Today, we are very excited to be part of the blog tour for Australian YA author Jaclyn Moriarty
's exciting upcoming release, A Corner of White
. I've been a huge fan of Moriarty's work since I read Finding Cassie Crazy
(called The Year of Secret Assignments
in the US) and Feeling Sorry for Celia
after friends on Goodreads recommended them. She has a fabulous sense of humor and her writing is happy-making for me, even when she tackles bigger issues. A Corner of White
is a departure from her Ashbury/Brookfield series. Instead of contemporary, this beginning to a new series represents fantasy, a bit of magic, and all sorts of fun. It was our Australian blogging buddy Nomes' favorite release of 2012
which, to me, means that all of us have to read it. (Yes, even those of you who have no clue who Nomes is!) It will be released in the USA from Scholastic on April 1st
. Here's a bit about the book: A tale of two worlds, told in brilliant color. Readers have loved bestselling author Jaclyn Moriarty since
The Year of Secret Assignments. Now she gives them
A Corner of White, the first in a suspenseful, funny, genre-busting trilogy that brings her fantastic characters, laugh-out-loud descriptions, and brilliant plotting to a fantasy setting. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge, England (in our world). In another world, in the Kingdom of Cello, Elliot is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle Jon was found dead. The talk in the town is that Elliot's dad may have killed Jon and run away with the physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth. As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. On both sides of the gap, even greater mysteries are unfolding — with more than one life at stake.
The Colors of Madeleine Tour celebrates the colorful aspect of the book, with two stops representing each of several colors. (see the rest of the stops at the bottom of this post) As one of the "Oblige Me With Oranges" (mmm, oranges) stops today, the prize pack we are giving away will be orange colored items, along with a copy of the book! Jaclyn Moriarty is introducing characters along the tour and doing a few interviews. Today, she's here to tell us a little bit about the main character's friend, Jack. Take it away...
Jack Cagnetti is fifteen years old. He lives with his grandfather in Cambridge, England. He and his best friend Belle recently met Madeleine Tully—a newcomer to Cambridge who wears colourful clothes—and now the three of them are homeschooled together.
Jack believes in the stars and in his own former lives. When he has to do an assignment on the poet Lord Byron, he decides that he himself was once Lord Byron. He wants a girl to reach up and run her hands through his hair. The girl he has in mind is Madeleine Tully.
One of my favourite things about writing is the research. For this book I read a lot about Isaac Newton, colours, and Lord Byron. Here is something I discovered about Byron:
Well, he spent some years living in a big house in Italy. At this time he had 10 horses, 8 dogs, 3 monkeys, 5 cats, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens and an Egyptian crane. All of these animals (except the horses) were allowed to wander freely through the house.
Each day, Byron got up at two o’clock in the afternoon. He had breakfast and chatted with friends until six. From six until eight he galloped through the pine forest (on a horse I think, not his feet). He came home, ate dinner and chatted with his friends again until 6 o’clock in the morning, when he fell asleep.
I am sharing this because the whole thing is my dream holiday. I love the idea of staying up all night talking with friends in a house in the woods! I really like talking all night. I also love the idea of sleeping until 2 in the afternoon! And having breakfast! I am so keen on breakfast. And riding a horse through a pine forest! (Setting aside my allergy to horses, which I did, between the ages of 14 and 17, when I owned a horse and could very rarely breathe.) I suppose the dream holiday might get a bit crowded, noisy etc, what with the monkeys and cats fighting over the bathroom, and the falcon swooping at the bagels, and the peacock upsetting the coffee mugs with its tail flourishes, and the Egyptian crane sulking in the corner, but mostly I think the animals would be a hoot! And they’d be sure to start the conversation up again, if ever there was a lull.
Thanks for visiting, Jaclyn, and introducing us all to Jack!
As part of the tour, there are two stops for each color so if you have a favorite color, check the links below the giveaway to see where you could win a copy of the book with a prize pack in that color. Here, our color is ORANGE, which is such a fun color. The giveaway will run for a week from today (3/28) and is US ONLY. The prizes have been provided by and will be sent to one winner by the publisher and/or tour organizer. Good luck and happy reading!
The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publication Date: 05/07/2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Blurb(GR): After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Review:
This book is damn near perfect in so many ways. It’s impressively well-written, compelling, and maybe not entirely original, but still doesn’t feel too derivative. So why didn’t I enjoy it more? I’m not sure, but while I acknowledge that this book is great, I can already feel it receding rather quickly from my memory.
But anyway, let’s focus on the good for a while, shall we? Good point number one: this book has aliens. And these aliens are especially frightening, because they manage to take down 95% of the human race without ever being seen. Good point number two: this book doesn’t really have aliens (at least not until the end). Yancey understands that the most frightening thing in the world is that which cannot be seen, or measured, or predicted – that which we are constantly forced to imagine
and wonder about. His aliens are insidious planners who prey on human weakness to great effect and that aspect is deliciously twisted.
Good point number three: there are multiple narrators who are used effectively and
feel distinct. First, he gives us Cassie, who is one of the most enjoyable people I’ve had spring up in my head in a long time. She’s brave but not arrogant, sarcastic and silly, and feels genuinely like a young girl (which I sometimes find impressive when the author is an adult man). The other main point of view, Zombie, feels entirely different and is most definitely his own person. I enjoyed him a bit less than Cassie, but his sections still contributed well to the story. And there’s a much smaller third point of view, Silencer, whose voice is poignant and mysterious.* I hope we get to see more of him in the next book. (I actually hope we get to see a few more of the minor characters as narrators in the next book.)
(As a mid-paragraphs aside here, I just want to add that this book is far less tragic romance-driven than the blurb above might lead you to believe.)
