Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up

February Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up

Grim Giveaway Ends at midnight tonight!!  Enter quick!

It is warming up in Minnesota with temps above freezing finally and Spring is hopefully right around the corner.  If you need to escape the cold or the stress in your life, I suggest reading Grim.  Grim is a dark fantasy with will transport you to another world and make you think.

Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of Grim.  In fact you have less than an hour.  I had parent conferences tonight and so I am a little behind in getting my post up.  Enter quick:

Remember to check out my book review of Grim.  Grim should be a book on your reading list.  Grim is a dark look at the afterworld and it's mythical and mysterious qualities.  It is complex and entertaining and has a very different feel to it than typical young adult novels. 

Check out the interview with Anna.  You can learn all sorts of things about a person and their book if you just ask.  So I did.  If you read the interview you will learn that Anna wrote the first draft while she was in high school.  Impressive.  She also won a award from scholastic but you will have to go and read about that.

Check out Anna's guest post.  Here she writes about the importance of having a writing space and making the time to sit down and write.  

 It has been a pleasure to work with Anna this month and I would like to thank her for being February's Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  I met Anna at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October and she agreed to be the featured author and to come and speak at the high school I teach at.  You can find more information about Anna and her book at her website:

Grim by Anna Waggener

Grim by Anna Waggener

Erica is the mother of three and dies in a car accident on the road home. She wakes up confused and startled to find herself stuck in between, in limbo, a place between Heaven and Hell.  She doesn't feel dead and she doesn't know what this strange place is.  Her guide on the other side is named Jeremiah and it is his job to lead her to the city of souls.  The city of Souls is a desolate place where the seraph angels rule the middle kingdom.  Erica is a lowly human who looks like the Kings former mistress and Jeremiah's mother.

Erica is desperate to see her three kids, Becca, Shawn and Megan.  She tries to sneak into their dreams to see them.  She eventually persuades Jeremiah to bring them to her except no living human has ever passed through middle kingdom before.  What will be the consequences?

Anna Waggener takes the reader on a journey into a creative afterlife that is unique and imaginative.  There are three story lines in Grim that converge into an unpredictable ending with many twists and turns along the way.  Waggener keeps the reader guessing. Grim has many narrators but the story is easy to navigate as it is highlighted with breaks in the text and shaded pages.  I really enjoyed the imaginative fantasy world that Waggener created in Grim and think that while this book is labeled YA,  it is bound to be a book that adults read and enjoy too.

Grim is a dark look at the afterworld and it's mythical and mysterious qualities.  It is complex and entertaining and has a very different feel to it than typical young adult novels.  There is an adult narrator among the young voices competing for dialog in the text. The prose is lyrical and is well-written.  Grim is an intelligent book that gives you a lot to think about.

Waggener wrote the first draft of Grim when she was in high school and completed the rewrites and editing during the time when she was in college.  She is now working on her second book.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Anna Waggener Author Interview + Giveaway

Anna Waggener Author Interview + Giveaway

Anna Waggener is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  She has written a fantastic Young Adult novel called Grim that takes place in limbo (the place between heaven and hell).  Anna agreed to answer my questions nosy questions about her book and her life.  Read on to learn about Grim and her favorite authors and much more.

Hi Anna,

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Born in Thailand, raised in Oklahoma, and with a great love of both Tuolumne Meadows and NYC, I often find myself describing my life—and myself—through place. I moved to Minnesota for college and, upon graduation, began working at Coffee House Press. My writing is yet another way for me to explore the world and the way people move through it.

2. What is the inspiration behind your story “Grim”?

The opening line of the prologue came to me one day out of the blue, and I jotted it down. About a year later, I had a dream (cliché, I know!) about a young man whose brothers had a serious bone to pick. The dream turned into Jeremiah, the speaker of the original line turned into Erika, and I began sketching out how their stories might be intertwined.

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

I probably identify most with Megan, the youngest sister who understands more about the world than those around her realize. My grandfather passed away very suddenly when I was about Megan’s age, and her reaction to her mother’s death—trying to protect the adults around her while also clumsily navigating her own grief—is definitely affected by my own experience.

  1. Why did you decide to become a writer?
I’m not sure that writing is something that one decides to do. It’s certainly not an easy thing to do, but it’s also a wonderful thing to be blessed with. I write because I love it. I love creating characters and I especially love watching them run away with a story. It brings a certain kind of joy to my life that I haven’t been able to find from anywhere else.

  1. How did you write a successful book while being a college student? 

I actually wrote the first draft of Grim while in high school, so college mostly consisted of the editing process. I guess I would say that learning how to prioritize my time was the most important part of the process.

  1. Is Grim part of a trilogy?  Are you writing another book?  Can you tell us about it?
Grim is a stand-alone novel, and I’m happy to leave it that way. I’m working on a new book right now that I’m really excited about—it follows a young magician in Iran whose teacher spirits him out of the city and into the mountains with very little explanation. The research has been fascinating, and the characters have been some of my favorites to write.

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

A love of reading is what initially got me interested in telling my own stories. Growing up, L. Frank Baum and J.R.R. Tolkien were hugely influential. As I grew older, I quickly fell in love with Jane Austen and then with literary fiction authors like J.M. Coetzee. In the world of current YA, I greatly admire MN writer Swati Avasthi and recently fell in love with John Green—but who hasn’t?

  1. You won the Scholastic Art and Writing Novel Contest.  Can you tell us about this contest, what you did to win and how it has changed your life?

I owe so much to Scholastic and to the A&W Awards. When I was a senior in high school, I submitted the first fifty pages of Grim and a plot synopsis, and was lucky enough to win the A&W Awards novel division. I lived in NY while working with a Scholastic editor and, eventually, was offered a book deal for Grim. The experience taught me so much and helped put me in a position to keep writing more, and to keep improving.

  1. What are some of the issues in Grim that you hope your teenage readers will interpret as integral to the story?

At its heart, Grim is a story that looks at the ways communication fails and the ways that love can be twisted. It’s not always a pretty story, but I’d like to think that it’s a nod to the ways that children and teens can be impacted, both positively and negatively, by the adults around them. It’s an important tension that, I’m sure, will continue to be explored as the genre of YA expands and the role and perspective of teens today continues to gain attention.

  1. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Grim?
           It’s a dark and complicated novel about relationships and the things that damage them, but in the      end it all ties back to love—sometimes selfish, often clumsy, but always well-intentioned.

Thanks Anna!

If you would like to win a copy of Anna's book Grim please click here:  Grim Giveaway

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Joan Foster faked her death and escaped a dull marriage where she didn't recognize herself.  Someone was threatening her life, leaving dead animals on her doorstep.  It could be the man she was having an affair with, or a reporter digging up material to blackmail her with, or an old boyfriend or maybe it was someone closer to her.  Joan realizes she needs to escape and start over to find out who she really is.

Joan grew up an overweight, fat girl, hated by her mother and she never told her husband the truth about herself.  She shed the weight and left her childhood home and never looked back.  She made her living writing bodice ripping, gothic romances.  She wrote under a pen name, kept a separate account and lived a second life until she writes Lady Oracle.  Lady Oracle creates a frenzy and Joan becomes famous and then she becomes unglued.

Joan spent her life reinventing herself over and over.  Joan is a version of every woman.  Each of us has many different selves set within the whole being which makes up who we are.  We are different people when we are in different roles and yet still the same person.  Lady Oracle is a fascinating look at the multiple inner lives of a woman and how she comes to terms with herself.

Atwood has created a funny, artistic and entertaining novel.  From the very first sentence, "I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it," (Pg. 3) to it's last, Atwood holds your rapt attention and keeps you turning the pages.

Atwood includes excepts of the romance novels her heroine, Joan is writing.  Joan lives vicariously through her characters and I couldn't get enough of them.  Lady Oracle is Margaret Atwood's third novel written in 1976.  She is an excellent writer and everyone should read at least one book written by her.  I have read The Handmaid's Tale which is excellent but very different from Lady Oracle.  Both are deep, multilayered and powerful in their own right.  Atwood just wows me.  WOW.

