Thursday, September 29, 2011

Win a copy of *The Vinyl Princess* 'zine by Yvonne Prinz!

So imagine, if you will, my girlish squeal of delight when, one morning, my boss handed me a package addressed to Edge of Seventeen. Mail! Yay!

The return address said Yvonne Prinz. "Hmm. Who's that? ," I thought. Then it dawned on me. Yvonne Prinz: author of the incredibly cool novel The Vinyl Princess, co-founder of the indie record store Amoeba Music ,blogger and 'zine author! Inside the package was a bunch of copies of her 'zine and a bunch of VP buttons. I have three of each to give away, so be sure to enter your name below to get one.

Mandy put me on to The Vinyl Princess last year and after I read the novel, I think Mandy's review of the book perfectly captures my feelings for this book. See Mandy's enthusiastic review of The Vinyl Princess here. And her further musings here.

The 'zine that I'm giving away is like a love letter to music: vintage vinyl reviews, top ten lists, a comic strip and more.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Edge of Seventeen is Back!

After a bit of an extended vacation, Edge of Seventeen is back! Mandy has offered me the enormously thrilling responsibility of taking care of this baby for a while. So, I've already written a few blog posts but I suppose it's never too late for official introductions. My name is Erica and I work at Words Worth Books in Waterloo. I love reading kids and YA books and I have a special interest in anything with a steampunk aesthetic. I hope that you'll enjoy my posts. Mandy will continue to post reviews once in a while, in between running a world-class local independent bookstore. In order to accomplish all of this, Mandy will give up sleep.

So, in honour of Mandy and the love for YA that we both share, I thought I'd share with you a little Q&A, to get right back to the heart of why it's so much fun to blog about Young Adult fiction.

Erica: Hi Mandy!
Mandy: Hi!!!
Mandy and Erica, blog-size.
Erica: What are you reading right now?
Mandy: The new Michael Ondaatje. It's okay.
Erica: I know that you have a very special place in your heart for teen fiction, especially dystopian fiction. Is there anything that you've read lately that's wowed you, or anything that you are anticipating?
Mandy: I'm anticipating reading the new Kenneth Oppel and the new Maureen Johnson, for sure. Recently I finished the new Eileen Cook book, I think it's out in January. (I'd have to look up all the titles hahaha)
Erica: What is it about Young Adult fiction that draws you to this genre? The hot boys? 
Mandy: Hahahahahaha! The only guys I find hot in YA are the Weasley twins.
Erica: No!
Weasely Weasleys
Mandy: Yes!! And both of 'em!  For awhile when I was reading more YA, I loved it because there was such a huge community dedicated to it. And I had started reading the blog Bookshelves of Doom , and I loved her review style. She got me on to so much and I just went with it. And then a lovely librarian friend was also locally blogging about teen books and I was hooked.
Erica: When you mention the YA community, what do you mean? Readers, bloggers, authors?
Mandy: Mostly bloggers, but also publishers. There was all this new buzz about the teen genre and I wanted to be part of it.
Erica: There are LOTS of blogs on the web, and lots of YA book blogs, to boot. What sets Edge of Seventeen apart from the rest, in your opinion?
Mandy: Actually I think EOS is pretty standard in terms of a book blog. BUT I think with your renewed interest in maintaining it, and your injecting it with Steampunk goodness, it'll really become something.
Erica: I don't think the blog is or has ever been standard! Your sheer enthusiasm and amazing author interviews made me a loyal blog reader.
Mandy: Every blog should have some unique focus to it, in partnership with being a straightforward teen book review blog. Pick a passion and incorporate it into your blog and you'll stand out. I never really did that.
Erica: I endeavor to take the awesomeness that you started and continue it.
Mandy: Ha ha ha, you'll make it great.
Erica: Anne of Green Gables was the book that made me into a reader. It has a strong female character, which is something that I still love in YA books. Was there a book like this for you?
Mandy: One of the books that made me into a reader was Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I loved it. It was also the beginning of my love for Sci-Fi. But I can't remember my first book, per se.
Erica: You've interviewed quite a few fantastic authors on your blog. Which one would you most like to take out for dinner? What would you chat about over coffee and dessert?
Mandy: I'd love to have dinner with Bernard Beckett just because I have a crush on him. It's possible that I wouldn't have much to say to him except "Genesis was amazing...." I might have more to say to Meg Rosoff though, just about anticipating how a story is developed. I'm in awe of How I Live Now. All of the elements of the story and the way she builds it up, it's remarkable.
Erica: You're remarkable. Thanks for creating such a fantastic blog and thanks for chatting with me.
Mandy: Anytime!! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review *Ship Breaker* by Paolo Bacigalupi

This novel is INTENSE. I was first attracted to the book because of it's awesome cover. The photo here doesn't do it justice: in real life you can clearly see that it is meant to look like weathered metal, probably copper, and the title looks as if it's been etched into the metal. Gorgeous.

Once I got past the cover, the story itself drew me in faster than any book I've read recently.  The story opens in an extremely claustrophobic setting as Nailer, a teenage boy, clambers through a service duct on a grounded oil tanker. Ship Breaker takes place in a future when oil is scarce and discharged oil tankers are docked on the the coast to be broken down for parts. Nailer's job, along with the rest of the teenage crew, is to scavenge copper wiring from grounded ships (thus: ship breaking). Smaller kids like Nailer are preferred for this work, because they can easily navigate the narrow ducts in the tankers.