Good point number four: the writing is just flawless. The voices are bright and three-dimensional, the dialogue is entertaining and quick, the action is thrilling, and even though the ending is left just a bit open (just exactly the right amount), the story has a really nice beginning-middle-end cohesion. The parallels that Yancey draws between Cassie and Zombie feel downright literary. Actually, with the multiple narrators, the fast-paced writing, and the “sci-fi with a touch of the literary” feel, this book reminded me just a bit of The Knife of Never Letting Go.
*Braces self for storm of people leaving this review to go pre-order this book* Only, (and I can whisper this now that all of those people have left) I think this book is better.
So why the hell couldn’t I get into the damn thing? Why was it so easy to set aside (and to set aside for hundred-page-long descriptions of made up sports, no less)? The only excuse I can come up with is that…I’m a lifelong sci-fi fan. I know that makes no sense, but just bear with me. I’ve been spending time with aliens since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Over the course of the past…let’s say 27 years, I’ve gotten to know the genre pretty well. And, I think it’s possible that, like the sexual sadist who must go to greater and greater heights of violence to reach fulfillment, I have become jaded. About sci-fi. It’s possible that I’ve reached a point where nothing less than slavering mosquito women
or giant living whale airships
will pique my interest, is what I am saying. And while this book is great in many ways, it also feels very approachable and commercial and just…not…weird. And I like weird.
*Our good friend Nomes reminded me in the comments that there's also one chapter narrated by Cassie's brother, Sam. Perfect Musical Pairing
The White Stripes – Fell In Love With A Girl
The musical way of describing this book is that it’s an A-side book. And I guess I’m a B-side girl, at least when it comes to sci-fi. However, I think this book’s appeal will actually make it a great choice for many, many, many people. This song (which I have chosen for Cassie, of course) brought a huge audience to The White Stripes, and I think this book will do similar things for Rick Yancey. I hope you all go out and get it. Meanwhile, I will be off investigating Rick Yancey’s B-side
I think that for me, this book is a 3.5 but I'm going to give it a 4/5
because I'm being silly and it deserves it.
Also, this ARC is too good not to pass on. Who wants a copy? U.S./Canada only and the giveaway ends at midnight on 04/03/2013. Have at it!
Last week we reported on the Chicago school system’s attempt to ban Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis
from the middle school curriculum. This week there were a few updates to the ongoing scandal. Publisher’s Weekly has a nice round-up
of some of the protests that occurred after the attempted ban (including one library sit-in which had to be relocated outside because the doors were locked). It’s awesome to see the pictures of passionate young people gathering to read the book or protest the ban. The round-up also includes reports of a nice spike in sales for the book. The Chicago Board of Education responded to protestors
in writing, defending its right to limit access to Persepolis
for students. However, no matter what ultimately happens in the Chicago school system, it seems like this attempted banning has backfired quite nicely.
We’ve also reported a few times on the growing possibility that ebooks, mp3s, and other digital files may have a second life in “used” sales, with digital file retail giants Apple
both looking to get in on the game. A Supreme Court decision
published last week may provide future support for this idea. The Supreme Court case centered around a Thai student who came to the U.S. to attend college. When he noticed that many U.S. textbooks were available in Thai book shops for much less, he asked his family and friends in Thailand to buy them and ship them overseas, where he then sold them for a very nice profit. The publisher (John Wiley & Sons) sued for copyright infringement and initially won. However, the Supreme Court ultimately decided in favor of the student, citing (in part) the doctrine of “first sale” in its decision. NPR has a great article about first sale and how the decision could impact the legality of digital file resale
. They write, in part:
“The ruling was a key moment in something called the "first sale" doctrine, which says that, if you buy something that's copyrighted, you're allowed to "sell or otherwise dispose" of it without the permission of the copyright owner.”
“In a society that often wants to boil women's sexual experiences into the polar opposites of purity or sluttiness, romance novels, even when we may as individuals judge their plots to be problematic, are the largest cultural space available for women to read about and imagine their own sexual fantasies.”
I may personally be troubled by the fact that so many women seem to be drawn to abusive, controlling
men but as the article points out, the domineering man archetype is just a fantasy. I think any medium which isn’t trying to convince women that their fantasies are shameful is probably a good thing. So live on, romance novel!
And now for the fun news!
- Publisher’s Weekly’s Rights Report had some interesting news last week: a new middle grade fantasy trilogy for Anne Ursu (author of Breadcrumbs) and Trish Doller fans will be excited to learn that she will have a third book published in the fall of 2014. Where The Stars Still Shine will reportedly be about “…a small-town Florida girl who impulsively agrees to join a pair of boys on a road trip that goes tragically wrong.”
- Some casting decisions were revealed last week for the upcoming film adaptations of Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars – and apparently these films will both feature the same young woman in their starring roles! Shailene Woodley had already been cast in the lead for Divergent, but it was announced last week that she will play John Green’s Hazel Grace as well. (She also appeared in the film version of The Spectacular Now, which I still really want to see.)
- Flannery’s BFF Maureen led us to this tumblr which features film posters and other imagery inspired by Infinite Jest (yes, we’re still reading it!).
- And finally, does anyone else find this nerdily interesting? A group of researchers performed a statistical analysis of the frequencies in the usage of “mood words” in both American and British English over the past century. Apparently, American usage of “mood words” has increased while British usage has decreased – but what does this mean? Are we Americans more emotional as a society? Or are we actually less so? There are no definitive answers of course, but the authors’ theories are interesting nonetheless. Check out the paper!
