Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Benjamin Percy Guest Post + Giveaway

Benjamin Percy Guest Post + Giveaway

Benjamin Percy is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of May and he has written a guest post about The Dead Lands and its origins. If you love History ( ah, you should love history) then this post will interest you.  I think I need to travel to Oregon someday and visit the places Percy talks about in his post.  In a unrelated note, I'm traveling to Berlin tomorrow.  Happy Dance.

The Rest is History
Benjamin Percy

I always wanted to write about Lewis and Clark. I grew up at the end of the trail—Oregon—where Fort Clatsop is, where the bicentennial was held, where so many statues and landmarks note the heroism and travails of the expedition.

My mother is a hobby historian. When I turned twelve, she gave me their journals as a gift, inscribed with the message “Seek adventure.” And every time we headed off to some canyon or mountainside on a weekend adventure—camping, hiking, fishing, hunting—she would make sure we paused to recognize this as the place where Lewis sneezed or Sacagawea voted or Clark shot a bear or whatever.

It was ingrained in me. The belief that theirs was the greatest adventure story in American history.

Initially I thought I would write a nonfiction account of their journey—by recreating it. I would paddle, pedal, hike my way from St. Louis to Astoria. And bring different people—friends, family—with me along the way.

A publisher caught wind of this and bid on the project as part of a deal for my previous novel, Red Moon. For whatever reason, I had neglected to mention the idea to my wife. We sat down and figured out how long the mission would take and how much it would cost and she very reasonably said, “That ain’t happening.”

So I decided to make some stuff up instead. I debated the possibility of a historical novel, but that’s been done and Ezra Pound’s charge to the writer is “Make it new.”

I made it new. Post-apocalyptic Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark 2.0.

Think about it for a moment. Here is this vast territory—Louisiana—that everyone coveted: Britain, France, Russia, America. Napoleon sold it for fifteen million to Jefferson and in doing so we doubled the size of this country. No one knew what was out there. (Correction: no white people knew what was out there.) Some believed wooly mammoths might roam the plains and mountains. It was the equivalent of blasting off for the moon.

So here they are hoping to reunite the states, build a new American. A post-apocalyptic wasteland felt like the right move, the best way to make the material new and relevant and perilous once more, not so far off from the way the expedition must have felt when setting off into untold wonders and horrors.

Benjamin Percy’s new novel is the The Dead Lands. He writes the Green Arrow series for DC Comics. His original television series Black Gold – a modern-day western set in the North Dakota oil fields – is in development with Starz. He is a contributing editor at Esquire. Follow him on Twitter at Benjamin_Percy and learn more about him at www.benjaminpercy.com

If you would like to win a copy of Benjamin Percy's book The Dead Lands, please click here:  The Dead Lands Giveaway


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Dead Lands Giveaway

The Dead Lands Giveaway

Benjamin Percy is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob for the month of May, and along with his publisher, Hachette,  he is giving away one copy of The Dead Lands to a follower who lives in the United States.  Yay!!

Here is the Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Benjamin Percy's new thriller, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.

Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.

Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and
Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.

Rules:
Fill out the form.
Must live in the U.S.
No P.O. Boxes
Contest Ends June 6th at midnight.
Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Tusk That Did the Damage Giveaway Winner!

The Tusk That Did the Damage Giveaway Winner!

Tania James along with TLC book tours and Alfred A. Knopf publishing is giving away one copy of The Tusk That Did The Damage to BookSnob followers who live in the United States.

And the winner is Anne B. from New Mexico

Congratulations Anne, enjoy your new book.

Here is an excerpt from my book review:

The Tusk That Did the Damage is a page-turning, can't wait to find out what happens next, sort of book.  It is devastatingly beautiful and tragic and brilliant.  I have fallen in love with Gravedigger and the poacher and the filmmaker.  My heart aches for each of them and I wish the story didn't have to end. Unfortunately every story must come to an end and so this is my recommendation;  Read slowly and tell everyone you know to read it.



Monday, May 11, 2015

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

April has come and gone by so fast.  I went on Spring Break to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, got super sick with a cold and allergies.  April was mega busy getting ready for History Day, the May Day parade, and the AP US history exam.  Yikes it is all over now.  Phew.

April brought lovely flowers and a wonderful mix of poetry.  I love April for the simple fact I tend to read more poetry since it is National Poetry month.

It is with sadness that I say goodbye to April's Author in the Spotlight, Pete Hautman.  He is a much admired author for Young Adult fiction.  If you haven't read any of his books, now is the time.

Enter to win a copy of Eden West.  Hurry it ends at midnight tonight.
Eden West Giveaway

Read the book review of Eden West.  Pete Hautman has done it again. He has written a thought provoking, realistic novel for teens. Hautman's fiction always makes me think and look at the world in a new way.  Eden West really makes you think about faith and religion and the self imposed walls that we live behind.  Eden West contains a great cast of characters that you grow to care about.

Eden West Book Review

Check out the author interview with Pete.  Read on for the back story on his new book.  I dare you to guess how many books he has written before you get to question 4.  Also, I'm wondering if you've read the YA book he thinks is must read for everyone. I hope you get a chance to read several of Pete Hautman's books because frankly, his books are worth it.

Pete Hautman Author Interview

Check out Pete's guest post.  He has written a guest post on Faith, fences, friendship and so much more. Read on for a little back story on his latest book Eden West.

Pete Hautman Guest Post

Pete Hautman is an author I admire. He is a great author and most of all, a wonderful person.  I've had a great month featuring Pete and his books and hope to continue working with him in the future.  You can learn more about Pete Hautman and his books, Eden West and Godless and many others at his website: http://www.petehautman.com/






Sunday, May 10, 2015

Eden West by Pete Hautman

Eden West by Pete Hautman

Jacob is 17 and has lived in the land of Nodd since he was a young boy.  Nodd is a 12 mile secluded religious community in Montana which is surrounded by an 8 foott tall chain link fence. Jacob is not allowed to leave the protection and safety of Nodd because the world is a dangerous, terrible place.  Everyone who lives outside the fence is doomed for all eternity.  Only the people are the inside will be saved when Archangel Zarachiel arrives with an Arc to bring them to paradise.  Until then, there is much work to be done.

One of Jacob's duties is to patrol and fix the fence.  One day, a girl on an ATV, sees Jacob and drives to the fence to talk to him. Lynna is different from the girls he knows and he is tempted by her.  She is beautiful and pervading his thoughts, which is sinful.

A new troubled teen joins the religious group against his will and begins questioning the rules and restrictions Jacob lives by.  And a wolf breeches the fence.  Will Jacob's faith hold?

Pete Hautman has done it again. He has written a thought provoking, realistic novel for teens. Hautman's fiction always makes me think and look at the world in a new way.  Eden West really makes you think about faith and religion and the self imposed walls that we live behind.  Eden West contains a great cast of characters that you grow to care about.  I really loved Jacob's parents and I just adore Jacob.  He is such a good teen who is doing what he should. Questioning.  Questioning his role in the world and the world around him.

Hautman is a writer that transports his readers to another place and deeply sets the scene.  I felt I knew the land of Nodd, as if I grew up there.  It felt like a real place.  Eden West is a look at a fascinating life style choice.  Hautman keeps the reader turning the pages at a rapid rate.  Eden West is beautiful, tragic, hopeful and fascinating to say the least.

Pair Eden West with Godless for a riveting discussion with your teen or for your book club.



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pete Hautman Author Interview + Giveaway

Pete Hautman Author Interview + Giveaway

Pete is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of April and I finally got the chance to ask him some questions.  Read on for the back story on his new book.  I dare you to guess how many books he has written before you get to question 4.  Also, I'm wondering if you've read the YA book he thinks is must read for everyone. I hope you get a chance to read several of Pete Hautman's books because frankly, his books are worth it.

Hi Pete,

1.     Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure. I grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with six younger siblings on the edge of a 300 acre wood. Much of my childhood was spent in those woods. In fact, it is the setting for a middle-grade novel I’m hoping to finish later this year.

When I was a kid I thought I’d grow up to be either a lawyer like my dad or an artist like my mom. Art won, because my mom seemed to enjoy making art more than my dad enjoyed lawyering.

As a teen I wanted to be a comic book artist, and I published a couple of comic books. But I liked figuring out the stories more than I liked drawing the pictures, so by the time I left college I had dispensed with the visuals and become focused on the words. Since I had no formal literary training, it took fifteen years of being a closet writer before I started showing my work to others.

I now live a few miles from where I grew up, and I still visit what remains of the woods that were once an extension of my backyard. I spend a lot of time in the outdoors hunting wild mushrooms, looking at birds, and simply being alone with nature. I love it. I can sit on a log and just watch, listen, smell, and feel. Yesterday I had conversations with a turkey, a rufous-sided towhee, and a fox squirrel. The turkey was irritable, the towhee was a showoff, the squirrel…I don’t know what he was going on about. I have two dogs. They never shut up.


