Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Author Interview: Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull is the author of Fablehaven, a series of books about the fascinating world of two siblings and their adventures on a magical reserve. His newest addition is Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague that was released on the 21st of April. Brandon has also written The Candy Shop War. To learn more about him visit his website here.

How did you come up with the name, Fablehaven?
After a huge brainstorm session, Fablehaven sat atop the list. I liked that it was composed of real words. "Fable" feels a little like a fairytale and obviously a "haven" is a refuge, so "Fablehaven" sounded like a refuge for fairytale creatures. I also liked that "Fablehaven" was not a word out there on the Internet. Nobody owned

How do you feel having your series in the spotlight right alongside Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, etc.?
It is exciting that the Fablehaven series is finding a large and devoted audience. You write a book hoping an audience will find it and enjoy it, so the growing success of the series is a vast relief. It means I can make writing my full-time job, which has been my dream since childhood.

Do you think success has changed you?
The success I've found means I can spend a bigger chunk of my time typing in my basement office. It also means I now have a basement. And an office.
It also means I spend a big chunk of my year visiting schools, bookstores, and libraries. In college, teaching was on my short list of prospective careers, and visiting schools helps me scratch that itch. I love motivating kids to read and create.

Did you put any aspects of yourself into Kendra and/or Seth? Who do you relate to the most?
There are some aspects of myself in Kendra and Seth. The way they banter and bicker is similar to the way I bantered with my siblings. As a kid I had more of Seth's sense of adventure. Now I have Kendra's sense of caution. And, of course, I'm fairykind.

What is your definition of a powerful book?
I love it when a story takes me on a fun ride. I want to see characters I care about face involving problems. I want to laugh. I love stories with larger-than-life elements done in a way that feels real and human. I love it when I forget I'm reading, when I'm just experiencing the story.

I believe I read somewhere that you have kids. If so, what was (or is) one of the books they begged you to read when they were little?
My oldest is four. We've been reading Mo Willems books like Knuffle Bunny. Recently we tried the Invention of Hugo Cabret. She really likes reading time.

Do you want to be writing books all your life, if not, what else do you want to do?
I've always said, rich or poor, successful or anonymous, writing books is what my brain was built to do. Ever since I can remember, I've naturally made up stories. It is my default mode. I have many, many ideas for after the Fablehaven series. I expect to write a book or two a year for the next thirty years, if not longer. Keep an eye out. The best is yet to come.

If you could have the whole world's attention for 5 minutes, what would you say?
It would be sweet to tell an awesome joke.

It would be tempting to plug my books.

I would want to tell everybody the truth. I mean, with the world's attention, shouldn't I be enlightening? I feel I understand some nuggets of wisdom that might be worth hearing. But it is really hard to give people undiluted truth. Not to mention dangerous. I prefer trying to write truthful fiction and deliver little insights that way. Hopefully I'll keep getting better at my craft.

If you could meet any person in the world, who would it be?
Hmmm. It would be somebody inaccessible. Somebody I could talk with about things that interest me. Maybe J.K. Rowling? Or Steven Spielberg?

Thank you so much Brandon it was an honor to interview you!

BONUS: Thanks to the Shadow Mountain Publishing Company I get to feature a book give away for this interview. So, please leave a comment here and I will enter you into a drawing. The first three I draw will receive a copy of Fablehaven Volume 1.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante

For Agnes, the religious commune is her life. It’s all she has known and she loves it. Dedicating her life to God is the best possible thing to do and she will stop at nothing to make her body pure and sinless for sainthood by any measures necessary. That includes starving herself, sleeping on sharp rocks, and respecting Emmanuel for beating her almost to death when she sins. He is the most amazing man in the world and Agnes’ idol. Her best friend Honey also resides there, but she is very sinful and Agnes is encouraged to stay away from her.

Honey is very bitter. Who could blame her? Her mother abandoned her and left her at Mount Blessings, a stupid commune. She is forced to dedicate her life to God or more like Emmanuel and his stupid wife. She recognizes that this place isn't right and when Agnes' Grandmother comes for a visit Honey realizes this is the help she has been looking for to get out.

Through these two girls’ journeys, emotions are tampered with and faith is challenged. New identities are revealed and old ones reappear after many years.

