Sunday, March 1, 2015

Announcing March Author in the Spotlight

Announcing March Author in the Spotlight

Happy March!  I hope you are feeling green because Spring is around the corner and I have an awesome Author in the Spotlight this month.
You are going to scream with excitement or at least do a happy dance.

March's Author is Andrea Cremer.  When I started blogging 5 years ago, she 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 teach everyday. Then she moved to New York and hit the big time. Andrea has a new Steampunk series starting and she has moved back to Minneapolis. So this is the perfect time to feature her on Book Snob.

The Nightshade series contains four books and two prequels.  If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it.

Here is the synopsis of Nightshade:

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads of Andrea's newest book, The Inventor's Secret:

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

This month we will have a book review, a contest, an author interview and a possible guest post.  You can learn more about Andrea Cremer and her books, The NightShade series and The Inventor's Secret at her website:

Have a Great Month.  Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

February Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

It's the last day of February and Spring technically begins in 3 weeks.  I cannot wait. Old man winter is holding on to cold temperatures and I am sick of it.

This month has been crazy busy and my dog got hurt.  He has to have surgery on Tuesday on his knee, which costs a small fortune, but I love him and so I'll pay.

I haven't been able to read much this month due to my busy teaching schedule.  I only finished 3 books, including The Life We Bury by February's Author in the Spotlight, Allen Eskens. It was the perfect winter read.  Join me as I say goodbye to February and Allen Eskens.

The Giveaway of The Life We Bury ends TODAY at midnight.  Enter Quick.
The Life We Bury Giveaway

Check out the book review of The Life We Bury.  This debut novel will grab you right from the first page. The Life We Bury is full of grit and guilt, twists and turns and I could not read it fast enough.
The Life We Bury has been nominated for a Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Rosebud Award.  So many awards, so little time.  I predict he wins all of them.  I also predict a movie.  The Life We Bury would make a great movie.

The Life We Bury Book Review

Check out the Author Interview with Allen.  I put Allen's book, The Life We Bury on my Goodreads "To Read" list 4 months before it was published.  I knew then, that I would want to feature Allen on my blog and it has been enjoyable getting to know him and reading his awesome book.  I had the chance to ask him some questions about his life and his book.  Read it to find out more about his 2nd book and so much more.

Allen Eskens Author Interview

Be sure to read Allen's Guest Post.  He recently visited the high school I teach at in Minneapolis to talk to students.  He wrote his guest post about a question he didn't expect.  Allen's book, The Life We Bury is taking South High School by storm.  I see students and staff reading it everywhere.

Allen Eskens Guest Post

It has been my pleasure to work with Allen and I really enjoyed his book and look forward to reading his future writing. I really want to read a book about Lila.  So could you please hurry up and write it, Allen.  Please check out his book and his website and read more mysteries.  You can visit Allen at his website:

Have a fabulous day!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Joe Talbert is in college at the University of Minnesota and he has been just given a writing assignment that is going to change his life.  He has been assigned to write a biography of a complete stranger.  Fate leads him to a nursing home and nurses point him toward a resident who is dying of cancer.  The nurses don't really like this patient, because he is a convicted rapist and murderer who spent 30 years behind bars.

Throw in an autistic brother, a cute girl who lives next door and who won't make eye contact with you, an alcoholic bi-polar mother and you have a really big problem that is sure to keep you up late at night.

Carl Iverson's life is coming to an end and he needs a confessor. Someone who will listen to his side of the story.  In walks this kid, who wants to interview Carl about his life's story.  Carl isn't sure he can trust him with the truth but he is going to take a chance.  What the heck, at the very least this kid can learn a little bit about his experience as a Vietnam Vet and give him something to do during the day.  It will feel good to rid himself of the guilt that has been plaguing him all these years.

Allen Eskens has written a page turning mystery with characters you care about and who grab you and won't let go. The Life We Bury is the type of novel that everyone will enjoy, full of complex characters, a kickass storyline, with a little love and a lot of crazy thrown in.   This debut novel will grab you right from the first page. The Life We Bury is full of grit and guilt, twists and turns and I could not read it fast enough.

The Life We Bury has been nominated for a Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Rosebud Award.  So many awards, so little time.  I predict he wins all of them.  I also predict a movie.  The Life We Bury would make a great movie.

