Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

September Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway.

With or Without You Giveaway Ends at midnight!!

The last day of September finds me coaching fall baseball for 14 & 15 yr old boys, celebrating a niece's 16th birthday and enjoying the unseasonal 80 degree weather in Minnesota.  So many reasons to celebrate September and to celebrate Brian Farrey, the Minnesota author in the spotlight this month.

Today is the last day to enter to win Brian Farrey's thought provoking book, With or Without You.
Click here to enter:  With or Without You contest

Please check out my book review of With or Without You.  Brian Farrey has created a well written young adult novel this is like nothing I have ever read before.  It is unique, fast paced and shocking.  With or Without You is a endearing love story, a mystery and a work of art.

Book Review:  With or Without You

Check out the author interview with Brian Farrey.  He tells readers what inspired his book and talks a little bit about his day job as an editor for Flux.  He also talks about his new book and his reaction when he won the Minnesota book award this Spring.  It will make you smile!

Brian Farrey Author Interview

Please read the guest post Brian wrote on his job as an editor and some of his favorite young adult authors and their books.  I personally added three new books to my "to be read" pile and can't wait to read them.

Brian Farrey Guest Post

As September ends, I would like to thank Brian Farrey for being the September Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  He is an excellent, creative writer and I am so glad I had this chance to work with him.  Thanks to my friend Michele, for bringing my attention to Brian's amazing novel.  Please visit Brian at his website  and make sure you find some time to read his books.

Author Interview with Brian Farrey + Giveaway

Author Interview with Brian Farrey + Giveaway

Brian Farrey is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob for the month of September.  Brian has written a thought provoking book called With or Without You.  Please take a minute to read this super awesome interview so you can find out the inspiration behind the book as well as other cool stuff about Brian.

Hi Brian,

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
 I’m originally from Wisconsin, where With or Without You is set. I never lived in Madison but it’s a city I’ve always been fond of.  During the day, I acquire young adult fiction for Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide. In October, I’ll be celebrating two years of marriage to the most incredible man I’ve ever known.

  1. What inspired you to write With or Without You?
 It was kind of a perfect storm of inspiration, I think. I had just started in the MFA program at Hamline University and we were all learning about our process. It’s an oddly intimate and personal experience and you really need to approach it with your eyes and mind open because it can teach you a lot about the things you gravitate toward naturally and the things you shy away from. Both are worth pursuing in your writing.

I found early on that I was interested in writing about change and its effect on people: How it occurs, how it affects us, when we embrace it, when we fight it, etc. And as I played around with the idea of change, I started thinking about those forces that can change people on a massive scale. I kept coming back to two such forces in particular: art and AIDS.  So I set out to find a place where these elements intersected in a young man’s life, and that’s where the book came from.

  1. 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?
 I didn’t really put myself in the book. At least, not on purpose. I think Evan has his head screwed on more at eighteen than I did. And Erik is more what I aspire to be, in terms of being someone’s boyfriend/lover/partner (you’ll have to ask my husband if I stack up; I suspect I don’t, but I’m no slouch either). If there’s anything of me in the book it’s Evan’s fears. He has a lot of them. But I think he and I approach our fears very differently.

  1. HIV and AIDS was once a disease that made national headlines.  Do you think that sexually active people have forgotten the risks? 
 I think we, as a society, have become very complacent about HIV and AIDS. In talking to high school students recently, I found that none of them had learned about it in school. That really scared me.  I think that comes from the days when AIDS was considered strictly a “gay disease.” It’s not. It never was. But because it appeared to be, the more conservative elements in the country did everything in their power to discourage research into the disease and create an infrastructure to warn everyone about the dangers. (For anyone looking for more information on the history of HIV and AIDS, I highly recommend what many consider to be the definitive work on the subject, And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts.)

  1. In your book With or Without You, characters Evan and Davis join a group called the Chasers.  Is this a real group that people can join today? 
 No, there is not a group called chasers that people can join. The concept of bugchasing—people who seek to intentionally contract HIV—is real. It’s not a big thing. In fact, most people have never heard of it. I don’t want to create the impression that there are thousands and thousands of people like this. But there are people who—for a variety of reasons that I’m sure make perfect sense to them—are not afraid to be infected. I think a lot of that goes back to the question about our society becoming complacent about HIV and AIDS. I’m just not convinced it’s “real” to a lot of teens today. Or maybe it’s that the promise of new treatments takes the edge off the fear. I don’t know exactly.  But I firmly believe people aren’t as aware of the dangers as they should be and the fact that bugchasers exist supports that.

