Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review - Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno

Summary: (via Goodreads) Hairstyles of the Damned is an honest and affectionate depiction of wanting to belong, but never quite belonging. Joe Meno’s pitch-perfect prose illuminates the tumultuous realities of American adolescence, the disintegration of the modern family, and the way a mix-tape can change a person’s life. Following the riotous exploits of Brian, a Catholic school malcontent, and his best friend Gretchen, a punk rock girl fond of brawling, this work of fiction unflinchingly pursues the truth in discovering what it means to develop your own identity.

Review: In his novel, Hairstyles of the Damned, Joe Meno does at least one thing right, he conveys his love and knowledge of punk-rock music – a definite essential for anyone writing within the indie rock novel genre, which this book certainly falls into. And between this and our narrator, Brian Oswald, a high school outcast and total freak who cusses way too much and litters every third sentence with a maybe or an I guess, you get the sense of what the American misguided adolescence is all about: music, getting high, trying to get laid, and avoiding your depressed parents, who at age fifty find themselves just as desperately misguided about life as you are.

Set in the 1990’s in Chicago’s South Side, Hairstyles of the Damned is a hodgepodge of so many different elements, it’s truly as rash and wandering as the mind of a teenager. Brian’s narration is a composition of rants describing his complacent aimlessness: he hates school, doesn’t know what type of music he should like, and his girl situation isn’t very peachy either. Worst of all, the non-plans he invents to get himself out of these dilemmas fire right back in his face. Yeah, he gets the chance to get laid, but what if he doesn't really care about the girl who's offering? Yeah, he manages to get a job, but major coworker issues soon ensue. Yeah, he feels aversion toward the racial inequality in his neighborhood, but what exactly is someone like him expected to do about it? And with parents as uninvolved and as uncaring as the ones he has got (and really, all the parents in this book are represented quite deplorably), we know exactly who to blame for all these problems: contemporary American adults who seem more than happy leaving teenagers to their own devices. And in Meno’s eyes such carelessness leads to two things: teenage aimlessness and the thoughtless immersion in pop-cultural trends without any regard for the loss of individuality.

It’s not all bad though, even if all the characters in the book sport neon-colored hair or shaved heads (Meno didn’t endow his novel with this title for nothing) and often quote angst-y band lyrics in regular conversation. Filtering out all the adolescent craziness –and of this there’s quite a bit – Brian is just as endearing as the next YA character you’re going to meet; he is just a lot more honest. Being a geeky freak isn’t just about not fitting while stumbling upon your one true love, the way a lot of other YA novels want it to be, but about not fitting, falling flat on your face when you try and being bluntly and repeatedly rejected by your one true crush – who in this case is borderline obese, unpopular, and only the more lovely because of it…at least in Brian’s eyes. Yeah, it’s not the most optimistic of pictures, but sometimes neither is life.

What’s perhaps most enticing in this book is the playfulness of Meno’s writing. He writes the way a teen might think, using short and simple words organized in sentences that more closely resemble speech instead of writing. Some of the chapters are written in script, other are nothing more than mix-tape track listings, and one chapters is written completely in reverse, describing everything as though we’re rewinding a movie in slowmo. It’s pretty cool and very in-tune with the carefree feel of the story as a whole.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review - Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek

Summary (via Goodreads): As The Devil Wears Prada demystified the world of high fashion, this funny and insightful debut novel dishes the crazy and captivating Manhattan art scene. When painter Jeffrey Finelli is run over by a cab, the art world clamors for the instantly in-demand work by the late "emerging artist"especially an enormous painting called Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him.

Gallery receptionist and aspiring artist Mia McMurray finds herself at the center of the hype. She is an amused witness as a Birkin-toting collector, a well-muscled Irish artist, a real estate baron, and Lulu herself, the artist's niece and muse, battle over the brand-new masterpiece. In the midst of the madness, Mia finds her own creative expression and artistic identity, not to mention love.
Review:  Having read and really enjoyed If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend by Alison Pace (recommended by Emily, who I have to thank for reviewing a book that I initially dismissed because of its title), I was looking forward to Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him, hoping for a fun, intriguing look at the art world coupled with a little romance.  While Lulu wasn’t bad, per se, I was pretty disappointed.
I think my main issue is the choice of Mia as narrator.  Mia is presented as such a spectator to the whirlwind battle for this suddenly "hot" painting that she almost ceases to exist for a good part of the story.  She's only there to tell you one plot point after another.  There’s no real sense of character and I found myself unsure why she was even there at certain points (as she did herself many times).  She had no real relationship to anyone central to the storyline.  Not only that, I realized about 150 pages in that the girl didn’t have any friends!  No one is mentioned outside the art world except in passing.  So not only are we privvy to only seeing this character in a world she says she doesn't even seem to like, but we don't even get a good idea of what she's really like outside her work persona. 
It didn’t help that Mia instantly grated on me with proclamations that she wasn’t a “gallery girl,” but seemed fairly petty and superficial in her assessments of other characters.  She doesn’t have any real struggle or conflict in the book so she becomes boring and a bit self-centered.  She’s also so self-deprecating it borders on annoying, constantly saying she’s not pretty even though many other people are telling her how beautiful she is.  It got to the point where I began to think the girl either lacked any kind of self-awareness or was playing some sort of game with the reader so we would find her modest, when in reality she spends most of the book acting like she’s better than everyone else (when she’s not comparing herself to them).
Not overly familiar with the art scene, I did find the journey of this painting comical and often times absurd.  Ganek created a nice satirical look at not just the art world, but the New York “scene.”  The characters surrounding the battle over the painting were humorous, but seemed almost cardboard cutouts rather than well-rounded characters.  I wanted to like them much more than I did, but, again, this might have been because I was seeing them through Mia's eyes.  I found Lulu the most interesting character and was pretty surprised that Ganek didn’t tell this story from her point of view.  As the central figure of the painting and the story, I wanted to know what Lulu felt about all of it instead of just having Mia's third-party conclusions.
I think most of my criticism for Lulu stems from my dislike of Mia.  The central story is intriguing, but I think it just missed the mark in its execution.  Without a likable protagonist this story just didn't have enough charm and wit to keep me interested.
Lit Snit Grade: C-

Friday, August 27, 2010

Casting Call Friday - The Passage by Justin Cronin

Story Summary: (via Goodreads) First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

Before I get into the actual casting of this book, I have to say two things: this book is very long (likely the longest one I’ve read this year), and it’s also very sad (but we are dealing with the post-apocalypse here, so maybe that was a given but I still wasn't expecting it). If I had to liken what’s happening in this book to something I’ve seen on the screen, I’d have to compare it to the TV show Lost. Just like in Lost, The Passage deals with multiple characters (including their individual histories and vantage points) and the whole story is like a big puzzle that gets put together very slowly.

