Thursday, March 31, 2011

Postcards from Puffin

I love getting mail, don't you? And of course, by mail I mean fun things (not bills or junk mail from your bank thinly disguised as a letter). I bought this big box of Postcards from Puffin (which has over 100 lovely postcards taken from covers of Puffin classics in one big box) to decorate my desk at work, but also thought it would be fun to share the mail-love with some of you!

Would you like a Puffin postcard? I will send a postcard to the first ten people to comment on this post with their name and email address (and yes, this is open internationally).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Popcorn - Beauty Queens

Confession time - I am a sucker for beauty pageants. I can easily spend a whole Sunday transfixed in front of the TV, sucked into the hot-mess that is Toddlers and Tiaras. I thought this week it would be fun to pay tribute to some of my favourite films featuring beauty pageants (and please share yours in the comments - I love film recommendations!) so here are three one-hundred word reviewlettes:

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Directed by Michael Patrick Jann
A clever mockumentary following a small Minnesota town's annual teen beauty pageant. Kirsten Dunst is Amber Aktkins, a girl who hopes the pageant will get her out of the trailer park and help her follow in the footsteps of her idol, Diane Sawyer. Her main competition is Rebecca Leeman (Denise Richards), who's 'performance' in the talent portion of the contest is just so completely laughable and cringeworthy (no seriously, a crucified Jesus is involved). I'm happy to admit I've seen this more than a handful of times, and its combo of dark comedy and pageantry glitz is a winner.
Elvis and Anabelle (2007)
Directed by Will Geiger

I stumbled upon this on cable one afternoon and really enjoyed it (and was actually surprised it never had a theatrical release - though it kind of straddles the line between a commercial and arthouse film). Max Minghella is Elvis, a lonely undertaker running his father's business and Blake Lively is Anabelle, a bulimic beauty queen who carks it on stage after winning her biggest title. There's also a (non-zombie) resurrection involved. I'm not a romance-y kinda gal, but I love the way the relationship between Elvis and Anabelle develops and the way the film explores death. Definitely recommended.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

I love, love, love this film! The Hoover family travel via VW bus from New Mexico to California so that Olive (Abigal Breslin) can take part in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. This is such a fresh and enjoyable film, even though family dysfunction and road trips are certainly not new territory on-screen. Every performance in Little Miss Sunshine is just spot on (it always makes me think that Steve Carrell needs to do more serious roles). I find it even more amusing after having since discovered the gem that is Toddlers and Tiaras. It also features the most life-affirming dance sequence ever. Watch it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mixed Bag #33

Good morning friends! Here is my collection of links (spanning the last two weeks as I forgot to post last Friday - sorry) of things that have amused, interested or entertained me. Hope you enjoy them:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ The new Inside A Dog website is so spiffy! I'll be posting some of my reviews on here

♥ Nathan Bransford wonders what the publishing industry will look like in five years time

♥ A fantastic article from Jordyn at Ten Cent Notes about life after high school in YA - I definitely agree with this and wish there was more exploration in young adult fiction of characters who choose to go to TAFE/trade school/work full-time/get a traineeship/go on a gap year!

♥ Huge thanks to Adele for highlighting what is now one of my favourite new blogs, The Book Lantern. I seriously urge you all to check it out because they are serving up some really insightful and refreshing discussion posts.

♥ I'm also really digging Kody Keplinger's blog post about sex in teen media

I'll leave you with a video - completely non-book related, but it cracked me up this week. I like Fallout Boy, but Patrick Stump really needs to enunciate better!

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Feature Coming Soon!

So I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about my blog and what I want to write about. I've also been looking at my blog stats (which I normally don't pay too much attention to) and it looks like that my Fiction to Film posts and Film Lover's Companions are by far, my most popular posts in terms of traffic (so I'm guessing it's something people want to see more of?). I also really, really enjoy writing about movies. So what I'm planning to do is each month focus on one contemporary teen film inspired by a classic text.

(a sneak peek at some of the films I'll be discussing over the next few months!)

I'll still be doing Film to Fiction posts as well, but I thought the above films would be enjoyable to write about and will hopefully generate some interesting discussion (or at the least, some pretty pictures right?)

The first piece in this new series will be posted next month.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

The Facts
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Penguin (Australia) originally published by Delacort (US)
Date of Publication:

The Fiction
From Penguin: Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris-until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Now to be honest, had I not heard such lovely things about it, I probably wouldn’t have bought it  - the cover is a little bit twee and I’m a kind of a cynic when it comes to all things mushy, so I tend to avoid romance-y novels and pick books about zombies instead), but am I glad I picked it up (note to self, always listen to Adele, Megan and Kate!). Anna and the French Kiss is undeniably charming and you can't help but get swept up in Stephanie Perkins' story of first loves and friendship.

