Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway

The Girl in the Garden Giveaway Ends Today at Midnight!

 August- Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up.
August is coming to an end.  I would like to highlight Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Kamala Nair.
Today is the last day to enter the contest to win a copy of The Girl in the Garden.  The contest ends at midnight tonight.  The contest is open to people living in the U.S. or Canada that are current Booksnob followers.  Good Luck and as always thanks for following Booksnob!

Click here to enter:  The Girl in the Garden Contest

Please check out my book review of The Girl in the Garden.  I invite to read this unique story that takes place in India.  It will teach you about Hindu culture and take you on a secret adventure into a beautiful garden. 

The Girl in the Garden Book Review

Check out the Author Interview with Kamala Nair.  This is the story behind the book and it will answer some of the questions you have.  Kamala shares some of the books and authors that inspire her.  I am so glad I was able to interview her.  The interview provides much needed insight into her book.

Kamala Nair Author Interview

Kamala Nair wrote an interesting and informative guest post about her childhood, and how it relates to her book.  She tells how some people confuse her with her main character Rakhee. 

Kamala Nair Guest Post

As August comes to a close I would like to thank Kamala Nair for being the August Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  She is a gracious and talented young writer and I look forward to working with her again in the future.  Please visit her blog at and support her by reading her book.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The War To End All Wars by Russell Freedman

The War to End All Wars.  World War I by Russell Freedman

War World I was suppose to be the war to end all wars in the world.  It was brutal, deadly, and unforgettable.  Thousands of lives would be lost for a few feet of territory.  Unfortunately World War I was a precursor  and a cause of World War II and as we all know the horrors of war continue in the world today. 

World War I started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were killed by a Serbian terrorist group called the Black Hand in 1914 in Sarajevo.  After their murders Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the Russians (Serbian allies) declared war on Austria and then Germany declared war on Russia and so on until almost the entire world was involved in a war for reasons most couldn't clarify. 

World War I would change the way war was fought when it employed modern weapons, like tanks, long range artillery, trench warfare and poisonous gas.  Battles would be fought on land, sea and in the air with newly designed bomber planes.  Over 20 million people died in World War I, many empires collapsed, revolutions were fought, famine was widespread and the world map was redrawn. 

Freedman does an excellent job of explaining World War I clearly and accurately.  Many photos depict the anguish of war, the devastation of the landscape and the injury of the soldiers.  There are only four maps in the book and personally I would have preferred more.  As a world history teacher, maps are really important to me and help me reference the location of an historical event. The War to End All Wars in my opinion could have had a lot more maps illustrating the important battles and their strategic locations.

The War To End All Wars is extremely informative, easy to read and understand and an excellent reference resource on World War I.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kamala Nair Author Interview and Contest

Kamala Nair Author Interview and Contest

Please welcome August Author in the Spotlight, Kamala Nair!  Her book, The Girl in the Garden, is heading to the top of the book charts and she is here to answer some questions.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in London, and moved to the U.S. when I was two. I lived in small towns in upstate New York, Vermont, and Minnesota, before leaving for Wellesley College in Boston when I was eighteen. At Wellesley, I majored in English, and wrote a lot of poetry. I decided I wanted to go to graduate school for Creative Writing and continue writing poetry, settling upon Trinity College Dublin (I am a huge fan of Irish literature, and fell in love with Trinity’s campus during a college trip). Once at Trinity, I found myself surrounded by talented fiction writers and very few poets, so I decided to shift my focus to fiction, which is how I began writing THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN. I have lived in New York City for the past six years, where until recently I was an editor at ELLE DECOR magazine. I recently left my job in order to pursue writing full-time, and am working on my second novel.

  1. What inspired you to write The Girl in the Garden?
The idea for this novel came to me during a family trip to Kerala, India, while I was in the midst of the writing program at Trinity. We were in the small village where my father grew up, a place I had often visited as a child. It was unlike anywhere else I had ever been, and over the years I heard many fascinating stories and superstitions. One night I accompanied some of my relatives to the village temple after dark, and one of my cousins pointed out an old stone well in a moonlit field next to the temple. She told me it was haunted by a yekshi, or a ghost. Later that night I had a vivid dream about that field and the well, but in my dream there was also a tree covered with red flowers, and two small girls huddled underneath. I wanted to know who those girls were and why they were there. My story grew from that image. I was also inspired by the childhood classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was drawn to the idea of this once grand, now crumbling estate harboring a forsaken garden, and how the garden becomes the source of redemption for this broken family. I wanted to explore a similar idea in a darker way for adults, and through a different cultural lens. 

