Monday, April 30, 2012

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway.

Chasing Alliecat Giveaway Ends tonight at midnight!
Guess what?  It is the end of April already.  How does time go by so fast?  It is time to get out there and ride your bike, walk, go fishing and enjoy reading in the great outdoors and it is time for me to wrap-up the month of April by highlighting Minnesota author, Rebecca Fjelland Davis.

Today is the last day to enter the contest to win a copy of Chasing Alliecat  The contest ends at midnight tonight.  The contest is open Internationally.  Good Luck and as always thanks for following Booksnob!
Click Here to Enter:  Chasing Alliecat Contest

Please check out my book review of Chasing Alliecat.  This young adult novel is a mystery set in a southern Minnesota town.  It is an exhilarating read as the characters race on their mountain bikes through the woods.  It may even get you thinking about riding your bike this summer.  Me, I have to go and buy a bike.  I seriously want to. 

Chasing Alliecat Book Review

Be sure to check out the author interview with Rebecca Fjelland Davis as she provides insight into the back story of Chasing Alliecat.  Rebecca provides us with personal details of her life and her dog Freya, who is Huge!

Rebecca Fjelland Davis Author Interview

You need to read Rebecca's guest post called Praire-Dogging Your Way to a Story.  I absolutely loved it.  It has great ideas on how to take weird things you see in everyday life and transform them in a great story.

Rebecca Fjelland Davis Guest Post

As April comes to a close I would like to thank Rebecca for being the April Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  She is a great writer and teacher and she really inspires me to get creative and to get myself on a bike.  Please visit Rebecca at her website at: 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reading Challenge Update

Reading Challenge Update

I am taking part in four reading challenges this year and am updating my progress monthly.  So here is how I am doing.

1.  Where Are You Reading?
I read and reviewed 6 books this month.  So far I have traveled to four continents, thirteen states and nine countries.  I can't wait to see where my reading adventures take me next.

Check out my map on Google Maps.
View Where are you reading challenge 2012 in a larger map

Here are my books, review links and locations for April:

1. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.  This book takes place in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban.  

2.  Hereafter by Tara Hudson.  This book takes place in Oklahoma and it is a creative ghost story.

3.  Feed by M.T. Anderson.  This place takes place in the future but I chose the state Vermont because the author teaches there.

4.  Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.  This book takes place in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina.  It won the National Book Award. 

5.  Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  This book takes place in Kansas and it won the Newberry Medal.

6.  Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis.  This book takes place in Mankato, Minnesota.  I did not include it on my map since Minnesota is already done.

The Pulitzer Prize Challenge.  So far I have read 3 books and my goal is to read 12.  I am currently one book behind.

January- Tinkers by Paul Harding
February- March by Geraldine Brooks
March- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

What's in a Name 5 Challenge
I have 2 books out of the 6 required.  Each book must have something in the title which corresponds to the category.  

1.  Something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack-  Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

2.  Something you'd see in the sky- Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

World War 1 Challenge-  I am trying to read at 3 books that take place during World War 1.  So far I have read 1 book.  1 down, 2 to go.

1.  Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

There you have it.  I hope you challenge yourself this year and read widely.

Poem in my Post: The Land of Story-books

Poem in my Post:  The Land of Story-books by Robert Louis Stevenson

I chose to highlight Robert Louis Stevenson today for National Poetry month.  I knew he had written Treasure Island and Kidnapped but didn't know he was a poet until I found this poem.  I wanted to post a poem about books and reading for my last Poem in my Post, because it is something I love to do. 

I hope you enjoyed this month of poetry. 
At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter's camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.

So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis

Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis

It is summer in Mankato, Minnesota and Sadie is stuck spending it with her Uncle Scout's family.   Her only consolation is the mountain bike she brought with her and her goal to enter a race.  Then she meets an unlikely friend named Allie and they begin a unique friendship racing through the woods on their bikes.  Soon Joe enters Sadie and Allie's life.  Joe just moved to Mankato for the summer and now lives in Uncle Scout's very crowded house.  The three are fast friends and all begin training for a mountain bike race on the 4th of July.  That is, until they find the bloodied and beaten body of a priest in the woods and Allie disappears. 

