Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

Wild Boy Giveaway ends at midnight tonight!  Hurry up and enter.

August has been the busiest month of the summer for me.  I attended multiple trainings, school has officially started, I got a horrible cold that is still lingering, there was an outbreak of lice in my family so the entire house had to be cleaned and the laundry pile was the highest I have ever seen.  Good grief.  In some ways I am relieved August in finally over but through all the stress, I was able to relax at the end of the night with a good book.  Two of which, Wild Boy and The Fairy Ring are by August Author in the Spotlight, Mary Losure.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Wild Boy by Mary Losure, click here:  Wild Boy Giveaway

Please check out my book review of Wild Boy.  The story of Wild Boy is fascinating.  I've never heard of children surviving in the wild like this before.  Losure is a great researcher and she does a great job explaining the journey of this boy who is later called Victor.  This is Losure second book of narrative non-fiction and it reads much like a novel.  It is a fast read packed full of historical information.

Wild Boy Book Review

Please check out my review of The Fairy Ring.  The Fairy Ring is a well-researched, excellent book of narrative non-fiction for young adults.  The Fairy Ring is full of primary sources like pictures, letters and quotes.  Losure even met and interviewed Elsie's son.  I had heard of the Cottingley fairies from a film called A Fairy Tale.  Reading The Fairy Ring, I learned the story from first hand personal accounts of Elsie and Frances.  Frances wrote an autobiography because she wanted her children and grandchildren to know the truth.

The Fairy Ring Book Review

Next you can check out the Author Interview of Mary Losure.  Read it to discover the story behind Wild Boy and to find how she began writing narrative non-fiction. Mary also shares the some information about the new book she is working on and so much more.

Mary Losure Author Interview

Then check out the guest post by Mary Losure.  She has written a guest post on book trailers and blogs with some questions for readers and I hope you take a moment to read, reflect and comment.  Lots of readers have already commented and you can weigh in with your opinion.

Mary Losure Guest Post

It has been a pleasure to work with Mary Losure this month and I would like to thank her for being the August Minnesota Author in the Spotlight.  I met Mary Losure at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October, 2012.  I love narrative non-fiction and was interested in both of her books.   I am so glad I was able to feature her on BookSnob.  Please check out Mary's website at

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wild Boy by Mary Losure

Wild Boy.  The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure.  Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

In 1797, villagers from the south of France found a Wild Boy in the woods.  He was captured in 1798 and brought to the village square where he was tied up for all to see.  He escaped and was later recaptured again.

The Wild Boy couldn't talk, he was naked and had a long scar across his neck as if someone had tried to kill him and did not succeed.  He was around ten when was taken away from the woods and the nature he loved and put in a home where he could be studied by scientists.  Eventually he was sent to Paris where scientists would try to civilize him with an education and teach him to speak.

The story of Wild Boy is fascinating.  I've never heard of children surviving in the wild like this before.  Losure is a great researcher and she does a great job explaining the journey of this boy who is later called Victor.  This is Losure second book of narrative non-fiction and it reads much like a novel.  It is a fast read packed full of historical information.

Wild Boy is a beautifully crafted book.  The end pages are maps of France that outline the journey of the Wild Boy.  Each chapter begins with a quote from various sources that published information about the boy who was called the Savage of Aveyron.  Illustrator, Ering has created beautiful illustrations in black and white charcoal to enhance the story.

"To speak of the Wild Boy of Aveyon is to revive a name which no longer arouses any kind of interest; it is to recall a creature forgotten by those who merely saw him and disdained by those who have thought to pass judgement on him."  Pg. 126  Quote by Dr. Itard.  Dr. Itard is the man who thought he could teach the Wild Boy to speak and who later wrote a book about him.

Losure has crafted a version of the story that will pull at your emotions as you begin to fall in love with the Wild Boy of Aveyron.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks

A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks

Have you heard of Gordon Parks??

Gordon Parks is the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood film. The first African American hired by Life magazine as a professional photographer.  He paved the way and fought racism and poverty with a camera and created a lasting legacy with his photography.

Gordon Parks was born in Kansas in 1912.  He was poor but he didn't know it until his mother died and she arranged for him to go live with his sister in St. Paul, Minnesota when he was 16 year old.  He was thrown out of his sister's house (by her husband) at the end of the week, so he ends up homeless, hungry and cold, riding the streetcars all night for shelter and warmth.

