Posts tagged entertainment
A Day in the Life (3)

a day in the life

Hey y'all!For those of you who haven't seen this feature before, I started A Day in the Life just to give y'all updates on what I'm reading, thinking, and what's going on in the bookish world! I hope y'all enjoy! A LOT has been going on with me recently and I'm reading three books at once so I have a lot to say! Here goes:The Books:

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan - I'm reading this one at the moment and my feelings are kind of mixed. On one hand, I love the idea of the story and I ADORE stories that take place in New York City. But it's taking forever to get really started with any kind of action and it's just gotten kind of boring. Honestly, I want to be HOOKED. Hopefully, this improved. Andrea Cremer tends to use a lot of world-building and while that's excellent in fast-paced books and extravagant books such as Nightshade, it doesn't really work that well when combined with a slower plot. I'll finish reading it this weekend and let y'all know what I thought!The Life:Chorus and friends are honestly taking over my life right now. My chorus teacher has this crazy idea that chorus should be the number one priority in our lives and I've had rehearsal so much. Last week, we had Madrigals, a Renaissance-style musical/concert that involved us dressing up as peasants. (See the Twitter picture if you don't believe me.) Friends are being confusing but there's not really that much I can do about that but try to be supportive while wishing that I could be curled up in the corner with a book. I also have a ton of writing things going on (see "The News" below). The problem is that I don't really want to get that involved with my school because there's a chance that I might leave it and at this point, I want to. I enjoy it enough but I really don't like certain parts of it and Interlochen sounds like a fantastic opportunity for me.The Posts:I recently wrote a post Silver Linings: Writing that basically covered all of the writing things that are going on right now for me. It explains what I think about my writing, Interlochen, NaNoWriMo, and more.Last Friday, I revealed the cover for Fanged Princess on the blog. Check out this gorgeous and gothic cover!The News:Today, I won my school's Poetry Jam with my poem "Wallflowers". It's not quite the version that I uploaded on my blog a few weeks ago, but it's close. This means that not only was I lugging around my 1st-place trophy all day, but I'm going to be my school's representative in the District competition. Like I said above, I'm a little hesitant about getting too involved in my school now, and also, I don't want to focus on poetry and whatnot. One of the strengths of Interlochen as opposed to just entering local writing contests is that I feel like that makes me more limited. I do want to focus on novel-writing but frankly, the arts programs down here aren't amazing. They're enough, but I feel like it's just a much better community for me if I attempt to go to Interlochen.The other news: I'm applying for an Interlochen scholarship. Interlochen is an incredible performing arts boarding school filled with passionate young artists. They're currently running a scholarship contest (The Virginia B. Ball Scholarship Contest) and it's one of the only chances that I have to actually get my parents to look at the school.I don't really know. Also, I want to also focus on editing and publishing instead of devoting ALL MY TIME to writing. While writing short stories and poetry is awesome, the publishing business for YA books and whatnot is what I want my life to be devoted to instead of that other writing scene. There's a difference. I'm entering the Interlochen competition and if I'm a finalist, I'm going to figure out what to do from there so that I can get the best of both words.I've also been editing a TON recently. There's an amazing editing opportunity for me coming up in January (that I'm unsure whether I can disclose or not) so I've been critiquing a lot more than I usually do for practice. I definitely want to keep immersed in editing as well as blogging and writing. I love writing, but I want publishing and that world to take precedence over that.I'm saving up to go to BookExpo America (because there may be an opportunity for me to take exams early and be able to go!), as well as normal camp and Interlochen camp. I want to go to all three, which is really expensive obviously. I think I'll be able to because I really only have to pay for BEA, but I'm still basically not going to be buying much in the spring (ahh! book budget!).Other:

Riffle is so unbelievably awesome. It's like Wanelo, but with books! You can create lists of books, recommend books, be "interested" in books, or "finish" books. It's like a mixture of Pinterest and Goodreads! Social media for book nerds - I think yes! I'm a beta user right now and I'm absolutely in love with it. You definitely know what I'll be doing this weekend!That's it for A Day in the Life this week! Thanks so much for reading! I hope y'all enjoyed!Grace

