Petals On The Wind

VC Andrews – the gift that keeps on giving. My obsession with Lifetime’s perverse need to bring to life the incest riddled, gothic crapfest that is the Dollanganger series brings me so much glee it could be considered unhealthy.

From our good friends at Entertainment Weekly comes the news that on May 26 for the first time ever Petals on the Wind the sequel to the titillating and yet terribly written Flowers in the Attic will be gracing our television screens. Oh the joy! This is great because come next Tuesday my  countdown to Dreams of Gods and Monsters (5 days y’all) will official be over and I can begin the countdown (52 days) to what’s bound to be the best weekend of my summer.

They’re even bringing Heather Graham back! I feel like this is the movie where she’ll really prove herself (heavy sarcasm folks. Heavy.)

I'm their mother FITA

Check out the article here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/03/27/petals-on-the-wind-photos/

Also on the book adaptation front (and from EW) DreamWorks has finagled the rights to Rainbow Rowell’s piece of YA perfection Eleanor & Park. Not too sure how to feel about this. Can such a beautifully simple story truly be adapted? Time will tell. On the plus side though it’s bound to have a kickass soundtrack – I mean they fall in love over their mutual love for The Smiths (among other things.) Aww, falling in love to the sweet, miserable yet dulcet tones of Morrissey – that just about sums up teenage love.

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/04/02/eleanor-park-dreamworks-picks-up-film-rights-to-rainbow-rowell-novel-exclusive/

EleanorPark_thumb

 

A Favourite Exchange

E&P

“Nothing before you counts,” he said. “And I can’t even imagine an after.”

She shook her head. “Don’t.”

“What?”

“Don’t talk about after.”

“I just meant that… I want to be the last person who ever kisses you, too…. That sounds bad, like a death threat or something. What I’m trying to say is, you’re it. This is it for me.”

– Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

Worst. Literary. Parents. Ever.

Inspired by the resurgence of V.C. Andrews in my life thanks to Lifetime I’ve found myself dwelling on the theme of terrible parents in literature. Sprinkled throughout book history are evil, awful, questionable or simply giant failures of parental examples from Queen Jocasta from the three Theban plays to Christian-crazy Margaret White from Carrie.

So please sit back and enjoy this list of god-awful parents brought to you by the minds of your friendly, neighbourhood authors.

*This list is weighed on a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews book parent*

Corrine Dollanganger -Foxworth, (Or any parent in the V.C. Andrews canon of borderline sociopathic parental units) Flowers in the Attic, V.C. Andrews
What’s worst than a girl-child mother? A girl-child, lazy, kind of slutty, definitely selfish, self-involved, obviously lazy because really she could have attempted to get a job or just marry rich for the sake of her children mother. Oh did I mention she shows shades of the crazy her psycho mom definitely called dibs on years earlier? Cause she totes does. There’s also that whole thing where she married her half-uncle/half-brother, agrees to lock up her four children in her crazy mother’s attic, then tries to poison them to death with arsenic laced doughnuts. Can you say evil?

I'm their mother FITA

Obviously a V.C. Andrews parent. The original to boot.

Awesome fan art from http://tumblr.penbitten.com/, obviously not her parents

Awesome fan art from http://tumblr.penbitten.com/, obviously not her parents

Eleanor’s ParentsEleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Poor Eleanor, she gets dealt a pretty rough hand as a teen – quirky, with red hair and a bit of extra weight she stands out like the proverbial sore thumb of lore before. Lucky for her she has Park to act as her port in the storm (this post is just littered with lame sayings, let’s see how long I can keep it up.) With a mother more concerned about pleasing her abusive, alcoholic second husband, a father more concerned with being cool, reliving his youth and shucking all parental responsibility, oh and again that alcoholic, abusive stepfather, who kicked her out of her own home, let her come back and then haunts her with crude sexual messages and on occasion beats her mother is it any wonder they make it on this list?

Definitely leaning towards the V.C. standard of parents (but with far less cheese.)

Marisa Coulter – His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman
In the words of Damien from Mean Girls “She’s fabulous but she’s evil.” Marisa Coulter, mother of Lyra, one of two children enlisted to *spoiler* basically kill God works for the Magesterium, and uses her position and influence to manipulate the church into giving her the money to fund her evil schemes. Her Daemon is nameless which suggests she may be lacking in the love gene. Yet she’s curiously kind to Lyra. A greater parental oxymoron has there never been.

"She's fabulous but she's evil."

“She’s fabulous but she’s evil.”

On a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews adult, let’s place her in the middle beside Katniss’ mum from The Hunger Games.