I liked this book A LOT. It made me think about death a lot, it made me cry once, and it scared me and it shocked more times than I can remember. As much as I tried figuring it out, Justin Cronin still got me in the end.

Anyway, let’s get back to what this post is really about: The Casting Call. All I can say is that I hope Ridley Scott (who’s currently working on the movie-version of The Passage with the Fox Network) is somewhere out there taking copious notes.

Cast & Crew:
The Pre-Viral Years:
Amy Harper Bellafonte: Amy is the main main character of the book. When we first meet her, she is a six year old girl living a nightmarish life. After her mother, a prostitute, abandons her at a convent, Amy is chosen to be a specimen for the US ARMY-sponsored experiment NOAH. Once they’re done transforming her, Amy becomes a photophobic mutant with stunted aging.

Casting Callback: Destiny Whitlock – Whitlock is actually nine not six, but I think that’s insignificant in light of the fact that Destiny just has this look about her that’s very Amy: young but wise and haunted.

Special Agent Brad Wolgast: Wolgast is an FBI agent sent to queue human “specimens” for the NOAH experiment. He in his 30’s, divorced and a little depressed. But he is a good man, with a good heart and tries to do what he can to save Amy.

Casting Callback: Sean Penn – Yeah yeah I know, Sean Penn is not 30, not even close, but he is like my most favorite actor EVER and I know that he could play the role of Wolgast better then ANYONE else (except for Viggo Mortensen….maybe) and this is my movie, so I get to do what I want. Sean Penn it is!

Special Agent Phil Doyle: Doyle is Wolgast’s partner. He is younger, better looking and likes to follow the rules exactly the way the job dictates. He is not a villain; he just knows how to separate his profession from his personal life.

Casting Callback: Patrick Wilson – Patrick Wilson is a certified hottie with a bit of a mean streak…should a movie role call for it. He’d be a kickass Sean Penn sidekick.


Sister Lacey Antoinette Kudoto: Lacey is the nun that takes care of Amy when her mother abandons her at the convent. Lacey is from Sierra Leone and has a very earthy and spiritual essence.

Casting Callback: Viola Davis – Viola Davis is pretty awesome and every time I read about Lacey in the book, Viola's face popped up in my head.

Richards: Richards is the ultimate villain in the pre-viral years. He is a ruthless and calculating and would do anything to keep the NOAH experiment afloat.

Casting Callback: Kevin Bacon – For this role, Kevin Bacon just needs to channel that menacing vibe he had when played Wade in the movie Sleepers.

Post-Viral Years:

Amy Harper Bellafonte: When we’re reunited with Amy in the post-viral years, she looks anywhere between 13 and 16 years old and can no longer communicate using speech (at least not initially); her expressions have to say everything she cannot.

Casing Callback: Dakota Fanning – I am convinced, CONVINCED, that Justin Cronin wrote this older Amy with Dakota Fanning in mind (I mean, he did sell the movie rights to the book before it was even halfway finished.) And for a role that needs one’s expression to substitute their speech, there is no one out there that would do it better then Dakota.

Peter Jaxon: Peter is the main character during the post-apocalypse years. He is an integral part of the California colony of survivors and is an important member of their crossbow militia. In many ways, Peter becomes Amy’s protector during this time.

Casting Callback: Evan Ross – Sigh. I’m not convinces that Evan Ross can pull off a role as dramatically and physically challenging as this one, but he just has the right type of look for Peter.
Theo Jaxon: Theo is Peter’s older brother. He is portrayed as the main leader of the California colony of survivors, but he isn't quite up to be playing the role the hero everyone thinks he is.

Casting Callback: ? – I don’t know guys. I was really drawing a blank with Theo. These Jaxon boys are tough

Sara Fisher: Sara is a blonde nurse, who (almost) singlehandedly takes care of all the ailments experienced by the members of the colony. She grew up with Peter and has some unrequited romantic feeling for him. 

Casting Callback: Evan Rachel Wood –I’ve seen Evan Rachel Wood play so many different roles perfectly. She’d have this one down too, I’m sure.

Alicia Donadio: Alicia is a redheaded hot-head who is the best crossbow guard in the survivors’ colony. She is fierce but also very reckless, which sometimes endangers the colony.

Casing Callback: Lily Cole – Lily Cole is so gorgeous! That alone, and the fact that she is a redhead, makes her the perfect Alicia Donadio. Ah well, it’s not like this would be the first time an actor got a role simply because of their looks.

Michael Fisher: Michael is Sara’s younger brother and the colony’s reclusive mechanic/electrician. He is the first one to solve the mystery surrounding Amy’s agelessness.

Casting Callback: Eddie Redmayne – Eddie Redmayne is a decent actor and definitely has that i-don’t-go-out-into-the-sun-much-because-I-like-beings-indoors-playing-with-transmitters look about him. If he wasn’t an actor, he'd be a physics PhD student for sure!

Sanjay Patal: Is the stand-in (old-generation) leader of the California colony of survivors after the disappearance of Theo Jaxon. He is a very unfair leader whose decisions are based on the biases he has against the Jaxons.

Casting Callback: Ben Kingsley – Is anyone even questioning why I made this selection?


