Quel Dommage! My Review of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

Lately, I’ve been re-reading all the books I read as a teen to understand what aspects I enjoyed in them.  I loved reading your responses on your favourite teen books, and can’t wait to read them too! I have a huge list of ‘TO READS’, but I’ll get to them.  Before I get to those, I’ve been promising some reviews of brand new books. Look for them very soon!

Today’s review is on a book that is already over 10 years old, but maintains popularity for teen girls.  I recently came across Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (1999) by Louise Rennison in the teen section of my local library and instantly recognized the cover. I knew I read it, but I couldn’t remember the story. After re-reading the book ten years later, I now know why.  Sure, there are funny moments, but overall the book is really fluffy!

Often described as the young adult version of Bridget Jones Diary, the book is written in diary format by the British self-obsessed teen, Georgia.   Here is a book summary from Goodreads:

She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding “Call of the Wild” episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, “Honestly, what is the point?” A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life–and they are all momentous–in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood.

Hilarious? Well… sure, it’s definately one of my positive comments about the book.

🙂 Funny. Here is a sample of the Rennison’s writing:

          Angus: I should have guessed all was not entirely well in the cat department when I picked him up and he began savaging my cardigan.

        Thongs: What is the point of them? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell.

       Full-Frontal Snogging: Kissing with all the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues … everything.   (Apart from dribble, which is never acceptable.)

🙂 Delightful Englishness. A lot of British slang is used in the book.  However, some readers may find it annoying to constantly refer to the glossary and the end of the book to explain the meaning of British terms used. I think the glossary in itself is hilarious and worth a read!

Now for the bad…

😦 Not the best role model for young girls. For 14 years old, Georgia gets away with a lot. At her age, she knows a little too much about guys, snogging (kissing) and other sexual behaviours.  Georgia even describes the sexual ‘bases’.  It’s probably why  (in addition to referencing lesbianism, groping encounters and disrespecting her parents) the book is on the list of the most commonly challenged books in the United States.

😦 The random annoying words and phrases thrown in. Too much space was taken up with silly noises like ‘LALALALALA’. Georgia also adds in random French words (which would be fine if they weren’t the same ones used over and over again —Quel Dommage!)

😦 Geogia’s character- I know most teens are self-absorbed, but this goes beyond a tolerable level of narcissism. She is constantly fussing about her eyebrows, her lips, her nose, etc.  She seems to be completely about looks, totally shallow and without any ambitions or dreams.  Her character feels under-developed and I can’t image that anyone could relate to her. From the beginning to the end, Georgia didn’t resolve anything or have any real growth –besides now being the girlfriend of a Sex-God (insert a very sarcastic OMG!!! Here).

Overall, I would rate Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging 3 out of 5. I won’t be reading the rest of the series (10 books in total) as there are far better books on the market for teens. A funny but forgettable read.

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Binky the Space Cat Review

Binky the Space Cat (2009) by Ashley Spires

Kids Can Press Publisher Notes
A graphic novel series featuring a loveable and delusional house cat named Binky, who, while in hot pursuit of an alien wanderer (a bug), falls out of the space station porthole (the bathroom window) and finds himself in outer space (outside the house).

“The humor in this graphic novel hits every note …” —    School Library Journal Starred Review, November 2009

“Spires’s mix of sly, dry and slapstick humor in her first graphic novel is perfect.”— Kirkus Reviews Starred Review, July 2009

A couple months ago, some grade 4 students from my school introduced me to this adorable book by Ashley Spires. As a pet owner, I’ve always wondered what my animals are thinking about. This story allows the reader the opportunity to enter the imaginative mind of Binky the cat and his mission against aliens (bugs).

Here is a glimpse inside the book:

As you can see, it is a great graphic novel for younger readers transitioning from picture books. Every frame has fun eye-catching illustrations and easy to read hilarious text. The humour in the story will allow every reader (regardless of age) enjoy a laugh.  It would be easy for reluctant readers to get into this fun book because it is a fully developed story within a short number of words and pages.

Parents, teachers and librarians should also check out Kids Can Press’ website for graphic novel activities for Binky the Space Cat. The activities are based on art, visual literacy, writing and creativity for children ages 7-10 years old.  The ‘before, during, and after’ reading suggestions are GREAT! I really loved the step-by-step instructions of how to draw Binky and know many children would love being able to create their own comic adventure.

****Don’t forget— Binky the Space Cat is the first book in the Binky graphic novel Adventure Series. The second book, Binky to the Rescue will be available for Binky fans SOON!!!! September 2010. 

CBC Featured Reader

I was checking my blog stats today and noticed that alot of ppl were reaching my blog via CBC. I had completely forgot that 2 months ago, I submitted my info to be a CBC Featured Reader.  What a surprise! Apparently I was featured last week, but I guess CBC doesn’t give notice as to a) if you are picked and b) when you will be featured. Nonetheless, I am totally stoked! To see my entry click here. Once on that page, there is information available about how to become a ‘featured reader’ yourself.  I always enjoy learning about the reading habits of other individuals, and CBC gives you the opportunity to do that.  CBC’s Books always has great reviews, polls, specials, and debates (check out the chick-lit debate) on now!). They are also available on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/cbcbooks.

Your All Time Fav. Young Adult/Teen book?

My loyal readers!!! I want to hear from you.

First of all, thank you for reading my blog. From all the feedback and blog stats, I know you are reading. But, this time I ask that you answer my question: What is your all time fav. young adult/teen book? It can be when you were a teen, or a recent teen book you read. It will only take a minute- I just want to hear from you!  At the bottom of this entry, click ‘leave a comment’.  You don’t have to sign up to leave your answer, you will just be asked to leave your name/email/comment.  I would have to say mine is either ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger or ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ by Sherman Alexie.

