Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet the Igbys! (And a round of hypothetical applause for Taylor Swift.)

Currently Listening To: Love Story by Taylor Swift
Line Love: "Some people are born with the first word of a language resting on their tongue, though it may take some time before they can taste it." - from The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I had planned to devote today's post to a book giveaway, and I will in a sec, but first let's talk Taylor Swift. I have long been a fan of Taylor Swift. First, I like her music. It's fun. It's sweet. My best friend and I listen to it a lot when we're driving around, shopping. Sometimes one of us will say, "Imagine how much we would have loved this in high school!" Funny because ... we love it and listen to it all the time now too :) My niece, Erin, is also a Taylor Swift fan and if Erin thinks something is cool, that's pretty much what seals the deal. So Taylor's music is great. And she's written more than a few song lyrics that make me go "whoa...". But I'm also a big fan of her. I saw a show on MTV last year, where a guy won a mystery prom date. His date? Miss Swift. So she shows up, hangs out with him all night, dances with him, and never acts too uppity to be at a small town prom. But that wasn't even the best part of the show. Apparently lots of guys from that school sent in videos in hopes of winning the mystery prom date. While she was dancing with this guy and his friends, she saw one of those other guys. He was very shy, very stand-offish, standing away from the crowd. Taylor broke away from the group she was dancing with, went up to the guy, and told him she remembered him. And the she asked him to dance. He beamed. It is one of my Top 10 Best TV Moments Ever. She seems like a genuinely kind person. Love that. Also love that she doesn't hooch it up with her clothes.

Now. I didn't watch the MTV awards last night. MTV award shows don't interest me. Too much "shock" factor, in my lame opinion, is never shocking as much as it is just comical. But I watched the YouTube clip this morning of Taylor's moment being snatched away by Kanye West. (Until Beyonce came out on stage and let Taylor have her moment. Yay Beyonce!). Know what impressed me most about the whole shananagan? When Taylor didn't comment on the event. When she said something like, "I'm not gonna start anything. I don't have anything to say." She didn't cry. Didn't release a mean statement to the press. She just went back out on stage and delivered an awesome performance. Such a classy girl.

Sometimes, it's good to just squash the drama before it gets out of hand. Some people thrive on drama, usually people who are obsessed with themselves, and obsessed with having all the attention directed at them. In this situation, the jerk moment came from a rapper who wasn't getting enough attention.* In the non-MTV universe, I think it comes more in the form of people who spread rumors for kicks, who criticize you just because it makes them feel better, who thrive on being mean. It's hard not to retaliate. You want to snap back when people are mean to you. Sometimes you should snap back. I'm not advocating being a doormat when people bully you (or when they bully other people). But I also think sometimes the best way to get back at people who taunt you, or make fun of you, or thrive on criticizing you is to keep doing what you love. Keep singing, keep writing, keep painting, keep teaching, keep dreaming. In the immortal words of those timely poets Jimmy Eat World, "Try your best. Just be yourself. Doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else." Taylor Swift is going to be on The View tomorrow talking about the situation. After she's had time to cool down and think about what she will say. Smart? Much. Rock on, Taylor Swift! Did anybody watch? Did I miss anything else interesting? (Saw a clip on the news this morning. Was Lady GaGa wearing a bird's nest on her face?)

And now I want to tell you about this book! :)

I've been quite excited about today's blog for over a month now. Not only do I get to tell you about Andrew Peterson's new book, North! Or Be Eaten but I get to give a copy away. If you're interested in having this super gorgeous book, I'll give you instructions on how to obtain it at the end of the post.

First let us discuss Andrew. That is him, there to the left. He is wearing a swanky hat. This is his bio:

Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One in the Wingfeather Saga, and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in a little house they call The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his websites: and

And this is Andrew's new book, North! Or Be Eaten. (Great title, no?) Here's the back cover copy:

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.
Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.
Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens of responsibility.”

And here are my thoughts on the book: I was excited to see what Andrew Peterson could do with a novel.** Not surprisingly,North! Or Be Eaten reads like a dark lullaby. It rocks your imagination with vivid descriptions of other worlds, wild monsters, and brave young heroes. The heroes are my favorite part of the novel. No doubt, the monsters are scary (as they should be). But the kids are all very real. Tink, Janner, and Leeli could be the kids you babysit, the kids you nanny. They're conflicted, quirky, funny and bent on having a big adventure. The humor keeps the morality from being too didactic (hilarious footnotes abound) and the book has a lyrical quality that will keep you reading late into the night. Themes like good vs. evil are a given in a novel like this, but what impressed me most was the family dynamic. These kids act like real siblings, and it's cool (and amusing) to see how they sort out their issues. North! Or Be Eaten is whimsical and lovely and just weird enough to get tangled up in your imagination in a really fun way. Just don't go near the toothy cows ... ;)

You can check out Andrew's website here.

You can also read his blog, The Rabbit Room, which is one of my favorite blogs, here.

And if you're not feeling lucky, you can scoot on over to Amazon or see if your fabulous local indie bookstore has it in stock.

