Friday, May 1, 2015

Announcing May's Author in the Spotlight

Announcing May's Author in the Spotlight

Happy May Day!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

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

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

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Poem in my Post

Poem in my Post

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

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

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

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway

Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway

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

The Fence Around the Water Tower

By Pete Hautman

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

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

Oh God, another cult book. Please stop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Pete!

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Poem in my Post

Poem in My Post.

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

O Captain! My Captain!

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

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

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Inventor's Secret Giveaway Winners

The Inventor's Secret Giveaway Winners

Andrea Cremer was the April, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she is graciously giving away 5 copies of her new Young Adult novel, The Inventor's Secret.  The Inventor's Secret falls in the Steampunk genre. Steampunk is a mixture of history and science fiction/fantasy which incorporates technology. The technology in The Inventor's Secret is so awesome. I loved it.

And the winners are.......

Anita Y from Georgia
Jill O from Illinois
Haley S from Iowa
Brittany T from Pennsylvania
Jen Jenny

Congratulations Ladies.  I hope you enjoy your new book!

Here is an excerpt from my review:
The Inventor's Secret is creative, daring and fun. Cremer is a clever author. She tales an unlikely heroine, whose best friend is a gun, and puts her in a dress and sends her into high society. The reader gets to experience everything right along with Charlotte as she enters the Floating city for the first time and experiences the world. Charlotte is awakened and so is the reader.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eden West Giveaway

Eden West Giveaway

Pete Hautman is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of April and he has written several amazing Young Adult novels.  Eden West is his newest release. Along with his publisher, Candlewick Press, Pete Hautman is giving away 2 copies of Eden West to followers who live in the United States.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Tackling faith, doubt, and transformation, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman explores a boy’s unraveling allegiance to an insular cult.

Twelve square miles of paradise, surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence: this is Nodd, the land of the Grace. It is all seventeen-year-old Jacob knows. Beyond the fence lies the World, a wicked, terrible place, doomed to destruction. When the Archangel Zerachiel descends from Heaven, only the Grace will be spared the horrors of the Apocalypse. But something is rotten in paradise. A wolf invades Nodd, slaughtering the Grace’s sheep. A new boy arrives from outside, and his scorn and disdain threaten to tarnish Jacob’s contentment. Then, while patrolling the borders of Nodd, Jacob meets Lynna, a girl from the adjoining ranch, who tempts him to sample the forbidden Worldly pleasures that lie beyond the fence. Jacob’s faith, his devotion, and his grip on reality are tested as his feelings for Lynna blossom into something greater and the End Days grow ever closer. Eden West is the story of two worlds, two hearts, the power of faith, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Fill in the form
Must live in the U.S.
Ends May 4th.
Good Luck

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Poem in my Post

A Poem in my Post

Think Lovely Thoughts today.  We live in a wonderful world and it is easy to forget that. This poem is one that I love because it offers advice to the reader and to anyone young or old who needs it.  I envision myself framing this poem as a gift for my son.  Enjoy!

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Tusk That Did the Damage Giveaway

The Tusk That Did the Damage Giveaway

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

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns and Aerogrammes, a tour de force set in South India that plumbs the moral complexities of the ivory trade through the eyes of a poacher, a documentary filmmaker, and, in a feat of audacious imagination, an infamous elephant known as the Gravedigger.

Orphaned by poachers as a calf and sold into a life of labor and exhibition, the Gravedigger breaks free of his chains and begins terrorizing the countryside, earning his name from the humans he kills and then tenderly buries. Manu, the studious younger son of a rice farmer, loses his cousin to the Gravedigger’s violence and is drawn, with his wayward brother Jayan, into the sordid, alluring world of poaching. Emma is a young American working on a documentary with her college best friend, who witnesses the porous boundary between conservation and corruption and finds herself in her own moral gray area: a risky affair with the veterinarian who is the film’s subject. As the novel hurtles toward its tragic climax, these three storylines fuse into a wrenching meditation on love and betrayal, duty and loyalty, and the vexed relationship between man and nature.

With lyricism and suspense, Tania James animates the rural landscapes where Western idealism clashes with local reality; where a farmer’s livelihood can be destroyed by a rampaging elephant; where men are driven to poaching. In James’ arrestingly beautiful prose, The Tusk That Did the Damage blends the mythical and the political to tell a wholly original, utterly contemporary story about the majestic animal, both god and menace, that has mesmerized us for centuries. (less)

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James

The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James

I have been reading a lot of books about elephants lately and when The Tusk That Did the Damage hit my radar, I knew I wanted to read it.

The Tusk That Did the Damage takes place in India and is told from three different perspectives.  The elephant, the poacher and the filmmaker.

The Elephant also known as Gravedigger begins his story by talking about the death of his herd.  Memories haunt his everyday life as he witnesses the death of his family and he is captured and put into captivity to entertain others.

The poacher tells his brother's story.  It is complex and full of revenge because the Gravedigger took the life of their 17 year old cousin Raghu.  You must know the story of their life for you to understand their role as poacher.

The filmmaker is an American in India making a documentary on elephants and the Vet who treats them.  From behind the camera and in conducting interviews, she tries to piece together the truth.

Tania James is an excellent writer who has crafted a thoughtful, complex novel that speaks of current day issues.  The elephant is becoming endangered as poachers hunt them for the ivory in their tusks. Elephants are powerful creatures with an amazing memory and a matriarchal society.  Poachers are being paid high wages to rid their farmland of animals that wreak havoc on their crops and livelihood in India.

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

Disclosure:  I was given a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

March Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

March Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

This goodbye to March comes a little late because I was in Arizona soaking up the sun and touring the Grand Canyon.  I love Spring Break.  I didn't get to read as much as I hoped because I didn't feel good.  I had a cold and an attack of the allergies and was pretty miserable with swollen, watery eyes, constantly sneezing.  I did manage to finish reading The Inventor's Secret by March, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Andrea Cremer.  

Hurry and enter the giveaway for The Inventor's Secret.  It ends in mere hours and you will want a copy of this creative book.

Enter Here:  The Inventor's Secret Giveaway

Check out my book review of The Inventor's Secret.  The Inventor's Secret falls in the Steampunk genre.  Steampunk is a mixture of history and science fiction/fantasy which incorporates technology.  The technology in The Inventor's
Secret is so awesome.  I loved it.  Mechanical rats, rotpots, a dragonfly plane, mouse bombs, a floating city, and so much more. Futuristic technology placed in the past within high society and culture. So cool.

The Inventor's Secret Book Review

Next check out the Author Interview with Andrea.  I had a chance to ask her some questions about her new book, The Inventor's Secret, her writing life and of course her favorite YA authors.

Andrea Cremer Author Interview

If you haven't read the Nightshade series yet, you probably should get started.  I will include my book review to entice you.

Nightshade Book Review

When I started blogging 5 years ago, Andrea Cremer was a new author and Nightshade had just came out.  I reviewed her book, did an interview and she spoke at South high, where I am currently teaching. Then she moved to New York and hit the big time. Andrea's started a new Steampunk series and she has moved back to Minneapolis.  I've had a great month featuring Andrea and her books and hope to continue working with her.  You can learn more about Andrea Cremer and her books, The NightShade series and The Inventor's Secret at her website: