Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Hope For Gomez! Birthday Party.

"No Hope for Gomez!" Birthday Party. Win kindles, iPods, and get free books!

“It's the age-old tale:
     Boy meets girl.
     Boy stalks girl.
     Girl already has a stalker.
     Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”

It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since I handed in the final proofs for my weird little book ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ To celebrate this, and the fact that it just became a finalist in 2010's Best Book Awards, I decided to throw an international party. As I’ve had a debilitating fear of throwing parties and no-one showing up since early childhood, I’d be more than delighted if you’d come!

Of course, with every cool, international party comes a gift bag. Here's just some of the stuff attendants will get:

  • Exclusive short story collection
  • No Hope for Gomez: The Lost Chapters
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signed hi-res poster + bookplate

(These are all exclusive items and will not be available again)

Additionally, several lucky attendants will win a Kindle or an iPod!

Oh yeah, you can bring as many friends as you like, just don't bring your crazy uncle who drinks too much and then tries to get me to go to the attic with him to see something wonderful. I've fallen for that before and I don't mind telling you, I came away very disappointed!

Find out how to attend HERE.  The party is on December 2nd, 2010

Last Day to Enter - Author of the Month Contest

Last Day to Enter - Author of the Month Contest

The author of Elvis and Olive, Stephanie Watson, is giving away 5 personalized copies to 5 winners.  To enter please click on the link below:  The last day to enter is today until midnight, central time.  This contest is open internationally.  Good Luck!

Elvis and Olive Contest

You can check out my review of the book here:

Elvis and Olive Book Review

You can read an interview with the author Stephanie Watson here:

Stephanie Watson author interview

Stephanie's second book is called Elvis and Olive Super Detectives.  She is currently working on a proposal for her third novel.  The excerpt below is from Good Reads.

Natalie and Annie decide to put their detective skills to use as they open the E & O Detective Agency to solve neighborhood mysteries. Together they stumble across an incredibly intriguing one when Mrs. Warsaw, their elderly neighbor with memory problems, begins spreading news about a woman named Zina Zeolite hiding in her bedroom closet. Mrs. Warsaw often speaks of seeing strange things so Natalie doesn't believe her. But Annie insists that they take the case. As the detectives start investigating, Natalie and Annie discover that Zina Zeolite is the name of the world's first female comic book superhero. But could Zina Zeolite also be a real person? And what does a superhero have to do with the ailing Mrs. Warsaw?

The girls must band together to help Natalie win her school election, solve this mystery, and stay friends.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting new author, Stephanie Watson, and learning about two great new books on the market.  Please support Stephanie and read her books.  You can also check out her website at www.stephanie-watson.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

Graditude Giveaway Winner!

Gratitude Giveaway Winner!!

Congrats to Janelle A. (she has been sent an e-mail) who is the winner of the CSN stores giveaway for 35 dollars!!  Thanks to everyone for entering and for following BOOKSNOB.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stephanie Watson Author Interview

Interview with author Stephanie Watson

I would like to introduce Hometown Track Author in the Spotlight, Stephanie Watson.  Thanks Stephanie for taking the time to answer these questions for us.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not far from where I live now. I have a 3-month-old daughter and a tiny dog. I am a storyteller.

  1. What is the inspiration behind the story of Elvis & Olive?
Elvis & Olive started like all of my stories do, with a very tiny idea that I followed to see where it led. It began with the image of a girl biking around her block, then being stopped by another girl wearing no shirt. Growing up, I rode my bike around the block a lot and there was a young girl who would roam the neighborhood shirtless during the summer. The story grew out of my own memories of being young and imagined stuff, too.

  1. Why did you choose to write a novel for young people and what do you hope your audience will experience or gain from reading it?
I wrote a novel for young people because that is my favorite kind of book to read, even now. The best middle-grade novels have the ability to lift you out of your normal life and take you somewhere magical. My hope is that Elvis & Olive might give some readers this experience.

