life by committee

Not every part of the writing process has that joy in it. There’s days that that’s there, but there’s a lot of days it feels boring and not fun and not energizing.

Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD LOVE STORY, LIFE BY COMMITTEE, and MAKING PRETTY, out May 12, on coming to terms with the harder side of the creative process.

Listen to her full interview here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.
—  Susan Cain, Quiet

Jason Chaffetz’s misleading data chart at Yesterday’s Planned Parenthood hearing gets debunked

Right-wing media have spent months promoting a deceptive data chart from the anti-choice Americans United for Life that on September 29 became the cornerstone of Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) cross-examination of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards at a House Oversight Committee hearing aimed at defunding the organization. The chart’s data is out of proportion and neglects to document numerous services performed by the women’s health care provider to make it appear as if most of what Planned Parenthood does is pregnancy terminations.

Rep. Chaffetz Uses Deceptive Chart To Smear Planned Parenthood In Congressional Hearing. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, displayed a misleading chart while questioning Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards during a September 29 hearing that suggested the number of abortions performed by the health care provider has spiked since 2006 as its other services declined. Chaffetz attacked Richards for “deny[ing]” the validity of the data, but was caught off-guard when Richards informed him that the data and graph he was relying on was provided by Americans United for Life (AUL), an anti-choice group. 


National Memo: The Graph Was “Disingenuous At Best And Criminally Idiotic At Worse.” In a September 29 article, The National Memo argued that Chaffetz’s hearing displayed “a nakedly partisan agenda” and “a complete dishonesty regarding basic math.” The article argued that the graph used by Chaffetz “made absolutely no sense” because there was no accurate scale to compare the number of abortions Planned Parenthood performed to the number of preventative care services they conducted, and concluded that the chart itself was “disingenuous at best” and “criminally idiotic at worse.”

Mother Jones: The Graph Ignores The Y-Axis. In a September 29 article in Mother Jones, Kevin Drum attributed the deceptiveness in the chart displayed by Chaffetz to an utter disregard for scale and proportion in the y-axis. Drum replotted the data “using conventional ‘numbers’ and 'slopes’” to show how the data would look if they were not misleadingly charted, and included another image which compared all “other services” provided by Planned Parenthood to the abortions it provides.

Vox Corrects The Misleading Chart, Adds Vital Context On Other Services. In a September 29 article, Vox pointed out that chart used by Chaffetz makes it appear as if abortions performed by Planned Parenthood have risen dramatically while preventative services have been cut. Vox plotted what an accurate chart of Planned Parenthood services would look like, broken down into categories: Abortion services increased modestly, cancer screenings and contraception services declined, and STI/STI testing and treatment increased.

h/t: Julie Alderman at Media Matters For America 


Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

4 Stars
Reviewed by Naomi 

Official Synopsis: Some secrets are too good to keep. 

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. 

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. 

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

Tabitha has secrets. Big and small secrets. The one that occupies her mind the most is the fact that she is having a secret relationship. He tells her all of his secrets, tells her he wants her and kisses her. But, it’s all behind closed doors, because, Tabitha is the other girl in his life. 

There are several things about this book that I enjoyed. The first one is the reason that you should read this book; Tabitha, the main character. Tabitha is not a good girl, but she’s not a bad girl, either. She is feisty, self conscious, lonely, nervous around boys, and brave. She makes really stupid mistakes, puts her trust in the wrong people and lets her world spiral out of control.  Basically, Tabitha is just a girl trying to figure it out. That’s a great distinction in a genre filled with goodie two shoes and sacrificial lambs.  

This book deals with the problem of slut shaming and the manic pixie dream girl, brilliantly. Corey Ann Haydu flips both of those tropes on it’s head. Tabitha is slut shamed and not for reasons you might think. No one knows about Joe. No one knows anything about Tabitha with any boys, because there’s nothing to know and yet, the school names her “slut.” Why? Because nature had the nerve to give this girl curves. Oh, and when she filled into her curves, Tabitha began to dress herself accordingly. Nothing too dramatic, because she shops at the GAP for god’s sake!

Still, there are rumors, she’s an outcast and everyone looks down at her. It’s all very trite, which is good, because slut shaming is trite.  Tabitha is the only girl in literature, that I can think of, who gets less popular when she gets hot. It’s usually the other way around and I really loved that this author gave us a new perspective and a new twist on the same old story. 

LIFE BY COMMITTEE is a very interesting concept. Not only, because of the LBC itself, but because Tabitha is the other POV in stories like this. For example, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in this novel is actually Joe’s girlfriend. In another novel, Tabitha would be the short skirt wearing blonde girl who bats her baby blues at Joe and steals him away from the perfect, beautiful and misunderstood heroine. In the hands of another author, Tabitha would be the villain, the mistress, the slut. I am very pleased that Ms. Haydu gave us a different perspective. 

Then there is LBC.  I found the idea of the committee to be very interesting, because it’s true to life. Tumblr is a perfect example of a website where people find each other. I sincerely, consider many of my followers, etc on tumblr to be my friends. It’s obviously not the sort of friendship I have with my friends in normal life, but people on tumblr know a lot about me. When I am devastated or hurt by someone in my normal life, I turn to my blogs, because there is something empowering  about a world where you are known and yet anonymous. 

