.

...or why books and tv rank higher than sleep

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: The Witch of Hebron

This is my very first blog tour, which I am excited about. Thanks again Jen & Lori @ Crazy Book Tours for your patience with this newbie.

Kunstler, James Howard. The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel. Atlantic Monthly Press. Sept 2010. 336pp. ISBN 0802119611


Synopsis:

Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor. In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But it’s no pastoral haven. Wars are fought over dwindling resources and illness is a constant presence. Bandits roam the countryside, preying on the weak. And a sinister cult threatens to shatter Union Grove’s fragile stability.

In a book that is both shocking yet eerily convincing, Kunstler seamlessly weaves hot-button issues such as the decline of oil and the perils of climate change into a compelling narrative of violence, religious hysteria, innocence lost, and love found.

Review:

Reading has been a chore for me lately. It takes me months to read a book now because the only time I can read for pleasure is on the treadmill at the gym twice a week; a total of maybe 40min a week reading. I read 4-5 hours a day for school. I miss reading for pleasure more than you can possibly imagine.

One of my guilty pleasures are dystopian books, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Witch of Hebron. I was concerned because it was a sequel to  World Made by Hand, which I hadn’t read. I don’t like starting midway through a series because I am forever thinking I am missing it out on something. That actually wasn’t the case here, I am pleased to say. Yes, it takes place in the same town and ties up some loose ends, but the central characters and the major plotlines/relationships are all recapped really well here.

In Witch of Hebron, the standout hero character amongst the ensemble is Jasper Copeland. He is the son of a doctor, and at 11 wants to strike out on his own as a doctor. This is completely against the wishes of his parents, who want him to finish school like any other parent. In post-apocalyptical society there is seemingly no need for a formal education, after all there is no government anymore. There are no laws saying he needs to obey his parents, and he needs to stay in school. The reality of a post-apocalyptical world is best experienced through Jasper’s adventures. During the book, Jasper runs away and it is his experiences that truly send the message home that the world is different beyond the obvious reasons. And his medical adventures while on his own that really make the book so chilling for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the appendectomy performed in this book was disturbing and so incredibly well researched and written.

My only real complaint about the book was the number of pop culture references. On one hand, they do serve a purpose to make the reader feel as though the book takes places in the not so distant future. On the other hand, I think it will date the book and cause it to lose impact over the years. That said, this is a tremendously impactful book and I can’t wait to read World Made by Hand.

Rating: 4 eyeglasses.

Torture

    Why oh why do I go to The Book Barn and buy a bag full of books when I know I can't read them for another 6 weeks? It's one thing to buy a bunch of books and know I have a lot to read all ready, but at least there is the hope one of them will skip to the head of the line because the mood struck me to read that book. It's another thing entirely when I just buy books that have no hope of being read until the semester is over and the review books are completed.

   I do have good news though. I am about to post a review for The Witch of Hebron, and I have only 30 pages left to the latest Snipesville Chroncile: A Different Day, A Different Destiny (of which I will be giving away 2 shiny copies!) So thanks for sticking around - I had no idea just how hard this semester was going to be for me. I am reading other blogs faithfully, even if I don't have time to comment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When I'm Not Reading

It's Thursday and I thought it would be a good way to use Missie's meme from The Unread Reader to explain why I haven't been around much.

 When I'm not reading, this is what my week is like on average:

Monday: I get up super early to make the hour and fifteen minute commute from my boyfriend's house to work. It's 40miles but lots of traffic. I spend my lunch hour doing reading for my classes, and when I leave work at 5 I either go to acupuncture (has helped me tremendously), or I go to class and go over my cataloging homework before our weekly quiz. Usually they let us out of class late and I get home around 10:30. I'm then up until 1 or 2 working on my reading for Tuesday night's class.

Tuesday: Fortunately I have a shorter commute during the week. This is a leave early day for me because I am in class from 3:30 until 9:30 (two classes). This is my very busy day because of the insane amount of reading for these classes (historical anthropology and archives). I get home around 10:30 and once again have about 2-3 hours of reading to do for the next day.

Weds: another leave early day for me. Once again my lunch hour is spent reading and writing for tonight's class - The Crusades. If I don't have a meeting (I'm very active in 2 student organizations and this has been a tremendously busy month for us) then I am typically home by 7:30. Sometimes I have book club, or sometimes I meet up with friends. I try to be home by 10:30 again because I have to do work on my online class: Public Librarianship.

Thursday. A full work day for me and no classes. Fortunately Thursdays are quiet at work so I can catch up on my online class if I get through my work in time. After work I go to my Grandmother's for "dinner and a story" and then it's home for laundry and reading. I average about 200-300 pages of reading a night for school. This is not light reading either - I'm taking a lot of notes and I am wring a lot of papers. I'm also in the process of packing since I will be moving in the next few months.

Friday: Another full day with no classes. Fridays are a lot like Thursdays for me, but this is the day I try to get some down time. If I don't go to karaoke with my friends then I work on packing and just plain zoning out in front of the tv with the dogs.

Saturday: I am starting a 1 credit internship/project for my archives class that involves me spending any free time for the remainder of the semester on saturday mornings working on this project. Then it's off to my boyfriend's house for the weekend for some downtime (that strangely results in me cooking for him for the week). And of course I have to make time on Sundays to do my homework!

   So as you can see, I haven't had very much time to read (or at all really). I'm realizing that I really took on way too much and I'm overwhelmed. I am so overwhelmed that I am flaking out, which is completely unlike me and I apologize to anyone that I've caused aggravation with because of my being over-extended. I fully expect to be my normal rational and dependable stuff by Jan 1.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Banned Book Week - Guest Post by Lily from Lillium's Realm

I couldn't let banned book week go by without having someone do a guest spot for me on their favorite banned book. It just so happens this is also my favorite banned book.

