Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Book Recs!

Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and on the last Saturday of the month, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the book of your choice from the Book Depository!

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
What's the best book you read in February--and what made it so spectacular?

Our Answers

Copil: Dodger by Terry Pratchett. Set in Victorian London Dodger is up there with Railsea as a YA novel that expands what YA can be. The prose is typical of Pratchett in its wit and lyricism and his main character is a charming rogue you cheer for the whole way. I loved this book! It's not just my February pick, it's my favorite read of the year and will be tough to beat.

Jessica: The best book I've read this month was JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman. Paris + travel + kissing + self discovery + absolutely gorgeous writing = 5 stars from Jess.

Cambria; I read Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects and  loved it! It's a dark mystery with a very flawed protagonist and a cast of characters who are so unlikable, you're instantly intrigued by them. I'm just in awe of Gillian Flynn's work!

Karen: Splintered by AG Howard. It was NOT light and fluffy Disney Wonderland, nor did it stay totally accurate to Lewis Carroll's version, but that's the fun of retelling a classic. I thought Splintered was brilliant--dark and twisted at times, but clearly that was the intention. Howard made my skin crawl and my heart break more than once.

Katy: Jess totally beat me to it, but I'm going with Gayle Forman's JUST ONE DAY as well. Such a gorgeous story of self discovery with a main character I could totally relate to. And Willem... Yes, please! (Honorable mentions to THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT by Veronica Rossi and TAKEN by ERIN BOWMAN - two stunning dystopian-esque novels I couldn't put down!)

Matt: The best book I read in February was EMPTY, by K.M. Walton. It's a terrible, tragic, heartrending story, but it's also a powerful and important read.

Your turn!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

From Goodreads:
A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's...Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl--not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.
Terry Pratchett is best known for his Discworld series. I'm a huge sci-fi fan, have been since I was knee-high to an Ewok, and yet, for all my nerding around as a kid, I never read any Discworld books. Heard about them but never read them. The reason why was a mystery to me until I read Pratchett as an adult.

I think he doesn't come up on a sci-fi loving kid's targeting computer because his books, which have to be shelved somewhere, aren't really sci-fi. Or fantasy. Or supernatural or comedy or mystery or any of the other fifteen thousand genres Pratchett can put into a novel and make work. For a kid whose identity was tied up in droids and spaceships, genre-bending was a tough sell.

While Pratchett's content is completely accessible to a kid, trying to get a kid to read the stuff might require a fair amount of explaining that would wrongly imply the material is going to be too challenging.

"Read this, kid, it's like a mashup of The Hobbit and the movie Flight. With lawyers."


No, it won't do to give kids a Pratchett book and a long explanation. His books should be introduced the same way we're introduced to bacon. Bacon gets handed to you with a wink and a smile and the firm knowledge you'll come back for more. Actually, Pratchett's books should be handed out with bacon and just save us all some time. Better yet, print the books on bacon and you've saved the publishing industry. You're welcome, RandomPenguin.

So when I heard Sir Terry (not being glib, dude's a friggin' knight!) had a new YA out, I could not have been more excited. Pratchett isn't new to YA. In fact, his Discworld series includes a collection of YA novels set in that world and they are just as genre-defying, witty and fun as any of his work.

Would Dodger match up?

Oh, yes. Yes it did.

Set in Victorian London, Dodger is everything I hoped it would be. It starts like a punch and goes like an out of control carriage. Our hero is seventeen-year-old Dodger, so named because he's always dodging stuff. Knives, coppers, villains, the Crown, etc., etc. He's a lovable rogue, clearly smarter than his low station (he works as a "tosher," unmucking coins and rings and other items of value that find their way into the sewers).

Dodger is by far one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. He can read but only people, not words, and he has a sort of Forrest Gump relationship with the world. Famous people seem to cross his path in the most believable way. One minute he's befriending Charles Dickens and the next he's disarming Sweeney Todd. Everyone knows or has a connection to Dodger. He's like the Victorian Kevin Bacon.