  1. Do you consider yourself to be more like Elvis or Olive?  Which character do you have the most in common with?
My personality definitely slants toward Natalie, which is why the book is told through her eyes. As a kid, it was always very important to me to do well in school (like Natalie), and follow the rules so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I think now, though, I am more like Annie. I have learned to be wild.

  1. Did you model your main characters after real people?
I gave Natalie the emotions I felt at her age. As for Annie, she’s a composite of wild girls I once knew. But as in all fiction writing, the models are just something to get you going. The rest is imagined.

  1. Do you have a favorite character from Children’s literature that inspired you or a favorite children’s book?
My all-time favorite children’s book is Harriet the Spy. As a ten-year-old, I wanted to be Harriet so bad. I still do.

  1. This is your first book.  Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer?
I love good stories, and I wanted to try to write some of my own.

  1. How many books will be part of the Elvis & Olive series?  When can we expect them to be in bookstores? 
There are two books in the Elvis & Olive series, and I don’t have any plans to add more books to it right now.
Natalie: “Technically, that’s not a series. You need at least 3 to make a series.”
Annie: “So?”
Both books, Elvis & Olive and Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives are in stores now.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your 2nd book and give us an idea on what your 3rd book will be about?
Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives is the sequel to Elvis & Olive. After a summer of spying on their neighbors (and getting into a lot of trouble), Annie (code name Elvis) and Natalie (code name Olive) decide to try something new: open a detective agency. They start by solving little mysteries for their neighbors, then stumble across some big mysteries that put their skills to the test.

  1. How did you decide on the title for your book?
I didn’t have a title for Elvis & Olive for a long time. I tried creating all kinds of snazzy and clever names but none of them felt right. So I simply used the girls’ code names as the title, and it sounded right.

  1. Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book.  Did you include your childhood experiences?
Yes, I did use some of my memories and emotions of childhood as a springboard for the story. Like the moment when Noah squishes the firefly. That really happened, only it was a girl named Veronica who squished it in front of me and my sister Lisa.

  1. Please tell us in one sentence why we should read your book, Elvis & Olive?
If you ever had the urge to peek in your neighbors’ windows to see what interesting things they are doing, you should read Elvis & Olive.

Thanks so much Stephanie for taking your time to answer these questions.  I hope all is going well with you and your baby. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Elvis and Olive

Elvis and Olive by Stephanie Watson

Natalie is a smart, conservative girl who always does what is right.  Annie is a energetic mixture of truth and fiction.  Annie has just moved into a house across the street and Natalie isn't sure how to handle this strange girl and her crazy ideas.  It seems highly unlikely the girls will become friends until Annie concocts a wild plan to become neighborhood spies.  Elvis and Olive are secret code names for two girls who are destined to become the best of friends in their search for adventure.

This book is a little like Pippi Longstocking meets Nancy Drew. Every 10 year old girl (including my daughter) is going to love the creative characters, the bike rides around the block, pink cowboy boots,  the secret meeting place under the porch, the creepy bug killing boy and his really cute brother.

Stephanie Watson has written a strong book series for girls.  There are currently two books in the series and I hope she continues, Elvis and Olive's adventures.  This book made me feel nostalgic for my younger years when I was carefree and running wild in the streets with my best girl friends.  Every night we played "kick the can" after supper and made up dances on the porch.  What did you do with your best friend from your younger years?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

Due to 32 guests coming for dinner on Thanksgiving and the multitude of preparations I am undertaking, I am presenting you with a book review I wrote in 2003.  This book is one of my favorites and if you read the review you will see why.  Edgar Mint is a character I have never forgot.  Read on!

     Edgar Mint enters the novel as a seven-year-old, half Apache Indian living on a reservation in Arizona.  His world is one of harsh realities, a father who he has never met, a mother who is a drunkard who doesn’t much care about the whereabouts of her only child, and a grandma who is aging and finds herself unable to control the downfall of her family.  The first sentence grabs hold of your attention so that you can never let go.  “If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head.  As formative events go, nothing else comes close.”  Pg. 13

Thus begins Edgar’s miraculous and tragic life.  He is the most endearing kid and despite everything you can’t help rooting for him and hoping that he will succeed in his mission of life.   His most treasured possessions are a typewriter and a urinal puck.  He sleeps with the urinal puck to keep away the ghosts at night because it makes him feel safe.  After he finally leaves the hospital he is sent to an Indian Boarding School in the desert where he meets his best friend.  We are a witness to his coming of age.  For me, I have never learned so much about a boy growing into a man and the unique challenges they face.  I think all men could relate to the changes Edgar experienced.

