Finding the Right Bra for Your Summer Tops

Bras

It’s officially summer, and I’m officially hot. I’m not complaining – I’ll take 100 degrees over 40 any day. But summer weather comes with a summer wardrobe, and a summer wardrobe comes with unique challenges. Specifically: how in the world are you supposed to wear a bra with that see-through, giant arm-holed, weird-backed tank that happens to be the only thing that keeps you cool at high noon in the summer sun?

It is increasingly impossible to wear a good ol’ fashioned normal bra with trendy summer tops without it peeking out in a variety of unflattering or unattractive ways. In most cases, though, this problem can be solved with the right bralette or sports bra – something that’s both meant to be seen and doesn’t cut your body in weird places. As an added bonus, they’re usually more comfortable than a regular bra.

But you still have to be careful – the wrong bralette might not give enough support, and sports bras have a tendency to smush breasts into the dreaded uniboob. But fear not! There are bras out there that will actually look nice peeking out from under summer tops and give you some support and shape. Here are some of our favorites:

Victoria’s Secret Keyhole Mesh Sports Bra

(Image Credit: Victoria's Secret)

(Image Credit: Victoria’s Secret)

 

While technically a low support sports bra, this baby comes with removable padding for shape and the functional but cute design makes it perfect under racerback tanks or for yoga class. And for only $20, it’s a multitasking deal!

Aerie Lace Pushup Racerback Bralette

(Image Credit: Aerie)

(Image Credit: Aerie)

Lace bralettes are certainly pretty, but often they lack support. This lace bralette has a leg up on its friends due to soft foam padding, which makes it a viable option for even larger-chested ladies.

H&M Soft-Cup Microfiber Bra

(Image Credit: H&M)

(Image Credit: H&M)

This bra takes the form and function of a normal bra and meshes it with a soft, smoothing fabric. The result? A bra that gives you shape but doesn’t poke or squish in awkward places – and it  doesn’t look awkward peeking out of a shirt! (There’s a similar lace version if you’re looking for something prettier. )

Victoria’s Secret PINK Ultimate Racerback Push-Up Bra

(Image Credit: Victoria's Secret)

(Image Credit: Victoria’s Secret)

This unique bra looks like a sports bra but is built to be a comfy push-up. It has the lines of a sports bra, but is a more supportive option if you’re not entirely comfortable with a minimal support bralette.

 

Fabletics Lyra Bra

bra05

 

If you have a lot of low back or backless tops, this bra offers a funky, strappy design in the back that would jazz up any outfit. It has removable cups and is available in handful of unique colors and patterns.

 

TopShop Microfiber Crop Top

(Image Credit: Topshop)

(Image Credit: Topshop)

Smooth on the front and sides but with fun lace flourishes in the back, this bralette is the perfect marriage of form and function. It would look great under a top with open sides or an open back; the only shame is that it’s not available in more colors.

Now you’re all set for a summer bra shopping spree – and don’t forget to pick out bold colors and patterns to make the most of it!

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Making the Case for Pawternity Leave

Ronin

A little while back I did two separate articles about furbabies becoming part of the family. However, the one I want to direct you to is the What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Puppy Edition. Puppies are hard work, and while they grow up faster than human babies, they do have a fairly strict first couple of weeks that you need to follow.

This includes early morning potty breaks, crate training, teaching them the boundaries and easing them into their new environment. They also have several vet visits that need to happen very soon after they turn eight weeks old. Of course, this doesn’t have to stop at puppies, it can also include kittens, and new adoptions from a shelter in both the canine and feline realm.

All that extra work that comes with a new pet can really throw you off your groove, and when you’re set in your ways it can be exhausting. When you’re exhausted, your work will suffer and your mood will suffer, and that’s never a good thing. So I want to talk about a little concept that our wonderful friends from across the pond are starting to slowly introduce in some professional places.

The concept is fairly simple. You’ve heard of maternity and paternity leave before; you get a specific amount of time off to care, love and recover from bringing a new baby home. Well, imagine when you got a new furbaby, you could go to your employer and ask for a few days off to acclimate the new animal and get used to the new schedule you’re going to have.

In a purr-fect pun, this concept for your new furbaby addition is called pawternity leave, and I think we over here in the States need to hurry up and make it a reality.

I can’t tell you how many hours of work and school I have missed due to vet visits or furbaby emergencies. It became increasingly difficult to explain to my bosses and professors that I needed more time off to take care of routine vet visits or to monitor a pet after a procedure. And when I first got my little bundle of fur-joy, I felt horrible leaving him alone so soon after getting him, and I was exhausted from the late night potty breaks and early morning play sessions.

I would have loved to have had a week off to just adjust to my new commitment and also allow my puppy to learn the ways around his new environment too. I know, it seems a little strange to think that people should get paid time off to deal with new pets, but I think that it’s something we should definitely begin slowly introducing into the  workforce.

Now, before you start to whip out the torches and start rioting – no, this is not to take away from the wonderful miracle of bringing a child into this world. And it’s not to take away from the fact that babies are much more work than a pet, but let’s remember that pets are part of the family too. Some people may only ever have furkids, and they should be allowed to not feel guilty for skipping work for pets, or guilty for not being able to properly care for the furkid.

We’re moving towards a new world, times are changing, and I think allowing furmoms and furdads to be granted an appropriate amount of time to deal with that transition would help boost the work-life balance and increase workplace happiness.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s make pawternity happen. Like, yesterday.

