Saturday, February 6, 2016

Announcing the February Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the February Author in the Spotlight

Happy February.  We just received 11 inches of snow here in Minnesota and it has been a white wonderland.  I shoveled with my headphones on, dancing in the falling snow, singing off key, with my dog running in circles.  It was awesome.

February is going to be a great month.  My son, Max is doing his Eagle project this weekend.  I am planning a weekend highlighting Chinese culture for my daughter and I.  At the end of the month, I am going on a vacation with my favorite gal pals to San Antonio, Texas.

This month on Booksnob's blog, I am featuring an awesome author.  Her name is Nicole Helget and I have been wanting to read her books for a long time.  We met at the Twin Cities book fair briefly but her books have been on my radar forever.

This month you can expect a book review, a giveaway an author interview and if we are lucky, a guest post.

Here are Nicole's books and their book blurbs via Goodreads:

Wonder at the Edge of the World
In this captivating quest that spans the globe, a young girl who wants to know everything challenges her assumptions about family, loyalty, and friendship as she fights to save her father's legacy--and to begin creating her own.

Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. She knows every specimen and rare artifact that her explorer father hid deep in a cave before he died, and she feels a great responsibility to protect the objects (particularly a mesmerizing and dangerous one called the Medicine Head) from a wicked Navy captain who would use it for evil. Now she and her friend Eustace, a runaway slave, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever find the cursed relic...

Stillwater:
Clement and Angel are fraternal twins separated at birth; they grow up in the same small, frontier logging town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Clement was left at the orphanage. Angel was adopted by the
town’s richest couple, but is marked and threatened by her mother’s mental illness. They rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come to save him. Stillwater, near the Mississippi River and Canada, becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As Clement and Angel grow up and the country marches to war, their lives are changed by many battles for freedom and by losses in the struggle for independence, large and small.

Stillwater reveals the hardscrabble lives of pioneers, nuns, squaws, fur trappers, loggers, runaway slaves and freedmen, outlaws and people of conscience, all seeking a better, freer, more prosperous future. It is a novel about mothers, about siblings, about the ways in which we must take care of one another and let go of one another. And it’s brought to us in Nicole Helget’s winning, gorgeous prose.

The Turtle Catcher:

In a rural Minnesota town of German immigrants in the tumultuous days ofWorldWar I, The Turtle Catcher brings together two misfits from warring clans. Liesel, the one girl in the upstanding family of Richter boys, harbors a secret about her body that thwarts all hope for a normal life.Her closest friend is Lester, the “slow” boy in the raffish Sutter family, a gentle, kind soul who spends his days trapping turtles in the lake. Yearning for human touch in the wake of her parents’ deaths, Liesel turns to her only friend—leading her brother, just returned from the war, to an act that will haunt not only both families but the entire town.

Helget’s novel is a story of loyalty and betrayal that, like her earlier book, proves her uncommon understanding of the natural world and human frailties. Both moving and heartfelt, The Turtle Catcher confirms this young writer’s exceptional talent.


The Summer of Ordinary Ways. A Memoir

Practicing baseball with Dad, then watching him go after a cow with a pitchfork in a fit of rage. Playing chicken on the county road with semi trucks full of hogs. Flirting with the milkman. Chasing with your sisters after Wreck and Bump, mangy mutts who prowl farmsteads killing chickens and drinking fuel oil. Dandelion wine. The ghost of a girl buried alive over a century ago. These unforgettable, sometimes hilarious images spill from a fierce and wondrous childhood into the pages of The Summer of Ordinary Ways.

Nicole has many other books as well. She teaches college in Minnesota.
Visit Nicole's Blog at http://nicolehelget.blogspot.com/

Have a great month of reading great books!!







Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The High Divide Giveaway Winners!

The High Divide Giveaway Winners!

Lin Enger was the December Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and he is graciously giving away 3 copies of his book, The High Divide.  The High Divide is a riveting story of Historical Fiction. And the lucky winners are...

Lysette from California
Anne from New Mexico
Angel from Pennsylvania

Congratulations Ladies.  Enjoy your new book!