When Allie disappears,  Sadie and Joe realize they don't really know her at all, even though they rode together every day.  Sadie has no idea where Allie lives and she wouldn't give out her phone number.  Allie admitted her father is in prison but she never mentioned her mother.  Allie is one powerful, mysterious young woman and Sadie can't help but admire her strength and fortitude but she is really worried.  Thus begins the heart pounding race to find Allie and discover the true meaning of friendship.

Chasing Alliecat is a wild ride through the woods where the main characters are chasing a killer, chasing Allie and chasing their dreams.  The story is compelling and takes the reader for a daring ride through the pages.  The characters are bound to each other through circumstance, become life-long friends and protect each other through life's dangers.  In short, they ride through the chicken.  They do what they are afraid of, support each other and grow stronger.

Every once in awhile a book comes along where the reader has a lot in common with one of the main characters.  Allie is the character that I related to the most and we had so much in common that by the end of the book I was crying.  I can't give you all the details because it would spoil the book for you but know that Chasing Alliecat does not shy away from difficult issues. 

Chasing Alliecat is a suspenseful mystery and a page turner.  My advice is to chase down this book.  It would make a great read for the gym while your riding the stationary bike.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Laura Lanik's News Auxiliary

           April 27, 2012

I hope all of you are enjoying a glorious day today and are celebrating the joys of Spring.  The News Auxiliary of the Manifest Herald is taking a break from talking about the news around town to tell you all about Moon Over Manifest, the most recent Newberry Prize winner.   I am just tickled pink and knew you would be interested in reading all about it.

Abilene is as sweet as pie and she just arrived here in Manifest, Kansas in 1936.  Her daddy decided to send her for the summer and so she is staying over at Shady's place.   I heard she found a hidden box in her room containing all sorts of mementos and letters and she is looking for someone called the Rattler.  Abilene's favorite thing is a compass that her father gave her, but one night, while out spying with her friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, she lost it.  Doesn't that just stink.

Well I want to tell you first off that Abilene found her compass hanging off a porch on the Path to Perdition.  She was so scared but she knew she had to get her compass back and so Abilene approached Miss Sadie's Divining Parlor.  Well divining is hard work, as you well know, so Abilene was committed to helping out around the house.  Lucky for her, Miss Sadie was a great story teller and told Abilene about Manifest during World War I.  He stories mainly focused around the two boys Jinx and Ned and their adventures about town in 1917.  Ned, like many of the boys in town, signed up and went off to fight in the trenches of the War leaving Jinx brokenhearted and without a friend.  Well, adventure always finds someone whose looking and Jinx got caught up in plenty of fun for the times.

I really enjoyed reading the letters Ned sent home and the News Auxiliary from 1917.  I loved the characters and there semi-southern feel. So much has changed since then and it is like stepping into a time capsule to try and solve the mystery of the Rattler and trying to figure out who Abilene's father really is.  Why, reading this book is almost like taking a step back through time.

Well there you have it folks.  I hope you visit (I mean read) Moon over Manifest real soon. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rebecca Fjelland Davis Author Interview + Giveaway

Rebecca Fjelland Davis Author Interview + Giveaway

Rebecca is the April author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  She agreed to answer some questions about her book and her busy life.  Let me tell you what I like about Rebecca, she is kind and open-hearted and a teacher, like me!  If you like to get out into nature and ride your bike, you will enjoy this fast paced mystery of a novel.  Please read this great interview that provides great insight into her young adult book, Chasing Alliecat.

1.     Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I always wanted to write (see #3). I loved riding ponies in the fields, and I missed that when I grew up and moved away. I think that’s why I became a runner, and then a cyclist—because I still needed the feeling of moving through the air outside. I have run marathons and raced my bike. I still race a little bit. Right now, I live in the country, and I have a Newfoundland dog named Freya who weighs 170 pounds. She’s bigger than I am! I also teach English, Humanities, Creative Writing, and Children’s Literature at South Central College in North Mankato. I write all summer and every chance I get.

2.     What inspired you to write to Chasing Alliecat?

Well, my guest post goes into some of this. I wrote this story by “prairie-dogging.” That means that I had a bunch of fun, unrelated ideas that I thought would be good in a story. My job was to “dig the tunnel” that connected all the ideas into one coherent story, just like a prairie dog tunnel connects its holes.