A Q&A with Up and Coming It-Girl Sol Rodriguez

(Image Credit: Bobby Quillard)

(Image Credit: Bobby Quillard)

Sol Rodriguez is the newest star on Lifetime’s Devious Maids. We caught up with her to talk about her jump start in the entertainment world and what she’s learned along the way.

You Play Daniela Mercado in Devious Maids, can you tell us about the character?

Sol Rodriguez: Dani is a young girl that dreams of being a Hollywood Star. She comes to LA to pursue that dream and crashes with who she thinks is her cousin Carmen, who is also pursuing her dreams of being a singer and dancer. A lot of drama develops throughout the entire season, mainly when Dani discovers Carmen is actually her birth mother.

How did the role come about?

SR: I auditioned like the rest of the girls and I was blessed enough to get the role.

Can you tell us what it’s been like filming such a fun, addicting show?

SR: You said it yourself, it’s fun and addicting indeed. It was a great experience; everyone welcomed me since day one with open arms. I shot most of my scenes with Roselyn Sanchez and she was very kind to me. But as the season went on I shot with almost all the cast and every single experience was so much fun. They’re all amazing to work with, in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

You made a couple big moves in your life thus far, what has it been like to pick up and start over somewhere new?

SR: It was scary. I basically left something “secure” for something that I had no idea if it was going to work out; something unpredictable. I was working a lot in Miami, jumping from one soap to the next. But I really wanted to crossover and work in American television and film. And it has been the best decision of my life. I’m very happy.

You got your start in acting on Nickelodeon’s Grachi, what was that experience like?

SR: Best experience of my life. I got cast on that show and thrown in from of the camera basically. I learned about acting and anything related on the set of Grachi. We did 205 one hour episodes in two years. We were translated into many languages and the show aired in Latin America and Europe. We also did a musical show and toured Mexico and Argentina. Very proud of my show. It taught me a lot.

Coming from a family also in the entertainment world, how did they react when you shared the news on booking your first show?

SR: My parents cried. My dad is a musician singer/songwriter. So he knows how hard you have to work and how many sacrifices you have to make in this industry. My parents and my brother are very proud of me, and that’s all that matters to me.

You were also a part of many popular telenovelas, what was that experience like?

SR: I loved the soaps. They’re fun to shoot; a little stressful because they’re a lot of work. You would shoot 20-30 scenes in one day, driving from one location to another, crying in one scene at a funeral and then shooting a dance routine with your friends and then maybe having a hot scene with your love interest. All in only one day; it’s fun stuff!

You originally wanted to pursue a different path before acting, what was it about that first audition that changed your mind?

SR: I was studying tourism in college. I wasn’t very sure about it though. When I did my first audition, which was Grachi for Nickelodeon, I just had so much fun. To me, it wasn’t work being on set, and I felt so blessed to call that my “work.”  I lost a lot of friends because you have no time for anything or anyone, I missed a lot of stuff, but I had never felt happier in my life, and that’s when I knew I wanted to do this forever.

Where can we see you next?

SR: We’re all crossing fingers for Devious Maids Season 5!

When you’re not busy with your career, what do you like to do?

SR: I like to be home a lot, I watch a lot of Netflix and Hulu and lots of movies. I like hanging out with my friends.

We like to finish all of our interviews with a quick fire round of quirky questions:

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: I don’t like ice cream

Current Beauty Obsession: Highlighting

Current Binge Watching Show: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Favorite Snack Food: Cheese and crackers

If you could live anywhere in the world: Guatemala

If you weren’t an actor you’d be: Working at a bed and breakfast in some island

We’d be surprised to know that you: I can touch my nose with my tongue

Currently listening to on repeat: Kiss and say Goodbye by The Manhattans

Childhood Celebrity Crush: Nick Carter

Latest read: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

You’ve always wanted to try/do/learn: So many things: play soccer, dance flamenco, play the harmonic, learn how to cook, learn Portuguese, have my own charity, Scuba, learn piano

 

Catch Devious Maids on Lifetime, Mondays at 9pm ET. For More on Sol Rodriguez, follow her on Twitter @_solrodriguez.

Prioritize Your Smile: Learn From My Mistakes

(Image Credit: Aleksandr Doodko)

(Image Credit: Aleksandr Doodko)

These days, it’s common for the majority of pre-teens and teenagers to have braces or some kind of orthodontia to straighten their teeth. I’d wager there are many more young adults who have had braces than who haven’t, especially in countries like the US where straight teeth are clearly the ideal, and dentists are eager to refer kids to orthodontists if their teeth are even the tiniest bit out of whack, even if it’s not medically necessary.

I am one of those teenagers who had braces, but my experience with them was different than most. I had a bit of crowding in my top middle teeth, but rather than referring me to an orthodontist, my dentist offered to give me braces at a discount if he did them for me. My parents were eager to save some cash on the expensive procedure, and they trusted my longtime, smallish-town dentist to get the job done right.

Rather than giving me a full mouth of braces, my dentist placed braces only on the teeth he thought needed it – the eight teeth in the top middle part of my mouth. Because of this, I dealt with wires snagging the insides of my lips constantly, but hey, like anything else, you get used to it. My dentist seemed to know what he was doing, and he gave me bright colored rubber bands, which is important to a 16-year-old. I wore my braces for about a year, then was fitted with a retainer.

At first, my teeth were straighter. I wore my retainer faithfully for a few months, then sporadically for a few more, before I stopped wearing it entirely. Yes, you know where this story is going. My teeth eventually shifted back to their original uneven position. Here’s the thing, though – my dentist never explained to teenage me how important wearing my retainer was. It seems obvious now, but I didn’t understand that the effect of the braces wasn’t permanent if I didn’t keep wearing my retainer.  So there’s problem #1.