Religion is an underlying theme in the novel because God is the underlying theme in our very existence.  It is natural for a young boy who lives a miracle life to try and understand God.  “Edgar says, “God was out there.  He had touched me and I had felt His presence, which was more than I could say about my own father.” “But he also believes that “either God was a crazed lunatic or He was just plain mean.” Pg. 311

Reservation life is not easy.  It is a place where quiet desperation and hopelessness exists.  The dumping ground of the American Indian.   I remember driving to a reservation in Washington State and commenting on the beauty of the landscape and the harsh reality of the people who lived there.  It was beautiful but it was sand and nothing could grow there.  The houses were very small and falling apart with many families sharing close quarters.  It is the faces of the children I cannot forget, the sadness, their future already foretold. It reminds me of Edgar’s reservation in the desert with a beer tree in his front yard.

This book is tragedy meets comedy.  Sometimes I laughed and sometimes I cried and sometimes I had to put the book down because I just couldn’t believe what was going to happen next.  I felt a whole range of emotions.  I celebrated Edgar’s triumphs and felt anger at some of the choices that I felt he didn’t need to make.   Now that I am finished with the novel, I find myself missing Edgar and all of his eccentrics.

This is the author, Brady Udall’s debut novel.  It has been compared to Charles Dickens’ book, Great Expectations.  The writing is descriptive, and the characters full of heartache and irony.  This book might be a step out of some peoples comfort zones.  Take that step, leave your safe environment and explore the world because you just might meet the most memorable character named Edgar Mint.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Breath and Shadows

Breath and Shadows by Ella Leffland

Because it is Thanksgiving week and I am super busy and stressed cleaning and getting ready for cooking dinner for 32 people, I have decided to publish some of my old book reviews this week.  I will be revisiting some of my old favorites books still on my shelf.  These are the books I borrow out from time to time but want to keep forever.  Enjoy!

This book review is dedicated to those of you who believe in spirits, whether they are truly super-natural, exist only in our minds or are an unexplainable sound that goes bump in the night.  It is merely our own perception.

Book Review: Breath and Shadows by: Ella Leffland

    This is a historical fiction novel as well as a political and philosophical novel.  The novel’s name is taken directly from a quote by the great playwright Sophocles “Man is but breath and shadow, nothing more.”  It is a breathtaking novel about three generations of people, all related and yet knowing nothing of each other.  It takes place in three different centuries, the 1700’s, the 1800’s and the 1900’s.  The location is mainly set in Denmark.  It is written so creatively that each chapter takes place in a different time period and continues that particular compelling story every three chapters.  It is almost like you are reading three stories in one.  Eventually you come to realize that these people and their stories are all intertwined.

One of my favorite Shakespearean plays is Hamlet.  “To be or not to be, that is the question.”   One of the questions raised in this book is whether Hamlet is really mad or not?  This really makes you think about the characters in the book.  Could they be mad or is madness merely a perception?  Perceptions can be deceiving. Mental illness is a state of mind that we cannot understand.  At least I don’t understand it.  What sends people over the edge? Could happiness, if only in the mind, be misperceived as madness only because we the sane deem it so?  If someone sees what others cannot or hears the voices of angels, how can we judge that person to be insane because we do not hear it or see it?  How do we know, really know that what they are seeing and hearing is not real. 

Didn’t Jesus hear voices and see what others could not see?  Joan of Arc?  Moses?  Leonardo Da Vinci?
We are only as limited as our minds allow us to be.

