Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

March Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway ends at midnight tonight!  Hurry and Enter.

Happy Easter and happy last day of March.  We still have a lot of snow cover here in Minnesota.  It is slowly melting and the temps are slowly climbing, thank goodness.  I am on Spring Break this week and plan to do a lot of work grading papers and working out at the Y but I also plan to read.  Got any good books on your To Be Read list? I suggest adding, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children to your list.  It is just the sort of read to give you a spring in your step and a thought bubble to your brain.

Today is the last day to enter to win Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  Time is up at midnight.  Click here to enter:  Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway

Next check out my book review of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  I try to get a little creative with this review.  I pretend to be a Radio DJ like the narrator in the book.  It was fun to present a little slice of the book in my review.  If you love music, books and respect people's differences, you will enjoy this thought provoking read.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Book Review

Now you need to check out the author interview with Kirstin Cronn-Mills.  Find out her favorite authors, what books she likes to read as well as the back story behind her book.  You can also find out about the next book to be published and what she is writing now.  This is a busy author, find out how she makes the time to write.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Author Interview

Check out Kirstin's Guest post.  Here she talks about how she decided what songs she would include in book.  She has a rating system and she even includes a link to her playlists.  I love this guest post and you will too.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Guest Post

It has been a pleasure to work with Kirstin this month and I would like to thank her for being March's Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  I met Kirstin 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.  Here is the link to the post of her visit to South High.  Kirstin Cronn-Mills visits South High

You can find more information about Kirstin and her books at her website:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Gabe, the main character in Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, is a radio Dj.  I am going to write my review like one of Gabe's radio shows.

"Hello and welcome to the book review / radio show, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  My name is Laura but you can me Booksnob and I'm your host on this lovely night.  For you listening pleasure,  let's start with a hometown favorite of mine, Prince.  Get ready to dance like it's 1999"
The song plays.  

"Next up is a song by Madonna, the pop queen."  Madonna sings and we listeners get into the groove.
"OK fans, back on the air now.   A good friend of mine, John recommends that I tell my story and let listeners (I mean readers) get to know me.  Well instead of talking about myself, which I do so much of (inject sarcasm here), I am going to tell you about a radio show host, I admire whose name is Gabe.  Gabe recommends rocking your B side. What is a B side you say?  Well back when music came in vinyl record form, 45's had an A and a B side.  B sides weren't played much by radio dj's but sometimes they became big hits.  Since people come in a variety of shapes, sizes and personalities, it means we all have an A side and a B side.  By day, Gabe is really a female whose name is Liz (his A side), by night he is Gabe, the true self that he has to hide from most of the world( B side).  In honor of Gabe's B side, I am going to play one of his favorite musical artists, Elvis."  So get out your blue suede shoes.  

"Back to business, let's take a caller.  Caller, your on Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, what say you?  
Yeah so is Gabe a guy or a girl?  
Good question, caller.  Gabe is transgender, someone who doesn't fit in the body he was given.  He suffers at home because his parents want to keep their daughter and aren't sure how to handle Liz as she transitions to Gabe.  Now that he is out to the public, he is getting bullied and threatened.  Music means a lot to Gabe as well as his two best friends.  Let's play another song,  How bout' some Bob Marley to lighten the mood." 

"Welcome back folks.  As the review/radio show, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children comes to an end, I'd like to say thanks for listening and if you like what you've heard or read tonight please tell all your friends about Gabe and his story.  Gabe's story is for music lovers, book lovers and for people who respect differences and embrace all types of people.  Gabe's story also gives a voice to teens in the GLBTQ community who are bullied for wanting to live their life outside the bounds of a particular gender."

"Let's end our show with Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl.  Please sit back, relax, contemplate, listen, read and expand your horizons.  This is Booksnob, rocking her B side."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Visits South High

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Visits South High

On March 14th, Kirstin Cronn-Mills drove two hours from Mankato and through the snow to speak to South High Students.  She was invited to speak to Human Geography, World Studies and English students and attend lunch with students in the Book Club.

Kirstin started out by reading from her young adult novel, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  After she read for awhile and introduced the audience to her main character, trans man Liz/Gabe, she opened the floor for questions.  Kirstin is a college English teacher and she knows how to capture her audience and hold their attention.

From the Q and A session, we found out the Kirstin likes author, A.S. King, she also recommended the book, With or Without You by Brian Farrey as well as Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin.  One of the students asked if she liked graphic novels and Kirstin replied with a resounding yes.  The novel she is currently working will be a graphic novel.  There was a lot of great conversation around the graphic novels, Maus I and II and Incognegro.

Music was also a central topic as well as how much money she makes as an author.  Kirstin stated she is definitely not in it for the money because author aren't paid much.  She loves to write for teens and will continue.  For her, writing is not about the money, it is about so much more.  I would have to concur.

At lunch with the book club, we ate and talked about books of course.  Some of the students at the book club had never met an author before and I think they were speechless.  Kirstin encouraged them to talk and told them the importance of writing down their stories because their personal stories are important.  I sure hope they do.  Pictured to the right is Kirstin with three students in the book club and the librarian/ book club leader.

Overall it was a great day with a great author.
Thanks Kirstin for taking the time to spend your day with us.  It was awesome!

Kirstin with students from my 9th grade class.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Mapmaker's War Giveaway

The Mapmaker's War Giveaway

Ronalyn Domingue has a new book out called The Mapmaker's War.  Yay!  Her first book was really good and I am looking forward to reading this book.   Domingue along with FSB Associates and Publisher, Atria books is giving away one copy to a lucky Booksnob follower who lives in U.S. or Canada.  Don't let this book slip through your fingers.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

This will be the map of your heart, old woman. In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom’s mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale—her autobiography— Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation. The Mapmaker’s War is a mesmerizing, utterly original adventure about love and loss and the redemptive power of the human spirit. Watch for its epic sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, in 2014.

Contest Rules:
Open to residents of the U.S./Canada
Ends April 9th at midnight.
Good Luck!!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Author Interview + Giveaway

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Author Interview + Giveaway

Kirstin is the March, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and her YA book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is highly entertaining.  I decided to ask her some questions about her book, her writing and the awards she is receiving.  Read on to find out more about Kirstin and her book.

Hi Kirstin,

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a pretty basic person—I love reading, writing, music, my family and friends, my students, and most of the rest of the world (I’m pretty easily amazed/amused/impressed).  I hate it when people are unkind to each other.  My favorite season is spring (hurry up, Minnesota!), and I don’t eat chocolate.

2. What is the inspiration behind your story “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children”?
I wanted to write about music and radio, two things I’ve loved since I was a little girl, so I decided to write about a guy who hid behind a radio show.  At the same time I started the book, I was looking for literature for a class at my school, and I ran across some very short autobiographies of trans* men.  BOOM—suddenly my protagonist was a trans* man, and it made even more sense that he might hide behind a radio show.

3. I love the title of your book.  Did you get to choose the title, “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children”?
This book has never had a title change (my first book had three).  When I moved to Mankato, I found a radio show called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children on our local college radio station, and I loved the title so much I stuck it away in my brain for later.  About 15 years after I moved here, I had a use for it.

4. 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?
Gabe and I share a music nerd-ness, and we share some apprehension about sharing our true identities with the world.  With John, Gabe’s mentor, I share that desire to practice radical acceptance of people I love.  With Gabe’s mom, I share the questions of how to help my child feel safe and secure in the world.

5. Why did you decide to become a writer?
The idea for my first novel was given to me by a high school classmate about 12 years after we graduated (she told me she’d been mean to me in high school because she had a crush on me, and I had two immediate thoughts: “that explains everything,” and “wow, that would make a great novel”).  But I’ve been a writer since I was a little girl, only I thought “being a writer” meant “being a poet.” My family had a special reverence for poetry, and my grandmother and father wrote it, so that’s what I figured “writing” was.  I didn’t even cognitively know that a person could write the books I loved so much.  Then, when I figured out that there were writers behind all those books, I thought fiction was WAY out of my league.  But finally I gave it a shot, and I’m so glad I did!

6. How do you balance writing with your full time job as a teacher and being a parent?
Sometimes it’s really hard to get everything done.  School has to come first, because they pay me way more than my writing pays me (and my students are counting on me), and my family has to come first, too, because I love them enormously.  Writing falls down the priority list, which is why it takes me so long to draft & revise a book.  On average, it’s five years.  If I didn’t work full-time, I could cut that down to two, I am sure of it!

7. Do you like to read?  What books or authors influence you?
I love to read—it’s a great joy to have time to sit down with a good book.  It would take me all day to give you a list of books & authors that have influenced me.  For today, I’ll pick Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Sherman Alexie, and A.S. King.

8. Are you working on a third novel for teens?  Can you give us a preview?
My third novel is a book about tourist traps, secrets, and getting on with your life.  It’s set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and right now it’s floating around with editors.  My fourth book is an illustrated novel about sibling rivalry, street art, and cross-dressing.  It’s set in the Twin Cities and is SO MUCH FUN to work on.  I’m just at the beginning of it, and I want to work on it all the time!

9. Music plays a central role in your book.  Was it fun creating play lists for Gabe’s radio show and which show or musical artist is your favorite?
In the same way I can’t pick my favorite books, I can’t pick my favorite musical artists—there are just too many.  Some major influences are The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Lyle Lovett and Devo (how’s that for broad tastes?).  Creating Gabe’s radio shows (from his playlists to his tasks for the Ugly Children Brigade) was probably the most fun I’ve ever had while writing.

10. What was your reaction to having your book listed on the ALA Rainbow 2013 list?  Has your book won any other awards?
I was honored and humbled to have BMUC be placed on the Rainbow List, especially as a Top Ten book.  It was also placed on the Best Fiction for Young Adults list at the same time, which humbled me even more.  It’s hugely important for librarians to like your book, so when they do, I’m grateful to the moon.  Right now, it’s up for a Lammy (a Lambda Literary Foundation award) in the children’s/young adult category, and it’s also up for ForeWord’s Best Book of the Year in its young adult category (ForeWord awards are for books from independent presses).  Again, I’m totally thrilled and humbled.  I’m glad it’s reaching people who like it.

11. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Beautiful Music for Ugly Children?
You’ll learn about Elvis, music, and really cool pranks you can do with your friends.

Thanks for having me, Laura.  : )

Thanks Kirstin!!
If you would like to win a copy of Kirstin's book Beautiful Music for Ugly Children enter here:  Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway

Friday, March 22, 2013

Square Peg Giveaway

Square Peg Giveaway

TLC Book Tours in conjunction with Hyperion books is giving away 1 copy of Square Peg to a lucky Booksnob follower who lives in the U.S or Canada.  I would recommend this book to any parent or educator who is willing to think outside of the box and make a change.

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

In the seventh grade, Todd Rose was suspended—not for the first time—for throwing six stink bombs at the blackboard, where his art teacher stood with his back to the class. At eighteen, he was a high school dropout, stocking shelves at a department store for $4.25 an hour. Today, Rose is a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Square Peg illuminates the struggles of millions of bright young children—and their frustrated parents and teachers—who are stuck in a one-size-fits-all school system that fails to approach the student as an individual. Rose shares his own incredible journey from troubled childhood to Harvard, seamlessly integrating cutting-edge research in neuroscience and psychology along with advances in the field of education, to ultimately provide a roadmap for parents and teachers of kids who are the casualties of America’s antiquated school system.

With a distinguished blend of humor, humility, and practical advice for nurturing children who are a poor fit in conventional schools, Square Peg is a game-changing manifesto that provides groundbreaking insight into how we can get the most out of all the students in our classrooms, and why today’s dropouts could be tomorrow’s innovators.
Hardcover, 256 pages

U.S. or Canada residents only
Ends April 5th at midnight.
Good Luck!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Square Peg by L. Todd Rose

Square Peg.  My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries & Out of the Box Thinkers by L. Todd Rose with Katherine Ellison

Square Peg is, in part, a memoir about L. Todd Rose's experience growing up a misunderstood, wild and out of control kid with ADHD.  He is every teachers nightmare, throwing stink bombs in school.  He ends up making a lot of mistakes including, failing high school and is three steps short of being a juvenile delinquent.  He had a couple of things going for him though, a mother who loved and accepted him and the will to succeed.  He uses this will to succeed to reinvent himself.  Square Peg is the story of how he went from being a failure at the very bottom of the educational system to a Harvard graduate student.

Square Peg is also a book for parents and educators who are looking for answers for helping kids survive and thrive in a failing education system.  If you have a child with dyslexia or ADD or Asperger's you probably already know that your child doesn't do well in the current educational system.  Rose provides specific techniques and ideas on how to be a better parent and how to be a more effective teacher when working with kids that are active learners.

Both of my kids have ADHD and Dyslexia.  School has been a major challenge for both of them.  I am  a high school teacher who wants my students and my own children to succeed and yet I know that what L. Todd Rose states in his book his true, School is failing to educate some kids.  We must find a way to teach school so that every learner can succeed.  Right now dropout rates for high school students are staggering and many of these students are "intellectually gifted".

One of the ways to reach struggling students is to use digital technology in the classroom.  Currently I am teaching with digital media (Ipads in the classroom) and am rethinking and relearning a new way to teach my curriculum.  I am trying to create a paperless classroom (the wave of the future) as well as being creative with lessons on the Ipads.   I love it and I believe my students do too.  I plan to teach the staff in my building some of the techniques I am trying digitally in my classroom.  I love to be an innovator!  Did I mention I have ADD?

Square Peg arrived on my doorstep at the right time.  My son is struggling in school and one of the reasons why is because he is bored with worksheets.  Rose's book has given me a new outlook and strategies to help him and encourage his teachers to think "out of the box" when they teach him.

I LOVE the way the book is set up.  Each chapter begins with a relevant quote and the chapters are easy to read, entertaining, informative and positive.  At the end of every chapter are listed the Big Ideas as well as Action Items.

Square Peg is a informative book for parents and educators alike.  I think it might be my new teaching mantra as I have recommended it to several of my colleagues already.  I'm going to end with one of my favorite quotes included in the book.

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow."
John Dewey

Monday, March 18, 2013

Travel Writer Doug Mack visits South High

Travel Writer Doug Mack visits South High

On March 5th, in the midst of a Minnesota snowstorm, Doug Mack visited South High to speak to AP Human Geography and Voices students.

Doug holds the distinction of being a South High graduate from the class of 1999.  I met him at the Twin Cities Book Festival and when I found out he graduated from South, I knew he had to speak at South to my classes.  Doug is a freelance travel writer and has written a book about his travels in Europe called Europe on 5 Wrongs Turns a Day.  He was just the author in residence on a cruise ship where he traveled through the Panama canal and gave lectures at night to those interested in travel writing.

Doug showed us pictures of his travels through Europe and Central America.  He told some funny stories about pigeons landing on him in Austria and staying in hostel with centipedes in his tiny hovel of a room.   He then opened the floor for Questions.  We found out that Doug is not a adventurous eater but he did eat Mexican food in Germany and doesn't recommend it since they used mayonaise instead of salsa.  When asked which book influenced him the most Doug replied with, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, which he read when he was a student at South.  He said the writing was incredible.  I agree.  I love that book.

Pictured above Doug is posing with some of the students in the Voices class.  Doug was in Voices when he was a senior.  Thanks Doug for coming to South and sharing your travel and writing experiences.  It was great!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Guest Post + Giveaway

Kirstin Cronn-Mills Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to Kirstin Cronn-Mills.  Kirstin is the March Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  Kirstin has written an entertaining Young Adult book about a serious subject called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  Read on to learn how Kirstin decided what songs would be included in her book.

First, thanks to Booksnob for letting me guest post!

There’s a heap of music in BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN—duh.  People always want to know how I chose what songs to put in the book.  The answer to that question is complex, but it’s also not.  Mostly, I chose stuff I love.

But you’ve probably guessed that I’m older than the target audience of my books, so I also needed to choose music that would appeal to teens.  I wish I’d had a nice equation to determine it (Z% of popularity x Y days on the pop charts x Q% coolness factor = book song), but no luck.    So I developed some judging criteria for both current music and my favorite songs:

11.    is the song cool (in my opinion, anyway)?
22.   will its appeal last (my best guess--or if it’s older, does it have longevity)?
33.    is there name recognition for the artist?
44.    is it quirky?

(#4 is there because my writing style is quirky, and I wanted to include some weird stuff, like “Hot Pants,” by Odax.  It’s a real song, and I had a 45 of it when I was about 6 or 7, so I would have been mad at myself forever if I hadn’t put it in.  It was too quirky to let go.)

I did stick in some artists that teens might like that I’m not fond of: T-Pain, for instance (though I really do love “I’m On A Boat,” the video he made with Lonely Island).  But T-Pain doesn’t get an actual song, just a mention.  See what I did there?  It’s only the people I love who get actual songs.

What are my favorite songs in the book?  In the order they appear: “The Horse,” Cliff Nobles; “Inside My Love,” Minnie Riperton; “I Need a Lover,” John Mellencamp; “Fight The Power,” Public Enemy; “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M; “No Action,” Elvis Costello; “Sexy M.F,” Prince; “Love Is the Answer,” England Dan and John Ford Coley; and “Soul Finger,” the Bar-Kays.  Notice anything?  Not one of those songs was produced after 1990, and 5 of the 9 would be considered funk, soul, or rap, which is a lot for one genre.  So why did I use these songs?  I judged them with my criteria.  All of them fit #1.  “The Horse” and “Love Is the Answer”--#4.  “Sexy M.F.,” #2 and #3, which also goes for “Fight The Power.”

What are my least favorite songs in the book?  Ha!  Fooled you.  Why would I put a least favorite song in a book I love about music I love?  No way.  See also the above paragraph about T-Pain.

Some songs are love notes to someone else.   “In the Summertime,” Mungo Jerry, and “Hot Pants,” Odax—those are for my brother, as well as being the two quirkiest songs in the book.  “I Need a Lover”—that one is there for my best friend from college.

Were there songs I should have included but hadn’t heard/didn’t know about in time?  Sure—“Kick, Push,” by Lupe Fiasco,  “Disco Infiltrator” by LCD Soundsystem, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Goyte (so perfect!) and “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” by the Avett Brothers.  With music, you never stop discovering new stuff you love.

There are two playlists on Spotify.  One lists all the songs and artists I mentioned in BEAUTIFUL MUSIC (with the exception of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber), and the other lists extra songs I would’ve/could’ve/should’ve included.   Check both lists out here:

Neither of the books I’m working on now has music in it, and I miss writing about it!  BEAUTIFUL MUSIC will always be the book that carries my musical heart out into the world.

Thanks Kirstin!!

If you are interested in winning a copy of Kirstin's book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children click here:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

3 YA authors visit South High

Three Young Adult Authors Visit South High on Feb 27th.

On February 27th, we invited three young adult authors to be a part of a YA science fiction and fantasy panel that would present to students in a Question and Answer format.  Let me recount the day for you.

First we invited Anne Greenwood Brown, author of Lies Beneath and Deep Betrayal to have lunch with staff and book club students.

We met in the media center for a lively lunch conversation on Lies Beneath.  Anne signed Deep Betrayal bookmarks for all of us.  She shared the meaning behind the names of the characters and why she set the book in Ashland and Bayfield Wisconsin on Lake Superior.  She wrote the book for her son who hasn't read it yet.  Anne used to be an English teacher and is currently a lawyer and accomplished author.  She said men in their 70's have read her book and written her to say they loved it.  We talked about the cover of Lies Beneath and why they didn't put a male on the cover.  Authors don't get a say in what their book cover looks like.  Students were so happy to meet with her and enjoy a riveting conversation on writing and reading.
Thanks Anne!
Here is a picture of the second lunch book group.

After lunch author M.R. Tain arrived with his wife Sheryl who is a graduate of South High.
M.R. Tain aka Martin Bracewell is an author of two books,  Peace, Man and This isn't Normal.

Then Anna Waggener, author of Grim arrived.

The audience was made up of AP Human Geography students and a set of English classrooms.  Book club members were also invited.

Each author took a turn to introduce themselves and their books and then we opened it up for a Question and Answer session.  One question was on their favorite authors or books.
Anna Waggener said she is a new fan of John Green and M.R. Tain said C.S. Lewis is one of his favorite authors.  Anne Greenwood Brown mentioned Maggie Stiefvater as influencing her.  It was a great experience.  Here is a picture of the great YA authors in our media center with their books on the table.  That is me (Laura Lanik aka Booksnob) behind them.

After the panel, two authors, Anna Waggener and M.R.Tain joined me in my classroom for a more personal talk with the students.  I think many of  my students were in awe of the writing accomplishments of Anna and Martin.  Anne wrote the first draft of Grim when she was still in high school.  The students kept the authors busy with questions.  For Martin, it was his first time presenting in a high school.  I think he enjoyed the experience.  Anna works for a local publishing house called Coffee House Press.  Both authors are at work on their next book.

Thanks Anne, Anna and M. R. Tain for taking the time to visit South High and share your reading and writing experiences with us.  I hope you gained new South High readers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Giveaway

Enter to win one of 5 copies of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills.  Kirstin is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she is giving away 5 copies of her book to Booksnob followers.  This contest is open internationally.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

"This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show."

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good.

It's time to let my B side play.

Praise: "Every so often a book comes along that is so sharp, so moving, so real, and so good, you want to press it into everyone's hands and say, Read this! READ THIS!"--Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be and This is Not a Test.

Open Internationally
Ends March 31st at midnight.
Good Luck!!

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Ochardist by Amanda Coplin

The Ochardist by Amanda Coplin

The Orchardist opens with a quote from poet Jack Gilbert. "The roses you gave me kept me awake with the sound of their petals falling".  This quote made me pause and realize, before I even started the book, that I was in for a sensitive, thought-rendering read.

William Talmadge owns an orchard in the Pacific Northwest.  He lives alone and spends his time lovingly tending the trees and fruit and selling it from his wagon in the town market.  He spots two teenage girls with round bellies eyeing his produce.  They are pregnant. As he nods off in the warmth of the sun, they steal what they can and run for it.  Talmadge does not chase them, he packs up and heads home and they follow him.

Della and Jane are running from a horrible situation which they vow never to return to.  They are hungry and desperate for compassion.  Talmadge is interested in helping these girls so he feeds them and makes no demands of them, slowly trying to build their trust.  The girls awaken the ghosts of Talmadge's past, the loss of his mother and the disappearance of his sister.  One can never escape life without tragedy and yet bravely Talmadge opens his heart and orchard to these girls.

The backdrop of The Orchardist is the turn of the century where The Wild West meets the Intercontinental Railroad.  Coplin takes the reader on a historical journey in time to discover how a place changes over time, not only the landscape but the people who live there.  The setting of the book is beautiful.  Coplin paints a picture with words that is at once intimate and haunting.

The storyline of The Orchardist evokes the beauty of time and space, but it also encompasses the evil that exists and the tragedy of children who grow up immersed in dire circumstances.  Coplin writes with compassion and her characters are wonderfully flawed human beings that you can relate to.

Have you ever read a book where you knew from the very first page that you were meant to read it?  Where you knew that you and the writer made a connection with the turn of the page?   This is my experience with The Orchardist.  I felt the power of the story and I was hypnotized by it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grim Contest Winners

Grim Contest Winners

Anna Waggener is giving away two copies of Young Adult book Grim to Booksnob readers and followers.  Grim is her debut novel and Waggener is the winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards novel contest.  She wrote the first draft of Grim in high school.

I am excited to announce the winners
And the winner are.....

Len D from California
Megan B from Minnesota
check out Megan's blog It's Like a Whirlwind Inside of My Head

Congratulations Ladies.  Enjoy your new book!!

Here is an excerpt from my book review of Grim:

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.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Author in the Spotlight

March Author in the Spotlight

Announcing:  March Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.

It is the first day of March and I am busy grading papers and meeting with parents at parent-teacher conferences today.  I also have big plans to get my haircut and dyed today and just plain relax and read.  I just received my copy of March's Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Kirstin Cronn-Mills book in the mail and I am anxious to read it.  

Kirstin Cronn-Mills teaches at Mankato state college and her book Beautiful Music for Ugly Children was added to ALA's 2013 Rainbow list this year. Way to go Kirstin.  I met Kirstin at the Twin Cities book festival in October.  I was drawn to her book by the title and cover page.

Here is a synopsis of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children from Goodreads:

"This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show."

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good.

It's time to let my B side play.

Praise: "Every so often a book comes along that is so sharp, so moving, so real, and so good, you want to press it into everyone's hands and say, Read this! READ THIS!"--Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be and This is Not a Test.

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

Have a great month, stop by often and take the time to read.