I wanted to write a story about a competitive female cyclist. The first part of the book I wrote is now on page 179—the scene where Allie finishes the race. Then I wanted to include a cannon shot blowing up a neighbor’s building because some friends of mine actually did that—but not nearly as destructively as in the book. When I stumbled upon the real Junk Woods, and thought that someone could hide a body there….I had a story.

When I saw the “chainsaw” sign in the Junk Woods, all I changed was the name and number. That was too good not to use. I needed Allie to be connected to the priest in the woods, and maybe to whoever wrote that sign, and all those pieces fell in place. I wanted to have dogs play a major role in the story because dogs are so important to me. The rest was making it all fit together.

The thing that I struggled with at the beginning was that I wanted Allie to be a really gifted cyclist. As I started writing, I realized I couldn’t have Allie be the narrator because I wanted the narrator to admire Allie. That’s when I knew this would be the story of two girls, not just one.  And of course Joe just showed up at the truck stop and Sadie was attracted to him immediately. I wasn’t expecting him, but there he was, and it was kind of funny to cram him into an over-crowded house where he wouldn’t be Sadie’s cousin at all, and he had enough of his own issues that he was there to stay. And Sadie couldn’t help falling for him…
3.     Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer? 

I have wanted to write since before I learned to read. My mom read to me a lot, and I loved stories. It never occurred to me not to want to write stories. I honestly thought everyone in the world wanted to be a writer because wanting to write was so natural to me. I guess I thought in words, too, and I liked narrating to myself…probably sounded like I was having psychotic episodes if you listened to me as a six-year-old talking to myself, but I was always narrating what I was doing, as if I were putting it in a book at that moment. I actually remember moments like this: “She scuffed along the driveway, kicking dirt up between her bare toes.” I have no idea how old I was when I said that aloud to nobody.

4.     Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book.  Did you do    that? 

Yes, indeedy. I always do, I guess. I’ve explained a lot of that about Chasing AllieCat in #2.

Both “Mars at Night” (the short story in Girl Meets Boy) and my first novel, Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged take place on farms in Iowa like the one where I grew up. Neither one of those stories of much of anything to do with what happened to me, but the place—the place is real—and it’s so fun to write about the farm because it’s like being  back there again.

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

Do I. I’m always, always in the middle of a book, and a book on CD whenever I’m driving. I read whenever I have five minutes to wait or in between things, and before I sleep.

Authors that influence me. Lots. Whoever I’m reading at the moment influences me, because I try to pay attention to what that writer does that I like—or that I don’t like.

Authors I have LOVED in my life are Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird, my all-time favorite), Carol Ryrie Brink (Caddie Woodlawn, my favorite as fifth and sixth grader; I think I read it twelve times), Mary Calhoun (I loved all the Katie John books), Lois Lenski (I read every single book of hers I could find; her stories let me travel and live all over the U.S.), Marguerite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague and many other horse stories, which I devoured. Also, she was the first “real live” author I met, when I was about 28 years old). More recently, my favorite is Barbara Kingsolver—I love all her novels. I also have a growing list of writers for young people that I admire.

6.     How do carve out time in your day to write when you are busy teaching college?  Are you writing another book? (see #9)

Sometimes I really don’t know how I make time. I don’t always get time. When I’m busiest at school, writing gets shoved to the back burner until the weekend, and then sometimes, I’m grading papers all weekend.
I write all summer. I refuse to teach summer school so I can write, write, write. I start to feel panicky by the end of the first week of summer that I’m not going to get enough written. Then I settle down and get into a routine of writing, biking, and doing other summer stuff in between.

There are never enough hours in a day, but every now and then, I get to the end of the week and think, wow, I really got a lot done. Other times, it’s I didn’t get anything done all week! But you know what? It’s never enough! There’s so much more to do, and I have so many more book ideas that I want to write.

7.     Have your students read your book?  What is their reaction to having a published author as a Humanities teacher?

Lots of my students have read my book, and lots haven’t. Usually, they come tell me when they’ve read it and then we talk about the story. I haven’t had anybody tell me (yet) that they didn’t like Chasing AllieCat, but it could happen!  I tell them at the beginning of the semester, when I’m telling them a little about myself, but they don’t pay attention because they don’t know me yet. Then later, when they’ve actually started to like me (hopefully) as a teacher, if they find it out, that’s when they get excited to read it.  I also teach Composition and Children’s literature and creative writing…so it comes up in some of those classes, too.

