Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Butterfly Key Contest Ends Today!

The contest for THE BUTTERFLY KEY ends today!

Today is the last day to enter the contest to win one of three personalized copies of The Butterfly Key.  The contest ends at midnight tonight.  The contest is open internationally and is available to all Booksnob followers.  Good Luck and as always thanks for following Booksnob!

Click here to enter: The Butterfly Key Contest

Please check out my book review of The Butterfly Key.  This is a beautiful, heartfelt story and I want everyone to read it.  The story behind the story is equally as powerful.

The Butterfly Key Book Review

You can check out my interview with Andrew as well.  He is such a wonderful father and husband and it shows in his writing.  This man loves his wife and family and dedicates his life to God.  This interview will touch your heart.

Andrew Neudecker Author Interview

I really enjoyed working with Andrew.  I would like to thank Andrew for being March's Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  Please support this emerging author by reading his book, The Butterfly Key and checking out his website at

Andrew wanted me to let Booksnob readers know that his book is also available as an e-book on the nook and kindle. Andrew has made it available for only .99 cents until the end of April to celebrate his 10 year wedding anniversary and birth of his son!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Book Women Magazine Cover Story

Hey Everyone, I am super proud and excited to tell you that I am featured as the cover story in the April-May issue of BookWomen magazine published by Women's Press, Inc.  I have included the picture that is on the cover.  My sweet daughter took the photo in our kitchen.  BookWoman magazine is written by women and features women readers and writers.  The Women's Press is located in Saint Paul, Minnesota and BookWomen is a print only magazine.  If you would like to check out this cool mag visit the website at then click on the BookWomen tab.  You can order a copy of one magazine for 5 dollars.  This is my favorite book magazine and it has stood the test of time as this is my 9th year being a subscriber.  I Love BookWomen!

If you are stopping by my blog because you read the article in BookWomen, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Please take a look around.  I hope you like what you see and come back often.

I'm Doing the Happy Dance Now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Andrew Neudecker Author Interview

Author Interview with Andrew Neudecker

I am excited to bring you an interview with Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Andrew Neudecker.  He has written a lovely story called The Butterfly Key and his personal connection to it is meaningful to us all.  Please read on.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?  I have a wife (Nicole) and three daughters (Ashley, Emma, and Chloe), with a son soon on the way in April. I work for the USPS and also help my wife run her daycare. Nicole and I will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary in April and we have known each other for over 21 years (We dated in high school)

  1. What inspired you to write The Butterfly Key? Shortly before Christmas of 2008 Nicole suffered a miscarriage of what would have been our 4th child. Devastated, she experienced not only a loss of faith in God, but also a vast range of emotions toward Him. The hardest part for me was to watch all this transpire and feel completely helpless to allay her pain. I wanted to somehow show her that God has a plan in all He does, even the heartrending events in life. I wanted my beautiful wife to find her faith in God once again. And that’s when I decided to sit down and write her a story, a touching novel that I gave to her as a gift the following Christmas.

  1.  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?  I sure did. This story was a gift to my wife to help her through her heartache and loss of faith and, even though the story is sad, it is also very heartwarming. I used life experiences so she could relate to the story and each character had common characteristics and nuances of both of us and our families.

4.   This is your first book.  Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer? I have always loved to write, but I am a private person. My words, usually poetry, are always only for my wife and children. Originally, “The Butterfly Key” was never supposed to be put in print, but I had too many requests for copies from family, friends and co-workers who assisted me with the whole process of getting this book written in time for Christmas. So, with Nicole’s blessing we decided to hire an editor (someone who had 20+ years at McGraw-Hill) and publish it.

5.    Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you? I love to read, I just purchased a nook color. Currently I am reading “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. I don’t know if I can say I have been influenced by any author in particular, but the type of book that “gets me” is one where a character or characters defy all odds in the face of adversity.

