Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up + Giveaway

April Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway Ends at midnight!  Hurry and enter.  you don't want to miss this one.

April is ending and I am so glad.  It was not a fun month in Minnesota.  We had something like 40 inches of snow and 4 major snowstorms.  All spring sports were put on hold.  It was miserable and so I gladly say goodbye to April and hello to May.  I will be sad to say goodbye to Molly Beth Griffin though, April's author in the spotlight.  You need to check out her two reads that make you glad spring is in the air, Loon Baby and Silhouette of a Sparrow.

Today is the last day to enter to win Silhouette of a Sparrow.  Time is up at midnight.  Click here to enter: Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway

Next check out my book review of Silhouette of a Sparrow.  Griffin creates a strong, subtle storyline in Silhouette of a Sparrow.  It is enlightening to learn what a young woman's role in society was like in the 1920's and how hard it was to be different, much less break out of society's traditional roles. 

Check out my review of Molly Beth Griffin's Children's book, Loon Baby.  Griffin has crafted a lovely story for families who love nature and animals.  Loon Baby is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers as the text is poetic and repetitive. 

Now you need to check out the author interview with Molly.  Find out how the book Silhouette of a Sparrow gots its name and the amazing cover art.  Also Molly shares with readers the news that she is having a baby.  Congrats Molly.

Check out Molly's guest post.  In it she talks about genre-bending and writing poetic prose for kids.  What is genre-bending you say?  Well you need to read her post to find out.

It has been a pleasure to work with Molly this month and I would like to thank her for being April's Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  I met Molly at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October when she introduced other Minnesota YA authors in a panel and she mentioned that her book Silhouette of a Sparrow had just been released.  

Please visit Molly's website and read her books or you could take one of her writing class.  (I was thinking about taking one) http://mollybethgriffin.com/

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Garnet Richardson is bound by tradition and history to fulfill the roles her mother has designed for her.  She will get married, raise a family, be a good Lutheran and take care of her parents.  Except that Garnet has other plans and as she tries to break out of her 1920's mold, she will be caught between love and duty.

Garnet's dad returned from the Great War shell shocked, the polio epidemic is raging in the city and she must leave for the summer.  Garnet takes the street car to Excelsior, Minnesota to stay with her Aunt and cousin, the Harrington's, at a resort on Lake Minnetonka for the summer.  Here she gets a job at a hat shop, meets a beautiful dancer, spends time at the lake, an amusement park and bird watches.  But mostly she sneaks out to hang out with her new friend Isabella and it is shaping up to be a summer to remember.

Garnet loves birds.  In each chapter of Sillhouette of a Sparrow, Griffin incorporates a bird species native to the Minnesota landscape.  Each bird has a role in the chapter and may have characteristics similar to the characters.  Garnet usually cuts a silhouette of the bird out of paper and hangs it on her wall to remember, to enjoy her flock.  I really looked forward to learning which bird Griffin would incorporate into each chapter.

Griffin creates a strong, subtle storyline in Silhouette of a Sparrow.  It is enlightening to learn what a young woman's role in society was like in the 1920's and how hard it was to be different, much less break out of society's traditional roles.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is different than traditional young adult historical fiction.  It has a unique storyline within a unique setting.  It is not so much a coming out story as it is a love story.  The love story was subtle, well-written and believable.  Griffin's characters are so real and passionate and they complement each other well.

Silhouette of a Sparrow was shortlisted for the Minnesota book award in the teen fiction category and it is well-deserving of it's place on the list.

"My first thought when she came through the door to the hat shop was scarlet tanager.  It must of been the bright red lips that perched on her pale face.  She had shiny black hair, bobbed, and dark eyes, and she wore a sundress cut above the knee and no stockings."  Pg. 51 (how scandalous, a dress cut above the knee and no stockings)

Garnet is a sparrow who is learning to spread her wings and fly.  Don't let this sparrow fly away.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ranks in my top ten favorite reads of all time.  I have read it multiple times aloud to my classes and have recommended it to countless people.  It is a timeless story that I revisit again and again (which is saying something because I usually don't like to reread).  So when TLC book tours announced the tour for Manuscript in Accra, I knew I had to read it.

The Manuscript in Accra begins on July 14, 1099.  In the holy city of Jerusalem, people of the three main faiths gather to hear a man speak.  The three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam share the holy city.  The Crusaders lie just outside the city gates and the people face an unknown future in a time of war.

The Copt or Greek speaker, gathers in the Holy city to share his wisdom with the masses.  After the copt's initial speech, he offers to answer questions from the crowd.  He answers questions based on anxiety, love, loyalty, sex, death, war, beauty and much more.  Each chapter is full of quotable wisdom and inspiration.

"No matter how you are feeling get up every morning and prepare to let your light shine forth.
Those with eyes to see will see your light and be enchanted by it." Pg. 106

This book is meant to be read slowly and savored.  Read a chapter a day, use a highlighter, and reflect on your life and on how the passages will enhance it.  The Manuscript in Accra has something in it for everyone.  It is really not a story at all but a guide or a book of wisdom you can use to apply to your life.  It is in question and answer format and is religious in nature.

"Do one thing:  Live the life you always wanted to live.  Avoid criticizing others and concentrate on fulfilling your dreams.  This may not seem very important to you, but God, who sees all, knows the example you give is helping Him to improve the world.  And each day, He will bestow more blessings upon it." pg. 42

I will definitely have to reread this.  It is enlightening and it is perfect for the times your heart cries out for a book that will bring you peace, or a new idea,  or a different way of thinking about something.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Molly Beth Griffin Author Interview + Giveaway

Molly Beth Griffin Author Interview + Giveaway

Molly is the April, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and her historical fiction YA book, Silhouette of a Sparrow is highly entertaining.  I decided to ask her some questions about her book, her writing and the awards she is receiving.  I found out she is expecting a baby.  Congrats, Molly.  Read on to find out more about Molly and her books.

For Book Snob:

1.   Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a stay-at-home mom of a 3 ½ year old boy, and I have another baby due in July.  I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline in 2009, and have been writing picture books and novels and teaching at the Loft ever since.  I enjoy cooking, and being outside, and playing sea creatures with my son, which is his current obsession.

2. What is the inspiration behind your story “Silhouette of a Sparrow”?
I grew up in Excelsior, MN, just after the amusement park was torn down, so that place always fascinated me.  This story grew out of its setting.

3. I love the title of your book.  Did you get to choose the title, “Silhouette of a Sparrow”?
The book was originally titled Garnet for Courage.  After much debate, my editor and I settled on this title.  I’m very happy with it.

4. I also love your book cover.  Who designed it?  Did you get a say in what your book cover looked like?
The book had 3 different covers during the course of production.  The first was more Victorian looking, and although it was very pretty, it really was too old-fashioned.  The second was quite modern.  This one splits the difference and I think it’s beautiful.  The papercut artist is named Elsa Mora, and I did not have any say in choosing her or in the design of the cover, but I’m thrilled with the result.

5. 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?
Oh, I’m sure.  I, like Garnet, have had to make choices about how to do what I love in this life, and they have not always been easy choices.  She is a scientist at heart, unlike me, but we do have a lot in common.  Many of the secondary characters are loosely based on people in my life as well.

6. Why did you decide to become a writer?
I have always loved writing, ever since I could write for myself and didn’t have to tell my stories to an adult to record (I was a very shy child).  I wrote stories as a kid, poetry as a teenager, creative nonfiction in college, and then transitioned to writing for children and young adults.  It is very satisfying work and I can’t imagine doing anything else!

7. I know you are a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center.  What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Commit to learning your craft.  Don’t get obsessed with publishing right out of the gate—it is both distracting and discouraging.  Instead, spend your time and energy reading widely and critically, and learning to write effectively.  Enjoy it.  When you’re really ready you can start to approach the business angle of the industry with a strong foundation in the craft and with good writing habits to fall back on.

8. Why birds?  Both of your book Loon Baby and Silhouette of a Sparrow feature birds.  Are you a bird lover?
Yes, I know both of my published books are bird-centric, and I’m not really a “bird lady.”  I like bird watching, and I enjoyed learning more about birds for both books, but I also have a lot of manuscripts that aren’t bird-related.  I am passionate, however, about nature writing for kids, and I do think that birds are an easy access point for talking about and thinking about and learning about nature.  They are beautiful.  They are abundant.  They are both everyday and exotic.  They provide us with a hint of wildness, even in the most developed of landscapes.

9. Silhouette of a Sparrow was shortlisted for the Minnesota Book Award.  What was your reaction when you found out your book was a finalist?
I was thrilled to be named a finalist, and excited that Silhouette of a Sparrow was in such good company.  We have an amazing literary community in MN, and the number of talented children’s/YA writers is staggering.  We raise the bar for each other, and so the bar is very high indeed.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I was honored to be recognized, and the gala was really fun!

10. Are you working on a new book?  Can you tell us a bit about it?
I am drafting a brand new YA novel right now.  It is contemporary, has a guy narrator, and involves a lot of locksmithing and European travel.  That’s all I’ll say, except for that I’m in love with it!  I’m also always submitting picture books—right now there is one about swimming and sea creatures (surprise, surprise), one about camping and rock hunting, and yes, another bird book about the Sandhill Crane migration.

11. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Silhouette of a Sparrow?
I wanted to write a love story between two women that was just that—a love story.  It is not an issue book or a coming out story.  I think everyone can relate to and appreciate a story about finding someone who changes us, who helps us discover who we are and who we want to become.  I hope that Silhouette of a Sparrow is that story.  Oops, that’s not one sentence!  How about this:  I think you’ll like it, and, well, it’s really short.  ☺

Thanks Molly!
If you would like to win a copy of Silhouette of a Sparrow please enter here:  Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway.

Poem in my Post: William Wordsworth

Poem in my Post:  Daffodils by William Wordsworth

April is National Poetry month and every Sunday this month I will be highlighting a poet and a poem.

On the last Sunday in April, I wanted to pick a poem that represents the beauty and hope of Spring.  It has been snowing all month here in Minnesota and winter has seemed never ending.  This week we went from a huge snowstorm on Monday to Friday being 70 degrees.  Today as I write this I am (finally) sitting on my deck soaking up some much needed sunshine.  There are no daffodils yet bloomed near my home but I can't wait to see them as they represent the surest sign that Spring has arrived.  Oh please let it be Spring.  

William Wordsworth has captured my heart today with his beautiful poem.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poem in my Post: William Shakespeare

Poem in my Post:  William Shakespeare

April is National Poetry month and every Sunday this month I will be highlighting a poet and a poem.

This week I chose to highlight William Shakespeare because his death day is on Tuesday, April 23rd.  The 23rd is also the death day of Miquel de Cervantes.  April 23rd is now the International Day of the Book and The Festival of the Rose.  It is also the Feast day of Saint George the dragon.  We celebrate this day in my house because my daughter's name is Georgia and it is her Saint's day.  We celebrate by giving each of our kids a book and Georgia gets a rose in honor of her Saint.

Here is the legend:  Legend has it that Saint George, Patron Saint of Catalonia (Spain) and international knight-errant, slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful Catalan princess. From the dragon's blood sprouted a rosebush, from which the hero plucked the prettiest rose for the princess. Hence the traditional Rose Festival celebrated in Barcelona since the Middle Ages to honor chivalry and love. In 1923, this lover's "festa" became even more poetic when it merged with "el dia del llibre", or The Day of the Book, to mark the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, the two giants of literary history, on April 23, 1616.

Do you celebrate April 23rd?

A Fairy Song by William Shakespeare

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire!
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Loon Baby by Molly Beth Griffin

Loon Baby By Molly Beth Griffin.  Illustrated by Anne Hunter

Loon Baby is a sweet, endearing story that begins with Loon Baby snuggled in his nest with his mother.

"In the great north woods
by a little round lake
in a soft, warm nest,
a baby loon lived with his mother." pg. 1

Loon baby is looking for his mother.  She dove into the deep lake for Baby's dinner and she hasn't come back yet.  Loon Baby is worried and searching for her.  He dips his head in the murky green lake but he cannot dive yet.  So he waits, and floats and paddles in circles.  Loon Baby is a story about the love a child has for it's mother.

The artwork is full of beautiful watercolors is done in blue and green tones.  The artwork contains some animals and lake creatures of the north, like fish, turtles, moose and a bear.  The effect of the cool watercolors is calming and soothing.

The loon is the Minnesota state bird and while the loon travels south for the winter, hearing their lonesome beautiful call in the morning is a soulful sound.  I could listen to the loons sing all day, it is so memorable.

Griffin has crafted a lovely story for families who love nature and animals.  Loon Baby is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers as the text is poetic and repetitive.  Loon Baby will make the perfect gift for a new mother and it is meant for someone who owns a cabin and can hear the loons call.  Loon Baby reminds me of summer at the lake when I was a child.  I wish I had this book when my kids were young.  They would have adored it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Based on the author's own experiences, Thanhha Lai has created a book for young adults that tells the story of her escape during the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam war.  Ha, is a brave 10 year old girl who has to leave behind her home, her beloved papaya tree and the hope that her father, who has been missing for 9 years, will find them.  Her family escapes aboard a Navy ship in the harbor and float slowly down the river to the ocean.  They float in darkness, with rationed food, crowded aboard a ship waiting for rescue.  Weeks pass by.

“After two weeks at sea
the commander calls
all of us above deck
for a formal lowering of
our yellow flag
with three red stripes.

South Vietnam no longer exists.”  Pg.85

They are refugees, who have lost their country and the only home they’ve ever known because of war.  They land in Guam, live in a city of tents and eat canned fruit as they wait for someone to sponsor them.

“Our sponsor
looks just like
an American should.

Tall and pig-bellied,
Black cowboy hat,
Tan cowboy boots,
Teeth shining,
Red in face,
Golden in hair.

I love him
And imagine him
To be a good-hearted and loud
And the owner of a horse.” Pg.111

Their sponsor, the cowboy, takes them to his home in Alabama.

Inside Out and Back Again takes place over the period of one year.  Ha faces many challenges but finds outs how strong her family is after they have suffered so much.  This is a story about a resilient family, their difficult journey, and the adjustments they make, as they settle into a new country and a new way of life.

Lai has done a spectacular job of creating a novel for adolescents that captures the experience of growing up in a country that is foreign to you.  Inside Out and Back Again is well-written, entertaining and award winning.

Guess what my seventh grader will be reading this summer?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Molly Beth Griffin Guest Post + Giveaway

Molly Beth Griffin Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to Molly Beth Griffin.  Molly is the April Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  Molly has written an entertaining Young Adult book about a serious subject called Silhouette of a Sparrow.  Molly's book was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.  Besides being an author, Molly is a teacher at the Loft Literary center in Minnepolis.  Read on to learn about genre-bending.  Welcome Molly!

Genre-Bending: Writing Poetic Prose for Kids

(In celebration of National Poetry Month)

Molly Beth Griffin

“Oh!  You’re a writer?  What do you write?”

 Well.  I wrote stories and poems as a kid; was deep into SLAM as a teenager; transitioned to creative nonfiction in college; focused on picture books in graduate school and published one; and now I have a young adult novel out.  So I’m never sure how to answer that question without launching into a monologue.

 The truth is that the boundaries between the genres aren’t solid for me.  I firmly believe that all fact is infused with fiction and all fiction is born from fact.  I also believe that the best poetry tells a story, and, perhaps most importantly, all prose should be poetic.  Prose written for young people, in particular, should be written not just for the eye and the mind, but also for the ear.

 When we write for the youngest audiences, the sounds of words are as important as their meanings.  Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition give the lap-sitter an experience of literature that is pleasurable, engaging, and intimate.  When books are performed for a child like poetry or music or theater, the child learns to love reading before he or she can even begin to decipher the symbols on the page.

 I think that the “performative” quality of literature continues to be important, even for teens.  How can
we infuse our writing for these audiences with rich, complex language that engages all of their senses?
And how can we encourage older children and teens to continue to savor the sounds of words and the rhythm of a well-crafted sentence?  We can endorse genre-bending, and inject our prose with poetry.

 A book has to have labels so that it can be found by the reader who needs it.  Libraries and bookstores have to be organized somehow.  But calling yourself a nonfiction writer does not mean that you don’t spin stories, and saying that a book is fiction does not mean that it isn’t poetry.  I have never published a poem, but I like to think that both my picture book and my debut novel are filled to the brink with poetry.  I hope that reading them will inspire kids and teens to love language, and encourage them to find poetry everywhere.

Molly Beth Griffin is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and a teacher at the Loft Literary Center.  Her first picture book, Loon Baby, came out in 2011 with Houghton Mifflin, and her first YA novel, Silhouette of a Sparrow, just came out with Milkweed Editions last fall.  Silhouette of a Sparrow is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Foreword's Book of the Year.  For more information about Molly’s books, events, school visits, manuscript critiques, and writing classes, please visit www.mollybethgriffin.com.

Thanks Molly!

If you would like to win a copy of Molly's book, Silhouette of a Sparrow enter here:  Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poem in My Post: Survivor's Guilt

Poem in My Post:  Survivor's Guilt by Patricia Kirkpatrick

April is National Poetry month and every Sunday this month I will be highlighting a poet and a poem.

I chose Minnesota Poet, Patricia Kirkpatrick because last night at the Minnesota Book Awards, she took home a prize for poetry for her collection called Odessa which is published by one of my favorite publishers, Milkweed Press.  Congrats Patricia!

I chose this particular poem because last week my husband's aunt Mary Jo passed away from a brain aneurysm.  She suffered her entire life from painful headaches. This is something I also suffer from and I just want to say that I will miss Aunti Mary Jo a lot.  RIP Mary Jo Lanik

Survivor's Guilt

How I’ve changed may not be apparent.
I limp. Read and write, make tea at the stove
as I practiced in rehab. Sometimes, like fire,
a task overwhelms me. I cry for days, shriek
when the phone rings. Like a page pulled from flame,
I’m singed but intact: I don’t burn down the house.

Later, cleared to drive, I did outpatient rehab. Others
lost legs or clutched withered minds in their hands.
A man who can’t speak recognized me
and held up his finger. I knew he meant
One year since your surgery. Sixteen since his.
Guadalupe wishes daily to be the one before. Nobody
is that. Sometimes, like love, the neurons just cross fire.
You don’t get everything back.

Patricia Kirkpatrick
Source: Poetry (April 2012).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Giveaway Winners

Giveaway Winners

Last week there were two book contests going on here at Booksnob.  So I'm going to announce the winners.  The winner of The Mapmaker's War by Ronlyn Domingue is:

Emily C from Minnesota

The winner of Square Peg by L. Todd Rose is:

Natasha D from Illinois

Congratulations Ladies.
I hope you enjoy your new books!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poetry Blog Tour - Television

Poetry Blog Tour

It's National Poetry month!  So in honor of poems and poets, Serena at the blog Savvy Verse and Wit set up this amazing Poetry blog tour.  So go check out all the blog stops on tour this month.

I have chosen a poem by one of my favorite childhood writers, Roald Dahl.  I LOVE his books.  So when I discovered his poem Television I knew I had to feature it.  I have one television in my house and I have a love/hate relationship with it.  It renders most of my family immobile and if I had a choice I will gladly life without it.

Roald Dahl is an author of novels for children and young adults, screen plays, short stories and poems.  My favorite book written by Dahl is The Enormous Crocodile.  I read this book to my kids several times when they were about 7 or 8 and I have fond memories of laughing out loud with my kids about this crocodile.  I've also read James and the Giant Peach aloud and of course am fond of Mathilda and Charlie and the Chocolate factory.  I love Roald Dahl's creative imagination.  His poetry is a treat, it fun, whimsical and opinionated.  Enjoy!


The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

Roald Dahl

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I have spent the last few weeks immersed in a world created by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.  As I write this I am listening to music from the book that Zafon has on his website, it is so beautiful and calming that you should listen to it while you read my book review.  Carlos Ruiz Zafon Website

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my top ten favorite reads of all time. I have fond memories of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books hidden underneath Barcelona and I long to visit the place in my mind again and again. In fact when I was reading it I slept with the book under my pillow so I would dream about the world in which I was reading about.  It was truly one of my most memorable and meaningful reading experiences.

Last week I finished reading the second book in the series The Angel's Game, which really takes place in time before the Shadow of the Wind.  I reviewed it recently and you can check out the review here:  Review.  When I finished The Angel's Game, I immediately began reading The Prisoner of Heaven and while it is a book that can easily stand alone, it is a book that ties the other two books together and connects the dots.

The Prisoner of Heaven is a literature lover's dream of what a good story is.  It takes place in Barcelona, this time in 1957 at Christmas.  Daniel Sempere is all grown up and married with a child.  His father Senor Sempere, owner of the independently owned bookstore, Sempere & Son, is aging.  Three generations of the Sempere & Son are in the pages of Zafon's books.  Fermin, Daniel's best friend wants to get married but a man from his past has shown up to collect a debt and Fermin is so anxious he can't eat.  Daniel decides he must help him but first Fermin must tell him the story of his past, a past that
is too horrific to recount.

Thus Zafon takes his readers on a mysterious adventure into the life of prison under Franko's dictatorship in the 1940's.  As Daniel makes connections to his past and to his deceased mother, the reader makes connections to the other two books.  Zafon leaves a surprise for us at the end when he leaves the door open for another book and another visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  Yes!

Frankly I am sad to be leaving this creative world of Zafon's and am simply begging him to write more books for me, his biggest fan.  Truly, this isn't a book review, it is a love letter to Zafon.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books trilogy is majestic, gothic, dark, romantic and all kinds of cool adjectives.  Enter this enchanting world, if you dare.  Frankly I don't know how you could resist.

"In my experience, whenever someone discovered that place (the cemetery of forgotten books), Their reaction was always one of bewitchment and amazement.  The beauty and the mystery of the premises reduced the visitor to a silent, dream-like contemplation.  Naturally, Fermin had to be different.  He spent the first half hour hypnotized, wandering like a man possessed through every nook and cranny of the large jigsaw formed by the winding labyrinth of books" pg.265

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway

Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway

Molly Beth Griffin is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob for the month of April.  Her book Silhouette of a Sparrow is up for the Minnesota Book Award and the award ceremony is this weekend.  Molly along with her publisher, Milkweed Press are giving away 5 hardcover copies of her amazing Young Adult novel to residents of the U.S.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park--a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she’s expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians--her father’s wealthy cousin and the matron’s stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is a coming-of-age story about a search for wildness in a confining time, and a simultaneous quest for security in an era full of unrest. It is the tale of a young woman’s discovery of the science of risk and the art of rebellion, and of course, the power of unexpected love.

Contest Rules:
U.S. only
Ends 4/30 at midnight
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my top ten favorite reads of all time.  So when I realized there was a sequel and then a trilogy, I couldn't wait to read them.  I have fond memories of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books hidden underneath Barcelona and I long to visit the place in my mind again and again.

"Welcome to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Isabella.
Isabella looked up toward the glass dome and became lost in that impossible vision of white rays of light that crisscrossed a babel of tunnels, footbridges, and bridges, all leading into a cathedral made of books."

"This place is a mystery.  A sanctuary.  Every book, every volume you see, has a soul.   The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.  Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.  In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader's hands, a new spirit..." Pg. 519

The Angel's Game is similar to The Shadow of the Wind in writing style, genre, and storyline.  The Shadow of the Wind is the better book if only because it came first.  The Angel's game is a book for literature lovers, it is a multi-genred, mysterious, gothic romantic thriller that will keep you flipping the pages.  The Angel's Game is full of plot twists that will leave a pile of dead bodies at the end of a dark, shadowy lane.

The main character is a writer named David Martin.  He writes serial noir, pulp fiction.  He has always wanted to write a novel but his contract is for 20 years and his publishers are money hungry men who refuse to give up their money ticket.  A mysterious publisher shows up offering David a book deal that is too good to be true and too good to pass up.

I can't even begin to explain the twists and turns of the plot that takes the reader for a wild roller coaster ride with the main character, sitting right next to you.  You both will need to scream and look over your shoulder and wonder who and what is happening.

The more I think about this book, the more I like it and the more I like it, it makes me realize that Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a writer in disguise.  Because he is really a genius!

Heading off to devour book number three, The Prisoner of Heaven.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Poem in my Post: Phenomenal Woman

Poem in my Post:  Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

April is National Poetry Month and so I have decided to highlight a favorite poem and poet of mine once a week on Sundays in April.

I love Maya Angelou.  She has a pure voice and she strikes me as a woman who doesn't sugar coat the truth.  Her poetry is straight forward, amazing, empowering and well, Phenomenal.
Every woman should memorize this poem and feel the strength within our bones.  Love it!!

Maya Angelou has a new book out this month entitled Mom and Me and Mom.  It is a memoir about her relationship with her mother.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Incognegro by Mat Johnson

Incognegro.   A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson.  Art by Warren Pleece

My students have been reading different graphic novels in their English classes surrounding the theme of revolutions.  One of them happened to leave Incognegro in my class and must have forgot where they left it. So naturally I picked it up and decided to read it.  I could never resist the temptation of a book lying unread in my classroom.

In the author's note Mat Johnson states "he grew up a black boy who looked white in a predominately African American neighborhood.  As a blond African American child, he didn't fit in.  So Mat played a game with his cousin where they would go incognegro or undercover to be "race spies" where his skin color would be an asset to the African American community.  After I read this, I was hooked and I took the book home for the weekend.

"Between 1889 and 1918, 2522 negroes were murdered by lynch mobs in America.  That we know of.  Now, since the beginning of the 30's, most of the white papers don't even consider it news."  Pg. 1.  Incognegro takes place during Jim Crow period when the newspapers no longer covered the large amount of lynchings happening in the South. A light-skinned African American reporter from the North heads South to investigate a lynching.  He passes as a white man when he is Incognegro.  He takes pictures of the people at the mob lynching parties as they pose with the murdered victim and takes notes on who committed the crime.  Then he heads home to Harlem where he writes the story and publishes it.

Incognegro is a page turner, although it is sometimes hard to turn those pages when you know a lynching is going to take place or something bad is going to happen. At the heart of the story lies two brothers, one from the North who is light-skinned and one from the South who is dark-skinned. Incognegro finds his brother looked up in a Southern jail, the next in line for a public lynching.

Incognegro is well-written and beautifully illustrated in black and white tones.  Based on the true story of Walter White, former head of the NAACP, it brings forth an important story that is an neglected part of American history missing from the textbooks.  It also comes straight to us from the front lines of the
war for equality and contains a powerful story that we all need to know and remember.

Incognegro bravely confronts the enemy and joins a revolution to change the meaning of race.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

A journey across the ocean,
A young woman on her own,
A stark wilderness in northern Minnesota
in 1896.

Gunflint Trail.
The beginning of a small town, Grand Marias.
The Lighthouse Road.

A logging camp in the deep woods,
an apothecary in town
a fish house on Lake Superior.

Dogs.  Wolves.  Bears.
Oh boy.

Thea alone, pregnant, lost.
Rebekah found, transformed, hidden.
Hosea inventive, wealthy, deceptive.
Odd, hardworking, misunderstood, loved.

A motherless child.
An incestuous affair.

Boat building.
Snow falling.
Whiskey running.
Trees toppling.
Ice breaking.
Wolves howling.
Wind blowing.
Waves crashing.


Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Winners!

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Winners!

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is giving away five copies of her Young Adult book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, to Booksnob readers and followers.  Kirstin's book has been listed on the ALA 2013 Rainbow list and the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

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

Mary P from Australia
Linda D. from Florida
Lauren B from Kentucky
Zemira D from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Stephanie from NewYork 
Check out Steph's blog at http://www.stephthebookworm.com/

Congratulations People!!  You are gonna love this book!

Here is an excerpt from my book review.  I happened to review it like one of Gabe's radio shows.  

"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." 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Announcing the April Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the April Author in the Spotlight

Today marks the first day of Spring Break for me and we can't forget, April Fool's Day.  Three cheers for Spring Break, as I need the rest and time away from school.  Not a big fan of April fool's day so I won't be playing any jokes on you.

This month's Hometown Track Author is Molly Beth Griffin.  She is the author of two books, Silhouette of a Sparrow, which is young adult and a children's book called Loon Baby.  Her YA book, is a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in the Young People's Literature category.  The winners will be announced on April 13th.  Good Luck Molly!!

Here is a synopsis of Silhouette of a Sparrow from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park--a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she’s expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds
herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians--her father’s wealthy cousin and the matron’s stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is a coming-of-age story about a search for wildness in a confining time, and a simultaneous quest for security in an era full of unrest. It is the tale of a young woman’s discovery of the science of risk and the art of rebellion, and of course, the power of unexpected love.

This month you can expect a book review, a author interview and a chance to win a copy of Molly Beth Griffin's book, Silhouette of a Sparrow.

I don't know if you've noticed but Minnesota has an abundance of great authors.  I am so happy to be living in a literary place.  Since it is Spring Break I plan to read A LOT and grade a lot of papers too.  I sure hope the sun stays out and melts all the snow here.  So here is to a busy April, which includes junior high baseball, an ice skating show, a wedding shower and lots of reading.  See you around the blogosphere.