  1. Why did you decide to set your novel in Minnesota and India?

I was drawn to the idea of the huge contrast between Minnesota and India. Minnesota is a place of flat fields, snow, and bitter cold. It is completely opposite from the world Rakhee discovers in India, which is full of heat, color, and sound. It was interesting to me that in both places, however different, Rakhee felt like an outsider.

  1. Why factors led you to write a novel for young adults? 

The novel is actually intended for adults, but I do hope that it also appeals to a young adult audience.

  1. Are you currently working on a second novel and will you share part of the plot with us?
I am working on a second novel, but since it’s in such an early stage I’m a bit superstitious about revealing anything about the plot. I can say it’s very different from THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN.

  1. Mirabai is a beautiful Indian poet.  Why did you decide to use her poetry and influence in your book?
I discovered Mirabai while researching poems to read at my sister’s wedding. I stumbled across “Unbreakable,” and thought it was incredibly beautiful. I researched the poet and her life, and was moved and intrigued. She was a pioneer and a feminist in a time and place where such a figure was rare. I wanted to pay tribute to her, and felt the poem fit the mood and theme of the story.

7.  This is your first book.  Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer?
I have been writing ever since I was a child. Reading was always my great passion, and I started writing my own stories at an early age as a form of entertainment. I was always happiest when I was reading and writing, and that organically translated into a desire to become a writer professionally. I always knew writing would be part of my life no matter what, but I didn’t make the decision to plunge into it as a profession until after I left Trinity and turned down admission to a law school in order to pursue my writing career.

8.  Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?
    I love reading. I have been influenced by the 19th century British novelists, especially the Brontë sisters. I also love Irish literature, everything from James Joyce to Edna O’Brien to Claire Keegan. Some other writers whom I admire: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, Banana Yoshimoto, Margaret Atwood. I guess my tastes are all over the map!

     9.  In your opinion should the Epic of Ramayana be required reading for book enthusiasts?  How does the Ramayana relate to Hinduism? 

    The Ramayana was written by a Hindu sage, and is one of the great epics in Indian culture. My parents always used to tell me stories from the Ramayana, and because it was a big part of my childhood, I wanted to weave it into the story of my novel.

    10.  In one sentence tell us why we should read your book, The Girl in the Garden?

      It’s a page-turning story about the coming-of-age of a young girl in an unfamiliar world, about family and the bonds that hold us together and those that tear us apart, and at its core, about the deep and complicated love between mothers and daughters.

      To enter the contest to win The Girl in the Garden please visit this link:  CONTEST

      Saturday, August 27, 2011

      Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

      Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

      Afghanistan. Post 9/11. The Taliban have left and the bruised and battered Afghans struggle to put there lives together amidst tragedy.  No Afghan family is untouched by war and many struggle with homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and death of a family member.  Yet, the people of Afghanistan are survivors and fighters who are full of hope. 

      Fawad is the precocious pre-teen narrator who was born under the shadow of the Taliban.  Fawad lost his father, two brothers and his sister was abducted during the reign of the Taliban.  He lives with his mother as they struggle to survive. Fawad begs on Chicken Street and his mother cooks for foreigners.   Life takes a dramatic turn when they move in and then become friends with the foreigners that Fawad's mom works for. Fawad's impressions about foreigners as a group of godless, naked, drunk and clearly crazy people made me laugh out loud multiple times. 

      Born Under a Million Shadows is a witty, funny, moving look at current day Afghanistan and its people as seen through the eyes of a child.  What makes this story special in that the author lived there for over two years and fell in love with the people and landscape.  Busfield puts a lot of her own experiences and much of her heart into this soulful novel of hope and love.  She highlights the issues of street children, and the fact that education is important if the country is going to be able to decrease the infant mortality rate and get out of the cycle of poverty.  Juxtaposing the foreigners with a small family of Muslims who need the foreigners to survive was genius and captivated me from page one.

      "Afghanistan is famous for two things: fighting and growing poppies." (pg 60)
       Hopefully Afghani people will soon learn to fight with words and an education instead of guns.

      Born Under a Million Shadows will raise your level of consciousness.

