Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Remember when I posted about seeing an Edward Cullen Barbie doll at the beginning of the year? And remember when I said that there would be Bella and Jacob Barbie dolls soon? Well, my predictions have come true. At the store a couple days ago, I saw a Bella and a Jacob Barbie doll.

And remember the buzz about a Twilight graphic novel? I thought it was just talk, but at the bookstore a week ago, I actually saw the graphic novel. It's pretty thick... hopefully it appeases some of the fans.

On an entirely different note, the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie trailer just came out! It looks amazing!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Only the Good Spy Young

by Ally Carter

After fighting against a terrorist organization a couple months ago, Cammie Morgan is now constantly in danger, and she doesn't know who to trust. Furthermore, shocking secrets are popping up about her most trusted allies and friends, and Cammie is forced to search for answers.

Only the Good Spy Young is the fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series, and although it was good, it definitely wasn't my favorite. I felt like there was a lot of suspense and tension, but nothing much really happened in the end. There were some shocking revelations, but I feel like those twists were the only things that moved the story along, and in the end, I was quite disappointed. I would suggest that you read it, but I wouldn't expect something amazing. (Or I don't know. You might really like it. According to Goodreads, most people are enjoying it.)

This book will be released June 29th, 2010.
(Review copy provided by publisher.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Greece Pictures: Part 2

During our second day in Greece, we first took a quick tour around some of the sites in Athens, then headed up to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon! (Sorry if some of the pictures are blurry - we were on a moving bus. And once again, you can click on any of these to enlarge them.)

A Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

The Temple of Olympian Zeus (sorry for the bad quality!):

This is the Panathenaic stadium for the first modern Olympics, which took place in Athens in 1896:

More pretty architecture on our way to the Parthenon:

Climbing up to the Acropolis, we saw tons of olive trees. This picture reminds me of Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series:

The view of Athens at the top of the Acropolis = amazing:

At the Acropolis - the Temple of Athena Nike:

The PARTHENON!!!! (Which, by the way, is a temple to Athena.) I was super excited to see this after studying it so extensively at school:

The back of the Parthenon:

Beside the Parthenon is the Erechtheion (a temple dedicated to Poseidon, I believe). It rests on many sacred sites, so its structure is a bit irregular:

I think these were stadiums or theatres... either way, they were right below the Acropolis:

The view at the bottom of the Acropolis:

The Acropolis Museum, which contains tons of sculptures, reliefs, and more from the Acropolis:

The museum also had these cool archaeological excavation models:

And finally, lunch! :) Greece has lots of yummy bread.

Sorry for putting up so many pictures - I didn't realize how many I'd been uploading. Hopefully I haven't bored you! I promise the next post will be very very short. (This post took me around 2 hours!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview with R.J. Anderson

Yesterday, I posted my review of the delightful new novel Wayfarer. Today, here's the author herself, R.J. Anderson! Rebecca is so nice and friendly, and I'm excited to have been able to interview her.

How did you come up with the idea of the Oak and the faeries' world?

My experience was similar to that of C.S. Lewis with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe -- it all began with a picture. Though in his case it was a little girl and a faun walking with an umbrella in a snowy wood, while mine was of a huge hollow oak tree in the countryside, with a human house nearby. I wasn't really conscious of "inventing" that mental image at all -- it was more like remembering something I'd seen before.

Of course, it took me some time after that to figure out exactly how the faeries lived and related to each other and how their culture and attitudes would be different from humans, and that was where all the research and planning came in. But the overall vision of the Oakenwyld as a place was there from the beginning.

All of the characters in Wayfarer have such unique personalities. Did you base the characters off of people in real life? How did you come up with each character's personality?

Thank you! It can be quite a challenge to keep characters distinct, and difficult for an author to know whether she's really managed it. I'm glad you think I have. As it happens, two of the characters in the Oak, Wink and Thorn, are loosely based on people I knew as a teenager. But they're really the only characters I've ever done that with.

Usually I get a mental picture of a character's appearance and/or personality in my mind, and the next step is to find out his or her name. Names are just as important to me as an author as they are to the faeries in my stories -- until I have the right name for a character, I just don't know him or her properly. But once I get that name figured out, the rest of their personality falls into place as I write.

I've tried making lists of character traits and doing "interviews" with my characters and so on, but none of that really works for me. I know it works wonderfully for some other authors, though. Everyone's different.

Which scene in Wayfarer was your favorite to write?

In Wayfarer, my favourite scene is the one at the House where we have Timothy, Paul and Peri, Linden, Rob and then Thorn all interacting with each other. I particularly enjoyed writing the dialogue between Peri and Rob as she lets him inside, and then some of the things Thorn says after she arrives -- it was such a fun dynamic to write.

