Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
(While we're on the subject of reviews, sorry for my lack thereof- that's going to change, I promise :))
Thanks so much to Yvonne Prinz, author of the fantastic book The Vinyl Princess (my review here), for this interview!
A short bio of Yvonne: Yvonne and her husband own the largest indie record store in the world, Ameoba Records, in California. The Vinyl Princess is her first YA novel, and she also has a middle grade series about a girl named Claire, who is always getting into trouble. She also has a new book coming out in December, "All You Get is Me," which Prinz describes as a modern-day "To Kill A Mocking Bird".
So, here's the interview:
1. Were you anything like Allie when you were growing up?
I was very much like Allie, I worked in a record store in Canada when I was sixteen and I absolutely lived for music.
2. Did you listen to a lot of music while you were writing? If so, what?
I did, actually. Usually I find it too distracting but I wanted the energy of the music to inform my writing. I listened to Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, really, all the music that appears in the book was sitting next to me as I wrote.
3. What inspired you to write The Vinyl Princess?
Owning a record store did. I felt like it's an unexplored culture for a lot of people, sad, because it's been so scaled back and wonderful because it brings out the most interesting people. I set out to re-create what I'd seen every day working at Amoeba in Berkeley.
4. Tell us about your amazing record store, Amoeba Records.
We started as a sort of mom and pop kind of place in Berkeley 1990 but it just sort of took off. Now we have a big store on Haight Street in SF and an even bigger store in LA on Sunset Blvd. We do free live shows all the time and we cater to the collectors as well as the people who didn't grow up with record stores. Each store has it's own personality.
5. How and when did you start collecting records, and how many do you own?
I was hooked when my Dad brought home Abby Road when I was a kid. I started collecting then but I left that collection when I moved from Canada to California so I had to start over. I've never actually counted my records but my collection has morphed with my husband's and we must have thousands.
6. What song best describes you?
That changes daily. Right now it's "The First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes.
7. In the book, Allie puts an Elvis Costello quote on her blog, about how the mp3 has "dismantled" the record. Is that how you feel about digital downloading, and what's your opinion on the future of vinyl and indie record stores?
Well, I think we all have to accept that downloading is here to stay. I'm excited to see that turntables are now readily available at your local Target store. I sure didn't predict that, and young kids are embracing vinyl! Man, that does my heart good. I think we can all agree that nothing compares to breaking the seal on a new vinyl record and spinning it for your friends to hear. The stores are fast disappearing but long live Amoeba!
8. Are you working on any other books right now?
I have a new book coming out in December called "All You Get Is Me". It's a sort of a "To Kill A Mockingbird" for these times with Mexican Migrant Farmworkers at it's center.
9. Will the be a sequel to The Vinyl Princess?
People seem to want one but who knows? Where would I take Allie next? If you can think of somewhere, let me know.
Thanks again to Yvonne Prinz!
Her new book: All You Get is Me
Friday, June 25, 2010
Title: The Vinyl Princess
Author: Yvonne Prinz
Publisher/ Release Date: HarperTeen (December 22, 2009)
# of Pages (Hardcover): 320
MSRP (Hardcover): $16.99
Summary (courtesy of Amazon): Summer is here, and 16-year-old Allie, a self-professed music geek, is exactly where she wants to be: working full-time at Berkeley’s ultra-cool Bob and Bob Records. There, Allie can spend her days bantering with the street people, talking the talk with the staff, shepherding the uncool bridge-and-tunnel shoppers, all the while blissfully surrounded by music, music, music. It’s the perfect setup for her to develop her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess, author of both a brand-new zine and blog. From the safety of her favourite place on earth, Allie is poised to have it all: love, music and blogging. Her mother, though, is actually the one getting the dates, and business at Allie’s beloved record store is becoming dangerously slow—not to mention that there have been a string of robberies in the neighbourhood. At least her blog seems to be gaining interest, one vinyl junkie at a time….
I know it's only about mid-year, but the Vinyl Princess is, hands-down, the best book I've read in 2010. I love everything about it: the characters, the setting, the countless musical references, and most importantly, the subject of vinyl and vinyl culture, and how it needs to be preserved. If we don't, we won't meet people like Allie, our protagonist, who knows everything you could ever want to know about music, looks like, according to her, "the child of Sid Vicious," and considers her thousands of LP's a modest collection- can we really afford to lose awesome people like this?
My favorite thing about this book was the characters. Heavy readers of YA chick-lit will recognize the character archetypes: the sharp, witty protagonist, the lovable (if, at times, ditzy) best friend, the guy who isn't what he seems, and the guy who has been there all along. But they aren't flat stereotypes- Prinz's characters are all painted wonderfully, with their own unique and engaging personalities. And side characters are cast aside and treated as plot devices, either, with each one carefully crafted- even the ones that don't do or say much speak volumes about Allie and her world.
I also loved the setting of Prinz's novel, Telegraph Avenue. Full of more hippies, "bridge-and-tunnel shoppers", and other unconventional populace than you've ever laid eyes on, Telegraph Avenue is a great reflection of the book overall: quirky, funny, and full of surprises.