Problem #2? Well, since my teeth have shifted back to being uneven, I’ve had additional orthodontic consultations. Turns out there isn’t just a problem with my top middle teeth – my entire bite is off. There’s no way my eight braces could have truly fixed my issues fully, even if it did make my front teeth appear straighter. Even if I had been diligent with my retainer, there would still be problems that need fixing. I should point out here that my dentist was successfully sued for malpractice just a few years after he did my braces. It was major vindication, but small comfort.

So here I am, an adult with crooked teeth. And, as much as I try to ignore it, I can’t help but feel extremely insecure about it. There is a stigma with having crooked teeth, whether we openly acknowledge it or not. I’m always self conscious about smiling for photos, and I worry that my first impression on people is skewed by my teeth. I hate to be so hung up on a superficial thing, but it’s hard when I so rarely encounter other people with crooked teeth like mine. It’d be one thing if they were just a little crooked…crooked in that slightly imperfect and endearing way. But sadly that is not the case, and I can’t seem to get over it.

As I mentioned, I’ve looked into additional orthodontic treatment to fix the issues. I’d love to try something like Invisalign, but braces and Invisalign are comparable in price, and both are quite expensive, especially if you’re an adult. Insurance companies are much more likely to cover a significant chunk of the cost for braces or Invisalign on kids, but you’re lucky to get even a couple hundred dollars toward them if you’re over 18. Even if I use a provider with a generous payment plan option, I’m still looking at $200+ a month. It feels selfish to add $200 to monthly costs for what is ultimately a superficial procedure, especially when there are more pressing things like rent and student loans to pay.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably never get my teeth fixed, but that doesn’t make it easier to live with. So here’s my point: if you’ve been recommended orthodontic treatment, or maybe have had braces but are slacking with your retainer usage, take action. Visit an orthodontist for a treatment plan. Make a point to pop in that retainer at night. If you’re an adult who has considered orthodontia and can afford it, make an appointment and get the process rolling. Trust me when I say it will be worth it and you will regret it if you don’t. It is no fun to be self-conscious about your smile.

An Interview with ‘Autofocus’ Author Lauren Gibaldi

Lauren Gibaldi (Image Credit: KV Photography)

Lauren Gibaldi (Image Credit: KV Photography)

I read Lauren Gibaldi’s debut novel, The Night We Said Yes, earlier this year and I couldn’t put it down. A YA novel about young love lost and found and it was exactly what I needed. Lauren’s next YA novel, Autofocus, comes out this summer and I can’t wait to pick it up.

lgibaldi_headshot_KV_Photography

Lauren Gibaldi (Image Credit: KV Photography)

Pulled from Goodreads, the brief synopsis sums it up without giving too much away:

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book, her life as an author, and what’s next:

 

What inspired you to start writing?

Lauren Gibaldi: I’ve kept a journal since I was in 4th grade, so I kind of always wrote. (Obviously it wasn’t very interesting back then; I mostly wrote about how annoying my younger brother was.) I’d write short stories as a kid, mostly putting myself in Grave Danger where I’d have to leave the haunted forest or something. They lasted for about two paragraphs. I stopped writing for fun, and more for school, and ended up majoring in English in college. I wrote articles for newspapers and magazines and eventually wanted to try fiction again. And quickly I learned, for me at least, that fiction is way more fun!

 

Tell us a little bit about your next book, Autofocus.

LG: When Maude is given a school photography assignment to capture what it means to be “family,” she decides to search for information on her deceased birth mother, whom she’s never known. She goes to Tallahassee, Florida, where she was born, and stays with her best friend Treena. While there, she learns more about her mom (and her best friend’s new social life) and wonders if who we are is determined at birth, or if we can change as we grow.

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

Do you write characters based on anyone you know?

LG: Nope, everyone is fictional, though there are bits and pieces of my real life I thrown in. For instance, I went to college in Tallahassee, so many of the landmarks are places I enjoyed. In my first book, The Night We Said Yes, the guys in the band The Pepperpots are fictional, but I stole the name from my friends’ high school band. It’s a little shout out to them. They came to my release party to celebrate, too!

 

Have any of them been based on you? Would you base a character on yourself?

LG: Nope, but I think there’s part of me in the characters. Ella in The Night We Said Yes is very much like me, but she’s not based on me. We have some similar perceptions on friendship; on standing out. In Autofocus, Maude and I are different, but I can still find pieces of myself in her.

 

Would you ever write a series?

LG: I don’t know about a series, but I’d be happy doing a related story. After The Night We Said Yes came out, I wrote Matt’s Story, a novella told from the main guy’s point of view. I loved re-visiting the characters in a new way. Honestly, if I could write an entire book about Jake, I would. That said, I wouldn’t want to do a sequel to TNWSY. Ella’s story is done there. So I’ll never say never! But right now I like doing stand-alone books.

 

Who is your favorite author? Or multiple if you can’t choose?

LG: Aside from being a writer, I’m a librarian, so this is a very hard question! Let’s go by categories. In picture books, I (and my daughter) love Mo Willems, Dan Santat, and Tammi Sauer. In middle grade, I adore Rebecca Stead (her newest book is fantastic), Lois Lowry (my childhood favorite!), and of course JK Rowling. In adult fiction, I enjoy Nick Hornby, Nicole Krauss, Lauren Groff, Curtis Sittenfeld, and J Courtney Sullivan. Also David Sedaris. In classics, F Scott Fitzgerald and Charlotte Bronte. And in YA, EVERYONE. I can’t choose favorites. They’re all fantastic. (My writer heroes are Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Stephen Chbosky.)