Lily from Lillium's Realm was so nice to write a post on To Kill A Mockingbird for me. Without further ado:


   Have you ever judged someone on the way they look? How about that guy behind you in line covered in tattoos and facial piercings? Or that lady with 8 kids and one in the belly? Or even that little old blue haired woman covered in cat hair? Or what about that group of young men just hanging out in front of the mall? When you walked past them did you hold your purse a little tighter? Try to keep an eye on them out of the corner of your eye?


  Everyone would like to say “I don’t judge people!” They lie. We all judge, all the time. It is one of the first things our parents teach us as children…remember “I’m not taking you to store with me, you’re dirty.” Or “You can not wear that to church.”?? We are all judged and we are all judging all the time, but the content of what we judge each other on is often the issue.



  In Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” we are introduced to Jem and Scout, the young children of Atticus Finch. The novel is set in 1930’s Alabama. The small town of Maycomb is suffering but Jem and Scout (who is really named Jean Lousie) don’t feel the Depression as bad because their father is a successful lawyer. As we are introduced to them we see the children acting like children do. Jem and Scout meet a new boy named Dill and Dill finds fascination with picking on local shut in, and in child pack fashion they do too. The main story line most remember though is the story of Tom Robinson, a local black man accused of raping a white woman. Unfortunately the town is mostly white and heavily prejudiced. Atticus agrees to defend the man, because he knows he is innocent. One of the scenes that sticks in my mind the most is where the night before the trial Atticus and his children face down a mob who is there to lynch Tom. Even though the mob is dispersed the trial begins and everyone is forced to inspect facts, but unfortunately this was not a Perry Mason ending with a nice bow on top.



This story has always stuck with me, always. I read this book when I was 12, and I was told I should not be reading “such filth” by my English teacher, no less. She told me the story was more apt to have me viewing my classmates by their race and not as people. I was outraged, as it was well known I had blonde hair and blue eyes and my family was from Germany. Want to talk about nasty? Look like me with my background the day after they show Shindler’s list in class. Good times. Anyways, she demanded I give my book to her and when I refused she wrote me up for insubordination. My dad framed the referral and put it up on the wall. There were amazing quotes from the book and ones I still use today. I actually wanted to name my son Atticus, but that was a big NO GO with his father. So to wrap this up I am going to close with my top quotes from the book:


They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ Atticus





“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."


"There is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is the court."


"Pass the damn ham, please."



"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."





"The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”



and finally my fave line from the entire book:



"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movie Review: The American

 I was so excited to see The American. The trailer made it seem like it was along the lines of The Bourne Identity only with George Clooney. How can you go wrong with that?
  I was feeling a bit down and figured this would be an excellent cheer up. I should have known since I didn't recognize the director or any of the cast that something was off about the movie, but again- George Clooney was in it. Oh George how you disappointed me. This was a foreign movie!
   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy foreign movies. I just like to know in advance that's what I'm watching. What was wrong with the movie was the lack of plot and character development. We don't know who George is. We don't know why he has an interest in butterflies. We don't know why people are after him. It was a jumbled mess that didn't translate well into American cinema and not even George Clooney's charm could fix it.

Rating: (It pains me to say this) 1 eyeglass

Monday, September 27, 2010

Check out my Guest Post

Amelia from The Authoress, one of my favorite blogs, asked me to do a guest post for her on a memorable book. I spent a lot of time going back and forth trying to decide which one to write about (I almost chose The Little Prince) until I decided on Anne of Green Gables.

 Please check out The Authoress, and my guest post which is dedicated to my very best friend that I miss dreadfully since she moved away.
http://theauthoress-amelia.blogspot.com/2010/09/guest-post-jenn-no-rest-for-wicked.html

Thanks again Amelia for asking me. I had a great time going through my book memories. :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review - The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

First: An apology for being absent. I'm taking 5 classes this semester, plus a full time job, and some personal issues. I haven't had much time to breathe the past couple of weeks, let alone actually blog. Now that I have a grasp on my schedule, I hope to post twice a week if not more.

 Coming up I have a fantastic give-away and review of the next installment of The Snipesville Chronicles by Annette Laing. I should be finished reading it very soon and so far it's even better than the first! Stay Tuned!

Now on to the review...

Gregory, Phillipa. The Red Queen. Simon & Schuster NY. August 2010. 382pp. ISBN1416563725
Synopsis:
Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

Review:
   I didn't know how Philippa Gregory was going to tackle a woman who was so disliked, who history has virtually ignored. This is a very cold and calculating woman with very little for the reader to sympathize with. And Gregory doesn't seem to make any effort to turn her into a sympathetic character. I appreciated that because doing so would throw away any ounce of credible historical fiction.

  I found the book to be slow going at first, and much more violent than The White Queen. For those expecting it to be as romantic as the Gregory novels normally are will be disappointed. This is a woman that is too pious for something as human as love. Still, it was an interesting look at a period of time and a figure most historical fiction writers ignore. It served as a good follow up to The White Queen and I'm looking forward to the next in the trilogy.

  For those interested in reading more about the war of the roses and the characters in this book, I highly recommend The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

Rating: 3 and a quarter eyeglasses

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When I'm Not Reading


"When I'm not reading" is a Thursday meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader . This is one of my favorite memes because it gives insight into bloggers beyond what they read.

  This is back to school week, so when I'm not reading chances are I'm in the classroom. I work full time and I'm taking 5 classes this fall: The Crusades, Managing Archives and Special Collections, Historical Anthropology, Cataloging, and Public Librarianship. Yes, I am pretty sure I am out of my mind but it's how it worked out for me this semester.
   I probably won't be posting too many reviews this semester because the assigned reading for Crusades alone is pretty intense, but I will certainly be reading modern books as much as I can to temper the tedious assigned reading.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Call For Guest Posters

Hi Everyone!
   I am looking for some guest contributors for banned book week. I'd love to have a few bloggers write about their favorite banned book, or how a banned book affected them. If you're interested, shoot me a note at bookwormgal29@gmail.com

You don't have to have a blog to participate.