If you didn't win you can purchase this book online and at many independent bookstores.

Here is a synopsis from my book review:

The High Divide is an action packed, mystery of the west, a re-imagining of Homer's Odyssey, and a story of love and forgiveness.  The writing is poetic and evocative and Enger handles the loss of the American Indian land and their subsequent decimation with a caring consciousness.  



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lin Enger Author Interview

Lin Enger Author Interview

Lin Enger was the December, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight on Booksnob.  I asked him some questions about his books, his reading life, his writing life and more.  I've had a really busy month and I'm a little behind in posting this so I hope you'll forgive me and read this interesting interview.  Did I mention that Lin's book, The High Divide is awesome?  Well, it is.

Hi Lin,

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in central Minnesota, a small resort/farming town in Douglas County called Osakis, and have spent nearly all of my life in the state.  For more than thirty years I’ve been teaching English, first at the high school level, and since the early 1990s at Minnesota State University Moorhead.  I earned my MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the late 80s and since then have been writing seriously—or as seriously as possible while teaching full-time.

2. Why did you decide to become a writer?  What is one of your daily writing habits or rituals?

Writing is what I’m able to do well.  Nothing else gives me the same satisfaction or pleasure; that’s why I do it.  If I’d been able to play baseball at the professional level, I would have done that.  I would have made a lot more money, but then again, I would’ve been washed up by now.  If I’d been good in biology, I might have gone to med school.  We do what our gifts allow us to do.

For most of the year I don’t have much of a writing schedule.  While teaching, I try to work whenever I can find an hour or so, before, after, and between my classes.  During summers I write all day.  When I’m composing a rough draft, my habit is to write quickly and with intensity for no more than a few hours.  When revising, I can work all day and into the night.  Time disappears.

3. What is the inspiration behind your book, The High Divide?

In 1886 William Hornaday, curator and taxidermist of the National Museum in Washington D.C., led an expedition into the Montana badlands to shoot some of the last of the continent’s wild Bison; he did this because he needed (stuffed) specimens for his museum and knew the animal was all but extinct.  I need to add that Hornaday was also one of the leading conservationists of his day, and later, he led the fight to win legal protection for the species.  When I came across this story in the 90s, I knew I’d write about it some day.  And though Hornaday himself is not central to the plot of the finished novel, I have to give him credit for launching me into the story.

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

I don’t tend to work consciously from personal experiences.  That said, that I’ve long been fascinated with the American Bison, in large part because of a family legend.  In 1884, the story goes, my great-grandpa, a new immigrant from Norway who was homesteading in southeastern North Dakota, shot and killed the last wild Bison east of the James River.  The animal had wandered onto my great-grandpa’s land and was taking a drink from the stock tank behind his sod barn.

As for my characters, I have something in common with all of them.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to imagine their inner lives.

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

I love to read, as every writer I know does.  I can’t imagine life without books.  Influential writers in my life have included:  Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment is the best book I’ve read); O.E. Rolvaag (Giants in the Earth); Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses); James Welch (Fools Crow); Jon Hassler (Staggerford, Rookery Blues); Chaim Potok (My Name is Asher Lev).  More recent novelists I admire include Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Good Squad); Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn); my brother Leif Enger (Peace Like a River, So Brave, Young, and Handsome); Ann Weisgarber (The Promise); Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven); etc., etc.  It’s been said before, and I concur: we’re living in a golden age of literature.

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

I recommend all of the above and could recommend many others.  But I hesitate to say that any single book, aside from the Bible, is a “must read.”  To do that, I’d need to possess a universal sensibility, which I don’t have.

7. Your book, The High Divide takes place in the West and embodies the hero’s journey.  What places would you recommend we visit if we go on a vacation out West?

Yellowstone Park, of course.  The Little Bighorn battlefield in southern Montana.  The redwood country of northern California.  Mount Rainier.    