  1. Do you have any advice for GLBTQ teens reading your book?
 Keep your eyes and heart open at all times.

  1. Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?
 As an editor, a love of reading is part of the job. In fact, if you don’t love reading, editing is not for you. So, yes, I love to read. J I find myself most influenced by authors who accomplish things with they’re writing that I’m not sure I can do myself (but I hope to learn by studying what they do).  I often cite David Almond as a writer I really admire. His novels are practically textbooks in how to achieve a lot with a little. I love Jonathan Stroud, who is a masterful storyteller. The two writers I’m learning the most from right now are A.S. King and Andrew Smith. They’re doing very exciting things in young adult books and I push their stuff into as many people’s hands as I can.

  1. I know you have a new book set to release in October, can you tell us a little bit about it?
 The new book is a departure from With or Without You. It’s a middle grade fantasy called The Vengekeep Prophecies. It’s about a boy named Jaxter Grimjinx who comes from a family of thieves.  His family commits the greatest heist of their careers but, in doing so, accidentally trigger a series of cataclysmic prophecies that will destroy their hometown…and they’re the only ones who can stop that from happening.

  1. With or Without You won the MN teen book award this year.  What was your reaction when they called your name?
 You’d have to ask my husband because I have very little recollection of the moment. I went to the awards to support my fellow writers. The thought of winning never occurred to me. NEVER. For a start, I’d read the other books nominated in my category and they were amazing and beautiful and the kind of books you give awards to. I never saw my book that way. Apparently, someone did because they called my name that night. My husband had to shove me out of my seat and push me toward the stage.

  1. Tell us in one sentence why we should read With or Without You?
 You should read With or Without You because I am really, really, supremely terrible at answering questions like this and you should take pity on me as a result.

Thanks Brian!!
If you would like to win a copy of Brian's book, With or Without You, please enter here:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Brian Farrey Guest Post + Giveaway

Brian Farrey Guest Post + Giveaway

I would like to introduce Brian Farrey to BookSnob readers.  Brian is an excellent Young Adult author and he is currently the Author in the Spotlight here for the month of September.  His book With or Without You won the Minnesota book award in the Spring for best YA fiction.  He has written a guest post about his "cool" job as a editor for Flux.

Brian Farrey Guest Post

As an editor who acquires young adult fiction, I’m required to keep my thumb firmly on the pulse of the market. In short, I have to read lots and lots of YA books.

I’m sure you feel massive waves of pity for this horrendous burden I bear.

I still feel an odd thrill to peruse the bookshelves and discover a writer, a new voice who I think is doing something really interesting within the genre. Too often, when people talk about trends in YA, they mean “the next big thing.” Vampires? Werewolves? Radioactive gnomes with rocket launchers on their backs? Frankly, it’s all hooey. The next big thing will always—ALWAYS—be strong writing that resonates. In particular, the next big thing will be people doing new and interesting things.

So I thought I’d discuss a few writers and books I feel are exploring the genre’s potentially in really vibrant ways. (I won’t be discussing any of the authors I’ve acquired because that would be like asking me which of my children are my favorite and I can’t do that.)

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King—Full disclosure: Amy’s first book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was published by Flux, where I work. (But it was acquired by my predecessor.) That book, in itself, was a revelation. Since then, Amy has worked with other publishers on her Printz honor book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Everybody Sees the Ants. What I love about Amy is that she’s a risk taker. She’s not afraid to mess with narrative structure and push the envelope in terms of technique. For example. Vera Dietz is told from the point of view of Vera, her dead best friend, Vera’s father (who speaks primarily in flow charts), and a pagoda in Vera’s hometown. Yes. A pagoda—a building—has a point of view. And it works. Gloriously. Everybody Sees the Ants is a contemporary story that explores the ideas of bullying, parental relationships, and the Vietnam War in an imaginative and occasionally heartbreaking way. Amy pulls from so many ideas that, on the surface, don’t appear to relate. But she finds the connections. She draws from one dot to the next, showing you how a boy in 2011 who is being bullied is somehow tied to his grandfather, an MIA POW in Vietnam. And it all makes sense. And you never doubt her for a second.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith—I’m a sucker for dark books. If everything isn’t all neatly tied up at the end, if we’re left with a sense that all is not right with the world by book’s end, if the ending is depressing as hell, I’m there. I don’t mind happy endings. But I find books that explore the darker side of human nature in a really intelligent way to be more fulfilling for me. Dunno why. And Andrew does dark like nobody else I can think of. This book got under my skin and set up residence in my brain. I couldn’t shake it for a long time. It was one of those books where, upon finishing, I immediately went out and bought everything he’d ever written (lucky for my wallet, this was only his third book). The sequel, Passenger, is coming out in early October. I am simultaneously excited and horrified at the prospect, but I can’t wait to return to the world behind the lens again.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness—Reading a book by Patrick Ness is like being told a story by the smartest person you know, but they don’t necessarily know how smart they are so there’s nothing pretentious about it at all and you never feel condescended to.  Like Amy, Patrick likes to play with narrative technique and voice. His Chaos Walking trilogy is one of the best examples of creative voice that I can think of in recent literature.  What I really love about Patrick’s work—his smart work—is that he sneaks up on you. There’s no telling where things are going. He’s a hypnotist, in many ways. Or an illusionist, who keeps you focused on the left hand while the right hand is doing all the magic.  He gets deep but you never realize how deep until you’re already up to your neck in a brilliant story. 

