Problems in Panem: Guilty Confessions of a Capitol Mother

grassroots corner

I remember when The Hunger Games got really popular and we all played the game that gave us our ID cards with the District and job, etc. Mine said I was from District 12 and had some really awesome rock-identifying job of some sort.

Well, the game got it wrong. I imagine it probably got it wrong for a lot of us, because I, for one, am definitely from the Capitol.

I’m sitting in Grassroots this morning, feverishly studying. My first exam is next Tuesday and I’m beyond nervous: and this isn’t even THE exam. I’m beyond stressed.

I’ve been struggling for a long while now about my body image and I’ve been thinking long and hard about posting a series of progress and/or fallbacks with the emphasis on positive reinforcements and encouragement, and especially in dealing with the guilt that accompanies a person like myself during these times.

I’m taking this short digression from studying to write the first post because a series of events have happened in quick succession this morning such that I’ve ended up here, in the back corner of the coffee shop, to avoid seeing (and thus, having to speak) to anyone I may know that comes in (and since this is Thomasville, that means pretty much everyone).

1) No shower, dry shampoo, hair pulled back into a bun. Like…slicked back in a bun. And not intentionally. Gross.

2) The jeans I wanted to wear simply wouldn’t fit…over my thighs.  (I also know that it is all my fault…well, mine and Snickers) (and Red Bull) (sugar-free…).

3) Twenty minutes ago, I called my dietician and clinic nurse who manages my weight to make an appointment to come weight in and start a PA diet…again.

4) I’m worrying a few bumps on my face and hairline. Weren’t these supposed to magically go away forever when I turned 21?

5) Overall, I’m feeling gross, yucky, stressed, fat, un-attractive, etc. (this is not a line cast for compliments…just accept this and move on).

6) This morning, little W came down is the prettiest little dress and shoes and she felt so good about her outfit and I just thought about how much I always want her to feel that way about herself.

7) Five minutes ago, a complete stranger (again…strange in Grassroots) stopped by my table (in the back corner, by the restrooms) and just said, “Excuse me, I just wanted to say that you are so pretty.” And then she walked away.

And so, here I sit. Feeling sorry for myself and feeling guilty that I feel sorry for myself when there are so many things happening in the world today that I should be nothing short of immensely thankful that I am not directly involved in.

Not only is it the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, but there is war, families being torn apart, killed, enslaved. Children around the world being abused in horrific ways. Poverty so immense that families must sell children just to survive. Cruelty. Sickness. Death.

And all I can worry about is the 22 pounds I’ve put on in five months.

But, a stranger, who also knew all about all of these world issues, thought it imperative enough to stop and tell me I was pretty. And I’m so glad she did. Not because I needed to know that someone thought I looked at least half-way decent, but as a reminder that, as I sit in the back, worried that people I know will be disgusted by my unwashed, ragged-from-studying self, I should stop being so selfish as to think that people (whose negative opinions really shouldn’t matter) would actually think I was disgusting, unwashed and ragged-from-studying. I honestly don’t think people are that mean. Normally. More on this later…

So today, I’m turning over a new leaf. I can’t do much to help those around the world with problems far beyond my reach, but I can try harder to both improve my own self-awareness of those around me and compliment and encourage whenever and wherever I see fit. To remind those that, even though I have no idea how they feel about themselves, I think they are beautiful. Or pretty. Or have a nice necklace. Or whatever little words of encouragement I can give.

Let’s do it together.

Have you and any small words of encouragement lately?

Read Up!

The Liebster Award

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not a Tony Award, but it’s something!

Thanks to Everyone Has a Story for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I’m sure that grasping at straws to find 11 book bloggers was not how you wanted to spend your afternoon, but please know that I am quite flattered!

If you have found your blog on my coveted list of Liebster Award nominees, please follow the steps below (that do not require handwriting this letter and sending it to 11 other people in the hopes that one day your wish may be granted). But it will be fun.

1. Link & Thank the blogger who nominated you (that would be me, Reading Up with the Joneses)
2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you (these questions are at the bottom of the post. They’re not the same ones I received from my nominator!)
3. Tag 11 other bloggers who have 200 or less followers, or thereabouts.
4. Ask the 11 bloggers you nominated 11 questions and let them know you nominated them!

Everyone Has a Story gave me these questions:

1. What is your favorite genre to read? 

I read a broad range of books, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I would probably go with middle grades to young adult fantasy fiction to be my chart topper, though. The Winterling Series, The Chronicles of Narnia, His Dark Materials, etc. Apparently, I really like the idea of other dimensions and worlds.

2. Least favorite genre?

Historical Biographies. I’m sure they’re interesting. I just like make-believe better.

3. How old were you when you discovered your love for books?

I was having speed-reading contests with my bff in 3rd grade (she always beat me because I preferred to actually ‘read’ the story), so sometime before then. My older brother loved books, so he always took me to the library. Actually, I think we just went to the library because it was cheaper than childcare. I remember being there for what seemed like hours…hmmm…

4. Where is your favorite place to read?

On my back porch either during a breezy Fall day or drizzly grey Spring day. Any other time of the year it’s either sweltering or freezing. 

5. Have you ever tried writing a book of your own?

I did. When I was in sixth grade. About a girl who went to horse camp during the summer and discovered that her horse could talk. Together they saved the barn from…something. I don’t remember. I still have the manuscript, though. I worked on it forever.

