Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Archive for October, 2009

Abandoned – What Maisie Knew by Henry James

Posted by Caitie F on October 27, 2009

I know, I know, I posted last week that I liked this and wanted to keep reading it but…I just couldn’t.

I enjoyed the story, but it was just SO slow. The characters were interesting and it tackled the subject of the effect of divorce on a child before it happened everyday which was fascinating. I had read 80 pages and that 80 pages took me over 3 weeks. I just can’t do it!

Maybe I will try again at another time. but for now, this is an abandoned book.

Here is the summary from amazon if you think you may be interested!

“Novel by Henry James, published in 1897. Set mostly in England, the novel is related from the perspective of Maisie, a preadolescent whose parents were divorced when she was six years old and who spends six months of the year with each parent. The only emotional constant in Maisie’s life is Mrs. Wix, a motherly old governess. Maisie’s parents marry other partners, but neither marriage succeeds. Her new stepparents are attracted to each other, divorce Maisie’s parents, and marry. Maisie knows intuitively that she cannot depend on the adults in her life, and she chooses to live with Mrs. Wix, on whose unconditional love she can depend”

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ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Posted by Caitie F on October 22, 2009

Title: ghostgirl
Author: Tonya Hurley
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group USA)
Year Published: 2008
Rating: ++

From the Publisher

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I should die before I awake,
I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she’s dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn’t stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we’ll go to be seen.”

My review

I was not a fan of this book. I liked the actual writing and I liked the concept, I think it was just because I didn’t like that main character. There are characters who are unpopular because other kids are mean or they are shy, and then there are people who are unpopular because they try too hard and annoy people. Charlotte is in the second group. She is selfish (even when dead) and only interested in a boy. Even at the end, she doesn’t really redeem herself…she wants a boy to kiss her. Maybe if she was supposed to be a middle schooler it might be okay, but she is immature and annoying in every way.

There ARE some positives of this book. Parts of the book are funny, the pop culture references are clever, and the writing is fantastic, I just greatly disliked the main character. I think middle grade readers will enjoy this.

The best thing about the book is the design. It is a beautiful book. It is longer than most books to look like a coffin. It has a cutout on the cover that is very appealing. The inside has two-color on every page. It is a great design and Hachette needs to be complimented on it.

Since it is so beautiful, I am giving it away! Check out that link for more info!

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First giveaway! ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Posted by Caitie F on October 22, 2009

You can check out my review here. I may not have liked it, but you should give it a try!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Make sure you leave your email in your comments.

You can earn extra entries!

+1 if you subscribe

+1 if you post about it on twitter (leave me a link to it!)

Leave separate comments for each.

It is US only. This giveaway ends in three weeks on November 12th. Tell you friends.

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Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Posted by Caitie F on October 22, 2009

Title: Prom
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Year Published: 0142405701
Rating: +++++

From the Publisher

“Ashley Hannigan doesn’t particularly care about the prom, but she’s the exception. It’s pretty much the only good thing that happens in her urban Philadelphia high school, and everyone plans to make the most of it–especially Ash’s best friend, Natalia, who’s the head of the committee and has prom stars in her eyes.

Then the faculty advisor is busted for taking the prom money. Suddenly, Ash finds herself roped into putting together a gala dance out of absolutely nada. But she has help–from her large and loving (if exasperating!) family, from Nat’s eccentric grandmother, from the principal, from her fellow classmates. And in making the prom happen, Ash learns some surprising things about making her life happen, too.

Like Ashley –and like the rest of Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning work–Prom is funny, tough, sweet, down-to0earth, and speaks to teen readers in a voice they’ll recognize as their own.

My review

I don’t know why I picked this book up, I think someone recommended it a while ago and it has been on my list. As I read the back cover I was not sure about the book and put off starting it. Well I picked it up today and finished it today! The book was fantastic!

Ashley is a “normal” girl. She lives in an urban area and going away to college is rare. Her high school has metal detectors which has kept the knives out of the building. She doesn’t really like school and gets herself into trouble and a lot of detentions.

What makes this book so great is that it doesn’t hide the imperfections of teenage life. There are drugs – but Ash does not do them and gets her friends away from dangerous situations. There is sex – nothing graphic, they take clothes off and go under covers and passing out condoms is a big controversy for the prom. There is smoking and drinking…nothing too excessive, but what is normal for teenagers.

The publishers described Ash’s family perfectly – eccentric but loving. She may get annoyed by them, but you can tell how much they all love each other and that they will be there for each other when in need. She also loves her friends. She may say that she doesn’t know why she decides to help, but it is because she knows her friends need this prom, need this chance to have a night when their lives are better.

