Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kody Keplinger's A Midsummer's Nightmare Cover Reveal

So everyone! Kody Keplinger's third novel, A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, is arriving in a few months, and today, she is revealing its cover, with a giveaway and everything. In case you have not yet heard of this lovely book, here is its summary:

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorce dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancee and her kids. The fiancee's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great. 

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together. 

It sounds great, doesn't it? To win a signed ARC, visit Kody's blog and enter her giveaway! (By the way: bonus entry if you follow any of the blogs that are participating in her cover reveal.) And now, here is her cover, which is so perfectly summery:

(cover may still have some minor tweaks before AMN hits stores)
Now get yourselves to Kody's blog immediately, and enter to win that ARC!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Self-esteem is for everyone.

I have been debating for a while—a long, long while—about whether or not to write this post, but finally, I just saw one “thin people are disgusting” Facebook meme (or whatever you’d like to call it) too many, and I can't hold it in anymore, so here we go.

I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently, it does. Problems with body image and low self-esteem can happen at any body size. To anyone. You might hate your own figure and envy someone else’s, but they might hate theirs and envy yours.

Yeah this image makes me ragey.
That image to the left there? It’s my least favorite that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it at least four times on Facebook in the last couple months. Giving the benefit of the doubt to whoever created this, and to all the people who are passing it along, I assume the message here is supposed to be that you should be happy with who you are and not try to diet yourself into an unobtainable version of perfection only truly achievable with lots of photoshop, and that’s a great message. But it’s not the message that I’m receiving, sitting here on my tiny little butt and looking at this.

What it does is remind me of the voice that used to whisper to me when I was younger: Your arms are creepy. Your knees stick out. People probably think you have an eating disorder. In fact, I was pretty obsessed, as a teen, with making sure no one thought I had an eating disorder. In retrospect, I doubt anyone paid my eating habits much mind. But they were always saying things. “You’re such a stick!” “Girl, you need to eat more.” “What are you, like 50 pounds?”

These things get to a person. I can’t and won’t pretend I know what it’s like to be a bigger person, because I’ve always been thin. And I also know that my experience is not the experience of all thin people. No one person’s experience is ever universal.

But man, rational or not, the weight stuff just got to me. My self-esteem was, like most girls, rocky in high school. Fortunately, the internet was a little newer back then, and no internet drawings were telling me that skinny girls are disgusting. (To be clear, I also don't approve of these sorts of drawings about heavier girls, but those seem not to venture to Facebook, as far as I've seen.) But now?

It’s just…it’s not okay. It’s not.

It’s not okay to tell someone they are gross because of their size. It’s not okay to say it straight out. It’s not okay to say it with passive aggressive internet memes. It’s not okay to tweet about the “skinny bitches” at your gym (I have actually unfollowed people before on twitter for saying stuff like that too often. I mean, everyone understands, right, that thin doesn't automatically=healthy? Good diet and a healthy exercise regimen are important for health no matter what you weigh). It's not okay to build up one group of people's feelings of self-worth by putting down another group of people. I know that this post is really thin-hate focused, but it applies to everyone. It’s not okay no matter who you're talking about. Words have an impact. This kind of thing might bounce right off one person, but it might lodge in the next person like a fiberglass sliver.

So I’m writing this post, because I tend to be a fiberglass sliver person. And I’d like to see women building each other up, not tearing each other down (because let's face it, ladies, we're the ones doing this to each other). I know it’s completely unrealistic to wish that women could all be each other’s loving healthy body image support systems, but I guess I hope that at least this post provides some food for thought. I am so for promoting healthy body image, but never, ever at the expense of others. Just something I hope everyone can think about a little bit.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011: Most Anticipated of 2012

It's the last day of Sarah's Best of 2011 blogfest. Today's topic is the five books we're most looking forward to in 2012. This is hard. I didn't expect it to be this hard. There are a ton of books I'm looking forward to next year. I have several friends with books (debuts or otherwise) coming out next year, and I'm excited about all of them. Plus there are millions of other books coming out that sound awesome, too. And sequels to books I enjoyed. So it was hard, and I changed my mind a lot when writing this list, but these are my top five choices at the moment I wrote this post. And since some of them don't have revealed covers yet, I'm going to not post pictures with this post. 

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. I've already read this. And seen the illustrations. But I am so excited to get an actual, physical copy of this book with the drawings in it. It is going to be beyond awesome. 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth. So much happened at the end of Divergent. How could I not be anxiously awaiting the sequel?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone sequel by Laini Taylor. Well DoS&B was on all my lists that it could possibly be on this week, so yeah. I'm just about dying for the next book.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin. I have wanted to read this since I first saw it on PM. It sounds so. awesome.

Wrong Side of Dead by Kelly Meding. I had to pick one that wasn't YA, didn't I? It's hard for me to find adult urban fantasy series that I want to stick with book after book, but I'm really enjoying this series.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best of 2011: Recommendations

Today's topic for Sarah Enni's Best of 2011 blogfest is the top five books we recommended to people in 2011. I really like this one, because it feels less restricting to me somehow than yesterday's topic (top 5 books of the year). Here are my five, in no particular order: 

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard. 
This was easily the book I recommended the most in 2011. It's just a book that I feel like has something for everyone. The writing, the characters, the setting. It's beautiful and it makes my heart happy every time I read it.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
I have always, always loved fantasy. High (and epic) fantasy is where my heart is, as much as I love other genres. I don't know why. I just love it. And this series is easily the best in the genre I've ever read. Also, the TV show is such an amazingly done adaptation that I want everyone in the world to read the books and watch the show and have their minds blown by the awesomeness.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
It hasn't been out that long, but I've been telling people about it since I read it after getting an ARC at BEA. I knew from page one that I was going to love it, and it completely lived up to the high hopes I had from that first page.