2.     What inspired you to write Eden West?

Several years ago I wrote a book called Godless, about a teen who questions his parents’ faith (Catholicism) and decides to invent a mock religion worshipping the local water tower. As I was writing Godless, I was thinking about what it would be like to be a teen solidly embedded in a faith, protected from the influence of the outside world. I wrote the first lines of Eden West in 2002: I know that the World is a terrible place, filled with wild animals and evil men and wicked women. Slowly, over the next dozen years, I built a world for this boy, Jacob Grace: a fenced, twelve square mile compound in Montana. I populated it with a few dozen devout believers. I imagined what it would be
like to be Jacob, and what might happen when he bumps up against the outside world. In this case, he meets a girl from the ranch next door—a challenge to both of their their worldviews.


3.      Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book.  Did you do that?  Do you have anything in common with your characters?

There’s a line in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun that I think of often: “That we are capable only of being what we are remains our unforgivable sin.”

One of the things that drives me as a writer is this question: Who would I be if I was not me? To some extent, all my protagonists are me. In Sweetblood, for example, Lucy Szabo is me—if I were sixteen, if I were a girl, if I’d had diabetes from age four, if I were smarter, if I were an only child, etc. When I’m writing, I am that character. But what ends up on the page is not me. In Eden West, Jacob Grace grows up firmly believing in an apocalyptic near future and knowing little of the outside world. He thinks he knows how his life will play out. That does not resemble my childhood at all, but I’m in there somewhere, pulling strings and trying to suss out his (my) situation.


4.   How many books have you written? Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer?

I think I’m up to twenty-five novels, or close to it. I keep writing because it’s better than any other job I ever had. I can work in my bathrobe, take a nap when I want, and write everything from goofy, fun, middle graders to angsty, epiphanic teens. We are the sum of our memories; I choose to explore that, and embrace it.


5.  What advice do you give to new writers?

I get asked this a lot. An honest and possibly helpful answer really depends on the person asking. Is financial stability important to you? Don’t quit your day job. Are you focused on a particular genre? Read other genres. Do you crave fame and fortune? I can’t help you. Do you love what you’ve just written? Revise it. Do you think that writing will save you? Then write. That’s what I do.

6.    Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?

I read a lot, and to some degree I’m influenced by all of it. A few writers important to my own journey were Elmore Leonard, Samuel R. Delany, P.G. Wodehouse, James M. Cain, John Steinbeck, W. Somerset Maugham, Gene Wolfe, Ian Fleming, and Patricia Highsmith.

 
7.               What are some of the issues in Eden West that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story?

All of them, I hope! Love, desire, faith, coming of age, religion, our relationship with the natural world, separation from the tribe, survival… But now that the book is written, it’s in the hands of the readers, so who knows? The act of reading can be as creative as the act of writing. Often, years after I’ve written a book, readers will tell me things about it I never imagined.

8.              Name one Young Adult book that you believe is a must read for everyone and tell us why?

I spent a long time trying to figure out how to answer this question. I mean, you cannot read one YA book and know anything about what YA books are about, or why they are important (they are), or why people other than teens should read them (they should). The first titles that occurred to me were standouts from the YA canon: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, Ender’s Game, Speak. All important books. I don’t consider any of them “must reads,” even though anyone with an interest in YA literature would do well to read them all. But one Young Adult book? I’m imagining someone utterly unfamiliar with YA asking this question. Just to be contrarian and irreverent, I’d probably start them off with Max Shulman’s The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, a collection of humorous stories from a teen’s point of view, and the basis for the first true YA  television series. It came out in 1951, the same year as The Catcher in the Rye, and probably sold a lot more copies.

9.              In one sentence tell readers why they should read Eden West?

It’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours, and more interesting than many other things you might do.


 Thanks Pete! 

If you are interested in winning a copy of Eden West please enter here:  Eden West Giveaway





Friday, May 1, 2015

Announcing May's Author in the Spotlight

Announcing May's Author in the Spotlight

Happy May Day!!

May is going to be awesome for the simple reason that I am traveling to Berlin in exactly 20 days. Checkpoint Charlie here I come.  If you have any book suggestions let me know.  I always like to read a book that takes place in the city or country I am visiting.

Also exciting this month is the Teen Lit conference on May 9th.  I am presenting (wait, did you catch that, I AM PRESENTING) new teen titles that you don't want to miss.  This year will be great with E. Lockhart, Gayle Forman, Matt De La Pena and Gene Luan Yang and many great Minnesota writers too.