 

What was the last book you were really obsessed with and couldn’t put down?

LG: I have a toddler, so I don’t read much (sad!). I read The Rosie Project for my library’s book club, and really enjoyed it. And Outrun the Moon, a YA novel about the San Francisco earthquake and a girl left in the wake, is tremendously good.

 

Follow Lauren on Twitter and make sure to check out The Night We Said Yes and pick up Autofocus when it hits shelves June 14th.

‘Plus Size’ Celebs and the Obsession with Labeling Body Types

(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)

(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)

Everywhere we turn, women’s bodies are being judged. Everyone is either “too skinny” or “obese,” and figures on both ends of the spectrum are “unhealthy.” This judgmental behavior has become so popular that people seem to feel the need to put a label on all shapes and sizes.

Earlier this year, Glamour magazine put out a special issue in conjunction with Lane Bryant focusing on plus-size women. The beautiful Ashley Graham graced the cover, and women such as Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Amy Schumer were featured.

As a woman who fluctuates from sizes 6 to 8, Amy wasn’t pleased that she was featured in this particular issue. She shared a post on her Instagram page letting her fans know that she doesn’t want “[y]oung girls seeing [her] body type and thinking that [it] is plus-size.” Because if a size 6 is overweight, then what is acceptable?

Friend to the comedian, Jennifer Lawrence, spoke out in light of the controversy in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. She said that she doesn’t like that people consider her body type to be normal; she puts way too much work into her body for it to be normal, but we’re so accustomed to seeing underweight women that we think it’s the norm. This, in turn, makes us think of a normal body type as being a curvy but thin one.

Why are we so focused on judging other women? Social media makes it far too easy to do this publicly (and anonymously). If you go to any woman’s Instagram page with a large number of followers, you’re bound to see negative comments strewn about regarding her weight.

When did this become acceptable?

Another famous actress who has made it clear that she doesn’t want the focus to be on the size or shape of her body (ironically also featured in the Glamour plus-size issue) is Christina Hendricks. In an interview with the Sun-Herald, Christina’s “full-figured” body is referenced not once, but twice, and she is clearly displeased by the comment both times. Why would any highly-regarded actress want to be interviewed not about her incredible talents or current roles, but instead about her figure? Why does size matter to us so much?

In this era of body scrutiny, the lingerie company Aerie has tried to make a stand. They’ve stopped using standard “models” for their ads, and instead opt to use “real” girls. This means there are sizes being featured above a 4, stretch marks make appearances, and no airbrushing is done.

Until the real normal becomes the media’s definition of normal, it doesn’t seem girls will accept each other’s bodies or their own as being beautiful. We need to stop acting like the Kardashian waist-to-butt ratio is attainable (or like it’s anything that anyone should aim for) and start encouraging each other’s healthy, natural figures. More companies and influential media outlets need to stop allowing women to be placed into “skinny” and “fat” classifications and encourage all women to be proud of how they look, regardless of their weight.

Book Review: ‘The Last Star’ by Rick Yancey

LastStar_FT

You know that feeling of anticipation you get when the final book in a beloved series finally comes out? It’s that feeling where you’re partially super excited because you really want to know how it ends, but you’re also kind of anxious that it’s not going to meet your high expectations? So yeah, that’s where I was at when I picked up the final book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Last Star.

I loved The 5th Wave. It had a lot going for it – a unique spin on the oft-rehashed post-apocalyptic scenario, a strong female lead, a survival story, and aliens. The story felt immediate and engaging, making it one of my favorite reads of the year. When the sequel, The Infinite Sea, came out, I wasn’t disappointed, exactly…just cautious. I liked the book fine, but something about it just felt different. That x factor I loved about the first book was missing, replaced with a bit too much philosophy and metaphor for the likes of me. But perhaps it was a bridge book issue. Maybe I’d find that thing I was looking for in the final book, The Last Star.

Did I? Yes and no. A large portion of the book did feel a bit truer to the original vibe of the series than The Infinite Sea – a fast-paced survival story that just happens to include aliens. I was really interested to see how Yancey could possibly tie up this epic story. To his credit, he manages to both provide a satisfying conclusion without wrapping things up too neatly for a story of this magnitude.

laststarcover

I appreciated that Yancey had a clear plan for his story progression; there are some confusing bits here and there but for the most part The Last Star helped me make more sense of what was happening in The Infinite Sea, and everything seemed to tie together fairly well. I tend to prefer sci-fi stories that are at least somewhat reality-based, in that I can imagine them being within the realm of possibility and not complete fantasy. This series stays in that realm quite well for the first couple of books, but some of the events at the end, in particular, strayed a bit too far into the unbelievable for my taste. And on that note…

I kind of hated the ending. I understand why it ended the way it did, and I would even go so far as to say it makes more sense than any other ending. I think the problem I had was that I was expecting some sort of major revelation or twist. Throughout the series, there’s this sense of secrecy and conspiracy and I just kept waiting for something new to come to light that really changed my understanding of this story. It just didn’t happen, and that left me disappointed.

And, without getting too spoilery, there’s a super cliche and unnecessary story thread in The Last Star that feels like an afterthought throughout the entire book, until it gets forced down your throat at the end. It’s a common storytelling device; it’s symbolic, whatever…I was just hoping for something a little more original when the series had so much promise of being unique from the get go.