Uncle Vernon & Aunt PetuniaHarry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The best worst guardians ever, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were so concerned with keeping up appearances (another saying! Also a delightful British comedy from the 1990s FYI) that they locked poor Harry in a closet under the stairs, told him lies about his parents and pretended to send him to St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys (best fake school name of all time) all to save face. The brilliance of J.K. Rowling eventually reveals that at least for Aunt Petunia there was jealousy and envy on her part that led to her behaviour. Uncle Vernon however, is just a jerk.

Why this clip? I don’t know.

On the Bambi-V.C. Andrews Scale they’re a solid Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia.

Marcus EatonDivergent series, Veronica Roth Eaton
Allegiant controversy aside – one thing Veronica Roth did well was bad parents, especially in the form of Poppa Don’t Preach preaching poppa (seriously my verbosity knows no bounds) Marcus Eaton. Leader of the Abnegation, a group that is meant to be selfless, controlled and understanding, is instead manipulative, power hungry and abusive (a common theme on the bad parent scale.) Tobias “Four” Eaton got his nickname because his fear landscaped showed he only had four fears to master – the biggest, scariest of them all? You got it, Poppa Marcus.  Oh and Mama Evelyn? Well she ain’t no walk in the park either.

Not quite V.C.A but definitely a head above the Dursley’s.

Stepmothers the literary world over, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretl, Snow White
Lady Tremaine with her big bouffant and hideous daughters, the evil Queen with her desire for hearts ripped straight from the cavity (or in the original a meal of freshly procured virgin lungs), H&G’s mommy dearest with her super awful “the world revolves around me” mentality that leads her to demand her husband take his children to the woods and lose them. *Cough bitch cough* Is it any wonder that children with divorced parents fear remarriage? Thanks for that Hans Christian Andersen. Thanks a bunch.

Time for vicious practical jokes. Perhaps we can put it to better use. Now let me see... There's the large carpet in the main hall; clean it! And the windows, upstairs and down; wash them! Oh yes, and the tapestries and the draperies—-

Time for vicious practical jokes. Perhaps we can put it to better use. Now let me see… There’s the large carpet in the main hall; clean it! And the windows, upstairs and down; wash them! Oh yes, and the tapestries and the draperies—-

The Bambi-V.C.A. Scale goes something like Bambi, mediocre parents, Evil Stepmothers, V.C.A parents.

The WormwoodsMatilda, Roald Dahl
My personal favourite book in the Roald Dalh oeuvre, Matilda herself is strong, smart, a lover of art and books, all around a real classy kid. Her parents however are dimwitted, lowbrow trash who wouldn’t know their daughters worth if it bit them in the butt. As a child I remember being nothing but disgusted by these two, and feeling a sense of great satisfaction when Matilda went on to live with Miss Honey.

matilda gif

No doubt somewhere along the lines the Woormwoods and the Dursley’s share some genetic makeup.

What other fictional parents are out there I’ve no doubt overlooked?

Year End Review

As 2013 comes to an end I wanted to look back on the books I’ve blogged about this (my first year of book blogging!) year. This was a year of great highs (The Silent Wife –  If you’re in the mood for something not YA this is the book to read. It’s amazing.) And some major lows (Beautiful Creatures) and some disappointments (*cough Allegiant cough*.) But all in all it was a great year of reading. Here’s to 2014 and the all the new literary gems to be discovered!

What was great

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell EleanorPark_thumb
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In my opinion, Eleanor & Park is one of the best YA novels of 2013. Perceptive, funny, sophisticated and touching, Rainbow Rowell’s charming misfit lovebirds melt your heart and make you yearn for the excitement and turmoil of first love.

Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare CP2_cover
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The finale to Cassandra Clare’s prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices, has been a bit polarizing amongst fans of the series. Personally I loved it. And that’s saying something because I wasn’t overly keen on the first two books. I didn’t mind them, I absolutely loved the steam punk elements and the Victorian England setting, but this last book had me finally falling in love with Tessa, Will and Jem. I truly loved the way Clare ended this story. I thought it was strikingly heartfelt and absolutely moving. Plus *spoiler alert* that whole thing with Tessa morphing into a giant angel was super cool.

World After, (Penryn and the End of Days #2), Susan Ee WorldAfter
Publisher: Skyscape

I have yet to finish my review of this book but I needed to put it on the list. Susan Ee is a bit of a phenomenon – having self published the first book in this series (Angelfall – awesome) only to see it become a massive success. This is her follow up and it lives up to the hype. Plus Penryn kind of puts to shame other major heroines (Katniss, Tris etc.) she doesn’t complain, she just gets on with it. Her sense of self preservation knows no bounds. Love it.

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand, Gregory Galloway adamstrand
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin Group)

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand is one of those little gems you weren’t looking for but have the good fortune to simply happen upon. After reading a review from the A.V. Club I knew I had to read it. Existential is the best way to describe Galloway’s novel. Adam Strand is so frustrated with life, so overwhelmed with  boredom he kills himself. Over and over again. As his frustration grows at his inability to make death stick Adam takes us on a journey through the mind of an insightful, self-absorbed, too smart for his own good teenager. Macabre, witty and shrewd The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand has to be the most unsung YA novel of 2013.