Listen to this nail-biting description of one of Nailer's salvage missions:

 All around, the duct pinged and creaked. It sank slightly, tilting. The whole thing was on the verge of collapse. Nailer's frantic activity and extra weight had weakened it. ...Metal shrieked. The duct dropped out from under him. Nailer scrabbled for handholds as his world gave away.  His fingers seized scavenged wire. For a second it held, suspending him above an infinite pit. Then the wire tore loose. He plummeted...

Aargh! **bites nails**

Nailer and his friends live in the Gulf Coast region where the worst of the frequent storms that rip along the coast are nicknamed "City Killers": storms so intense that the obliterate anything in their path. In Ship Breaker's dystopian future, global warming is NOW and New Orleans has sunk, twice. I know, know. I hear you saying: "This all sounds terribly grim. Why would I want to read another dystopian YA  novel that's so unrelentlingly BLEAK?" Well, for one, Bacigalupi is an amazing author. I read this book late into the wee hours of the morning because I needed to know what would happen next. Brilliant pacing. And secondly,  as with many dystopian novels, there is a hopeful undercurrent. Nailer's life is all hard knocks and he has an extremely dysfunctional relationship with his dad. His dad is a drug addict who thinks only of when and where his next fix will come from. So, ever resilient, Nailer finds family in his friend Pima and her mother, Sadna.

Family. It was just a word. Nailer could spell it now. Could see all the letters strung together. But it was a symbol, too....Family wasn't any more reliable than marriages or friendships or blood sworn crew , and maybe less. His own father really would gut him if he ever got hold of him again; it didn't matter if they shared blood or not....But Nailer was pretty sure that Sadna would fight for him tooth and nail, and maybe even give up her life to save him.

Nailer ALWAYS finds a way. He never gives up. Sure he falters and stumbles at times, but there's always a will. It's easy to draw similarities between Ship Breaker and The Hunger Games; between Nailer and Katniss. Both Nailer and Katniss are prisoners of circumstance who have to rely upon their own inner resourcefulness. And both books play around with the subject of class, comparing the haves to the have nots. In Ship Breaker's future there is no middle class: the rich are rich and the poor are dirt poor.

I recommend Ship Breaker to anyone who's enjoyed some of the more popular dystopian teen fiction of the last little while: The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. This is also an excellent novel "for the dudes."


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Faerie Tale Musings

Please allow me to break away from books for a moment to describe an experience that was at least faerie-tale-ish. Last week, my husband and I took an early morning walk to Sabletine, a local patisserie, thinking of chocolate croissants and european-style coffee the whole way. As we approached Sabletine, something in the window of the next-door consignment shop (Patina) caught my eye. In the window tied to a  hanger that displayed a lacy camisole was a pair of pink and green ostrich feathers. Hmm. But hunger trumped interest so we went directly to Sabletine. Emerging about 30 minutes later, covered in croissant dust and energized by the strong coffee, we entered Patina.  I tried on a few things that, as it turned out, didn't fit; however, on our way out my husband pointed out a coat: long, black velvet, with a fur collar and lined with what looked like satin. I turned over the tag and read: 1940s Opera Coat. Hmm. I tried it on .

Opera Coat. Yes, I am indeed grinning like an idiot as I wear a winter coat in 35 degree weather.

Now here's where it gets a bit weird. When I looked in the mirror with this coat on, I really felt like I was in a some sort of mythologically-inspired folk tale. I felt as if I was late for a meeting with Baba Yaga; or that I should be strewing breadcrumbs behind me or something. Well, I WAS covered in croissant dust.

Anyway, I bought the coat, and the ostrich feathers. The lovely lady that sold them to me looked me straight in eye when I approached the counter, and frowned slightly. "Oh", she said, "You aren't the lady that was looking at this coat yesterday." "What does that mean!?" I thought, panicking. "Does that mean that I can't buy it!" Interrupting my rapid spiral of despair, she continued, "But she had plenty of time to come back and get it." Phew.

"Remarkable bird. Beautiful plummage, in'it?"

As she touched the ostrich feathers to put them in the bag, she told me that they had come to her through a older lady whose grandmother had worn them in her hair on her wedding day in the 1940s. Her fiance had just returned from the war and had purchased her her several gifts, two of which were these feathers and the lacy camisole that shared space in the shop window until I plucked the feathers away. After she told me this she said, almost wistfully, "And I guess that story dies here." Being a soft touch, I promised to share the story with others whenever I wore the feathers. So there you have it.

And this is my cat. He is VERY interested in this feather.

Holly Black's wicked "Modern Tale of Faerie" series.
On a related note, lately I've been reading Holly Black's modern faerie tales. This woman knows how to write edgy, fast-paced fantasy. Tithe is a about a teenager who stumbles into the faerie world and unwittingly becomes a pawn in the rivalry between two faerie kingdoms. I love the fact that Black portrays teenagers as real people. There are suggestions of sexual situations, and some language, so I'd recommend these books to a 15+ audience. Totally worth checking out.


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