Mausami Patal: Maus is another brilliant crossbow guard for the colony’s militia. But she needs to step down from that role when she becomes pregnant. She is described as very beautiful and headstrong.

Casting Callback: Freida Pinto – Well, Freida Pinto certainly is very beautiful and I just want to see her star in more movies.

Greer: Greer is a major of the Army of the Republic of Texas. He befriends Peter, Alicia, Sara, Michael and joins their group when they decide to trek back to the original grounds of the NOAH project.

Casting Callback: Aaron Eckhart - Greer is another character that's hard to cast, but I think Aaron Eckhart could pull of pretty much any role, so I'll just use him as a filler here.


Director/Producer: Ridley Scott (well, they've already picked him, so why not.)

Soundtrack: I think Hans Zimmer would do a decent job composing a score for this movie.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review - The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow

Summary: (via Goodreads) Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Lydia’s the bold one: aspiring theater star, stick-fighting enthusiast, human guinea pig. Julie’s the shy one: observer and artist, accidental field hockey star, faithful recorder. In this notebook they write down their observations and carry out experiments to try to determine what makes the popular girls tick. But somehow, when Lydia and Julie try to imitate the popular girls, their efforts don’t translate into instant popularity. Lydia ends up with a bald spot, their parents won’t stop yelling, and Julie finds herself the number-one crush of Roland Asbjørnsen. Worse, they seem to be drifting farther and farther from their goal—and each other.

Review: Awesome! That’s all I have to say about the “Popularity Papers” by Amy Ignatow. It’s a children’s book, but one that even an adult can enjoy. Most simply described, it is a scientific approach to climbing the popularity ladder in the minds of two 10-year-old girls. The book is written entirely in the girls’ loopy and uneven script and is also illustrated by them! Very cute!

(image stolen from NYT article about the book)
It’s really funny and heartwarming, in a children’s book type of way. The thought process of these two characters (Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang) is perfect (and I do have some authority when I say this because I know a 5th grader or two.) They come up with some clever observations about popularity, and follow these up with ludicrous plans on how to apply what they learn on themselves. The outcomes are a mixture of success and failure, but neither girl dwells too much on their failures.

The two best parts of the book are the friendship between Lydia and Julie, which is really sweet and lovely and a genuine portrayal what best friends should be, and the family situations the girls are in: Lydia is raised by a single mother and Julie has two dads. The author doesn’t try to explain or rationalize their situations but somehow makes them completely natural and normal as the story progresses.

I have a nephew who is 10 years old and I sometimes read the books he reads (especially now in the summer months when he has vacation) so that we can discuss them together…he is very bright! But I know that it can sometimes be challenging to entice a kid his age to read. This book, although clearly geared towards girls and not something he might be interested in, uses brilliant visual techniques to pull you in (very similar to the ones utilized in the Wimpy Kid series) and I think it would really interest someone his age. Heck, I really got into it myself.

Lit Snit Verdict: B

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday--Janelle

Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Courtesy of Goodreads: Bad-boy chef Wes Murphy is dreading his final-semester cooking class, Food Chemistry 101, until he meets the new substitute teacher. Dr. Rosemary Wilkins is a feast for the eyes, though her approach to food is strictly academic. So Wes decides to rattle her Bunsen burner by asking for her hands-on advice on aphrodisiacs.…

Rosemary is a little wary about working with Wes, whose casual flirtations make her hot under the collar. But once they begin testing the love-enhancing power of chocolate, oysters, and strawberries, it becomes scientifically evident that the brainy science nerd and the boyish chef have some major chemistry together and it’s delicious…

 I know, I know...how cheesy is that description?? "Rattle her Bunsen burner"? Give me a break.

With that being said, I love romance novels more than I should. WAY more than I should. I've got a few hundred stashed back at my parents' house from when I was young and Harlequin was my crack. (Seriously. My favorite? Plain Jane Gets Her Man. I adored that book when I was in my junior year. I'm not proud.)

I first discovered Louisa Edwards when, on a whim, I picked up Can't Stand the Heat. I finished it in two hours. It was a easy, flirty, sexy read. The characters were realistic, there were no over the top romantic gestures (I mean, he didn't lay her down in a field of grass and worship her...and thank God, because what's sexy about THAT? All I can think is insects. Dirt and insects.). I was completely engrossed.

The icing on the cake. The attention to food. Can't Stand the Heat and her second book, On the Steamy Side, are both set in kitchens and involve chefs but Edwards knows what she's talking about. She gives just as much attention to the preparation of food and the inner workings of a restaurant as she does to the romance itself. That's awesome.

So, despite the cheesy description, I am eagerly anticipating her third book. I look forward to swooning hungrily.

*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

The Duff Winner!

Let me just say that I stayed up way, way too late last night starting and finishing Mockingjay (which was awesome) so my brain is a big pile of mush right now.  I blame Janelle and her awesome review that made me speed through it (though she did put up with my fervent texting whenever I got to the suspenseful bits so I guess she's forgiven).

Anyway, on to the winner of our first ever Lit Snit giveaway!

Congrats to Alice!  You are now the proud owner of an ARC copy of Kody Keplinger's The Duff!

You should be getting an email shortly to get your contact info and we'll send it out to you.

Thanks to all that entered!  We should have another giveaway up in a few weeks so keep an eye out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary: (via Goodreads)--Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Review: (NO SPOILERS): I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of this a few days ago (thank you to the seriously awesome person who graced me with it!) and I've been sitting on edge because there is no one to discuss it with. 

I'll patiently wait.

I don't want to spoil anything so I'll keep it short and sweet but hopefully eloquent (crosses fingers)--

It would have been very easy to cater to the arguments of Team Peeta vs. Team Gale. To base this story on this triangle and forget the more prominent issues of rebellion, differences in socio-economic status, the need of independence. Hey, it's the last book, you know? Why not? It's going to sell regardless.
But here's why Suzanne Collins is so kick-ass (sorry Mom and others...): she stays true and makes this story about a girl/woman who is not only striving for the independence of a group of people but is trying to find it 
for herself.