      If you are interested in sponsoring a street child in Afghanistan please visit Twenty dollars a month will pay for a child's education and replace the earnings they would have made for their family on the street selling their meager wares to foreigners.  Please consider this.

      Friday, August 26, 2011

      Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

      Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

      Piper is a high school senior and the manager of a high school band called Dumb.  What is unique about her managing abilities is that she can't hear the music they are playing because she is deaf.  There are five members in the band, they can't seem to get along or figure out what type of band to be, until a mysterious text sends them on a rock tour of Seattle. 

      Piper gets the band some serious exposure, some paying gigs, makes some new friends, dyes her hair a cool color and finds meaning in her life.  Managing a band is a challenge Piper is up for, but are her parents and her classmates ready for Piper's new role?

      Seattle was home to Nirvana star Kurt Cobain and his house and a park nearby, stand as his memorial.  Jimi Hendrix was also born in and raised in Seattle, where he was given his first guitar and lived a life of extreme poverty.  Incidentally Hendrix and Cobain both died tragic deaths at the age of 27.  Five Flavors of Dumb improved my knowledge of music as the main characters were educated in the Seattle rock scene.

      I included Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969 playing The Star Spangled Banner.  It was a turbulent time in American History and Hendrix made rock history with this memorable version of the song.  I include Hendrix in my post because this is an important scene in the book and I had never seen or heard of it before. 

      Caution this book may cause you to embrace your inner Rock Star!  PEACE!

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      Kamala Nair Guest Post

      Kamala Nair Guest Post

      I would like to welcome Kamala Nair, Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  Here is her guest post on her book The Girl in the Garden and the background behind the story.  Enjoy!

      For a long time the world of my first novel, The Girl in the Garden, was a place I inhabited alone, my secret enchanted garden that I slipped into every morning before heading to the office. Now it belongs to thousands of readers, many whom have asked me: “Are you Rakhee?” Sometimes they just assume we are one and the same, telling me “I just got to the part where you and your mother arrive in India.”
      At first this reaction caught me by surprise. “Of course I am not Rakhee,” I would respond, unnerved by this unexpected confusion of identities. This was not a thinly veiled memoir, it was fiction, I would hasten to point out while privately reassuring myself that I was hardly so devoid of creativity as to insert myself as the protagonist of an intensely imagined fairytale. As my indignation subsided, and I was able to regard the question without pride or vanity or naïveté, I realized how very much of myself and my family history, had gone into the creation of Rakhee Singh, and how she, in turn, had influenced the woman I have become in writing about her.
      Like Rakhee, I grew up in small towns, first in upstate New York, then in Vermont, and finally in Minnesota, where I moved when I was twelve and stayed until leaving for college in Massachusetts. My father is a physician at the local hospital, and he spent his childhood in a village that served as a loose template for Malanad, including the ayurvedic hospital started by his father.  My mother grew up in Trivandrum, and in everything from her beauty to her grace to her fierce intelligence and strength of heart, she was one of the heroes of my childhood, much as Rakhee’s mother is a queen to her awe-struck daughter.
      As Rakhee entered the strange territory of her ancestral village, Malanad, so, too, did I go back to those many summers I spent in India as a child. I revisited my memories: the rituals, the ethos, the social politics I observed, as well as the feeling of being a fish out of water in a place that was so intimately tied to my identity.
      I poured a great deal of myself into Rakhee, even as she grew away from me into her own distinct personality. She is much wiser, more headstrong, courageous, and sensitive, than I ever was at her age. She is also much lonelier. While I wasn’t the most outgoing kid, I always had friends, and was lucky enough to have a sister who I grew up with, and two stable, loving parents who still live in Minnesota and just celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.
      Some of my favorite novels are deeply rooted in the authors’ personal histories without delving into strict autobiography, from To Kill a Mockingbird to Jane Eyre. These works served as guides as I began this process, and continued to inspire me throughout.
      Ultimately, Rakhee turned out to be a highly romanticized version of myself, and something much greater than myself. She has been able to say so much about life that I, hiding in her shadow, would never have been able, or have had the right, to say. She has lived a life of which I have only dreamt. 

       Thanks Kamala!!!

      Wednesday, August 24, 2011

      Waterfall Read-Along

      Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren Read-Along

      I am excited to announce that I am participating in the Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along starting August 31st.  Waterfall is the first in a young adult trilogy about Italy, history and time travel and I am super excited to read it.  Everyone knows that I love a good Read-Along!!