I also enjoyed it just because I was on prom committee junior year and it was crazy…but nothing compared to this! It brought back some very happy memories!

If you were putting it off like I was, stop and go get this book! I can’t wait to read her other books now!

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General Musings and a challenge

Posted by Caitie F on October 19, 2009

I am on my break at work, and I realize that I have not posted a blog in a long time (basically since this temp job started). The worst part is that I have not been reading at all. Since my last post, I have read 3 books, two YAs and on by Douglas Coupland. I was spoiled by that time off…I could read as much as I wanted.I can’t wait to get a real job in publishing for many many reasons…but one of them is having a commute on a bus! Now I drive, but once I am on a bus that is an extra two hours a day to read!

Now I am working on What Maisie Saw by Henry James. I know that this book will take me a while no mater what because James is not an easy author to read, I am only 30 pages into it, but I am really liking it! I look forward to reviewing it!

My husband saw that I was reading that book and said, “Why would anyone willingly read a Henry James book?” It turns out he read two Henry James books in high school and hated them. So far, I don’t understand why not.

What makes us just hate certain writing styles? I will never read another Toni Morrison book. I read The Bluest Eye and Beloved and I struggled through them both. Part of my dislike is for her – she is from a town right next to the one I grew up in and made a lot of money writing about it and does not give back (and the kids there need help and inspiration). Most of it was for the writing and the stories. I know so many people who love her books and I just don’t see it at all!

Do you have any authors that you will never read again? Any idea why?

In other news, I am starting my first challenge to myself. If you noticed, I have pages where I list the books reviewed by title and author. I am challenging myself to have a book in every letter in both pages!

PS- I will be posting about my first contest soon…so be on the lookout!

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Review – John Green’s books and a note to YA authors

Posted by Caitie F on October 5, 2009

This is a review of Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines.

I give them all +++++

To make a long story short, you need to go buy these three books and read them. I read these books about a year ago and posted this review on facebook (I have edited it a little)

An Abundance of Katherines was the first I read. I liked it so much that I literally took it everywhere with me. I read a few pages right before a class, I read a few pages while someone was setting up a presentation, I even read a little between presentations. Usually when I say I could not put a book down I am exaggerating…well not this time.

What surprised me most about this book was how funny it was. Now I know John Green is a really funny guy, but the book promised to be laugh out loud funny. I rarely laugh out loud while reading. This one did it for me. It resulted in weird looks which I loved because it felt like I was the only one in on this secret…but now I am letting the secret out.

It was also one of the most well written books I have read in a very long time. It was a very smart book (and not only because there were graphs). The characters were well-developed and did not fit into stereotypes. I know a book is good when what happens to the characters actually matters to me…and that has not happened since Harry Potter, and that had seven books to develop all of the characters. I cared about Hassan and Colin within 100 pages.

It also made you think about relationships, about friendships and about people in general. I would love to sit down with people who have read this book and hear how they reacted to certain characters and events. I think it is one of those books that different people from different backgrounds can look at it in VERY different ways (ex who they sympathize with, who they are most like ect).

Paper Towns was a very different book. But I couldn’t put it down. This one only took me a day and I read it every second that I could. I even skipped watching Grey’s Anatomy because I wanted to finish it.

Again, I really cared about the characters quickly, not only because I could relate to all of them in some way, but also because of how it was written. You are cheering for all of them. You want them to find out who they are and to find out more about each other.

Which to me, is the really amazing part of this book. It is so philosophical without being snotty. It talks about how you really find out about people, that it isn’t what you see or imagine them to be, it is deeper. It also reminds us that there are parts of people that we don’t get to see or experience…and a lot of the time that is just because they don’t want to let us.

Even more than An Abundance of Katherine the readers experiences and personalities can bring different ideas and reactions. I really feel like if you haven’t discussed it with others, you have not yet finished experiencing the book.

Looking for Alaska was a different book because it dealt with terrible loss in addition to having witty and interesting characters who struggle with the stress and chaos of teenage life. Miles is a nobody in every way and has just started at a boarding school, his roommate is on scholarship and has to prove himself every step of the way, and Alaska is…well Alaska is Alaska. She is rebellious, intelligent, and reckless.

Miles goes off of his nobody status and discovers alcohol, smoking, and how to pull off a prank on those students who enjoy torturing people like him. As the story goes on, the characters get deeper, especially Alaska. Miles begins to realizes that she has major problems and is suffering from severe depression, ending in a way that happens all too often in our world.There is more philosophy in this book to really make the readers think about their lives. It is heart-breaking and sad, but also has humor and some hope.