Some of the books I read I can describe as fun/light reads. Cecilia's book was definitely not one of those reads. It was a powerful, intense exploration of two amazingly real characters' lives. I really cared about Agnes and Honey and hated their enemies with a loathing that shocked me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Once a healthy, energetic child, Helen Keller is now deaf, blind, dumb, and with no hope for a future. Annie Sullivan, a young lady with an extremely troubled life comes into Helen’s world to try and get her to see, hear, and talk through her hands. But how do you introduce someone to language when communication and comprehension are non-existant for the present.

Miss Spitfire has been on my book list ever since it came out, but I wasn’t able to read it until just a bit ago. Usually books that I’m really pumped up for and that I anticipate way to much turn out being not as good as I thought. Thankfully Sarah Miller’s book did not disappoint. Even though I was already really familiar with Helen and Annie’s story, Miss Spitfire was unique and still kept me on my toes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Top 100

(From Sarah Miller's blog.)According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.

Even though I'm not an adult, I'm still doing it! ;)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (read first two books)
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (almost there)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I don't get it)
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (abridged audio, but I'm counting it anyway)
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding (HATE)
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hm... 11 is not very good, but I still have a while until I become an adult. ;) This list has a lot of really good books that I AM going to read before I die, though..

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Library Run!!!

Raleigh's Page by Alan Armstrong

Beyond the Spiderwick: The Nixie's Song by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holy Black

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Nobody's Princess by Esterh Fresner

Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine

Dating Hamlet: Ophelia's Story

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Vacation

Everyone has their own definition of home.

'home is where the heart is’
‘home is where your loved ones are’
‘home is where ever you family is’

While all these are true and meaningful I now have my own definition. Home is where you can be yourself. My trip to Idaho was fabulous! I enjoyed every minute of it, except when we left of course.. Thank you to all my friends who fed me, housed me, and took time to see me. I love you all!

Some of my highlights are below:
1. Good “hang” time with my friends

2. M. Night Shyamalan's marathon. Erin and I watched all of his movies (except The Happening, in one week, it was amazing!)

3. Hiking, playing games, and celebrating 4th of July with great friends

4. Watching Camp Rock (and tearing it apart with Erin).
5. Getting my new computer. Brady had just shown me something so awesome!

6. Visiting with our friends in Seattle

7. Singing and performing with Erin

Random pics from the week:

Friday, July 11, 2008

The TV Show LOST. (no spoilers)

I don’t watch a lot of TV, probably because we don’t have cable. But, that doesn’t mean I’m out of the loop. Lost has been rising steadily on the charts and with the season finale (it ran for 7 years) being this year even more advertising has been going on. While surfing online, I figured out that I could watch the first 4 seasons of Lost online, for free. FOR FREE! ;D Anyways, I started and couldn’t stop. As of right now, I’m through the 3rd season heading to the 4th.

The reasons I like this show are many.

The quality acting: Being stranded on an island would be a very emotionally scaring event in your life. Different people would experience different things, tempers would flare and kindness would abound. The cast in this show has to make it real and they do for me.
Plot: The storyline in this show is just so cool. Yeah, 30 some odd people survive a horrific plane crash and are not able to make contact because where they are is not exactly on the map, but hey, nothing is impossible right? ;) Anyways, the way everything ties together through all the seasons is pretty impressive. Even though I haven’t watched the end of season seven I’m almost positive that questions will be answered that were asked in season 1.

Continuous surprises: Kind of continuing on from the plot, the surprises in this show are shocking. A lot of times I can predict the endings of movies and shows or guess the next “shocker” scene. I’ve guessed only a couple so far, everything else has been so unique. ..
Many emotions I get: *whew* I can’t tell you how many times I felt for these characters. My gut dropped when they came upon a hard challenge, I giggled for joy when they succeeded, my stomach hurt when they were in pain, and when they were sad or when someone or something died the sorrow I felt was hard to deal with.

Now, you may ask me: Traci, why are you still watching this show when at some point it completely takes over your emotions. My answer is: because I like it. To me, when a book, movie, or person can mess with my emotions it is well written, well done, or well spoken. My goal in writing and acting is to be so powerful and so open that I can let people into my emotions while opening theirs up. People talk about drastic ways to change the world; recycle, think green, minimize driving time, etc.

All of these ideas might or might not help us in the future, but I think that before the world is changed we as people need to be more willing to understand other people’s feelings and emotions as well as our own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Parking Fairies: Fairies who help you get the best parking spaces anywhere, anytime.