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”

The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp
Publisher: Knopf Books

Okay it wasn’t a new release but who cares? This book is amazing. Incidentally so is the movie – except for the ending. Don’t get me started on the ending. Regardless this is a book I highly recommend. Tharp’s Sutter Keely has to be the most likeable teenage-alcoholic-ne’er do well in literary history. The best part of The Spectacular Now? The ending. Which I won’t spoil, you should go read it. Like now.

Days-of-Blood-and-Starlight-HBDays of Blood and Starlight, (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy), Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown

I’m in love with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. In Love. Like hardcore. Obsessed? Probably. But definitely in love. I couldn’t wait for this book and when it finally came out I devoured it – twice, back to back. Taylor’s poetic prose coupled with her knack for creating characters you can’t help but fall in love with (or hate with the passion of a thousand fiery suns – I’m looking at you Thiago) makes this series more than worthwhile. Plus the blistering, heart-breaking and overwhelmingly quiet burning passion between main characters Karou and Akiva is kind of everything.

What was meh

Allegiant, Divergent Trilogy, Veronica Roth Allegiant2
Publisher: HarperCollins

Possibly the biggest disappointment of the year, the last book in Veronica Roth’s thrilling Divergent trilogy came in with a bang and left with an astounding fizzle. I don’t despise this last book. But I can’t deny feeling a little shafted. It’s not the choices Roth made that bother me, those I respect. It’s how bloated, convoluted and downright ridiculous aspects of the book were. There was just too much going on, story lines were stretched so thin there was no authenticity anywhere. And for the first time in the series I found myself not caring about Tris and Four. And really – there’s no way Tris would have left her gun behind. Never.

13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher ThirteenReasonsWhy
Publisher: Razor Bill

I know – I know, a lot of people really love this book. And I respect that. I really loved the overall concept, I found the way the touchy subject of suicide is discussed was done in a sensitive and appropriate manner. I also couldn’t help but feel 12 of Hannah Baker’s 13 reason’s for ending her life were a bit superficial. And quite frankly, there’s really no reason that’s truly acceptable.

Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Penguin

Ugh.

“Do you sometimes wish you could fast-forward a week? You know something bad’s coming up, and you know you’ll get through it, but the prospect just makes you feel sick?” Yes. This book.

To truly understand my complete and utter disdain for this book is nearly impossible unless you’ve read it yourself. Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries was never going to be one of the great literary feats of the 21 Century but when it began it was enjoyable entertainment. Sookie Stackhouse was a great, kooky, feisty and likeable heroine. Throw in some otherworldly-ness, smokin’ hot vampire love triangles and loads of shenanigans in small town Louisiana, this series was pleasantly thoughtless entertainment. But as the series progressed it became ridiculous and laborious. By the time the final instalment rolled around in the form of Dead Ever After I was reading the books out of sheer spite (and with some minor hope that they might redeem themselves in this final outing. Alas it was not to be so.)  Dead Ever After was the worst of the thirteen book series. THE WORST. And that’s saying something. Silly, boring, predictable and with the lamest copout ever it’s quite possible Harris herself had lost all interest in Sookie’s adventures in Bon Temps.

What I can’t wait for in 2014

Avalon, Mindee Arnett Avalon
Publisher: HarperCollins
On Sale: January 21, 2014

Science Fiction doesn’t get nearly the amount of respect it deserves. I’m hoping with the release of Mindee Arnett’s Avalon that might change. First described to me as Firefly but with teenagers this is the story of Jeth Seagrave and the group of teenage mercenaries he leads who travel the numerous star systems stealing metatech. Despite being a topnotch thief all Jeth cares about is earning enough money to buy back his family’s ship from his lethal boss and getting his younger sister Lizzie away from a life of crime.

Interstellar space travel, teenage mercenaries, criminal masterminds and mind control are just a few of the many elements that make up Avalon.

Dreams of Gods and MonstersLaini Taylor GodMonsters
Publisher: Little, Brown
On Sale: April 8, 2014

So we’re back to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. This is the third and final instalment in the series and naturally as someone with an unhealthy obsession I’m obviously counting down the days (101!). Taylor’s Karou is one of the best female heroines out there, tough, witty, resourceful and vulnerable she’s a class act.

CityHeavenCity of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
On Sale: May 27, 2014

I love the Shadowhunter world Cassandra Clare has created. It’s inventive and fresh, and really how could you not love a world where the fabulous Magnus Bane resides? This is yet another series finale, this time for Clary Fray and the shadowhunters of the New York Institute. With (dreamy) Jace filled (literally) with heavenly fire and the sociopathic demon-angel hybrid Sebastian on the loose creating evil nephilim this is bound to be one doozy of a closer.

