[middle-grade] reviews: el deafo & rhyme schemer

25 November 2014

 Title: El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 2nd 2014
Blurb: Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for. -goodreads
Vibrant. Colourful. Passionate. Those are the three words I would use to describe El Deafo. Because while my ARC is in black and white, the comic strips every shade of grey and tone; I am not talking about the drawings. Yes, in colour there is a whole new area of impact to lend itself to vivifying your reading experience. But even with empty speech bubbles Cece's desire to fit in and cope with her journey alongside others is apparent, even with her hearing aid turned off, her story is loud, clear and as honest as it can be. Even stuck in her own circle of solitude does Cece's yearning to be free of her problems emanate outwards and around and towards us.And I admire her for it. And I cherish her little cartoon image of rabbit ears and triangle nose; for it has molded itself into the space around me: my companion El Deafo is now always on hand to support me. Surely if a tiny child can brave deafness, loneliness, helplessness, then I can challenge my difficulties with superhuman strength?
El Deafo is your little pocket of bravery and struggle for happiness and normalcy disguised in rich cartoons and heartwarming conclusions. Smile [Raina Telgemeier] used to be my one favourite visual novel to re-read over and over. Now I have two.
Title: Rhyme Schemer
Author: K.A Holt
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Blurb: Kevin has a bad attitude. He's the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way--and he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? Rhyme Schemer is a touching and hilarious middle-grade novel in verse about one seventh grader's journey from bully-er to bully-ee, as he learns about friendship, family, and the influence that words can have on people's lives. - goodreads
On a sticky note stuck to the cover:
[re-read and mark all my favourite parts].
you read a book so
q u i c k l y
the words are blurs in your
peripheral vision,
flying by on paper wings
you still absorb them all
Because that's the kind of book it is:
sticky page magnet chapters
pinning to your brain with
big balls of bright blue-tack.
Rhyme Schemer is that book.

One sitting,
that's how long it took to
But the poems are imprinted
in my mind, scrolling
over my eyes
churning through my thoughts.
And my hands itch
to rip paper from spine
with a sshh of
Who knew page poems could feel so

Rhyme Schemer was only my third venture into novels written in verse but it definitely won't be my last. I absolutely loved the re-prints of some of Kevin's work, and I thought it added a really interesting layer to the story that makes it that bit more unique and arresting.Filled with simple yet emotive words Kevin endears himself to readers with his honest poetry and arresting *scheming*. All I wanted to do while reading was go and rip out a page of a book to create my own page poetry. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. *handcuffs wrists*. [I probably will though, I just need to plan a trip to the charity shop.]


18 November 2014

This is a wrap-up type post, not that I have anything to wrap up in my life (I can't afford the wrapping paper) but because it feels like ages since I have been present on this blog in a while. Yes I've had scheduled posts, but I haven't really interacted with anyone in a while. So here's a thing.
I've been busy: college, tests, revision (I am meant to do but don't really), NCS - National Citizen Service (search it because I'm too lazy to explain) and life. 
I made an instagram, well, two; one personal, one bookish: and arty/crafty) so if you are into that kind of thing then fly on over - I want to see your photos never mind whether you want to see mine or not. 
1) I still haven't read City of Heavenly Fire and the pain of denial is probably worse than the pain I will feel reading it. How do I know this? Because spoilers, I'm pretty sure nothing super bad happens although that could all be a web of lies; either way. I need that book. 2) I haven't been reading much at all, I think I've read two books that weren't re-reads in the last two months. BUT 3) I have been pinning away, usually of books/bookish graphics..sigh. 4) I found out I'm an oddball. Well, I found that out years ago but it seems as if everyone loved Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield - I have yet to pass the third chapter...
How has your life been panning out? Is it the shape of a frying pan, a sauce pan, or just a plain old tin pan? I want to know. Oh and who feels my dilemma; I need to write, I want to write, my WIPs have been neglected since I didn't think of a solid plot for them, everyone is doing NanoWrimo (or so it seems) yet here I am with a measly four thousand words under my belt after a good couple of months while SOME PEOPLE have written freaking 65,263 words in a week. I have no words. (Literally).