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Format: ARC

Source: Publisher

Find it on Goodreads

Touching the Surface

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

     Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.     As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

This debut will sweep you off your feet. From the first sentence, it will captivate you and make you second guess your deepest thoughts while exploring others. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, Touching the Surface is a masterful take on some of life's most puzzling questions. What happens after we die? What's the point of life?Touching the Surface is seemed character driven but tension permeates most of the book. You might not necessarily find a lot of action but it's mostly emotional. The world is created and the characters are there for the reason that they need to find themselves and figure out how they're holding themselves back. Each of the characters grows and interacts more and more with others throughout the book and made a complex book that was simple to understand and a true experience to read.Books like this one remind me of why I love to read. For me, this was that book. Touching the Surface introduced many new questions and ideas while answering some of my own. I love books that I can escape into, but I also love books that make me think and look at things in a new perspective. Kim had a gorgeous tone that just managed to remind the reader of how important that the little things are. Elliot's quiet deliberation of her life also contrasted nicely with her wild emotions when she remembered parts of her life that she would rather have forgotten.I don't even know how to describe the strange emotions roiling in me after finishing the book, and my experience with the book. It's just one of those books that is so pure and beautiful. Elliot was confused after dying for the third time. Something went wrong. It was never good to be a Third Timer, and she thought that she was doing well in her life. She was missing something, but she didn't know what.Her best friend was ignoring her and seemed almost hostile; the odds were stacked against her and she didn't know why. She found herself falling for two brothers - both extremely different but she couldn't pull herself away from them. Between Delving into painful memories during workshops and trying to figure out herself outside of them, Elliot was completely swamped with everything at once and somehow she had to find who she was despite all of that.Touching the Surface is a cognizant and indulgent novel about finding your identity in the midst of chaos. Beautifully presented, Kimberly Sabatini presents a dreamy and impassioned novel written with an elegant consciousness unlike anything else out there.Read the extended review:The relationships in this book were so excellently handled. Really, I keep saying that about almost every element in this book because everything just seemed almost flawless to me. Kimberly went past the surface of some issues and skimmed the surface of others, but she definitely touched on so many different aspects of Elliot's life. Between the comprehensive structure of the afterlife and the character development, the story was a nice balance of character and plot.I got confused with some of the technicality in the book, but that was a small sacrifice for the complete originality of the afterlife that Kimberly has created. It's extremely hard to create a new afterlife dynamic completely unique from anything else out there, but that's what you get in Touching the Surface.The narrative is interposed with flashbacks from Elliot's life that slowly reveal the missing pieces from her memory. I have ranted about my hatred for amnesia storylines before, but this was completely different. Elliot had the sense of who she was and what happened and the empty holes in her memory weren't abrasive to the story. Subtly and gracefully intertwined with the present storyline, the flashbacks only add more to her character and constantly add to a complicated backstory.Elliot's life becomes more and more chaotic as she tries to figure out what it means and how she appears to other people. Elliot's made mistakes and done things to the people that she loves, but she honestly thought of herself as a good person and wants to figure out how she can be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. She's confused by Julia's mixed messages and hurt by her rejection. She's conflicted between who she thinks she is and how she can change. She doesn't know what's going on with her life and what she's done, and that insecurity fills every page of the book as she grows into herself. It took her dying to understand who she really was. She loves Oliver and his joy, but is attracted to Trevor's dark magnetism.The contrast between the brothers wasn't overdone but each was sculpted completely. As a twin, it drives me crazy when close siblings or twins are portrayed as either polar opposites or completely alike. The brothers were distinctly different and portrayed in that light, but with enough little detail to make it believable instead of cookie cutter characters. I loved learning more about the brothers and how they interacted with each other. Trevor and Oliver love each other but they have this deep undercurrent of rivalry and guilt and all these other delicious histories.There are so many books dealing with the concept of the afterlife and what happens to us