Wednesday 27 March 2013

Review: Irresistible by Liz Bankes

This is is right out of my comfort zone, being teen chick-lit, and normally I'd never even pick it up, but that's the advantage of meeting the author.

I first met Liz Bankes at an event for Arabesque at Foyles Bookshop, London. Liz was there as a blogger. What I didn't realise was that Liz was also in the process of nailing a job as an Editorial Assistant to an amazing indie publisher. (Catnip!)

We met up again at the FCBG conference where I discovered she is also an author. So I grabbed a copy of Irresistible, but stupidly forgot to get Liz to sign it (doh!). Actually, I came away with loads of books, so I thought I might do a few reviews. Here's the first...

Irresistible is a 1st person YA romance with a sprinkling of black humour. Mia gets a job at a right posh restaurant/club/castle type thing. The sort of place that has £1000 bottles of wine in it's cellar, secret passageways in the walls and gardens to get lost in. Posh! Now, bearing in mind that I'm totally unqualified to review chick-lit, let's put this into terms I understand. Love triangle: Mia, Dan and Jamie. Dan works in the kitchen. Simple, safe. Jamie is the son of the owner, spoilt, good looking and an utter twat.

Erm... I really enjoyed it, probably because what Liz does well is create a believable, likeable, fallible baddie. Jamie is arrogant, controlling and destructive. At first, he comes across as all-powerful and completely condescending, but bit by bit, the power struggle shows signs of shifting and that he might possibly develop some level of respect for another human being, to the point where Mia has him eating out of her thighs hands. Actually, that joke isn't far fetched. I found it very interesting to see how far YA chick-lit goes. At the start, we are given a hint that Jamie can give orgasms just by kissing. At some point, the author had to deliver on that one. Ding dong!

Anyway, moving on... there is a lot of humour in this book - well timed and well delivered, but not enough to make it a comic novel. After speaking to Liz in person, I get the feeling that she's got a lot more to offer in this vein, so if laugh-out-loud, embarrassing, gut churning rom-com is your thing, then Liz Bankes is an author to be watched.

FCBG Conference 2013

The Federation of Children's Book Groups is a national organisation made up of volunteer parents, teachers and librarians who love children's books so much, they actively promote and introduce them to children in their local areas. Each year they have a conference. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited along.

Culford School - big, old, and probably haunted.

I was gobsmacked really, considering other writers included Melvin Burgess, Eoin Colfer, Michelle Paver and Marcus Sedgewick. Well, okay - they were on the main stage and my seminar was on the second floor in a haunted classroom, but it was still cool to be in the same place.

A snow storm battered the country this weekend, which made the drive up to the school postcard perfect. I even saw little deer-things. Like dogs on long legs, so I think they were deer, or deerlets, or something.

The driveway leading to Culford School

Still on the driveway to Culford School, passing a church.

The talks were fantastic. Gill Lewis even gave us a home-made animation, Sally Nichols sold the Black Death as an alternative to dystopian fiction and Melvin Burgess debunked the myth that YA novels are all negative, misery and issues.

Rachel Ward, Graham Marks and Melvin Burgess

I loved Emma Chichester Clark's amazing PlumDog blog (here's a link) which made me want to go out and get a dog (I really hope my kids aren't reading this). Liz Pichon was equally brilliant. The result of these two talks got me to buy a few pencils, come home and doodle - and thanks to a breakfast conversation with Pip from Bounce, I know exactly what I'm going to draw!

My own seminar went well. It covered time management, family stories, warts, blood splatters, acoustic guitar and the reason I'll never be a rock star.

To end this post, here's a photo of the toilet I found when I got lost. It was installed in the school back in 1905 to get ready for a Royal Visit and has since been referred to as the King's Toilet.

The King's Toilet - a 100 year old bog!

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