Every Human being will eventually be forgotten for we are nothing more than a breath or a shadow in this world of enlightenment.  Each of us a stone on which the future generations will step upon.  At the very center of us is our heart, our core just like a stone whose center turns to dust.  “We’re like Vikings setting off in their longships across the swells of unknown Seas”. Pg. 270 Whoa, the sea is getting deep.

This book is a grand adventure into the realm of reality.  It is about family, love, social class and above all human perceptions.  The characters are rich and unforgettable.  The character known as The Counselor particularly affected me.  He is a dwarf and people perceived him to be grotesque because he is different.  It is a thought-provoking read.  I will leave you with one last quote from the book that is particularly moving.

“Die and become what you are.”  Pg. 227

Everyday I am setting my sails for sights unknown and it is you I take on my journey.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Graditude Giveaway

Gratitude Giveaway:  For My Fabulous Followers.

Hey everyone, I want you to know that I am thankful for my followers.  So in honor of Thanksgiving, I am giving away a CSN gift certificate for $35.00 to any of the 200 CSN stores.   These stores are great.  I recommend you check out their book shelves, their book bags and their contemporary coffee tables to lay your books on. 

1.  You must be a follower of this blog.
2.  Please fill out the form below to be eligible
3.  USA residents only (because CSN says so)
4.  The last day to enter is midnight on November 28th, 2010

If you are an international follower you are eligible to participate in the Elvis and Olive contest. 

180 blogs are participating in the Gratitude Giveaway.  Here is the link to visit the host blog called:  I am a Reader not a Writer 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood All with Delphine Minoui

Nujood is a heroine to little girls all over Yemen because she stood up to her husband and parents by obtaining a divorce at age 10.  She is the first child bride in Yemen to obtain a divorce and her plight to end her marriage ended in International attention and the world came knocking on her door to learn her story.

Nujjod, age 9, was married against her will to a man in his thirties.  Her father arranged the marriage and on her wedding night she was raped by her husband.  She was a child who didn't understand what was happening to her and why her husband terrified and tortured her every night.  By day her mother-in-law refused to let her play with other children her age and made her work like other wives.  Nujood was able to escape her husband on a trip to visit her parents.  She ran to the courts in Yemen to demand a divorce, which was a incredible journey considering she was a unattended female in a Muslim country.

Note:  The picture is Nujood with her lawyer, Nasser.

Forced marriage of children is considered a violation of human rights and yet it happens all over the world, including right here in the U.S.  This story takes place in Yemen where most little girls are married by the age of 15 to men 30 years older than them.  Many girls are not educated, most are raped and many die young in childbirth.  It is major problem that is finally obtaining international attention.  The Yemeni government is trying to change the legal marriage age to 17 but most families choose ignore this, claiming it goes against Sharia or Islamic law.
"In Yemen, many factors drive fathers to marry off their daughters before they reach puberty.  Husnia al-Kadri reminds us that, poverty, local customs, and a lack of education play a role."  Family honor, the fear of adultery, the settling of scores between rival tribes-the reasons cited by parents are many and various.  Out in the countryside, adds al-Kadri, there is even a tribal proverb:  "To guarantee a happy marriage, marry a nine-year-old girl." Page 172.

Since Nujood has been divorced two other girls have have left their husbands and filed for divorce in Yemen.

I read this book aloud to my ninth grade Humanities class and it was very thought provoking.  The class and I learned a lot from Nujood.  I am very thankful that my 9 year old daughter never has to be forced into a marriage.  I am so thankful Nujood told her story in a book and I sincerely hope that women and men all over the world read this story.  My hope is that people all over the world will fight, help and educate women so that no one is forced to be a child bride.

Seriously, Read This Book!


Friday, November 12, 2010


Fingerprints by Will Dinski

In this graphic novel, Doctor Fingers is a plastic surgeon who uses his scalpel to beautify people.  He creates a masterpiece in famous movie star Vanessa's lovely face and all America wants to be like her.  Future patients sign up to get a nose like Vanessa or eyes like Vanessa.  Dr. Fingers assistant decides to begin her own practice and finds a way to meet the demand for Vanessa wanna-bees.  She creates a product that will change everyone.