Divergent by Veronica Roth.
I recommend this one a lot because a) it is awesome and b) people are really into this genre right now and I don't think anyone's dystopian reading life is complete if they haven't read this yet. Not only because it is action-filled like The Hunger Games, but there's also something about it that makes me think strongly (in a flattering way) of The Giver, which is one of the best books ever.

Shade's Children by Garth Nix.
In all honesty it's not specifically this book but ALL books by Garth Nix that I've recommended a lot this year. But this one is my favorite, and it's less well-known, because he wrote it before his popular Abhorsen trilogy. This is my actual favorite book of all time. So whenever there is an opportunity for me to recommend it to someone, I do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011: Favorite Books

This was hard. I read a lot of amazing books this year, as I was reminded when I went back through my excel spreadsheet (and Goodreads) to see what I'd read. To make myself less confused, I had to block out books I had read before 2011, even if they came out in 2011. And not all of the books on this list came out in 2011, but it's when I read them for the first time. And this post is doubling as both an RTW post and a participation in Sarah Enni's best of 2011 series. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was not only one of the best books I read this year, but one of the best books I've read ever.

Hex Hall is one of my favorite books, so Demonglass, its sequel, had a lot to live up to. It was certainly different than the first, but it was still just as fun and action-filled. I have never read anything with such an awesomely-and-not-obnoxiously sarcastic narrator as this series.

So, I'm definitely one of Those People who didn't read A Game of Thrones until the TV series came out. I'd always meant to, but never made it a priority. Then I watched one episode of the show, and bought a box set of books 1-4 immediately. I also read A Clash of Kings this year. It is equally awesome. This series deserves all the praise it gets. However, I am sad that there are about 53.6 million different covers for this book, and none of them (that I could find) feature Khal Drogo. I did spend a really long time google imaging him to find one, though, so I guess we can call it a win.

I am actually not quite finished reading Froi of the Exiles yet. But I will be before the year ends. And the rest would have to really fall apart for me to want to rescind it from this list, and I know it's not going to. Finnikin of the Rock is one of my favorite books, so reading a sequel to it just completes my life.

A Monster Calls chewed up my heart, but in a good way. I don't even know what to say about it, really. It's beautifully written, a beautiful story, and has beautiful illustrations. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of 2011: Best YA Girls & Boys

This is the second day of Sarah Enni's best of 2011 series, and today's topic is the top 5 girls and top 5 boys in YA this year. I actually found this challenging! I'm sort of particular about characters who actually stick with me. Plots and emotions and prose tend to hook me more than the actual characters. But I looked through the books I read, and picked out the characters who stuck with me the most.

Alex from Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. 
She was just generally badass, and as a bonus, she wasn't cold and heartless in the process. She was just a really well-rounded and relatable character.

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. 
If I could actually become any character I've read this year, I think she's the one I'd choose.

Sophie from Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins.
Yeah, I'm including a couple characters on these lists who are in sequels that came out this year, even if I met the characters last year. (Or before.) Sophie is witty and hilarious and I cannot imagine reading this series with any other narrator. 

Grace from Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard.
So I know that it seems like the obvious choice for a character to love from this book would be Mandarin. And yeah, Mandarin rocks. But the reason I love Grace so much is that I felt like I could be her. She is the awkwardness and uncertainty of that age, where you feel like everyone else has got it figured out but you.

Calla from Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer.
What I actually like about Calla is that she's flawed in a very realistic way. She was in Nightshade, and she kept it on in this sequel. She doesn't always make the perfect choices, but you always understand why she does what she does. And I like that. She's also a strong character, and I like that too.

Balthazar from Afterlife by Claudia Gray.
This is definitely kind of cheating, because I've loved Balthazar for four books now, but I did read Afterlife this year, so I'm counting it. I don't know what it is about him, specifically, that I like so much, but Balthazar is one of my favorite characters in any book. Ever.

Will from Angelfire by Courtney Moulton.
Will is very badass, but also very sweet and very dedicated. Which makes him a particularly awesome YA love interest. 

Otto from A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan.
Otto isn't a love interest in this book (although I like to imagine that maybe if the book had kept on, there could have been something there). He also isn't human. And he is a great character. My favorite from this book. 

Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
This book definitely featured a bit of instalove, and yet, I did not care at all. Because I would probably instalove Akiva too.

Sean from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
I don't know what it was about Sean that I liked, but when I read this, I found myself looking forward to the parts narrated from his POV. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Best of 2011: Top 5 Favorite Songs to Write To

This year, I'm participating in Sarah Enni's annual best of the year blog series. It was harder than I expected to condense my year in books into lists of five. But also very fun. There are tons of other people participating too; check out Sarah's post to find them!

Today's topic is: Top 5 favorite songs/albums to write to in 2011. I don't write to albums, so I'm going with songs for this topic. I looked through my playlists and thought about all the songs on there and how much I've listened to them, and I picked the five that I think I listened to the most this year while writing. They may or may not actually have anything to do with my writing, but I listened to them anyway.

Call Me and Diamond Eyes both by Shinedown. I thought maybe I should only do one song per band since I'm not doing it by albums, but Shinedown is my favorite band and I listen to them a lot.

Dragonfly by Shaman's Harvest. I came across this song randomly and then proceeded to listen to it practically on repeat for like five months.

King Nothing by Metallica. I know this song is ridiculously old, but for some reason, it just was really effective for setting me in a good writing mood.

So Far Away by Avenged Sevenfold. I'm also obsessed with several other songs on this album. But that's the one I've listened to the most.