      Here is the reading schedule and the blogs who are hosting for the week.  The first six questions are ready if you want to join in.

      Our Discussion Schedule:

      August 31- Chapters 1-6 Hosted by Tina at Tinasbookreviews
      Sept 7- Chapters 7-11 Hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader
      Sept 14- Chapters 12-17 Hosted by Joy&Serena at Edgy Inspirational Romance
      Sept 21- Chapters 18-23 Hosted by Jenny at Supernatural Snark
      Sept 28- Chapters 24-28 and Wrap Up Hosted by Nic at Irresistible Reads

      As a added bonus for everyone who links up and joins the read-along, Lisa Bergren herself has offered a trilogy set of her series to one winner each week. Yup- that means Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent, all for you, thats five winners!!  Signing up and participating automatically enters you into the drawing and if the winner is from the US- Lisa will sign them as well. Each winner will be announced at the hosts blog the following week after the discussion.

      Time to get reading!  Hope to see you in the comment line!

      Monday, August 22, 2011

      The Outlander by Gil Adamson

      The Outlander by Gil Adamson

      Historical fiction meets the wild west in this emotional, heart pounding, run away novel.  The 19 year old Widow has killed her husband and is being chased by her two brothers-in-law into the wilderness. She has dogs on her heels, is wearing a long black mourning dress and is definitely guilty.  She succeeds in avoiding her captors for a time and capturing the heart of those reading her story.

      The year is 1903. As the story journeys along you meet a cast of interesting characters straight out of a circus.  You will meet the bird lady, the Ridgerunner, the Reverend, the dwarf, the giant and you won't learn the widow's name until 100 pages or so into the story. The Outlander according to the dictionary is a stranger or a foreigner and it is up to the reader to determine which character is The Outlander. 

      Adamson is a creative, descriptive writer and The Outlander is her first novel.   The Outlander reminded me of other great Western flavored books and films like True Grit and All the Pretty Horses.  The landscape of the novel is mountainous, brutal, unforgivable and picturesque.  The widow is may just become one of my favorite female characters in literature.  Her transformation is mesmerizing, her desperate journey unforgettable. 

      Run, I dare you.
      Hide and I'll find you.

      Saturday, August 20, 2011

      Hometown Track Minnesota Author Kamala Nair

      Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Kamala Nair has a great website and her book trailer is awesome. To visit her website go to 

      Kamala Nair is giving away 5 hard cover copies of her book to 5 lucky Booksnob followers.  Be sure to enter as the contest ends 8/31.

      The Girl in the Garden Contest

      Soon to come is a Guest Post by the author and the author interview.

      Wednesday, August 17, 2011

      Annexed by Sharon Dogar

      Annexed by Sharon Dogar

      Dear Reader,
      Hi, my name is Peter van Pels and I am the boy that loved Anne Frank.  Anne immortalized me in her diary and now I want to tell my side of the story.  I want the world to hear my voice and listen to what I went through in the Annex and in the camps.  "I am Peter.  I am here, and it feels like a miracle to me.  Not just that I'm alive but that anyone is, ever." (page 251)

      Anne and I spent over two years together during the second world war hiding from the Nazi's. We had an innocent relationship, we shared a first kiss, we fell in love and then the world ripped us apart.  I am a intense young man, shy, quiet, not as talkative as Anne.  I dream of freedom and of being anonymous.  I guess if you really want to get to know me, you will have to read the book.

      After we are arrested and deported to the camps, Anne and I never see each other again.  She is in my dreams and thoughts and the memory of Anne and my family continue to help me survive this living hell.

      Are you still there?
      Are you listening?

      My thoughts:  The ending of Annexed was the most powerful part of the story for me.  My grandfather fought in World War II and actually walked into one of the camps.  The conclusion of Annexed and my grandfather's story connected and for me the connection was very powerful.  I want to tell you my grandfather's story so it lives on.  My grandfather was a Bombardier and Chemical Specialist in the 9th Army Air Force.  His unit followed the 101st Airborne and supported them from the air and ground.  Towards the end of the War his unit walked into a camp in Germany after the Nazi's had evacuated it.  He found many ill and sickly people.  One man pointed at my grandfather, who was smoking a cigarette, and raised his arms to him.  He took his cigarette and held it for the man to smoke.  When he finished puffing the cigarette, the man smiled at my grandfather and died before him.  This profoundly affected my grandfather for the rest of his life.  The man died right after receiving an act of kindness and I like to think he died happy and at peace.  Hopefully just like Peter van Pels.