-THANK YOU-THANK YOU- THANK YOU-THANK YOU-

“Great golly lolly!” My Review of VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic

Throughout middle school, VC Andrews’ gothic horror books were all the rage, along with body glitter, white eyeliner and girl power!  Everyone was sneaking VC Andrews’ books whenever they got a chance!

Recently I found out that VC Andrews never revealed her real name because it was believed that most readers wanted to read books written by men, not women.  Only when she died in 1986 was it revealed that her real name was Cleo Virginia Andrews. After her death, a ghostwriter (Andrew Neiderman) was approved by her family to continue to write novels in her name. Over the years, the book covers have undergone a dramatic change as well.

When I first read Flowers in the Attic, the cover looked like this:

When I read it for the second time, it appeared the cover underwent a modern change to appeal to new readers. I know readers aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I found the new book cover more visually appealing and was immediately drawn to it.

                                                                 

Once in your hands, VC Andrews’ first book ‘Flowers in the Attic’ (1980) is hard to stop reading. Since her books are horrible yet so fascinating, you almost feel guilty for being so absorbed in such a ludicrous plot (brother/sister incest, lies, kids forced to live in attic, evil grandmother, murderous mother) The storyline of ‘Flowers in the Attic’ continues into two more works, dubbed ‘the Dollanganger series’. Although I have not continued reading the series, I have been told that ‘Flowers in the Attic’ can definitely stand-alone.

Description according to the publisher:

The four children had perfect lives. They lived in a golden family filled with happiness. But their father dies suddenly, their mother throws themselves on the mercy of her parents – who had disowned her long ago.

Their mother promised they would stay only long enough to inherit the fortune. But gradually she forgot how much she adored her family. Kept hidden in the airless attic, the children now lived alone except for fleeting visits from their mother. Visits that became increasing infrequent… and increasily deadly…

Flowers in the Attic: the compelling story of a family’s betrayal and heartbreak, love and revenge.

While the bizarre incest angle of this story held undeniable appeal for me, I have to say that it was really the premise that captured my attention. The whole notion of a mother who hides her children away in an attic was fascinating. What kind of mother would do this? Although it’s hard to believe that mothers like this really exist, they do. I recently heard a news story about a Dutch woman who was arrested for allegedly killing four of her babies and hiding their remains in suitcases in the attic. I immediately thought of the connection to Flowers in the Attic.

 Terrible. Sad. Shocking.

Did you read VC Andrews as a pre-teen/teen? What appealed to you? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things

On a down day, I like to pick up the Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha and remind myself of the many things in life to smile about. Pasricha’s writing style is quirky, light and makes your appreciate: the other side of the pillow, solving the Wheel of Fortune puzzle before the people on the show, the smell of the coffee aisle in the grocery store and much more! Although most people can relate to many of the awesome things, Pasricha encourages his readers to be conscious of all the awesomeness around and to even create their own list. He often features readers’ own awesome lists on his blog http://1000awesomethings.com/. I suggest checking out his website to get a taste of what the book is about. Many of the entries in the book are taken straight from the blog. I almost enjoy the material better in blog format. In the book, each ‘awesome’ thing reads like a blog entry, and the same standard entry gets repeated over and over for each thing. I know I’ll have people disagree with me, but I find it can get kind of dull. I sometimes found myself skipping over Pasricha’s comments and just reading the headlines of each ‘awesome’ thing.  However, I really enjoy visiting his blog every morning to read one short blog entry for me to smile about. It makes me keep coming back for more.

Overall, I still think the Book of Awesome is awesome. I just think it’s best for coffee tables or bathroom reading when the reader has a couple minutes to giggle, smile and nod their head in agreement. We all need a little more happiness in our lives, and The Book of Awesome delivers.

Grab Bag of Books Contest

In case you didn’t already know, I love contests. L-O-V-E. This past year I have been lucky enough to win: books, $150 cash, a tent/chair/camping lantern, and an IPOD touch. For those that love contests as much as I do, this post is for you!

Every month Teenreads.com has a Grab Bag of Books contest. Five readers are awarded a Teenreads.com signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books! This contest period’s winners will each receive a copy of BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE by Katie Alender, CALEB + KATE by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma, LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater, SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman, and SO OVER MY HEAD: A Charmed Life Novel by Jenny B. Jones. Click here to fill out the form by August 16th, 2010.  Good Luck!

Do you know about… CLASY?

No, it is not a typo. Today’s post is about the newly formed group Canadian Libraries Are Serving Youth (CLASY). Founded by some of my UWO MLIS colleagues Stephanie Vollick, Erin Walker and Sarah Gleeson Noyes, the group aims to create a national network for library staff serving young adults.

According to their Facebook group, CLASY’s goal is to “have as many libraries as possible commit to contributing one thing per year, whether it be a program idea, webinar or pathfinder”. One established pathfinder is the ‘Reference for Teens’ (a go-to resource for all subjects, with annotations describing their function).  When faced with a reference question about an unfamiliar subject or topic, it can be difficult to know which resources to use. This recently produced list aids librarians when unsure where to begin.

I was also impressed with the time and effort put in to create an ‘A-Z list of programs for teens offered in Canadian Libraries’. For any YA librarian, this list is perfect for obtaining ideas or inspiration. I seriously wish my library offered ‘Learn the Art of Hena, Nail Art, Photography for teens, and Yoga’ programs when I was a teen!

Recently CLASY announced that they are planning a professional development event tentatively called “YA Day” for the Ottawa, ON area in October. I am super excited as I was unable to attend their first event in London, ON in May.  If interested in speaking opportunities or volunteering (like me!) please visit their website.

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