Just a quick note to say that I'm back from four days away from my computer, after a very long and late travel day yesterday. I've had some urgent things come up, and it's taking me a bit longer than expected to get back up to speed. But I wanted to let you know that the contest for copies of The Adoration of Jenna Fox is now closed. I will announce the winners of the contest by tomorrow night. And I have a new contest coming up for you, too, this one courtesy of Scholastic. So, stay tuned... Thanks for your patience!
I was completely fascinated to read an article in this month's Mystery Scene Magazine by Brian Skupin about a contractor named Steve Humble. Steve's full-time job is "builder of residential private passageway systems." In other words, he builds secret passageways and hidden rooms in people's houses. How cool is that? You can get things like rooms that open by tilting a bust of Shakespeare, as well as more modern retina-scan via telescope systems. What a way to help people keep in touch with their inner child.
Unfortunately, the Mystery Scene article is not available online (though if you're a mystery fan, you might consider subscribing). I did find another article about Steve Humble in the East Valley Tribune (Phoenix). There's even a slideshow with examples of hidden rooms. You can also visit the Creative Home Engineering website (URL: www.HiddenPassageway.com). The company is located in Tempe, Arizona.
Someday, I want to have a cozy reading nook that's accessible by pulling on the right book in a bookcase...
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.
Hi all! I'm back from my blog vacation, though, as it was also a work vacation, it will probably take me a couple of days to dig out and get back up to speed. I did manage to get some good reading done while I was away. I read:
- Fearless by Tim Lott (ARC from Candlewick, a dystopian fable about girls imprisoned in a hopeless school)
- Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles (another ARC from Candlewick, about what a girl has learned from her former best friend and tormentor)
- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (ARC from Razorbill, about a boy who receives 13 audiotapes from a girl he had a crush on, who committed suicide)
- Shrimp by Rachel Cohn (Simon & Schuster, second book in the series that started with Gingerbread, about a rebellious teen living in San Francisco)
- Spud by John van de Ruit (another ARC from Razorbill, about a young boy attending private school for the first time, in 1990 South Africa)
- North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris (Tor Books, the latest in an adult mystery series featuring Elizabeth Darcy, after Pride and Prejudice)
- Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri (Penguin Books, from the Inspector Montalbano series set in Sicily)
- The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri (Penguin Books, from the above series)
- The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine Books, more a literary novel than a mystery, winner of the Agatha Award)
- I'm also halfway through Black Order by James Rollins (Harper, thriller about the secret Sigma Force arm of the US military)
I selected which books to take with me from my "to read" stack based largely on text to weight ratio, by which YA ARCs are a good choice (paperback, relatively dense). The weird thing is that four of the five YA books that I read included, in most cases as a major plot point, the death of a young adult. Just a coincidence, but still somewhat freaky. Perhaps that's what caused me to switch over to adult mysteries for the rest of the trip (someone usually dies in those, too, but it's less emotionally wrenching). Still, I enjoyed everything I read, and I especially enjoyed being able to find some time to read. I'll be back with more detailed comments on the YA books soon. It's great to be home!
Just wanted to let you all know that I'll be taking a vacation from blogging for the next ten days or so. Although I enjoy all of the blog interaction more than I can possibly express, I've reached a point where I need some time to recharge my batteries. Therefore, I don't expect to be posting, reading blogs, or responding to email. I'll hopefully be doing some reading in that time, however. My goal is to come back rejuvenated, and ready for lots of great reviews and book discussions.
Have a great week!
I'm in Minnesota on business this week, and I haven't had much time for blogging. I did manage to read a new book on the way out (The Strictest School in the World by Howard Whitehouse, which I loved, and will review when I get a chance). And somehow, I've ended up reading four other books at once this week. Here's the story:
Before I left home I was about 2/3 of the way through The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga. I'm enjoying that one (it's about to be released), but I didn't want to bring it on my trip because it's hardcover, and I'm pretty far into it, and it seemed an inefficient use of carry-on space.
So the night I got here I started reading Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, which I had ordered from Amazon because several people have included the third book in the series on their Best of 2006 lists, and I wanted to start at the beginning. I didn't get very far into it, however, because I fell asleep early. Travel always tires me out.
So the next night I went for a walk around the Mall of America before dinner, and was unable to resist a discounted copy of Ned Vizzini's Be More Chill (because I so enjoyed his newer book, It's Kind of a Funny Story). But then I had nothing else to read with me, so I started reading Be More Chill during dinner.