Atwood explores some very important themes in Lady Oracle, like obesity, spirituality, relationships, the power of self and multiplicity, and abuse.  Lady Oracle is the perfect book to discuss in a book club.

Note to self:  Read more Atwood books.

So how would you fake your death??

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Soul Catcher by Michael White

Soul Catcher by Michael White

I am going to write this review as a resume for the main character Augustus Cain.  A major theme of Soul Catcher is Cain's profession.

Augustus Cain
Home:  Virginia
Year:  1950

Objectives:  1.  To own his horse free and clear and pay off all his debts so he can head west and start his life over.  2.  To track and bring back runaway slaves Rosetta and Henry.  3.  To do this one last job and then quit being a soul catcher.

Qualifications and Skills:
Slave Tracking, hunting, shooting, long distance travel on horseback, excellent survival skills, has nine lives, been shot, stabbed, hit, punched, and left for dead.  Likes to read Milton, educated.

Professional Experience:
1.  Farmer:  Spent his years growing up on a farm in Virginia.  Was supposed to inherit his father's farm and marry the rich neighbor's daughter.  Ran away to join the war.
2.  Veteran of the Mexican American War.  Suffers an injury to his leg and still has a limp.  Lost the love of his life.
3.  Slave Catcher:  Incredible tracking skills.  Can find anyone who doesn't want to be found. Caught many slaves. Will travel far and wide.  Armed and dangerous.  Has a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
4.  Gambler:  Has a knack for winning at cards and a fondness for drink.

1. Rosetta, a runaway slave, falls in love with Cain.  Claims he is different than other Soul Catcher's.  She is unique and beautiful.  Cain returns her affections which may cost him his life.

2.  Cain's Mother, died young.  Raised him to think for himself.

3.  John Brown hates Soul Catcher's and despises the institution of southern slavery.  Hunts Cain down for stealing slaves from the North to bring back to their masters.  Is the only "real" historical person in the book.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anna Waggener Guest Post + Giveaway

Anna Waggener Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to Anna Waggener.  Anna is the February Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  Anna has written an entertaining Young Adult book called Grim.  Read on to learn how Anna finds a space and time to write.

Guest Post

As I write this blog post, I’m sitting on my living room couch. There’s a stack of magazines on one end of the coffee table and a box of chocolates on the other. There’s a bag overflowing with recycling near the front door and clothes strewn about haphazardly, because it’s winter in Minnesota and there are never enough chairs, let alone enough hooks on the coat rack, to hold the number of coats, hats, gloves that an Oklahoma girl requires in such weather.
In the beloved book On Writing, Stephen King talks about the necessity of having a writing space where one can shut the door. Unfortunately, I live in a space with an open floor plan; a place where this advice is virtually impossible unless I go into the bathroom and sit in the tub, computer balanced precariously on my two knees. I believe what Stephen King says, because I’ve been lucky enough to have such a place in the past—but since leaving home for college, I have simply not had a door that I could shut.
For a very long time, I tried to carve out a writing space in the student center or library of my college. I found that I could write essays just about everywhere—on the bed in my shared dorm room, at a table surrounded by friends also hard at work, in one of the coffee shops near campus—but there were few places that I could find inspiration for creative writing. I’d catch a snippet of an idea on the bus, or a line of dialog would follow me out of sleep, looping through my head as I got ready for a morning class. After finishing homework for the night, I’d sit down and stare at my screen, and nothing would come. Then I’d turn off my computer and go in search of friends.
I did not give up writing, or give up on writing. I just became very bad at pursuing it. I’d been so used to inspiration striking when it would come that I didn’t want to push or prod it. It’ll come, I thought. It’ll come.
It wasn’t until the summer after my freshman year that I realized how important consistency was for my writing. During my internship at Scholastic, I came into the office, sat down, and wrote every day. After flying back to Oklahoma, I stayed with my grandmother for three weeks. Every afternoon while she napped, I would open up my computer and clatter-clack away. Every night after I’d gotten ready for sleep, I would sit up in bed and write for another few hours. By the end of my stay, I’d finished a very rough draft of a very long book.
Since then, I’ve sought out ways to build a writing space for myself. I’ve learned that while I can scribble notes or descriptions or scraps of dialog in other places, consistency does matter when I want to get into the real work of drawing out character and storyline. Today, at this stage of my life and in this apartment, my writing space is four square feet of couch with my laptop open in my lap. When I sit here with my laptop, I know what I am here to do.
This space is just as open as every other part of my apartment, but I’ve carved out a kind of quiet. When I sit here after a long day at work, I am often tired, oftener hungry. And yet when I pause to let my day go still, let the coats and socks and recycling disappear, the space finds a way of taking over. I find my four walls and my door. 