The Life We Bury has taken my school, South High School, by storm and word of mouth has everyone reading it.  So get with the program.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Allen Eskens Author Interview + Giveaway

Allen Eskens Author Interview + Giveaway

Allen Eskens is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of February.  I put Allen's book, The Life We Bury on my Goodreads "To Read" list 4 months before it was published.  I knew then, that I would want to feature Allen on my blog and it has been enjoyable getting to know him and reading his awesome book.  I had the chance to ask him some questions about his life and his book.  Read on.

Hi Allen,

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a writer and an attorney and a husband and father. I live quietly in the country outside of Mankato Minnesota, but I grew up in Missouri. For twenty years now, I’ve been studying creative writing the way some guys might obsess on golf or fishing. Writing was something I did to relax. I’ve now had the great fortune to publish my debut novel and am on my way to writing three more.

2.      What inspired you to write The Life We Bury?

I wanted to write literary mystery with a protagonist who gets pulled into a mystery by circumstances as opposed to choice. I am also a fan of cold case mysteries. So with those two points in mind, I began brain storming ideas and remembered a class assignment I did in college where I went to a nursing home and interviewed a stranger. That idea became the genesis for The Life We Bury.

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

There are many small details in the novel that come from my personal experience. For example, I borrowed a friend’s cabin up north to have a writing weekend. The cabin had electricity and a wood stove for heat, but no running water. I had to trek a couple hundred yards through waist-deep snow to get there. Before heading back to my car to get a second load of supplies, I made snow shoes out of a couple boards. That experience made its way into the story in Joes hunting cabin experience. I think it’s impossible to create a main character in a novel and not have some of yourself come through in that character.

4.     The Life We Bury is your first novel.  Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer? 

I discovered, in high school, that I enjoyed expressing myself creatively. Back then, it was theatre. As I aged, I still felt a need to be creative. I am a huge daydreamer and writing seemed a perfect way to harness my daydreams and turn them into a creative outlet. After I got out of law school, I started studying creative writing in my spare time with an eye toward one day writing a novel.

5.     Are you currently working on a new novel and will you share part of the plot with us?

My next novel, The Guise of Another (working title) is more of a thriller than The Life We Bury, and will be launched on October 6 of this year. The homicide detective from The Life We Bury, Max Rupert, and his brother Alexander are the central characters in the next novel. My goal is to write about a small community of characters who take turns being the protagonist.

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

I am a poor reader. I like to read, but I have trouble finishing books. One of two things tends to happen. Either I get bored as the second act starts to drag and I put it down, or the writing is so good that I get inspired to do my own writing and I put it down. Don’t get me wrong, I do finish books, but not nearly as many as I start.

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

I’m going to sidestep the obvious (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bell Jar, etc.) and pick a book from the mystery genre. I think that Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane is a must read for anyone writing mysteries. It shows how much a good writer can do in combining literary writing, complex plot structure and depth of character. All this and it’s still a great mystery.

8.     What is the most important lesson/idea you want readers to take away from your book, The Life
We Bury?

The Life We Bury is a story about people dealing with guilt. One character is looking back on a lifetime of trying to escape his guilt, another is new to his. The lesson is that guilt will stay with you, change you, even destroy you if you don’t face it.

9.     Can you tell us about the Innocence Project?

The Innocence Project is a nationwide program created to reopen cases where people may have been wrongfully convicted. With the advent of DNA evidence, we’ve been able to determine with certainty that some of those convicted were innocent. The Innocence Project seeks to find that evidence and get the cases back to court.

10.  Your book, The Life We Bury has been nominated for the Edgar Award and the MN Book Award.  What was your reaction when your book was nominated?

It is a heady thing to be nominated for an award, but to be nominated for three (I am also a finalist for a Rosebud Award at the Left Coast Crime Convention), that knocked me for a loop. It is humbling and exciting and I am enjoying the ride immensely.

11.  Tell us in one sentence why we should read:  The Life We Bury

People should read The Life We Bury because, in the end, it’s the story of a bond between two brothers and how that bond is tested in the course of a cold case mystery.

Thanks Allen.

If you would like to win a copy of Allen's book please enter here:  The Life We Bury Giveaway

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Allen Eskens Guest Post + Giveaway

Allen Eskens Guest Post + Giveaway

Allen Eskens is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of February and he recently visited the high school I teach at in Minneapolis to talk to students.  He wrote his guest post about a question he didn't expect.  Allen's book, The Life We Bury is taking South High School by storm.  I see students and staff reading it everywhere.  Read on.