I love going to group author events. There are more people in the audience, more people to spy on, and more fun factoids to learn. In this particular case, though I did not partake in them, there were also SNACKS. My local stop for the Dark Days Winter Tour 2013 included one author I'd seen before (Dan Wells) and four new authors to cross off my list: Lauren Oliver, Debra Driza, Claudia Gray, and Kiersten White. (I've also seen Cynthia Hand, Veronica Rossi, and Tahereh Mafi previously
, though they weren't at my stop on the tour this time.) Speaking of group events, Harper seems to do a kickass job of organizing and publicizing these multi-author tours and I totally appreciate that and wish other publishers (well, the larger ones who could do such a thing) would do something similar. My one bone to pick with Harper is that I can never follow what the heck the tours are called. Some of these things might not be HarperTeen tours but I get Pitch Dark, Epic Reads, Dark Days, Spring into the Future, Breathless Reads, etc. all mixed up until I just tell people that I'm going to "that Harper YA authors event" which I doubt is the aim of branding the tours. Then again, I do have fun imagining what these tours will be called when we are out of this dystopian trend. (Will we ever be out of it?) To get back on track, this tour was very streamlined, with a Harper publicist running the show. She asked the authors questions and then took a few audience and Twitter questions.
Claudia Gray, Lauren Oliver, Debra Driza, Dan Wells, Kiersten White, and the moderator
The first question for the authors was what they thought the coolest thing about their book is, which White was the first to answer. She said that sometimes she thinks the cover is the best thing. (of Mind Games
. White is also the author of the Paranormalcy
series.) She said there is a moment of terror when you are going to find out what your cover will look like because you have no idea what you are going to get in that department. She thinks the Mind Games
cover represents the plot and characters of the book well, and she jokingly added that she supposed "the words are pretty good, too." Dan Wells, author of the John Cleaver
series and the Partials
series, said that he finds it "perversely fun to teach idealistic characters lessons" in his books so he thinks that is the coolest thing about his book. On this tour he is promoting Fragments
, the second Partials
installment. Debra Driza, debut author of MILA 2.0
said that the coolest part of her book is that the title character kills someone with a hair dryer, though she also loves the cover. Lauren Oliver said that the current coolest thing about the Delirium
series, which was just completed with Requiem
, is that a television pilot is being made with Emma Roberts in the starring role. Claudia Gray picked her villain as the coolest thing about Spellcaster
, which is the beginning of a new series for the author of the Evernight
When asked if the tour authors always knew they wanted to write, or if they knew what they wanted to do while they were in college, Gray said that she always knew she wanted to do it but for a very long time she didn't think she could. (She has held many other job titles, including lawyer, marketeer, etc.) She said she read extensively and when she would come upon a "great" book, she would think to herself, "you could never write a book that good." The book that changed her outlook was Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. After finishing it, she thought the same thing to herself but then realized that nobody else could have written that book. You can only write the best book that you can write. Lauren Oliver talked about how she has always written and about how she wrote her first novel in college. At the time, she was writing children's stories but also working on a "pretentious novel about a 35-year-old guy whose wife is dying of cancer," which she joked was "obviously based on firsthand experience." Later on, she added that she wrote (what I assume is this particular) 800 page book twice and basically nothing happened in it.
Debra Driza recounted how in her family her sister was always known as the best writer so she never really felt like she could go there, which Dan Wells played off of in his answer by saying that he "always knew he could be better than everyone else." (Obviously he was kidding!) Wells always knew he wanted to be a writer but he didn't believe he could make a career out of it. He said that the person who really changed his beliefs was Dave Wolverton
, well-known fantasy author, who told a class that Wells was part of that you can
make a living as an artist. Kiersten White always thought she'd write as a hobby. A professor once told her that the only way to make money in publishing is to write a cookbook. Paranormalcy
, which ended up as her first published novel, was actually the fourth she'd written.
Driza & Wells
At this point, the publicist moderator asked individualized questions to each author, but I kept spacing out. When asked why he picked Long Island for the second Partials book, Wells said that it it was because it is right next to New York City so readers could read about places blowing up and have a clue about the locations he is writing about. He went on to talk about how interesting he finds the idea of what happens to everything when we don't take care of it--our things, our cities, etc. I'd seen Dan Wells once before and I think I am just in love with going to science fiction and fantasy authors in general. In my experience, they talk about everything they are interested in (ideas, technology, magic, hobbies) and they are just so enthusiastic and real
about it. I saw Charles de Lint
and his wife a week or two ago and I honestly think they must be in the top twenty most authentic people I've ever encountered. Not that other authors don't discuss these things at book events but honestly, if I hear the word "swoon" one more time at an event, I think I might just ralph all over the fellow booklovers around me.
Wells, White, and the moderator
Claudia Gray talked about the character of Verlane in Spellcaster
, which led to a discussion of how ideas flow out of writers subconciously and that authors sometimes have no idea they are writing parts of their own lives. Kiersten White said that her editor called her out for having "too much about babies" in one of her books, because she was dealing with a related issue in real life, to which Gray said, "editors are there to save you from yourself." White laughed and added that "editors help you write the book you wanted
to write." When asked about the experience of writing a blind character, White talked about her inspiration, which was to incorporate the idea of the blind prophet. She found it very interesting that Annie's (the character in question) sister wants to protect her to some extent but that Annie is more ruthless than her sister. She also said that the experience of writing a romantic scene with no visual cues was something new for her and that it ended up "way hotter." In response to an additional question, White added that she wrote Mind Games
chapter by chapter and not chronologically and that she writes to entertain herself because if you don't entertain yourself, how will you entertain readers?
Lauren Oliver said that the character of Raven in the Delirium series is partially inspired by her younger sister who is a total badass. She said she is very sad to end her series because she is very invested in the stories. Someone on Twitter asked if she would provide more closure to the series eventually, to which Oliver responded that her favorite books growing up were the ones that left a world open. If a story was completely closed off, she felt bereft. She said she doesn't feel like it's her job to answer every question. Her job is to introduce you to a world and characters. You learn who they are and who they want to be--she wants to show that her characters are always in flux and transforming in one way or another. When she writes a book, she writes the first and last chapter so she knows where the character is starting and where they will end up so she has a guide. She said writing the overall series has been very cathartic for her. Before starting the book, she lost a significant other to substance abuse and she constantly wondered why she couldn't be good enough for him to stay alive. As the series continued, she was able to fall in love again and is now engaged so the entire series has brought her through very pivotal events in her life.