Then I got back to the hotel, and I noticed that the have this nice little library of books in the lobby, which guests are free to borrow. If you return the book to any hotel in the same chain, they make a donation to a literacy group. So how could I pass that up? Besides which, they had several copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I've been meaning to re-read. So I thought, I'll just read this one while I'm here, and then I'll return it to this hotel, and I'm guessing I can still get the donation made to the literacy group. Only I didn't get very far before yet again falling asleep, so I may end up having to take it with me when I leave anyway.
And that's how I ended up, in the past five days, completing one book and starting four others, all of which I like and intend to finish. It's an addiction, there's no question about it. That's not counting the two non-fiction books that I'm part-way through at home, either. Does this sort of thing happen to you?
In other news, it's very fall-like here in Minneapolis this week. Living in California (but having lived in Boston for many years), I find it kind of nice. I'm just glad that I'm here now instead of in, say, February. Also, in case you haven't been here, the Mall of America is ludicrously big, but excellent for getting a bit of exercise from walking laps.
And now I find myself with two hours to kill at the client site, between classes that I'm teaching. At first it seemed like a long time (it's already late in the day, and it would be nice to go back to the hotel and read one of my several books). But then I realized that I have access to a computer with Internet access here, and I can work on my blog. So now the time seems, if anything, too short. Isn't it great to have something on which you love to spend your time?
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.
This is a bit off-topic, but in case any of you are traveling to Sedona, Arizona any time soon, I wanted to recommend to you a wonderful place to stay. My friends Ken and Heather own a gorgeous, newly built home in Sedona. Their home, called Sedona Suite, features two private entrance suites. Each features a king-size bed, deluxe bathroom, private balcony, and kitchenette.
These accommodations are so much nicer and more private than you'll ever find in an ordinary hotel. The beds are plush, the towels are thick and soft, the colors are restful, the toiletry products are cruelty-free, and the kitchen comes stocked with free water, soda, teas, granola bars, etc. There's also satellite TV and wireless Internet. And the views are simply amazing!
Best of all, Heather and Ken are two of the most hospitable and interesting people you'll ever meet. Ken is a well-respected consultant and the author of The Consistent Consumer: Predicting Future Behavior through Lasting Values. Heather is the founder of Models with Conscience, and the author of Beauty without the Beasts: a Guide to Cruelty-Free Personal Care. Their goal, and one in which I think they've succeeded, is to provide a peaceful and memorable atmosphere in their home. I've visited several times, and look forward to visiting again soon.
If you're not yet convinced, just peruse a few of the visitor comments on the Sedona Suite website. I promise you, if you're looking for a place to stay in Sedona, you won't be disappointed by Sedona Suite.
We all know that many wonderful children's books have been written in and set in England, from Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter, and from the Railway Children to Alex Rider, and everything in between. Today I discovered a very cool website called Storybook England. The site features an interactive map that shows you all of the places where scenes from children's books are set. It's so much fun! The map isn't all that detailed (in terms of including much information about the books), but it is very comprehensive (many books and series are included).
I learned about this site from an article in the Dorset Echo. The article quotes Visit Britain's marketing director on the site as saying: "Storybook England makes it easier for children, their families and friends to find the magical places that have fired the imagination of the greatest authors." Wouldn't it be an excellent vacation, to go and visit some of these sites?
Regular visitors to this site know that I frequently complain about travel. Today, however, I actually found a very cool travel-related graph. I learned about this from Snapshot. You can make a map that shows all of the states that you've visited (visited states are in red):
This is a service from Douwe Osinga's blog. I've been to 70% of the states. Guess I'll have to do a heartland trip one of these days. Back to my regularly scheduled discussions of books and literacy soon.
I'm back in California, after an exhausting whirlwind tour of the northeastern states (Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, to be exact). I'm catching up with work, and probably won't be back up to full blog speed for a couple of days. But I do have two article links to share with you:
- Anatopsis author Chris Abouzeid has an excellent fantasy book review column in this Sunday's Boston Globe. Chris discusses what fantasy writers need to do to discover new, fresh material, observing that "a surprising number of young-adult fantasy authors have chosen to put all the medieval baggage in storage and head for the Age of Enlightenment (and beyond)". As one who is a bit burned out on the standard medieval trappings of fantasy novels, I consider this cause for celebration. He proceeds to offer brief reviews of six fantasy (and fantasy-like) young adult novels. So many great books to read! I especially want to read Fly By Night and Monster Blood Tattoo.