What’s really disappointing is that overall, The Last Star is a fantastic book. Aside from playing a little fast and loose with its core group of characters, the story is cohesive, suspenseful, and exciting. Leading up to the final section of the book, I was feeling pretty darn optimistic. Unfortunately there’s no way for me to talk about this book as a series ender without dwelling heavily on the actual ending, and sadly that piece was a major letdown for me. Still, I’m glad I read The Last Star and, had I not had several years’ worth of series ending expectations built up, it’s very likely my overall impression, ending included, would have been better.

I’d also like to mention how grateful I am for the existence of this series, because I do think it has opened the door for more YA sci-fi books to see the light of day, and encouraged interested authors to pursue the genre more. Oh, and I’m just one person – there are plenty of readers out there who absolutely loved The Last Star and thought the ending was perfect. So I say – take your chances. Regardless of your thoughts on the ending, it’s an exciting ride.

Percy Pack Update: Magnus Chase Cover Reveal and Excerpt; Riordan E-Book News

PercyPackBANNER
As part of our participation in the Percy Pack, The Daily Quirk is happy to share some exclusive news about Rick Riordan’s upcoming releases!

On July 14th, Riordan will be releasing a new e-book, The Demigods of Olympus: An Interactive Adventure, a fun new twist on a Choose Your Own adventure story. Here’s the official word on the book from Disney Books:

Your quest begins! Use your demigod skills in this interactive and customizable adventure story written by New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan. Combining four short stories, The Two-Headed Guidance Counselor, The Library of Deadly Weapons, My Demon Satyr Tea Party, and My Personal Zombie Apocalypse, your choices will have consequences in this first interactive demigod adventure.

Demigods of Olympus

Sounds pretty cool, right? And if that news isn’t exciting enough, we also have the scoop on the cover reveal and excerpt from Riordan’s newest novel, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. After you feast your eyes on the cover below, be sure to check out this Chapter 2 excerpt for a juicy preview of Magnus Chase.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

And finally, if you’re here for your Percy fix, we have news on Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, the companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. Greek Heroes is currently available for pre-order, and will be released August 18th in celebration of Percy’s birthday! From Disney Books:

Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes

Use the pre-order links below to make sure you get your hands on Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes as soon as it’s available!

That’s it for now, Percy fans, but keep checking back with The Daily Quirk all summer for more exclusive news, feature and giveaways, and keep up with Rick Riordan online:

#ReadRiordan


As part of our participation in The Percy Pack, The Daily Quirk  is receiving books, merchandise and prizing courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Book Review: ‘Every Last Word’ by Tamara Ireland Stone

EveryLastWordAs readers, we all have certain things that draw us toward a book and certain things that we tend to avoid when choosing a book. I usually shy away from book that focus heavily on illness – probably the direct result of the popularity of books like Six Months to Live and anything by Lurlene McDaniel during my formative years. So when I had the opportunity to read Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last Word, I was a bit reticent about a story revolving around a main character with OCD. But I’d read Stone’s Time Between Us series and enjoyed it, so I decided to take a chance on Every Last Word.

I am so glad I did. The main character, Sam, does have OCD, but Stone does such an amazing job of portraying a real teenager functioning with mental illness. Sam’s in the popular clique at school, and she’s constantly trying to hide her issues from her friends, all the while terrified that she’s crazy. But Every Last Word is not the least bit melodramatic in how it approaches Sam’s illness. Instead, it portrays a very relatable girl who has a healthy relationship with her therapist and faces many small struggles in everyday life. Sam is not consumed by her OCD, it’s just a part of her that she’s learning to manage.

The story itself focuses on Sam’s growth as she begins to distance herself from her mean girls-esque group of friends in favor of the more diverse, accepting members of a secret poetry club at her high school. She meets a boy (of course) who helps her start to feel normal again, and she begins to make positive changes in her life that help her manage her OCD. Sam’s not without her challenges – in fact, one of the biggest was a surprisingly huge twist that I didn’t see coming – but she’s working in the right direction. I’m not a big poetry fan myself, but I really appreciated how poetry became an outlet for Sam and how poetry club was less about the poems and more about the friendship and acceptance that came with delivering them in a safe space.

I cannot say enough about how respectfully Stone handled the topic of OCD. She states in her acknowledgements that she has a family member living with OCD and was inspired to write Every Last Word as a result. She not only has personal experience with someone living with OCD, she also put a ton of research into how it manifests and how it is treated. And I loved seeing a trusting relationship between Sam and her therapist. So often therapists are portrayed in fiction as either the enemy or the only thing that’s holding someone together, so it was really refreshing to see something different and (hopefully) more realistic.

Also noteworthy is Stone’s portrayal of Sam’s longtime friendship with the popular clique; girls who were true friends at some point but have evolved into something different. It borders on mean girls behavior sometimes, but Stone never quite takes it there completely. Instead she lets these girls live in a grey area where they aren’t 100% terrible – they still care about Sam and appreciate her friendship. The book acknowledges the intricacies of teen friendships instead of drawing a clear line between the “good” friends and the “bad” friends.

Every Last Word is a sweet, poignant story about a girl coming to terms with her mental illness and learning how to find happiness despite it. But it is also a fantastic tool to help readers with no personal experience understand and empathize with people who live with functional mental illness on a much deeper level, and I think that’s important. Stone doesn’t make this an “issue book,” but instead leaves readers with an amazing story that will stick with you whether you realize it or not.