(Don’t You) Forget About Me, Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: Harper Teen Forget About Me
On Sale: June 14, 2014

Okay truth be told I’ve already read this, but it’s on my list because I want others to know how good it is. Kate Kurys Quinn weaves an intriguing, spellbinding tale of two sisters with extraordinary powers living in an extraordinary town filled with secrets. This is a story that’s both haunting and magical, unexpected and refreshing. It’s also so tightly wound that unravelling the many secrets within the books pages is a truly thrilling experience.

Despite having read and blogged about all four of John Green’s books I’ve left them off this list because let’s face it if I put in one I’d have to put in all of them. Much like the rest of the world I’m a little in love with Green. The Fault in Our Stars has become one of my all time favourite books and there are times when I wonder how any of us every lived without the witticisms and philosophical insight of Augustus Waters.

Early in the new year expect reviews for World AfterUntil YouThe Rosie Project and Hemlock.

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

“I just can’t believe that life would give us to each other,’ he said, ‘and then take it back.’ ‘I can,’ she said. ‘Life’s a bastard.”

“I just can’t believe that life would give us to each other,’ he said, ‘and then take it back.’
‘I can,’ she said. ‘Life’s a bastard.”

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Date Published: February 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 325

Set over the course of a school year in the mid 1980s Eleanor & Park recounts the story of two teenage outcasts who form an unlikely bond, eventually fall in love and fight to maintain their high school romance despite the numerous adversities in their way.

The story of high school outsiders – redheaded Eleanor and half-Korean Park living in small town Nebraska is both simple and complex. It’s a love story that doesn’t involve supernatural beings, dramatic love triangles, bullying and hate that’s secretly love. It’s not about unrequited love, or love gone sour, it’s simply the story of two lost souls that – surprisingly – find love with each other. It’s beautiful, funny, poignant, insightful and real.

Eleanor & Park is a rare experience as far as young adult novels go in that it’s extremely nuanced, the relationship between the two leads develops slowly and organically – there’s no major catalyst that hits you over the head and says ‘Hey! These two are now madly in love.’ Which is part of what makes the story so enjoyable.

The writing is clean, fluid and straightforward – it’s effortless, which makes reading the story even more enjoyable than it already is.  The fact is this is one of those books you pick up and read and when you look up you realize you’ve lost four hours when it only felt like 4 minutes.

This is also a very multifaceted story – both Park and Eleanor are dealing with the regular elements that being a teenager encompasses – fitting in, popularity, figuring out who they are, not to mention raging hormones (which for the record I really don’t think is exclusive to teenagers but whatevs). To add further complication Eleanor’s home life is beyond a disaster, her mother is blind to their circumstances; her stepfather is a raging, potentially homicidal, lunatic and Eleanor is incapable of saving herself let alone her younger siblings. And when at school she’s mercilessly picked on by the other kids for things she can’t control (her hair, her weight, her clothes) and yet Eleanor has a strong sense of self, she’s pretty tough, and maybe a little snarky.

Though Park’s home life is relatively sane and much more stable than Eleanor’s his struggle with fitting in is heightened by the fact that unlike his father and brother he’s slight and sensitive. Add to that being half-Korean in a sea of white and black and it’s easy to understand Park’s struggle for identity. Despite this Park goes through an intense maturing process – at the beginning of their budding romance Park’s feelings for Eleanor place him on an emotional rollercoaster – though unwilling to admit it outright Eleanor or more specifically how others see her embarrasses him. Possibly one of the best demonstrations of how a good writer can mature a character the way Rowell has Park work through these feelings and his embarrassment only intensifies the strength of his feelings for Eleanor. It’s kind of remarkable.

That their love story begins on a bus and after an act of (unwilling) kindness and develops over comic books and music (The Smiths!) is heartwarming. The relationship progresses slowly – there’s no heart stopping first kiss until nearly halfway through and in fact there’s little touching apart from handholding until nearly the end. In a way it’s all very old fashioned. Both Eleanor and Park are so tentative and shy, slowly gauging the other’s reaction when they touch – it’s nice. There’s an innocence to their story, it’s all about discovery –of each other and themselves.

What really sets this book apart from others is how truly distinct the character voices are, when Eleanor says or thinks God you can hear the exasperation, when she rolls her eyes you can feel her incredulity – and it’s the same with Park, every time he utters Jesus his mood and the intent behind the word are so evident, you would swear they were right in front of you.

There’s a reason everyone’s talking about this book and that’s because it’s a breath of fresh air – a stand alone novel, Eleanor & Park is an engrossing story that will take you back to high school and make you relive the good (and the bad) that comes along with it.

Next up: Night of the Purple Moon (it’s an ARC so we’ll see how that goes) and the monthly re-read Richard Adams’ Watership Down