~Jenn

Very Delayed Posting, but... I Got Another Award!!

Heather from Buried in Books gave me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much Heather, and stay safe this weekend!!(she's potentially in the path of Earl).
 
     I am passing this award on to these very deserving bloggers:

Nymfaux

Jessica @ A Fanatic's Book Blog

Bella & Annabelle @ A Girl Reads a Book

Laura @ Words from the Tampa Bookworm

Margo @ The Fourth Musketeer

Steph @ The Thoughts of a Book Junky

Steph @ Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust  (warning: this blog is for the over 18 crowd)
 

Hop and Follow - Sept 3rd

It's time for Crazy For Book's Book Blogger Hop. This week's question is:


Do you judge a book by its cover?

I actually really don't. I will be more drawn to a book if I like the cover, but I don't recall ever turning a book away because I didn't like it. The synopsis and the first couple of pages are what is important to me; the cover art is just someone else's different taste.




It's also Friday Follow day over at Parajunkee's View.


This week she is featuring Candace at Candace's Book Blog so please check her out.

Parajunkee's question this week is:

what is your favorite brick and mortar bookstore?

I love love love The Book Barn in Niantic, CT. It's over an hour away from my house but I try to get there at least 2-3 times a year. Niantic is in such a beautiful area, so the drive is definitely worth the trip alone. The location isn't the only reason why I adore The Book Barn. They have hundreds of thousands of books divided into different buildings with names like: Hades, and The Last Page. There are cats roaming around and lots of places where you can sit and read indoors and outdoors. I love it because of the whimsy it exudes as well as the incredible collections of books for very reasonable prices. Almost all of my antique books are from here, including my 2nd edition Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott.
   This place really isn't for the faint hearted. They have such a high turnover rate that it is all but impossible to walk in, grab a book you were looking for, and walk out. The books you are looking for could be anywhere, so browsing and rambling is going to happen. That is a bad thing for my wallet because inevitably I buy bags of books. Hence why I only go a few times a year!

Review: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Maizel, Rebecca. Infinite Days (Vampire Queen Series 1). St.Martens Press. Aug 2010. ARC.  ISBN0312649916




Synopsis


"Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you...no one."
Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face.
It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste.
Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust.
I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode.
But Justin was...daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream.
I never expected to be sixteen again...then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...

Review:

 My friend Nicole picked this up for me at ALA annual and I was so happy to read a vampire book that wasn't all sighing and Twilighty. In this book vampires are evil, bloodthirsty, and fearsome creatures. This book is about what happens when you get to become human again after centuries of being a vampire. Lenah is torn between her past and present. She misses Rhode and struggles to abandon herself to her humanity.
     This is a very well written book, with a very clever and imaginative plot. Lenah was an original. As a reader I could really feel Lenah's struggle and her fear that she will once again lose her humanity. The plot is original and Lenah is a well developed character.
     Once again, this is a YA book where the males just aren't as well developed. I don't understand why Lenah fell so hard for Justin. He was a selfish, self-absorbed, jerk. He was mean to her and he was mean to her friend Tony. Tony was probably the best developed character, so much so that I couldn't believe Lenah picked Justin over him!
    The biggest gripe I have about the book is that lack of detail given to her coven. Why would they stop at nothing to find her when they realized she wasn't coming back? Why was Vicken so obsessed? All in all my complaints are pretty minor and don't affect the enjoyment of the book. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.

Rating: 4 eyeglasses

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Booking through Thursday and When I'm not Reading

This week's BTT question is:

Even though it’s usually a mistake (grin) … do movies made out of books make you want to read the original?

If I loved the movie and I haven't read the books, then yes absolutely. The most recent example of this was Eat Pray Love. I poo-poo'ed the book until I saw the movie. I also read The Prestige because I loved the movie. That was a case where the movie was better than the book for me.

When I'm not reading, and if it's Thursday, I can be found at "Dinner and a Story". That's what my cousins, uncle, and I have nicknamed dinner with my Grandmother. I'm heading there in about a half an hour.

Basically 2 of my cousins, sometimes my sister, my uncle, and I meet at my grandmother's apartment for dinner. It's like fulfilling the visitation quota with reinforcements. Not that visiting my grandmother is any way a chore - she's a sassy broad who in no way acts her age (she doesn't care for old people).We eat, laugh, and have a conversation about pretty much anything.

 At some point during the conversation my Grandmother (who can't hear very well but refuses to admit it) interrupts with a story about something that really had nothing to do with what we were talking about. If you let her ramble on she will eventually tell us some long forgotten family dirt. Sometimes she'll go on about people in the family we have never met before. Huck Carlstrom is our favorite person she goes on about that we've never met.

It's a fun time and really nice to spend time with my family. I often feel as though I am the black sheep because I don't get invited much to last minute family get togethers. these thursdays make me feel included and I'm sad when I can't go for stretches of time because of my class schedule.

So... check out Missie's Meme over at The Unread Reader She's featuring Jennifer @ Reading with Tequila and her love of zombie movies!