  1.  What was the most difficult part of writing The Butterfly Key and what was the easiest part of the story to convey? The hardest parts for me was finding the time to get everything done in less than a year, and editing-editing-editing, so I could have a typed up version presented to her by Christmas, but I have wonderful family and friends that assisted me in my endeavor to create—as they would call it, “A wonderful and amazing Christmas gift” The easiest part believe it or not was writing it. I had everything in my head, it was all there.

  1. What are some of the issues in the book that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story? That this story is allegorical, and is a frame story (a story within a story). This novel is “NOT” about miscarriages, it’s about God having a plan in all He does, even the heartrending events in life. And through all the characters experiences throughout the story, it is my hope that all will see the reason I wrote it the way I did—to heal my wife’s heart and also her faith in God.

  1. Why did you decide to name your book The Butterfly Key? Actually, I didn’t name it, Nicole did. This was second part of her “Christmas gift.” She got to title the story—to how it fit her heart, and how she saw its true message.

  1. What is the significance of the Butterfly in your life and in the book?  My wife loves butterflies so I had to incorporate them into the story. The significance of the butterfly in the story is something special that needs to be discovered by the reader.

  1. What advice would you give to a couple who have experienced a miscarriage and have lost their way and/or faith? My advice to the husbands is to be there for your wife, hold her, comfort her, and just listen to her. For the wives, just try to understand we are guys and we may not understand everything about what you’re going through, but we are trying. As for the faith part, if you have lost it, I can’t recommend anything. Not because I don’t want to, but because each person and family are different and without the specific details of a situation it’s hard for me to answer on what I would do.

  1. I know your book is labeled fiction but is any part of The Butterfly Key true?  Only that the wife and children’s names used in the prologue and epilogue, (The Frame part of the story) are my wife and kids names. Everything else is fiction.

  1. In one sentence tell readers why they should read The Butterfly Key? “The Butterfly Key” is not just “A Novel” It’s a gift from a husband who loves his wife with all of his heart.  Every aspect of this novel was done with the utmost care. The writing, the editing, the cover art, the layout. It was never meant for anyone’s eyes other than my wife and kids. It was never written for notoriety or fame, nor money or any other purpose other than love. So my answer to you for readers does not to be a sentence long, I only need one word to give you the most beautiful answer, and that word is: LOVE

Postscript: I would like to add that I never let Nicole read the story by herself, over Christmas vacation we set aside time every morning and night and I read “The Butterfly Key” to her while she snuggle up to me. And me reading to her was the last part of her Christmas present. Thank you all for reading this interview and I hope that if you do read “The Butterfly Key” your hearts will find the true meaning in it.
Andrew D. Neudecker

 Thanks Andrew! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Butterfly Key

The Butterfly Key by Andrew D. Neudecker

Author, Andrew Neudecker, wrote this book for his wife who suffered a devastating miscarriage and as a result lost her faith in God.  One Christmas Eve, he weaves an intricate story about loss, love, forgiveness and faith.  Lucky for us, he wrote it down and it became the premise for The Butterfly Key.

The Butterfly Key is a heartfelt, heart wrenching book that will twist your emotions and make you cry.  It is a beautiful tale that connects every life and decision with divine providence.  The butterfly key is deeply hopeful and makes you rejoice in life and all of God's gifts.  If you have ever loved and lost someone, this book will touch your heart.

Christian and Abigail are in love and have grown up together, seeing each other frequently as their parents are best friends.  Christian never meets his mother as she dies after his birth.  Christian's father, Noah, raises him while he battles cancer to which he eventually succumbs.  Luckily Christian has a surrogate family, who keeps him safe in love and hope.  He marries his sweetheart and heads off to Iraq with his best friend on a army mission.  What happens next tests every character's faith.

My favorite character is the butterfly.  When Christian visits the graveyard he sees a monarch butterfly who plays a role in the story.  I really related to this because my grandpa told me that when he died he would visit me as a bird.  After he died, a blue jay would sit on my windowsill and peck my window.  After my grandma died, for a whole year, two blue jays would sit on my windowsill and look in my window at me.  I couldn't help but think my grandparents were visiting and telling me how happy they were.  I believe in miracles.  Do You?

