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Archive for April, 2012

The YA tribe.

Apr
18

7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

So this article over at the Huffington Post was brought to my attention – “YA Cover Girls on Top”

Apparently since I’m a 20-something YA book blogger, I’m part of a YA readers “tribe.”  The word “tribe” just immediately makes my mind wander to “primal,” which definitely isn’t the point of the article at all.  The article is instead about this:

YA readers are part of a tribe; and YA covers signify that the book is special, meant just for members of their tribe. ‘This is ours, not yours,’ the book cover declares. As a lifelong reader, writer, and lover of literature, I want to be part of this tribe, which, like all groups, is full of contradictions. I have a lot to learn from book bloggers and — I believe — a lot to offer them. And I decided I want a book cover that will attract this tribe to my novel The Earthquake Machine, a book that asks the reader to think critically about everything from immigration to limitations imposed by gender.

Lowry goes so far as to say that “YA bloggers’ [have a] fetishistic love of book covers.”  To prove this, she says she’s witnessed some strange things, particularly in vlogs: “YA bloggers often go so far as to caress their favorite book covers, an activity I have dubbed ‘cover stroking.’”

In my almost two years in the book blogging world, I have not watched someone’s vlog in which they “stroked” a cover. And I’m quite glad that I haven’t. But it got me thinking. Lowry also mentions how cover reveals have become this major aspect of a book’s promotion.  And maybe I just don’t get it because I could care less about a cover reveal, but how much do they really influence us? How much do they influence you?

Are we really placing THAT much importance on covers in the YA book market? Are we inadvertently falling in love with and promoting unattainable and/or unrealistic qualities and standards of beauty for women?

I pulled these covers from the Barnes and Noble Teen bestsellers list:

What is it that you first notice about them? Perhaps the flawless skin. The beautiful make up.  The dresses. The sex appeal.

Do any of those things contribute to your liking, or attraction to, any of these covers? I’d say the above covers are aesthetically pleasing. I certainly wouldn’t call any of them hideous.

Is it our liking of these beautiful covers that creates the cover trends we ultimately begin to complain about? For a period of time, I remember, covers were detailing close-ups of dramatic eyes. Then we had enough of that and close-ups of lips became the new eyes. Then it was whole faces. Then it was legs.  Each time, the covers seem to focus on at least one part of the female anatomy – from head to toe.

But what does that say of our “tribe”? Could book covers still be aesthetically pleasing and, uh, stroke-worthy, if they didn’t plaster seemingly perfect girls on them? I think so. There are plenty of covers I like purely for the fonts or colors. But I do think there’s something to be said for the covers we, as YA book bloggers, as a majority, favor.  And the ones above are perfect examples. The good news, as Lowry mentions, is that “bloggers may still value images and ideas of beauty that are limited enough to be harmful; but if book covers lead young readers to books that ask them to think critically, then one of these days bloggers may begin demanding more covers, and books, that acknowledge more expansive notions of female beauty.”

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Whip it Up Mondays! {2}

Apr
15

7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Microwaveable Potato Chips

 

Guess what I bet you didn’t know? Yep – those potatoes you have just sitting in your pantry? You could be turning them into deliciously healthy, non-processed potato chips.  BUT WAIT! Don’t go!

I know your mind is swimming with images of fryers and grease and the all-important ticking of the clock, reminding you of the time you just can’t spare for making measly potato chips.

But what if I told you that you wouldn’t have to use a fryer? What if I told you that you could use your microwave?

And that’s precisely what I’m telling you. You can make your own potato chips in the microwave. In the span of four minutes! And the best part is one potato can yield you a bunch of chips, and you get to season them however you’d like. You can also store them for several days  – so you can make a bunch and not worry about finishing them!

When I first came across the microwaveable potato chip idea over here, I didn’t know what to think. I almost felt cheated that I didn’t know I could have been easily making my own chips all this time, flavoring them exactly how I want them, without having to buy bags and bags of processed chips. I always assumed a fryer was needed, and I was not about to waste a bunch of oil just to fry thinly sliced potatoes. So this idea of utilizing your microwave to make your own chips is just ingenious to me.

Are you ready to see how easy it is?

INGREDIENTS

microwaveable potato chips

medium russet potato
parchment paper
salt
optional seasonings: chili powder, Old Bay seasoning, powdered cheddar, etc.

DIRECTIONS

Using a mandolin, v-slicer, or knife, slice one medium russet potato (peeled, if you like) as thinly as possible, taking care that all slices are the same thickness. Line the turntable tray of your microwave with parchment paper and place the potato slices on it without overlapping. Salt lightly and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings.

Microwave at full power–watching closely–until spots of brown begin to appear, about 4-6 minutes. Turn off the microwave for 1 minute. Microwave again at full power until the slices are golden brown. (Be very careful not to over-brown or they will taste burned.) Remove from the microwave and allow to cool. Repeat until all potato slices are cooked.

For salt + vinegar chips: Dip each potato slice into cider vinegar before putting it on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt before microwaving.

I don’t think it gets any easier than that! Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of potatoes laying around while I’m at school, so I have to wait until I’m at home to indulge in this neat little cooking treat. But if you have potatoes going unused, I highly suggest giving this a try!