If you think Every Last Word sounds like a perfect summer read – you’d be right! Enter to win a copy of your own courtesy of Disney Hyperion with the Celebrate Your Unique Selves prize pack. One winner will receive:

  • Two copies of Every Last Word for you and a friend
  • A $50 Visa gift card to enjoy a day out celebrating your friendship

Enter to Win!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney Hyperion.

 

‘Every Last Word’ Blog Tour: Author Tamara Ireland Stone on High School – Friends vs. Tribes

Tamara Ireland Stone

Tamara Ireland Stone

As part of the blog tour celebrating the release of Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last WordThe Daily Quirk is thrilled to feature a guest post from Tamara, reflecting on her own high school experience.

Keep reading for Stone’s insights on the difference between high school friends and high school tribes, and be sure to check out our review of Every Last Word (spoiler alert: it’s amazing!) and enter the giveaway below to win a copy for yourself and your best friend!

Friends vs. Tribes: A Look Back at High School

by Tamara Ireland Stone

It’s easier to see some things from a good long distance.

If you asked me about my friends when I was back in high school, I would have told you they were funny, smart, outspoken, and genuinely wonderful people. Decades later, I can say with certainty that those things were true. But now, I can also admit that I never quite felt like I belonged with them.

We moved a lot when I was young, and I didn’t attend the same school two years in a row until high school. Once I got there, I desperately wanted to be liked, to find a niche, and to feel like I fit in.

The girls I met welcomed me right away, but I was also keenly aware of the fact that they’d known each other all their lives. They had stories and secrets and inside jokes, and when we were together as a group, that history often felt front and center. I often felt awkward. And I spent far too much time wondering what they were thinking of me, worrying that they didn’t thing I belonged, which probably made it even more awkward.

In my sophomore year, I took a journalism class, and found a way to channel my love of writing into the award-winning newspaper, The Oak Leaf. One journalism class turned into two, and then into three. I was elected editor-in-chief my senior year, and by then, it’s safe to say I was spending more than three hours a day in the newspaper staff office.

ELW01There were a bunch of us—reporters, editors, typesetters, layout staff, illustrators, columnists, headline writers—and we each had our place on the masthead. But I was interested in all of it. I wanted to learn about every aspect of the newspaper’s production.

I remember spending many lunch hours and late nights in the newspaper office. That room never seemed to be empty, and there was always good music on the stereo. Even if we weren’t talking, we were side-by-side, head-bobbing to the beat while doing our respective jobs. It was comfortable.

In Every Last Word, Samantha is introduced to a secret poetry club hidden beneath the school theater. The Oak Leaf office was in plain sight, but it’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to Poet’s Corner.

I loved that room. Looking back, that was where I felt like I belonged, felt like I fit in, felt at home, always. The people there were writers and I was a writer and we understood each other in a way I can’t quite explain.

ELW02We read each other’s articles, offered constructive criticism, brainstormed ideas, and applauded each other’s successes. We loved words. We loved being writers and we made each other better ones.

I had wonderful friends outside those four walls, but looking back, my journalism team was more than that. They were my tribe.

It’s hard to articulate, but there’s something profound about being around people who love something with the same intensity you do. When I attended my first writing retreat five years ago, I felt it again, possibly for the first time since I left The Oak Leaf office.

ELW03As part of my marketing career, I’d been presenting to high-level executives for fifteen years, but sitting around a table and reading my own manuscript to nine total strangers felt overwhelmingly scary (if I’d known I was going to have to read aloud I never would have signed up for that retreat!). But I did it. And my fellow writers gave me praise and feedback, and man… it was so good to be in a room with word-nerds again! I felt such an incredible sense of support and belonging.

Those strangers quickly became my tribe.

It took me a while to learn how to surround myself with people who get me. It’s easier to stay put, even if you’re in a place of discomfort. And it’s tempting to try to morph into someone you think people want you to be, but if you’re with your true tribe, you’ll never feel like you have to.


A huge thank you to Tamara Ireland Stone for her thoughtful guest post. Learn more about Tamara and her books by following her on Twitter or checking out her blog.

If you’re interested in checking out Stone’s Every Last Word (a perfect summer read), enter to win a copy of your own courtesy of Disney Hyperion with the Celebrate Your Unique Selves prize pack. One winner will receive:

  • Two copies of Every Last Word for you and a friend
  • A $50 Visa gift card to enjoy a day out celebrating your friendship

Enter to Win!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney Hyperion.


Be sure to check out all the stops on the Every Last Word blog tour:

June 15: AliceMarvels.com – Introducing the tour and Every Last Word

June 16: ForeverYoungAdult.com – An Inspiring Mind: On Writing a Positive Character with OCD

June 17: Fangirlish.com – Words, Walls and Wonderment: Welcome to Poet’s Corner

June 18: TheDailyQuirk.com – Friends vs. Tribes: A Look Back at High School

June 19: Hypable.com – Exclusive Excerpt: Every Last Word Chapter 2

June 20: GoneWithTheWords.com – The Final Every Last Word Playlist: “In The Deep”

 

TDQ Joins the Percy Pack: ‘Percy Jackson’ Summer Deal and Giveaway

PercyPackBANNER

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, The Daily Quirk will be participating in an awesome blog event: The Percy Pack! As a participant in the Percy Pack, The Daily Quirk will be bringing you several Percy-themed posts, news tidbits, and giveaways over the next six months.