That is what “Life by Committee” gives Tabitha. She is finally able to show people the scars she hides from the world without being vulnerable. Without being shamed. The Committee gives Tabitha assignments. These assignments are meant to empower. They are meant to give these guys and girls the courage to take bold moves. Unfortunately, LBC is sometimes the blind leading the blind and while Tabitha’s actions are sometimes empowering, other times they are destructive.

The reason this book gets 4 stars and not a full 5 is, because I personally could have used another twenty pages. I’d like to see the aftermath of Tabitha’s choices a bit more. I’d like to see this new world that she has created for herself and her classmates. I’d like to see if her family makes it through the turmoil. I smiled, laughed and cried at the end, so it’s completely worth it. I am just not 100% satisfied, because I wanted to see everything wrapped up a bit better.

Honestly, I just highly recommend it. This book is a breath of fresh air.

Recommended for anyone sick of the normal YA tropes and could use something new. Also for fans of books that focus more on coming of age, or growing up and less on romance. (Although there is romance in there) 

For more: Goodreads page and Author website

On the blog: Never Without a Book, Always a Book in My Bag

There are some things that we carry with us wherever we go; our keys, wallets and mobile phones are some of such items. I believe that books count among these essentials. This is why I always carry at least a book, my Kindle or my iPad with me, so that I am never in want of reading material.


Mila 2.0: Renegade* by Debra Driza ( debradriza )

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller ( laurenmillerwrites )

Rebel* by Amy Tintera ( amytintera)

*These books are sequels and seconds in trilogies.

In prenatal surgery, babies recoil from sharp objects. At the same age, they can be aborted. #theyfeelpain

Anesthesia given to babies for fetal surgery. Yet at same stage, they can be killed in abortion. #theyfeelpain

Pass #HR36, pain-capable unborn babies deserve a chance at life. #theyfeelpain


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Martin Luther King Jr.

This is an absolutely entertaining 1951 question-and-answer booklet from the Committee on Un-American Activities. Some favorites Q&As include:

Q: Could I exchange letters with friends in other countries [under Communist rule]?
A: With the police reading your mail, you could try–once. 

Q: What do communists call those who criticize them?
A: “Red baiters,” “witch hunters,” “Fascists.” These are just three out of tremendous stock of abusive labels Communists attempt to smear anyone who challenges them.

Q: How do they smear public officials?
A: As “reactionaries,” “Wall Street tools,” “Hitlerites,” and “imperialists.”

Q: What is the difference in fact between a Communist and a Fascist?
A: None worth noticing. 

Q: Well, what did Lenin have in mind when he said give him the child’s first eight years?
A: He meant that, given a child from its infancy, he would turn it into a faceless, obedient, trained Communist slave for life. 

Q: You mean an American would actually betray his own country to help Soviet Russia? But what kind of people are they?
A: Treasonable creatures who enjoy the privileges of American citizenship and talk loudly about their loyalty, but all the time are REALLY only loyal to Russia. 

Q: [They’d come to] Kill ME, personally?
A: To kill you, personally.

United States. Committee on Un-American Activities. (1951). 100 things you should know about Communism series. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Full text via Internet Archive.


YA is a huge genre, and contemporary YA is a huge genre within that huge genre and so many people are doing exciting and wonderful things in the YA world that sometimes we miss books that could become out favorites if only we’d known they existed.

Some of these books are critically acclaimed but still somehow don’t get into the hands of readers. Some are a little under the radar. Some you may have read. Some of them are a few years old, and therefore you maybe missed them. All of them are on the darker side, as that’s where my interests lie—in the complicated, messy, uncomfortable parts of life.

I hope you find a new favorite book here!



1. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick. Lauren Strasnick is one of my very, very favorite YA authors. Her writing is gorgeous, her characters are layered, her stories have both simplicity and messiness—a truly masterful combination. This one follows a girl whose family is going through a tough time, and a pair of strange, uncomfortable, chaos-creating twins. It’s from 2010 so maybe you missed it. Once you’ve read it, you’ll want to read all of Strasnick’s beautiful novels.

2. True Believer (part of the Make Lemonade series) by Virginia Euwerr Wolff. Calling True Believer under the radar would be a misnomer, since this incredible verse novel won the National Book Award in 2001, but so many YA readers haven’t read it. For readers looking for diverse characters from under represented backgrounds, this is an incredible book about a young girl struggling to succeed academically, romantically, and with her friends and family. It’s unusual and relatable and LaVaughn is one of my all time favorite YA characters.

3. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay. Speaking of wonderful contemporary YA verse novels… this one is so special. It follows a quirky, indie-film-feeling long distance couple who are trying to make it work, even though their individual new lives are moving forwards. If you are skeptical about verse novels, this one will win you over.

4. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. Summers isn’t exactly under the radar for lovers of edgy contemporary YA literature, but this book is from 2010 so some readers may have missed it. If you want to join in the debate on the allegedly “unlikable” female character, here’s the place to start. Summers writes girls who are challenging and complicated and so so human. I personally find her characters more sympathetic than most, since they are flawed and broken. This one follows a girl who has fallen from grace with her clique of popular friends, and is struggling on her own in the aftermath. I consider this a YA classic.

5. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. A little known fact—I did my thesis in my MFA program on the many wonderful books of Elizabeth Scott. This is my favorite of hers—a dark, dark, novel about a girl who is kidnapped. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying and haunting and tense and brave.


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