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In My Mailbox (29).

Apr
14

24 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

In my mailbox

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter.

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland.

 

Still haven’t gotten The Immortal Rules, but I did manage to get these.

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REVIEW! Perfect by Natasha Friend.

Apr
13

0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Perfect by Natasha Friend

Isabelle Lee has a problem, and it’s not just Ape Face, her sister, or group therapy for an eating disorder, or even that her father died and her mother is depressed and in denial. It’s that Ashley, the most popular girl in school, is inviting Isabelle to join her at lunch and at sleepovers at her house, and this is presenting Isabelle with a dilemma. Pretty Ashley has moved Isabelle up the social ladder, but is it worth keeping the secret they share?

MY THOUGHTS:

This is one novel, I think, that handles eating disorders really well – it neither glorifies nor pities them. Instead, it treats the disorders on a variety of levels, from families to friends to school to day-to-day emotions.  It stresses that every case is different for every individual, but that there is still the opportunity for coming together. For me, this aspect kept the reading hopeful, despite being bitterly dark, at points.

Reading Perfect is like slogging through chewing the rind of a lemon. At first it’s sweet, and just a story.  But the more you chew – read – the more bitter it becomes.  You experience the cloud of oh everything’s fine with Isabelle’s family, and then you get to also experience the spiral of unraveling the truth, of needing help, of feeling happy, sad, lonely all at once.  And, just like a lemon, it’s refreshing at the end.

I wouldn’t say that the description is entirely accurate.  I feel that the story is less about Isabelle being concerned about moving up the social ladder, and more about how she feels after getting to know Ashley and how their secret applies to them both, but differently.  It’s a much deeper read than its summary permits.  Yes, Isabelle’s only thirteen, and her age is reflected in her actions, speech and thoughts.  But there’s still something deep to be found in them, which is what really surprised me.  This even applies to her sister, April (Ape Face), who is only ten. Friend accurately captures the hasty development of maturity that the girls learn to acquire, despite their young ages.

Perfect isn’t the happiest read, and it will make you think, but it’s nice for a seemingly honest portrayal of what people of all ages may be going through, for whichever eating disorder.

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Follow Friday (32)

Apr
12

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Follow Friday is now acknowledging and promoting the following of blogs through their RSS feeds! Because this site is proudly powered by WordPress, there’s no GFC (Google Friend Connect) option. BUT, you can follow TGR through my feed by clicking HERE or over to the right, in my sidebar. You can also subscribe through email!

 

 

 

 

 

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What is one book I would be nervous to see made into a movie adaptation?

Anna and the French Kiss. Or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In the case of Anna, I just don’t think any actors could take the place of Anna and Etienne; I don’t think it would work, and I don’t think they could capture all of their essence. In the case of Smoke and Bone, there’s just so much awesome that I think a lot of it would be left out in a movie.

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This week at The Grammarian’s Reviews

Vote for TGR at the Independent Book Blogger Awards – help me get to BEA!

“Good” versus “Bad” reading and writing

Top 10 Tuesday

{new feature!} Whip it Up Mondays

In My Mailbox

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Writing and Reading: a discussion.

Apr
11

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

“Good” versus “Bad,” Making and Breaking Stories, and Workshops

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what makes and breaks a story, for me.  Between blogging, engaging in literature-based discussions in my classes, and going through the Hell known as the writers’ workshop, well, it’s easy for me to begin thinking and then talking about these kinds of things.

Just earlier tonight I had a discussion with a friend about the misconception writers and readers may have about “good” and “bad” stories and “good” and “bad” writing. Both my friend and I feel that there are clear distinctions between the two. For instance, just because I don’t like the Hunger Games, it doesn’t mean I think it’s a “bad” book, or “bad” writing. I don’t like the Hunger Games because I have issues with the characters, dialogue and some plot points. Meaning, I have issue with how the story is conveyed to me, not its literal make-up.

In a workshop setting, I think this sometimes becomes misconstrued, or a little too black-and-white. In my workshop experiences, if the other writers did not like a particular piece, they dubbed it “bad” writing, or equated it to not being able to write well. But I don’t think this is always the case. To be a writer, you must also be a storyteller. And I think sometimes the roles of storyteller and writer become blurred together, though I feel that they’re separate. I think you can have a great story to tell, but, at the same time, be unable to convey it well. Likewise, I think you can construct a very eloquent piece of work, but have it lacking in its actual content, or story. Because of this, I don’t think you can simply label a book “good” or “bad.” There are too many factors – most of them based upon opinion.

When it comes down to it, what makes and breaks a story for me are the characters. If there’s any disconnect between me and the characters in a story (presumably a majority of them, depending on how many are involved), I begin to lack the will to continue reading. I want the character to be a person to me – as real as they can be, whether they’re admirable or despicable. If they simply seem like a cookie cutter (without that being their intention), or uninteresting (again, without that being their intention), then I don’t see the point in me learning about them.

Going along with that, I also place importance on dialogue. The characters may appear to be as real as real can get, but if a disbelieving or ridiculous or lacking or cliched line of dialogue is tied to them, I start to become wary. They can’t just seem real; I need them to sound real as well. What they’re saying has to matter to me, on some level. If it doesn’t, then I know I’m not very emotionally invested, and possibly even interested, in the story.

Characters are what hold my attention – they’re what I cling to when I read. This unfortunately means they can both make or break it for me.

What about you? What makes or breaks a story for you? How do you view “good” versus “bad” writing? What have your workshop experiences been like?

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Independent Book Blogger Awards

Apr
10

0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads and the Association of American Publishers is having a contest for non sponsored blogs to win all-expenses-paid trips to BEA this year!

Do you know what this means for me? A heart attack from excitement, that’s what! I never got to go to BEA last year, which was the first year I’d ever heard about it (thank you, blogosphere!). And, as it stands, I won’t be able to make it this year, either. Finances really are a pain in my butt.

But I’d LOVE to go. Capital L-O-V-E. It’s not just about the swag or books. It’s my future. If I’m going to make it in the publishing world, I want to know what it’s like. I want to speak with authors and their crews. Really, I think of my going to BEA as one big field trip, or compressed internship. Attending the conference would benefit me in so many ways.

…Can you tell I’m a student? Hah!

But really, I would appreciate any and all support in this contest. I won’t tell you to vote for me . But I will say that if you’d like to help and think TGR and myself are deserving of this trip, then you can click the vote button to the right of this post, in my sidebar.

Thank you!

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Top Ten Tuesday: They did WHAT?

Apr
09

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish.

TOP TEN BOOKS THAT WERE TOTALLY DECEIVING


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I’d been taught from the Traveling Pants series that there were always happy resolutions for the girls. But this was not the case at all in its conclusion. It was very unsettling.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger. The concept of the Duff barely made a lasting appearance in the story. I felt cheated into reading a cliched teen romance.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols. I’m not sure this counts as an instance of deceit, but, c’mon. That ending? What’s up with THAT?

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Going by the cover alone, I expected some sort of masquerade. It just led my mind in a different direction entirely. Thankfully the story ended up being TOTALLY AWESOME.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I thought this would be a cutesy winter read, but it ended up being chaotic and the Book of Dares was left by the wayside maybe halfway through. The title was misleading.

Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy. The cover is a coffee cup with a heart in its foam. Yet, the story is about a spunky tomboy being in a band. What’s up with that?

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. I was expecting a cute, romantic read focusing on a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Instead the story revolves around the protagonist and her relationship with her father – which is okay, just not what the summary sold me.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. I expected a cute, beach read. Instead the story is very serious (and, consequently, boring). It didn’t live up to its description.

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*I know there’s only 8, but this post decided to eat itself before posting, and I had to recreate it from memory in a shorter amount of time.

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Whip it Up Mondays! {1}

Apr
09

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Churro Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think about churros, your mind immediately goes to those glorious sugary, golden sticks of dough. But today we’re going to think about churros in a different way – as CUPCAKES. Yes, you read that correctly.  Churros. As cupcakes.

Really, what could be a better combination?

I first saw the churro cupcake recipe on Cecilia’s blog (check it out for the original page and her bookish insights!) and immediately began to drool over the pictures she posted, including this one:

Heaven, in the form of a cupcake. Look at all that caramel!

Needless to say, I was sold on the recipe and discovered I already had all of the ingredients. So I made them, of course! Mine didn’t come out nearly as pretty as Cecilia’s, but they still tasted absolutely wonderful. And that’s what matters most, right?

My churro cupcakes. (I drizzled them with caramel sauce AFTER this picture was taken.)

I’m not at all lying when I say that they’re delicious. Okay, yes, I am. Because they’re MARVELOUS. They’re the perfect go-to dessert for Autumn and Winter – or any time at all, really. You can never really go wrong with caramel on top of cupcakes. Especially churro cupcakes.

So whaddaya think? Ready to give ‘em a go? I hope so!

INGREDIENTS

cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 (1 stick) cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined then stir in the vanilla and oil. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and gently stir in until barely combined. Add half of the milk, mixing until just combined. Repeat these steps with the remaining flour mixture and milk, ending with the flour. Do not over-mix.

Fill each cupcake tin with 2 tablespoons of batter, or until the cupcake tin is filled half way (do NOT be generous). Bake the cupcakes for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with one or two crumbs clinging to it. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.??

For the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Then stir in the vanilla. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy.

Pipe onto cupcakes, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and top with a drizzle of Dulce De Leche (or caramel sauce) if desired.

*Note: I’m not much of a baker, so making cupcakes from scratch and, well, NOT from a box mix was a little daunting at first. But this recipe is so simple and easy enough to follow that I actually ended up making these 2-3 weeks straight. No lie. So if I can do it, you can, too. And the awesome thing is you’ll be proud of what you’ve done with such little work, and everyone else will think you’re a Cupcake Queen (or King!). Win-win!

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In My Mailbox (28).

Apr
07

21 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

In my mailbox

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen.

 

Excited for this one, but I recently requested The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa on NetGalley and still haven’t heard back. WANT!

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