If someone wants to be a young adult writer, they need to read these books. They shouldn’t read them to copy the style, they should read them to see what a young adult book can do. These books don’t read like young adult books, the only reasons they really are is because of the ages of the characters. The ideas about self and friendship are ideas that everyone deals with, not something that only happens when you are from the ages of 14-19.

The books show that a young adult writer can try and tackle tough issues and ideas without dumbing it down. They are intelligent, the reader can’t just read passively and get as much out of them. The writing style also isn’t at a lower leve than an adult book eitherl. John Green gets what young adults can handle and gives them what they deserve – a work that is well thought out and well-written with amazing characters and situations that take us beyond our self-centered worlds and expand our minds.

So do yourself a favor an go buy the books and read them.

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Meg Cabot and more

Posted by Caitie F on October 3, 2009

In two days, I just read five Meg Cabot books — Princess in Waiting, Valentine Princess, Airhead, Boy Next Door, and Boy Meets Girl. There are a lot of people who look at her and throw her in the same grouping as the Dan Browns and James Pattersons, but I think these people are wrong. Yes, she doesn’t write literary works, they are fun and a little fluffy, but I will argue that she is a great writer.

It may be chick-lit (I refuse to write chic), but her books have strong characters and meaningful story lines. Like many of my favorite authors, she really gets her characters and her audience. All of the books I just finished other than Airhead were not written in the conventional story telling narrative. The Princess Diaries books are written as a diary, and the Boys books are emails sent back and forth between friends and coworkers talking about what is going on in everyone’s lives.

I have always loved books that are told in either of these methods. I read every book I could that was told in diary form when I was a kid. You get a fantastic first-person narrative and can really get into the characters thoughts and emotions. It helps form interesting and rounded characters, and that was true of all of the main characters in these books. Yes, Princess Mia can get annoying in her freaking out about things that don’t seem to matter…but it is how any fourteen-year-old girl acts, which shows that Meg knows her characters and her audience.

The books got me thinking about female literature in general. There are so many levels of so-called chick-lit. There are romance novels, the most female-centric of them all; there are also books like Confessions of the Shopaholic, books most guys are not interested in at all (where I think most of Meg Cabot’s works fit in); and then there are the borderline chick-lit books, books like The Time-Traveler’s Wife and Jane Eyre. The borderline books tend to be the more literary works, but I have seen them marketed next to the more obvious books for women as being “chick-lit”.

I don’t like the term and find it interesting that even in a female-dominated industry, a term like this would come up. What women calls themselves a chick? I guess it is the same women who call guys dudes? Why can’t it be woman’s literature? It may just be a way to categorize and market, but I think that it should be put ot a stop. Now people think of great works of literature (like and book by Jane Austen) as just chick-lit, and that disappoints me.

What do you think of the term chick-lit? Have you read any books that are categorized as chick-lit and shouldn’t be? What else can we call it?

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Review: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

Posted by Caitie F on October 1, 2009

Title: After the Quake
Author: Haruki Murakami
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Vintage (Random House)
Year Published: 2000
Rating: +++++

From the Publisher: ”

The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package—and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.”

If you have not picked up any of Murakami’s work, you should try his books as soon as you can. This was the second book of his that I read, the first being Sputnick Sweetheart and it was fantastic.

This is a collection of short stories that all deal with the earthquake in Kobe indirectly. It shows how a great tragedy can affect an entire country, even if the character knew no one in the effected area. Whether it is a young child who is scared of the Earthquake Man or a teenager questioning morality and purpose, everyone is impacted by the catastrophic event. There are also fantastical events, most noticeably a man who gets visited by a giant frog who needs his help to defeat Worm so that Worm will not cause an earthquake in Tokyo.

What stuck with me the most is how much I cared about the characters even though I was just shown a small part of their lives. I finished the story wanting to know more about what happened to them. Did the young man ever find his father or his purpose? Did she wake up after the bonfire and kill herself or did she realize all the good things in her life? Did they live happily ever after when they finally got together or did life happen and it was more difficult than they thought? By not giving a conclusion, Murakami made me try to decide for myself what I thought what would happen to the people. Since he showed real life in his stories, I saw that they did not all end up happy, that maybe she did kill herself or he never figured out what he was doing. The stories did show some hope though, so maybe they ended up okay. In these quick twenty page stories Murakami manages to show a slice of what life is really like and all of its complexities.

How do you think their stories ended? Go pick it up and let me know.

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