The moderator asked Debra Driza what Mila could do that she wishes she could do, which Driza answered with another reference to killing someone with a hair dryer. (At this point, I realized I will probably have to read this book, not because I really care all that much about the hair dryer scene, but because I want to know what else
happens.) Her real answer, however, was that Mila can see, whereas Driza is legally blind. An audience member asked Dan Wells if it was true that some real life friends of his were in every book he writes. He said that the same two friends show up and one of them always lives and the other always dies.
At this point in my notes, I took a break to tell my future self how much I don't care about romance in books, nor do I care about characters with which I am unfamiliar. I just want to hear about the story. Thanks, past me. Also, on a more relevant note, I wrote down that these authors actually seemed to enjoy each other's company and support each other's work, which was nice to witness. In a very non-me move, I must not have been paying much attention at this point of the event because I can't make heads or tails of my usually well-written notes. I have a joke that Kiersten White made about YA being more "32 Shades of Grey" than Fifty, and also a note about how she loves Logan
from Veronica Mars
and that the show has great storytelling. Why didn't I listen more?!
Oliver, Driza, Wells, & White
Okay, regular me is back. The next question was to Dan Wells and it was: how does he think the world will end? He responded that if it is
a plague, for crying out loud, STOP KISSING EACH OTHER (heh). He said he loves writing science fiction because he can read all sorts of crazy articles about ways the world might end, take them seriously, and write books about them. He added that if you want to prepare yourself for the end times, you should wash your hands, and consider dedicating your life to cleanliness. I'm not too sure on that point--isn't is supposed to be true that if you clean too much your body will become more
susceptible to airborne pathogens? In all plague movies and books, only about 1% of the population is ever left, he said, and he thinks that would be pretty amazing to be a part of. I mean, you could do whatever you wanted
Next up, the authors were asked what character they would choose to be their sidekick? The answers:
Debra Driza - Buffy
(though several members on the panel warned her against this as many of Buffy's friends end up dead!)
Dan Wells - The Baroness from G.I. Joe
Claudia Gray - Professor X
, on the off chance that he might be played by James McAvoy
Kiersten White - Harry Potter
Lauren Oliver - Hermione Granger
An audience member asked Claudia Gray what she thought of choosing a pseudonym and how that has affected her identity, which Gray said that she didn't regret it at all. She said the name was a quick pick for her but that she still liked the name Claudia so that was good. Her real name, she said, is very easily found on the copyright pages of her books but it helps that she can keep her personal and business lives private on the net, particularly on social media. The last topic discussed was the query process, which Gray said she was extraordinarily lucky about, considering her book was picked up almost immediately because it was about vampires right after Twilight
blew up. Oliver also said she was a bit lucky due to her job in YA publishing. She knew how the system worked and a lot of the people involved so when it came to her manuscript, she said she physically handed it to someone she'd known from college. Driza wasn't picked up until her third book, and Kiersten White said she had about fifty rejections before she got an agent for her second book. She said you truly have to write because you love writing because there is so much rejection in the field and you have to love what you do. Similarly, Wells said that he'd written five books before he sold anything and it took him eight years to find an agent. Even with an offer on the table, he was rejected by three agents. He just reminded the audience that it takes a lot of work to write and be published.
And that, my bookish friends, is another long-winded recap. Have any of you been to other stops for Dark Days Winter Tour 2013? What did you think?
Happy St. Patricks Day!
There was some scary book news this week, or at least very disappointing news. A memo was dispersed
to Chicago Public Schools asking teachers to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi's award-winning graphic novel about the Iranian revolution, Persepolis
, from classrooms and libraries. At first, CPS administrators had no comment, but after the memo went viral and groups like the ACLU got involved, they issued a letter backpedaling to say that it was misinterpreted and "all schools" was meant as only seventh grade classrooms. This article does a great roundup of the timeline
. My favorite bit is when the teachers union responded with a statement about hoping the school system isn't going back in time to the 1950s. Right on. Equally scary yet absurdly hilarious is the fact that voucher schools in Louisiana are using textbooks that say, and I am not kidding, that hippies did not bathe and worshiped satan, that the KKK did great community service, and that dragons are real. Voucher schools were declared unconstitutional in December 2012 but are still functioning because the issue is up on appeal.
Google announced this week that several of its features would be shutting down in the next few months, including Google Reader
. If, like me, you have been reading some or all your blogs in Reader, there have been many posts all over the web, from tech blogs
on how to find the best replacement, however, I tend to think that we should wait until July gets closer because there might be an even better alternative by then. At the very least, we can get opinions from people who have been using alternatives for months. In any case, everyone should take the time to back up their Google data. You can use their Takeout service
to backup everything from your contacts to your drive files and it saves as a .zip file. After doing it for your Reader files, you'll be able to import all your subscriptions to another service.
Some of our favorite Aussie book bloggers (Reynje from Wordchasing
, Trinity from Trin in the Wind
, and Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds
) have joined forces to create a podcasting superteam called The Ladies of YA
. They recorded and published Episode One this week and you can listen to it here
or visit/follow their blog
for regular updates on forthcoming episodes. Podcasting seems to be de rigueur these days but you'll hear no complaints from us as two more of our favorite blogs have started podcasting as well. You can listen to the first podcast from Sarah & Laura at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves here
. They covered all sorts of issues but primarily talked about diversity in YA and particularly the portrayal of Asian characters. Maggie and Noelle over at YA Anonymous are old hat at podcasting (read: they've made a whopping TWO instead of one so far
) but we look forward to more from them as well. Go forth and listen!
A few of our favorite authors spoke on various subjects this week: Sara Zarr talked about her upcoming book, The Lucy Variations
, including the challenge of moving to a third-person narrative. (which, spoiler alert, was actually one of the reasons all three of us did not love it as much as Zarr's other work) Stacia Kane, author of the Downside Ghosts series, reposted a story from years ago about embarrassing herself when she was first starting out and met an "author" and reminded readers why writers love to hear from them
. And Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia
and Jacob Have I Loved sounded off on NPR
after being awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her contribution to children's literature.
