Friday, 9 April 2010

This and That..

A few things...

- American and Canadian book bloggers! If you'd like a copy of When I Was Joe in advance of the US publication date (September 2010) then let me know ( and I will alert my American publicist (I love that phrase. Let me say it again. My American publicist.)
- Once I hit 100 followers I'll have some sort of a give-away competition. Have to think what it will be, but there'll be a signed copy of Joe in it for you..I just need five more followers. So, spread the word.
- I was interviewed today in the Jewish Chronicle (I started work at the JC in 1981 as a teenage messenger girl, so this was a weird moment.) Anyway, I should like to make it clear that two years ago my children were aged 11 and 8 and could only be described as 'young' in comparison to, say, the interviewer.
- Two YA books to recommend - Delphine de Vigen's No & Me,a French bestseller translated into English. Lou, 13 is bright and socially awkward, promoted into a class of 15-year-olds. Her parents are still grieving the loss of her baby sister, and her mother is distant and depressed. Lou's friendships with homeless No and classmate Lucas whose parents have all but abandoned him, change her and change her family - but how much healing is possible? This book starts slowly, but gradually you get drawn into Lou's world. It reminded me of Meg Rosoff's brilliant The Way We Live Now. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - I'm only halfway through this sizzling Romeo and Juliet-like tale set in Chicago, but phwoar, cor, it is honest, great fun and has a serious side too about the pressure that teens are under - in Alex's Mexicano world to be part of a drug-dealing gang, in middle-class Brittany's to be perfect. I'm reading very slowly, because I'm enjoying it so much, and I can't wait to read everything that Elkeles has written.
UPDATE: Well...that'll teach me to post a review of something I haven't finished. Perfect Chemistry's ending didn't work for me at all. An uneasy mix of sleaze and sentimentality, the surprise twist was no surprise at all and Brittany's disabled sister was treated a bit like a pet dog. I'll still give Elkeles another try though, because the beginning was great.


  1. I think one of the reasons why I only ever try to write horror stories is that I would find it immensely difficult to make an ordinary life interesting. It amazes me how easy I'm sometimes drawn into a story about every day people, who have nothing special going on in their lives except their emotions. relationships and personal angst, and I don't think I could pull that off. I suppose it shows how limited an imagination I must have I guess, lol.

  2. Yay! You have great taste in books ;-)

    And I hope all the American peeps love WIWJ as much as I do. Quite frankly how could they not?!

  3. I've heard a lot about Perfect Chemistry--good to see your review, good and bad. But I didn't realize it's set in Chicago--must get my hands on a copy!

  4. LOL Sleaze and sentimentality... Yowsa.
    You are one tough cookie.
    I kind of adored the corniness of it all. I am a hopeless romantic though.

  5. The garage sex scene lost me I'm afraid..I thought it was horribly misjudged. After that it was downhill all the way - I'd guessed ages before who had killed the dad, so was hoping for a different twist, the hospital scene was implausible, and the final bit with the sister was pure Hollywood shlock. Don't get me started on 23 years later! Tthe hair-pulling was never really explained, and the sister's level of intelligence seemed to change to suit the story, and at the end she was like a pet dog who'd been rehomed. I had problems throughout with the sister - I thought the mother was too nasty and Brittany too perfect. But I really did enjoy the beginning, and would definitely give Elkeles another try, in fact I've ordered her first book How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (which has an awful cover, I'm amazed it sold any copies at all)

  6. I can see where you're coming from but I actually thought the garage scene was quite realistic. (Not the location) In the sense that misguided young ladies may think they can use sex as a tool for manipulating a young man's behaviour. I also think Brittany has to face the pain of lowering herself in this way.

    I have to agree about her sister though. She was more a plot device than anything else.

    But even though it has flaws, I am still absolutely in love with it.

  7. I think she should have been very angry with him in the final scene! Her self respect seemed to go missing in the final third of the book. However I can absolutely see why you loved it! Not sure I'll be passing it to my 13 yr old though.

  8. Which brings us nicely back to the topic of age banding. Simon & Schuster say this is 12+ on their press release. It has a lot of sexual content though and violence. I think it is more 14+. But who I am to say?!

  9. it does, doesn't it...I'd say this is a 14 plus on the sexual content. If it were a film it'd be a 15.
    I massively prefer it to Gossip Girl though, which is just as strong on the sexual content - the people are more real and there are lots of interesting questions to think about.

  10. Imagine a future society when you had to have ID to buy a book. Not sure what I think about that.

  11. Interesting discussion. I saw Perfect Chemistry as a romantic fantasy, really - swelling music, waves-crashing-on-the-shore stuff. (And I should add that I do like that stuff!)

    I think you might prefer How To Ruin a Summer Vacation, Keren. I read it a long time ago but I remember finding it believable.

  12. I often come out of slushy films in a furious mood because the romance didn't live up to my exacting standards... (I didn't shut up for about an hour after The Proposal because I was so disappointed) this case I felt let down at the end because I enjoyed the beginning a lot. Oh well...I'm sure it's just me...