after we die. Kimberly Sabatini still manages to make her particular book world something entirely different from what we usually see. It's set up simply with room to change and it constantly does throughout the book. The technicality of it was sometimes hard to follow but it was still a great take and a new angle that I loved to see.I didn't know how to describe my thoughts after finishing Touching the Surface. I scoured every interview that Kimberly did and every blog post even mentioning this book when I heard about it, and read the first paragraph of the book in a teaser that Kimberly released. I wanted, no, NEEDED this book so badly and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to review it. Both achingly beautiful and refreshing, Touching the Surface is a book that I would honestly recommend to everyone that I know.Elliot was definitely a flawed character, and one of the most realistic teen narrators that I've read in a while. Her temper got the best of her and sometimes she was selfish. She ignored some things that she didn't want to face and withdrew into herself when she just wanted to think instead of act. She also learned and grew. She thought of herself as a good person and she tried so hard to understand the world around her and the people around her. She struggled with a lot and indulged in a lot but these were precisely the qualities that reminded me of myself.One of the biggest parts of being a teenager is being completely confused almost all of the time. I know that I related to this book because Elliot's anguish and self-awareness reminded me of myself and freshman year. Everybody is trying to figure out who they are and who they belong with. They're painfully aware of how others see them and just completely overwhelmed. If you're experiencing something similar, I definitely recommend Touching the Surface. It takes a common underlying problem and surrounds it with incredible character and a refreshing setting.Trevor, Oliver, and Julia were wonderful supporting characters. From Trevor's dark persona and confusing mood swings to Oliver's sunny personality, I loved the boys in this book. I wouldn't necessarily paint this book as a love triangle as usually viewed in YA - there was one, but it wasn't as intense as some others and it was more realistic than in other books - but it was definitely handled in a way that I loved to see.Kimberly has a great feel for what is realistic for teens and what is going too far. Elliot not only had problems with the guys in her life but also with Julia, her best friend. Julia and Elliot's relationship was changing because Julia understood what was holding her back and was confronting everything that she was too timid to in her previous lives. Elliot changed a lot because of Oliver and Trevor but she also changed because of Julia's influence and being able to start to identify how she wanted to change. There were even some smaller storylines and characters that impacted Elliot's development and the story.While there are definitely some heavier moments in this book where the full weight of Elliot's life really impacts her, it's also heartwarming. She's forced to confront a lot of her mistakes and flaws and gains new perspective by the end of the book. I love a flawed character and Kimberly Sabatini did an excellent job with her character development. Elliot changed in the subtle ways that a teen does.Eloquent and thoughtful writing made this book a standout. Even the most basic concepts in this book were discussed in such an elegant manner that I couldn't help but be entranced. When I first read the writing, I was a complete goner. Kimberly has this incredible ability to phrase things perfectly and capture the little things that really make life worth living. She handled the themes with poise and wove plot and character development so skillfully.I was crying by the end of the book. I got so attached to the characters and so invested in what happened to them. I didn't want to let them go. Endings upset me so much but it still made me happy. She managed to interweave realistic teenage personalities with a well thought out plot and gorgeous writing.  It was a great ending but it left me so emotional. Heavy themes are dealt with elegantly, both delving into detail but also making it simple enough to understand.Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is one of the most poignant and sensitive books that I've ever read. Not only is Kim one of my favorite people EVER (seriously, I could gush for days!) but she has managed to create a beautiful read that gently questions many of my preconceived beliefs about life, death, and love.This vivacious and ephemeral read will bury itself in your mind and soul, and is sure to be a read that you will remember.Recommended for anybody who loves: The Perks of Being a WallflowerLovely, Dark, and DeepElsewhere; afterlife; etc,.Possible book club questions:Elliot sees herself as a good person, but is only aware of what she's done to hurt people when they tell her about it. Do you think Elliot could have prevented being a Third Timer by being aware of this herself? Are you aware of yourself or are you more similar to Elliot? How do you think you can increase this awareness?Which brother did you prefer - Trevor or Oliver? Why?How did Elliot both improve and hurt her relationship with Julia throughout the book?What moments do you think impacted Elliot's character development the most? etc,.

Winter White Guest Post

Hey y'all!