A question I didn’t expect.

I recently did a presentation at Minneapolis South High School and a young lady asked a question that caught me off guard. I’d given my talk about how I came to write my novel The Life We Bury, and I was taking questions when this bright young woman asked “If I could go back in time and talk to myself and give myself advise, how old would I be. I’d come prepared to answer questions about my writing process or what it’s like to publish a novel, but this question was definitely one of those outside-the-box questions.

I didn’t have time to give that question the hours of thought it deserved.  I shot from the cuff and said sixth grade. And now, after giving it some thought, I believe I got it right.

 I remember being a fairly self-confident kid up until I got into sixth grade. I used to do the readings at my church, walk fearlessly among my peers, and I even had a part in the school play. But then sixth grade came along and something happened. I wish I could tell you what that was, but I can’t. No crippling trauma. No loss of a loved one. No single incident that would explain the change. I just

I developed a form of stage fright that shrunk my world. I became unable to speak in front of people. I gaped like a freshly caught perch whenever a teacher would call upon me to answer a question in class.

For the next three years I began a slow withdrawal from life. I quit all of my extra-curricular activities. No more football, wrestling or drama club. I became introverted and awkward. Looking back now, I see that my slide was born of a complete loss of confidence.  Doubt gripped me in every aspect of my life. By the time I started high school, I had pledged that I would keep my head down and do the very minimum necessary to graduate.

But then, on a dare, my best friend and I tried out for the school play. I was terrified and expected that I’d freeze on stage. But to my relief, I made it through—and had fun in the process. Over the next four years, I threw myself into theater and by the time I graduated I was a completely different person. I regained my self-confidence, and I’ve been grabbing life by the throat ever since.

Back then, I came close to skidding down a very different path in my life. But now I am a successful attorney with a novel that is a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe Award and a Minnesota Book Award. When I spoke to the kids at South, I wanted tell them the things I wish I could have said to my sixth-
grade self. Don’t let self-doubt be the deciding factor in what path you take. Challenge yourselves and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

Allen Eskens

Author of The Life We Bury

Thanks Allen.  If you would like to win a copy of Allen's book, please enter here:  The Life We Bury Giveaway

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Allen Eskens Visits South High

                                     Allen Eskens Visits South High School in Minneapolis.

February is "I Love To Read" month and South High invites authors in to school to speak with students every year.  This year, Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury, visited South High School in Minneapolis last week to speak to students.  On Thursday, February 13th, he spoke to a large group of 9th and 10th grade students in the media center.  Then he had lunch with the staff and spent the next hour with a CIS writing class.

Allen started by speaking to students about his experiences in school.  He went to a Catholic school and was the kind of kid who didn't like school.  He hated to read and still doesn't read much.  Theater and art are the classes were where he excelled.  He credited a few good teachers for getting him through school and for falling in love with theater and writing.  He encouraged every student in the room to make it through school and go to college.

Allen is a first generation college student, a lawyer and an awesome author.  When he realized he loved to write, he had to learn how to do it, since he didn't learn how to write in High School.  It turns out, he is pretty good at writing.  We can all attest to that.

Allen went to Hamline Law School and has been writing ever since.  He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime and has written a great book which is up for the Minnesota Book Award and the Edgar Allen Poe award.

If you would like to win a copy of Allen's book The Life We Bury, enter here;
The Life We Bury Giveaway

Thanks Allen for coming to South High.  We really appreciate it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Thing About Great White Sharks Giveaway

The Thing About Great White Sharks Giveaway

Rebecca Adams Wright along with TLC book tours is giving away one copy of her short story collection, The Thing About Great White Sharks.  This giveaway is open to BookSnob followers who live in the United States.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In this collection’s richly imagined title story, our brutal and resourceful protagonist is determined to protect her family from a murderous, shark-ridden world—at any cost. Elsewhere, an old woman uncovers a sinister plot while looking after a friend’s plants (“Orchids”), and a girl in the war-torn countryside befriends an unlikely creature (“Keeper of the Glass”). In “Barnstormers,” a futuristic flying circus tries to forestall bankruptcy with one last memorable show. At the heart of “Sheila” is the terrible choice a retired judge must make when faced with the destruction of his beloved robotic dog, and “Yuri, in a Blue Dress” follows one of the last survivors of an alien invasion as she seeks help.