Yep, that sounds amazing, but for Charlie it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to her. Why couldn’t she get a shopping fairy or a good hair fairy? The problem with Charlie’s particular fairy is that her family is always wanting her to accompany them every possible event where the parking is so called, “impossible.” This gets old after 14 years. She is continuously looking for a solution to her problem until one day she gets a lead on a possible way, but it could involve danger and maybe even ultimate death.

The title to this book is really luring and I was really excited when it came in the mail. I couldn’t wait to read it. While the story idea was definitely interesting it lacked plot development and the characters were pretty shallow. I was left with unanswered questions and a slight misunderstanding of everything.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Interview - N.A. Nelson

N.A. Nelson is a debut author with her first book being 'Bringing the Boy Home'. (see review here)
She was also a part of Class of 2k8. To learn more about N.A. Nelson go here.

I read somewhere that you are going to donate some of your book proceeds to the
Amazon Conservation Team . How did that come about?

I’m going to take that question in its most literal sense. I was sitting in the waiting room of my ophthalmologist’s office, leafing through my InStyle magazine and I came to this article about celebrities and the philanthropic causes they support. Hilary Swank sounded so passionate in her interview, and although I don’t remember what her cause was (which is terrible of me), it stirred me into thinking. Wait, I could do that with my book. I SHOULD do that with my book. And so I went home and googled Mark J. Plotkin, author of Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice (a book I used a lot in my research), found The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), emailed them and said "I want to work with you guys."

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
The Dalai Lama

Who do you relate with the most, Tirio or Luka?
I think I’m a combination of them both. I’m like Tirio in that I needed to prove some things to certain people in my life, things I didn’t realize I needed to prove until after the book was written and my husband asked me this exact same question. And I’m like Luka in that I don’t usually like to lure giant spiders out of their lairs while I’m wearing a blindfold.

If you could have the whole world’s attention for 5 minutes, what would you say?

To be still. To turn off all electronic and battery powered devices, to get out of cars, stop talking and just be present for five minutes. I know not everyone knows how to meditate, but I think just the action of us all being still together would be pretty powerful.

Are you currently working on another book right now? If so, what is it about?
Thanks so much for asking! Unfortunately I made a new rule about a year ago not to talk about my works-in-progress. I was pretty badly burned after sharing a manuscript before it was ready and I was 'thisclose' to giving up writing altogether because of the block that I got after it. Only my critique group has access to my early drafts. But I will say that my next novel is very different than Bringing the Boy Home; it’s a contemporary, humorous, YA with a female protagonist and it takes place in the good ol’ US of A. I will also say, I’m having fun with it.

I see you are participating in Class of 2k8. How has that worked out for you and would you recommend it for other debut authors?
I am so fortunate to be in the Class of 2k8 and I would definitely, without a doubt, do it all over again. THAT being said, it does take work. It does take time. It does take money. If you realize those things up front and are prepared to be part of a team, through all the ups and downs , then yes, I would recommend it to other debut authors. I can go into any bookstore now and see books from 27 other authors whose journeys I know from beginning to end. I’ve learned more about marketing than I ever did in my college marketing class. I’m a smarter, more savvy, confident person because of the Class of 2k8 and I know Bringing the Boy Home got a definite sales boost because of my participation in this group.

Thank you so much Nina for taking the time to answer my questions!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my family by my side

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.
And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladl
y stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

-Lee Greenwood

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


First tag(from Erin): List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

1. Take a Bow by Rihanna
2. This is Me by Demi Lovato
3. Apologize by One Republic
4. When Your Gone by Avril Lavigne
5. Fearless by Daechelle
6. For Good by Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth
7. Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

Second Tag (from Hannah):
- Link the person who tagged you.
- Mention the rules in your blog.
- Tell about 6 funky quirks of yours.
- Tag 3 following bloggers by linking them.
- Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers' blogs letting them know they've been tagged and telling them to go to your blog for the details.

1) What were you doing 10 years ago?
getting ready for our neighborhood's annual clown parade...

2) What are 5 things on your to-do list today?
1.pick up my Dad from airport
2. clean room Lost
4. Get Kelsie a birthday present
5. get well

3) The last 3 books you've read
Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
Under a War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot

4) Snacks you enjoy
bread, JELL-O, plain ground beef, apples, oreos

5) Things you would do if you were a billionaire
give lots of money to my family, build an organization that helps out Christian actors, actresses, dancers, singers, etc.

6) People you want to know more about
my birth parents, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harriet Tubman, and hmm...oh KIKI STRIKE!!

I tag: anyone :D