The reason Hunger Games is such a successful series is because Suzanne Collins makes it easy to relate to. She touches on the priviliges or lack of privileges granted to each class. She strives to show a people fighting for the right to not have to fight anymore. The war, the hunger, the various economic climates are all issues that we are dealing with now as adults.

Oh, right. This is a young adult book....which makes it even sweeter because she also gives young girls a stong, independent protagonist. We don't have a girl spending hundreds and hundreds of pages bemoaning which love she's going to choose. We have a girl who, for three books, almost 1200 pages, who is carrying the weight of an astronomical amount of people on her shoulder and she fights to protect those people and herself, acknowledging that she's strong enough to do this. To quote Mockingjay:

I can survive just fine without either one of them.

This is the type of example I think adolescent girls need. I won't go on a tirade but to show a girl who shows up to take care of business, to kick ass and take names? It's rare in books these days. Even when it happens, it's not necessarily done so well, so kudos to Collins for this also.

She stays true to Katniss in this book. She stays true to the story. It moves quickly providing a fast-paced and energetic read. My roommate will tell you that I cried. I even laughed out loud once or twice. I'm still, in the middle of this review, going back to re-read parts that moved me.  Even while completing this trilogy, she provides new discoveries, fosters new relationships--but don't worry...it doesn't leave you wondering what happens. If you're like me, you're left thinking that the end of this series is perfect. It's perfect, regardless of any choices with which you agree or disagree (AHEM. Gale vs. Peeta). It's honest and you can't complain.

I still feel like I'm not giving this last book (ARRRGH! It's hard to without spoiling anything.) it's due but thank you, Suzanne Collins, for providing an incredible trilogy.

Now will some of you hurry up and finish it so I have someone to discuss it with???

Don't Forget!

Oh, and don't forget that our giveaway for an ARC copy of Kody Keplinger's The Duff (which I LOVED) ends tomorrow!!

Review - Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

First a confession: I've been a terrible blogger/book reader.  I missed my review last week and left it all to the last minute this week.  My only excuses are that I was visiting family last week and, more importantly, The Passage is long.  How are you fairing with this month's Lit Snit Book Club selection?  I have to say, that the only time I really realize it's long is when I try carrying it on the subway with me; the story itself is pretty riveting.  I can't wait to talk about it.

Well, now that my flimsy excuses are over, on to my review...

Summary (via Goodreads): Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha–half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead–but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to–especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life. The only person who can save him is Dru.

The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to…

Review:  Jealousy is the third in St. Crow's Strange Angels series (can I just say that I am not a fan of the series title?  It just doesn't fit with the spirit of the series) and it's one of those rare series that I must go to the bookstore the DAY the newest installment comes out.  Because I feel very strongly that you need to go out and read the first book in the series, Strange Angels ASAFP (as soon as freaking possible) this review is more about the series as a whole, thus far. 

Though this series deals with a type of vampire, svetocha and djamphir, it's definitely not a vampire book (which I like, but this is in an entirely different genre, in my opinion...more supernatural YA than vampire YA).  Imagine if Supernatural's Winchesters had a little sister.  She would be Dru Anderson.  Dru's father is a demon hunter and the girl was raised in a world full of werewufs, chupacabras, and zombies.  She's more concerned with firearms and self-defense than boys or even having a social life.  She's smart and tough and might be one of my favorite female YA protagonists.  She's Sydney Bristow meets Buffy.  

What I love most about St. Crow's writing is the grittiness of the world she's created.  There's a physicality to every scene that makes you feel like you're right there with Dru.  There's nothing neat and tidy about the fights Dru finds herself in.  St. Crow does set up the age-old love triangle between Dru, a werewuf and a djamphir (vampire) but keeps changing the equilibrium of each relationship so you're trying to figure out where you stand with each character just as Dru is, especially in Jealousy, where St. Crow finally has a chance to deal with personal issues.  St. Crow's use of her own terminology when it comes to the "Real World" (what Dru and her father call the paranormal) at first takes some getting used to, but the mixture of old world terms and real legends makes the creatures even more frightening.

I have noticed as I re-read the series in anticipation of Jealousy St. Crow does have a tendency to write the same little details multiple times in a book, like the fact that Dru hates to sleep in jeans, which I think I read two or three times in Jealousy.  It's actually surprising more that an editor would let that get through than it is that she would repeat herself, but it's barely distracting when you're so engrossed in the story like I was.

I've read a lot of supernatural YA fiction (God knows there's enough out there) and I have to say this is probably one of my favorite series.  It's original, doesn't gloss over the icky bits of dealing with things that go bump in the night, and has a great action-adventure girl that I can't wait to see more of...too bad I have to wait until Spring '11...

Lit Snit Reviw: A- 

Oh, P.S., I just saw over at Book City Chick they're giving away the entire series and have an awesome interview with Lili herself! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Casting Call Friday - The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Sorry this CCF is so late. Let's just say I'm really glad it's finally the weekend.

This week I decided to cast one of the top YA books I've read this year (heck, it's one of the best book of any genre I've read this year).  All the characters really came alive for me in The Sky Is Everywhere so it was both easy and incredibly difficult to cast if that makes any sense.  First a quick summary via Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding. 

Joe Fontaine (Ethan Peck) 

It's not hard to see why Joe Fontaine is the first person that shakes Lennie out of her mourning.  He's described as having miles of legs and an endless torso with messy, curly brown hair and a jack o' lantern smile.  He's Lennie's first love, an amazing musician, and both as the exuberance of a puppy and the soul of a poet.

Ethan Peck might not have the "Joe Fontaine smile," which, I admit, is pretty crucial, but I had him in mind the entire time I was reading this book.  He was pretty awesome in the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You (thanks a lot for that cancellation, ABC Family) and he's sure to be around for some time, given his lineage (Gregory Peck is his grandfather!)