Enter the contest to win a copy:  Contest for The Butterfly Key

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

On a slave plantation there is a huge difference between a house slave and a field slave.  The Kitchen House shows the stark reality between slaves, indentured servants and their masters.  This story is not sugar coated, as Grissom presents a harrowing ordeal that was the reality of many slaves in the 18th century.  

Lavinia is a small child making her way from Ireland to the United States when her parents die on the passage over, having not paid their fee to the captain.  The captain takes Lavinia as his indentured servant to serve for a period of seven years to pay for her families passage.  She is adopted by the slave family that runs the kitchen house and blends into the family.  Lavinia is forced to straddle two entirely different worlds and is torn between her white family and her black family.  This is a very powerful storyline.

I had a hard time reading about the mis-treatment of the slaves and repeated rapes many women endured.  I was turned off by the violence but then I had to remind myself that this is their story and just because it is hard to read doesn't mean it shouldn't be read.  Grissom states in her author notes that whenever she tried to change or delete some of the difficult scenes from the story, the story would stop.  So she continued to write it as it was revealed to her.  I found that very profound. I believe that some stories deserve to be told and God bless the souls who told it to her.

The Kitchen House takes place in Virginia at the turn of the 19th century and is a well-researched, unpredictable historical novel.  The storyline is unique and the characters are so lovable, well not all of them, some are downright nasty.

Belle works in the kitchen house with Mama and together they cook up good food, safety, love and hold the secrets of the big house close by.  If you get a chance to walk to the kitchen house,  you will find hope there.  Say Hello to all you pass on the way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hole in My Life

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos is a young man with a hole in his life.  We've all met someone with a hole in their life.  Maybe they are missing love, understanding, ambition, creativity or self-esteem.  Whatever is missing causes crippling decision making and leaves the person wondering what went wrong and why do bad things always happen to me.

Jack wants to be a writer and this memoir of his tragic life experiences lead him to follow his dream.  Jack wants to go to college to learn to be a writer, except every time he wants to write he becomes crippled.  He starts drinking and doing drugs and goes home to a blank page and then sinks deeper into despair.  He makes a major life decision to transport drugs from the island of St.Croix into New York City in 1971.  He will earn 10,000 dollars which he plans to use toward college.  Except he gets busted by the Feds and sent to prison for an indefinite period of time.

I read this book aloud to my 9th grade World Studies class.  I would describe this book as gritty, edgy, shocking and at times hard to swallow.  My students loved it!  Gantos does not sugar coat his prison experiences and in fact many of my students got the message that they don't want do drugs or mess with the law.  Prison is not a fun place to be.   Throughout the book, Jack compares his life and his wish to write to authors and their books.  The book contains an excellent reading list.

Going to prison helped Jack Gantos seal the hole in his life and was the impetus to begin his writing career.  Today he is a successful author of children's books and Young Adult works.  In fact my own children have come home from the library with his Joey Pigza books.  Hole in my Life is a Printz honor book.

Life is a journey and sometimes you have to take a lot of back roads and wrong turns before you can live your dream.  Are you living your dream?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks is a woman we all owe a thank you to.  Henrietta is an African American woman who had five children and was diagnosed with cervical cancer in her early 30's.  Unbeknown to Henrietta, the doctor took a snippet of her tumor and put it in a petri dish.  Scientist George Gey was able to take these cells and grow them and today they are known as HeLa, the first human cells to grow outside of the human body.

Henrietta died over sixty years ago yet HeLa cells are alive today, continue to grow and are useful in making an array of medical advances, we can all be thankful for.  "HeLa cells were used to make the Polio vaccine and the cervical cancer vaccine.  The HPV virus was discovered and the Pap smear installed as a necessary test for every woman.  Henrietta's cells have been taken to space, used to test the effects of nuclear radiation and even cloned.