To kick things off, we want to let you all in on a hot summer deal. The first book in the series, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, will be available for e-book just $0.99 during the week of June 15th-22nd. The e-book will also feature a chapter of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summers, Riordan’s upcoming new release. If you prefer your books in solid form, Barnes & Noble is offering a beautiful 10th anniversary collector’s edition of The Lightning Thief.

These are fantastic opportunities for new fans to see what Percy Jackson is all about, but also gives Riordan fanatics something new to hold them over until October! (Pssssst….you can also catch a sneak peak of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard and download a special 10th anniversary Percy Pack Activity kit at RickRiordan.com.)

In addition to this fantastic deal, The Daily Quirk is also hosting a giveaway. One lucky winner will receive the complete Percy Jackson and the Olympians box set, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion. The giveaway is open to US addresses only. Enter to win below.

PercyBoxSet

Enter to Win!

As part of our participation in The Percy Pack, The Daily Quirk  is receiving books, merchandise and prizing courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

 

 

Margaret Fortune

An Interview with ‘Nova’ author Margaret Fortune

Margaret FortuneTo celebrate the release of her new YA sci-fi thriller, Nova (available 6/2/15), author Margaret Fortune was kind enough to answer a few questions for The Daily Quirk! Be sure to check out our review of Nova and keep on reading to learn more about Margaret and her writing.

The Daily Quirk: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer?

Margaret Fortune: My first story was written in first grade. According to my mom, my older sister came home from school with the assignment to write a story, to which I said, “I could write a story if I wanted to!” So I did.

While I did write some as a child, I didn’t seriously start writing until I graduated from college. I needed something to do while looking for a job. After a few short stories, I decided to take a go at a novel, and found to my surprise that I liked writing novels more than short stories. So even after I found a job, I continued to write. Eventually, I realized I wanted to try and get my books published. It took about a decade of hard work, as well as many, many failures along the way, but in the end I’m proud to call myself an author.

 

TDQ: Nova has such a unique and engaging concept. How did you come up with the idea for the plot? Did your original vision change at all once you started writing?

MF: Oftentimes, my stories start with a setting, and this is true of Nova. This story started with a random thought along the lines of, “I want to write a story that takes place on a space station!” As I was brainstorming ideas for the novel, the line “My name is Lia, and I’m a genetically engineered human bomb,” popped into my head. I knew at once I’d struck gold.

The story began evolving the moment I started setting it to paper. When I write a novel, I’ll generally start with a very basic plot and character. I’ll have the beginning, the ending, and a general idea of how to get from here to there, but not much else. As a result, there’s a lot of room for the story to grow and change during the writing process. Most of the main plot elements and twists in Nova developed during the writing process, rather than being pre-planned.

 

TDQ: What was the most challenging part about writing Nova?

MF: Because I know the general plot of the story but not all the events, when I write I’m basically trying to get from one catalyst or inciting event to the next. There were days when I went to start the next chapter and found myself staring at the blank page going, “I have no idea what’s supposed to be in this chapter.” Those were probably the most challenging days.

 

TDQ: Science fiction hasn’t always been particularly popular in Young Adult, but that seems to be changing over the past few years. Can you talk a little bit about why you chose YA sci-fi for your first novel and your love of sci-fi in general?

MF: My love of sci-fi started as a child, growing up on episodes of Star Trek TNG, Seaquest DSV and Earth 2. While there wasn’t a lot of children’s sci-fi to be found in my local library, what there was I devoured. It was children’s sci-fi from the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s, by authors such as H.M. Hoover, Louise Lawrence, and Monica Hughes, that sparked my love of sci-fi literature.

Nova was born of love for the genre, as well as strategy. At the time I wrote Nova, YA sci-fi was just starting to emerge in the market. Between Nova’s high concept and the direction of the market, I felt the book would have a really good shot at catching the eye of an agent and/or publisher. While Nova is my first book that readers will see, it certainly wasn’t my first completed novel or my first attempt to sell a novel. As much as we writers want to believe that good writing will always win the day, the truth is: Genre matters. Concept matters. It’s not just about writing a great book you love, but also writing a great book you love that will be salable. Lucky for me, I love sci-fi! Nova allowed me to successfully combine both my love of the genre and the current market trend to a successful end.

 

TDQ: What’s the last fantastic need-to-tell-all-your-friends-about-it book you read?

MF: I really enjoyed Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It was just so much fun to read, I had to share it with others!
TDQ: Nova the first book in a series (which is a very good thing considering the craziness at the end!) – can you tell us anything about the next book in the series, or any other upcoming projects?

MF: Nova is the first of a five-book series, so expect four more books to be coming in the not-too-distant future. Each book features a different setting and MC, so readers can look forward to seeing much more of their favorite secondary characters like Michael, Teal, and Shar. While each book has its own standalone plot, each is a piece in a much larger story that will finally be put together in the fifth book. I hope readers that enjoy Nova will come back and join me for book two, which stars Michael as he takes on a very unique—and dangerous—role in the ongoing war!

Thanks so much to Margaret for her thoughtful responses. You can learn more about Margaret by following her on Twitter or checking out her blog.

 

 

Nova by Margaret Fortune

Book Review: ‘Nova’ by Margaret Fortune

Nova by Margaret Fortune

Nova by Margaret Fortune

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – science fiction is an underrepresented genre in YA, and I can’t quite figure out why. There are plenty of sci-fi books out there, but I love how in the context of YA it becomes a unique, creative vehicle for a character-driven or coming-of-age story. But it seems like lately there is a little bit of a shift toward more sci-fi-oriented YA, and Margaret Fortune’s Nova is a fantastic example of why that is a very good thing.