I found Anna incredibly easy to like. Her love of film was something that really resonated with me (like Anna, I went to uni to learn and write about film and really wanted to become a film critic) and some of her favourite film choices were freakishly similar to my own (Rushmore, Sixteen Candles). She’s also a bit neurotic, has a tendency to over-think everything, and a bit of a neat-freak and ongoing inner-monologue is endearing and easy to read.
Now for the collective sighs – Etienne St Clair! He is English, with an American mother and speaks fluent French. Etienne is charming and friendly and it’s easy to see why Anna (and everyone else) falls for him so quickly. He is also short and has flaws and is a believable love interest (as opposed to the Edward Cullens of YA). Anna and Etienne’s relationship develops throughout the course of their novel and their banter comes across as genuine and charming. I also enjoyed the fact that for a romance, there is also a focus on friendships – as I do feel a bit with some love stories that the supporting characters and friendships get neglected, but Perkins gives Meredith, Rashimi and Josh (swoon, I have to admit I was rather fond of Josh) their own personalities and are well-developed.

It’s easy to fall in love with the Parisian setting – Stephanie Perkins swirls us around on a (slightly touristy) journey through the city of light. For me, this aspect was really appealing and having been to Paris myself (though only for two days – not long enough!), it was fun to hear Anna and her friends visit places I had been to, and made me realise I really, really want to travel again!

Anna and the French Kiss is an engaging debut novel and whilst it’s super sweet and lovely, it also handles serious issues with sensitive. It's perfect for a Sunday afternoon read - preferably whilst nibbling on some macaroons!

More Anna links:
♥ John Green raving about Anna and the French Kiss
♥ Look at the cover for Stephanie’s next novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door!
♥ My Polyvore Profile of Anna

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Xanadu the Musical

Dear friends,

Last night I’m pretty sure I had as close to a religious experience as I may ever get. Last night, I saw Xanadu the Musical. Now I know you may be puzzled by this statement or thinking ‘pfffft Xanadu – isn’t that kind of lame?’ as one of my friends did from the TV ads, but I can assure you, the Melbourne production of Xanadu is nothing short of amaze-balls!

Now, as you know I’m rather fond of musicals and for me, the more silly, self-indulgent and self-referential the better! I also love extremely campy, ridiculous-but-brilliant movie musicals like Grease 2 (seriously, please don’t hate on it or can't be friends) and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (I am SUPERWOMAN!) and especially anything from the eighties. If you also enjoy these things and have a sense of humour, you will love Xanadu.

For those not familiar with the original 1980 film, Xanadu is about Sonny, a struggling Venice Beach artist, who is inspired by Clio (ancient muse of history and sent down to Los Angeles in the form of Kira, a roller-skating Aussie). There’s scheming sisters, rotating telephone booths, lots of lycra, winged horses, centaurs, great music and roller discos – now really, what more could you want in a show?

The whole cast is fantastic and look like they are having a blast the entire time (and have clearly embraced the cheesy-eighties-glory of the show and just run with it whole-heartedly). Sam Ludeman is extremely likeable as the himbo, laidback artist Sonny Malone and Christie Whelan (Clio/Kira) is a complete triple-threat – a gorgeous, singing-dancing-skating dynamo. The cast is rounded out by a strong group of character performers, who are happy to ham it up.

What else makes it awesome? Well, it is performed in a custom-built Xanadu tent, which is pretty rad (and really makes the whole viewing experience completely different to your typical theatre set-up and to be honest, I don’t know if the show would have worked as well if it had been at the Regent or Princess theatres). There’s also lots of shiny things (over 100 mirrored-disco balls!) and amazing airbrushed artwork and the whole set is kind of Ancient Greece meets 80s music video.

My other favourite thing about the Xanadu experience happened after the end of the show. Eighties tribute band, Stand and Deliver play a set for XanaduLand patrons! I had never seen them before, but they were fantastic and so, so fun. It’s a great way to finish off the night. I honestly can’t emphasise enough how brilliant this production is.

Xanadu the Musical is playing in Melbourne at the Xanadu tent in Docklands until April 3, before moving onto Sydney and Brisbane. The show runs for 90 minutes with no interval, and Stand and Deliver play for about an hour afterwards (seriously, stick around and see them). Check out the official website for more information. I should also thank the very-lovely Andi for coming with me to see Xanadu (and was able to appreciate every minute of it!)

PS. Oh my goodness, and I realised yesterday I completely forgot to announce who won my Birthday Giveaway.

Congrats to the lovely Nomes of inkcrush! Hope you enjoy your prize. For the rest of my readers, don't fret - I have some more fun giveaways coming up in the next couple of months, so please check back soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Polyvore Profile - Anna and the French Kiss

I had intended to post a review of the delightful Anna and the French Kiss today, but I'm currently in re-reading bliss and so will hopefully have something to share with you all tomorrow. In the meantime, here is my Polyvore Profile inspired by Anna (hope you like it!)

PS. Check back here soon as I have another Anna-related project in the works!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snack Size #14 - Maureen Johnson

Once again I have some mini-reviews for your reading pleasure! Each reviewlette is around 100 words and this week, I've chosen three recent reads by Maureen Johnson.

The Key to the Golden Firebird
Published by Harper Collins, 2004
297 pages

Reading confession – I really love sister-stories in YA. Yep, am a total sucker for them, and really enjoyed this book. Following the sudden death of their father (in his beloved Firebird convertible), the lives of the Gold sisters, Brooks, Mayzie and Palmer, have been forever altered. A year later, May is desperately trying to keep the family together and starts driving lessons with neighbour/nemesis Pete. The Key to the Golden Firebird is a touching and funny novel about grieving and the importance of family. Without giving accidently giving anything away, I want to say that the last chapter is just amazing and really ‘made’ this book for me.

Girl at Sea
Published by Harper Collins, 2008
323 pages

Clio is forced to give up her plans for a perfect summer working with her art-store crush, to accompany her eccentric father on a mysterious boat expedition in the Mediterranean. Whilst this trip sounds kind of amazing to me (did I mention there are shipwrecks, and a cute-nerdy-academic boy involved?) Clio is unimpressed at all the secrecy and the seclusion on-board and is determined to cut her stay short. It’s a light-hearted read and has a fun mix of history and hijinks on the high-seas, though I did wish the relationship between Clio and her father had been explored in greater depth.  

13 Little Blue Envelopes
Published by Harper Collins, 2006
317 pages

A collection of envelopes from her recently deceased aunt, sends Ginny on a whirlwind adventure around Europe. Each envelope gives Ginny instructions and a task – whether it be supporting a (very attractive, kilt-wearing) starving artist in London, visiting Vestal Virgins and buying boys cake in Rome or staying in horrible hostels in Amsterdam. Though I felt that Ginny was a bit more subdued than your typical Maureen Johnson heroine, her journey is engaging and her travel observations amusing. If anything, I do wish there was a bit more in the Ginny/Keith (wearer of kilts) storyline – but with a sequel to come, I’ll cross my fingers!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mixed Bag #32

Good morning! Here is my weekly collection of links to things that have interested or amused me. Enjoy:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ Steph Su has written a really insightful post on eBooks and the book lover.

♥ Megan speaks honestly about pressure on bloggers.

♥ Super-cute interview with Sarah Dessen at between the lines (I'm so excited for What Happened to Goodbye)

♥ Pop Talk at Girl With A Satchel deconstructs 2011's girl anthems

♥ How pretty is Life As A Magazine's creative space?

Goodbye Little Spoon is pretty much my favourite blog find of the week - I love it!

Video time - Michael Cera gets a Jersey Shore makeover (old but still funny)

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Piper's Son Playlist

I had a lot of fun putting together my Necromancer Playlist, so I decided to have another go, this time making one for an Australian book. I'm sure you're all aware I'm a huge fan of Melina Marchetta and I adored The Piper's Son (and I was lucky enough to get to hear Melina talk about her work in person at the MWF last year). If you've read the novel, you'll know that music plays an important role throughout the story, and in a lot of ways, is the strong that ties Tom, Georgie, the Finch-Mackees and their friends together. So I've picked out some of my favourite (and most fitting songs from the book) for you to enjoy below.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Kid Table - Andrea Seigel

The Facts
Author: Andrea Seigel
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date of Publication: September 2010
Length: 320 pages

The Fiction
From Goodreads: Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are such a close-knit group that they don't really mind sitting at the kid table—even if they have to share it with a four-year-old. But then Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the adult table and leaves her cousins shocked and confused. What does it take to graduate from the kid table?

Over the course of five family events, Ingrid chronicles the coming-of-age of her generation. With family members who play Christmas music at a bar mitzvah and invite a grown man to play Baby New Year at a party, she’s not so sure the right generation is sitting at the kid table. When first love comes in the form of first betrayal (he’s Brianne’s boyfriend), Ingrid is forced to question how she fits into her family and what it means to grow up- only to realize that maybe the kid table what where she wanted to be all along.

I was really excited by the concept of this story, as I’m sure many others can relate. Despite the fact that the ‘baby’ of the cousins is almost eighteen, my cousins, siblings and I are still always relegated to the ‘kid table’ at any family function (and I kind of get the feeling that none of us will be moved to the big table anytime soon). I was really interested in the relationship between the cousins and their varying roles within Ingrid’s family (if we are getting personal, I’m definitely an Autumn. To an almost-freaky extent. I also have cousins who scarily resemble Dom and Micah) – though I did find it took me a while to work out who was related to who (thank goodness for the handy-dandy family tree at the beginning for reference). For me, the most enjoyable scenes were those filled with the banter and in-jokes and family anecdotes between the cousins.
I was consistently surprised with Ingrid’s voice as narrative. She’s sharp and makes some quite cutting (and hilarious) observations, and yet there were other moments where I struggled to relate to her, or understand certain actions. I felt like I wanted to really get to know who Ingrid was. Whilst The Kid Table is certainly a coming-of-age story, I couldn’t help but feel a little empty at the ending, like something with Ingrid was lacking (or possibly owing to the fact that I personally couldn’t understand her attraction to/relationship with Trevor).

Backwards step a little – I felt like I enjoyed the cousins-dysfunctional family elements more than I did Ingrid’s narrative. I was really interested in Dom, Micah and darling Cricket (I do have quite a soft spot for her) but had trouble warming to Brianne (who constantly psychoanalyses Ingrid and points out her possibly psychopathic traits, and also, why does no one else in the family seem to tell Brianne to pipe down in these moments? Hmmm).

Anyway, overall The Kid Table is an amusing read, chock-full of anecdotes and observations about families that will surely ring true to most readers. The characterisation of many extended family members is spot-on and enjoyable, but ultimately I struggled to identify with Ingrid's journey of self-discovery (but I could have easily sat through another hundred pages of family dysfunction, her childhood nostaglia and snappy banter with the cousins).

Thanks to Good Golly Miss Holly for hosting the ARC tour which allowed me to read this book!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

1st Birthday Giveaway

Ok, so you probably know by now that I love giving presents - so what better way to help celebrate my blog-birthday than to share some of my favourite things with you! I'm giving one reader a special gift pack consisting of:

♥ A copy of one of my favourite books John Belushi is Dead - Kathy Charles (c'mon you all know I'm a major Kathy fan-girl - she even has her own tag on here!)
♥ Deer letter writing set
♥ Typo mini notebook
♥ Cloud-shaped sticky notes
♥ Sour Zappo tubes (om nom sour-goodness)

To enter - just leave a comment with your name and email address before March 12th.
This giveaway is open internationally and you don't have to be a follower (though it's always appreciated of course!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mixed Bag #31

Whoops! Sorry I didn't get around to doing a Mixed Bag last week. Anyway, here are some of my favourite picks from the web recently:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ Ohhhh check out the fancy-pants new Inside A Dog website! Doesn't it look awesome? I love it!

♥ Dee White tells you why your book deserves a blog tour.

Flavorwire has books that rocked your world at sixteen (but fall flat now).

Percy Jackson sequel could be on it's way (I have to admit I'm surprised, I thought the changes to the first one and the response to the film wouldn't warrant a sequel, as much as I adore the books).

♥ Speaking of film rights, Fox has already acquired Lauren Oliver's Delirium

And a little something to make you giggle - Noel Fielding dancing to Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights

Happy Friday!

My Girl Friday - 1st Birthday!

Want to know something a little bit exciting? Exactly one year ago today, I officially started My Girl Friday. I know a year is kind of nothing in blog years, but this is pretty exciting for me. I'm good at thinking up ideas and getting really excited about them for approximately half an hour and then lose all momentum (and usually collapse in a heap on the couch), so the fact that I've managed to stick with this and write over 200 posts so far is somewhat of a personal achievement.

Anyway, before this gets too mushy, I just wanted to say thanks so much to everyone for reading, commenting and sharing the past year with me. Through this blog, I've been encouraged to attend some fantastic literary events, read some of my new-favourite books and met some of the most amazing, inspiring people (both authors and bloggers). I'm really looking forward to posting some new and (hopefully) fun things here on the blog over the next couple months and am excited to be able to share them all with you!

image source: we ♥ it