8.     What is the most important lesson/idea you want readers to take away from Chasing Alliecat?

Wow. I don’t think anybody has asked me that before.  To LIVE life to the fullest. Sometimes that means being a great friend. Sometimes that means taking care of yourself, and sometimes it means protecting a friend. Sometimes it just means being kind. Sometimes it means being brave and doing stuff you don’t want to do. Sometimes it means pursuing your dreams, no matter how hard you have to work and if other people disapprove. It also means being honest—with yourself and with everybody around you. It also means being physically active so that you can feel strong. I think a balance of a physical life and an intellectual life is essential.

I would love it if this book inspired girls or guys—or adults—to want to be strong and physically active.

9.     Are you working on another book?  How did get involved in the anthology Girl meets Boy?

I’ve finished another book. My agent has it right now. Slider’s Son is a murder mystery set in North Dakota during the Depression. The main character wants to be a major league pitcher and his dad is the sheriff. They’re the ones who find the body…

I’m working on another after that, but it’s too early to talk about it. I have to use the energy to write it, not talk about it at this point.

I had written the story, “Mars at Night,” and Terry Davis had read it. When Kelly Milner Halls asked him to be in the anthology, he asked me if he could write a companion story to “Mars at Night.”  It was hard giving up “control” of Rafi—the character I created but from whose point of view Terry wrote…but I had to let Rafi be the way Terry conceived him, and then I had to edit my story somewhat so that the two matched. Terry and I found a way to sort of compromise and meet in the middle. (Terry, by the way, wrote Vision Quest). He’s my ex-husband, but we are still very good friends.

10.  In one sentence tell readers why they should read Chasing Alliecat?

Chasing AllieCat is a biking adventure in southern Minnesota that hopefully makes you want to get out and ride your bike, be a great friend, and get rid of all the creeps in the world! 

That sentence makes me laugh, but it’s true.

If you are interested in winning a copy of Rebecca's book Chasing Alliecat click the link:
Chasing Alliecat Contest 

Thanks Rebecca!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Post + GIveaway by Rebecca Fjelland Davis

Guest Post by Rebecca Fjelland Davis.

Welcome to April's Hometown Track Author in the Spotlight, Rebecca Fjelland Davis.  Rebecca has written a great guest post for Booksnob readers about story ideas.  I love it and it is great advice for aspiring writers or students.  Read On!

Prairie-Dogging Your Way to a Story

“Where do you get your story ideas?” If you’ve ever been to any author event anywhere, I’m sure you’ve heard this question. Amy King (A.S. King—author of Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Everybody Sees the Aunts) and I read together at the Loft in Minneapolis on Saturday. We got a version of that question, of course.

The answer, I think, lies in a few key ideas—and they are ideas that everybody who wants to write can use.  

First, my good friend Roger Hart 
says that every story starts with a CROOKED PICTURE. What? A crooked picture. Something out of kilter—something that your natural tendency is to want to fix, or at least to ponder. Something’s wrong in any story—that’s what conflict is. That’s what plot is—finding out how the protagonist is going to fix his or her problem. So that’s where any good story starts.

But wait! You say. I thought any good story was supposed to start with a great character. Yes, yes. But that character has to have a problem. You have to have both or you don’t have a story.

So, second, COLLECT CROOKED PICTURES.  Collect weird things that could make it into a story: weird things you see, strange things you hear, news items that make you stop and ponder. KEEP A NOTEBOOK, and fill it up with your collection of weird things or strange things. Things you notice because they are not quite normal.  While you’re at it, collect people, too: quirks, names, characteristics, and then you’ve got character ideas as well as problem ideas, all in your writer’s notebook. Think of it as being a photographer with words—collecting snapshots of crooked pictures (and people). When you need a story idea to keep you going, page through your notebook(s) until you find something that you might use.

Third: ask WHAT IF?  Something weird—a crooked picture—is not a story by itself, either. You have to see something weird in your mind’s eye and say, what if…?  Push it, make it even weirder, make it more of a conflict or problem, and you might have a great story idea.

Fourth: You have to weave the weird things together with the right character. That’s where the “PRAIRIE-DOGGING” idea comes in. Prairie dogs pop up across the prairie from little holes that lead to underground tunnels that lead to other holes that pop up on the prairie.  OUR JOB as writers is to dig the tunnels that make the idea-holes CONNECT in seamless tunnels. That makes for stories that fit together perfectly.