Thanks Anna!
If you would like to win a copy of Anna's book Grim click here:  Grim Giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Les Miserables (Book 1) by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Review of Book 1 - Fantine
Signet classics unabridged

Les Miserables is the longest book I have ever attempted to read.  Coming in at 1500 pages and separated into five books, it is a tome worthy of my time and yours.  Hugo is an excellent writer whose characters are mirrors into his own life and experiences.

The story begins in 1815 with the Bishop of Digne, Monsignor Muriel.  The bishop is a giving man who helps the poor, and lives on less than his salary so he can give most of his money away to those that need more than him.  He lives with his sister and his cook.

Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread for his sister and her seven starving children.  He got caught and served 19 years for the crime.  Talk about harsh punishment.  When he is released on parole, the only compassion Jean Valjean receives is from the Bishop of Digne.  The bishop feeds him, offers him shelter and provides him with the means to begin his life anew.

Fantine is dumped surreptitiously by her boyfriend when she finds out she is pregnant.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place she makes a decision she thinks is best for her daughter, Cosette.  She entrusts her child to an innkeeper to care for her until further notice.  She gets a job working for the mayor at a factory and sends money back, until fate intervenes and she can no longer pay.  Fantine, desperate for money, to pay the innkeeper debts that are stacking up, she sells her hair and front teeth.  Eventually she is selling her body on the street.

Javert is the policeman who arrestes Fantine for hitting a man on the street.  Javert recognized the mayor for the man he truly is and turns him in to authorities.  Javert makes it his life's mission to capture the parole breaking, elusive Jean Valjean.

Les Miserables is my weekend book and I'm taking my sweet time reading it.  The fact that it is separated into 5 distinct books of about 300 pages each, makes me think of how series are so popular today.  If Les Miserables was published as a series and you could purchase 5 separate books, it would be disappearing off the shelves.  I wonder if the book series of today will be packaged and sold in one big tome a hundred years from now.  If so, will people be apt to read it or shy away from it because of its size and length?

Book 2 Cosette

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Reflection

Weekend Reflection

Bonjour!  My husband and son went up north ice fishing with the Boy Scouts this weekend.  So my daughter and I decided we would create a weekend in Paris at home.  We would do things the French way.  Watch French movies or films that take place in France, make and eat delicious French food, listen to French music, learn some new French words, and most importantly have a lot of fun.

Friday night:  Watched Chocolat, starring Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp.  Chocolat is based on the book of the same name by Joanne Harris.  My daughter really loved this film.  Half way through, we stopped to make our own chocolate creations.  Strawberries dipped in chocolate, hot cocoa with cinnamon, and a bowl of melted chocolate goodness to dip graham crackers in.  It was a wonderful evening.

Saturday:  We woke up early to go ice skating and wore the colors of France for the day, red, white and blue.  Then we met my mom at a theater for a viewing of Les Miserables.  A French classic based on the book by Victor Hugo.  We loved it.  We munched popcorn all day, bought some yarn and stopped off for dinner at French restaurant, Salut, in St. Paul.  We ordered a variety of things from the menu and Georgia was willing to try some new things for her first experience at a French restaurant.  We ordered Pomme Frittes of course, French onion soup, Gnocci, Mussels, Cordon Blue chicken nuggets, and a delicious dessert.  We were stuffed.  Bon Appetit!