8. As a college English teacher, what advice would you give to new writers?

Read indiscriminately, according to your interests.  Make a habit of listening and watching.  Instead of surfing the web, spend your time—hours and hours of it—putting your thoughts on paper, even if you have nothing to say; because, as with anything else, there is no substitute for practice, and because there are no shortcuts.  In the end, you must either (1) learn to love doing it, (2) live for the satisfaction of having done it, or (3) both.

9. Are you working on a new book?  Can you tell us about it?

I’m superstitious and don’t dare talk about it much.  Hemingway said if you talk about the book you’re writing, you won’t need to write it.  I will say that my new novel is set in the 1970s, in New York City, southern California, and northern Minnesota, all places that I love.  I’m working on the second draft.

10. In one sentence tell readers why they should read, The High Divide?

If you agree that the stories in Western fiction and film tend to be driven by the revenge motive (and I would argue that you should), The High Divide is one of very few anti-Westerns.

Thanks Lin!!

You can find Lin Enger at his website:  http://www.lin-enger.com/

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The High Divide by Lin Enger

The High Divide by Lin Enger

Ulysses Pope has a secret past that is haunting him.  He is a veteran from the Civil War living in a small home with his wife and two children in a Northern Minnesotan town called Sloan's Crossing in 1886. Ulysses is restless and after a argument with his wife, Greta he leaves and doesn't return home.  He is headed West to atone for his sins and make peace with his soul.  He travels through North Dakota to meet up with an old friend and then he plans to go to Montana, to the Northern Cheyenne reservation to meet up with a man from his past called, Magpie.

His boys, Eli and Danny take off after their father, to bring him home. They are desperate to find him and find out why he hasn't returned They wonder if their is another woman and when they intercept a letter, they hop the train and head West to follow Ulysses's trail.

Gretta Pope is hopeless without her boys and wondering what has happened in her marriage to cause Ulysses to leave and not return. She heads to St. Paul, where they first met, to find him.  There she encounters his sister and learns the truth of Ulysses service in the army and she wonders what other lies he has told her.  She sets out on a journey West to find her boys.

The High Divide is historical fiction at its finest.  The High Divide combines historical events with the drama of the old west, the love of family and the pivotal decisions we must face.  The story of the Pope family is layered, with the chapters rotating in voice and setting.  The High Divide is compelling and captivating.  The three distinct voices give you a story that propels you to turn each page with anticipation.

Lin Enger is an awesome storyteller and good writing runs in the family as his brother (Leif Enger) has some really awesome books too.  I learned so much about the history and geography of the West and about the Smithsonian and the demise of the buffalo.  The High Divide is an action packed, mystery of the west, a re-imagining of Homer's Odyssey, and a story of love and forgiveness.  The writing is poetic and evocative and Enger handles the loss of the American Indian land and their subsequent decimation with a caring consciousness.  

The High Divide is a rich portrayal of the American West and the impact of westward expansion on the American Indian.

I have a cool unexpected connection to The High Divide by Lin Enger.  Coming up this July in 2016, I am chaperoning a trip to Montana to do service work on the Northern Cheyenne reservation.  I had no idea when I started reading this book that I would going to some of the places in it and now I feel excitement and a desire to visit the reservation and other places, like Miles City, Little Big Horn, the Badlands and more.  I love it when what you read connects to your life.  I am recommending this book to everyone who is traveling with me.  You should read it too.









Saturday, January 9, 2016

Days of Awe Giveaway

Days of Awe Giveaway

Lauren Fox is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of January and along with her publisher, Penguin Random House, is graciously giving away 3 copies of her witty, thought provoking novel, Days of Awe.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The celebrated author of Friends Like Us now gives us a raw, achingly funny novel about a woman who, after the death of her best friend, must face the crisis in her marriage, the fury of her almost-teenage daughter, and the possibility that she might open her cantankerous heart to someone new.

Only a year ago Isabel Moore was married, the object of adoration of her ten-year-old daughter, and thought she knew everything about her wild, extravagant, beloved best friend, Josie. But in that one short year: her husband moved out and rented his own apartment; her daughter grew into a moody insomniac; and Josie -- impulsive, funny, secretive Josie -- was killed behind the wheel in a single-car accident. As Isabel tries to make sense of this shattering loss and unravel the months leading up to Josie's death, she comes to understand the shifts, large and small, that can upend a friendship and an entire life. Heartbreaking and wryly funny, Days of Awe is a masterly exploration of marriage, motherhood, and the often surprising shape of new love.