If we do that, we have a story with a great character and ideas that started out unrelated, but ended up in a seamless whole.

Want an example? This part is long, but here goes:
I took my dog for a walk along the Blue Earth River and found several acres of woods INFESTED with garbage. I could walk a mile and walk the entire path on garbage with each step like steppingstones: discarded clothes, shoes, tires, furniture, dishes, tarps, appliances, and on and on. You get the picture.  (And I’m not even kidding. I wish I were; but the place exists, in the 21st century, in Minnesota).
I thought, “Man, you could hide a body here and nobody would find it.”

I was mountain biking with my friends one day, came home, and wrote two paragraphs about a gifted girl mountain biker—way better cyclist and bike handler than I am. But that’s all I had: a girl named Allie who kicked butt on the bike.

I had some friends who shot a Civil War canon. They blooped out the first shot about fifteen feet, so on the next try, they loaded that cannon with gunpowder, let me tell you. They shot up into the air and blew up their neighbor’s milkhouse—about a mile away!

I also have a friend whose nickname is Scout, who is almost big enough to play the part of Hagrid in Harry Potter…who shoots black powder rifles. I had made some notes about him in my notebook, too, ‘cause he’s such a character all byhimself.

So I thought about the Junk Woods, and thought, WHAT IF there were a body hidden in the Junk Woods? Who would find it? A mountain biker! I had a mountain biker character. WHAT IF that mountain biker girl was stuck for the summer with a relative—maybe an uncle named Scout who was as big as Hagrid? If Scout shot black powder rifles, it would be logical that he might shoot a cannon and blow up his neighbor’s…wait. WHAT IF he blew up more than an abandoned milk house? What if it were something important? Expensive? And he got in legal trouble, and the mountain-biking girl was in the middle of it? What if all this happened while she was trying to unravel the mystery of the body in the woods? Could it all be connected?

Those are some of the ways that Chasing AllieCat came into being. 

Prairie-dogging takes time, but it’s fun. And if you collect enough in your notebook, you are never, never at a loss for story ideas.

Thanks Rebecca

If you are interested in winning a copy of Rebecca's book Chasing Alliecat click the link:
Chasing Alliecat Contest 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last Day to Vote!

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

Hey Everyone,
Today is the LAST day to vote for the Independent Book Blogger Award on Goodreads.

Voting ends today at midnight for the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads.  The winners in each category win a trip to New York City for Book Expo conference.  I have never attended this conference and would love to go for the first time.  It would be a dream come true. 

I am asking you to vote for Booksnob in the fiction category.  Just click the Vote button above and it will take you there.  Otherwise you can go to and vote that way.  Oh and tell all your friends and family.  I need LOTS of votes.

Thanks so much.  Sending you a big hug for doing this.
Leave a comment and let me know you voted.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Poem in my Post: A Dream Within A Dream

Poem in my Post:  A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allen Poe

I chose to highlight Edgar Allen Poe today for National Poetry Month.  He is one of my absolute favorites.  I visited his house in Philly a few years ago and have read many of his books and all his poetry.  A Dream Within A Dream is one of his lesser known poems but it is so lovely and mysterious and I love it!  If you have not read Poe's poetry, you need to give him a try.  His poems are uniquely beautiful and thought provoking.

 A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones takes place over twelve days told in twelve chapters surrounding Hurricane Katrina.  The main character, Esch is the only girl living in a family of rambunctious boys.  Her mother died during childbirth and her father is an alcoholic stumbling through life and struggling to help his family survive.  The family lives in a trailer home on the pit in Mississippi near the Gulf of Mexico.  Esch is in high school and her summer homework entails reading Mythology by Edith Hamilton.  As Esch narrates the story of her life with the hurricane knocking on her door, the Greek myth of Medea and Jason sail through the pages alongside her.  

The Batiste family contains, Esch who is 14, pregnant by a man who doesn't care about her.  Skeetah who owns a fighting pitbull named China whom he has pinned all his hopes on and loves like a sibling.  Randall is Esch's oldest brother who is a great basketball player and has high hopes to play ball in college.  Junior was the last child born to his mother and was raised by his siblings, Randall and Esch who cared for the child after their mother died.  This is one family who has suffered through tragedy and endured.  Their ability to love and endure through tragedy and triumph is so heartfelt and touching. 

After I read the first chapter of Salvage the Bones, I realized this book is not for everyone.  Some people will choose to give up on it and quit reading because of the dog fighting and the stark brutality of the story.  I read through the pain and at the end survived with the reality that Salvage the Bones is one damn good book.  Jesmyn Ward's beautiful metaphoric language is so gritty and poetic.  Salvage the Bones hits you like a hurricane and throws you hard up against the wall.  It is hard not to feel like you just survived the storm when you finish the book. 

Salvage the Bones is based on the author's personal experience during Hurricane Katrina.  Her family lives in a trailer home on the coast like Esch and her family and when the hurricane hit they had to escape their home due to the winds and flooding.   They drove a mile down the road to the neighbors and according to an interview with The Guardian,, Thursday 1 December 2011 Ward states, "Me, my mom, my mom's husband, my elderly grandmother, my grandfather and my pregnant sister, who at eight months was very big. We're soaking wet because we've had to scramble out of the house and swim part of the way. And they open up the door. And the wind is rocking the car and they're yelling at us and we're yelling back at them because it's the only way we can be heard, and trees are flying through the air. They shout: 'Are y'all all right?' And we're like: 'Are you serious? We're sitting outside in a category-five hurricane. Do we look O-OK?'" She stutters. "And they said: 'Well, y'all can sit outside in this field, until the water goes down, but we don't have room for you in the house. We can't let you in.' And I thought: this is some bullshit."  Taken from an article in The Guardian,Thursday 1 December 2011(3rd Paragraph).

In my opinion, Salvage the Bones is destined to be a book read in high school and college classrooms and will join the canon of great books by Southern Writers.  Beware this book packs a mean punch.   Ward reminds me of Flannery O'Connor.

Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award in 2011.   Make no bones about it, this book is Amazing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Minnesota Book Awards 2012

Minnesota Book Awards 2012

The Minnesota Book Awards were presented on Saturday, April 14th, 2012 to a sold out crowd.
I would love to say I was in attendance but I was not.  Next year, I hope to attend and read some of the book finalists before I get there. 

FYI:  Click on the book image and it will take you to Amazon.

And the winners are........

Children's Literature:  BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)

A collection of wacky, whimsical poems about books and all the treasures they contain. Laura Purdie Salas, the acclaimed author of Stampede!, is back with another collection of wild and weird, wacky and winsome poems about all the magic to be found on a single bookshelf. In BookSpeak!, each poem gives voice to a group that seldom gets a voice . . . the books themselves! Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and we get a sneak peek at the raucous parties in the aisles when all the lights go out at the bookstore!Illustrator Josée Bisaillon’s mixture of collage, drawings, and digital montage presents page after page of richly colored spreads filled with action and charm. Together, Salas and Bisaillon deliver a unique collection brimming with ideas as much about spines and dust jackets as they are about adventure and imagination. (Goodreads)

General Nonfiction:  Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto (Rodale)

"Whenever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government."

But what happens in a world dominated by complex science? Are the people still well-enough informed to be trusted with their own government? And with less than 2 percent of Congress with any professional background in science, how can our government be trusted to lead us in the right direction?

Will the media save us? Don't count on it. Of the 2,975 questions directed to the candidates for president in early 2008, just six mentioned the words "global warming" or "climate change," the greatest policy challenge facing America. To put that in perspective, three questions mentioned UFOs.

Today the world's major unsolved challenges all revolve around science. By the 2012 election cycle, at a time when science is influencing every aspect of modern life, antiscience views from climate-change denial to creationism to vaccine refusal have become mainstream.

Faced with the daunting challenges of an environment under siege, an exploding population, a falling economy and an education system slipping behind, our elected leaders are hard at work... passing resolutions that say climate change is not real and astrology can control the weather.

Shawn Lawrence Otto has written a behind-the-scenes look at how the government, our politics, and the media prevent us from finding the real solutions we need. Fool Me Twice is the clever, outraged, and frightening account of America's relationship with science -- a relationship that is on the rocks at the very time we need it most. (Goodreads)

Genre Fiction:  Big Wheat by Richard A. Thompson (Poisoned Pen Press)

1919 on the high prairie, and a small army of people and machines moves across the land, bringing in the wheat harvest. Custom threshers, steam engineers, bindlestiffs, cooks, camp followers, and hobos join the tide. The threshing season is on.