Review: Speed Dating with the Dead

Nicholson, Scott. Speed Dating with the Dead. Haunted Computer Books. E-book.2010. 274pp


Summary:
 
When Wayne "Digger" Wilson hosts a paranormal conference at the haunted White Horse Inn, he has motives beyond searching for the inn's legendary ghosts.
Years ago, he made a honeymoon promise to his wife Beth that if one of them died, the survivor would return to the White Horse to summon the other's lost spirit. Now she's dead and Digger's back, with the daughter they conceived during that fateful honeymoon sixteen years before. And the ghost hunters are stirring up ancient evils that were better left in peace, because the inn's basement is home to a circle of demons that have been waiting for Wayne to return.
They want his teenage daughter Kendra, and they'll play whatever tricks they need in order to satisfy their dark desires. And at the White Horse Inn, not even angels can be trusted . 

Review:
Mr. Nicholson was nice to send me the e-book version of this book and The Red Church (review will be forthcoming). I was particularly intrigued to read this book after learning it was based on a real hotel where a paranormal conference took place.
   There is a lot going on in this book. Lots of characters with their own storyline and reasons to be at this hotel during the conference. I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to get my bearings and figure out who was who in this book. Despite my confusion, I found myself really getting into the book fairly quickly. 
  I find a lot of horror novels to be formulaic. Certainly this one had its Rose Red and Poltergeist-like elements, but there was enough spooks and chills in the book to overcome most of the feelings of "I read this before". I particularly liked the storyline involving Kendra, the daughter of conference leader Digger. She was a solid character in a book where character development was sacrificed for scares. As a reader you can understand Kendra's struggle to believe what was occurring is more than tricks and her Dad's imagination.I would definitely want to read more books with her in it, especially if they also explore her relationship with Cody. I also enjoyed the over the top-ness of the conference guests who all had their own agenda. 
  There is a lot going on, and a lot of people to keep track of, in a relatively short (274 pp) book. I wish more was spent on character development, fewer characters, and the religious aspect of the book seemed gratuitous. I still don't understand how halo colors apply to Kendra. 
  Overall this was a fast read and a chilling book. The kind of book that will scare the beejeezus out of you if you are reading it home alone on a rainy/windy night. 

Rating: a solid 3 eyeglasses
   

Review: Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang


Synopsis

The hilarious new book from the star of Chelsea Lately and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea .
Get ready for big laughs as Chelsea Handler lets loose with more comic personal essays. In this new, no-holds-barred account of life on the ridiculous side, Chelsea mines the wealth of material that is her family, her sex life, her career, and her distinctively outrageous worldview. Here is young Chelsea discovering "The Feeling" during a third-grade sleepover and getting shafted by clueless parents over Cabbage Patch dolls...and grown-up Chelsea at the mercy of the remote control, Lean Pockets, and Sex and the City --but still managing to convince her boyfriend that there are Swiss Army knives in the soles of her $16,000 shoes. Through it all, Chelsea never lets anyone off the hook, even herself, as she delivers page after page of irreverent humor, biting wit, and deliciously off-kilter entertainment.

Review:
     I've been waiting for this through my library's ILL since the book was released this spring. I was so thrilled to have it come in right when I really need to laugh. And this book makes me laugh the whole way through. Handler has a way of telling what would be considered inane stories from anyone else in a very funny manner.   
     As a huge fan of her show Chelsea Lately, I was all ready familiar with her opinions on her family and her now ex-boyfriend, but I don't think you need to be in order to appreciate her humor. Her re-telling of the wedding she went to with her ex, and the dog funeral had me laughing out loud. What really got me was the email communications between her and her siblings over her father's antics. Having a wacky family myself (although nowhere near the level of hers) I could really appreciate their interactions. 
   There were some parts of the book that seemed to drag because she had all ready told the story on her show, but overall this was a really quick read. This is definitely not a book for anyone that is offended by sarcastic and bawdy humor though.

Rating: 4 and a quarter eyeglasses.

The Winner of my 100 Follower Giveaway!!

 is Steph from The Thoughts of a Book Junky

Congrats Steph, you should be receiving your copy of Clockwork Angel and Torment soon.

Thank you everyone for participating. I am having another giveaway very soon, so please keep checking back!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Hop & Follow

      This week has been an absolute whirlwind. I've been so neglectful of this little blog, but I haven't had anything to review really, and most of my spare time has been basically birthday present shopping and combing the internet for textbooks. Those of you out there who are students probably sympathize with just how tedious the process can be.

 Don't forget to enter to win my 100 Follower Giveaway!!!! 
 
    It's time for Crazy For Book's Book Blogger Hop. This week's question is:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?
 
As you can see, I have an eyeglass rating system. I am kind of proud of it since I created it myself and I had no previous experience doing anything with manipulating graphics. Eventually I'll have someone make a prettier version. As to why eyeglasses, well I wanted something that is a bit different and also that represents me. I'm a library student and I have librarian glasses, so Voila!




It's also Friday Follow day over at Parajunkee's View.
This week she is featuring Manda @ Book Ge3K. I'm glad to have found Manda because I really enjoy her review style.


This week's question at the follow is:

My question for you guys, what is the first book that you remember reading?

 The first book I remember reading is the actual book I first learned to read. In a People House by Dr. Seuss. I would read it every night and eventually read it to my brother when he was a baby. 

    What about you?


Friday, August 20, 2010

Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

       Confession time: I never read Elizabeth Gilbert's blockbuster book Eat Pray Love. I really had no interest in it and quite honestly I call(ed) it "the cult book" because everyone I know that read it started spouting these strange mantras and asking each other what their word was.

  I was intrigued by the movie. I like Julia Roberts. I liked the concept of the movie. And I'm at a point in my life where I am approaching a crossroad so thought it would be a good movie for me. I didn't have very high expectations since my friends the book devotees thought it was slow and Julia Roberts was ill cast, but I had an open mind. I saw it with my friend Carolyn and enjoyed it immensely!

   The scenery was beautiful. The acting was excellent (especially Richard Jenkins) and it had a perfect mix of laugh out loud moments and heart warming ones. I can see where people complained that it dragged and maybe I would be more critical if I read the book. After all, how often are you pleasantly surprised by a movie adaptation of a book you love?