Gordon Parks falls in love and fights to get an education.  He is a Renaissance Man and he writes songs, composes, plays the piano, and travels with a orchestra.  He travels to Chicago, Harlem, New York, Washington D.C. and many other places while the country is in the midst of a Depression.  Gordon is resourceful even when he has no idea where his next meal is coming from and he never gives up hope.  He walks away from danger when he can and fights back when he needs to.  And he buys a camera and teaches himself how to use it.

A Choice of Weapons is the chronicle of Parks life from age 16 (about 1928) through World War II in 1945.  Parks is a good writer and storyteller.  He communicates to readers what is was like to grow up black and poor in America.  He shares his struggles with homelessness, unemployment and racism.  He talks about how he tried to live up to his mother's values and advice on putting hard work above anger and hate, and how hard it was when people were trying to hold you down.

The only thing I missed in A Choice of Weapons was photographs.  I wanted to see some of the pictures he is famous for and photos of family.  Instead I had to do a search to find them on the web.

I have a personal connection to Gordon Parks.  My grandparents grew up in the same Frogtown neighborhood in St. Paul that Gordon Parks lived in when he moved to Minnesota.  I, myself have also lived in the Frogtown neighborhood and walked the same streets, even got married at a church there.  As I read the book, I could't help wondering if my grandparents and Gordon Parks ever came across each other in a street car or walking down the street.  Who knows?  Anything is possible.  My grandparents, were born of immigrants, and lived in the same Frogtown neighborhood all of their lives and Gordon Parks, transplanted from Kansas, struggled and moved and made a name for himself.  Gordon Parks succeeded and prospered against all odds.

A very important and moving Autobiography.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sit Down and Write

Sit Down and Write

Sit Down and Write begins today and lasts for two weeks.  Basically it is a time to focus on writing instead of some of the "other" things that you usually spend your free time doing.

This is my second time participating in the writing challenge.  I plan to write about 5 book reviews on my blog as well as work on writing the two books I have started.  I am super excited to see how much I get written and how much research I am able to accomplish.  I am a bit worried that my writing progress will be minimal because school has started and my students arrived in my classroom today with 100 degree weather outside.  I will do my best to accomplish my writing goals.

Anyone can participate in this and you can sign up on Stories Inside blogspot.

Happy Writing!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mary Losure Author Interview + Giveaway

Mary Losure Author Interview + Giveaway

Mary Losure is the August, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she has agreed to answer some questions about her new book Wild Boy.  Read on to discover the story behind Wild Boy and to find how she began writing narrative non-fiction. Mary also shares the some information about the new book she is working on and so much more.  Read on and enjoy!

Welcome, Mary!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Before I started writing for children, I was a reporter. And before that, my husband and I had a farm in Iowa.  So I’ve had several previous lives!

2. What inspired you to write to Wild Boy?  

I ran across the story of the wild boy in my reading, and I couldn’t help wondering: what would it be like to be wild? What is inside the mind of a person who is both human and wild?  The more I read
about him, the more he interested me.
3. Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer and why you chose to write narrative non-fiction instead of fiction?

I became a reporter more or less by accident, and after that I wrote every day. Then around ten years ago, I began covering a long-running news story with some interesting twists and turns I thought would make good narrative non-fiction.  My first book, OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY, came out in 2002 from the University of Minnesota Press.  A few years after that, I decided I wanted to write books full time.

4. How much research is involved when you write non-fiction?

TONS! Let me say it again -- TONS.  You have to love research, you have to be a little bit crazy, to write children’s non-fiction that requires the amount of research I put into my books.

5. From idea to publication, how long does it take to write one non-fiction book?

 I always have more than one book going and work on them in turn, so it’s hard to say exactly.  But each book takes several years.

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

I love to read.

As an author, I’ve been influenced most by journalists who write narrative nonfiction I admire.  I’m thinking of non-fiction bestsellers (for grownups) like INTO THE WILD, THE ORCHID THIEF, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, THE RIGHT STUFF.

7. What is the most important lesson/idea you want readers to take away from your book?

I would like my child readers to be inspired to think more about the real world and what an amazing place it is –how many interesting things go on in real life, not just in fiction.

8. Are you working on a third non-fiction book for children?  If so, can you tell us what it is about?

I am!
It’s about an angry, lonely 12-year-old boy who’s looking for magic and grows up to be the world’s greatest alchemist. At the very, very end of the book he becomes famous as the great scientist Isaac Newton (since on the way to becoming an alchemist, he’s discovered the laws of the universe). But for most of the book he’s this very strange, very secretive person: the world’s last sorcerer. It’s called ISAAC THE ALCHEMIST.

