explanations of life on a farm. (Who knew wet hay could start a fire?!) Catherine Gilbert Murdock writes DJ so well and with such knowledge that I believed this story was semi-autobiographical until a quick Google search proved otherwise. After reading a few trilogies that shouldn't be trilogies, ahem Uglies, I'm glad there's more to DJ's story and I cannot wait to read the next book. Like now.(less)
Cute, frothy, and absolutely ridiculous. The main character is so good, her nemesis so evil, the boys so hot... This book has zero basis in reality, w...moreCute, frothy, and absolutely ridiculous. The main character is so good, her nemesis so evil, the boys so hot... This book has zero basis in reality, which is fine, and had the book ended 50 pages earlier, I would've given it 4 stars and ranked it alongside Jennifer Echols. However, the story gets repetitive and needlessly preachy towards the end. Megan even lectures the brothers on the importance of family. She's supposed to be 16! Another anachronism: the author actually has Megan and her BFF end their chat with "SWAK". I'm in my 20s and I had to dig through my childhood memories to remember what SWAK meant. All in all though, this was a cute, easy, fun read.(less)
I keep getting sucked into those Criminal Minds marathons on ION and A&E and it's totally messing with my psyche and my friendships -- psyche beca...moreI keep getting sucked into those Criminal Minds marathons on ION and A&E and it's totally messing with my psyche and my friendships -- psyche because I'm dreaming about a gunman outside my childhood home; friendships because I think my friends are sick of me calling at 1am after encountering a potential "unsub." I tried to counterbalance that by reading some romance, but Kristan Higgins' femalecharacters made me want the story to turn into Criminal Minds.
I mentioned this to my awesome book club, and one of the girls recommended Bet Me and Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie. I chose Bet Me because I'm trying to get away from hitmen, and the premise sounded cute. Min Dobbs goes on a date with Cal Morrissey after overhearing her ex-BF, the one who dumped her that night, bet Cal that he wouldn't be able to take her out. It hurts because she also hears the guys talking about her rumpled, dowdy suit, but Min would rather Cal win the bet than her asshole ex. Plus she knows the situation and figures she can use drop dead gorgeous Cal right back and get him to take her to her younger sister's wedding. Hijinks and chemistry ensue.
This is Cal, by the way.
Min, on the other hand, is harder to describe because she's probably a size 10:
but she sees herself as this:
I *think* Jennifer Crusie was trying to portray an average-sized American woman, who is definitely above a size 8, but if you're going to do that, actually DO IT. Don't just have a woman who's kinda-sorta-not really big, who can kinda-maybe-almost squeeze into a size 8, and then throw donuts in her face at every opportunity. It's kinda really insulting. Someone who eats more ---> Gets bigger. Okay. But that doesn't mean that a bigger girl (Size 10... That heifer!) ---> Gets an orgasm from food. And from freakin' chicken marsala at that! And unless she's Paula Deen, butter isn't a turn on either.
I get what Crusie was trying to do, but just throwing Krispy Kreme at the main character doesn't accomplish that. There's actually one scene where Cal kisses Min and she says, "No, wait." Cal then looks down to the donuts, says, "Right," and picks up another piece of donut to give her. Because a DONUT is what a big girl would be thinking about first if a hot guy kissed her.
Still, even with ALL that, I had fun with this book. Sure, I was laughing at it (I spent the first half of the book thinking Cal was gay), but I laughed with it too. And the chemistry -- the chemistry is there. The banter between two characters who love/hate/love each other is there. And ultimately, the message of accepting and loving your body is there -- just hidden under self-loathing and donut boxes.
A haunting, compelling story that was almost undone by a few superfluous, cringe-inducing chapters at the end that would make Nicholas Sparks and Mitc...moreA haunting, compelling story that was almost undone by a few superfluous, cringe-inducing chapters at the end that would make Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom proud. This was an imperfect novel, for sure, but still one that broached a subject that should be explored more, and brought to life events that were tragically swept under a rug. Like many other reviewers, I wanted more Sarah and less Julia. At one point, Julia's boss tells her re: her story, "But you forgot a couple of things. The cops. The French cops." Julia responds, "He was right, of course. It had never entered my head." I wondered if perhaps that was exchange Tatiana de Rosnay had had with her own boss because I was curious about the cops too, but unfortunately, there is no mention beyond that.
Despite its unevenness, Sarah's Key is worth a read and shows with terrifying detail some of the atrocities that occurred in 1942.
Sooooooo cute. This book is so cute! We start off with Jennifer and Beth, BFFs and co-workers at an Iowa newspaper. (Or maybe it was Nebraska. Whateve...moreSooooooo cute. This book is so cute! We start off with Jennifer and Beth, BFFs and co-workers at an Iowa newspaper. (Or maybe it was Nebraska. Whatever, same difference.) Told via their email exchanges, their chapters are smart and funny with great dialogue and chemistry. Think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, or you and your best friend. Then the chapters alternate to Lincoln, the guy in charge of IT security at the paper. The story is told from Lincoln's perspective, and whereas we only get to see Jennifer and Beth through their emails, we learn about Lincoln and his background. And that's where we, and the story, run into a slight problem -- because Lincoln for all intents and purposes is kind of a loser. Let's look at the evidence:
1. He lives at home with his mother. 2. He hasn't had a relationship since he broke up with the love of his life. 2A. It was his high school girlfriend. 2B. They broke up 9 years ago. 2C. NINE YEARS AGO!! 2D. After he followed her out to college in California. 2E. He's been adrift ever since. 3. He spends his Saturday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons.