We came home and watched two short French films.  The Red Balloon and Linnea in Monet's Garden.  The Red Balloon was wonderful and enchanting.  We both loved it.  Linnea in Monet's Garden is based on a book of the same name and I gave this book to Georgia when I returned home from a visit to France years ago.  She still has the book and the doll and so watching the film was kinda cool for her.  Plus it teaches you about Monet, his family and his beloved garden.

We were going to watch another film after this but I ended up with a touch of the stomach flu and had to go to bed.  Definitely not feeling well.

Sunday:  Woke up feeling better so we made plans to go to the Mall of America to visit the Ice Castles there and then have crepes for lunch.  So that is exactly what we did.  We dressed warm for our outside experience and the ice castles were beautiful.  I thought it was overpriced to get inside but we had fun taking all sorts of pictures and finding hidden spots in the ice.

Next stop:  Inside the mall for crepes at Magic Pan crepes.  We ordered a strawberry banana crepe with chocolate.  Yum it was so good.  Dessert for lunch.

Afterwords Georgia got a bad stomach ache and we decided to head home.  The tummy ache didn't go away and so she went to bed quite early.  No, French movie tonight.  Sad.

Sunday:  Woke up and put on some French music.  We danced around the kitchen a bit and decided to make French toast for breakfast.  She helped create the recipe and cook the toast.  Yummy.

We had a lovely weekend.  It went by so fast.  Looking forward to the next adventurous weekend to plan.  I wonder what country we will choose to highlight.  Maybe, Italy?

Au Revior

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I am going to review this book through a fictional conversation that has some truth to it.  Just in case you didn't know, I am a high school social studies teacher in Minneapolis who loves to read and talk about books so this conversation takes place in school.

Librarian Susan:  Have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet?
Me:  No, Should I?
Reading Teacher Sue:  (the very next day) Have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet?
Me:  No. (me thinking- why do people keep talking about this book?) Have you read Looking for Alaska?  I loved it.
Sue:  You really need to read it, it will change your world.
Me:  (thinking inside my head, a life changing book?  Sold.)  OK, I will try and get it from the library.

A few weeks go by and I finally get the Ebook through my library app.

Me:  (at lunch talking to Elizabeth the English teacher) Have you read The Fault in Our Stars?
Elizabeth:  Oh my, yes, it was amazing.  Augustus is my book boyfriend.  I am convinced he is one of the best male characters in literature today.
Me:  I think I am in love with John Green.  He does something to my heart when I read his books that no one else does.  (This is only the second book I have read by John Green and I am already confessing my love.  This means something).

Elizabeth and I walk to class after lunch continuing to discuss "the book".  Two of my 9th grade students overhear.

Students:  Where are you in the book?
Me:  Page 50.  I stayed up till 11pm reading, while my husband kept snoring beside me.  I can't believe I was having this awesome reading experience and he was sleeping through it.  I had to force myself to stop reading because I needed to get up early.
Students:  Have you read the part where you find out the reason the book is named, The Fault in Our Stars?
Me:  No, why?
Students:  Because it relates to what we are learning in class about Rome.  You know Julius Caesar and Brutus and Cassius and stuff.
Me:  OMG, that is too cool.  I love it when the things we do and experience in real life show up in the history we are learning about.  Everything is connected!

Next day,

Elizabeth:  (through email)  Did you finish The Fault in Our Stars yet??
Me:  (thinking, only 1 day has gone by, she must think I am a fast reader.)  No.  I am trying to savor it and read it as slowly as possible.  (there is some truth to that)
Elizabeth:  Ok, just make sure you read the last 100 pages in private.
Me: (thinking inside my head) Uh-Oh, this means I am probably going to cry.

Another day goes by.

Me:  (through email)  Elizabeth, I'm so sad right now.  Our book boyfriend, (did you notice I used "Our" instead of "hers"?) Augustus has cancer and I am really worried.  I might need to take a break from the ending.  My heart is breaking and I'm having trouble breathing.  (this is what happens to serious readers, when they begin to take on the characteristics of the characters they love)
Elizabeth:  Total waterworks from here on out.