A few final thoughts: 1.) This is the second book in The Wingfeather Saga. I haven't read the first. I didn't feel lost going into this one, but like any series, you'll probably love this book even more if you get to know the characters beforehand. 2.) One of my favorite things about this book is that the middle child is the heir to the throne. The middle! Yes! Middle children are notoriously neglected, so this is a big perk ;) And 3.) This book is dark. Something about it reminds me of Lemony Snicket. Some issues aren't resolved in this book (there is still another book to come). And sometimes this book feels heavy. Reads kinda scary. I've seen some criticism on the dark aspect, but my opinion is that it's effective. And necessary. No matter your age, I'm thinking you've experienced a life event (or even a chronic fear) way more scary than the monsters in this book. Yes, it's dark. But dark exists. As a kid The Dark Sea of Darkness might be comparable to sleeping with the lights all off. Or watching your parents go through a divorce. As an adult, The Dark Sea of Darkness is a pretty apt description of depression, rejection, loss. My favorite thing about fantasy is the way it subtly convinces you that you are brave enough to stare down all the (very real) monsters in your world too. This book doesn't always offer up a sweet, glittery happy resolution. I kind of like that it doesn't.

If you're interested in winning this copy of North! Or Be Eaten, here's what you need to do: leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite fictional place (this novel is packed full of cool/scary places). It can be from a book, a movie, a TV show, or just a world you dreamed up :) Next Monday, I'll pick a winner at random and send you the book. And just FYI, I've been so careful with it! There are no coffee stains. No Cheetoh fingerprints. I didn't let Biscuit the Wonderdog chew on it.

I can't wait to read your answers! (For what it's worth, my pick would be Narnia. But my very close second pick would be Stars Hollow ... ;) If you don't tell me your favorite fictional place, I'll just assume you're dropping by to say hey.

Special thanks to Andrew Peterson, his publicist, Kelly, and the cool folks at WaterBrook/Multnomah for sending the review copy our way!

*Did he not see Taylor Lautner on stage?! Has Kanye not seen the New Moon previews? One fursplosion and BAM. Don't mess with a wolf.
** Admittedly, I was also excited about the prospect of a mad man running a fork factory.


  1. Natalie,
    Hi there my name is Steffanie and I am a huge fan of your writing it inspires me and your in step articles for Brio and Beyond are all hole punched and in a binder. My boyfriend and I actually pulled them out last night to read along with our bibles. Your work is inspiring. I also just ordered Paperdoll yesterday! :)

    Anywho, I decided to respnd about my favorite fictional place. Stars Hollow is fantastic and I am also a Gilmore Girls fan, but my favorite place would have to be Bloomington, Indiana. The setting is used in Karen Kingsbury's Baxter Family Drama series books. I love her writing and the setting goes a little like this: Bloomington is a small, beautifl town where everone knows everyone. There are coffee shops, friday night football games, and Lake Monroe to hang out at for the summer. Indiana University is a popular spot in the books for blossoming relationships and thoughtful walks and talks. There is a Christian Kids Theater that is open for children to make a difference in their community by putting on shows portraying God's love and mercy. It is beautiful in the winter, blanketed by snow and thousand of lights hung up around the entire town. In the fall, all the colors contrast perfectly and the air is the perfect temperature for long walks through the neighborhoods. Most of all, God is there. His beauty and grace shines so brightly and you feel safe there. So that is my favorite place to be! When I read, I catch a glimpse of how awesome our Lord really is. :)

    Thanks for blogging!

  2. Can my favorite place be wherever the Baby-sitter's Club was? :) And Narnia? And Terabithia? You don't have to enter me in the drawing, I just thought I'd share.

    Also, Taylor Swift is so awesome. I've not seen the clip (dial-up stinks), but I'm gonna watch the MTV awards rerun tonight just to see it. I sooo hope there is someone like that for Rachel to see when she is older. A cool teenager that is NORMAL. Love that about her!

  3. Oh, one more thing. I just happened to watch it when hunky Taylor/Jacob was on. I stopped what I was doing and told Ben he wasn't allowed to comment until the preview was over. I'm sure he was rolling his eyes, but I'm so excited about seeing the dorkiness that I'm sure will be in New Moon. Team Jacob all the way!!!

  4. Steffanie, thank you so much for your sweet words! I'm glad those articles have encouraged you. And I think it is so darn sweet your boyfriend read through them with you. What a guy! ;) Bloomington is a great pic. I've never read Karen Kingsbury, but with a town that dreamy, I might have to check it out. So glad you said hello! :)

    Mel, where was the BSC headquartered?! Did she ever say? Happy, happy memories :) Terebithia is awesome too. Why didn't I think of that? That book made me cry. So did the movie. And I agree, Taylor Swift is a great role model for girls.