9. How do you carve time out of you busy day to write?  Do you have any advice for future writers?

I’m lucky in that I’m a full time writer, so I don’t really have to carve time away from the rest of my life the way a lot of people do. I write in the mornings, get other things done in the afternoons.

To kids, I would say: go out and live adventurously, think of lots of things you’d like to do, and be, and lots of places you’d like to go.  Then, if you do end up wanting to write books, you’ll have something to write about.

To grownups, I would say:  if you want to write, write. Be patient and persistent, and remember that everyone has a different path.

10. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Wild Boy?

Because you’re curious to see how a twelve-year-old boy who managed to survive all by himself for years in the wilderness will fare in the world of humans.

Thanks Mary!!
If you would like to win a copy of Mary Losure's book Wild Boy please click here:  Wild Boy Giveaway

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvator

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steiefvator
Audio Book Review

I haven't listened to many audio books but I think that is going to start changing and let me tell you why. Last year I listened to two audio books on a 2000 mile road trip but this year I learned something that I want to share with Book Snob readers that has helped me listen to more audio books.  While you are cooking or cleaning, plug in your audio book.  Listen while you work.  I have started listening on the way home from work as well and I will tell you what I have found out.  I don't mind cleaning or sitting in traffic as much because I want to keep listening.  So audio books have officially helped decrease my stress and made my house cleaner.  YAY!!

Disclosure:  I received this audio book for free from Audio Books Sync

Blue is the daughter of a clairvoyant, in fact she belongs to a whole family of psychics, but Blue does not have the second sight.  She has heard, for as long as she can remember, that if she kisses her true love she will kill him.  Blue is reluctant to fall in love but the world is colluding against her when she meets the four raven boys.  The first time she meets Gansey is on the Ghost Road.  He is already dead and Blue is intrigued by him and wonders why and how he ended up walking the ley line.  When she meets him and his friends later, she falls for his friend Adam.

There are four Raven Boys who go to the local prep school in town.  Gansey is the wealthy, good-looking one who is searching for a dead Welsh king who is supposed to be on the Ley Line.  Adam is his friend who goes to prep school on a scholarship, Ronan is the angsty one, who is full of anger and actually has pet raven and then there is Noah.  Noah is shy, and actually has a secret that is sure to shock you.

Listening to The Raven Boys, the story starts out a bit slow and confusing, basically because it has a lot of characters to remember and the story is complex.   Once you are able to sort through all the nuances and layers and can remember the characters, the story picks up and is really good.  I loved the psychic and magical elements of the story and enjoyed learning about Tarot card readings and the Ley Line.  The Raven Boys combines history, legend, fantasy and friendship in the first book of a intended trilogy.  The second book is The Dream Thieves is set to be released on September 17th and I have plans to listen to it.

Have you listened to any audio books lately?

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure

The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World.  A True Story by Mary Losure

Do you believe in fairies?  I do, I do.

Frances and Elsie were cousins who lived in Cottingley, Yorkshire, England during World War I.  Frances was the youngest at age nine, and she admits to seeing fairies in the woods. Frances told her family about it and of course they didn't believe her.  Elsie was fifteen and an excellent artist so after a couple of weeks of relentless teasing by their parents, Elsie comes up with a plan to photograph the fairies.

This is the true story of two girls and a few photographs that changed their lives and fooled the world into believing in fairies.  People wanted to believe in fairies, gnomes and other creatures of the shadow world and so when these pictures surfaced, they became proof to those that believed.  Frances and Elsie's photos made the covers of magazine's and newspapers.  Some people believed, like the famous author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,  and other's set out to prove it was a hoax.

The Fairy Ring is a well-researched, excellent book of narrative non-fiction for young adults.  The Fairy Ring is full of primary sources like pictures, letters and quotes.  Losure even met and interviewed Elsie's son.  I had heard of the Cottingley fairies from a film called A Fairy Tale.  Reading The Fairy Ring, I learned the story from first hand personal accounts of Elsie and Frances.  Frances wrote an autobiography because she wanted her children and grandchildren to know the truth.

I loved the historical and artistic parts of the books as well.  Photography has greatly changed throughout the years.  Nowadays people can photoshop all kinds of images and creations onto the photo.  It is interesting to see how these pictures were taken, how history has changed art and photography and to see how two girls unintentionally fooled the world.

Do you believe in fairies? I do. I want to.  I do.
I have loved fairies since I was a little girl.  I dreamed I would someday fly away with Peter Pan and never grow up and get to play with fairies all day.   I have only met fairies in my imagination and in the books I read and the movies I see.  Yet I know that if I was alive when these photos were first published, I would have been a believer!