But there is also an evil upon the land. A killer who calls himself the Windmill Man believes he has a holy calling to water the newly plucked earth with blood. The moving harvest is an endless supply of victims. He's been killing for years and has no plans to stop. Who could stop him? Nobody knows he exists.

But then a young man named Charlie Krueger, jilted by his childhood sweetheart and estranged from his drunkard father, joins the harvest as a steam engineer. But in a newly harvested field in the nearly black Dakota night, he comes upon a strange man digging a grave. Now he is the only person who can stop the evil. But the killer knows his name and when next they meet, one of them will have to die….


Memoir and Creative Nonfiction:  A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s and Love by Nancy Paddock (Blueroad Press)

"A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer's and Love" is a feature-length memoir by acclaimed Minnesota poet Nancy Paddock. The book tells the story of her parents' descent into the netherworld of Alzheimer's, and the challenges and choices for care that she and her sisters faced while confronting this most baffling and tragic of diseases, now afflicting millions of people and their families. This is one daughter's story of Lois and Ralph Pearson, whose love of life and each other transcended the darkest moments of war, separation, heartache, and family tragedy to achieve a memorable state of grace spanning six decades of marriage.
Paddock recalls her parents' early lives together on St. Paul's East Side, including their playful courtship on the city's ice rinks, as well as her own fond recollections of growing up in the post-war glow of the 1950s and '60s.

Minnesota Award:  Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota’s First Generation of Women Artists by Julie L’Enfant (Afton Press)

In the early twentieth century Frances Cranmer Greenman, Alice Hugy, Elsa Laubach Jemne, Clara Mairs, Evelyn Raymond, Jo Lutz Rollins, and Ada Wolfe established successful careers as artists in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. They played significant roles in the development of the art schools, galleries, and arts organizations that make the Twin Cities a major cultural center today. Yet their strong reputations were eclipsed mid-century by the rise of Abstract Expressionism and other male-dominated modernist movements.
Drawing on unpublished papers, contemporaneous accounts, and interviews with their students, descendants, and collectors, Pioneer Modernists presents a new picture of their cosmopolitan art training, multi-faceted careers, and sometimes unconventional lives, set in the context of the tumultuous events of the twentieth century. (Goodreads)

Novel and Short Story:  The Law of Miracles and Other Stories by Gregory Blake Smith (University of Massachusetts Press)

These stories take place in the space where the rational and irrational intersect the space governed by The Law of Miracles. Writing with a remarkable range of invention, Gregory Blake Smith has created a world in which his characters navigate between the everyday and the extraordinary: an aged Russian woman who lives simultaneously in the St. Petersburg of iPods and BMWs and in the starving Leningrad of the Siege; a Venetian art conservator who loves the women of the Renaissance paintings he restores but cannot bear the touch of the woman at his side; a down-and-out slot-machine technician who calculates the probability of his wife s dying. Yet for all their variety of setting and subject, there runs through each of these stories a thread of the miraculous, a suspicion that the transcendent lies just at the edge of perception. We watch the characters of The Law of Miracles struggle toward that transcendence, whether it be through love or art or violence, until we as readers feel like the main character of the Pushcart Prize winning Presently in Ruins that if we could only parse the seemingly random details of our existence some new pattern of meaning would emerge, some new magic that would transform our lives. (Amazon)

Poetry:  Whorled by Ed Bok Lee (Coffee House Press)

What does it mean to be a Global Citizen in an era of constant war, rampant industrialization, and ever-advancing technology? Lees ever-wandering cultural and spiritual nomads struggle to make sense of what it means to be a citizen of an increasingly homeless world. In a world where "all love is immigrant," Whorled confronts and celebrates the many complications of global politics through meditations on war, migration, and culture. In settings from San Francisco to Seoul, the Midwest to Kazakhstan, Ed Bok Lee considers what it means to be a citizen in a world where "you can't win the past / or stalk redemption."Raised in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, Ed Bok Lee is the author of Real Karaoke People, which won the PEN Open Book Award. He is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Goodreads)

Young People's Literature:  With or Without You by Brian Farrey (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)

Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend, Davis, get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik--whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year.

Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect. (Goodreads)

Reader's Choice:  The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children’s Books)

When 13-year-old Eric Parrish comes across glowing mushrooms in the woods behind his house, he's sure there's a scientific explanation. But when they start encroaching on the town—covering the football field and popping up from beneath the floorboards—Eric knows something's seriously wrong. Not that much else is going right: his parents are fighting, his little brother Brian is a little pill, and he's had a falling-out with his football team—over a pig.

Then a runaway girl from a nearby boarding school warns Eric that the fungus could portend the town's doom and leave it in rubble—just like the village that inexplicably disappeared in the exact same spot over 200 years ago. Eric, Brian, and Mandy set out to solve a very old mystery and save the town of Tanglewood. (Goodreads)

 There you have it.  The best books in Minnesota right now.  I am excited to say that the young people's literature winner, Brian Farrey, has agreed to be an author in the spotlight here on BookSnob in the Fall of 2012.  I am really excited about it.

Have a great weekend.
Read Minnesota!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Hi, my name is Titus and I am a teenager who has a feed in my brain.  I can't live without my feed, it provides me with everything I need, like music, shopping, advertising and messaging.  I don't need to think, talk, read or write because my feed does it all for me.  Like, it is the best thing ever invented.  You seriously need to get one.

I went to the moon for Spring Break and met this awesome girl named Violet.  We went dancing one night and then got hacked from some crazy man.  Our feeds were interrupted and we had to go to the hospital.  It was so unbelievably boring.  Like, we had nothing to do.  We couldn't connect to the feed, it was like total torture for me.

When we got home from the moon, Violet started acting weird.  I mean, I really like her, Unit, but something is not quite right about her.   She got her feed when she was seven, when the everyone I know, got it when we were babies.  And then, we started to get all these like weird lesions on our body.  The world is going off kilter.  Well, I am not going to worry about it because I got my feed and it doesn't let me worry too much.  Oh, Unit, I really like that shirt.  Ordering that up right now.

Hi, my name is Laura (Booksnob) and I just finished reading Feed over my Spring Break.  I wish I was able to travel to the moon like Titus but I stayed home instead.  I can't stop thinking about this book.  It is like Feed is literally stuck in my head and everywhere I look I see people connecting to their hand held devices, their personal feeds.  The characters are not particularly likeable, except for Violet, and the futuristic teen speak is frustrating at times but Feed gets under your skin and into your brain and makes you think. That's right, you have to think while you are reading this book.

Feed takes place in a future not far away from our present reality and that is what makes it so relevant.  Feed tackles important issues like consumerism, environmentalism, beauty, mind control and so much more.  It is a amazing book that will grip you by the throat and leave you gasping.  When you finish, take a look around the world and challenge yourself to find the feed.  It won't take long and you will see the world differently.  The feed is everywhere. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Poem in my Post: A Cat in an Empty Apartment

Poem in Your Post:  A Cat in an Empty Apartment by Wislawa Szymborska  1923-2012

Today, I have chosen to highlight Wislawa Szymborska.  I have recently learned of this Polish poet from my BookWoman magazine and I wanted to highlight Wislawa most famous poem, A Cat in an Empty Apartment.  I am of Polish descent and feel drawn to this Nobel Prize winner from 1996.  A Cat in an Empty Apartment is frequently memorized and recited by Polish citizens.  Szymborska is one of their most celebrated poets. 
A Cat in an Empty Apartment.
Die? One does not do that to a cat.
Because what's a cat to do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls.
Caress against the furniture.
It seems that nothing has changed here,
but yet things are different.
Nothing appears to have been relocated,
yet everything has been shuffled about.
The lamp no longer burns in the evenings.

Footsteps can be heard on the stairway,
but they're not the ones.
The hand which puts the fish on the platter
is not the same one which used to do it.

Something here does not begin
at its usual time.
Something does not happen quite
as it should
Here someone was and was,
then suddenly disappeared
and now is stubbornly absent. All the closets were peered into.
The shelves were walked through.
The rug was lifted and examined.
Even the rule about not scattering
papers was violated.

What more is to be done?
Sleep and wait.

Let him return,
at least make a token appearance.
Then he'll learn
that one shouldn't treat a cat like this.
He will be approached
as though unwillingly,
on very offended paws.
With no spontaneous leaps or squeals at first.