Today I have a great treat for y'all. Jen Calonita, author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Belles series, as well as one of my favorite books, Sleepaway Girlsis here to talk about her dance experience. In Winter White, the sequel to Belles, the girls take on cotillion. Winter White is in stores now!

It's no secret how Jen Calonita knows the inside scoop on young Hollywood. A former Senior Entertainment Editor at Teen People, Jen has interviewed everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Zac Efron. An entertainment journalist for the past ten years, Jen has written for TV Guide, Glamour and Marie Claire.When the self-professed entertainment junkie is not working, she can be found doing one of three things: scrapbooking, watching Glee, or going to the movies. Jen resides in Merrick, New York with her husband Mike, sons Tyler and Dylan, and their Chihuahua, Captain Jack Sparrow.Check out Jen's video interviews at the website for her publisher, Hachette Book Group: LB Teens. She talks about growing up and being a writer as well as Secrets of My Hollywood Life: Family Affairs.Still have questions? Check out her FAQ!

Winter White (Belles, #2)

Why I Wish I Had Gone to Cotillion

By Jen Calonita

In “Winter White,” my latest BELLES novel, Mira and Izzie take different approaches to dealing with cotillion, a Southern tradition that usually involves a formal ball where women are presented to society. Mira’s been planning her debut since she could practically walk while Izzie is dragged into the experience kicking and screaming.

I know many parts of the country have cotillions, but growing up on Long Island, we didn’t have anything like this tradition. The closest I ever came to wearing white before my wedding was when I needed to don the color for my communion dress (which I loved picking out, by the way). Etiquette lessons, dance classes with boys, making my debut—that sort of stuff was foreign territory to me. But the more I researched cotillion for “Winter White,” the more envious I got of girls who got to participate in this coming-of-age party.

Now I know there will be a portion of you who are reading this and saying: “Jen, I did cotillion and I hated it!” and to you, I apologize. I can’t help myself. I’m fascinated by cotillion and here’s why:

I wonder if I had had cotillion training if I would have had the confidence to find a date to my school dances rather than wait for someone to ask me (which never happened). All those dance classes girls in cotillion take. The etiquette lessons, knowing the proper way to conduct an interview, how to make eye contact—I would have killed for this type of girl power training! Instead, I approached every school dance with dread. I blame this fear all on the well intentions of my best friend in seventh grade. Back then dances were a non-date affair. You showed up and hovered near one wall while the guys stuck like glue to the other. The boy I had crushed on since the sixth grade was there and I would have given anything for him to even just say hello to me. Instead, I wasn’t sure if he even knew I was alive. Getting him to ask me to dance was a pipe dream. Or so I thought. My best friend thought she was doing me a favor by asking him to dance with me. But when he turned her down flat, and she told me what happened, I was crushed.

By the time I got to ninth grade and people started bringing dates to dances, I was petrified of facing that kind of rejection again. The first year we all went to a dance, I somehow convinced most of my friends to attend solo, so I got off kind of easy. But by sophomore year, people were pairing off. My solution? Go with a guy friend, and that worked for the most part. Of course it took a little negotiation—more like a peace treaty—my friends put out feelers to see if he would go with me as friends, then he wanted to make sure I knew we really were just friends, then his friend wanted a date too—by the end I was so exhausted I wondered if it was even worth going at all.The fun wasn’t having a date. At least not for me. Those painful slow songs were just reminders that the guy I was with was just not that into me in that way. The fun, it turned out, was just being with my friends, getting dressed up in some amazingly awkward dress (why did I always pick pink or teal?), and knowing I was part of a group. In the end, I wish I had realized I didn’t need a guy on my arm to survive a school dance. All I really needed was to learn all the things that cotillion training teaches a girl (well, in my opinion, at least)—how to be comfortable in my own skin. It took me a little while, but by college, I finally got there. When the first freshman formal came up, I didn’t even bother looking for a date. I got the cutest dress I could find (I graduated to wearing navy) and danced the night away on my own with my single friends around me. And you know what? It was probably the most fun at a dance I ever had.Thanks so much, Jen! I hope y'all enjoyed and keep an eye out for my review of Winter White on the blog this week!Grace