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! :)
First let us discuss Andrew. That is him, there to the left. He is wearing a swanky hat. This is his bio:
And this is Andrew's new book, North! Or Be Eaten. (Great title, no?) Here's the back cover copy:
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.