Let me tell you what this book is about in a few sentences:

A teenage girl is actually a genetically engineered human bomb – it is her entire purpose in life. She is sent to a rival space station to destroy it, but right before she’s set to explode, she glitches. Her clock stops, and now she has no idea if, when, or how she might go off.

Try to tell me you’re not sold! It’s such a cool concept. There are so many layers to this story – obviously the bomb situation is a big deal, but our girl Lia’s unexpected extra time alive opens up the door for so many other things. At the beginning of the story, Lia is dead set on “going nova.” She’s looking forward to it, in fact. It is her one purpose in life and she is ready to fulfill it. But Lia doesn’t know who she is. She can’t remember anything before her trip to the space station, but she is knows that she has memories of a girl named Lia. Whether these are legitimate memories or memories implanted in her to successfully get her past the military psychics, we’re not really sure, but over time Lia starts to unravel all sorts of craziness related to her origin.

And then there’s Michael, the boy who actually knew the real Lia back on his home planet and immediately takes Lia under his wing. Initially Lia wants to avoid him; she has no interest in human contact or relationships because she just wants to explode, gosh darn it. But the persistence and kindness shown by Michael and his family start to win Lia over. Suddenly she has people she cares about on the space station, and the idea of blowing them up is a struggle, to say the least.

Finally, there’s Lia’s mission itself. Why was she sent to blow up this space station? In the midst of an intergalactic war, which side is she on? And let me tell you, as this piece of the story unravels, things start to get super creepy.

I loved the originality of this story and the huge character arc Lia goes through between the first and last pages of the book. I loved the world-building and the details Fortune included to give clues to readers as the book progresses. I received an ARC so the final version might be a bit different, but I do think Nova could have benefitted from a little editing. It has the potential to be a constant page-turner, but as it is there are some slow spots for sure. The nice thing about the slow spots is that they still function to help give you details about the space station and the world it’s in, but I’m not sure all of it was necessary.

Otherwise, my only real gripe with this book was the ending. It wasn’t a bad ending….it was a really appropriate ending, actually. The only issue I had was that it didn’t feel like an adequate conclusion for all the setup in the book, but it also didn’t really feel like a hook into a series, which I guess it is supposed to be. If you’re setting up a series, I need a little more feeling of high stakes – which there totally are, I just didn’t feel that with how the end was written. But it’s okay, really, because Nova was such a unique and memorable read that I have no doubt I’ll jump at the sequel.

Book Review: ‘Nearly Found’ by Elle Cosimano

Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano

Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano

I love a good mystery, and I don’t think I’m alone in that – just ask fans of Veronica Mars, Columbo or Sherlock. And based off the popularity of the million and seven versions of CSI currently on the air, people are more than a little intrigued at the prospect of solving a case using forensic science. Elle Cosimano’s Nearly Found, the follow-up to last year’s Nearly Gone, combines these elements in an intricate mystery supplemented by some crime lab investigative tricks.

If you read Nearly Gone, you’re familiar with logic-minded Nearly Boswell, who was entrenched in a personal investigation into the vicious murders of several classmates. While there is a little bit of crossover, Nearly Found generally functions as a standalone with its own new mystery. The characters cross over, but the plot focuses on how Nearly uses her internship at a crime lab to figure out who is leaving her coded threats and why, and what that has to do with her own father’s disappearance several years before.

If you’re like me and you didn’t read Nearly Gone, I have good news and bad news. Good news: Nearly Found is surprisingly easy to pick up, even given the intricacies of the first book. You get all the relevant information laid out pretty quickly in the first chapter, and it’s not even an info dump! Then everything else you need to know gets sprinkled gradually into the narrative as the book progresses, so it’s never overwhelming.

And now the bad news: The first book established Nearly’s relationship with all the main characters in Nearly Found. Because I missed out on that, I felt there was significant character and relationship growth and change that didn’t really resonate with me as much as it would have if I had seen those relationships build in Nearly Gone. Nearly has an intriguing backstory as well as a unique ability to taste emotion when she touches people. I thought these things added some interesting dimension to the story, but I would have loved to have seen them explored more deeply. I kept wondering if they were a more important piece of the first book, and maybe would have appreciated them more if I had that background.

So yes, I’d recommend reading these books in order if at all possible, but I still had fun jumping in at the middle. Cosimano’s writing is clear and unaffected, deftly balancing a fast-paced plot with a fairly complex mystery. I appreciated that Cosimano didn’t just take the easy route with the mystery but instead added several layers to it, forcing Nearly to examine her own conclusions carefully to see the big picture. I also loved that the book didn’t shy away from some high stakes. Nearly takes some major chances throughout the story, and there are several harrowing passages ranging from creepy to terrifying.

Mystery, and particularly this type of mystery, is really underrepresented in YA. We constantly read about teens in life-threatening dystopias and fantasies, but it’s not that often we see it in a contemporary setting, and particularly not when paired with a thoughtful mystery. I don’t know why there’s a dearth of this type of YA book, but it certainly made reading Nearly Found a unique and engaging experience. As an added bonus, Nearly Found eschews a lot of the common contemporary YA tropes, focusing hard on the puzzle at its core, so I think this is definitely a series with appeal above and beyond YA audiences. If you’re looking for something a little dark, a little different, and a lot of fun, definitely keep an eye out for Nearly Found, and don’t forget to check out Nearly Gone for the full-series experience!