This book gives the reader a lot to think about in our beauty obsessed world.  Why is everyone obsessed with looking young when it is perfectly natural to grow old?  People tend to focus on their flaws and dwell on their negative attributes when we are all uniquely beautiful.  This story seriously gives me pause as I see girls as young as 16 getting breast implants, tanning to change their skin color, dying their hair to unnatural colors and just trying to be like the latest pop star.  Girls wear shoes that hurt their feet, pants so tight it can cause problems with their organs, shirts so low cut it leaves nothing to the imagination.  Why?  Peer Pressure?  Fitting in?  Feeling pretty?

Fingerprints is around 90 pages and easily read in about an hour.  The author, Will Dinski has crafted illustrations that are interesting and reflect the great artwork of the graphic novel.  I met the author at the Minnesota book fair and when he signed my book he drew a picture of what I thought was me, and maybe it is, but it definitely resembles the main character, Vanessa.  Hmmm, it makes me think I fit the mold and that is scary.   Then I think, is the author molding me like Dr. Fingers molds Vanessa?  Powerful thoughts happening.  He then enclosed his initials under the drawing.

If your looking for a quick and thoughtful read, this is it.  After I finished the book, I couldn't stop thinking about the questions of beauty in our culture.  I have never had plastic surgery but I do sometimes fall into the trap of trying to stay looking young. What about you?  Will you ever try plastic surgery or the ever popular Botox? 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife.  A War Story by Diane Ackerman

This astonishing true story takes place in Warsaw, Poland during World War II. Jan and Antonina Zabinski own a successful zoo and enjoy a supreme love of animals.  Unfortunately when the Germans attack Poland in 1939, their zoo is bombed and many of their animals are killed.  The Zabinski's are fighters and right away, Jan joins the underground and works to sabatoge the Germans while Antonina stays at home to protect her children and the many "guests" that hide out in animal cages on their way to freedom.  

This is not just another ordinary story about the Holocaust.  This non-fiction book compliments many other great books that take place during Warsaw in World War II, like Schindler List, The Pianist, and Milkweed.  Reading about the same city during the same time period presents a well rounded picture of what really happened from multiple perspectives.  As a woman of Polish heritage whose grandfather found in Europe during WWII, I am drawn to books from this time and place.

Many people compare the Holocaust to other episodes of genocide found in History and while each instance of Genocide is important to study and denounce as horrifying, The Holocaust of WWII was different.  "The Holocaust was different, far more premeditated, high-tech, and methodical, and, at the same time, more primitive."  Biologist:  Lecomte de Nouy argues that "Germany's crime is the greatest crime the world has ever known, because it is not on the scale of History:  it is on the scale of evolution." page 92.   Ackerman does a excellent job of defining how the Germans meant to change the human and animal species permanently.

Many people don't realize that the Germans not only meant to destroy Jews but also the Polish people and their entire nation.  "According to the German plan, Poles were to become a people without education, slaves for the German overlords." page 332.  Poland lost 22 percent of its population, more than any other European country.  "6 million jews were killed, 3 million Catholics died, " but what is even worse, Poland lost its educated classes, youth and any elements which could in the future oppose one or the other of the two totalitarian regimes."  Page 331-332.

People who lived during WWII and the Holocaust were secret jugglers.  They had to balance secret telling with secret keeping.  Here is an excellent quote by Gdansk-born philospher Arthur Schopenhauer.  "If I maintain my silence about my secret, it is my prisoner, if I let it slip from my tongue, I am its prisoner." pg. 255
It is important to read books about difficult subjects that make us uncomfortable and to learn about what really happened in History.  We must read, write and tell the secrets of the past so that they will continue to haunt us and make us remember what really happened.  We must remember and never forget!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Contest: Elvis and Olive

Contest:  Elvis and Olive by Stephanie Watson

Stephanie Watson, Hometown Track Author in the Spotlight for the month of November has graciously chosen to give away 5 personalized copies of her first book: Elvis and Olive to Booksnob followers.  This a great book for kids of all ages. 