 More importantly, I actually was inspired by the movie. I want to pack up and move to Bali.  I left with a lot to think about (much like after Inception) but I also felt as though that even if my marriage doesn't work out, I will be ok. I won't be alone forever (not with friends) and I will be able to love again. It's a message I sorely needed at this point in my life. So I am going out to buy the book this weekend. I guess you could say I'm the latest cult member and that's perfectly ok with me.

Rating: 4 and 3/4 eyeglasses.

It Seriously Can't Be Hop & Follow Friday All Ready!!

Wow! Time certainly does fly and this month for me reinforces my title "No Rest for the Wicked". Crazy busy here and it doesn't look as though it will stop anytime soon.

As it is Friday, it is time for Crazy for Books' Blogger Hop.
This week's question is:
How many blogs do you follow?

I follow about 150 blogs as of right now. I'm sure there will be dozens more by the end of the day. That doesn't mean I check every day, but I do try to hit everyone at least once a week.

And it's also the Friday Follow over at Parajunkee's View. These week she is featuring Joy from Edgy Inspirational Romance

Please take a moment to check out the links and support my fellow book bloggers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's 100 Follower Giveaway Time

If anyone is experiencing issues getting your information logged on the form, please send me an email at Bookwormgal29@gmail.com with your information and number of entries. I'll enter you in by hand to the master spreadsheet. Sorry about any aggravation!
 
Thank you all so much for not only following me, but also for your own reviews. My husband probably doesn't thank you because of growth rate of my TBR shelves, but I do.

So, as mentioned earlier, to thank you I am hosting a giveaway to one of my lucky followers. Unfortunately the contest is only open to US readers this time. I promise to include international readers in the future. This contest is open until Midnight Monday August 30th, with the winner to be announced on August 31st

One reader gets to pick either ONE of the following (The Distant Hours or Fall of Giants):



Or TWO from these books (Clockwork Angel, Torment, Mockingjay, or The Iron Daughter):






You can click on the photo to read more about each book. And don't forget to leave a comment when you're done.


Booking Through Thursday


I couldn't think of anything for "When I'm Not Reading" this week, so I decided to participate in Booking through Thursday. This week, instead of a question, we have a quiz. Which is OK because I really enjoy reading other people's answers.


1. Favorite childhood book?
This is really tough for me because I have no idea how to answer it. I would say the book that has remained with me since childhood and the first book that comes to mind is "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott.

2. What are you reading right now?
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler and Speed Dating with the Dead by Scott Nicholson

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
The latest House of Night book, Brave New World, and A Vintage Affair. Oh and I think I have Spirit Bound also on request.

4. Bad book habit?
it depends on who you ask. Either leaving a book in every room of the house, my car, and my bag (just in case I want to read)or buying books even though I have so many not yet read at home.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

6. Do you have an e-reader?
I have a Nook

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
see answers # 2 and 4

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read a lot more YA

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I don't know if I really have a comfort zone

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I don't really have one - I read really anything that strikes my fancy at the time.

13. Can you read on the bus?
No. I can't read in a car either because of motion sickness.

14. Favorite place to read?
my hammock or my husband's recliner

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I lend to friends and family that I can trust to return the book. Unless I don't to read it again, in which case anyone who wants it can take it.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
only books I read for school

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
only books I read for school

18. Not even with text books?
I actually don't really write in textbooks. Usually I just highlight

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English

20. What makes you love a book?
well written, developed characters, and I have to be able to escape while reading.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I tailor my recommendations based on what I think the person would like.

22. Favorite genre?
historical fiction

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
spy novels

Favorite biography?
Either Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, or Shackleton by Roland Huntford

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
yes

26. Favorite cookbook?
For nostalgic reasons, The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Hmm.. Probably The Happiness Project.

28. Favorite reading snack?
gingersnaps and tea.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
This happens a lot. Most recently I would say A Reliable Wife, or The Girl Who Played with Fire.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
about 50/50 I guess

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I try to find something positive to soften the blow unless I despised the book. I strive to be honest and objective.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Latin and French

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I don't get intimidated by books. If I hesitate to read one it's because it seems boring to me.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
See above answer

35. Favorite Poet?
Edgar Allen Poe

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Anywhere from 2 -8

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
rarely

38. Favorite fictional character?
Anne Shirley

39. Favorite fictional villain?
I don't know if he counts but Snape from the Harry Potter series

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
I like to read chick lit on vacation, or YA. Last vacation I brought The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
a couple of days

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Tale of Two Cities

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
my husband talking

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Prestige

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Timeline by Michael Crichton

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
not counting books for school? Between $100 - $200

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I skim before buying a book

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
someone blabbing the ending

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I try to

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
keep

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
none that I can think of

52. Name a book that made you angry.
The DaVinci Code

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Help

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Girl who Played with Fire

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
either YA books or Philippa Gregory's books

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

E-bites

Blog With Bite


Blog with Bite is hosting a weekly meme called e-bites, which is a showcase for e-books we are to take a bite of?

Scott Nicholson sent me the digital version of two of his books to review. After some technical difficults, I was finally able to convert the e-book to Nook friendly format. I'm starting with Speed Dating with the Dead. I love a good spooky thriller and can't wait to take a bite out of it.
Here's a summary from his site Haunted Computer

When Wayne "Digger" Wilson hosts a paranormal conference at the haunted White Horse Inn, he has motives beyond searching for the inn's legendary ghosts.

Years ago, he made a honeymoon promise to his wife Beth that if one of them died, the survivor would return to the White Horse to summon the other's lost spirit. Now she's dead and Digger's back, with the daughter they conceived during that fateful honeymoon sixteen years before. And the ghost hunters are stirring up ancient evils that were better left in peace, because the inn's basement is home to a circle of demons that have been waiting for Wayne to return.