Sarah (Brittany Snow)

Sarah is a cynical goth/emo stuck in a cheerleader's body.  As Lennie's best friend she's peppy and loyal but reads a lot of Sartre and drives a car named "Ennui."  She's dyed her surfer girl locks to a dark black to complete her image.

Brittany Snow is another one that completely IS this character to me.  With those big blue eyes she looks like a cheerleader incognito with that dark hair.  And, if you've seen her in The Vicious Kind you know this girl's got range.

Uncle Big (Jeffery Dean Morgan)

Uncle Big lives up to his name in every way.  A large, "mountainous" man with a giant mustache and a "god-like voice", Uncle Big is the local arborist, pothead, and town Lothario.  Uncle Big is a man that falls in love easily and marries even quicker than he falls in love.

I debated on this choice.  It would be easy to cast Robbie Coltrane as Uncle Big, since comparisons to Hagrid aren't that far off, but I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be interesting in this role.  He's not a huge guy, but he's big and with the right facial hair and those eyes I think he would make a great Uncle Big (also, I just love him and would put him in anything).

Gram (Vanessa Redgrave)

Gram isn't described physically as much as the other characters are, but she's a painter and the town's "Garden Guru."  Her roses are legendary aphrodisiacs and she's been the girls' guardian since their mother took off when they were little.  Lennie's more like Gram that I think she realizes.

I envisioned Gram as a willowy elegant woman with kindly eyes and a softer voice to compensate for Uncle Big's, well, bigness.  I think Vanessa Redgrave might be a bit old, but she has the right graceful, calm air about her to be Gram.

Toby (Alex Pettyfer)

Toby is Bailey's heartbroken boyfriend, you can almost understand how Lennie looses herself in their shared grief when she's around him.  He's described as "part cowboy, part skater rat" with a surfer flop of hair.  Toby and Lennie both are forced to reevaluate their identity when Bailey dies because each seemed to exist in relation to her.

I will admit I haven't seen Alex Pettyfer in anything (I'm debating on going to see Beastly, loved the book, but can't stand Vanessa Hudgens), but he's got the perfect look for Toby.  He has that classic look and you could see him on a skateboard or a horse.  Plus, he's got that soulful mooning for the camera thing down.

And finally, the hardest to cast...

Lennie (Emma Roberts)

Lennie is lost without her sister until Joe Fontaine arrives.  Lennie's torn between remembering the sister who was everything to her and moving on, falling in love, and saying goodbye to who she was.  Lennie describes herself as "a companion pony," she preferred to let Bailey shine while and shied away from the spotlight even though she's a fantastic musician.

I couldn't find much physical description of Lennie, but in her mind she's rather plain.  She never got a whole lot of attention from boys until Bailey died, believing Bailey to be "the pretty one."  There's something understated about Emma Roberts that I think would work for Lennie.  I had a whole list of candidates for Lennie, from Amanda Seyfried to Nina Dobrev, but I think Emma Roberts has the right sweetness and vulnerability to play Lennie.

Well, what do you think?  Yay/nay on my picks?  Who would you pick?  And, most importantly, did you love The Sky is Everywhere as much as I did?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Daniela

Elixir by Hilary Duff

Release Date: October 12, 2010

Summary: As the daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington D.C. politician, Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. And though she dreads the paparazzi who track her every move, she herself is a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world.

But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful young man begin to appear in Clea’s photos—a man she has never seen in her life.

When Clea suddenly encounters this man in person she is stunned—and feels an immediate and powerful connection. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance and discover the centuries-old truth behind their intense bond.
Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fate, together they race against time to unravel their past in order to save their future—and their lives. (Summary provided by Goodreads)

So I was randomly browsing upcoming YA releases and spotted this item of interest. My jaw dropped a little when I saw it, but not in an excited type of way. I don’t dislike Hilary Duff. She’s alright, but I do dislike when celebrities try and have their finger on every pie: singling, acting, designing...and now writing fiction? What? Okay, that’s not a completely novel concept but I don’t want it to become a trend or anything. Lauren Conrad, thanks a lot!

Anyway, my reaction to the story’s synapse is that it sounds decent enough. And with a name like Hilary Duff adorning the cover as the author, I suspects copies of Elixir should fly off the bookstore shelves quickly enough. I don’t know if I’ll purchase it, but I’ll definitely keep my ears perked up for any of the book’s reviews. Who knows, maybe Hilary can write.

*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review - If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Summary: (via back cover) Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

Review: As the story beings, we are introduced to Mia, the story’s narrator. She is seventeen, loves her family and her boyfriend and is an aspiring cellist with big dreams about a musical career. During a special snow-day outing, Mia and her family are involved in a freak car accident. Her parents die instantly, and Mia, whose body also suffers extensive damage, slips into a coma. While physically incapacitated, Mia’s spirit is released from her body and occupies a strange out-of-body state (think along the lines of Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones) where she can only do one thing: hover over the living, deciding whether she wants to come back to them or not (which of course Susie wasn’t able to do).

Not surprisingly, this decision is difficult. Standing there, looking at her lifeless physical form and the grieving faces of those she loves that are still alive, Mia’s mind is flooded with glimpses of what once was. Death seems appealing while reliving memories of her bold, feminist mother and gentle, punk-musician father. They always understood her for what she was, and never pressured her to be anybody else. But now they’re gone, Mia feels compelled to choose and remain a part of her family’s four-member whole, a whole that should never be separated, not even in death no matter how premature.

Interlaced with the memories of her family are images of someone else very important to Mia, her boyfriend Adam. As she watches him suffer by her hospital bed, Mia relives their young romance, one memory at the time. Theirs was a rocky relationship; he was the popular rock-band bassist and she was a virtual nobody. But a common love for music brought them together somehow. Their love is atypically strong, but we believe it and it starts to seem possible that Mia’s love for Adam might be enough to make her come back to him.

