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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: Good Oil by Laura Buzo


Release Date: August, 2010
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Realistic/Contemporary Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 300
Source: Bought

Blurb (from allenandunwin.com)

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.’

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the six-year difference in their ages may as well be 100.

Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

The Quickie Review

Laura Buzo has woven a beautiful story of first love and growing up all set around the aptly named Land of Dreams (Chris’ name for Woolworths or Woolies as it’s so fondly named by the Aussie public, which is a large supermarket chain in Australia for all you non Aussies reading this). It’s a story of one who is just entering young adulthood and another who is leaving it but both are trying to understand and find their place in the world.

Good Oil engross you from page one with two utterly complex yet relatable characters, the shy, smart Amelia and the boisterous, fun loving Chris, both of who I adored. It’s cute, it’s bittersweet and it’s 'a little bit heartbreaking' but it’s also beautifully honest and well worth reading. Laura Buzo has made a definite impact on me and, fingers crossed, the Aussie YA literary world as well, I hope she has many more books to come.

The Full Blown Review

15 year old Amelia works at Woolworths or as her favourite fellow worker Chris calls it ‘The Land of Dreams’ and it is indeed ‘The Land of Dreams’ for Amelia who soon develops her first all consuming crush on her 21 year old co-worker which quickly and unexpectedly turns into her first love (her realization or ‘ah-ha’ moment that she’s in love with Chris happens sitting on the couch watching TV with her little sister). Unfortunately for Amelia Chris, at first, doesn’t even remotely think of Amelia that way. Both Amelia and Chris see something in each other and their friendship develops over the course of the novel, however will Chris ever be able to overcome the 6 year age gap between them to see Amelia as she wants to be seen in his eyes?

Good Oil is told in dual narratives between 15 year old Amelia and 21 year old Chris through his diary entries, I loved how we got both of their perspectives about their relationship and also what each one was feeling and how they interpreted each other at the time. I guess what amazed me with this book was that the Amelia and Chris were so well developed and real that I could relate to both of them, which often isn’t the case in many novels, I mean one sure but both, not usually.

I loved Amelia she had this childish innocence to her that we all used to have, some more than others. Reading through Amelia’s narrative gave me flash backs to my teen years, trying to navigate through the murky waters of high school whilst also trying to understand where you fit into the overall picture world. Heck I was Amelia, I was frustrated with my parents on many an occasion, just like Amelia I hated my mothers smoking with a passion always making a point that it annoyed the crap out of me and yet she still continued with it, I was dealing with pushy and loud school boys going to and from school (only I got this privilege not only on a bus but a tram and train as well), I went to a girls school that had defined social hierarchies and it’s safe to say I was not in the ‘popular’ group, the only teenage boy contact I had was with my brother who it must be said barely tolerated me, one of my best friends abruptly (like literally overnight) went gaga for boys and suddenly I was in this place feeling alone and left out of it all, ah yes the teen years, lot of angst, I remember it well.

I also understood where Chris was coming from, he’s in his last year of an arts degree and what the heck is he going to do? I could totally understood his reasons for doing an honours year because that was me 2 years ago, I mean for me finishing uni and finding a job was just too unthinkable, especially because I did a degree with not too many great job prospects so what did I go and do? A masters degree, problem solved, but this didn’t really solve anything as I finish this year and once again I’m at the crossroads Chris was at, what am I going to do when I finish? Which BTW, just like Chris, annoys the crap out of me when people ask me that question, I don’t know what I’m going to do but it will come to me eventually people! Sorry about that little rant anyway where was I oh yes Chris. What I also really love was how whilst he at first appears to the reader as this really chipper, happy go lucky guy from Amelia’s observations we learn from Chris' perspective that he feels like he’s alone, just like Amelia, and his life is a mess. It appears to Chris that everyone seems to be moving on with their lives post uni whilst he’s stuck in the same place doing the same things watching everyone passing him bye. He’s also trying to deal with his growing feelings for ‘the youngster’ which he sees as inappropriate because of their age gap even though Chris can really talk to Amelia and she makes him really think and question his previous notions of whatever subject they’re talking about. Chris also made some mistakes that annoyed me no end, there was one particular incident, why Chris, why I was asking myself but that’s what people do, they make mistakes and that’s what makes a character real. So I guess what I loved about Chris was how Laura so clearly conveyed his feelings of despair and hopelessness he had for his life, it was so well written that I really understood where he was coming from because I’ve been there and what do you know I seem to be back there again, eek!

It is also evident Laura knows her literature with sprinklings of references from The Great Gatsby to Great Expectations and The Catcher in the Rye. Pop cultural references also abound, my personal favourite was when Chris was describing having his heart ripped out à la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I love that these literary and pop cultural references are written so effortlessly throughout the book it makes for some really funny and engaging conversations between Amelia and Chris.

I knew throughout the book that logically there was only one possible ending and whilst both Amelia and Chris did connect intellectually the age gap between the two was simply too big, Amelia still has a lot of growing up to do and more to experience of the world, Chris on the other hand also has a lot of growing up to do but his is different from Amelia’s because they are in completely different stages in their lives. I’ve read the word bittersweet to describe the ending and I’m of the same opinion, it is bittersweet but there is the eternal flame of hope left for the two which for me is hopefully *crosses fingers and toes* a follow up to this book, I would sell my soul for a sequel, dramatic much, me?

To be quite frank I have fallen head over heels for this book, just like Amelia did for Chris!

