Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Catmas!

Hands up who else is at work on Christmas Eve! And evidently I'm slacking off cos it's gone nine and I'm writing this instead of working on next year's marketing schedule. All in aid of bringing you some purry Christmas cheer...

Merry Christmas! Eat pudding! Flake out with a good book! I'll be getting stuck into The Stand by Stephen King the second I get on the plane tonight. It's going to be a very dystopian Christmas...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Carrie by Stephen King: A review in pictures

OK, white lie. One picture. But it's worth a thousand words, right? That's me on my friend's balcony in Sydney last weekend totally enthralled with Carrie. It was my very first Stephen King fiction read, and coincidentally the first book he ever wrote. And it became a bestseller. Spewing! If only all debuts were as successful.

It's easy to see, reading Carrie, why King's books are so popular. He's done all the hard work for you. Ticked all the boxes. Character, setting, plot. On a platter. All you have to do it eat it up. Perfect holiday reading. I devoured it in the hours between when I woke up and my five other friends did. I fail at sleeping in. I had no idea the above photo was being taken at the time either. It popped up on Facebook the other day and I was delighted.

What I liked best about Carrie was the way King used foreshadowing to build tension. From the very beginning you know that something terrible happens on prom night. That a lot of people are going to die. It's the how and why that pulls you onward, and the pull is very strong. For the squeamish, this isn't a horror novel. It's more a thriller, and the characters and subject matter make it a perfect YA read.

I loved Carrie. I resolve to read more Stephen King. Yesterday I borrowed The Stand from a friend. (And the film adaptation of Carrie.) What a tome. Wish me luck with that one.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Organ Music, Margaret Mahy

Harley and David find a car with keys in its engine on infamous Forbes Street. But instead of driving it, it starts driving them--to a hidden laboratory deep in a forest. They're told there has been a security breach and they can't leave until they've been cleared. David suspects something is up. They can hear organ music, and the girl Quinta, who can evade the cameras and wander where she chooses, reminds David of the graffiti in Forbes Street: Where's Quinta?

I remember Margaret Mahy from my childhood and I am certain we had lots of her books around the house. I have the feeling they were short story collections full of ghosts, and I think I read The Haunting at some stage. They would have been bought for me as I am the ghostie lover in my family. If these are the books I am remembering, I was very fond of Mahy back then. I don't tend to read a lot of MG fiction, but the stuff I've come across recently is little more than vaguely annoying. One-dimensional characters, caricatures, shallow plot lines. Every line of dialogue ends with an exclamation! Because otherwise! Kids would get bored! Every reaction is an over reaction! It's all just so exciting! Or rather, it tries to be and miserably fails!

Organ Music is an exceedingly well written and genuinely creepy book. I was creeped out. I love situations where a character finds themselves drawn deeper and deeper into trouble, offering resistance but having it stymied at every turn. Mahy has crafted the situation perfectly. Middle Grade novels should all be like this, where no matter what age you are, the writing is evocative and compelling. I believe this about young adult novels too. I find it very sad when juvenile, second-rate writing is deemed "good enough" for children and teenagers.

Beautiful cover design too. Because I'm an Aussie and we love claiming works by New Zealanders as practically our own, huzzah local talent! Local spooky, supernatural talent. Organ Music is available now from Gecko Press.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

CiNeMaSh party at the Glasshouse last night, "come as a film" night. Couldn't resist the chance to go goth. I think the real goths might have confused me as one of their own for a second or two but I ran away when they asked to examine my piercings for authenticity.