They want his teenage daughter Kendra, and they'll play whatever tricks they need in order to satisfy their dark desires. And at the White Horse Inn, not even angels can be trusted . .
.

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate


Kate, Lauren. Fallen. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Dec 2009. 464pp. ISBN 385738935

Synopsis:
Seventeen-Year-Old Luce is a new student at Sword & Cross, an unwelcoming boarding/reform school in Savannah, Georgia. Luce s boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances, and now she carries the guilt over his death with her as she navigates the unfriendly halls at Sword & Cross, WHERE every student seems to have an unpleasant even evil history.

It s only when she sees Daniel, a gorgeous fellow student, that Luce feels there s a reason to be here though she doesn t know what it is. And Daniel s frosty cold demeanor toward her? It s really a protective device that he s used again . . . and again. For Daniel is a fallen angel, doomed to fall in love with the same girl every 17 years . . . and watch her die. And Luce is a fellow immortal, cursed to be reincarnated again and again as a mortal girl who has no idea of who she really is.

Review:
Have you ever read a book that upon finishing it you decide you liked it, but when you stop to think about it you realize it really wasn't all that great of a book. In fact there was a lot wrong with it? The Twilight Books is one example for me. Fallen is another.

The plot and the creepy setting were both good. The book fails in both character development and character interactions. Luce stalks Daniel with really no reason beyond her instant attraction and feeling that she knew him before. Daniel was pretty much a jerk, and it was really easy to figure out what he is. Something was just off in how the characters interacted with each other. There was instant familiarity between them without any sort of believability, particularly considering the setting.

I'm willing to try the next book, Torment, to see if the issues I had with Fallen were just the result of a fledgling author. Overall, it was a good story that failed in its follow through.

Rating: 2 and 3/4 eyeglasses

Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. Harper. New York. 2009. 320pp. ISBN 0061583251.

Synopsis:
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her—and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising—she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference—and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, The Happiness Project is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.

Review:
Right now I'm at a crossroads in my life. I don't know if my marriage is going to work out. I don't know if I should stick around this area after grad school. I don't know where to apply for PhD programs. Etc... What I do know is that I am tired of being stressed all of the time and I am very tired of putting the needs of others first in a pathetic attempt to please everyone.
So, I got a copy of The Happiness Project from the library, even though I am not particularly fond of self-help or non-fiction books that aren't related to history. I figured this was going to be different because the author chronicals her experiences and in no way is on a soapbox. Rubin uses her experiences combined with research and philosophy to answer for herself, "Is it possible to become a happier person? Is happiness a meaningful and worthwhile goal?"
I am very glad I picked up the book. While a lot of it really didn't apply to me, I was inspired to really take a look at my life and the behaviors I want to change. The change will come slowly - Rubin herself focused on one subject a month, which is important considering how difficult it is to change behavior.
While Rubin's use of quotations and feedback from readers was incredibly helpful for me, she really did come across as privileged and overly demanding of kudos. She admits she does ask too much for credit and is working on it. We all have our burdens and everything but it is really hard to sympathize with her because, let's face it, she has a pretty good upper to upper middle class life.
Am I a happier person for reading the book? Not really, but I do think it is much more tangible for me now. I know what I need to work on and I have a better idea of how to go about it. Plus I'm doing a really cool resolution chart to keep me on track!

Rating: 3 eyeglasses

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Hop Hop Here and a Follow There - August 13th



Happy Friday the 13th everyone, and welcome to another edition of Crazy for Book's Blogger Hop and Parajunkee's Friday Feature and Follow. Please click on the links and explore the other book bloggers out there.

This week Parajunkee features Nymfaux who I discovered not too long ago from the follow and have really been enjoying the reviews.

Also, this week's Book Hop Question is:
How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?

To be honest, I have no idea. It's not a shelf, it's a bookcase. I think it's close to 100 books (a lot of them were free from conventions like ALA). That's not including all of the books on my wishlist either. What can I say? I'm a mood reader and I just haven't been in the mood to read those books yet. My husband thinks I have a problem. I don't believe him.

So... what about you?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When I'm Not Reading - August 12th


We all have life and interests outside of reading and blogging (shocking, I know!). Missie at The Unread Reader hosts "When I'm Not Reading", which is an opportunity to discuss things we like to do or what's on our mind beyond reading.
My post this week is kind of about books. I've been trying to lose weight since June. I've lost 19lbs since June 1st by actually using my gym membership and reducing the gluten and processed foods. I've been really bad about going to the gym the past 2 weeks because of stress, depression, and life getting in the way.
I'm also trying to make even healthier food decisions. I recently picked up Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet which is a fantastic overview of the vegan lifestyle. She gives advice on how to "flirt" with veganism, which is what I hope to do. I don't want to become a vegetarian or vegan, but I do want to reduce my meat consumption and just make better food choices.
So that's what I'm doing when I'm not reading. What about you?

My Very First Award!!



Alissa from The Grammarian's Review bestowed me with the Versatile Blogger Award. I'm so excited - you must check out her site!


The rules for this reward are that you need to share 7 things about yourself, and pass on the award.



7 Things About Myself:

1. My absolute favorite time of year is autumn. The smell of the crisp air and wood stoves burning just gives me an instant feeling of comfort.

2. After I finish grad school (dual masters in history and library & info studies) I hope to go on for a PhD in history.

3. I would love to be a reference archivist at a museum (British Museum particularly), state archives, or a historical society. But my absolute dream job locally would be at the Heritage Harbor Museum if it ever opens.