Really, if you’re looking for something new and challenging, you could do a lot worse than to pick up any of these three writers.  I know these are three masters I’ll be returning to—and learning from—for a long time to come.

Thanks Brian! I have not read any of these books so I plan to add them to holiday wish list.  
If you are interested in winning a copy of Brian's book, With or Without You please enter here:

Friday, September 28, 2012

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

With or Without You opens with a beating and the shock of it immediately draws you into the story.  Two teens on their way home from school get beat up by local school bullies.  They are singled out for being gay.  Evan and Davis are best friends who have wanted to fit in all their lives.  For each of them the summer after high school graduation is a time of change and of growing up.

Before they head off to college, Davis is forced out of his family home and moves into the Rainbow Youth Center.  Here he learns about a group of young gay men called the Chasers and he joins with strong need to gain acceptance and influential friends.   Evan has a boyfriend named Eric that he has kept secret for over a year.  He is an artist who is scared and largely ignored by his family and he is torn between his friendship with Davis and his love for Eric.  Evan also joins the Chasers but realizes that something is not quite legitimate about this group and he lies to protect himself.

The Chasers are a group of gay men who actually set out to contract the HIV/AIDS virus.  Calling it "The Gift".  Evan has seen the reality of the disease and knows that they are being misled but is hopeless to stop it.

Farrey has created a well written young adult novel that is like nothing I have ever read before.  It is unique, fast paced and shocking.  With or Without You is a endearing love story, a mystery and a work of art.  Mainly set in Madison, Wisconsin with the college town as a back drop, the story is realistic, multi-layered, news worthy and timely as it tackles issues many teens and adults deal with today.

With or Without You won the Minnesota Book Award for Young Adult Fiction this year and I can see why.  Farrey's has created a wonderful character in Evan who narrates the book in several mediums.  He makes up news stories in his head, he creates art and mimics famous artists, like Van Gogh or Keith Haring.

Farrey is an excellent writer who paints with words and the result is a novel that is radiant!

Blogfest 2012


 Welcome to Blogfest 2012, the festival where you can visit many of the great blogs in the blogging world.  Brought to you by Cinnamon of A Journey of Books.  

I will be giving away one copy of my current favorite trilogy by Caragh O'Brien.  The newest book in the Birthmarked series, Promised is set to be released on Oct 2nd.  This contest is international.  Please leave a comment stating which book in the series you want and if you prefer a paper or electronic copy.  They are so good!

If you click on the image it will bring you to Amazon and a description of the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the next 5 blogs on the Blogfest list.
Amaterasu Reads
Keenly Kristin
Ashlynn Monroe's Blog
Bewitched Bookworms 
Another Author

Good Luck!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week Hop

Banned Books Week Hop 9/28 to 10/6

Welcome to Banned Book Week.  In Honor of Banned Books Week and the freedom to read what you want, I am giving away one of the top ten banned books of 2011.  This contest is international.  In your comment please tell me which of the top ten books you want to read/win.  If you click on the image it will bring you to Amazon and a description of the book.

#1  ttyl series.
#2 The Color of Earth series
#3 The Hunger Game series
#4 My Mom's Having a Baby
#5 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
#6 Alice series
#7 Brave New World
#8 What My Mother Doesn't Know
#9 Gossip Girl series
#10 To Kill a Mockingbird

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Game on.  When Dennis was young he discovered Pac Man and it resulted in a passion for video games.  He had a big plans for his life that included studying hard, finishing high school and college and then becoming a doctor.  But like a video game, unforeseen difficulties come up to knock you out of the game and Dennis didn't foresee his dad's early death.  Video games held the right amount of escape for Dennis and his grades began to suffer.  He hit rock bottom when he got expelled from college.

He wakes up one day to find four pint sized angels have appeared to guide him back to sanity and to help get him back on the road to living his life.

Level Up is a graphic novel that tackles the problem of video game addiction for young adults.  It also highlights the important skills that gamers acquire.  The storyline is realistic with a bit of videogame magic thrown in.  I think this book would appeal to the gamer or young man in your life.  The artwork is just right as the author and artist take the reader to different levels.  Levels are like chapters and characters morph into video game mode, much like Pac Man.  Level Up is a metaphor for life because life is like a video game.

Game Over.