What other books have you read about the Cottingley Faires??

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

Tara is in big trouble.  She has no friends and has agreed to do something stupid in exchange for friendship.  Basically, Tara broke into school to steal a goat.  She gets caught and is suspended for the last two weeks of school.  Her parents decide to send her away to stay with her Aunt and Uncle, and cousin Emily for the summer in Willow Falls.

Tara is a shy, quiet, fade into the background kind of kid.  Her cousin Emily, decides to throw her a big party, the last thing Tara wants, so she can meet others her own age and make a friend or two.  For the first time in her life, Tara meets people who become her truest friends.  She also meets a medaling strange old woman named Angelina D'Angelo.   With her 13th birthday coming up, Angelina has given Tara an ultimatum, to find the 13 mysterious, seemingly unconnected items on the list before her 13th birthday or face the consequences.

Turning 13 is a milestone birthday, a rite of passage in and of itself.  "At thirteen your soul becomes settled in your body. You become the core of the person you will be for the rest of your life." pg.  126.  Wendy Mass's characters celebrate becoming who they are in unique ways and her stories tend to revolve around a birthday.  Let's face it, birthdays are important to kids everywhere.

I absolutely adore Wendy Mass.  She writes books for pre-teens and she highlights values and important milestones in their lives, like turning 13.  She is very inspiring to me as a parent and I encourage my kids to read her books.  My daughter will be turning 13 in three months time and this book will be one of her gifts.  We created a time capsule for her as well and she gets a cell phone, to join Facebook, shave her legs and other milestone moments in a girls life.  13 is a big year of change for boys and girls.  I'm so excited for her.

The other book I adore by Wendy Mass and I had my son read when he turned 13 is Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.  I highly recommend Wendy's Mass's books as a parent.  They are clean, creative and value oriented.  She includes important life lessons for her characters that 11-13 year olds can relate to.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Short Story Saturday

Short Story Saturday!

This is a new feature here on Book Snob.  The image comes from the blog The Praire reader.

About three weeks ago, I decided I needed to incorporate more short stories into my repertoire of reading.  I really like short stories but I love novels and memoirs and other types of books, which tend to leave, perfectly good short story volumes languishing on my shelves unread.  So in order to read more short stories, I thought, why not read one short story a week on Saturday.

So I grabbed the closest short story book available and it happened to be This Close.  Stories by Jessica Frances Kane, which was sent to me by Graywolf Press earlier this year.
Kane is a really good writer and I am enjoying her stories so far.

I figure the advantage of reading one short story a week, will enable me to complete about one short story book a quarter during the year.

I am wondering Do you read short stories?
How do you incorporate them into your reading life?
Do you have any short story collections you would recommend?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mary Losure Guest Post + Giveaway

Mary Losure Guest Post + Giveaway

Mary Losure is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Book Snob during the wonderful month of August.  She has written a guest post on book trailers and blogs with some questions for readers and I hope you take a moment to reflect and comment.  Mary also talks about her next book!  Yay!  So without further adieu I would like to welcome Mary to BookSnob.  Please read on.

Mary's guest post.

Hello and thanks so much Laura for inviting me. 
 I love book bloggers! They’re interested in your work, they put your book covers on their blogs, they ask you thoughtful and interesting questions, and they publish the answers to the world.
So here’s to bloggers!

For my Guest Post, I’d like to do something I’ve never done before, and that’s to ask readers this question: What, that you have read online, makes you decide buy a book?
As a Reclusive Author (and there are legions of us) I hope the answer to that question is not “I buy a book because I feel I know the author personally because I’ve read so much about her/him on her blog.”  Because I don’t have a blog! In the Cyberworld, I’m sort of a recluse.
 As I think I mentioned.
So in my ideal world, people would read books because they’re interested in the people IN the books.  Like --just let us say hypothetically -- girls who take pictures of fairies and fool Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or a boy running wild in the forests of France in 1797.