Speaking of great Minnesota writers, do I have a great author in store for you.  Benjamin Percy is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of May and I cannot wait to read his latest book, The Dead Lands.  He has written several books, he teaches at Hamline University and is also a screenwriter.  This is one busy author.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads of Benjamin Percy's last two books:

The Dead Lands
In Benjamin Percy's new thriller, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.

Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.

Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.

Red Moon
Award -winning author Benjamin Percy presents an explosive and deeply layered literary thriller set in the American West. They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge...and the battle for humanity will begin.

This month you can expect a book review, an author interview, a giveaway and hopefully a guest post.  You can find Benjamin Percy at his website:  http://benjaminpercy.com/


I hope you have a fabulous month of May.  Enjoy the sunshine and read lots of good books.
Happy Reading!





Sunday, April 26, 2015

Poem in my Post

Poem in my Post

Today I chose my favorite poet Maya Angelou.  This poem means so much to me and it inspires me to continue and to rise after I've had a bad time of it and that is why I have chosen it as my last poem for April.

Right now my students (seniors) are preparing for the annual In the Heart of the Beast May Day parade and this year's theme is Still I Rise.  It promises to be amazing.  I will post pictures next Sunday (May 3rd).

Until then, count your blessings and rise.
Be sure to watch the film clip.  It is so wonderful.


Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou






Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway


Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway

Pete is the Minnesota April Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob and he has written a guest post on Faith, fences, friendship and so much more. Read on for a little back story on his latest book Eden West.



The Fence Around the Water Tower

By Pete Hautman


Here's something you should know about vengeance demons: We don't group with the "sorry." We prefer "Oh God, please stop hitting me with my own rib bones." —Anya, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So…I wrote this book about a kid who grows up in a cult—

Oh God, another cult book. Please stop!

Hey, when I started writing Eden West back in 2002, “cult books” were not yet a “thing” in YA literature. Now it seems I’m late to the party. But when I started it I didn’t know that the book would be about religion.

Oh God, please stop! Don’t make me read about religion!

Sigh…such is the general consensus. The topic of religion is divisive, emotional, and far too dangerous for tender young minds. Unless of course they are reading from the point-of-view of their Parentally Approved faiths. That’s why so few YA novels mention religion at all. Best to pretend it doesn’t exist—just as most of us do, ninety-five percent of the time.

Twelve years ago I wrote a book called Godless about a boy who starts his own religion worshipping the town water tower. The reviews were great, but nobody was buying it. If Godless hadn’t won the National Book Award a few months later, it would have gone out of print. Religion does not sell books. (Well, except for the Bible.)

But whether or not we choose to acknowledge religion in our reading and writing, it’s kind of a big deal. Teens in particular struggle with it, especially when they are thrown into contact with other teens whose worldview is radically different. For most teens, dealing with questions of faith is an important part of coming of age.

While writing Godless I was thinking about how our beliefs divide and unite us, how they both create community, and how they separate us from others. I was thinking about fences.

Eden West began as a story about a chain link fence with a boy on one side and a girl on the other. I love fences, from the Great Wall of China to the twelve-inch rabbit fence protecting my Swiss chard. I like the geometry of them, the simplicity, the statement, the opportunities for self-indulgent metaphor.

On one side of the fence is an apocalyptic cult known as the Grace, and a boy named Jacob who knows no other life. On the other side is present-day Montana and a girl named Lynna. I found myself writing yet another book about a teen coming in conflict with his faith.

Eden West became a sort of inside-out version of Godless. Godless was about a boy whose own thoughts drive a wedge between himself and his faith. In Eden West, the driving force comes from outside: a girl, a wolf, the World. Naturally there is love, lust, betrayal, revelation, and redemption, because all books should have these things.

So, yeah, I wrote another book about religion. But really it’s about people. And fences.



Thanks Pete!

If you would like to win a copy of Pete's latest book, Eden West, please enter here:  Eden West Giveaway


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Poem in my Post

Poem in My Post.


Today I chose O Captain! My Captain! because it was written in honor of President Lincoln's death.  April 15th, 2015, marked 150 years ago, the death of our beloved President.  His body traveled the country in a long funeral procession from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. Bells tolled, black fabric was draped on building and thousands of people stood in silent tribute as his coffin went by. 


O Captain! My Captain!

BY WALT WHITMAN
  O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
  The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
  The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
  While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.