In the first few chapters, Jennifer and Beth's snap crackle pop were what kept me reading because Lincoln was just so sad and dull and pathetic. And then came Lincoln's physical description.
He's basically Joe Manganiello. YES. That plus the fact that he became less woe-is-me made the story pick up and then zoom into AWESOME territory.
Plot: Jennifer and Beth write typical BFF emails to one another detailing the minutiae of their lives. They use their work emails despite knowing that Big Brother or IT Guy can read them. IT Guy Lincoln does read them because they keep popping up on his security filters. As he reads them, he finds himself falling for Beth. He doesn't know what she looks like, but he loves her personality. (That's the dream, isn't it?) Beth, however, has a long-term, live-in boyfriend who is a musician and therefore absentee. Remember that Lincoln isn't Prince Charming either (see evidence above). Yet.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and charmed by this book. I loved the female dynamic. I've had some, if not most, of the exchanges that Jennifer and Beth have with each other. And as I read, I began to appreciate Lincoln more and more. First and foremost, I love that he's not a Darcy. He's shy and awkward and nice -- a totally normal guy (except for the whole Joe Manganiello thing). As a reader, you're not swooning over him in the beginning because there's nothing to swoon over! You grow to like him as he grows. I would've probably stayed up all night to finish this except my Benadryl kicked it. A fun, enjoyable read, I highly recommend it. (less)
Hmm. I'm torn on how to rate this because while I enjoyed it (especially the first half), it also made me think of Jezebel's review of One Day. (Note:...moreHmm. I'm torn on how to rate this because while I enjoyed it (especially the first half), it also made me think of Jezebel's review of One Day. (Note: Not because it ends like One Day.)
3.5 stars, but do I give it 3 or 4 on Goodreads? We need half stars, people!(less)
It confuses me when I read a romance and the author goes out of her way to make the male lead realistic, i.e. short. WHY?! Victoria Dahl, thankfully,...moreIt confuses me when I read a romance and the author goes out of her way to make the male lead realistic, i.e. short. WHY?! Victoria Dahl, thankfully, doesn't do this. Her male lead, Chase, is 6'5'', muscled, and blows shit up for a living. When Jane sees Chase for the first time, our thoughts are the same:
The entire Tumble Creek series was fun and well-written, even though I thought each book was drawn out a little longer than need be. A nice distraction during the holidays. (less)
More surprising/unusual than the protagonist being a deaf girl who manages a rock band is that the male romantic lead is *cue trumpets* Asian-American...moreMore surprising/unusual than the protagonist being a deaf girl who manages a rock band is that the male romantic lead is *cue trumpets* Asian-American! Yeah, he's nerdy and plays something called the marimba, but he ROCKS too! I loved this book. I want to hug this book.(less)
It pains me to give Kirsty Eagar 3 stars because she's such a fantastic writer. She sketches characters so clearly that even though you're introduced...moreIt pains me to give Kirsty Eagar 3 stars because she's such a fantastic writer. She sketches characters so clearly that even though you're introduced to so many at once, there isn't that "Who is he/she again?" moment of confusion where you have to flip back through the book. Her characters in this book actually reminded me a bit of Ellie, Lee, Homer, etc from John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series, which I loved. Having said that, I wish the vampire element was removed from this story because that was the weakest part. If I could ban one word from all novels published henceforth, it would be "thirst." At this point, what hasn't been written about vampires? We even have sparkly (non-)fucking vampires for crying out loud. Unsurprisingly, the vampire sections of the book felt like retread and dragged the story down and away from what I would've rather read more about -- the relationships between Jamie/Dale, Jamie/Kelly, Jamie/Talia/Tanner, and Willem/teachers. This book wasn't bad -- not at all -- but unless you have a vampire fetish, it's not a must read and your time is better served reading Raw Blue.(less)
After the movie Amelie came out, seemingly every French film thereafter got compared to it. Part of it was that Amelie's success in the States provide...moreAfter the movie Amelie came out, seemingly every French film thereafter got compared to it. Part of it was that Amelie's success in the States provided a point of reference for an audience unfamiliar with French cinema. The bigger part was that Amelie was so beloved that people wanted to recapture that magic. The Hunger Games was my introduction to YA dystopia and it caught my imagination like no other book last year. Since Mockingjay, I've been fiending for that Suzanne Collins-esque good good -- and publishers have been quick to apply the "next Hunger Games" label on anything. You can't blame them, but it does such a huge disservice to the book when the disappointment inevitably comes.
Divergent, of course, got slapped with that label but it reminds me more of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series than Hunger Games. This book is promising, for sure, and I liked it, but I don't feel particularly effusive about it either. Veronica Roth sets the stage (Fighting), and sets the stage (More fighting), and then sets the stage some more (Did you hear about the fighting?), and at a certain point, you just want the show to start (Plot! Development!). I know it takes time to create a world, especially in the first book of a series, but she's only talking about one dystopian city. There is no reference beyond the five factions of this future Chicago. The sorting of all 16-year-olds into their respective factions reminded me of a bizarro Hogwarts sorting ceremony. This isn't a bad thing, but more to the fact that after reading something, I'd think, "That reminds me of..." (One of the main characters is actually named Four, as in I Am Number Four.) I didn't have that "This is fucking brilliant" moment like after reading (view spoiler)[the clock arena in (hide spoiler)]Catching Fire. Oops, there I go with the Hunger Games comparisons. I can't help it because I WANT to like something as much. Halfway through Divergent, I told my friends I was reserving judgment until the end of the book because I wanted to love it. I wanted to be able to rave about it, but ultimately, liking it -- and it being 100x better than The Goddess Test, by another debut author -- is enough. ["br"]>["br"]>(less)