Dodger is, at heart, a mystery. On page one, Dodger saves a young woman from a terrible beating and is hired by Charles Dickens to uncover the culprits. Dodger spans the city in a new suit, playing Philip Marlowe and falling for the girl.

One of the joys of this book is peeling back the layers as you go. As I mentioned before, Pratchett's books can cross into any number of different genres without so much as an "excuse me, was that your foot?" Dodger delves into some interesting social commentary as we watch the main character interact with his world and see it both as a tosher and, later, as a burgeoning gentleman. The way he's treated depending on what he's wearing and who is vouching for him is a fascinating study in social class.

The book is also very "meta" in this regard. It offers social commentary using Dickens as a character who offers social commentary (based on a real person who offered social commentary). And Dodger is based on a character in a book by the real Dickens, who is portrayed here as picking up the main features of that character from Dodger. Totally Matrix, right? I half expected to find Neo staring back at me when I turned the page.

But make no mistake, for all the big-boy things this book does well, Dodger is also funny. Funny as hell. Just as a fer instance, despite a keen street sense, Dodger is a bit green in the book-learning department. When asked about his friend of "Jewish persuasion," Dodger points out that the man needed little persuading as he was, if he recalls correctly, simply born that way.

Dodger is my favorite book of the year. Yes, I know it's only February but it's gonna be hard to beat, I think.

As with all the books I review, Dodger is a great read no matter your age or gender. But if you have a reluctant reader, someone looking for adventure, someone who likes the funny, is into Victorian porn or is a Dickens fan, definitely get him or her a copy.

And don't do too much 'splainin'. Just hand over the book and a plate of bacon and step away.

Copil rates all books on their Bacon Factor. On a scale from one to ten, one being "gristle-y" and ten being "bacon," Dodger gets a ten. See more Bacon ratings on Twitter (@copil).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Roundtable: Female Sexuality in YA

After reading YA Highway's recent and compelling post on Sexuality + Girls + YA (written by Kristin Briana Otts), we decided that the topic would be perfect for a Roundtable discussion.

Here's what our teens had to say about how females and their sexuality are portrayed in YA literature...