- Mocking Birdies author Annette Simon brought to my attention an article about gender differences in reading, from Saturday's Globe and Mail. The article is mainly focused on adult reading preferences, but does discuss the gender gap in literacy among kids, too. The gist of the article is not new - that women read more than men do, and in particular read more fiction than men do. Several Canadian studies are referenced. The article has received extensive comments, however, suggesting that there is much more to be said on the topic. I particularly appreciated Toronto writer Russell Smith's comments. He's quoted in the article as saying that men he knows don't read fiction, apparently because they perceive it as being about feelings, rather than ideas. He concludes that "To think that no one perceives fiction as being about ideas is depressing." I agree! And I will add that much of the children's and young adult literature I read is about ideas, and story, much more so than "feelings." Perhaps this is support for my personal crusade, that adults should read more children's books... But check out the Globe and Mail article for more discussion.
I didn't get to read much on my trip (can you believe it?), but I did find some lovely review books waiting for me on my return home. So, you can expect more reviews soon, once I get a bit more caught up. Thanks for visiting! And thanks to Chris and Annette for the links.
I'm going to be traveling again for the next week, so my blog posts will probably be sparse, but I have left a couple of reviews set up to post for you during the week. And I'll check in when I can. I'll also be attending the BlogHer conference tomorrow, but I'll probably be delayed in posting about that, too.
What I can report to you now is that I had lunch with Kelly Herold from Big A little a in San Jose today. It was so nice to meet her in person, and talk with her about books and blogging and careers. I think that she's going to post a picture of us on her blog sometime soon. Thanks, Kelly!
Oh, and one final thought for your reading pleasure. Check out the Saturday link festival at Semicolon. Sherry has set up a cute little form by which you can submit your best book review of the week for inclusion. It's well worth checking out.
Have a great week everyone, and I'll check back in with you just as soon as I can.
Just wanted to let you all know that I'm back from my wonderful vacation on Providenciales Island in Turks and Caicos (the Caribbean). No cell phone, no email access, gorgeous beaches, a pirate cave, amazing food, and good friends (thanks G&G!). What more can a person ask? Actually, I ran into my friend Cory, on a beach, which was a fun and expected surprise. And I did manage to read seven books on the trip, two featuring pirates:
- Funeral Music by Morag Joss (adult mystery)
- I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (young adult)
- Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (young adult)
- Blackheart Highway by Richard Barre (adult mystery)
- Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (middle grade novel)
- The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (middle grade novel)
- Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery (middle grade novel)
Reviews will hopefully be forthcoming, at least of the children's / young adult books, once I get a bit more caught up with life.
I was pleased to come home and find review copies of two books waiting for me: I Can't See, But...I Can Imagine by Patricia Wilson and A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone. Thanks, Pat and Tanya! I also just received an Amazon gift certificate prize and delightful e-card from MotherReader, honoring my success in her 48 Hour Book Challenge (I spent the most time reading, amazingly enough). These things are helping me in my adjustment back to the post-vacation world. I started to call it "the real world", but I thought that it might be stretching it to call a life lived so much in children's books "the read world".
More soon! I'm glad to be back.
I'm going to be traveling with very limited email access for the next week or so, and so will probably not be posting anything or responding to comments. I'm sure that I'll miss it, but I'll read as much as I can, and I'll be back with you after July 4th. Please check back with me then.
In the meantime, I recommend that you check out the newly published issue of the online children's literature journal The Edge of the Forest. There are lots of reviews and features in this issue, including a review that I wrote of the young adult novel How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Be sure to also check out Kelly Herold's review of The Book Thief, Kelly's interview with blogging writer Susan Taylor Brown, and Pam Coughlan's feature article chock full of gift book suggestions for children up to age seven, along with many other articles. It's paradise for people interested in children's literature.
I also have a contribution to the July/August issue of Bookmarks Magazine. I submitted a recommended reading list of children's books that I thought adults would enjoy, with brief descriptions of the books. The article isn't available online, but you can probably find Bookmarks at your local bookstore. They also have lots of great articles and reviews. There's not usually a lot pertaining to children's books, but it's an excellent publication for book lovers.
So, read The Edge of the Forest. Pick up a copy of Bookmarks Magazine. Visit some of the many wonderful blogs listed in my sidebar (down and to the right). And I'll be back with you as soon as I can. Thanks!