Although not clearly stated, I believe that the memories Mia has of herself are most decisive in her choice between life and death. Once destined for a bright future as a Julliard student, the car crash has irreversible impact on who she is and who she wants to become. Here, the author seems to question whether childhood dreams about the future are powerful enough to keep one's the desire for life.

It’s redundant for me to say that If I Stay is a hard story. It didn’t make me cry, but it did stir up some emotions. The two main relationships between Mia and her parents and Mia and Adam are very maturely developed and I haven’t seen a better understanding between any four characters in any YA novel in a while.

Lit Snit Verdict: B (at 199 pages, this story was just a little too short)

UPDATE: So I know that one of the reasons i didn't love this book was its length. Well, guess what? The author is actually coming up with an non-sequel second book about Mia and Adam, which will be told through Adam's perspective. This second book, entitled Where She Went, will be released on March 31, 2011. What's even more exciting is the Where She Went Teaser Tour happening like RIGHT NOW. A lot of blogs are participating. Click here to check it out. -8/19/10

UPDATE #2: The cover for the If I Stay sequel has just been revealed and it looks like this:
I'm liking it a lot...even if Adam is still not featured. Click here to read more about the new cover. -8/24/10

Friday, August 13, 2010

Casting Call Friday -- The Hunger Games

While most of you discovered The Hunger Games when it first came out in 2008, I was apparently living under a rock. That’s the only reason I can come up with as to why I hadn’t started this series sooner. I didn’t actually decide to read the books until two weeks ago; even then that’s only because I sat at brunch lost while Erin and Daniela discussed Teem Peeta vs. Team Gale and Katniss this, Katniss that. So I finally started and HOT. DOG.

There are stronger words I’d like to use but I’ll keep this G-rated. This series is phenomenal. Of course you already know this, so let me cut to the chase. In honor of Mockingjay’s upcoming release, we at Lit Snit are casting:


Peeta Mellark: (Lucas Till) The 16-year-old male tribute from District 12. He is described as being "medium height with a stocky build“and has "ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead" with blue eyes. Upon arriving in the Capitol, it is discovered that Peeta has an instinctive ability to perform on camera and manipulate public sentiment.  He is rarely moody or upset and generally takes things lightly.

Lucas would be a great Peeta with his sunny smile & disposition (not to mention the muscular build!) Peeta strikes me as the boy next door type and I think Luke, with his Disney background, would tap into that.

Gale Hawthorne (Ian Somerhalder): An 18-year-old who is Katniss's best friend and hunting partner. Like Katniss, he has dark hair and gray eyes. The pair have combined their respective talents, his at trapping and hers at archery, to become a highly effective team. Gale is in love with and fiercely devoted to Katniss, although she doesn't know it at the time.

Yep, I know that he's older than Gale should be. To me, though, Ian Somerhalder hasn't aged a day and I wanna know his secrets. He's fits the physical profile and I think he's athletic enough and talented enough to portray Gale.

Haymitch Abernathy (Hugh Laurie): A "paunchy, middle-aged man" who was the victor of the 50th Hunger Games. Since winning made him independently wealthy, he has spent almost all of his intervening leisure intoxicated to the point of embarrassment. Haymitch acts as a mentor for Peeta and Katniss before they enter the Games. He is often sarcastic and anything but sober, which Katniss finds highly irritating. However, when pushed, he emerges as the pair's greatest advocate and shows himself to be highly canny as he guides his proteges in a cleverly designed, highly unorthodox strategy aimed at securing the survival of both tributes.

Okay, Okay…I know he’s not paunchy but, man! Laurie would be a fantastic Haymitch. I mean, have you ever watched House?? He’s got the intoxicated (via pills on House), sarcastic but clever man down to a SCIENCE. Seriously, he’d be awesome.

Primrose Everdeen (Elle Fanning): Katniss' younger sister whom others call "Prim". Prim's face is "as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named." She, like her mother, has light hair and blue eyes, which sets her out of place in the Seam. She is 12 years old and has her name put in the reaping for the first time. She is originally chosen as the District 12 female tribute, but Katniss volunteers for her instead. Katniss says that Prim is "the only person I'm certain I love."

First of all, Elle Fanning is adorable. She is 12. She is talented ( I want whatever water the Fanning's drink!) and she fits the description. Word.

Mama Everdeen (Joely Richardson): Light hair, blue eyes, described in the book as "worn... beaten up. After her husband's death, she lost the ability to deal with life...leaving Katniss to take care of the family. A healer.

Joely Richardson continually lost her mind for 6 seasons straight on Nip/Tuck. She does worn and beaten up well.

Effie Trinket (Kristin Chenoweth): Effie works as an escort for District 12, particularly to Katniss and Peeta. Effie has bright pink hair, speculated to be a wig. As she gives speeches, she constantly has to get it under control. She can be a bit of an airhead at times, totally oblivious to the sorrows and misfortunes that fall upon District 12. She's very strict about manners and is incessantly punctual.

I tried not to do it, I promise, but I really do think Chenoweth would do wonders with Effie. She's aged a little bit, she's known for the slightly irritating and ditzy roles (Hello, Pushing Daisies and Galinda in Wicked) but she can show emotional depth when needed. 

Cinna (Hugh Dancy): Katniss' stylist. Cinna is in his first year as a stylist for the Games and his audacious designs immediately win over the audience for Katniss and Peeta. Despite (or perhaps because of) his professional interest in images, Cinna proves to be better than most at seeing through the superficial spectacle of the Games to their barbaric core. He and Katniss establish an easy, comfortable relationship and he demonstrates a genuine concern for her well-being.

*sigh* Hugh Dancy is dreamy. Just had to get that out. With that being said, I think he'd be the perfect Cinna. He's sensitive and, though handsome, lends the quiet and simple air that Cinna needs.

Last but not least...

Katniss Everdeen: She’s the strong protagonist and narrator of this story. KatnissKatniss's past hardships (her father's death, mother's depression, and near starvation) have made her a natural survivor, and in general she will do anything to preserve her own life. The exception to this is that she will protect anyone she loves, no matter the cost to herself, as shown when she volunteers for the Games to save her little sister, Prim.