Alison: So...are we ready to start chatting about the month's topic? 
Matt: I'm here, but I'll be popping in and out. Hi everybody! 
Katy: I'm ready... 
Matt: I read the YA Highway post, so I'm ready. 
Alison: Okay, so first I must ask if anyone read the YA Highway post?
Lennon: I did.
Alison: In other words...did you do your homework?  
Chihuahua Zero: I did. 
Lissa: I did read it
Chihuahua Zero: I'm predicting that we're going to be exploring several different aspects of the topic. 
Katy: I did
Alison: yay! Okay - so thoughts: maybe starting with "But it seems to me that the sexuality of young women in books are limited to certain tropes."
Alison: girls who are virgins in YA books? and the statement: "I feel like innocence is painted as a synonym for ignorance." Agree? Why or why not? 
Chihuahua Zero: I'm oblivious about that cliche. Can anyone cite any examples? 
Lissa: Bella from Twilight, for example, had that virgin trope 
Lennon: I semi-agree with that. I think that in some cases it is also seen as a superiority type deal. 
Katy: Sometimes the virgin is the sex-obsessed girl fixated on losing her virginity 
Lissa: One book that I think explored female sexuality well - though I wasn't a huge fan of the story and therefore only read the first book in the series - was Nightshade. I thought that Calla's sexuality was thoroughly explored in that book 
Matt: I can't think of a single YA novel I've read in which the girl was sexually active, outside of heavy petting, or being abused by someone (rape, etc) 
Lissa: I see your point about the superiority thing, in a lot of books, girls are slut-shamed AND, silmultaneously, shamed for being virgins 
Lissa: I do not understand how that works 
Chihuahua Zero: I misread the section. I thought the first paragraph referred to a situation where the teen girl says, "Sex? What's that?" 
Matt: It shouldn't work like that, Lissa, but even in our real life society, sadly, it often does.
Lennon: It shouldn't be like that though. 
Chihuahua Zero: But in general, sexuality isn't something explored on the... cleaner side of YA. And even in more mature territory, it rarely gets racy. 
Riv: (Hi, sorry I'm late. Just going to jump in and hope I'm on topic...) My biggest pet peeve is how there's no male equivalent of a "slut." Yeah, they're called players, but it's just not the same. 
Lissa: Yeah, I know Matt, that's why I try to be objective about what I'm reading in these kinds of situations. A lot of the time, people are very angry with the way females are portrayed in books and they then blame that on their authors, and while I agree that it is the author's fault for giving into the way society is instead of exploiting society's faults, I also feel like I can't really blame them - or the readers who don't see a problem - because slut-shaming or virgin-demonizing is so broadly and actively shown in the media  
Matt: Totally agree Lissa, and keep in mind, often as authors, we purposely create charaters with certain flaws in order to subvert tropes. 
Matt: Or at least in order to attempt to subvert them. 
Katy: That's a good point, Matt 
Lissa: Yeah there are, but conversely, there are also authors who become fully aware of the situation they've put their characters in and do nothing to change it 
Matt: And whether or not it works is highly subjective for each reader, based on their own life experiences 
Chihuahua Zero: By the way, TV Tropes has a index of double standards that can serve as a good jumping point for this topic. Want me to link it?
Matt: You're definitely right there, Lissa. 
Matt: Anyone else have thoughts about Lissa's point? Authors who know better, but do nothing to have their characters break stereotypes, or tropes? 
Lissa: Madonna is a good name, hah that's smart 
Chihuahua Zero: Basically, there's the concept that a girl HAS to be either a "good" girl or a "bad" girl. 
Lissa: CZ, that's why I like Courtney Summers' books. She accurately portrays human beings as a whole, I think.
Katy: Ooh, great example, Lissa 
Matt: YES! 
Katy: Her characters are layered and complex  
Matt: TiNaT was a great example of an empowered girl who knew what she wanted and took it. But wasn't a "slut."
Erica: Miranda Kenneally is another author who does that really well I feel like.
Riv: skimming through the TV tropes articles now, but can I ask a question?
Riv: I feel like no matter which way a writer tries to go on any issue, even if they pursue the middle ground as much as possible, they'll always be attacked for it in some way. In an off-topic example, if a high fantasy has no black characters, it'll be accused of white-washing while, if there are one or two, the author will be accused of trying to avoid being accused of white-washing (if that makes sense?). A character who isn't a virgin will somehow manage to get attacked either for slut-shaming, or [whatever the term is for looking down on girls who are waiting for marriage/never did it for another reason]. 
