October 17, 2014

Introducing our Youngest Contributor and her First Book Review

We don't really review books for anyone under YA age here on MOI, but that's all about to change because we have a new reviewer: Lady M.  Lady M is six and has been interested in getting in about these here hills for a while. So here is her first book review, originally written out by hand before being faithfully transcribed (under Lady M's eagle eye) by Splendibird:

My Funny Family Gets Bigger
Chris Higgins
Hodder 2013

This book is about a new school term and a baby boy being born at Christmas it is also about making Christmas lists.

The main person is Mattie who is nice and tall and she loves school.  The other characters are mum, she is nice and tall and Dad who is nice and tall and V who is good at reading and is naughty and Stanley who is nice and good at reading and Anika who is nice and good and Dontie who is nice and tall and Jellico who is loud and nice and is the dog.

I liked the bit when the baby is born because I like babies. I didn't like the bit where Mattie says that the year should start in September because my birthday is in January.

I would tell my friends that the book was nice and they should read it for themselves.  I am going to read more books about Mattie.

This review was brought to you by Lady M. My Funny Family Gets Bigger is available now. Lady M plans on writing more reviews but does not plan on learning to type, as she feels it is unnecessary when Splendibird is available. She applies this logic to many things.

October 09, 2014

Weighed And Found Wanting (Review: #Scandal by Daisy Ockler)

Daisy Ockler
Simon Pulse 2014
Lavender Oaks High is online, all the time.  At least the students are… and most of the staff, too.  It’s a digital world, with Facebook ruling the technological roost – much like the majority of high school s in the Western world.  At Lavender Oaks, the hive mind is of social media is observed, catalogued and encouraged by Miss Demeanour, a mysterious figure always on the lookout for the next scandal.  Lucy Vaccaro follows Miss D. as avidly as the next person but when compromising photos of Lucy and her best friend’s boyfriend appear online, she finds herself at the heart of her very own #Scandal.
Lucy, while hardly flawless, is quick to own her mistakes and over the course of the story comes a long way in terms of maturity, friendships and perception of others.  The relationships that she has with her friends and family (all of whom are exceptionally well-realised) are extremely believable as is her confusing romance with Cole, a suitably lovely if equally flawed character.  Her attitude towards her sister is particularly interesting in that it has been skewed by her sister’s portrayal in the public eye which in turn has been influenced by her sister’s very real yet magnified issues.  But then that is what Lucy’s story is all about – perception and communication and the overload of both in the world of always accessible social media.
#Scandal is a bit of a rollercoaster ride.  It overflows with the kind of surrealist humour and youthful cynicism of Glee and Easy A and Ockler clearly has her finger on the pulse of new and less than new pop culture with references to Buffy, Veronica Mars, Twilight and The Hunger Games.  Miss Demeanour is a shameless homage to Gossip Girl herself.  It’s all highly knowing, more than a little bit meta and extremely entertaining.  Yet Ockler, rather than merely providing readers with a bit of clever fluff (and there is nothing wrong with clever fluff) adds a murkier layer to what is ultimately a morality tale. 
Cyberbullying is a pretty terrifying reality and #Scandal demonstrates how swiftly and effectively a reputation can be destroyed, while pointing out that school administrations and adults in general need to make themselves aware of exactly what is going on in a world where the millennial generation and beyond embrace new technology in the manner of fishes and water.  While highly entertaining, #Scandal is a tale of our times and I suspect we should all be taking notes. 
The kids we meet at Lavender Oaks live lives that are utterly informed not only by social but also by traditional media. Facebook might be at the heart of Lucy’s scandal, but it quickly becomes clear that the lens through which she and her friends view the world is one darkened by TV, tabloids, smart phones and Twitter.  They are both the watchers and the watched and they are hyper both of the power they hold as much as of the vulnerability engendered by the all-seeing eye of the modern world.  Ockler skilfully explores just how much can be lost through living life online rather than face to face – a lesson that Lucy learns in time but which will leave you wondering about the rest of us. Highly recommended.
This review was brought to you by Splendibird. #Scandal is available now. Thank you to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for providing us with a copy of this title to review.



September 30, 2014

Half Bad, Half Wild... and Half Lies (Sally Green sneak peaks)

Sally Green's Half Bad was the breakthrough book of the YA scene last year.  Beautifully written, haunting and unique it was an extraordinary debut.  So extraordinary, in fact that it holds the Guinness World Record for pre-publication translations and has now been sold in fifty languages around the world.

Half Bad tells the story of Nathan, a boy brought up in a world of black and white and one in which is is the only shade of grey. Oh, and they are all witches - but not quite as you've seen them before.  After meeting Marcus, his mysterious and somewhat frightening father, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still running from just about everyone. Half Wild, the second book in Green's trilogy, sees Nathan searches for his friend, Gabriel, and Annalise, the girl he loves, he desperately tries to control his Gift – before it controls him.

Intriguing stuff, indeed.  You can find our review of Half Bad here and if that isn't enough to tide you over you can now read the first chapter of Half Wild here.  Sadly, Half Wild won't be published until March 2015 but to tide you over further, Penguin have announced the publication of short story Half Lies:

"Set in the months before Half Bad, Half Lies takes the form of a diary written by Michele, the sister of Gabriel, Nathan’s Black witch friend.  Having fled Europe for Florida, Michele falls in love with a local White witch boy. There, she finds that the divide between the Black and White witch communities is just as dangerous as it was in the life she's left behind". 

Half Lies will be published across all digital formats on 13th November 2014.  Mark it in your diaries people, Green's writing is not to be missed!