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Martin asks Paterson how she has been able to remain so close to what it feels like to be young.
"I just feel that I carry that child around with me all the time, that she's still alive and well inside of me, and I try to listen carefully to her voice," says Paterson.
Entertainment Weekly posted the cover for David Levithan's August release, Two Boys Kissing
. Certainly this is groundbreaking in traditionally published YA and we're excited to see it, despite David Levithan's work not being our favorite. There is an accompanying interview at EW
where Levithan discusses the cover process, the wo-year anniversary of his earlier Boy Meets Boy
, and how his upcoming book is for a new generation. Speaking of upcoming books, Mindy Kaling announced this week that along with her show being renewed for another season, she will be writing a foll0w-up
to her Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
We missed a cover reveal of interest (to us:)) last week -- that of Leila Sales' September release, This Song Will Save Your Life
. All three of us read and enjoyed her 2011 release, Past Perfect
and I was excited to hear that we have more to read from her in the near future. MTV did the cover reveal
and there is a soundtrack to accompany the book
included in the news piece. The aforementioned Aussie bloggers read and LOVED Simmone Howell's third book, Girl Defective
recently so we were ecstatic to see that US publisher Atheneum picked the book up for release in the States
. Jill Grinberg of the Jill Grinberg Agency sold the rights and the book is described as, "A teen noir High Fidelity, and features 15-year-old Sky Martin, her older, wilder best friend Nancy, and Sky's kid brother "Super Agent" Gully, who go to the dark heart of their Coney Island-esque suburb via teenage raves, violent fangirls, and strange, true love." Sadly, it is likely to be a 2014 release in the US so a lot of us will likely be purchasing this book from international booksellers or swapping with Aussie buds of ours. I, for one, can't wait a whole year.
In movie news, a Kickstarter was started to fund a potential Veronica Mars movie
and the goal of 2 million dollars was reached (and exceeded!) in about twelve hours
. (As of early Sunday morning, the total was over $3.5 million) We're excited to see where the project goes from here, as clearly there is more interest than they anticipated. The success of the fundraising spurned a discussion about the interconnectedness of content creators, artists, actors, etc. and the consumers of their work. GalleyCat had a great piece on what's currently going on
, innovation-wise and what we might see in the future. And in a very timely move, Simon & Schuster will be rereleasing Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas' YA book Rats Saw God
. Another movie we're glad to see moving forward is an adaptation of Laini Taylor's amazing Daughter of Smoke & Bone,
slated to be written by Stuart Beattie, who, among other projects, wrote and directed the adaptation of John Marsden's YA hit Tomorrow, When the War Began
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In a 2012 study, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated some 3,600 books, looking for multicultural content. Of the books examined, 3.3 percent were found to be about African-Americans, 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans, 1.5 percent were about Latinos and 0.6 percent were about American Indians.
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: 9/18/12
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Blurb(GR): Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (led by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?
When I first started this book many months ago, it fell right into not one, but TWO of my worst book dealbreakers. To quote myself from six months ago (because we all know how much I love to do that): “Forbidden Love + YA
= No. I just can’t handle it anymore. I can’t handle whatever crazy-ass excuse (different classes, different species, he’s a murderer, he’s a sociopath, he’s a stalker but he’s oh so HOT anyway…) will be used to keep the love interests apart. And even MORE than that, I definitely can’t handle the stupid justifications that will be used to actually bring them together. You know what? If there’s a hot guy who might murder you someday…maybe you just shouldn’t, okay? Can we all just agree on that?”
And “The problems of rich white people in boarding school/prep school
Substitute “hot guy” for “that kooky girl who feels isolated because she’s so unique and special and who makes her own clothes out of recycled materials” in the last sentence of “Forbidden Love + YA” and you have my basic reaction to the beginning of this book. Strike two: I have a really, really
hard time drumming up sympathy for entitled rich kids and I probably always will. Oh, so you get to go to a fancy school and you have enough money to live on for the rest of your life without ever having to work…but you might have to wear a tie someday? I FEEL SO SORRY FOR YOU
. Strike three: all of these characters feel less like real people and more like stock characters from a romance novel to me. Our heroes are:
- The straight-laced, ridiculously wealthy, overly mature one who just needs to loosen up (a la every hero ever written by Sophie Kinsella).
- The dangerous/violent (possibly insane) one who just needs a gentle hand (Jericho Barrons, et al).
- The traumatized one who’s had to fight for everything and just needs to learn how to trust (Jamie Fraser and basically all of my favorite romance novel heroes).
And of course, the stable of available guys wouldn’t be complete without the romance novel heroine, who as I stated before is just hopelessly, terribly unique and special. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far in this book on my first attempt.
But then I joined a book club...and although I admit that I have
stubbornly refused to read a couple of the selections, I do try to be good in general. So I ended up giving this one another try. And you know what? I’m kinda glad I did. Kinda. There’s no doubt in my mind now that Maggie Stiefvater can write. This book is beautifully detailed and atmospheric and I’ll be damned if I didn’t start caring for these boys by the end. I mean, that right there speaks volumes about this woman’s writing talent. Seriously, when she can get me to care about a guy who (at age 17) owns his own warehouse apartment filled with ancient tomes (plus like one issue of the sports illustrated swimsuit edition – just to give him a little bit of teenage legitimacy) and spends endless hours researching obscure Welsh monarchy, when he’s not helicopter-parenting his best friends with the dedication of the completely codependent, or “rebelling” by driving around town in his gorgeously restored “vintage” car or his sister’s helicopter…yeah. That takes some talent.
