Friday, March 27, 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015
Okay firstly it has to be those freakin' evil pigeons again. They're back and this time it's definitely personal. They're not cooing, they're saying 'you, you, you.' I mean it. I'm trying to go back to sleep at 6.30am and they're saying 'you, you, you, get up, up, up.' They sit on whatever ledge they can find right outside the bedroom window and they make sure they tick you off before you've even started your day.
Soon everywhere will be covered in silver shiny tape, though there are those birds that are getting cocky, those daredevil birds that have grown a pair of giant pigeon balls and now think they can take on the silver tape. They are no longer scared of its shininess or the way it flaps and rustles in the wind. They're gaining in confidence and ready to take over the balcony, maybe then, the world!
I'm a little book obsessed these first few months in 2015, and I know that's not a bad thing, it's an awesome thing, it's just that when you're putting everybody else's already-published books before your never-going-to-get-published-if-you-don't-edit-it book, then you are shooting yourself in the foot, walking a dangerous line, being a lazy bitch. Pick one, they're all true. But at least I'll be a well-read lazy bitch. That's something, right?
Why do people ask me really stupid questions, when, I might add, I'm in the middle of teaching a class? Do I look like I want to be harassed by your ridiculous musings at a time like this? I have seven preschoolers dancing on the carpet. Can't it wait until I'm done? The answer is no, it can't, they must ask right now for optimal pissedoffishness.
'Are they listening to Samba?' I hear her ask one of the other teachers. (By the way, she doesn't even work in this room, she's just come to skive from the baby room.) I just carry on dancing with the kids.
'Why are they listening to Samba?'
I hear her. I ignore her, because it's a stupid question to which the only answer can be: why not?
Then she makes it more direct. 'Helen, why are they listening to Samba?'
I give her the look that says I'm-teaching-a-class-ask-me-afterwards-or-not-at-all. Yes, I do have a look for that. But she doesn't take the hint.
'Do you understand what they're saying?'
At this point I give up and turn off the music.
'Do you understand what they're saying?' she asks again.
'No. Not really.' (But I don't have to. It's music, it's universal and it's beautiful and it's about sound and feel as much as understanding lyrics. How many English speaking lyrics do you understand from your favourite band or artist? Or scrap that, from your least favourite artist? Why do you think we have lyric sites? Because half the time it's impossible to tell what they're singing. And besides we never fully understand what a song means, it means different things to different people, adding to the beauty of song. People draw their own meanings and only the actual song writer can ever truly know what they intended it to be about, but then once it's released, it's meaning automatically changes into whatever the person listening to it feels. It is always evolving and changing. And if understanding what they're saying is a prerequisite of music then most people wouldn't be able to go to the opera, or listen to anything from any other culture or Country. And the world would be a terrible place.) But of course, I can't say all this, so I hone it into another look and try not to be angry.
'Do you speak the language? Do you understand what they're saying?'
There she goes again ticking me off at the end of four back to back lessons when I'm exhausted and sweaty. What I want to reply with is: 'Are you fuckin' serious?' But instead, I reply with - bearing in mind, the kids are still there and I'm still teaching a lesson - 'No. I don't, but I don't have to. I expose the children to music from all around the world, in order for them to hear different languages, different sounds and different instruments.'
'Oh right. Well P***a probably understands.' She says, as though I'm a moron for not understanding.
P***a's Spanish you idiot. Of course she would understand, though the child has made no such connection because the child was just enjoying listening and dancing to the wonderful music and the child is three.
So from stupid questions to a question I will pose to you. Why do people have to constantly move when they're talking on the phone?
This mini rant is dedicated to the woman who circumnavigated the bus stop at Old Street Station yesterday, about eight times whilst me and the little man I pick up from school waited for our bus. And every time she passed back around us on her short orbit she kept having to dodge around the little man as though he was in the way. At least pace, but not constantly circle us. It felt really weird to be caught in the middle of that. But worse, I had another lady on the telephone at the other side of me that was just walking back and forth. Ahhh, just somebody keep still.
Okay then, I think I'll leave you with that. Enjoy your Friday and the weekend. May it be full of new things to rant about, family and friends, and milk because I want cereal!
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
With the announcement that YALC will go ahead for the second year running - that is, the Young Adult Literature Conference - the subsequent giddiness has prompted me to scream the praises of some home grown authors as well as those incredible talents from overseas.
Joe Abercrombie: Half a King
Yes! Yes! Yes!