The Lacks family had no idea that Henrietta's cells were alive and responsible for amazing medical advances.  They found out twenty years after her death when someone leaked Henrietta's name and medical records to the press.  This book is Skloot's way of honoring and telling the story of the Lack's family.  Today, Henrietta lies in an unmarked grave and her children and grandchildren live in poverty without medical insurance.  Skloot is attempting to right some wrongs done to the Lacks family.  This book contains a wealth of valuable information that will compel every reader to question what is ethical in the medical profession.  The chapters in the book alternate between the family story of the Lacks and the scientific story of the amazing journey and impact of HeLa cells in the medical community.

 I learned a lot while reading this book and want to say thank you to Rebecca Skloot for telling the story.  I also want to send a big thank you to Henrietta for her cells.  My mom and aunt both had cervical cancer and without the medical advances provided from Henrietta's cells, the outcome may have been tragic.  Instead my mom and aunt are healthy today.  Thank You Henrietta Lacks and Family!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Persepolis 2

Persepolis 2.  The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi wrote of her true experiences growing up in IRAN in the 1980's when she flees to Vienna to escape the rising Islamic Fundamentalism pervading her country in Persepolis 1.  If you haven't read the first Persepolis I highly recommend it.

In Persepolis 2, Marjane's chronicles her teenage years alone in a foreign country and her longing for love, familiarity and family.  This book is more edgy than the first as Marjane experiments with drugs, sex and becomes homeless for a time.  She eventually decides to return home to Iran but she feels like she doesn't belong anywhere and has a hard time fitting into Iran society as well.  Stuck between two worlds Marjane makes choices that may ruin her life.

This is a memoir written graphic novel style.  Marjane goes to college in Iran to become an artist and yet isn't allowed to draw the basic human form.  Stuck drawing fruit and women in hijabs, fully covered, she becomes frustrated.  Because Iran is a Islamic state, their religion is incorporated into the rules of society and women must be fully covered.  Men must have short hair and unmarried couples are not allowed out in the community together.  Women aren't allowed to run and if they do they can fear being arrested.  See excerpt from the book below:

Satrapi has great artistic skills which are evident throughout the book as you laugh and cry through the black and white storyline. It is timely as a lot of what Marjane went through in Iran is still happening today.  I highly suggest you pick these books up for quick, entertaining and informative reads about Iran and its Islamic culture.

With the recent revolutions in Islamic nations, I read recently that Iran has arrested college students and people who they fear will rise up in opposition to prevent a revolution.  The police are targeting men whose haircuts are decadent and western and women who veils are too short or loose.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Back to the Homeplace

Back to the Homeplace by William Leverne Smith

The year is 1987 and the Matriarch of the Homeplace has just died.  In her will she stipulates that if any of the four children want a claim to the family home and land, they must return to live at the homeplace for two years.  Three of the four grown children must make major life changes to return home, while one sibling and his family remained to live and farm the land.  Everyone must adjust to a new way of life at the homeplace.  The question is, will they all get along?

Smith, the author,  includes daily news and informational quips, like celebrity birthdays at the beginning of each chapter.  Each chapter starts with the date and time of day so you know exactly what is going on in the world at the time the character are experiencing it.  His story includes major issues like the AIDS virus and the fear it raised in people in the 1980's.  He tackles teenage issues and adult problems and even managed to shock me with one of his story lines.

Unfortunately I thought the book didn't end.  I felt incomplete as I turned the last page and wondered where the end of the story went to.  Sometimes I like my book packaged neatly with a bow and this had tape all over it.  The next book in the series comes out in Spring 2011.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Best Book List for 2010

          Best Book List for 2010

 20 people responded to the question, what is the best book you read in 2010?  Here are their answers.  Thanks to everyone who took time to respond and reflect on what you have read.  This creative endeavor wouldn’t be possible without your valuable input.

This year I have separated the list into two categories; adult and young adult.

If the book has a star by it, it means that the book has appeared on the list in previous years.


