Tuesday, December 11, 2012

C.J. Skuse, A Talent That Deserves A Double Feature Review

I wanted to showcase this incredible author in a special way. So I decided to do a double feature review that showcases both of her books. I fell in love with her writing and her pop culture references to “The Goonies” and “Harry and The Henderson’s” An author that can include a bit of my childhood in her books is talented in my eyes. But seriously I came across this author while trying to find a good book to read and came across a trailer for her debut YA book Pretty Bad Things. I read Rockoholic first because I was able to find it at my bookstore then downloaded Pretty Bad Things. I even came across a YouTube video of C.J. Skuse discussing her book and books that influenced her writing. After listening to her she became one of my favorite authors. I hope she writes more because I love how she throws her characters in your face. So read how much I loved her books and I hope you decide to read her work, I promise you’ll have a good time.

I have been obsessed with getting my hands on Rockoholic because of the very original concept. A girl goes to a rock concert and winds up kidnapping the lead singer, and then the hostage doesn’t want to leave? I knew this book would be tons of fun and C.J. Skuse did not disappoint with her vibrant characters that each have their moment in the spotlight. Jody with good intention stalker tendencies, Mac the best friend who just wants to be seen, and Jackson the egotistical rocker that seeks an escape are three characters that do not grace the page, they create a three person stampede across it. Skuse creates a one of a kind story of loss, friendship, and love that isn’t the typical read amongst the teen shelves.



She's got it bad, and he ain't good -- he's in her garage?
Gonna have to face it: Jody's addicted to Jackson Gatlin, frontman of The Regulators, and after her best bud Mac scores tickets, she's front and center at his sold-out concert. But when she gets mashed in the moshpit, loses her precious moon rock, and bodysurfs backstage, she ends up with more than a mild concussion to deal with. By the next morning, the strung-out rock star is coming down in her garage. Jody -- oops -- kind of kidnapped him. By accident. And now he doesn't want to leave.

It's a rock-star abduction worthy of an MTV reality series . . . but who got punk'd?!

With the loss of her most excellent grandfather, Jody is destined for a path of self-discovery. Even though she worships Jackson Gatlin, lead singer of the Regulators, she’s still likable. Her tendency to over idolize the rock star does cause turbulence with her best friend Mac who entertains her obsession up until the kidnapping of course. Jackson himself demolishes this obsession with his personal life that Jody is not prepared to see. What I enjoyed most about Jody’s character were her memories with her grandfather and how he influenced her. When she shares this part of her she gives an impression that anyone who befriends her is privileged.

Jackson is a stuck up, ego maniac who doesn’t care about anything, at first. He is burnt out, to a crisp from the rocker life and goes through a very dramatic turning point in front of Jody. His saving grace is his sense of humor and once he gets over himself he turns out to be the person who helps Jody see what she never though she could have. Even though his dialogue may seem very ugly in the beginning, he winds up being a great anchor for the book.

Mac is perfection. He is the super friend with a blazing red cape. Mac is my favorite character because of the originality that C.J. Skuse provided him with. He is a singer/actor who has landed the lead as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in town. He always puts his family and friends first and would do anything for Jody. He’s the voice of reason for Jody that she doesn’t always listen to. I think Mac struggles with people realizing that he has his own life. He is committed to his dream on stage but feels he has to be there for everyone else. C.J. Skuse does an incredible job at providing readers with the detail to imagine Mac perform on stage. She gives him his moment and it’s wonderful.

I must talk about my two favorite scenes in Rockoholic. First I laughed out loud when Jackson realizes the truth behind Jody’s grandfather’s death. This sounds a bit grim I know, but after reading about her crazy gramps throughout the book he gets wrapped up in this perfect package when Jackson laughs at Jody’s story. The second is sort of a combination of two scenes. The dressing room scene where Mac prepares for his show is so perfectly written that I read it four times. Great tension that will lead readers to a screen worthy ending that’s right up their with ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Say Anything’.

I highly recommend this book for music lovers and readers who just want an off the wall good time. Sure it’s got some language and a bit of laughable nakedness that readers may not be used to but so what! Read Rockoholic and take a chance on C.J. Skuse. She is a daring author that deserves attention here in the U.S.

Pretty Bad Things was C.J. Skuse’s debut YA book that not many Americans are familiar with. I read it right after I finished Rockoholic and loved that it went against the curve of typical teen books that feel a romance must be included in almost everything. This is a retelling of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Twin brother and sister Paisley and Beau are on a sweet tooth crime spree in order to find their dad. Now C.J. Skuse does not hold back with her characters, thank goodness. They are loud firecrackers that are ready to leap at you and I loved it. People who do not like bad language or the discussion of sex, drugs and alcohol may find Pretty Bad Things difficult to get through. I am no such person. I’m always willing to give a book a chance only because I hate missing an opportunity on a great story like this one.



"Wonder Twins" on the run--and running amok--in Vegas. Road Trip!
Paisley and Beau are boldface names again. Last time, paparazzi called them the "Wonder Twins," two kids found alone but alive in the woods of exotic New Jersey. Three days after their mom's death -- and before their dad's criminal misdeeds.

Flash-forward to now: Their so-called lives? Suck out loud: Hating on their cougarized, Botoxic grandma, they're totally clueless about the location of ex-con Daddy. Till they discover a stash of old letters. That's when they decide to jack the Pontiac and hit the road. Holding up donut shops in Sin City might seem extreme, but if they can just get their pretty bad faces back on TV -- or TMZ -- they might wrap up their whole gaga saga with an Oprah-worthy reunion already!

Paisley, Paisley, Paisley…you are such an angry girl. Rightfully so, she has been through a lot. Readers may find her hard to like because of her disrespectful tendencies, her early sexual escapades and her pattern for destruction. But I appreciated her drive to find her dad. That’s all she is really, a girl who just wants to be with her dad. How can you not root for a girl with a simple demand. She makes a lot of mistakes that get her and her brother Beau into trouble and has a lot of regret. She’s painfully real but loves big.

Beau is described as a handsome guy who is actually bullied at school. He’s very timid in the beginning but with the help of his sister comes out of his shell. He loves his sister a lot and knows that as long as he’s with her he’s okay, excluding the crime spree. He’s so desperate to find their dad that he agrees with Paisley’s plan of robbing candy stores and doughnut shops. He just wants his family back and knows this may be the only way to show their dad they love him and want him back in their lives.

I was drawn to this story because of the twin aspect. I have my own tiny “Wonder Twins” at home and found the relationship between Paisley and Beau authentic. I found it incredibly sweet how these two shared their memories while growing up. It made me root for them and laugh with them during their typical brother and sister quarrels. I think the theme of the book is family and what actions you would take to hold onto that. Paisley and Beau prove they are not very good apart, but together can do anything. So for the readers who find Pretty Bad Things difficult to get through because of the realistic detail C.J. Skuse provides, ask yourself what lengths you’d go to or the person you’d become if your family was taken away from you.   

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