Giveaway Rules:
Fill out the form
Must be a resident from U.S.
Contest Ends 2/1 at midnight
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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Announcing the January Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the January Author in the Spotlight.

Happy New Year Book Lovers!

2016 is going to be a great year.  2015 was challenging and a learning experience and I'm happy to continue to grow and learn and read in 2016.

2015 was a great travel year for me.  I traveled to Arizona, Berlin, Peru, Kansas and Door County, WI.

2015 was a great reading year.  I read 78 book last year but fell short of my goal of 90.  I just ran out of time.

In 2015 my book blog writing took a back seat to my own personal writing and I'm happy to say my first poem will be published by The Fem online literary magazine sometime in 2016.  I'm busy writing poetry, writing short stories and working on three different Young Adult Novels.  My writing in 2015 then took a back seat to the two college classes I started teaching last year.  I have learned so much and am looking forward to a busy, wonderful year.

So let me introduce you to Lauren Fox.  Lauren has written three books and her latest, Days of Awe is getting great press and even made a Best of 2015 book list of books not to be missed.  I met Lauren at the Twin Cities book festival in October where she talked in a panel about Midwestern themed books.  Lauren is an author I haven't read before so I'm especially excited to Days of Awe.

This month you can expect a book review, an author interview, a giveaway and if we are lucky, a guest post.  Stay tuned for a great reading month.

Here are Lauren's books and their synopsis from Goodreads:

Days of Awe:
The celebrated author of Friends Like Us now gives us a raw, achingly funny novel about a woman who, after the death of her best friend, must face the crisis in her marriage, the fury of her almost-teenage daughter, and the possibility that she might open her cantankerous heart to someone new.

Only a year ago Isabel Moore was married, the object of adoration of her ten-year-old daughter, and thought she knew everything about her wild, extravagant, beloved best friend, Josie. But in that one short year: her husband moved out and rented his own apartment; her daughter grew into a moody insomniac; and Josie -- impulsive, funny, secretive Josie -- was killed behind the wheel in a single-car accident. As Isabel tries to make sense of this shattering loss and unravel the months leading up to Josie's death, she comes to understand the shifts, large and small, that can upend a friendship and an entire life. Heartbreaking and wryly funny, Days of Awe is a masterly exploration of marriage, motherhood, and the often surprising shape of new love.

Friends Like Us:
With her critically acclaimed debut novel, Still Life with Husband, Lauren Fox established herself as a wise and achingly funny chronicler of domestic life and was hailed as “a delightful new voice in American fiction, a voice that instantly recalls the wry, knowing prose of Lorrie Moore” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times). Fox’s new novel glitters with these pleasures—fearless wordplay, humor, and nuance—and asks us the question at the heart of every friendship: What would you give up for a friend’s happiness?

For Willa Jacobs, seeing her best friend, Jane Weston, is like looking in a mirror on a really good day. Strangers assume they are sisters, a comparison Willa secretly enjoys. They share an apartment, clothing, and groceries, eking out rent with part-time jobs. Willa writes advertising copy, dreaming up inspirational messages for tea bags (“The path to enlightenment is steep” and “Oolong! Farewell!”), while Jane cleans houses and writes poetry about it, rhyming “dust” with “lust,” and “clog of hair” with “fog of despair.” Together Willa and Jane are a fortress of private jokes and shared opinions, with a friendship so close there’s hardly room for anyone else. But when Ben, Willa’s oldest friend, reappears and falls in love with Jane, Willa wonders: Can she let her two best friends find happiness with each other if it means leaving her behind?

Still Life With Husband:
Meet Emily Ross, thirty years old, married to her college sweetheart, and personal advocate for cake at breakfast time.

Meet Emily's husband, Kevin, a sweet technical writer with a passion for small appliances and a teary weakness for Little Women.

