Evaluating Expectation or; Mew, Lapras & I Go Through My TBR Pile

Now that uni's over and my last assessment has been handed in, I figured it's time I started catching up on all the lovely fiction coming out in the year 2016. Before I can do that though, there's this TBR pile just sitting there on my desk. Taunting me...

I always like comparing how I think of a work before reading it and how I think of it after. The expectations, either met or disappointed are interesting and something good to look back on an question. So I'm going to start a quick ritual of doing that here. Documenting what I expect or think of a work before I've actually read it. 

To help me out in this is my new pair of plushies Mew and Lapras (Pokémon) featuring the occasional Deadpool-Mug cameo, because y'know...Deadpool...

BIRD BY BIRD | Anne Lamott

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilised by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.

One of my lecturers actually recommended me this resource the other week. She said it was one of the more 'positive' writing resources or 'bibles' that she was come across, detailing more of a trial and error process than strict commandments for writers to follow. I'm much more of a fan of this kind of direction (in regards to writing) than I am say Stephen Kings ON WRITING. As the novel and excerpt suggests Lamott makes clear that writing in craft and process is just something you have to take 'word by word'. 

I'm glad I've left reading this till after I've finished uni, I'm going to try and stretch out my reading of this a bit, I think my appreciation and retention of the work will be greater once more of the 'university' has drained out of me. 

 

THE SIDEKICKS | Will Kostakis

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.
All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac's gone, what does that make them?

I mentioned in my YA AUSSIE BOOK BLOG HOP how I wanted to get my hands on this book and I did.

I came.

I saw.

have yet to read. 

I am really pumped to read this book.

No, really. It's been recommended to me a dozen times on twitter from fellow YA readers and through #YATalks. It's a title that only seems to come up with positive comments attached. I'm really interested at the moment in masculine friendships in YA (probably because that's a large part of what I'm writing with PROOF). I have to admit my expectations are high and I really like the premise of the book too, something that I think I'll find remarkably relatable? I dunno yet. We'll see.

 

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN | Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realise is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This was an impulse purchase. I liked the odd design of the cover, and I got a whiff of queer-protag from the blurb and I brought it on the spot even though in later consideration it's not normally the kind of YA I go for (focused on the romance/romantic relationships e.t.c). I am really interested in the sibling dynamic, and the complications between the two twins that the blurb suggests, having these stem from romantic ties though..hmm. I dunno. I am intrigued by the idea of the early years 'are Noah's story to tell', while the later are Jude's. I'm all about multiple p.o.v and I think the temporal distance and way of relating could be a really interesting mechanic if done well. 

 

BLOOD | Tony Birch

From the moment he saw her wrapped in a blanket at the hospital, Jesse knew that he’d be the one to look after his little sister. When their mother's appetite for destruction leads the little family into the arms of Ray Crow, Jesse sees the brooding violence and knows that, this time, the trouble is real. But Jesse is just a kid and even as he tries to save his sister, he makes a fatal error that exposes them to the kind of danger from which he has sworn to protect Rachel. As their little world is torn to pieces, the children learn that when you are lost and alone, the only thing you can trust is what's in your blood.

I'm a fan of Tony Birch's short fiction, devouring THE PROMISE, and his short story GHOST RIVER in greedy mouthfuls. Though I'm a little unsure of whether his writing style, metaphoric language and 'on-page' Aussie drawl can sustain itself across several hundred pages, I think it might, I'm cautiously optimistic. And well, the plot of BLOOD sounds more interesting than you'd think; again the emphasis on siblings relationships, on the platonic (love the platonic *what what, punny*) which is something I've always thought Birch does well, creating authentic characters, and having those characters interact with each other 'realistically'.

I think this will be a long read for me, Birch reminds me a little of Neil Gaiman, they both have simplistically crafted sentences and imagery, yet go off on these meandering tangents and reveries with their characters, resulting in full-to-the-brim prose. I'll probably end up reading this one whilst also reading something else a little shorter. Along with Mew and Lapras I brought a bunch of comics from AMC16, maybe I can space out my BLOOD readings with some actually graphic BLOOD #DeadpoolComicsFTW.

 

LOST AND FOUND | Brooke Davis

Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back.
Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home since her husband died. Instead, she fills the silence by yelling at passers-by, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Until the day Agatha spies a little girl across the street.
Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He sits in a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again. In a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.
Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life.

Another impulse buy that's been sitting on my shelf a long time without me giving any real attempt to read it. This shall be amended this summer, I solemnly swear on Lapras' cute plush face. I think, again, the interweaving of multiple p.o.v's and stories was what drove me to purchase this book, also that it's by an Australian author, as I told myself a year and a half ago I'd give more Australian Literature (outside of YA) a go. It seems to have good praise and has won a bunch of awards, it will be interesting to see though how attached I become to the characters, how drawn into to the story. Whether or not it grips me, like other unexpected Australian titles have done in the past.

 

THE HATE RACE | Maxine Beneba Clarke

'Against anything I had ever been told was possible, I was turning white. On the surface of my skin, a miracle was quietly brewing . . .'
Suburban Australia. Sweltering heat. Three bedroom blonde-brick. Family of five. Beat-up Ford Falcon. Vegemite on toast. Maxine Beneba Clarke's life is just like all the other Aussie kids on her street.
Except for this one, glaring, inescapably obvious thing.

I have very high expectations for this one as well. I am a big fan of Maxine's work, finding her insightful, poignant and unwilling to pull punches, she writes with a kind of revelation and honesty that's all too often swallowed up in the macabre of the everyday. Especially in todays cultural and political toilet-swirl, as a lot of people in power seem more hateful and more fearful than ever. I had the pleasure of attending a couple classes and events through Writers Victoria, at which Maxine was at the helm. She's a real inspiration, and I'm actually eager to be confronted with her recent work THE HATE RACE, to, not experience really but be overcome with the experience of Australian racism that, by virtue of being white, I will never be subjected to. Maxine has a talent of breaking through reader's literary comfort zones, and I both think and hope that THE HATE RACE will be no different.

 

LADY MIDNIGHT: THE DARK ARTIFICES | Cassandra Clare

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

I've been reading the Shadowhunter Chronicles since 2007 a series which has hit the double digits with its releases. But I have to admit (even though I pre-ordered this new installment) I was hesitant to buy this sequel series, it contained barely any of the characters I had grown to love, taking on a whole new set of characters and plot with only the universe tying this new series too the old, and really my tastes have changed, and though undeniably Cassie's books have only been getting stronger and stronger in nuances and characters I'm not into the sappy romance factor of YA fiction (in particular) anymore, and the times when I am invested (rarely) it's with queer/non-heteronormative relationships. 

That being said, I am keen to see how far Cassie has come since her final installment of the Mortal Instruments Series, her evolution of authentic and nauenced characters, her driving for a diverse cast are in particular of great interest to me. The book is a whopping 669 pages long, so I'll probably take a while to get back into the swing of regular reading after uni, to give this book the time and brain power it deserves.