Chihuahua Zero: It's something that happens with all stories with a good-sized audience. The question is to what degree.
Katy: That's true... There will always be haters. I think the best an author can do is be true to his or her characters and his or her story. 
Lennon: I completely agree. Personally, I blame hipsters. 
Riv: So how are we supposed to keep our writing, for lack of a better word, impartial? 
Lennon: You can't 
Riv: @Lennon Don't knock the hipsters.  
Lissa: Haha, so easy to blame the hipsters 
Chihuahua Zero: I agree with Lennon. There will always be a little bias. Like how people will always analyze a story, no matter its meaning or lack of. Fortunately, the sole purpose of a story isn't to be moral. 
Matt: The hipsters are to blame for many things 
Lennon: Maybe calling them hipsters isn't the best thing in the world. But people who always find something wrong with everything and want to be individuals so badly, they have to knonk something that is popular.
Lissa: That's more like a cynic then, right Lennon? But I don't think being cynical is always a bad thing
Erica: That is such a great point Riv. 
Lissa: I think the best way is to think about it realistically and stay as true as possible to the story you're trying to tell. If your story is a contemporary, if it's set in the US or Canada, realistically there is somebody of every ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, etc in that area, and thus authors should try to stay true to that. If that makes sense  
Chihuahua Zero: Yet, there's something liberating knowing that someone will always criticize a story. That means a story doesn't have to be perfect. 
Lennon: I am very cynical myself, but what I mean is there is always going to be people who find something wrong with your writing.
Katy: So, what are some YA stories that do teen sexuality (particularly female) well, in your opinion? 
Chihuahua Zero: Not sure... 
Lissa: Melina Marchetta does sexuality well. The Piper's Son did female and male sexuality well, IMHO, as did....actually, all her books do. 
Lissa: If you couldn't tell, I am a hugeinormous fan of hers haha
Katy: I agree, Lissa. I think Gayle Forman excels at realistic relationships/sexuality also. 
Matt: I'm not sure I have an example of one that does it well. TiNaT had a great female character who was comfortable with her sexuality, but she wasn't really fully sexually active - without getting too graphic
Lennon: I haven't read anything that hasn't portrayed sexuality as a dirty thing that shouldn't be discussed 
Chihuahua Zero: Looking for Alaska does sexuality... in an interesting way. Especially with that one scene. 
Lissa: Yeah, I was thinking that book too. I don't think Alaska is slut-shamed or Madonna-ized 
Lissa: I actually think that book does a great job of discussing this topic, good point  
Katy: Yeah, but Alaska mostly hangs out with boys who idolize her 
Chihuahua Zero: And then that idolization gets torn apart in the latter part of the book. 
Katy: Good point. 
Chihuahua Zero: John Green says so himself that Miles/Pudge idealizing Alaska as a "maniac pixie girl" hurt him in the end. 
Matt: Once again, I'm in the dark having not read John Green. Sigh. To my credit, I do have Alaska on my Kindle. Just need to read it. 
Chihuahua Zero: I only read two books by him, so don't worry. 
Lennon: I haven't read any John Green either 
Katy: You guys should definitely read at least one of his. I find the way he portrays teenagers to be very refreshing and smart.
Erica: Miranda Kenneally does it really well. Also Courtney Allison Moulton's Angelfire series portrays relationships really realistically.
Chihuahua Zero: By the way, I'm considering buying one of Marina and the Diamond's albums. From what I heard from her, she explores how girl sexuality is seen in an ironic way. 
Chihuahua Zero: For example, listen to the contrast between the verses and the bridge of "How to Be a Heartbreaker". 
Lennon: I love Marina. She's great but she is kind of controversial 
Chihuahua Zero: Should I get her first album or the second one? 
Lennon: It depends on what you want. 
Chihuahua Zero: I know that the second one (Electra Heart) is more persona based.  
Lennon: I personally love her second album, but that's just my preference.
Chihuahua Zero: Lana Del Rey is another interesting artist when it comes to sexuality. I have no idea what's her position about it, since her stance is different depending on the song.
Chihuahua Zero: But I guess "This Is What Makes Us Girls" is relevant.
Matt: Actually, I thought of an example! Rouge, by Leigh T. Moore portrays sexuality realistically. But the MC is 18, I think, and it's historical, so I'm not sure I'd call it YA. Maybe NA.
Chihuahua Zero: Oh! Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver well explores how losing one's virginity is a big deal and the fear and anxiety around it.
Alison: I LOVE that book!