The contest is open internationally and until midnight (central time) on November 30th, 2010.

Here is the information from the back of the book via Goodreads.

Natalie and Annie become friends and decide to spend their summer spying on their neighbors. What begins as a game turns serious when their findings are revealed to the neighborhood, and when the girls discover unexpected things about each other. While the girls learn that it's sometimes helpful to reveal secrets, they also learn a lesson about the importance of privacy. 

Praise for ELVIS & OLIVE:

"Watson's debut is a solid exploration of friendship and self-confidence themes that are so important to middle-grade girls." -- BOOKLIST

"Watson has penned a satisfying friendship story with drama and humor in fine balance." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS

Please fill out this form:
Thanks for following Booksnob

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Break a Dragon's Heart

How to Break a Dragon's Heart by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III.  Translated from Old Norse by Cressida Cowell

This is the eighth book in the Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III series.

  Our adventure with Hiccup all began when I found a little book called How To Train Your Dragon and read it aloud to my son when he was around 6 or 7.  Since then we have become addicted to Hiccup and his crazy adventurous friends, Fishlegs and Camicazi. My favorite character is probably Toothless, a tiny little dragon who fits in Hiccup's shirt pocket and is a little stinker.    Toothless does the funniest things that make us laugh, like swallowing a magnet or pooping on Hiccup's father (Stoick the Vast's) bed.

I am not sure if this book has been released in the U.S. yet as Max and I can't wait long enough for it to arrive and always order the books from the United Kingdom as soon as they are available.  If you haven't heard of the Hiccup series than you are in for a rollicking adventure through the archipelago complete with man eating dragons and crazy fun characters.

How to Break a Dragon's Heart begins when Hiccup's friend Camacazi has disappeared and the Hooligan tribe were looking for her when they stumbled into Uglithug territory, dangerous ground for Vikings.   They landed on the haunted Beach of the Broken Heart where their boat sinks and they find a enormous throne.   Stoick the Vast exclaims "THUNDERING THIGHS AND GINGERY WHISKERS AND LITTLE TWIRLY BITS OF THE GREAT GOD THOR!"  pg 34 for now they would have to spend the night on the haunted island.  In the middle of the night, Ug the Uglithug shows up, and demands to know who is sending his lovely daughter Tantrum O'Ugerly love letters from the Hooligan Tribe.  Ug is threatening to kill every unmarried man in the tribe.

Oh what fun and unbelievable antics ensue as Hiccup tries to find Camacazi, save Fishlegs from being fed to enormous beast along with at least 10 other fiances, while being locked in a cage with a tiny little dragon who swallowed a mass of non-edibles.  It is hilarious and the pictures are brilliant.  Every boy I know under the age of 14 will love this book and the Hiccup series.

My son loves the Dragonese especially if done in a baby voice imitating the tiny dragon Toothless.  Here is an example of dragonese:
Toothless:  Me coglet ta cack-cack indi hovel,  Toothless, summa, yarra ista?
Hiccup's translation:  Toothless, I know you've done a poo in this room, now where is it?

Dear Cressida Cowell,  We want to know, can you write any faster?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Announcing Contest Winners

The winners of the contest for The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden are:

Maggie Snetting
Guta Bauer
Debbie Penny
Tara T.
Laura C.

Congrats to all of you, I hope you enjoy the book.  Check your e-mail for a message from me.

To those of you that didn't win, you can order the book here. 

Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #4

Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #4

Announcing November's Minnesota Hometown Author in the Spotlight - Stephanie Watson.

Stephanie Watson has written two books for young people called Elvis and Olive and Elvis and Olive: Super Detectives.  She currently lives in Minneapolis with her new baby.  Stephanie graduated from the high school I currently teach at and has even agreed to come and speak to the masses still attending school there. 

Check out Stephanie's website:  www.stephanie-watson.com

This month's features will include a contest, a book review, an author interview and information about the author's two books.  Stay tuned this month to meet this great author and her clever books for middle school kids.