So I did really get into this book for about a hundred pages towards the middle. But then…I got to the “end”. I put that in sarcasm quotes because I scoff at the idea that the back of this book can be called an ending. Instead, this book commits one of the most annoying book crimes to arise out of the “every YA book must now be a trilogy” age that we live in: the non-ending. Only, I think in this case it’s much worse because I genuinely believed that I was going to get some closure. It all starts out so ominously with Blue’s vision and the PROPHECY about her deadly kiss and then there are all of these little hints along the way and I was just gearing up for some sort of huge climactic scene. But no. Instead we are left with about twenty questions and no answers in sight. And I personally was left with the unsettling feeling that I knew exactly where this whole series was going.
I mean, I think anyone who’s read a fair number of these forbidden love stories can make a prediction at the end of this book. And I’m just not sure that I can take another six to eight hundred pages of Blue and Gansey angsting about kissing or not kissing, of Adam becoming more and more sullen and jealous and possibly evil, of Gansey trying desperately to mess with some mystical thing that actually allowed him to escape death. (Why, Gansey? When you are given a second lease on life I say just take it and don’t ask questions.) But that’s just me. I know that this series has a ton of fans and I will be relying on all of you to let me know if my predictions of angst come true. If not, I hold out the right to come crawling back to this series and beg forgiveness later on when all the books are released and I can have closure.2.5/5 Stars
The Freedom Maze
Author: Delia ShermanNarrator: Robin MilesAudio Sample
Publication Date: 9/25/12
Publisher: Listening Library
Set against the burgeoning Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and then just before the outbreak of the Civil War, The Freedom Maze explores both political and personal liberation, and how the two intertwine.
In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending the summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and mischievious inhabitant.
When Sophie, bored and lonely, makes an impulsive wish, she slips back one hundred years into the past, to the year 1860. She hopes for a fantasy book adventure with herself as the heroine. Instead, she gets a real adventure in the race-haunted world of her family’s Louisiana sugar plantation in 1860, where she is mistaken for a slave. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is still two years in the future. The Thirteen Amendment—abolishing and prohibiting slavery—will not be not passed until April 1864.
Muddy and bedraggled, Sophie obviously isn’t a young lady of good breeding. She must therefore be a slave. And she is.Review:
According to an interview with Delia Sherman at the end of this audiobook, it took eighteen years, twenty-seven drafts, countless hours of research, and a whole bunch of informed beta readers to complete this book – and it shows. If you’re looking for historical fiction that’s been thoroughly researched and very well done, this is an excellent choice. And the best part is that this was written for children.
I know that I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: children deserve great books too. I think sometimes writers approach the children’s or young adult genre with the attitude of, “Oh, they’re just kid’s books…”
as if somehow being young means being able to see past flat characters, gaping plot holes, and overly simplistic stories. Anyone who has any dealings with the young can tell you that this is categorically untrue. My kids can easily differentiate between a good book and a bad book (or worse, a condescending book). So it really impresses me when an author has clearly gone the extra mile (and then some) for children.
At the beginning of this book, Sophie is a very late-blooming thirteen years old. It’s 1960, and much to her traditional grandmother’s disapproval, her parents are getting a divorce and her mother has decided to go back to school. Sophie’s mother struggles to fit between her very traditional upbringing and what she’s had to do (and worse…enjoyed doing) to survive. She’s strict and overly critical of just about everything – especially Sophie. Sophie’s father has disappeared to New York to live a new life that doesn’t include anything about his old one. When Sophie’s mother foists her off on her grandmother and aunt to spend the summer holidays at the family’s ancestral home, Sophie wishes for an escape. She wishes to go on a marvelous, grand adventure just like her favorite fantasy stories. She wishes to finally have a close family and friends. Things get interesting when a very tricky spirit decides to grant her wish – by sending Sophie back into the past, where her ancestral family takes one look at her and assumes she’s a slave.
Delia Sherman impressed me greatly by going the extra mile in researching this book, but she impressed me even more by presenting such a dark, difficult subject (human slavery) so honestly. I know that it can be difficult to navigate these topics with children, but I think it becomes even more important not to resort to oversimplification when relating the uglier aspects of our history to them. Delia Sherman is one of the few authors I know about who does it perfectly. She doesn’t sanitize slavery at all. She also doesn’t sensationalize the (already horrifying on its own) cruel treatment that most slaves received. Nor does she pretend that these cruelties didn’t exist. Instead, she relates the details of slavery in layers: the kids might only pick up on the surface ideas (which are still related with stark honesty), but the adults will be able to see much more. In fact, to an adult who is perhaps already seeing beneath those surface layers, Sophie’s initial perspective might feel a bit too
simplistic. However, through the course of this story, Sophie gains a huge amount of perspective. Through Sophie’s eyes, we get to experience her initial ignorance about slavery give way slowly, by degrees – a changing perspective which will (I think) encourage child readers to follow in her footsteps down through the surface layers and into the deeper, darker themes.
Sophie's changing perspective even encouraged me to think about slavery in ways that I'd never fully considered. For example, I initially had some trouble buying into the idea that Sophie’s family could mistake a Caucasian girl (with a tan) for a slave. Once I began to enjoy the story, I mostly just decided to let my skepticism about Sophie’s appearance go – I mean, this is
a middle grade fantasy after all, and a little suspension of disbelief is pretty much par for the course. Or so I thought. At the end of this audiobook, Delia Sherman reveals that part of her inspiration for this story was an advertisement she found in a historical archive for a runaway slave – a girl who “had blonde hair and blue eyes” and “could pass for white.” It’s not like I didn’t know that Thomas Jefferson had (and still has) African American descendants, or that the word “quadroon” used to be a thing. I guess I just never gave a ton of thought to how complicated that must have been - living in a system where parents, children, and grandchildren were sometimes separated by this arbitrary line that labeled one human and one animal. Were the American plantation owners really so blind to the fact that these people – who were living side by side with them, raising them as children, and maybe even related to them genetically – were actually people?