Later on the same day while I was reading on the couch

Husband: Are you crying?  About a book? (Did I mention he is a non-reader?) (Poor husband, he will never know the amazing experience of reading a book that affects your emotions in ways you cannot predict.)
Me:  Yes. Can you bring me a box of tissues?  (at this point, I was nearing the end of the book)

Next day at school.
I walk into the room where I eat lunch.
Elizabeth and I make eye contact.  She knows what I am feeling, she knows the amazing experience I just had reading The Fault in Our Stars.  She knows I can't talk about it right now.  She knows that Augustus and Hazel are amazing characters and She knows that "The world is not a wish-granting factory".  She knows that the side effect of dying is cancer and that falling in love is not likely to happen when you aren't feeling your best but that it happens when you least expect it.  She knows that you must live your best life today because we don't have an infinite amount of tomorrows.  She knows as only another reader can know.  Sigh.

Tomorrow when I see Elizabeth, Susan, Sue and Students, I will smile and say "Okay instead of always" and they will know the language I speak.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen

Good Dog.  Stay by Anna Quindlen

Written for readers who are owners of a good dog, Anna Quindlen has written on ode to her dying dog, Beau, and to dogs everywhere.  Complete with adorable pictures of many different breeds of dogs, Quindlen writes about her black labrador retriever and relates her memories.  Quindlen also provides us with wit, wisdom and lessons that dog owners will smile at and can relate to.

From the first page, Quindlen shares the story of her life and the life of her dog.  Beau watched her kids grow up and faithfully stood by her side through all of life's ups and downs.  "The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed."

Who doesn't love coming home to a dog who is happy to see you and can't wait to spend time with you?  Dogs listen to you, love you unconditionally and just want to loved in return.  Dogs are like kids that won't talk.  Plus they make you laugh and research proves that if you have a dog you live longer and are happier than people who don't own a dog.

I am proud to be the owner of the sweetest dog, who is a 90 pound part Lab, Shepard, and Husky mix named Titus. He has been in my life for three years now and I am so glad we adopted him.  He makes us so happy!  He loves books and bacon and sitting on the porch swing looking out into the backyard for those pesky squirrels he loves to chase.  If anyone says "Squirrel" he runs to the door to look for one.

Anna grieves and remembers her dog Beau and gives us many reasons to smile. Good Dog. Stay is a beautiful memoir of a dog that was loved and his last days.   I cried along with her and rejoiced in the memories she shares.  I remember losing a good dog many years ago and now I own a really, really good dog.  Someday, he is going to pass on but for now I am going to hug and love him as much as I can.

Good Dog.  Stay.  Stay for as long as you can and I will love you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Grim Giveaway

Grim by Anna Waggener Giveaway

Enter to win one of two copies of Grim by Anna Waggener.  Anna is the February Minnesota author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she is giving away two copies of her debut book to Booksnob followers who live in the U.S.or Canada.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A fantastic debut from the winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards novel contest.

When Erika wakes up after a horrific car crash, she finds herself somewhere between earth and heaven, between life and death. She doesn’t want to accept help from Jeremiah, who she’s not sure she can trust, even as she finds herself drawn to him, following him into a grim city of souls. She’s not sure who wants to help her and who wants to hurt her. And she’s desperate to get back to her children.

Shawn’s never thought about having to shoulder the responsibility of caring for his young sister Megan and his reckless older sister. And he never imagined that the three of them would find themselves in a haunted wood, sometimes chased, sometimes assisted, never sure where they’re headed.

With Grim, the terrifically talented Anna Waggener delves into the place where myth becomes reality, where family can distort you as easily as it cares for you, where death and eternity meet.

U.S./Canada entrants only
Ends Feb 28th at midnight.
Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

When Ethan Wate falls asleep at night, he dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met.  He knows they are connected and longs to find out who this mysterious girl is, when lo and behold she walks right into the high school he attends.  The bad news is, that Lena, the new girl, has just moved into the oldest plantation house in town and her uncle is the town recluse.  So of course, Lena is dismissed as being untouchable and unworthy by the popular girls yet Ethan is drawn to her.

