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

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?

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?

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?

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?

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


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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

“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.

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.

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.

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!