Rebecca: I read Before I Fall last year and loved it.
Riv: I wanted to read Before I Fall a few years ago, when my sister had it, but I was young and naive and she didn't let me. >​< 
Erica: I enjoyed Before I Fall, but I wasn't blown away by it.
Katy: I loved BEFORE I FALL. I'm a fan of the DELIRIUM series as well.
Katy: I thought another good "losing one's virginity" book was MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rebecca: Yes! My Life Next Door was very well done. 
Alison: Also, I must get on my Kody Keplinger fan wagon - the tropes talked about in the post - you won't see them in her book. In fact, SHUT OUT explores how girls view sexuality, I thought, brilliantly
Rebecca: Kody Keplinger explores sexuality well. 
Riv: @Alison The DUFF was quite good. I dont' remember it that well, but it was pretty shweet 
Lennon: The DUFF was amazing, but I thought it was more self-esteem based than sexuality based. 
Riv: I just forgot the author, but isn't there a book called Losing It coming out around now? Has anyone read it?
Erica: Cara McCormick wrote that one right? 
Rebecca: I've heard of Losing It but haven't read it. 20:49
Alison: Okay, so we have books that explore sexuality well and thoughts on the virgin trope. What about the overly promiscuous character? 
Chihuahua Zero: Hmm... 
Katy: I'm reading STEALING PARKER right now and while she's not actually sleeping with anyone, she's getting majorly shamed by other girls for being a "slut." 
Matt: In Empty, by KM Walton, the MC is raped, but the boy tells everyone she raped him, and all the other characters believe him, the idiots.
Katy: Really, Matt? Yikes.
Chihuahua Zero: @Matt: That sounds scary.
Riv: Matt, that reminds me of You Against Me by Jenny Dunham(?) which I just finished. About the sister of a rapist who wants to believe her good guy brother didn't do it, and the brother of the victim, who's trying to wrap his head around it and comfort his sibling (and bash the dude's brains in)
Matt: I haven't read it Riv, but it sounds interesting.
Lennon: Okay, prepare yourselves for a rant from me. 
Lennon: I am so sick of YA Fiction portraying any girl who explores her sexuality or, gasp, has sex before marriage as a worthless slut who has no morals. Sexuality is not something that is so dirty that someone should be shamed for expressing and exploring it. 
Katy: Lennon, I do not think you are alone in your belief. I bet most of us are with you! 
Alison: Agreed with you Lennon - I think that may be partly societal impact 
Chihuahua Zero: @Lennon: I'm trying to think of any particular examples, as opposed to passive examples where the topic simply isn't explored. In my experience, explicit sexuality is not the default. 
Matt: Lennon - do you find the slut shaming comes in the form of authorial voice too much for you? Or does it mostly come from other characters? I ask, because I'm fine with it coming from characters (because sad as that is, it's realism), but I can't take it from a preachy author.
Chihuahua Zero: I'm sort of out of my element on this topic, since I haven't read a lot of more gritty/edgy YA.
Alison: I like the YA book that has the "perceived" overly promiscuous character, and makes me LOVE her 
Riv: Because Tina Fey is the most amazing woman ever, and is much more eloquent than me: "you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores." 
Matt: Well said, Tina.
Alison: omg - LOVE, Riv! 
Riv: If I'm not mistaken, 13 Reasons Why touches on this, right? 
Chihuahua Zero: Oh yeah, 13 Reasons Why! How could I forget about that? And in a different way, The List. 
Katy: I love that quote too, Riv. And yes, I think that was a big part of the main character's (Hannah?) issues. 
Lennon: I loved The List! 
Lennon: What I'm noticing is that sexuality is being directly related to self-esteem in YA fiction. 
Riv: Lennon, what do you mean? 
Lennon: Well, The List and The DUFF both explore sexuality and self worth. Both of which seemingly dependent on looks. 
Riv: Yeah, I thought that's what you meant by sexuality. Looks. What do you think the difference is?
Riv: (that sounded stupid. I meant "how do you define the two") 
Matt: Lennon, don't you think self esteem and female sexuality are heavily linked in real life to? I mean as a society, how much air-brushing do we have to force on our daughters before they can feel pretty (sorry - angry dad here)? 
Lennon: Yeah, they are certainly linked, but that doesn't mean they should be. And Sexuality can mean several different things, it can mean gender identity, sexual orientation, and how one feels about sexual acts.
Lennon: Self Worth is completely dependent on the person and how they react to the media and other people telling them what they are worth. 
Riv: As women, our self-worth is based on our "number" (besides for being disgusting, ratings are *so* 2007). We're told that we are objects, without real brains. It's like we're reverting back to the middle ages, except minus the respect.

