Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book-Giveaway Winner and Suggestions

Thanks to everyone who joined my blog this month and/or participated in the Ides-of-February book-giveaway.

I hate this part of blog contests, because I'd love to give you all a book, just for following my blog, and I can only pick one. I'd love to give everyone in the world a book, kind of like that Coca-Cola song. Too bad.

The winner of the Ides-of-February book giveaway:

(drumroll please)


Congratulations, Pat.

The rest of you, don't give up hope if you didn't win. I'm doing another free-book contest in March, and since so many of you mentioned how much you like Neil Gaiman, I'll be sure to include him again. Also, please feel free to suggest any other books you'd like to see in future giveaways and I'll consider them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Ides-of-February Book Giveaway

Today is February 15th.

The Ides of February.

(Insert raised eyebrow and sinister music here).

They say the Ides of March are bad luck--what with the anniversary of Caesar's murder and all--but February is so much worse than March, I say the Ides of February must be worse, too. I expect something dreadful any day.

On that superstitious note, I say we need something to counteract the bad omen. Free books, I think. Did I say that loudly enough?


This time I'm giving you a choice:

1. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. It's a beautifully written, incredible story, with a rather disturbing first chapter, which doesn't change my opinion that this book is amazing--it just changes the age of the child I would give it to for a birthday present. When I closed the last page, I sighed and thought: That's how I wish I could write.

2. Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale. My ten-year-old son read this in one sitting. It made him an instant Shannon Hale graphic novel fan, which is kind of funny. She's only written two. He liked the sequel, Calamity Jack, too (which was recently released), but still thinks Rapunzel is better, so that's the one I'm offering here. Nathan Hale's illustrations are perfect. The story is zany and hillarious: a wild-west Rapunzel who uses her braids as weapons. My teenage daughters love Rapunzel as well. I like Rapunzel. But we all know we need more boy books, and this is a good 'un, even if the main character is a girl.

3. Savvy, by Ingrid Law. As you can see in the column to the right, this was one of my favorites of the books I read this year. It won a Newbery, and deserved it. I love the language--poetic and beautiful--the story is well-put-together and satisfying, and the romance is cute. But don't let the romance scare your boys away. It's not mushy--it's funny. My son hates romance and he liked this book. My daughters liked it even better. I was reading it aloud to my 10-year-old, and my daughters (13 and 16) wandered in, then sat down, then wouldn't let me stop reading until I was hoarse.

Okay, there you have it: books to combat February evils. Here's what you have to do:

a) follow my blog or

b) already be a follower of my blog or

c) blog or tweet about my giveaway and

d) leave me a comment telling me what you've done. Not everything you've done. I don't want to hear if you've cheated on your spouse or anything. Just if you've done a, b or c above.

e) do it by Friday, February 19th at midnight. Also, you have to be 18 or have parental permission to participate.

Saturday, I'll put your names in a hat and draw, then announce the winner, who will need to 1) choose a book and 2) email me their info at, so I know where to mail your choice.

We will face the second half of February armed with books. Good ones. So there, Brutus! Ha!

 An update on my reading of Henry James's Golden Bowl: (drumroll, please)


And to make it count as one of my 2010 100-books, I even went back and re-read the first 100 pages I began in 2009. The amazing thing: beginning at about page 300, I started to like it, even had a hard time putting it down. I shouldn't be surprised. That always happens with Henry James. I hate the first 3/4ths, love the last 1/4th. At least I can say Henry James did not defeat me. And Mary, I'm going to rent the movie right away.

Playing High and Dry with Sourdough

Lately I've been playing with dough. It's become a sort of a compulsion. Maybe because I'm tired of driving all the way to som...