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Crazy by Han Nolan

      Crazy by  Han Nolan

      Hi, my name is Jason.  I don't talk much and I don't have any friends, except the friends in my head.  Hey, you could be my friend?  Just read along and listen if you want to.  My mom died recently and left me with my Dad who is super sick and mentally ill.  It is really hard living with him but he is all I got.  I love him even though he thinks I am Jason of the Argonauts and there is no food in my house.  I am really worried about my Dad.

      I hear voices sometimes, maybe I'm crazy.  I guess you will have to decide that.  My life is sort of falling apart and I am trying to hold it together.  I am having some bad dreams and I guess I just really need you to read this book so you can help me sort through my problems.  The voices are vibrating in my head....

      Crazy Glue:  In my opinion Jason is Crazy like me.  He is really boring, and a troublemaker.  The best thing about this book is me, not Jason.

      Sexy Lady:  Jason is hot and this book is hot!  You need to read Crazy because this book will blow your mind!

      Aunt Bee:  Jason is such a sweet nice boy.  He needs to find a really nice girl to be his friend.  He has potential you know, and this book Crazy is probably the best book you will read this year.

      FBG with a Mustache:  Jason's dad is really Crazy and he just needs a little help.  Do you think you could be there for him and read to the very last page?  Well, go get Crazy then.

      Laugh Track: Laughter.

      BookSnob:  Crazy is the first book I have read by Han Nolan and she has just amazed me.  I read this book in one day and felt my emotions being pulled and pushed like the ups and downs of mental illness.  I enjoyed being a character in the book and loved the creativity of Crazy. 

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Roots by Alex Haley. Week #9 of the summer Read-A-Long

      Roots by Alex Haley.
      Read-A-Long Week #9 (Final Week)

      Pages Read:  800 - 899
      Chapters Read: 110 - 120

      Note:  I am reading ROOTS in honor of my former student Quincy Blue who was recently found murdered, his body burned beyond recognition, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

      The Final Week of Roots has come!  I finished the book yesterday with happiness for this family, I have grown to love over the summer.  Roots follows the Kinte family through seven generations eventually leading to the author Alex Haley.  Alex was born into the family in the twentieth century.  Roots follows the Kinte family from The Gambia in Africa to Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and then to Tennessee, where the family settles after The Civil War.  The family then divides into many branches and the descendants and relatives of Kunta Kinte stretch out across the world.

      I am so glad I undertook the reading of this book.  This book brought hope to many African American families whose ancestors were slaves because they assumed their history was lost forever.  Haley proves that with a few clues and stories passed down orally over the generations that any family could find their Roots.  This is a story of the losers in history (the slaves) but Haley determines that anyone can write history, not just the winners.  Roots ultimately is the story of us, the story of American History that is hidden between the pages of history books.  Haley brings the trials and tribulations of his family into the light and I feel teaches the nation a valuable lesson.

      It took Haley ten years to research and write Roots.

      Every family has a story.   What is your history?

      The year is 1977
      Roots has been published and has won The Pulitizer Prize and The National Book Award
      Roots has been made into a successful mini-series that aired on T.V.
      I am 10 years old.

      Location: The family migrates to Tennessee after The Civil War
      Alex Haley is born in 1921 in New York.
      Alex's mother Bertha is related to Kunta Kinte

      These are the bloggers/readers participating in the Read-A-Long.  Please visit them and comment.
      Thanks everyone for participating in the Readalong.  It was a great summer, A Summer of Roots!

      1.  Bre from Booksnob Wannabe
      2.  Sherrie from Just Books
      3.  Laurie from Whatsheread

      My reward for reading this 900 page chunkster is to watch the Roots mini-series on DVD.  I can't wait.

      Friday, August 12, 2011

      The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair Contest

      The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair Contest

      Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of August, Kamala Nair, is giving away 5, count them now, FIVE, copies of her book to Booksnob followers that are residents of the U.S and Canada. 

      Here is my book review:  The Girl in the Garden

      Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

      The redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.

      Fill out the form below.
      Must be a resident of U.S./Canada
      Contest ends 8/31
      I would love it if you left a comment.

      Good luck!!!

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by AVI

      The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by AVI

      The year is 1832 and Charlotte Doyle is about to board a ship bound for home.
      Charlotte is taking this journey to reunite with her family,  who are awaiting her return in America.  Ms. Doyle boards the Seahawk in England as a special young lady but quickly things go awry when her traveling companions fail to show up for departure.  She is the only female aboard the ship and fears the social implications.

      Charlotte quickly makes a friend in the old black cook named Zachariah.  He gives her a knife and a stern warning about the hated Captain Jaggery.  Charlotte being so high-minded ignores his warnings, much to her peril, and the ship and crew quickly spiral out of control and into mutiny. 

      There are many twists and turns in this yarn as Charlotte transforms from prissy girl to an important member of the crew.  She helps sail the ship through a hurricane and even ends up on trial for murder. Most girls I know would adore this book of travel and adventure.  Plus it is soon to be a movie directed by Danny Devito, starrring Morgan Freeman as Zachariah.  I can't wait to share the book and movie with my daughter.

      Yesterday, I went to Camp Readalot and AVI was the guest speaker.  AVI has written over 70 books for young adults, an amazing feat in my opinion, considering he announced that he has dysgraphia.  Dysgraphia is a writing disability closing related to dyslexia.  AVI worked for 25 years as a librarian before becoming a full time writer. I have read two of his books and I must say, I enjoyed both  Crispin and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.  I will definitely read more of his work.

      "A sailor, chooses the wind that takes the ship from safe port...but winds have a mind of their own." (pg 210)  "Be careful of the wind you choose." (pg. 198)

      Tuesday, August 9, 2011

      They Called Themselves The K.K.K. by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

      They Called Themselves The K.K.K. The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

      Currently there are over 900 active hate groups in the United States today.

      A major hate group called The Ku Klux Klan began immediately after the Civil War in Tennessee and spread like wild fire throughout the Southern portion of the U.S.  The founders of the K.K.K. were Six Confederate officers from Tennessee who were disheartened and worried over Republican rule and the loss of their right to vote after the war.  They also were unhappy with the equal rights movement which constituted the 14th Amendment and wanted to go back to White majority rule in the South.
      So these six men started a club.

      So while the K.K.K. practiced hate and forced poor, illiterate white men to join, the black majority worked, learned to read and write and tried to use their rights as citizens to vote.  Many blacks faced violence, beatings, cruelty and even death by the hand of the K.K.K..  Once Johnson was out of power Grant was elected President and tried to limit the power of the K.K.K. in the South.

      This is a very informative book that looks at all sides of the issue of Reconstruction and how it affected the White and Black majority living in the South.  This book explains how the K.K.K. was formed and its subsequent underground terrorism of Blacks and Whites who sympathized with them.  The artwork, political cartoons, with some by Thomas Nast, and pictures add greatly to the book.  As a Northerner, I now have a clearer understanding of the South's hatred and distrust of the North and the Southern fear of Republican rule and their ingrained societal racism of which we can still see the affects today.

      They Called Themselves The K.K.K. contains valuable information for teachers and would be a useful learning tool in the classroom.

      Monday, August 8, 2011

      Roots by Alex Haley. Week #8 of the summer Read-A-Long

      Roots by Alex Haley.
      Read-A-Long Week #8

      Pages Read:  703 - 799
      Chapters Read: 102 - 109

      Note:  I am reading ROOTS in honor of my former student Quincy Blue who was recently found murdered, his body burned beyond recognition, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

      There is only 100 pages left to read in this book and I know I am going to really miss this family, whom I have spent my summer reading about.

        This week there is another major turning point in the book.  Chicken George and Massa Lea go to a huge chicken fight at Massa Jewitt's plantation where a Englishman has brought his game fighting cocks for the biggest competition in about 50 years.  Both George and the Massa take most of their life savings to this fight and Massa Lea is goaded into betting an absurd amount of money he doesn't have.  He loses.  Everyone loses. Chicken George is forced to go to England as part of Massa Lea's debt and train cocks there for two years, which turns into 5.   As a small consideration, Master Lea writes George his note of freedom which he will receive when he gets back from England.

      Meanwhile, the Master has nothing left and needs to pay  his bills so he sells off George's family to Massa Murray.  Grandmother Kizzy is not included in the sale and never sees her son or grandchildren again.

      Chicken George arrives home from England to find the Lea's place in disarray, his family sold, the Master drunk and over 80, Pompey, Sister Sarah and his mother dead as well as Missus Lea.  Miss Malizy is losing her mind and her and the Master barely  have any food to eat.   Chicken George steals his freedom papers and goes to find his family. 

      Mostly, they live a good existence on the Murray plantation.  Tom is the blacksmith and marries Irene who is expecting a child.  Almost all of George's children are married.  The telegraph line and the railroads are coming to North Carolina. Hotels are being built. The tensions between the South and the Northern abolitionists are rising and Lincoln is soon to be president.
      The Civil War is coming.

      I can't wait to read the conclusion.

      The year is 1859
      Location:  North Carolina
      Kunta is dead
      Kizzy is dead
      Chicken George is about 54
      Tom is about 26

      These are the bloggers/readers participating in the Read-A-Long.  Please visit them and comment.  Also if you are participating and want to be included on this list, please comment and I will add a link to your blog.
      Thanks everyone for participating.

      1.  Bre from Booksnob Wannabe
      2.  Sherrie from Just Books
      3.  Laurie from Whatsheread

      Saturday, August 6, 2011

      Zombies vs. Unicorns by Black and Larbalestier

      Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

      I never thought I would ever have to pick a side between a zombie and a unicorn.  Who would?  I mean Zombies are gross and they eat people and Unicorns are extinct over rated horses that probably never existed. 

      The authors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier have been arguing for years about zombies and unicorns, and got a bunch of authors to pick sides and write stories about it.  It is like a heavy weight boxing match of stories and the reader is supposed to choose a team to support.  Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

      I have to say all the stories are pretty good and entertaining.  Some are funny and some are totally gross and all are written by young adult authors of high caliber.  Also Holly and Justine argue back and forth throughout the book with Holly supporting Unicorns and Justine supporting Zombies.  I know Justine thinks she wins the battle because she keeps vocalizing it throughout the book, but Holly keeps mildly quiet and seems to be the better sport.

      OK, so I know you want to know what team I am on and why.  I chose Team Unicorn!!  Basically Zombies are really gross and make me have bad dreams.  Unicorns are the other hand are historical, magical beings that live in people's imaginations and bring them hope.  Zombies are not hopeful, they are death reincarnated and they are ugly too.  I love myths and horses and history so I guess my choice is basically a no-brainer.  It took me two stories to pick a team.  GO TEAM UNICORN!!!!

      Which side are you on?

      Friday, August 5, 2011

      The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

      The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

      "Is your complexion the color of a latte?  A Cappuccino? Perhaps an Expresso?  Have people called you Cinnamon, Caramel, Olive...or just plain Brown?  Do you love to drink coffee?  Help further the cause of Brown people in America!  Join The Latte Rebellion! (pg.28)

      Asha and Carey love Latte's and want to go on a trip after high school.  They have absolutely zero cash and they decide to sell T-Shirts and promote The Latte Rebellion at their high school to pay for their trip.  They both happen to be students of mixed race and feel that mixed race students fit into a category all their own and want to capitalize on it.

      Their small money making idea begins to gain momentum and eventually spins out of Asha and Carey's control becoming a nationwide movement.  Their friendship suffers, their grades and relationships with their families suffer as well.  Asha faces expulsion from school and the possible exclusion from her college of choice.  The girls need to figure out what is important in life and must rise to meet the challenges. 

      I prefer tea over coffee and can honestly say I have never had a latte of any sort. This book makes me want to try a latte for the fun of it and maybe even wear a Latte Rebellion T-shirt (you can actually buy the shirt at   I love the idea this book conveys.  It promotes problem solving, life lessons and creating a social movement for something you believe in.  Drink Up People and Unite in solving today's social issues!

      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      War and Peace Summer Readalong Week #4

      War and Peace Summer Readalong Week #4

      War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy
      Summer Read-A-Long sponsored by Laurie at What She Read blog.

       Week #4
      Pages read:  295-346
      Chapters read:  1-26
      Volume 2, Part One read.

      So much happened in 50 pages, I can hardly believe it.
      There were several marriage proposals, a duel, a birth and a death, a huge gambling debt, and a marriage separation.  A lot of excitement in these pages to keep you reading late into the night.  I love how Tolstoy pieces his characters lives together. 

      Let me quickly update you on the main characters.

      Pierre Bezukhov:  Pierre married the lovely Helene awhile back (Paris and Helen) and Pierre has heard rumors that Helene has been unfaithful with Dolokhov.  So Pierre challenges him to a duel.  Pierre injures Dolokhov and no dies but Helene is fuming mad. Pierre is decidedly irritated with his choice of a wife and ends up leaving her.  Unfortunately, he makes her power of attorney and she gains all of his assets.  In my opinion, this was not a wise choice.

      Natasha Rostov:  This is Nickolai Rostov's sister.  Rostov comes back from the war and brings his friend Denisov.  Denisov later proposes to Natasha and she says no.  She is still quite young, maybe about 15 years old.  Rostov's other friend, Dolokhov (guy from the duel) falls in love with Sonya, Natasha best friend who is in love with her brother Nicolai.  Because Sonya refuses his marriage proposal, Dolokhov challenges Rostov to a gambling match and he incurs a debt of forty-three thousand.  Dolokhov is a card shark and chooses this number of 43 thousand because it is the sum of his and Sonya's ages. 

      Prince Andrei Bolkonsky:  Andrei is injured and captured in the Battle of Austerlitz by the French. He is presumed dead.  His wife is pregnant when the family receives word of his disappearance and supposed death and they decide to spare her until the birth of her child.  When the princess goes into labor, Andrei appears miraculously at the house and visits her at the birth of their son.  Unfortunately, the princess dies during child birth.  What a turn of events!

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011

      Roots by Alex Haley. Week #7 of the summer Read-A-Long

      Roots by Alex Haley.
      Read-A-Long Week #7

      Pages Read:  602 - 702
      Chapters Read: 90 - 101

      Note:  I am reading ROOTS in honor of my former student Quincy Blue who was recently found murdered, his body burned beyond recognition, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

      Kizzy's son George acquires a nickname, Chicken George and Haley refers to him with this nickname continually throughout the pages of the book.  Chicken George is a natural at cockfighting and loves his chickens, hence the name Chicken George.  He is also a tomcat and runs around on different plantations with women, until he meets Mathilda.  Mathilda is a religious woman and won't let him touch her and it gets Chicken George to thinking that he wants to marry her.  So the two jump the broom and Mathilda comes to live on Massa Lea's plantations.

      Mathilda is one amazing woman.  First of all she puts up with Chicken George and all his antics, including drinking and carousing.  She forms a strong and special bond with her mother in law, Kizzy and she bears George 8 children, 6 boys and 2 girls.  The kids are Virgil, Ashton, Tom, George, James, Lewis, Kizzy and Mary. 

      During this time Uncle Mingo dies and leaves Chicken George alone at the chicken coops and this gives him plenty of time to think.  He begins to think how maybe he would like to be a free man.  Mathilda and George create a plan to save up enough money to pay for the whole families freedom.  In total they figure it would cost them about $7000 dollars to free the whole family including Kizzy.  They realize the value the White man has placed on slave labor.

      With only 200 pages left I can't wait to find out what happens next.  I really miss Kunta and Bell and assumed they have passed on by now. 

      The year is 1836
      Location:  North Carolina
      Kunta is about 86 if he is still alive.
      Kizzy is over 55
      Chicken George is about 33

      These are the bloggers/readers participating in the Read-A-Long.  Please visit them and comment.  Also if you are participating and want to be included on this list, please comment and I will add a link to your blog.
      Thanks everyone for participating.

      1.  Bre from Booksnob Wannabe
      2.  Sherrie from Just Books
      3.  Laurie from Whatsheread


      Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #13

      Hometown Track- MN Author Spotlight #13

      Happy August Everyone!!!  I just got back from my back packing trip on the Superior Hiking Trail and it was wonderful, although my muscles are screaming and I have tons of mosquito/fly bites, I am happy with our experience.  My son tried wild blueberries and gooseberries for the first time.  We saw a beaver chewed tree still standing and swam in a waterfall whirlpool and slept on Blueberry Hill.  It was a great trip and I am glad to be home sleeping in a bed.

      Now on to the Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight announcement.  I am pleased to announce that Kamala Nair is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  Kamala grew up in Minnesota and her young adult novel The Girl in the Garden is partially set in Minnesota. 

      This month you can expect a guest post, an author interview, hopefully a contest and a re-posting of my book review. 

      I hope you have a great August and check back often.