Cast:  So I’ve been sitting here for the last 45 minutes trying to come up with someone. In the actually film  I’d love for them to use an unknown actress. In the meantime, though, I’ll go with….

 I think she has the look that Katniss needs. Also (and I don't mean to be...well, mean), she looks like she could fit the thin from hunger profile. She plays tough as Silver on 90210 but she's able to show moments of vulnerability. With physical training, she could be great. She may be too old, though...

**I bet you that Evangeline Lilly is wishing this book came out 10 years ago. She would have been a great Katniss!

Okay...these are my guesses at the moment What do you think? Who would YOU cast? Did I miss someone important?

Also, will someone PLEASE cast Rue?? I couldn't do it!

Chime in, folks! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review - Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Summary (via Goodreads): "When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. Charming and debonair, the spitting image of Cary Grant, Martin sweeps Cornelia off her feet, but, as it turns out, Martin Grace is more the harbinger of change than the change itself." Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. Taking inspiration from famous orphans (Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, and even Harry Potter) Clare musters the courage to seek out her estranged father. When the two of them show up at Cornelia's cafe, Cornelia and Clare form a bond as unlikely as it is deep. Together, they face difficult choices and discover that knowing what you love and why is as real as life gets.

Review: Um, Marisa de los Santos? I have one question.  

Can I have a hug?

Love Walked In is the type of book you curl up with on a rainy day in front a large bay window. It's a fairy tale...fantasy with a dash of reality thrown in. I finished this book and, I'm not lying, hugged it. I HUGGED IT.

The story alternates between Cornelia and Clare. Cornelia is a 30 year old cafe manager, who is not quite sure how's she's ended up where she is. Clare is a 11 year old girl whose mother abandons her; she mentally checks out at first and then, right before Christmas, completely leaves by letting Clare out on the side of the road. Their lives intersect by one man: Martin

Santos gives both Clare and Cornelia their own distinct voice. Cornelia is...effervescent. She's smart, she's witty. She references and compares many moments of her life to old movies; she idolizes the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Berman and Bette Davis. This is a woman who, regardless of the circumstances, is positive. She's grounded & realistic, direct & honest. She's a delight to read. 

Clare, on the other hand is struggling. She's trying to cover for a mother who has a breakdown of sorts (we later learn this is bipolar disorder). She's makes lists of what she needs to do in order to make her mom seem perfect. When she reaches out to her father, whom she describes as a "near-stranger", he brushes her off and tells her that her mother is fine and that she's exaggerating. She feels like she's invisible with him, and rightly so, as every time she reaches out to him, he's busy.  Because of this, Clare's voice is one of an adult.  It's somewhat sad to read because this voice is much older than an eleven year old's should be.

Now, Martin? Martin is the bridge. The first line of this book is about Martin. Cornelia says:
"My life--my real life--started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and yes, I know how that sounds"
When Martin enters Cornelia's life, he is perfect. He's gentle, charming and romantic. The banter they share is similar to the quick quips traded between Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in the movie Holiday (which everyone needs to see, btw! Just sayin'...) They're a dream. We love Cornelia and because he's good to her, we love Martin.

So imagine when we find out that our dream man is Clare's bum of a father? UGH.

It's from this point that Martin becomes somewhat of a background character because the relationship between Clare and Cornelia? It's vibrant. It's golden. It's the 'true love' of this story. From Cornelia, Clare gets the unconditional love and stability that she's been craving. From Clare, Cornelia gets validation--validation that there's nothing wrong with the life that she's chosen...and that she should go after what she wants. This is not to say their road is easy; there are deaths to contend with, as well as the return of Clare's mother. Still, these incidents do not diminish the joy that comes from this relationship. If anything, it makes it stronger.

I also want to point out that there were no villains. She's fleshed these characters out so that there are no bad people. There are people who have made mistakes. I never disliked anyone in this book. I disliked the choices they made but everyone was flawed in their own way. Everyone was human.

I don't want to keep rambling. I'll just say that it's a warm, genuine read. It's the closest you'll ever get to a hug from a book.

Lit Snit Verdict: A 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giveaway - The Duff

I don't know if you heard, but I kind of loved Kody Keplinger's debut novel, The Duff (and by kind of loved I mean I couldn't stop talking about it for days and bordered on crazed stalker-fan of Kody).  I happen to have gotten my hot little hands on an extra ARC copy and thought we'd do our very first giveaway here at Lit Snit.  The rules are simple, just enter the form here and you're entered to win.  You will get extra points if you follow our blog and follow us on Twitter.  Contest ends 8/24 so what are you waiting for??

**Sorry this giveaway is US only.

Waiting on Wednesday - Erin

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Release Date: October 26th 2010 by HarperCollins

Summary (via Goodreads): Bright Young Things is the first in an epic four-book series about three teenage girls finding their way in the glittering metropolis of New York City and the glamorous mansions of Long Island. It’s 1929 and Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey have escaped their small Midwestern town to chase big dreams and even bigger secrets. In New York, they meet Astrid Donal, a flapper who has everything she could ever want, except for the one thing Letty and Cordelia have to offer—true friendship. Set in the dizzying summer before the market crash, against the vast lawns of the East End and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls will find romance, intrigue, and adventure.

Just as The Luxe books brought the Gilded Age to readers of Gossip Girl,
Bright Young Things will bring the Jazz Age to bestselling author Anna Godbersen’s devoted fans and to new readers alike.

I really loved Anna Godbersen's Luxe series.  It's kind of lazy to call it Gossip Girl in the late-19th-century, but it kind of is in the sense that it follows privileged (and those that wish they were) teens in New York—however it's infinitely better than Gossip Girl and there's no Vanessa to bore you to death.  

I love that Godbersen's taking another look at New York teens in a whole new decade.  New York has such a fascinating history and she really does her homework giving the reader, whether they know New York or not the feeling that they are there.  As I was reading her Luxe series I was picturing how the streets I walk every day would look to Diana or Elizabeth.  There's always been an element of excess and a huge divide between the "haves" and the "have nots" in New York and I'm so excited to see how she's going to play with that, especially given what comes with the stock market crash.  