Seriously... How smart are our teens?

Tell Us: What do YOU think about the way females and sexuality are portrayed in young adult literature? Do you think the entertainment industry (movies, TV, books, etc) perpetuates certain female stereotypes? 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Empty, by K.M. Walton

She only has two books out, but Walton has already shown she has quite a penchant for telling contemporary stories populated with realistic, flawed characters, who are portrayed with so much honesty, they really feel like people you know. Or, at least, people you did know, when you were a young adult.

Here is the summary of EMPTY from Goodreads:

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—gets all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of the heartbreak and name-calling stop?

So, where do you even start with this book? And how do you even talk about it without breaking down?

Well, first, I suppose I would say that every human being who has ever lived understands suffering. It's different for all us, and sometimes it comes and goes, but suffering, and the pain that comes with it, is one of the few universal aspects of the human condition. It's somewhat less, I suppose, in modern day, for the average person, but it still exists, and it hurts the most when you're young, and you don't know what the rest of your life might hold, or if there is any reason to hope things might get better.

And that's why we tell stories, isn't it? To try to understand each other? To see if maybe there's someone out there who knows what we feel like? To prove that we're not alone? To show that things do get better?

Dell suffers from many normal teenage issues. Her dad is gone. Her mom is useless. She eats, to fill the hole that these two things have left behind inside her. She's like so many kids who have it tough.

But Walton writes her protagonist with such simple clarity. She pines for the popular guy. She loves but is often annoyed by and fed up with her best friend. She finds ridiculous, and often mocks, the games the popular people play, but really, like anyone, she just wants to be accepted, and she willingly denigrates herself in an impotent attempt to achieve that acceptance.

Her one solace, her one link to serenity, is her baby sister. The smell of whose hair Walton describes as perfect, in just such a way that it takes your knees out from under you. This book has a lot of moments like that. Moments in which things are humming along, just sort of telling a terribly tragic, but otherwise not extraordinary tale, and then something comes out of nowhere, and suddenly your gut is splayed open, and you're left sputtering, trying to calm down enough to read on.

Like most of Walton's work, it moves you to emotion early and often.

At this point, there isn't a whole lot more detail I can give, without spoiling the turning point, but I will say that Empty covers a lot of prevalent YA issues with honesty and courage, and while the tragedy of its story may well tear you apart in the long run, it's an important narrative, and a tale that needs to be told.

I recommend it to all readers who have a strong stomach, and the courage to read stories that are not always the easiest to digest.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Comment of the Month - February!

Every Thursday we ask you a teen-related question and then on the last weekend of the month we choose the month's best comment and the author gets to choose a book from our vault or the BookDepository!

And here is where we keep our fashion forward shirt dresses
Our choice for comment of the month answered the question:

What do you think is the biggest difference between when you were a teen and what it's like to be a teen now?

And our winner is. . .

Texas Book Lover!!
Definitely technology. When I was a teenager the only computers were DOS and the internet was nonexistent (at least in my house). There were no social networking sites to worry about updating. Cell phones were these humongous bricks that still had to be connected to your cigarette lighter at all times to make a call. But somehow we still managed to cause lots of drama and get into the same amount of trouble, probably more...except now we have the technology to prove it...I mean document it.
Excellent trip in the Wayback Machine! TBL gets credit for reminding us (those of us old enough to remember) how absolutely hideous early cell phones were and how unashamed we were to use them.
I mean, c'mon, they were awful!
Good job, TBL!! Get in touch and let us know which book you'd like us to send you!

And thanks to everyone who participated this month and gave us their great support and feedback! See you next time!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: Pillow Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude, where I mansplain what makes guys so infuriating. With my help, your male characters will sound just as clueless as the real thing!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: I asked my boyfriend if he liked my new pillow shams and he looked at me like I was insane. Why can't we have nice things?

A: Let's start with the obvious:

pillow shams:pillows::extensions:hair

You're living a lie, woman! It even has "sham" in the name, how is that not a clue? I mean, a pillow sham is simply decorative fabric wrapped around a pillow which in itself is simply decorative fabric wrapped around feathers. At best, you've created some kind of meta-pillow or the next step in pillow evolution.

I get it, you love pillows so much you had to create a pillow condom to keep them disease-free. But the whole pillow fixation has gone too far. We're inundated with them and women seem hell-bent on covering every square inch of exposed space with pillows of every size, shape and color.

Y'all have gone overboard! Outside of cargo cults that had crates of them wash up on shore, thus bestowing them with magical properties, no one should worship pillows. Sing their praises, maybe. Talk about them in whispered awe, sure. Write epic love poems to them, absolutely.

But worship? 