Extending from World War II to the far future, these fifteen stories offer a gorgeously observed perspective on our desire for connection and what it means to have compassion—for ourselves, for one another, for our past…and for whatever lies beyond.

Contest Rules:
Fill out the form
Ends March 9th at midnight
Must be a U.S. resident
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Shakespeare Valentine to you

A Shakespeare Valentine to you.

A love sonnet from Romeo and Juliet
Act 1, Scene 5.

 93   If I profane with my unworthiest hand
 94   This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
 95   My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
 96   To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

 97   Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
 98   Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
 99   For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
100   And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

101   Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

102   Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

103   O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
104   They pray — grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

105   Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

106   Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.

And Romeo Kisses Her.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rebecca Adams Wright Guest Post

Rebecca Adams Wright Guest Post

Do you like to read short stories?  I hope so. I read a short story every Saturday and enjoy them immensely.  Give them a try. Please welcome short story author, Rebecca Adams Wright to BookSnob.

Book Snob Guest Post: Location, Location, Location
by Rebecca Adams Wright

I’m here to talk a bit about my new collection, The Thing About Great White Sharks, specifically the settings that inspired many of the stories.  I hope you will indulge me, as I personally find that listening to authors talk about their real-world influences can sometimes be a wonderful way to connect with not only their work, but also with the places that work describes.

The Thing About Great White Sharks is a love letter to many genres and many locations.  There are science fiction stories set on far-future Earths and man-made space stations, and these, of course, were influenced more by powerful descriptions I have read about space than by places I have actually been. But other works, even those set on alien planets, can trace their roots closer to home.  My story “Barnstormers,” concerned with a group of stunt fliers putting on an extraterrestrial desert airshow, is intimately rooted in the dry heat, dusty orange landscape, and spicy scents of the land in Western Arizona.  The struggle to survive in a beautiful but inhospitable environment was a thematic element I wanted to braid throughout the story, and that particular setting felt about perfect.

Other major influences on the book were trips I made to England and Ireland in 2008 and 2010. These were my first visits to countries that shaped so much of Western literature, thought, and culture, and the areas I visited—London, Bath, Yorkshire, Dublin, Kilkenny, the Dingle Peninsula, and the Ring of Kerry—made a distinct impression on me.  I found myself fixated on the vibrant pastoral patchwork of both rural England and Ireland.  Eventually these shaggy, rock-walled fields became the backdrop for “Keeper of the Glass,” my fantasy tale of growing up in wartime.  In “The White Chalk Road,” a story split settings in America and Great Britain, my dreaming protagonist walks along the crest of a hill inspired by the land around the Avebury stone circles.

Several times in the years that I was writing Sharks details of previously-visited places filtered into the prose and shaped the way the narrative took form.   “Keeper of the Glass” is an example of this filtering at work.   In September of 2008, while touring York, I learned that during WWII York Minster sent a number of its famous stained glass panels off to homes in the English countryside in an effort to protect the art from Nazi bombs.  What a fact!  The idea of all that precious medieval history tucked away in cellars and garden sheds was so interesting to me that “Keeper” ended up becoming, in part, about what would happen if those vulnerable pieces of glass could manifest some protection of their own.

Some stories found their inspiration closer to home.  “Storybag” follows a traveling salesman around a 1960’s version of the small town where I currently live.  In “The Space We Share,” my child protagonist roams the echoing, tiled halls of a junior high that is layered together from memories of all the schools I ever attended.  He is looking for a ghost, and it seemed appropriate that his world be shaped by the ghosts of my own experience.

It’s so important as an author to be able to make things up.  But I was reminded while writing this collection that the best inventions germinate from seeds of real-life observation.   The Thing About
Great White Sharks is a better book for all the different places that have come to populate it, and the fabric of its invented worlds is richer by being woven from threads of real experience.

Thanks Rebecca!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Life We Bury Giveaway

The Life We Bury Giveaway

Allen Eskens is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of February.  He has written an excellent, page turning mystery that has been nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.  Allen is giving away 1 copy of his book to a Booksnob follower who lives in the U.S.  He also has 2 Advanced Reading copies of his book he is willing to send out.

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.

Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Contest Rules:
Fill out the form
Must be a resident of the U.S.
Ends 2/28 at midnight.
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway