Monday, 23 July 2012

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle: Review

 I love retellings. Especially, I love it when an author takes a book/play/poem and spins it so that it is totally different from the original. This was the case with WHEN YOU WERE MINE by Rebecca Serle, a retelling of Romeo & Juliet - from the perspective of Romeo's ex-girlfriend, Rosaline. She was a character in the Shakespeare play, but is only ever mentioned, never shown. However in Serle's contemporary YA version, modern day Californian teenager Rosie is the starring role, along with her best friend-to-boyfriend Rob (Romeo) and her scheming cousin Juliet. Slightly weird for me to read, though, considering my parents are called Rosie and Rob *cringe*!
Here's the Goodreads summary:

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…

Things I loved about WYWM:
- Rosie's friends. Charlie and Olivia, her two best friends, were very real, really 3D characters with their own character traits, personalities, hopes, fears, crushes, and everything you don't see often enough in secondary characters in YA.

- Rob/Romeo. He felt real, and his relationship with Rosie was great. Serle was also good about making the reader fall for him in the beginning, which made it sadder when him and Juliet got together.

- The setting. I read most of this watching the rain sluice down the window here in grey, depressing England, so reading about sunny San Belarino (I think, haven't got the book with me atm) made me happy. It also made me want to live in the US. High school sounds so much more awesome than boring secondary school. Pep rallies, American football games, hot jocks, optional classes like creative writing....

- Len. I didn't like him to start with, but he really grew on me. And he wasn't all piercing green eyes and hulking muscles, either, which made a refreshing change.

Things I didn't love about WYWM:

- Constant reminiscing. I liked the way Serle wove in the characters' past, but when every second sentence was a memory, it grated a bit. Okay, Rosie and Rob were friends for ages. We get it.

- Juliet wasn't very well developed. And no, I'm not being pervy, I mean in the character sense. She came in, was b*tchy, got Rob, etc. Although I did like how she wasn't portrayed as that lovely and tragic. She was portrayed just how I'd imagined Shakespeare's Juliet.

- The ending. Without wanting to give anything away, the ending was a bit rubbish. I wanted wham bam thrilling death pact, or something that makes me gasp, like the original Shakespeare ending. All that suspense leading up to the ineviteable ending, and then...meh.  

But overall, unlike plenty of reviewers on Goodreads, I really enjoyed When You Were Mine. Well worth a read, and definitely pick it up.

What do you think of retellings? Any you read that you think were totally untrue to the characters/plot, or any that you actually prefer to the original? And is it me or is the UK cover (above) much less boring and samey than the US one?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Raven Boys and Author Artwork

So this is sort of a Waiting on Wednesday, just on a Tuesday because I have work tomorrow ;)

I really want to read THE RAVEN BOYS. Like, seriously wishing it could come out in the UK, because I love love loved the WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS series (particularly Shiver) and this has four times the boys.
Oh, and the storyline looks really interesting too.... here's the summary from Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Sounds pretty good, huh? I think Ronan and Noah will be my faves (fun fact: my book THE BRIGHTEST FELL has a Noah AND a Ronan - although mine are a bully and a rugby jock).
But to the second part of this post's title - author artwork.

Maggie Stiefvater is a mega-talented artist, and it was her animated, hand-drawn book trailer for TRB that drew me in. Here it is, in all its cool, artsy glory...

And finally, here's a (very inferior) drawing I did of my main characters from THE BRIGHTEST FELL - India, the FMC isn't in here, it's just the gang of three back when life was good, they ruled the school, and none of them had any idea plans were being laid for their kidnap...
Luke (MMC, witty, womanising rugby player) is the boy leaning against the wall, Noah (good looking, sly, with a twisted streak that means he will happily destroy anyone who hurts one of his best friends) is sitting down, and Rachel (Queen bitch, finds it hard to get on with other girls, but is like a sister to Noah and Luke) is on the table.

(if anyone's interested, here's the link to the blog post I did with more info about the book)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

WIP Wishes (and Wimbledon)

First of all, congrats to our very own Andy Murray for getting into the final of this year's Wimbledon! Never has a tennis ball to an opponent's nether regions been so useful :)
Not that that particular incident was the reason Murray won - just like with writers, he worked long hours at his dream, visualised it and talked about it and practiced some more, and now he's only one (admittedly extremely difficult) game from making history. No pressure, Andy...

But this is vaguely related to writing, I promise. Just like tennis players wanting to win certain tournaments, many writers have plans for books they want to write, one day but not now. For example, really wanting to write a dystopian when you know it will be very difficult to sell.

I've got a few themes I'd love to explore, I just don't know how I'm going to do it.

- I'd love to write a road trip novel. I can't yet because I am woefully undertravelled in Britain (we usually go to Austria/France/Switzerland on holiday, or when we stay here we only go one county away in Cornwall). So that'll have to wait till I'm older and wiser.

-I'd also love to write a ghost story, a really chilling one for older teens. Something like ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD or UNREST by Michelle Harrison.

- I really want to write a book set in an old, crumbling country house. I write contemporary YA, though, so it's pretty difficult to fit a story to that.

- Finally, a book in 1st person, present tense. I've read so many amazing 1stP,PT novels, like CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers and BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz. I just need to learn to write one.

But if you've got ideas of books that you're sure are too niche to sell, or books that are so unconventional/unpopular/so popular you can't get agents interested, don't worry. Sometimes, like Andy Murray getting into the Wimbledon finals, unexpected and brilliant things happen...

Did anyone watch the tennis yesterday, and Andy's triumph? And who else has ideas on the backburner that they aren't planning/writing, for whatever reason? And finally, you all should read UNREST. It is tres awesome.