6. Do you have a favorite bookstore?

Yes! The Bookshelf, Downtown Thomasville, Georgia! 

7. Who are your favorite authors?

C.S. Lewis, Maggie Stiefvater, Rainbow Rowell, Abbi Glines, Rick Riordan

8. How did you come up with the name for your blog?

I thought long and hard. 

9. Do you always read reviews before beginning a new book or do you just take your chances?

No, not always. If it’s for an author that I pretty much know I’m going to enjoy, I dive right in. Many times, I’m reading Advanced Reading Copies where there aren’t a lot of reviews available. Which is where I come in.

10. Do you prefer to read on electronic devices or from a hard copy of a book?

I ‘prefer’ a hard copy. To be more specific, I prefer an actual hardbound copy over a paperback. But I still read many, many books on Kindle, Nook, Mobi and BlueFire just because it’s cheaper for authors and publishers to send ARC’s in digital formats.

11. Favorite quote from a book?

“It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die.”

from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I know, it’s terrifying, but I love it! This book is SO good.

I actually have another favorite quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, but I can’t put my hands on it right now!

I now nominate 11 people:

The Books Reader
Trusty Page Turners
Readers + Writers Journal
Books with Loz
Let Books Bee
Sweet Tea and Spurs
The Quintessential Bibliophile
Laura’s Little Book Blog
Too Clever
Cute Peach
The Bookshelf

These are the questions for you to answer:

If you had to choose by the cover, would you choose a white or black book?

Favorite book cover?

Favorite book to read and gossip about to your other book nerd friends?

Book that took you the longest to plow through?

What’s the average length of the books you read?

Do you read more or less now that you also blog?

Favorite childhood book?

Which fictional character would be your best friend?

Which fictional character would you like to punch in the nose?

Do you ever mix up reality with the books you’re reading/have read?

Why do half of us use the Hemingway theme? Make up your own question if you’re not even sure what that is. 


Read Up!

Book Review: I’m Nobody, The Lost Pages by Alex Marestaing

I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages Cover Art

Alex Marestaing is one of the many, many (very many) authors that contact me daily through the blog. I may not have hundreds of followers, but I have hundreds of authors, publishers, agents, etc. contact me about reviewing their books. This, obviously, is an awesome thing and a not-so-awesome thing. You see…I love books. I love reading. I especially love reading good books. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read every single book that is offered to me, but I try to let every author/publisher/agent/etc. know up front whether or not I’ll be able to read their book.

This little green book arrived in the mail a few weeks ago (like…June) and it’s been riding around with me ever since, just waiting for me to get around to it. The cover was intriguing, so it was going to get read…eventually.

The green book, being an actual book and not a digital copy (props to the author for sending that to me) got pushed to the top of the list.

I finished it in one day and it was PHENOMENAL. Here it goes:

Targeted to middle grades and possible early high school grades, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is about a teenage boy, Caleb, who hasn’t stepped outside his house for seven years. He’s haunted by the house across the street. A seemingly magical event occurs (or rather, course of events); Caleb makes a friend, Iris, who is a teen indie-filmmaker. Parents try to institutionalize him; back-story is revealed; Emily Dickinson is still writing; magic is real. The End.

Emily Dickenson's House was the inspiration for the "house across the street"...Now, imagine a basket coming down from the window ; )

Emily Dickinson’s House was the inspiration for the “house across the street”…Now, imagine a basket coming down from the window ; )

Did I love it? YES!

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages was such a refreshing read. It covered topics that most middle grades books don’t touch, including mental illness in youth, open-mindedness, and bravery. I cheered for Caleb throughout his story, celebrating every little step and each small achievement as he built up the courage to rebound to normalcy, despite his parents absent support. This, actually, was the most sad part of Caleb’s story: he didn’t know anything was “wrong” with him until his parents started trying to make him “better.”

The characters, Caleb and Iris, are teenagers, but young enough that a crush is a new experience for both of them. I was very happy that a romance was not the center of this story, but instead, a budding friendship. Both sides must overcome adversity to see each other as friends, and it’s written in a charming and beautiful way.

Emily Dickinson and her poetry play a pivotal role in this story; one that is more original than anything else you’ve read recently, I’m sure. The history of Dickinson and her writings were incorporated in a wondrous way, such that they were as inspiring to me as they were to Caleb.

An example of Dickenson's writing, this is what Caleb found as each of his notes arrived. The descriptions of her writing, even down to the stationary, are phenomenal.

An example of Dickinson’s writing, this is what Caleb found as each of his notes arrived. The descriptions of her writing, even down to the stationary, are phenomenal.

As many of you know, I have a knack for figuring out story lines, but I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I had a general idea, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the revelation of the basis of Caleb’s mental illness and the unhappiness inside his home. Overall, the story was heartbreaking. I was really hoping for a happy ending…I’ll let you read it to find out if I got it or not ; )

This book was published in December, 2013, so it’s available for you to pick up now. A copy of the book was sent to me for review, and, being a wonderfully honest person, I provided an honest review at no charge (because who wants to charge authors to send them books?!).

Have you read any good middle grades books lately? Let me know in the comment box what you thought.

Read Up!