____The Hunger Game series by Suzanne Collins (3 votes)
____Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2 votes)

 The books below all received one vote.
____Crank by Ellen Hopkins
____*Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
____How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle
____Matched by Ally Condie
____Wake by Lisa McMann
____*Sold by Patricia McCormick
____The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
____Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
____Red Queen by H.M. Brown
____*Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
____Across the Universe by Beth Revis
____Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
____Pretty Nice Girls by
____Deception by Lee Nichols
____The Boneshaker by Kate Milford

ADULT  (just a note that fiction and non-fiction are lumped together)

____Room by Emma Donoghue (3 votes)

The books below all received one vote.
____The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
____*Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
____The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
____Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
____Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
____This is Where I Leave You by Johnathan Tropper
____Invisible Acts of Power by Carol Myss
____The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
____Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
____The End of Overeating by David Kessler
____Once a Runner by John Parker, Jr.
____Morning in Jenin by Susan Aluwhawa
____*A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini
____Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
____Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
____*The Help by Kathryn Stockett
____Simon’s Choice by Charlotte Castle
____Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sheri Browning Erwin
____Art of War by Sun Tzu
____Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
____Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
____White Woman on a Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
____A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
____Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
____*Empire Falls by Richard Russo
____Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett
____The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
____Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
____The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
____Under the Dome by Stephen King
____Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
____True Grit by Charles Portis
____Essex County by Jeff Lemire
____Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
____How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
____*Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
____Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
____The Soloist by Steve Lopez
____Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
____The Unit by Ninni Holmquist
____At Home by Bill Bryson

Happy Reading!!

What is your favorite book from last year?
Is it on the list?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Eve Contest Winners!

Eve Contest Winners!!

I would like to personally congratulate the 3 winners of a personalized copy of Eve by Ellissa Elliott.  I sincerely hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

The winners are:
1.  Scoot from
2. Ricki from Ballwin, MO
3.  Erinberry from Sharpsburg, GA

You can check out Elissa Elliott's website at
If you didn't win you can always order a copy of her book right here. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Butterfly Key Contest

The Butterfly Key Contest

Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Andrew Neudecker is giving away 3 personalized copies to Booksnob followers.  There will be one international winner and two winners from U.S./Canada.
The contest is open until March 31st at midnight.

Here is an excerpt of the book from GoodReads:

Nicole is a strong-willed, thirty-five year old wife and mother who is still trying to cope with her devastating loss. A year earlier she had suffered a miscarriage shortly before Christmas, and now, her once indelible faith in God has all but vanished. Concerned about his wife's distress, Nicole's husband decides he must gather his family around the Christmas tree and weave a story-a tragic tale of two families who are also struggling with God's baffling providence-in the hopes that Nicole can find forgiveness and understand that God has a plan in all He does, even the heartrending events in life. After finishing his allegory, Nicole's husband is still unsure if she can forgive God. That is until a mysterious gift containing something extraordinary is discovered under the Christmas tree that helps Nicole rediscover what she thought she had lost-her faith.

Andrew wrote this book for his wife.

Contest Ends March 31st at midnight.
Open Internationally.
Must Follow Booksnob.
Fill out contest entry form.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Follow

Friday Follow March 4th, 2011

TGIF!!  It has been a long week and I am ready to grade papers, help my kids with their science fair projects, go see a movie with my husband, and curl up with a good book. 

Parajunkee asked what embarrassing or crazy thing have I done on cold medicine?  I really don't take cold medicine but I do take migraine medicine and when I get a migraine I do crazy things. One time I put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge and another time I threw a load of clothes in the washing machine with some nail polish.   Those are the most memorable.  Mostly I just sleep with a migraine, which is what I should do!

Leave a comment so I can follow you back and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #8

Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #8

Can you believe it is March already and time to announce the next Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  This month you are in for a treat as Andrew D. Neudecker is the MN author in the spotlight.  Welcome Andrew!!

Andrew wrote his novel The Butterfly Key for his wife.
This month you can expect a book review, a contest, a author interview and if we are lucky Andrew will do a guest post.  Keep your fingers crossed. 

So come back often and have a March filled with good books and sunny days.