But my very favorite thing about this book is the way music plays such a big part in it. Good music, too: Just flipping through this book, there's references to everyone from Bob Dylan to the Avett Brothers to the Beatles and Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen and... *takes a breath* Well, you get the point. Allie basically has the best taste in music ever. If you're an "audiophile", too, you might see references that remind you of an old favorite, and if you're don't know much about music, this book is practically a field guide to records.
Overall, in The Vinyl Princess, we find a funny, true voice that needs to be heard, one speaking out for indie record store culture and for the preservation of vinyl in general. Not only that, but it teaches our generation, living in the age of digital downloading, to love vinyl again. There book shows the beauty of the physical involvement in putting on a record, examining it breathlessly for scratches, and enjoying it like the girl on the cover: the waves of nostalgia, the familiarity of the crackling on a well-worn record. And there's something for everyone in this book: romance, music, fashion, drama, and a little bit of crime mystery, too. Read this book in your attic on an old bean bag chair with a stack of carefully selected records, and enjoy.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
(Hey, sorry I've become one of those blogging people who don't publish comments forEVER, and only post once every 10 days or so!)
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme telling about books borrowed from friends, gotten from libraries, bought, review copies, anyway you obtain them, created by Kristi at The Story Siren.
I haven't been getting a lot of books lately (I'm on a drawing craze right now: actually, I'm racing to finish this post so I can do my Inu-Yasha and Kagome sketch... *blush* I'm a regular otaku now), but the ones I do get are turning out to be great- well, for the most part :P
Mercury by Hope Larson
Runaway by Meg Cabot
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou
Old School by Tobias Wolff
The Waters and The Wild- Francesca Lia Block
Ivy by Julie Hearn
I'm really excited about the library books I got, especially Runaway, the 3rd (and I think final? Can anyone confirm that?) book in the Airhead series, which I love. Being Nikki didn't live up to my expectations, but this one is showing promise. I got books from all different genres and subjects, and I can't wait to read them :) Mercury is wonderful: interesting story, but the art definitely isn't your conventional and beautiful. And David Sedaris' essays are hilarious :)
Happy reading all, I hope you had a great week in books!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Pretty self-explanatory title.
Posted by Meggin (Serendipity Reviews) at 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Title: Flower In A Storm Vol. 1
Author: Shigeyoshi Takagi
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
MSRP: $9.99 US
Pages: 200 (paperback)
Riko is a normal girl (as we are constantly and overly informed in each episode) with un-normal superstrength. Until the day when Ran Tachibana, rich heir of the famous Tachibana family, breaks into her classroom, claiming her as his bride. When Riko refuses, he gives her until 5 o'clock to to escape him and he'll let her go. While Ran has unlimited money and infinite favors, Riko has superhuman strength.
First of all, the characters. Riko is constantly reiterating that she's "just your ordinary, every-day high school girl" (often said as she's running insanely fast, saving balloons for children, and generally putting her superhuman abilities to use), and it's obvious she just wants to belong. However, it's constantly being repeated gets tired quickly, loses all its irony, and starts to feel like the author felt we wouldn't get it. Riko isn't a character I'm particularly attached to, but she is a very interesting character, and very realistic, because she's just like any other insecure teen, trying to hide what makes her special because it's what she's been taught she should do.
And then, there's Ran. Ran is also an interesting character, charming, creepy, odd, and lovable, all at the same time. It's obvious he really is in love with Riko, and his sincere adoration for her is something I definitely liked: but it doesn't change his stalking her, and being slightly insane. Overall, they're a cute, strong main pair.
But they're the only strong characters: supporting characters, like Riko's friends (the shaved-headed student council member was good for a laugh or two, but not much else), he assassin, etc. have no personality and are really flat and one-dimensional, which is disappointing. The side characters are basically just there for the sake of the plot, which isn't how it should be.
The dialogue was pretty weak, even at times between Riko and Ran, especially at the beginning. It seemed a little awkward and repetitive, weirdly worded: but once you got more familiar with the characters, the dialogue got better, and was redeemed by Ran's romantic gestures.
And then there's the plot. Ran chasing after Riko only lasts through the first episode or so, and after that, you'd think the- admittedly shallow- plot would sort of fizzle away. But I felt like the author did a great job with it from there: every chapter has crazy, often funny misadventures of Riko and Ran as Riko slowly starts coming around to Ran.
The art wasn't particularly special, just your traditional shojo style: big eyes, unnatural beauty, inordinate amounts of rose petals floating around. But, it's still very pretty, and nice to look at and try to draw.
There's also a bonus manga, called The Need For Artificial Respiration. It's a nice contrast to Flower, more serious and realistic, and its shortness leaves it feeling even more poignant. On the other hand, Flower in A Storm feels kind of rushed and unreal.
Overall, this manga definitely has its flaws: lacking side characters, a slightly shallow plot, and repetitive chapter beginnings, but if you're new to manga, it's definitely worth a try, and I still loved it anyways. I recommend picking it up at the library (or used on Amazon) if you see it.
(By the way, the 2nd and final volume is out August 3rd!)
I listened to it all the way through just now, and I think I'm in love. Kind of folksy and sweet, reminiscent of The Strokes in some ways (by the way, Little Joy is the side project of the Strokes' drummer, it's not just some out-of-the-blue comparison), but definitely not an interpretation. My favorite track is Unattainable.)