Read in October 2014…

27 10 2014

Wolf in White VanWolf in White Van (by John Darnielle)

This book is easily going to make my top 10 of the year. I haven’t read any of the other books of the National Book Award long list, but they must be darn good for this one not to be a finalist, because, holy crap, this is a damn fine piece of writing. Strongly recommended to people who like good shit.

4 whole stars

WeWereLiarsWe Were Liars (by e. Lockhart)

I admit to finally having given in to the hype (my first mistake, given my not so good track record with e. Lockhart’s books). Admittedly,the “mystery” kept me going until the end, and makes this a short little pageturner. But now I can say also once and for all that e. Lockhart’s books are just not for me. I absolutely hate the white privilege ‘woe is me’ rants of most of her main characters I have read. I have no sympathy for the main characters whatsoever and the literary techniques used by Lockhart here feel very try-hardy… It’s not about ‘sympathetic characters’ at all (I could care less about nice or not in a book, I don’t even care for nice in real life), I just find no connection between myself and this book…at all…ever. And I want to read books that *I* connect to, in whatever form: characters, style, world, anything…but here’s it’s just not there. I recognize that Lockhart can write a book, but they’re just not for me.

3 stars objectively / 2 stars for me

Out of the pocket (by Bill Konigsberg)

I think this is an incredibly important book content-wise but I was really disappointed with the execution of it. Konigsberg ‘s sophomore novel Openly Straight is in that respect clearly a step up from this debut novel.Out of the pocket

3.5 stars for story / 2 stars for style

Not exactly a love story (by Audrey Couloumbis)

Cutesy love/friendship love story set in the 1970s, which reminded me a lot of Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot for some reason. It has the same vibe going on, only a little more stalkerish… (that sounded worse than it was!)

3 stars

She is not invisible (by Marcus Sedgwick)SINI_CVR_FINAL

This is an ‘I liked it’ Sedgwick novel and not an ‘I loved it Sedgwick’ novel. There’s no denying that Sedgwick has talent coming out of his ears and is great at multiple genres over the age-ranges (I mean Revolver and The Raven Mysteries are so different and yet so very typically Sedgwick at the same time…)… but for some reason, I love Sedgwick a whole lot more when he does the whole ‘atmosphere’ thing, rather than the somewhat meager ‘whodunnit’ thing like we get in She is not invisible, especially when the plot is well…rather thin.

3 stars.



What is worth reading:

  • The piece A.S. King wrote for the ALAN Review:

2014-10-20 18.33.31


  • And look here:



Still in the pipeline: a review for Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles.

Openly Straight (by Bill Konigsberg)

9 02 2014

Because I have noticed how easily my students are seduced by the cover of a book (Winger, Reality Boy and Boy Toy have all been great hits because of them recently and they have one thing in common: bright and lively, and all very ‘simple’) I do want to mention the great looking cover of Openly Straight: it’s simple and clear and an immediate eye-catcher[1]. But what my hardcover-loving heart loves even more about this edition is how beautifully the icons are presented on the hardcover itself. The attention to detail just won this cat over immediately… (the photo may not do it justice):


As for the book itself – which is obviously still the most important thing, don’t judge a book by its cover and all that, even though it does help – this is much more ‘complex’ than the ‘simple’ cover might suggest. Rafe is an openly gay kid. At least he was at his previous high school in Boulder, Colorado (which I didn’t know seems to have this reputation as being very free-spirited?). But when he starts attending a new all boys boarding school he doesn’t want the label ‘gay kid’ to define how people see him anymore and decides to just not mention his sexual preferences. He claims it’s not about going back into the closet but to just try and forge friendships with people (boys) without having to be seen as “the gay guy”. Being “the gay kid” sort of limited his options in Boulder, he knows he’s more than just that (like maybe he could also be “a jock”), but never got the chance to show that to the others, and he fears the same may become true in Natick, Massachusetts. But obviously things are much more complex than just “not mentioning you’re gay”, especially when Rafe forms a really close friendship with a boy, Ben, at his new school.


Openly Straight is a sweet (and sometimes really funny) sort of book about a completely serious topic: how labels can define who you are, and how to defy labels. It’s also a story about a boy who needs to learn how to stay true to himself. Rafe needs to figure out whether he’s ultimately not losing part of who he is by trying to get rid of “the label”. In doing so, Rafe also does some really questionable stuff and it’s hard to not see some of the things he does as openly self-centred…. However, Openly Straight also hosts a great set of secondary characters, which is a nice bonus, even though some of them tend towards the more stereotypically “quirky” (yes, quirky has now also become a stereotype 😉 ).

[1] And made me think immediately of David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, which also had that cool cover!

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