4. The beagle pictured in my avatar is my Roswell, who died this past January.

5. I have 2 other beagles: Mr. Peabody, and Gromit (named after Wallace & Gromit)

6. I watch entirely too much tv. I dvr endless hours of it during the week and have Friday night marathon tv catch up sessions.

7. I love to sing karaoke with friends. I'm not even close to good, but it's a lot of fun.


The blogs I pass this award on to are:



3. {... is a book whore}

4. That Bookish Girl

5. Lost in Believing

6. Froggarita's Bookcase

7. A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - August 11th edition


Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine
It's a way to give a shout out to books we are eagerly awaiting release.

The book I'm looking forward to has actually just been released, but since I don't own it yet, I'm going to spotlight it. This week I am looking forward to The 13th Chime by Emma Michaels

Synopsis:
HATRED NEVER DIES... Destiny has finally found the life that she has always wanted. She is about to finish college, has a fiancé that loves her, and a great summer on the West Coast planned with her friend, Stephanie. But her world is turned upside down when an antique clock mysteriously chimes thirteen times and someone attacks them, sending Stephanie and her mother to the hospital. Alone, and without any help from the police, Destiny has no choice but to turn to the one man she had left behind a year ago - her ex-boyfriend, David. Together, they must solve the riddle of the thirteenth chime before the clock strikes thirteen again. Yet as they face their own past and hearts, a trap over half a century old is waiting for them to become its prey. For revenge, fifty years is never too long... "The Thirteenth Chime" A spine-tingling debut novel from the hottest new author to the scene.

Doesn't that sound creepy and spine tingly? Plus Bokheim Publishing is offering a $1 discount. the details are below.

The Thirteenth Chime

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Donohue, Keith. The Stolen Child. Knopf Doubleday. New York. 2006. 336 pp. ISBN 0385516169

Synopsis:
“I am a changeling–a word that describes within its own name what we are bound and intended to do. We kidnap a human child and replace him or her with one of our own. . .
.”

The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try–with varying success–to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier. Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world.

Moving from a realistic setting in small-town America deep into the forest of humankind’s most basic desires and fears, this remarkable novel is a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.

Review:
This book is haunting, beautifully written, and the kind of book that stays with you afterwards. On the surface it's a story of 2 changelings; one now human and the other the child he stole his identity from. Once you move past the surface you realize there is a lot more to this than just a tale of supernatural creatures. It's a beautiful story about relationships, love, sense of self, and enduring tragedy with the help of others.

That is not to say that this book is perfect. The writing style was lyrical but the supporting characters were not well fleshed out. The ending left the reader with far too many answer, and the storyline became a bit predictable. This is a book that leaves the reader to reflect long afterwards.

I would give this 3 eyeglasses

Hop & Follow - August 6th












It's finally Friday, and it's a long weekend for me! Monday is Victory Day (also known as VJ Day) here in Rhode Island. Only RI celebrates it, so I get a day to do errands without a lot of people out and about. I'm celebrating my A in Research & Eval so I am going to indulge myself somehow. I just don't know what yet.

Since it's Friday, it is time for Jennifer @ Crazy For Book's book blogger hop where we can go out and explore what's out there in the book blogosphere. Each week my to be read list just gets bigger and bigger thanks to the great bloggers I've encountered.

This week's question is:
Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?
I usually don't have music playing when I read. It can be too distracting for me, even though I often read when my husband is watching TV. I do occasionally listen to soothing solitudes-like music or Enya when I read though.

It's also time for Parajunkee's Friday Follow. This week her feature blog is on hiatus, but will be back next week. So please check out the hop & follow.

Review & Author Interview - Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing




Laing, Annette. Don't Know Where, Don't Know When (The Snipesville Chronicles Book 1).
Confusion Press. 2007. ISBN 0979476941.

Synopis:
What a nightmare.
Hannah Dias, California Girl with Attitude, and Alex, her laid-back brother, have moved from exciting San Francisco to boring Snipesville, Georgia. Life doesn't improve when they meet Brandon, a dorky kid who is plotting his escape from the Deep South, and the weird Professor, who has a strange secret.
Suddenly, the kids are catapulted thousands of miles and almost seventy years to England during World War Two.
They fall into a world of stinging nettles, dragon ladies, bomb blasts, ugly underwear, stinky sandwiches, painful punishments, and non-absorbing toilet paper. They learn so much more than they could ever learn in a history class. Not that they want to learn it.
But they can't go home unless they find George Braithwaite, whoever he is, and whatever it is that he has to do with Snipesville.




Review:
Ms. Laing was so nice to send me a copy of her book to review. I confess that I was a little skeptical about whether or not I would like it once I discovered it was about time travel to WWII England. While I am currently in a Masters program in History and intend to get my PhD in History, I'm really not a fan of 20th century. I am particularly not interested in WWII, which my Grandfather says makes me un-American. That said, I decided to keep an open mind. I'm really glad I did. I'm also unveiling my new rating system for this book, which I'm excited about.


Laing does something here that a lot of authors struggle with. She incorporates mundane elements of daily life from the past in her book and makes it interesting. We learn about the food, what was considered luxuries in the 40's, and what was involved with being a dentist in the early 20th century. She does this in a way that appeals to young adults without being condescending. Further, this a book that also is "grown up" enough to be appreciated by adults.


These are everyday kids with everyday issues thrown into the past unexpectedly ala "Pleasantville". Which provides the plot with a mystery and also allows for the reader to better understand what the characters are experiencing. What I also liked was the fact she had an African American character thrust into a time period where he wasn't an integrated member of society, but he was a kid in a weird situation that happened to be African American - it wasn't the driving point to the character.


If I have any complaints about the book it's the beginning. There wasn't a lot of set up to the plot; the characters were thrust in together quickly and it took a while to get a feel for who they were because of it.