Delia Sherman doesn’t shy away from investigating these questions either and the resulting view of a system that has blinded so many for so long is utterly compelling. This is a fantastic audiobook that I recommend for children and the adults in their lives. I think this would be an excellent introduction to American slavery for any middle school classroom.Perfect Musical Pairing
Aretha Franklin - A Change Is Gonna Come
(Sam Cooke cover)
This was a hard one to choose because there are so many themes in this book that I wanted to cover in the space of one song. Luckily for me, Aretha Franklin is the Queen and she does provide. Who else could weigh one song down so heavily with all the strife and hardship of a century’s worth of civil rights battles? I mean, I do love the original of this song but Aretha really just BRINGS THE EMOTION. When she says “it’s been long and it’s been an uphill journey all the way” you can really feel all of those years (and the years still to come). And of course she brings a huge dose of woman power to this song, which I think also pairs up with this book so well. Yes, this book is about civil rights but it’s mostly about one girl finding her own strength.4/5 Stars
Our readers know how much we loves books, movies, and especially books that are made into movies. (see our Book vs. Movie
feature) We also love Tina Fey
, so when we were asked to promote Focus Features' March 22nd release, Admission
, we were on board. First off, Tina Fey is hilarious. I read her memoir Bossypants
a few months back (review
) and I will basically see anything she has a part in, whether she writes, produces, or acts in it. I was totally surprised to find out that the movie was based on a book, Admission
by Jean Hanff Korelitz. At the end of this post, you can enter for a chance to win not only the book the movie was based on, but also a copy of Bossypants
and a bunch of movie-related materials. (US only)ABOUT THE FILM:
Tina Fey (Date Night
, 30 Rock
) and Paul Rudd (I Love You Man
, Knocked Up
) star in Admission
, the new film directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (About a Boy
), about the surprising detours we encounter on the road to happiness. Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Rudd). Pressman has surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his gifted yet very unconventional student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption many years ago. Soon, Portia finds herself bending the rules for Jeremiah, putting at risk the life she thought she always wanted -- but in the process finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having.
The comedy also features some of my perennial favorites, including Michael Sheen
, Wallace Shawn
, and Lily Tomlin
. I have to admit, I feel like this movie will result in a flashback to senior year of high school when I was applying to colleges. Even though I had an absolutely wonderful college experience, I still have all my acceptance letters from other schools and I wonder what life might have been like had a made a different choice. I can only imagine how hard it must be to make admissions decisions at schools like Princeton, where Fey's character works in this movie. In the trailer, we are treated (or probably more properly described as appalled by) the lengths that some parents will go to to sway the admissions office into admitting their "talented" children. I predict there were will be a lot of cringeworthy scenes in that respect but I'm hoping for a solid comedic gem that I can see at the theatre and that watch over and over and over when it comes on television, like Fey's Mean Girls
and Baby Mama
and about ten movies Paul Rudd has been in, from Clueless
to Wet Hot American Summer
to Role Models
So what do you all reckon? Where do you think this movie will end up on the Tina Fey and/or Paul Rudd Pyramid of Awesome Movies? Do you still wonder what your life could've been like if you went to a different college? Are you currently going through the admissions process and dreading the decision?
Find out more about the movie and join the discussion:
Visit the official website
Like Admission on Facebook
Watch the trailer on YouTube
Tweet using #Admission
Enter to win...
One (1) winner will receive:An Admission prize pack including:
- Folder, Notepad, Pen, Drawstring Bag, Toothbrush
- Admission (movie tie-in book)
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
Prizing valued at $55
Prizing provided by Focus Features
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
There is quite a bit of bookish news this week so let's get going. John Scalzi reported on the "appallingly bad contract terms"
of Random House's SFF imprint Hydra. Because the imprint did not allow for advances, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America (SFWA) announced that the imprints "do not meet minimum standards for a qualifying market
" for membership. A spokesperson for the imprint issued a response
in Publisher's Weekly stating that they had never been contacted to make a statement but that they were willing to discuss the business model.
We've mentioned in a prior Odds & Ends post
that DC Comics had hired the vehemently anti-gay author Orson Scott Card to write an issue of Superman and how much backlash the comics giant had received as a result. This week, Chris Sprouse, the artist who was slated to do the illustrations for the installment, dropped out of the project
, saying that the negativity surrounding the project has overshadowed it. There is still a lot of speculation about how much visibility Card will have (or not have) when the movie based on his hugely popular YA sci-fi novel, Ender's Game
, comes out in a few months. In other bookish movie news, Jezebel published a piece this week about how the new Oz movie is a huge step back for women and a total departure from Baum's work
. (the article was originally published by Elisabeth Rappe at Film.com)
Over the weekend, we saw something on Twitter about author Juliet Marillier writing a controversial post for Writer Unboxed but when we went to the site, the post had been taken down and the site had posted a notice of doing so
. Our curiosity won out on this one, so we looked around a bit and found a screenshot of the post on Goodreads
. Before we tell you what the post was about, a word of warning: DO NOT read it if you don't want your love of Juliet Marillier to be tarnished. Basically, a new fan wrote to the author telling her how much she loved Shadowfell
, how it led to her purchasing a ton of Marillier's other work, and how excited she is for the next Shadowfell
book and couldn't Marillier just write faster?! From an outsider's standpoint, we would think that an author would be ecstatic: she has a new reader, one who loves her work, one who bought several of her books and loves her work so much that she took the time to write a letter about how she can't wait for more. The ultimate do-not-do-this would be to post the complete email and then rip it apart, telling the reader that she has no manners and that it was rude to tell her to write faster, and then go on to talk about questions you hate to be asked. As an author, your books will find their way to new readers and those people will probably have questions they would love to have answered. Is it sometimes obnoxious that people don't google their way to the answers that may be already on the net? Of course, but that definitely doesn't mean you should publicly chastise your readership. Very disappointing .The Association of American Publishers
filed a complaint with the internet site naming overlords (otherwise known as ICANN) about Amazon potentially having exclusive control over .book domain names
. They believe that it goes against the public interest. Either way, it is kind of fun to imagine how those types of domain names could be utilized. In other Amazon-related news, Apple announced this week that they, too, are looking into patenting a used digital file marketplace
. (Amazon did so in February
)I literally laugh out loud whenever people get into online fights about the use of the word 'literally', and this week was literally one of the best weeks ever for this never-ending discussion,
as Slate published a post about the different definitions of 'literally',
including one from the Oxford English Dictionary that covers the common usage that people get angry about, and how several famous authors have used the word in ways that might cause purists to cringe.