Lena and Ethan soon become friends with potential possibilities of the relationship kind.  Ethan soon discovers Lena is different from other girls because she is a castor.  A castor is a type of witch.  Lena's 16th birthday is approaching and all castors from Lena's family find out if they will be become dark or light.  Lena is fretfully worried and rightfully so.   One day Ethan and Lena find a powerful talisman on the land of a burned down plantation called Greenbriar and they are transported back in time to the Civil War to witness the house being burned down by union soldiers and the events of their two families 150 years before they were born.

There is a dual storyline in Beautiful Creatures.  The first storyline is the modern paranormal high school drama that goes like this; boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, girl needs protecting, boy tries and fails, the adults want to keep them apart and so on.  The second storyline takes place during the Civil War.  The interplay of the two story lines is what kept me turning the pages.  Beautiful Creatures is interesting and unique and it appealing to history buffs and lovers of literature.

Beautiful Creatures is a southern gothic that contains a curse that has lasted generations, a town with a group of people who are a little bit stagnant and a secret that promises to change the status quo.  Of course there is a budding romance and creative characters and creatures.  With a spooky cemetery, a labyrinth of books and just enough crazy thrown in to keep you guessing.  The authors do a good job of slowly revealing the mystery in bits and pieces and keep you coming back for more.  Garcia and Stohl write in tandem and are both educators.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for awhile and since the film release is in a week or so, I thought it was about time to read it.  Read the book and then see the film tends to be my motto.  So I have big plans to see the film and I think Beautiful Creatures has intrigued me enough that I will read the second book and probably the third and maybe the fourth.  Will there be a Fifth?

To all the Beautiful Creatures out there who love to read and write, you make my world a better place.
Thank You!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lies Beneath Giveaway Winners!

Lies Beneath Giveaway Winners.

Anne Greenwood Brown is giving away 3 copies of her book Lies Beneath to Booksnob readers and followers.  Lies Beneath is the first book in a trilogy.  The second book Deep Betrayal comes out in March.  I am excited to announced the three winners are:

Lorena from Connecticut
Brooke from Arizona
Maria from Texas

Congratulations Ladies!!  I hope you enjoy your new book!

Here is an excerpt from my review of Lies Beneath:
A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.
-William Butler Yeats

Anne Greenwood Brown has created an inventive tale that includes mystery, romance and intrigue.  What is unique about Lies Beneath is that the narrator is male when so many of the young adult voices are female.  Brown includes Victorian poetry and Native American legends of mermaids.  Lies Beneath is a sensory experience.  You can sense the cold water of Lake Superior, smell the intoxicating scent of the beautiful mermaids as they hypnotize and enamor their prey.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

February Author in the Spotlight

February Author in the Spotlight

Announcing:  February Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.

I am so ready for February and the promise of Spring right around the corner.  As always, I am on the lookout for good books and new authors.  This month's author is Anna Waggener and her book Grim is her debut.  I met Anna at the Twin Cities book festival in October when I went to see her read from her book.  I am excited to tell you about this new book. 

Here is the synopsis of Grim from Goodreads:

A fantastic debut from the winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards novel contest.

When Erika wakes up after a horrific car crash, she finds herself somewhere between earth and heaven, between life and death. She doesn’t want to accept help from Jeremiah, who she’s not sure she can trust, even as she finds herself drawn to him, following him into a grim city of souls. She’s not sure who wants to help her and who wants to hurt her. And she’s desperate to get back to her children.

Shawn’s never thought about having to shoulder the responsibility of caring for his young sister Megan and his reckless older sister. And he never imagined that the three of them would find themselves in a haunted wood, sometimes chased, sometimes assisted, never sure where they’re headed.

With Grim, the terrifically talented Anna Waggener delves into the place where myth becomes reality, where family can distort you as easily as it cares for you, where death and eternity meet.

This month you can expect a book review, a contest, an author interview and quite possibly a Guest post from Anna.  You can find Anna at her website::

Have a great reading month!!  Happy February!