Over all I truly enjoyed the book. I give this 4 eyeglasses.

Ms. Laing was so kind to answer some questions about the book I had. So here is my interview:
1.I guess the first question I have is the most obvious, why World War II era England for their first time leap?

The idea for Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When, set in England in 1940, came before the idea for the Snipesville Chronicles series. Many books have been set in World War II England, but few involve time-traveling kids, and none (to my knowledge) feature time-traveling American kids. I also just loved the contrast between the attitudes toward kids in England at this time, and attitudes in America today.


2.You seem to explore aspects of history that aren’t really studied in history classes, like what it is like to work as a dentist during WWI. Was that your intention? Will you continue to do so in further adventures? Yes, that is deliberate. I hate the way history is taught in America: The emphasis on breadth in the typical history class reduces the subject to a litany of names and dates, and learning history becomes a rather soulless exercise as a result. I wanted to give readers a chance to focus on the fascinating questions of how and why we as human beings change over time and space—and how we don’t. As for Brandon being a dentist’s apprentice…I was casting around for a suitable occupation for him. I don’t remember how I came up with dentistry, except that I found out on the web that some dentists were still taking apprentices during the First World War. Perhaps I was inspired by the fact that I have a Scottish cousin who’s a dentist, and my Scottish grandfather (on whom Mr. Gordon is partly based) was a pharmacist. I spent many happy hours as a kid alongside my grandmother (who also worked in the hospital pharmacy) wearing a specially made white coat, and labeling bottles of nasty-looking medicines. All of these things probably influenced my choice for Brandon. Oh, and a visit to the Edwardian dentist’s office in Beamish Open Air Museum in England—you’ll find I’ve described the dentist’s house almost exactly as it appears in Beamish!

3.Did you have a set idea in mind as to who your characters’ personalities were, or did they surprise you with their development during the course of the writing process? I don’t think any character emerges intact from the initial stages! But Hannah was wonderfully difficult from the start, and I always had a good sense of Brandon. Alex has become much better developed, but he is also the most conflicted and vulnerable of the three main characters. The biggest surprise for me was Mrs.D. She began as a character based in appearance and manner on my dear friend Mary and her mother, but as I wrote, she quickly morphed into one of my old teachers in England, with influences from the mother of an English friend. She kept her initial appearance, but her character absolutely changed to become much more fierce than I intended.

4.I really enjoyed how you approached Brandon’s experiences as an African American visiting two time periods where he would encounter not only prejudice because of his color, but also a curiosity because many of the people he encountered just didn’t seem to know how to take him. It added some lightness to a subject that is very difficult. Was it intentional?

It never occurred to me to set the book in a small Georgia town without black characters, and Brandon was inspired by a lovely kid I met at one of my children’s workshops. All too often, black kids are portrayed in fiction only when race is an explicit focus of the book, such as books about slavery, or the Civil Rights movement. As I strove to avoid that trap, I was also wary of acting as though his skin color was not an issue: Skin color is almost always an issue, and Brandon is a proud member of a strong black family and community in the South. Rather than pretend racism does not exist for him in England, I tried to show a divergent and realistic range of responses that whites in an overwhelmingly white society like pre-1945 England would have had to a black person in their midst. I also wanted to show how Brandon, who is such a kind and tough kid, would have coped with their reactions, through humor and anger depending on people’s intentions. As Brandon will discover, class often trumps race in English history. I have not sugarcoated his experience, but I’m proud that he has become a fully-rounded character who refuses to be stereotyped, and I’ve been inspired by the examples set by so many of the African-American students I taught as a college professor, who represented a divergent range of personalities and interests.


5.Poor Hannah had such a rough time of it, and was such an unlikeable character at times. What lesson do you think stuck out the most to her during her adventure?

I have to say that I suspect that many of those who disparage Hannah actually identify with her, but don’t want to admit it! What do you say, Jennifer?J She’s undeniably self-centered, but she does indeed have a very hard time. Her loyalty to her brother speaks well of her, I think, as does her courage. Hannah learned in 1940 that her attitude was unacceptable to the adults she met, but she’ll find that her outspokenness comes in handy at times during her adventures. So is the problem that Hannah is intrinsically “bad”, or that she needs to find out who she is and where she belongs?

The most important thing Hannah learned in Don’t Know Where, however, was to allow herself to love and to trust. Her relationships with Mrs. D. and Verity meant even more to her than is immediately apparent.



6.If you found yourself swept back in time somewhere, where would you like to be? What would be the time period you dread the most?

I suppose I would want to visit England in the 1930s—somewhere recent enough that I would speak the language, and that I would have access to some decent medical care (although no antibiotics!) That way, I could also dodge World War II, and see all the historic buildings that the Nazis later destroyed—the churches in London alone would keep me busy. Where would I most dread? England during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, I guess! Too scary! Thanks for the great interview, Jennifer!

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's Hop & Follow Time Again! 7/30






I can't tell you how happy I am that it is Friday and my albatross known as LSC557 Research & Evaluation in Library & Information Service is off my back!
Once again it's time for Jennifer @ Crazy For Book's book blogger hop where we can go out and explore what's out there in the book blogosphere. Each week my too be read list just gets bigger and bigger thanks to the great bloggers I've encountered.
Also, please check out her giveaway to celebrate Penguin Books 75th anniversary (Happy Birthday Penguin!). She's giving away a book of your choice from this list
To answer this week's question: My favorite new to me author is Brunonia Barry. Not only is she fairly local (from Salem) but her writing style is just so easy and similar to Alice Hoffman. She's a wonderful storyteller.
It's also time for Parajunkee's Friday Follow. This week she's featuring Amelia from The Authoress, who has a great point of view. It's refreshing to see what teens think about books and taking time to write reviews.
So please check out the hop & follow.