On a more serious note, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts released a report this week about the disparity between the numbers of men and women reviewing books for major publications. GalleyCat wrote a short news piece
on several points but the entire report can be found here
, as well as compiled information for three years
. I found the graphs in that last link the quickest way to digest the information and see what outlets are the worst offenders. Other fun newsy bits from the week:
We are happy to be be part of the blog tour this week in celebration of Karen Healey
's newly released YA sci fi novel, When We Wake
. (Little, Brown BFYR, released 3/5/13) As part of the tour, we conducted an interview with one of the characters in the book, Joph, about environmental issues. You see, in When We Wake
, Tegan goes to a protest rally with her friends and then the next thing she remembers is waking up...one hundred years later. So many aspects of the world are different for her and Karen Healey has created a version of Earth's future that rings eerily possible. Joph is one of Tegan's new friends from after she wakes up in the future and we're excited to see what she'll have to say. Welcome, Joph!
Through your actions in the book, it is clear that you care a lot about people in need. Other than protesting, how can young people make a difference? Do you believe that one person can have an impact?
Yes. At the very least, they can make an impact on themselves, and in choosing to live with care for others, they make an impact on them. Groups of people dedicated to change don’t just come about – they originate with individuals who want to make an impact.
And youth makes little difference – young people have less power, but we have more energy, and often more passion. Young people can speak, they can listen, they can give what time or money or goods they have spare. We can be forces of change for the better.
In your current world, there are many commonplace practices in place to adapt to the environmental conditions—humanure composting, roof gardens, timed showers, water rations, fossil fuel taxes, underwater buildings, and gray water systems, for example. While some of these things are around now (2013), none of them are widely used. (save perhaps fuel taxes) What kinds of environmentally savvy inventions or processes do you think will be the first to garner widespread use?
Roof gardens, I’d hope. I like gardens. They’re pretty, and they give you shade, and they feed you, and they soak up carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. I mean, we can only have roof gardens because we use humanure for fertilizer and water rationing to make sure there’s water for them. It’s all connected. That’s how everything works.
The people in Australia in your time are very pro-vegetarian and put off by those who eat meat. Do you think we have a moral or ethical obligation to alter the way we eat to preserve some aspect/s of the environment?
Oh, the meat thing. Well, I don’t know, does it taste nice? I don’t really miss something I’ve never had. And a vegetarian life is much better for the environment – raising food animals takes a lot of water and energy in comparison. I think it’s wrong to say how other people should eat, though. Maybe you should think about it? And decide what’s best for you?
Tegan is in a particularly interesting position, having experienced the world in two different centuries, but I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about Earth’s history in school. (plus, your being a genius helps!) What surprises you most about our past environmental choices? Are there any historical environmental disasters or events that you find particularly appalling or interesting?
Bethi’s much more your history girl, but let’s see, what can I remember? Oh, flying. We did this project on commercial flight, and how much fuel it took, and how much carbon it emitted. The numbers were shocking, and Bethi was really angry. She walked around for a week saying, “Couldn’t they sail? They had electricity! Why didn’t more people use electric cars and just drive to where they wanted to go?”
I didn’t want to tell her that lots of the electricity came from burning coal anyway, because she was already so upset. So I pretended that I’d taken some color and forgotten to do that part of the project and instead she got angry because she thought I was getting high too often.
It’s sometimes hard to do the right thing by Bethi, but she makes life interesting.
The Iroquois Native Americans originated the “seventh generation sustainability concept,” which basically means that when making important decisions we should analyze the impact that decision will have seven generations, or 140 years, from now. Yet it is very hard to get people to care about issues that are more abstract. What do you believe about the way we should handle our inherited Earth? Are you optimistic about our current trajectory?
The Iroquois are some smart people. Looking seven generations ahead would have done us a lot of good – seven generations ago. Now, no, I’m not optimistic.
I try to be. I hope there will be a solution. I work to help.
But I’m not sure if our species has seven generations left.
Thanks for answering our questions, Joph!
Here's the official blurb for the book:
My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity--even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
And the trailer:
Pretty well done, eh? Healey will also be chatting with fellow writer Malinda Lo
about the book on the Live at the Lounge
author video chat on March 23rd
. It's going to be a great sci-fi/YA fest! As part of the Wake Up blog tour, the publisher has provided a copy of the book for one random reader at each stop. The giveaway is US ONLY and will run until 3/17
. Be sure to visit all the other stops on Karen's blog tour to hear from more characters and increase your chances of winning a copy!
3/4 - Novel Novice
interviews Bethari about media/communications
3/5 - The Book Smugglers
interviews Abdi about immigration
3/6 - 365 Days of Reading
interviews Dr. Marie about scientific/medical research
3/7 - Forever Young Adult
interviews Tegan about music
3/8 - The Readventurer (you're already here!), interviews Joph about the environment
Stay tuned this week for our (well, my (Flann)) 4-star review of When We Wake
. In the meantime, check out these reviews from some of our blogging buddies:A Reader of FictionsAlluring ReadsVegan YA NerdsBook SmugglersHave a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Since probably no one is reading this paragraph, I will take this time to say that I was just perusing Karen Healey's FAQs
on her site and this former child chess champion was giddy to find out that her favorite musical is Chess
. I'm going to kick my Friday off right by prancing around the house singing Nobody's Side