I don't know about you, but the roaring '20s can't get here fast enough.

*Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review - Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Summary: (from the back cover) Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. At least, that’s what she portrayed in her modeling shoots. But Annabel’s life is far from perfect. Her friendship with Sophie ended bitterly, and her older sister’s eating disorder is weighing down the entire family. Isolated and ostracized at school and at home, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Then she meets Owen—intense, music-obsessed, and determined to always tell the truth. And with his guidance, Annabel learns to just listen to herself and gains the courage to speak honestly. But will she be able to tell everyone what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends?

Review: Before I get into anything else, I must preface this review by confessing how much I wanted to like this book. I had never read anything by Sarah Dessen before and was very excited at the prospect of finally making my introduction to the work of someone with such esteemed YA-lit cred. Plenty of my personal friends have raved about her work and finally I had the chance to find out why.

After finishing the book Just Listen, all I can say is that I’m more than a bit disappointed. For me the book was just okay…and maybe not even that. Looking at the plot, I would have to sum it up as nothing more than what any second-rate Lifetime screenwriter could have come up to fill a slot in the channel’s back-to-school marathon special. I realize this might seem a little too harsh, seeing as how there were parts of the book that were enjoyable, but honestly the plot relied a little too heavily on the melodrama to make up for the fact that it was all a little too routine.

The main issue Dessen decides to deal with in the book is certainly important. She even tries to be as realistic as possible, drawing up Annabel as someone who opts to be silent about her problem, which to be sure is a hard approach since we’re all smitten with butt-kicking, retribution-seeking bitches like Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars) and Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but having likened Annabel’s response to that of Melinda Sordino (Speak), I was expecting to be emotionally stirred by the inner struggles of a narrator tortured by the memories of such a violent experience. As readers we all have certain expectations and are used to certain privileges, like being privy to our narrator’s emotions and thoughts. We want to know how they feel because that’s how we develop our relationships with them. That was missing here; at least it was missing for me. Annabel was hurt and responded by retracting into herself, but Dessen pulled back a little too far, to the point where it no longer supported the story and actually hinder it. I couldn’t relate or grieve for Annabel because she just didn’t let me.

The rest of the plot, including the teen romance and the high school drama, also fell very neatly into that same Lifetime-ish format. And if I have to be completely frank, I would have to say that my age has been a factor in the way I’ve responded here. I really do believe a lot less would have been problematic had I been a little bit younger and less exposed other fictional works that take the Just Listen trajectory. Finally, I’d have to say that I wouldn’t mind it in the least if the publication of these types of novels took a slight downturn in the next few years so that I wouldn’t have to run into any more of them accidentally any time soon.

Alas, I have not given up on Sarah Dessen just yet, and am willing to take any suggestions about which one of her other books I might enjoy a little bit more.

Lit Snit Verdict: C

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review - One Day by David Nicholls

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows? Twenty years, two people, One Day. From the author of the massive bestseller Starter for Ten.

Review: I found this book almost by accident, not really knowing anything about it except that I saw the movie Starter for Ten (I will watch anything with James McAvoy…seriously, ANYTHING) and liked it. Judging from Starter for Ten, I expected something Nick Hornsby-esque from David Nicholls. A sort of “guy lit” if you will. And there are aspects of that in One Day, but he writes from Emma’s point of view so well and with such honesty that it feels like the perfect meeting of chick lit and guy lit (I'm sorry, but I will not call it "dick lit." I feel like that's almost as insulting as people who say "chick lit" with that condescending sneer).

One Day follows the lives of Emma and Dexter year after year, always on July 15th, St. Swithin’s Day. We meet the characters immediately after they’ve graduated from university and I instantly connected to both Emma and Dexter, being in my late twenties myself. As they navigated their mid- to late-twenties, trying to figure out where they fit into the world, I related maybe a bit too much, especially to Emma (I think the actual words “oh my God, this character is me” might have gone though my head once or twice). I saw friends in elements of Dexter (though perhaps not to his extreme) and wanted to shake him as he continually overlooked the obvious and made choices that were incredibly destructive.

Both characters are flawed, but likable. As much of an ass as Dexter can be, you can’t help but see him through Emma’s eyes and have a certain affection for the conceited screw-up. You knew there was a good, smart man beneath the booze and women. Similarly, you see Emma as Dexter sees her, a brilliant, beautiful woman with far too little self-confidence.

One Day doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. It’s an engaging (I think I read it within the span of 48 hours), fun story, that you could easily imagine being a blockbuster rom com. There’s a certain amount of emotional manipulation that Nicholls uses, particularly toward the end, (Janelle, I think you will see some tear stains on that copy I gave you) which I bought into, but also put me off a little. Even as I was crying I was groaning a bit at the “twist” Nicholls threw in there.

My only other complaint is the slight predictability of the characters. Neither really surprised me from year to year. I really enjoyed the book and was eager to see where the characters would be from year to year, but wasn’t blown away but anything. There’s something missing that takes this from “eh, that was pretty good” to “OMG best book EVER.”

What I think I liked most about Nicholls is that, judging from what I've seen so far, he writes character-driven stories that are gender neutral.  Whether you're into "guy lit" or “chick lit” One Day is entirely enjoyable, full of humor, drama, and a bit of romance.

And, just a note to Hollywood producers: I’ll be waiting impatiently for my James McAvoy rom com adaptation which needs to happen as soon as possible.

Lit Snit Verdict: B+

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lit Snit Book Club - August

To celebrate the end of summer and our brand new home for Lit Snit we're reading Justin Cronin's post-apocalyptic adventure The Passage, a book we've heard nothing but good things about. 
We hope you'll join us at the end of the month to discuss this thrilling new novel.  If all the good buzz isn't enough to persuade you to check The Passage out, here's a preview courtesy of the publisher.