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, June 25, 2011

Reading still makes you sexier and one more day to enter free book drawing

Perhaps you didn't believe me when I said that reading can make you sexier. Or skinnier, especially if you didn't click on the link in the last post, but it's true. Young girls who read a book about an overweight girl who made positive life-style changes had a reduced Body Mass Index after six months, compared to a control group, whose BMI increased.
See how skinny she's getting? See the stack of books she's reading?

Literature can be powerful, have I mentioned that before?

Even though the book sounded utterly BORING. Which, I guess, suggests reading could also make you fatter if you read an equally boring book that promoted unhealthy lifestyles. Or you could read an interesting book and perhaps magically loose weight anyway. Because the authors of the study didn't use a second control group of girls who read a very exciting book that had nothing whatsoever to do with weight loss and compare their weight at the end of the study. So maybe it really was the reading itself that made everyone skinnier. Why not? Reading uses brain power, which--who knows?--probably burns a few calories, especially if your heart rate goes up in exciting parts. I'm choosing to believe that the magic potion was the reading itself. But whatever.

Anyway, you only have one more day to enter to win a free copy of Leviathan. Contest ends at midnight, June 26th (Sunday).Go here for rules and a review of  the giveaway book. And then check back Monday for drawing results. Right now your chances of winning are one in six.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reading makes you sexier, and a free book for June

Summer Solstice was yesterday and the weather here in the Wasatch mountains is finally not cool or wet. Which reminded me that my favorite thing about summer is books. Which are also my favorite thing about spring. And winter. And fall. But especially summer, because you can read what you feel like (instead of what your teacher tells you) and you can read in the grass, or in the tree-house, or up the mountain, or on the beach, or at the pool...

And I've read some great books this year, so I have some recommendations for all y'all's summer reading lists. In fact, I think it's time for a freebie.
I've been enjoying steam punk lately. Maybe you've read Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld? And the sequel, Behemoth. If you haven't, you're missing a fabulous series. Although just when you're really getting into the story, you'll realize it's not done, and the next book doesn't come out until fall. How rude.

The world of Leviathan is an alternate WWI setting, where countries with technology based on engineered beasts pit themselves against the Star-Warsesque machines of their enemies. Westerfeld has a lot of fun playing with the two super-techno cultures, but my favorite part (of course) are the characters: Alek, prince on the run, and Deryn, a girl posing as the boy of all boys, one of the best soldiers in the Darwinist forces, whom everyone admires, but is always a misstep away from exposure.

As Alek and Deryn become friends, Alek thinks Deryn is the boy he's always wanted to be, while Deryn finds herself falling for Alek, a romance that can't happen. And we don't even get to know how it all turns out, because the next book isn't yet published. My twelve-year-old son loves the action, and he especially likes Alek; I like the great story and, yes, the romantic tension that is subtle enough for boys. Can't wait for the release of Goliath, the sequel, which comes out September 20th of this year.

Meanwhile, I'm offering Leviathan for my June blog book-giveaway.To enter the drawing for your free copy, same rules as usual apply:

1) Follow my blog. If you already follow, you're good.
2) Leave a comment here, letting me know you follow and want to enter.
3) Do 1 and 2 by midnight, June 26th.

That's all. Follow, comment, do it on time.

Or you can just head to the library or the bookstore pick up a copy right now and not have to wait. Except if you're like me even the library won't be free because can I return a book on time? No, I cannot. I find it's cheaper to buy books in the first place. And then they are new. And then you don't have to feel guilty when you don't bring them back. Cheapest of all is to enter my drawing and win one.

Whatever you do, grab lots of books this summer and read them. New evidence shows that reading can make you skinnier. We already knew reading makes you smarter. It probably makes you prettier. Stronger. Sexier. And it's fun.

Take off your shoes. Lie in the grass. Ahh...


And if you're interested, a few more ideas for great reads:

*The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte. Who reads Anne Bronte? I hadn't. I really enjoyed this, although it was sometimes a tiny bit too preachy. Considered scandalous in her day.

*Snow White and Rose Red, Patricia Wrede. The sort-of-steam-punk/Renaissance version of one of my favorite fairy tales. Lots of fun.

*Thirteenth Child, Patricia Wrede. More ultra-creative steam-punk.

*Rick Riordan's latest: The Lost Hero (more Percy Jackson's world, but with new lovable characters), and The Throne of Fire (sequel to Red Pyramid). My kid likes this second series better than Percy.

*If you like dystopian stuff, Matched, by Ally Condie is one of the best. Beautifully written.

*Dragon Slippers (and sequels), and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, Jessica Day George. I didn't like the covers for her Dragon books, so I never got around to trying them until this year, after I heard her at a conference and she was one of my favorite speakers. Really fun, for middle-grade and younger YA readers.

*Each Little Bird That Sings, Deborah Wiles. Again, for middle-graders. Ruby Lavender by her was my daughter's favorite for years and is lovely, too. She has a mesmerizing style and the character development is always wonderful. I liked Aurora County All-stars, as well.

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...