Rating

5 out of 5

There’s Another Book?!?

So I’m not sure if there is going to be a sequel to Good Oil (one can only hope there will be, oh please, please) but there is good news as Laura is signed to Allen & Unwin to write two young adult novels, so there is definitely another YA novel in Laura’s future! [Source]

Goodies


About the Author

Laura Buzo was born and grew up in Sydney, middle of three daughters. Growing up she loved swimming, riding horses, tennis, netball, running, chocolate and above all, reading. After university, Laura worked as a social worker in various acute and community-based mental health settings in Sydney. In 2005 she took some time away from work to start writing her first novel, Good Oil. Laura is still working as a social worker and has a young daughter. She lives in Sydney. [Source]

Buy the Book


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Saving June by Hannah Harrington



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" is:

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Release Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult

When model student June Scott kills herself on the brink of high school graduation, no one is more shocked than her sixteen-year-old sister Harper. Things go from bad to worse after her nosy evangelical aunt moves in to take care of her mom, and when her estranged parents decide to split June’s ashes between them, it’s the last straw. Harper knows she has to take serious action— action that takes form in plotting with her best friend to spread the ashes in the one place June always wanted to live: the California coast.

Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a classic rock obsession, a bad attitude, and nothing in common with straight-laced June. But after he crashes June’s wake, Harper is sure he knows more about her sister than he’s letting on. Her suspicions only deepen when he discovers the plan to steal the urn and decides he wants in, for reasons he’s none too forthcoming to explain.

Of course, once they’re on the road, things don’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped. First there’s a brush with the law during an anti-war protest gone bad. And if it’s not trying to avoid arrest, it’s dealing with angry threats from parents, public brawls in underground punk clubs, and more accidental detours than Harper can count.

Complicating things even more is her growing attraction to Jake; she’s drawn to his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor, and his unwavering faith in the idea that music can see you through anything. It might be exactly what she needs.

What Harper doesn’t know is that he has a secret with the power to turn her life upside-down— again.

Wow, that’s a long summary but my interest in this book has piqued, I want to know what the secret Jake has that could turn June’s life upside down. I know it sounds like Saving June could turn into a very predictable book, you know quiet shy girl falls for the bad boy, but I do like the whole dealing with grief aspect of the novel so hopefully Saving June won’t be too predictable and contrived, as it’s my WOW pick I’m confident I won’t be disappointed. I’m pretty sure I’ve mention this before but what the heck I’ll mention it again I’ve got this love of books dealing with death and grief, I don’t know what it is I just love reading about how characters deal with their grief, there are so many ways in which it can be expressed and it never fails to astound me how authors can talk about it so eloquently whilst also keeping it very real. Saving June is also a Contemps Challenge book, so get ready to read this all you challenge readers!

The Hunger Games Movie has a release date!



Now, now calm down, your eyes do not deceive you there is indeed a release date for The Hunger Games Movie, March 23rd 2012, I’m so excited *squee*.

The release date was revealed by Entertainment Weekly, here’s what they had to say about it:

“Game on! Lionsgate has announced to EW that The Hunger Games, the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ futuristic YA thriller about scrapper Katniss Everdeen and her fight to survive a brutal reality TV contest, will be released on March 23, 2012. Director Gary Ross recently revealed to EW that he aims to go into production of the first installment of Collins’ trilogy later this spring”. [Karen Valby]

So there you have it! I’m really interested in finding out who they are going to cast as Katniss, because I have a feeling the actor they choose will either make or break the movie as Katniss is The Hunger Games for me.

So what do you guys think of The Hunger Games Movie, are you as excited as I am to see it brought to life?

And the Winners of Mercy by Rebecca Lim are …


I know I’ve been MIA for the past week (sorry guys) but I just had to take a break from everything for a little bit but now I’m back and ready to announce the winners of my giveaway, yay!











I just want to thank everyone who entered I had a great response which I wasn’t expecting as it was only open to Australian residents and the last one I had for Australian residents only didn’t get too many entries (compared to my international giveaways). Perhaps more Aussies are reading my blog!

So without further ado the winners of Mercy by Rebecca Lim are ….

* Sophie
* Aik from ‘The Bookaholics

Congratulations to the winners and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #22


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab you current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s teaser is from The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger, I never even knew such an acronym even existed but it must, all I know is it’s not a very nice one, I mean who would come up with such a term, oh yeah teenage boys! So far I’m loving this novel, I don’t want to put it down. Ever since I first heard about The DUFF I wanted to read it and I’ve had high expectations and so far I’m not disappointed, I love Bianca’s voice whilst she may be sarcastic and act as though nothing fazes her she’s really a softie on the inside and Wesley’s pretty swoon worthy even though he was a huge ass at the start. Don’t you just love the cover as much as I do? It’s so fun, I love the back as well it’s this great combination of bright yellow and pink!


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“Everything flooded back, and I suddenly remembered exactly who I was kissing. I tore my hands out of his hair and shoved him away from me as hard as I could.”
- p. 30, The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
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About Me

Romy @ Lost.in.Stories
Greetings fellow blog readers, welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by. Now you may be wondering who is lost.in.stories? Well lost.in.stories is also known as Romy, a 23 year old graduate student from Australia who loves to read. I read (maybe devour would be a more appropriate word) largely young adult novels, with a particular love of fantasy and paranormal novels, however I am also a sucker for a good romance.
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