This book has all the feeling of a Games of Thrones novel - with perhaps a dash more hope and slightly fewer character deaths - but it's treatment of sex and violence is whittled down to a more accessible level. This is not a bad thing! And this book is not without violence and torture and pain. But this treatment of the issues and the way it is handled really allows the characters to shine through. And it is the characters and Abercrombie's incredible ability to build a world and capture you in it, that really make this book work.
What's not to like about Yarvi, the deformed Prince? What's not to admire about his downturn, his fight, his inner strength and his determination to take revenge and find justice? He's a protagonist with obvious physical restrictions, but also an inner strength and an in depth knowledge of other cultures and languages that may eventually allow him to find his way home and take back what is rightfully his.
But it's not only Yarvi that keep this book flowing, his wayward band of friends and his dysfunctional, power hungry and down right cruel family keep you guessing throughout.
A fantasy trilogy not to be missed.
Melinda Salisbury: The Sin Eater's Daughter
Who isn't raving about this book? Don't know, but I am.
Wow! Awesome-a-mundo. (Can honestly say I've never used that phrase before.)
Again, the first in a trilogy and I can tell you there will be even more excitement when book two comes out. (Oh and check out the awesome cover art.)
Twylla is the embodiment of the Goddess Daunen. Her mother is a Sin Eater. Twylla is betrothed to the Prince. Oh and one more thing, Twylla can't touch anyone without killing them....
Or can she? Enter new guard, Lief, who throws up some interesting questions. Was it all misunderstanding and misrepresentation? Or is this in fact her destiny, to be the executioner, to kill with a single touch?
Marie Rutkiski: The Winner's Crime
Book two of this totally absorbing trilogy. Kestral and Arin are at it again: telling lies, keeping secrets, blaming the wrong people and putting themselves in increasingly dangerous situations. But who are they doing it for? Themselves? Their families? Their people? Or each other? And who stands to benefit?
On either side of a long and hateful war, Kestral and Arin strive to do the best they can for their people whilst surviving the hardships brought on by their separation and subsequent decisions.
Tensions run high in this sequel to The Winner's Curse, and so thick even Kestral's dagger can't slash through them. Feelings are ignored and deflected, disguises are seen through, but who will discover just what they are up to? And what will the consequences be?
Oh my, I really need book three. Now!
Ksenia Anske: Rosehead
I have reviewed this book twice and had it refused by amazon reviews, so screw them, I'll write an even better one here, where I am not censored. (Not that there was anything to censor in the first place.)
For those of you that haven't heard of Ksenia Anske, she is a twitter goddess and a wonder of all things self published in YA. She gives her books away for free, though I urge you to pay for them, and offers you virtual cookies when you're sad. This woman dresses up as her protagonist when doing book tours and is as bonkers as her writing. Check her out!
The beauty of this book and the author is that you never know what to expect. Whether it's the talking dog who only talks to his owner and best friend, Lillith, our protagonist. Or whether it's the fact that the buildings move and the rose garden would like to eat everybody, you are going to be constantly shocked, moved and absorbed.
The friendship between Lillith and Panther - her talking dog - is hilarious, their sarcastic banter something one could only strive for, and the fact that he only talks to her: priceless. The burgeoning friendship between Lillith and mute boy Ed is adorably funny and charming. Then throw in German relatives, rooms that drink blood and you've got yourself a fantastical world made oh so real by Anske's penmanship.
If you like an author that shocks and excites, immersing you in the story head first, then check out Rosehead, but be warned, you may never look at a rose garden in the same way again.......
Alright, that's enough for now. I hope I've inspired some of you to buy a book or at least check out these authors and their incredible stories. Read, read, read everyone. It's brilliant!
Sunday, March 1, 2015
I am a self confessed namer of inanimate objects, possibly something to do with the writer in me, but I love a good name, and I have even, on occasion been asked to name other people's inanimate objects.
And of course the Flat, which we aptly and rather unoriginally refer to as if it's an entity of its own - Flat 19.
Giving something a name, somehow fills it with personality. A name is not just a word, or a label, it's more than that. It's a sign that whatever it is belongs somewhere and that someone cares about it, and if that makes me twelve raisins short of a fruit cake, than so be it. I don't find it any different to naming the characters that exist in my head and on paper. They are technically non existent, fictitious, imaginary beings that only I can see and interact with. But that doesn't make them any less real. I love to name. I love to build a personality around that name, and yes I become attached to silly things, like my computer and my Ipod, and the characters in my head, but how is that any less relevant than which escaped Llama you want to be, or which mythical character you could have been in a past life?
Thank you and Happy Sunday