[real or not real?] review: the cure for dreaming

14 November 2014

Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Source / Format: For Review / ARC
Summary: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout. -goodreads
When Cat Winter's writes, the world rewinds into the past like a tape recorder, churning out stories from days gone by. But this time, the recording holds sights, sounds and smells in its grasp, and out surroundings re-form into the scene we are reading so exactly, so perfectly, we can almost see the stage; we are almost hypnotised alongside everyone else. Because Cat Winter's pen spills mesmerising words from the nib and all we can do is read and drink in the tangle of secrets, suffragettes and spell-binding scenes that make up THE CURE FOR DREAMING. This book was my first novel written by this author, but it definitely won't be my last. Cat Winter's combines historical fiction and fantasy with such deftness that the edges blur seamlessly and truly, if her books are not on your wishlist already then I think you should be doing that now.
Photographs always bring a book to life, they provide kindling for the reader's imagination and we feed off them in the process of creating a novel's world in our head. So you can imagine my delight upon seeing photographs accompanied by quotes scattered amongst the pages: it just made me love the book even more.
'Dracula' is made reference to many a time throughout the course of this novel, and if anything was an honest ambassador for THE CURE FOR DREAMING it would be a vampire, dressed in bicycle bloomers, campaigning for women's rights under hypnosis. So if that sounds like your cup of tea, dive right in; you won't be disappointed.
I love that books allow us to experience other lives without us ever having to change where we live or who we are.


09 November 2014

OR - how not to write a novel - because as you all should know. I don't seem to be able to accomplish this particular goal. However, you all know I am the heart and soul of ideas that change people lives nod your heads so I figured I would share my [obviously satirical] epiphany on the art of novel-writing. Because who wouldn't want to hear it.

1. If you want to write a novel. You should write it.
Honestly, I don't understand those people who wish they could write a novel yet they don't ever put pen to paper. To write, you need to write. It's a basic fact that seems to go missing at the most convenient of times. Which brings me onto another thing: pens. Use a pen and paper, it stimulates the brain. Typing does not, never use a laptop - they will possess you. *Hides under a duvet typing this post*.

2. Drink lots of coffee. Caffeine is good.
It will make you hyper. Which will jab all those ideas swimming around your head in the backside with an electric prod and then, and then you will know what to write about. Who drinks water these days anyway? That's a blindingly obvious trend from last century. And again, another thing to add, keep up with the fashion why don't you - it'll help with your writing, as I clearly just showed.
3. Use big words, and lots of description.
Big words make you feel clever, and there's nothing worse than feeling like a total idiosyncratic ignoramus who cannot tell his ebullient characters from his gasconading-enthused villains. Secondly, description: it makes your word count seem like it could hit the moon. Dur. Who cares if nothing happens in your novel? As long as it's 50K+ no-one does. No-one reads these days anyway.

Have you guessed yet? I am attempting to continue some of my failed novel ideas previously outlined and moaned over. And, oh, you guessed already - it's not working. Mainly due to lack of time, I get about ten minutes a day to write which usually ends up with me staring at a blank word document and closing it with a gusty sigh after my ten minutes is up. Needless to say, I have yet to broaden my word count since I last checked it when I wrote my novel ideas post. But never fear, these three points will clearly aid in my arduous journey. After all, I did come up with them.


04 November 2014

If you haven't read the book thief yet then don't mind me staring at you as if you are wearing a rainbow coloured tutu with cats ears and flashing blue doc martins with a vampire cape. You look fine. The book thief, is, as you should know, high up on the favourite books I've read since I can't remember when list I have going on up in my head. It's written in a lyrical, beautiful style that you just want to swim in, and of course, the characters. I'm not going to go into that particular subject because I won't be able to control myself - If you've read the book you'd know why. If you haven't read the book but have seen the movie you should know why (but I am judging you) - and if you've not read the book? Well the whole purpose of this post is to get those people to pick it up. So go on.