  5. I had to smile when I read Steffanie's comment because I have lived in Bloomington my entire life. It sounds like Kingsbury has kept most of the beautiful parts of Bloomington and only taken a little liberty with the rest. :) It does have a small-town feel, especially in summers when most of the IU students are gone, but it still has some sophistication. Fall is definitely my favorite Bloomington season so I'm pretty happy right now. I feel safe most of the time here too! If you ever get a chance to visit the real Bloomington, you'll notice it has its problems, but for the most part it is a wonderful town to live in. :) Sometimes God's beauty is hidden by the darkness that is everywhere in this world (as Madeleine L'Engle described it, we're a shadowed planet, but we're fighting the shadow), but I know He is always here. Let me know if you visit and want a tour from a townie! :)

  6. ps) with 70,000 people, everyone definitely doesn't know everyone else! :) but there are good communities and it doesn't feel as scary as a big city. your comments are making me think a lot about how God does reveal Himself in Bloomington despite the prevalent antagonism toward Christianity... thank you for helping me think about it:)

  7. Abby, that's so awesome that you live there! I will definitely let you know if I ever go there! Which I plan to add to my places to visit in my lifetime, list. Thanks for the kind words!

  8. You totally stole my fictional place. I would definitely pick Stars Hollow. BSC was nearby in Stonybrook, Connecticut. I'm going to have to visit this Connecticut place soon. I'm starting to think that state itself is fictional with its magical world of novelicious wonder.

    I also wouldn't mind living in Highbury, although I think Emma would drive me insane. Mostly because she's unfortunately a lot like me.

    Do colleges count? Because I'd happily do some graduate studies at Rancho Corona University with Katie and Sierra. Maybe I could get Sierra's brother Wes to ask me out.

    If we're talking completely unrealistic fictional places, I think we should all take time out of our weeks to visit Tom Bombadil's house.

  9. I was all "Oh Kanye! No. you. did. not." He definitely was lucky that Taylor Lautner wasn't in an attacking mood last night.
    And it's been said, but I heart Taylor Swift. Beyonce was pretty classy too last night.

    As for my favorite world...this is harder than I thought it would be! Can I say the one in Little Women? (But then it's sad because, you know, one of them dies. And their dad is at war.) I also love me some Central Perk. Oh, to be a Friend!
    I would also LOVE to live in pretty much any Pixar movies. UP maybe. Bright, colorful and full of awesome/interesting characters.

  10. Hogwarts... and I'd want to be an instructor. Potions looks fun.

  11. What a great question, Natalie! I immediately thought of Hogwarts and all places Harry Potter. Which will actually be a reality when Universal finally unveils its HP theme park...though I have my reservations. Sometimes places like that are better left in your imagination...

    Another place I would love to visit would be the fictional village of Wall, England. It gets its name from a stone wall that runs next to the village. The wall is solid except for one six foot gap. This gap is the only doorway between our world and a magical world within our own (a la Narnia). But you have to fight off the guards to get in... Check out Neil Gaiman's Stardust for the whole amazing story--it's like a fairytale for adults. (And please don't judge it by the movie--it was awful.)

  12. Abby and Steffanie, if you guys ever hang out in Bloomington you must send a pic! Yay for the blog bringing people together :) Sounds like such a sweet town, for real.

    Ashley, if Chris Thile is at Tom Bombaldi's house ... I am there. In fact, if Chris Thile is hanging out by a dumpster, I would gladly be there too. Thanks for Stonybrook! I don't know why I didn't remember.

    Sarah, the world of Little Women is a really sweet one! I think that book is one of the best girl power books ever. Even if I think Jo picked the wrong guy ... ;)

    J, you would pick potions.

    Carra, great pick! You're right, I didn't care much for the movie Stardust. BUT I am a big huge fan of Neil Gamon. I've never read Stardust, but I want to pick it up. He's so talented.

  13. Wow, it's hard to pick my favorite fictional place. I'd have to say Mitford, from Jan Karon's novels. Narnia is a close second. Although, I would love to visit the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice (this goes back to a previous blog post...).
    I really don't keep up with MTV awards, so I hadn't heard about what happened to Taylor. I feel really bad for her! In the picture that I saw, she was standing there kind of helplessly. I've been told that I look like her (but with less makeup). I LOVE the song "Love Story"!!! When I first heard it, I thought it was going to be another one of those songs where the girl defies her parents and leaves, so I was happy when the boy said "I talked to your dad" at the end. :)

  14. I mean it as a compliment. The potions professors are always the coolest. And the most eeeeevil ... ;)

  15. Hi Natalie! It's nice to meet you. I have so much to say, not sure where to begin!

    1. I LOVE the cover of your book. Oh my goodness, it's gorgeous. You're total aspiring author porn and I mean that as a HUGE compliment.

    2. I agree with everything you said about Taylor Swift. She's the epitome of class and grace in a world where so many teens starlets take the trashtastic route.

    3. Kanye...OH Kanye. He's a troubled soul, no? I hope he really is sorry for what he did. We're going to do a d-bag meter post on him soon. It was so sad and such a desperate attempt for attention.

  16. I'm so glad you like the cover! Thanks for the compliment :) I'm wild about pretty book covers, so when they slapped a cool cover on my book it was like a HUGELY awesome moment. :) Ditto on Kanye. Somebody said (can't remember the blog ...) that it's kind of sketch someone didn't stop him from storming the stage. MTV might be the invisible jerk in this situation, but still. It was super rude.