Oh, you think you're immune, huh? Your pillow don't stink? Well try this: remove all the pillows from your bed. What's left? For most of you I bet there's no bed, just a discolored patch of carpet, some old Ryan Gosling pictures that you cut out of a magazine ransom note style and your Burn Book from eighth grade.

At some point, we allowed pillows to become the Cory Booker of home decor, able to fix any interior design nightmare quickly while looking handsome doing it.
  • Bed look a little boring? Pillow it!
  • Want to hide a stain on the sofa? Pillow it!
  • Grain silo explosion? Pillow it! 
They're pillows, for goodness sake! The only reason men tolerate them at all is because some of them look like marshmallows!

There's a fundamental difference in perception between men and women. When a woman looks at a couch, she thinks, "Hey, that looks like the perfect altar for my pillow fetish!"   

When a man looks at a couch, he thinks, "Hey, that looks like a nice place to create butt-shaped dimples."

We tend to think in more functional terms and we just don't see the function for all those colorful pillows, especially the ones with the beads sewn into them. I mean, c'mon! Do you know what would happen if you actually tried to sleep on one of those? You'd wake up every morning with an image of a bird imprinted on your cheek.

It's like you're trying to brand us! Mark us as your own! We're not chattel! 

I wish I could tell you that men like pillows. But we don't. If we could have our heads and necks supported by an elaborate pulley system suspended from the ceiling, we'd say goodbye to pillows altogether. But since that's not practical and it would look damn creepy for anyone waking up next to it, we're stuck with those feather-filled cotton bags.

Maybe some day the purveyors of this cult will come to their senses and stop selling the bill of goods that says pillows are special.

I hope that happens soon, because if it doesn't, I'm afraid you'll see rampaging hordes of men careening through Ikeas and Pier One Imports all across this great land, tearing open the joyless sacks and spilling their fill all over, like a cold, cold snow.

Oh, wait, sorority pillow fights. 

Okay, we're good.  

Copil once dissected a pillow to see if it had a soul. Nope. For more fascinating pillow discussions, follow him on Twitter (@Copil).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When YOU were a teen...

Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and on the last Saturday of the month, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the book of your choice from the Book Depository!

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
What do you think is the biggest difference between when you were a teen and what it's like to be a teen now? (If you're a teen stopping by, let us know if any of the answers are correct!)

Our Answers

Jessica: Absolutely technology! I was in high school when the biggest technology was pagers, and ONE girl in my whole high school had a cell phone...a big Zach Morris situation. I can't imagine dealing with facebook, texting, pictures/videos from your phone, etc. It just adds another layer of drama to a time that is already so full of drama.

Cambria; Social media and the presence of cyber bullying was almost non-existent when I was a teen. I mean, we communicated via pagers! Bullying, while still very prevalent back then, was more along the lines of passed notes in class, whispers in the hall, face-to-face confrontations....but it was usually contained within the school or neighborhood. Cyber bullying today stays online forever and can reach soooo many more people. 

Karen: This social media/texting/FBing/tweeting/lack-of-face-to-face-interacting thing. Honestly, it makes me sad that teens rely so heavily on electronics (phones, computer, tablets, etc) for communication and entertainment. I've always been an "old soul" with old-fashioned beliefs, and it bothers me how the world is becoming more and more "disconnected" as technology takes over everything. (Ah, the tragic irony.)

I think many of today's teens are missing out on quality face-time and more genuine interactions because a good portion of their communication is via texts, FB wall posts, tweets, etc, instead of actually talking to their family and friends. Everyone is so busy on their cell phone, iPod, or whatever, that they don't interact with the people who are right there in the same room with them. It's disturbing when I see people out at dinner, or somewhere together, and no one is talking to each other because they're too absorbed with their phone. And don't even get me started on cyber bullying. I'm so glad that didn't exist when I was a teen.

Katy: Technology for sure. I'm actually really glad that I was a teen before Facebook and smart phones. It was a simpler time. :-)

Copil: When I was a teen, being a nerd was rough. You had to hide your Spock ears or risk being put in a locker. Now, nerds like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams rule the summer and Vin Diesel admits to playing D&D on film sets. Also, there were a shit-ton of dinosaurs back in my day.

Your turn!

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