Enter David, a sexy young reporter with longish floppy hair and the kind of face Emily feels the weird impulse to lick.

In this captivating novel of marriage and friendship, Lauren Fox explores the baffling human heart and the dangers of getting what you wish for.

You can find Lauren at her website:  www.laurenfoxwriter.com
Have a great 2016.
Hibernate with a good book.




Friday, January 1, 2016

My First Book of the Year 2016

My First Book of the Year 2016

Happy New Year Everyone!!

I have been wanting to read Big Magic since it was released this Fall.  I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast called Magic Lessons and adored it and since I got this book for Christmas from my mom and my husband (yes I got two copies), I figured I should dive into Big Magic.  Plus I love the title and I hope I experience some Big Magic in 2016.

My first Big Magic creative living announcement is that one of my poems is going to be published through The Fem, an online literary magazine.  I'm so excited.

I'm ready to start living a creative life.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Sheila over at BookJouney is holding an event regarding the first book of the year.  She has created a book collage and a linky for everyone to hop around and see who is reading what. Visit her at www.bookjourney.net 

What is the first book you are reading this year?



Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse Giveaway Winners

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse Giveaway Winners

Milkweed Press along with Faith Sullivan, who was the November Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob. are giving away 3 copies of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse to BookSnob readers.   The Wall Street Journal listed Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse as one of the best books of 2015.

And the winners are.....

Carl Scott
Elizabeth Barnes Bevin
Stephanie Sandefur


Congratulations everyone.  Enjoy your new book!

Here is an excerpt from my book review:

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse is a gem of a story that is a love letter to independent women and book lovers and social studies teachers like me.  There is a entertaining and lovable cast of characters that flit in and out of significant historical events that make you hold your breath and hope for the best.



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse begins with an obituary for Nell Stillman, written by Nell Stillman 15 years before she died.

When I opened Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse and began reading I felt like I was coming home to lovely evening with old friends. Friends from the fictional place of Harvester, Minnesota.  Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse spans Nell's lifetime from her first year of marriage and the birth of her son to her death in 1960.

Nell becomes a 3rd grade teacher out of necessity when her abusive husband dies and she must raise her son alone.  She struggles to find her way amidst the small town life of rumors and distrust as she creates life long friends and a space to call her own.
She is an independent woman when woman are supposed to rely on a man to provide and support her.  She becomes a book lover and a supporter of public libraries. Her books help her escape and are trusted friends, especially the books by P.G. Wodehouse.
(Psst, I've never read a book by P.G. Wodehouse, please don't tell the Faith Sullivan.)

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse is a gem of a story that is a love letter to independent women and book lovers and social studies teachers like me.  There is a entertaining and lovable cast of characters that flit in and out of significant historical events that make you hold your breath and hope for the best. My favorite characters from Sullivan's former books make an appearance and I was so glad.  I really just wanted to sit down and have tea at the table and discuss the love of books with them.

I totally love the book cover.  The book cover is amazing and reminds me of the classic look of Goodnight, Moon.

Faith Sullivan writes with heart and quiet strength.  Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse is like a fine glass of wine and a warm fire.  The story glows with wit and wisdom and celebrates the art of the story.   The story of a woman who loves her son and teaching and books.  The story of friendships, of triumph and tragedy, of a simple life in a small town.  The story of all of us.






Monday, December 28, 2015

Baseball Guy. The Book by Gordy Jones

Baseball Guy. The Book by Gordy Jones

Are you ready for some Baseball?

Baseball Guy is a book for kids and adults who love baseball.  This children's book incorporates rhyme and crayon like watercolor drawings to inspire love of the classic sport.  All the characters are smiling and joyful as a young boy dreams of making his goal of being a major league baseball player come true.

The story embodies hard work and persistence as well as the love of family.  There is all kinds of baseball goodness in the back of the book as the author, Gordy Jones has some serious baseball connections with players from the Minnesota Twins.  Many valued players have written a statement in the back of the book complete with pictures.

This lovely children's book would make a great gift for the baseball lover in your life.

If you read Baseball Guy, you just might catch a case of Baseball Fever.