I loved that scene! Do you ever write your books with a particular theme or message in mind?

I think very seriously about the emotional arc of my main characters, because that's something it took me a long while to learn -- that the character needs to go through an emotional journey that changes him or her in some way. And because I am a committed Christian, I'm interested in matters of spirituality and faith and morality, so those ideas tend to show up in my books as well.

But I didn't sit down and say to myself at the beginning of Wayfarer, "I'm going to write a book about a missionary's kid who struggles with his faith, and I'm going to have him end up in such-and-such a place, to teach the readers X and Y." Rather, Timothy's struggles and the way he responds to them came naturally out of my own life experience and things I was thinking about at the time. And once I realized I was going to be dealing with questions of faith and doubt, I was actually quite anxious not to come across as sermonizing or lecturing the reader. Because I don't believe that fiction is a good medium for that sort of thing.

According to your bio, you've lived in a lot of places! Do you think that your diverse experiences have shaped your writing?

I think they've given me a good sense of what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land, looking at things from the perspective of an outsider. Most of my books are about people who are outsiders or foreigners in one way or another, and have to learn to stand on their own and resist the pressure to conform to other people's expectations.

What were some of your favorite books as a teenager?

In my early teens I fell hard for the fantasy novels of Patricia A. McKillip, particularly her Riddle-Master trilogy and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld -- her writing is so gorgeous and poetic, I loved it even when I had no clue what was going on in the story! I also had a very strong response to C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet and especially Perelandra.

Any upcoming books?

Yes! My third faery book, Arrow, will be released in the UK on January 6, 2011. I've also sold a paranormal thriller for older teens called Touching Indigo, which is being published in the US by Carolrhoda Lab in Fall 2011. And then I've agreed to write a fourth book about faeries (though only loosely connected to the first three), called Swift.

Thanks for a great interview, Priya!

Thank you so much, Rebecca! I can't wait for Arrow and Swift.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kidz Book Buzz Blog Tour: Wayfarer

by R.J. Anderson

The faeries in the Oak are slowly dying due to their lack of magic, and the faery Linden is the only one who can save them. With her newfound human friend Timothy, Linden travels into the real (and highly dangerous) world to find a solution. Instead, she discovers, as the book states, "a potent evil that threatens the fate of all faeries."

Wayfarer is the sequel to Anderson's first book, Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, and I'm pleased to say that it was just as good as the first book, if not better. I read Spell Hunter before reading Wayfarer, which I would recommend as it lets you understand the sequel better, but I don't think it is necessary to read the first book in order to enjoy Wayfarer. Either way, Anderson's storytelling and world building is captivating. Her carefully imagined faery world is magical, delightful, and most importantly, original. The characters are quite endearing, but varied and diverse, and the story is engaging and engrossing.

Overall, Wayfarer is charming and lovely - I would recommend it for anyone in middle school and up.

Check out the other blogs on this tour:

Whispers of Dawn, The Book Cellar, The Hungry Readers, My Own Little Corner of the World, KidzBookBuzz.com, Reading is My Superpower, Book Crumbs, Becky’s Book Reviews, Fireside Musings, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Homeschool Book Buzz, Homespun Light, Book Review Maniac

This book will be released tomorrow - June 22nd, 2010.
(Review copy provided by publisher.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CSN Stores

I'm sure that all of you have seen a lot of blog posts about the CSN stores lately. I decided to go check out the website and there's actually quite a lot of cool stuff there! :-) Whether or not you're looking for a sleeper sofa, bookshelves, or even a trampoline, it seems like you can find it there. I'll be doing a review of one of their products soon, so keep your eyes open for that!

On a different note, I realized that I've been blogging for four years as of yesterday. :-D

Thursday, June 17, 2010


TEDxRedmond is an independently organized speaking conference that follows the basic structure of a normal TED conference -- except for the fact that all its speakers are all children in grades 6 - 10. If you're familiar with the TED series, TEDxRedmond is a branch of it. If you're not as familiar with TED, you can visit their official site at http://www.ted.com/.

Here are the official details for TEDxRedmond:
September 18, 2010
Microsoft Campus,
Redmond, WA 98052

You can sign up to attend TEDxRedmond at http://www.tedxredmond.com/ (click the "Attend" button). You can also sign up to speak there by clicking on the "Attend" button and filling out the form at that link, but all speakers will be students in grades 6 - 10.

If you're in the Seattle-Redmond area, be sure to come! It will be a lot of fun, and there's going to be entertainment (and food, I believe) as well. Just make sure to RSVP at the website.

(This post was basically reprinted with permission from allegro, with a few edits and additions made by me.)