Another question…Does a book trailer ever get you to buy a book? I mean, I’m just asking.  
I didn’t do a trailer for THE FAIRY RING but I’ve kind of thought about it. It would be fun. But it would also take a lot of time. 
 I did do one (well, actually, our son made it, from photos my husband took in France) about the wild boy.  I LOVE this trailer, and at last count it’sgotten more than 800 views on YouTube.  But I do wonder if any of those 800 people decided to buy WILD BOY on the strength of watching the trailer.
Do trailers actually work if you are not already famous? I think that’s a question lots of writers and publishers would like to know the answer to. What do you think?
Right now, instead of making a trailer for THE FAIRY RING, I’m working on a new book, also non-fiction, about a strange and troubled boy born in 1642 who grew up to be the world’s greatest alchemist.
Does anybody know who he is?  I’ll be happy to post the answer if anyone is curious.
I’d love to hear from you, whatever your thoughts.
Thanks for reading this.  
Best wishes, 
Mary Losure

Thanks Mary!!!
If you would like to win a copy of Mary Losure's latest book, Wild Boy, please enter here:  Wild Boy Giveaway

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Emmy of Whistling Well Farm by Charlie Johnson

Emmy of Whistling Well Farm by Charlie Johnson.  Illustrated by Barb Bjornson

Emmy is a Springer Spaniel who lives on an apple farm in Afton, Minnesota.  In Emmy of Whistling Well Farm, Emmy explains her various jobs on the farm from chasing crows out of the apple trees to chasing all the squirrels and rabbits away from the vegetables.  She loves to welcome people to the farm and to pose for pictures with families.  Emmy shows people where to find the pumpkins and how to dig up mums and even how to feed the chickens and turkeys.

As I read through Emmy of the Whistling Well Farm for the first time, I found myself smiling at the antics of Emmy.  Simply put, this wonderful book made me happy.  I found joy in discovering the farm through Emmy's eyes.   This delightful children's book is one that I will treasure and share with others.  The artwork is done in bright colorful hues and there is subtle humor within that will make you happy to read this children's book again and again, as your child is sure to demand it.

Charlie Johnson wrote this book about his dog, Emmy and his farm, The Whistling Well farm in memory of his wife, Carol.  You can visit the farm in the fall to pick a large variety of apples and of course to meet the star attraction, Emmy.   Guess where we are going this fall?  I can't wait.

My daughter, Georgia and her friend, Samantha met Emmy a week ago outside of a store on Grand Avenue, during the annual Paws on Grand days.  They fell in love with her instantly and I knew I needed to read Johnson's book.

Emmy of Whistling Well Farm is a Midwest Independent Book Award finalist.  You can visit Whistling Well farm online at

P.S.  The well really whistles.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Final Four by Paul Volponi

Final Four by Paul Volponi

"Live Radio Broadcast of the Game.
There are three broadcasters, a play by play man, a color commentator, and sideline reporter", Laura also known as Book Snob.

Note:  The book review of Final Four will be written in a similar format to parts of the book.

Color Commentator:  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is it, the final four, the big game between Michigan State Spartans and underdog, Troy University Trojans.  Who will win remains to be seen, but both sides are anxious to move up to the championship game.  "The last time the Spartans and the Trojans met for stakes this high was in the Trojan War of Greek Mythology, when the Spartans left a huge horse outside the gates of Troy." pg. 6.  I wonder, will the Trojans rewrite history here tonight?

Side line reporter:  There are 4 main players being represented in tonight's game, I mean book.

Malcolm is the leading scorer for the Spartans as a freshman and is ready to make his move into the NBA.  He is a little cocky and self-serving but maybe he has earned it.  He recently lost his sister in a drive-by shooting and you can see her image tattooed on his arm.

Michael Jordan also plays for the Spartans and you guessed it, was named after the famed NBA star Michael Jordan.  Michael is a junior benchwarmer thrown into the game.  He is roommates with Malcolm and lives under the shadow of his name.

Roko Bacic AKA Red Bull is a junior playing for Troy.  He is a native Croatian who has lived in the states since his senior year of high school.  His uncle taught him to play basketball on the streets of Croatia and now he is living his dream, playing college basketball.  His parents are very proud of him.  His uncle was killed by the Croatian mob.

Crispin Rice:  A senior who plays for the Trojans is in love with a girl named Hope and she becomes known as his good luck charm and is nicknamed, Hope of Troy.  He proposed to her in front of live television about 6 weeks earlier.  I wonder how things are going with this young couple.  Crispin needs to remain focused here today as the two teams head into battle.

Play by Play man:  I can't believe it folks, we are heading in to overtime tonight.  These teams are tightly matched and the players all deserve to come out on top.  You will have to read the book to find out what team wins the game.

Volponi, has written a book that takes place entirely during one basketball game.  Reading the Final Four is like having front row seats during a competitive game, where you know the key players first hand, their backgrounds, hopes, dreams and even failures.  The Final Four is full of court action, interviews, journal entries and play by play commentary.

Side Line Reporter:
I am not a big basketball fan so I am not sure I am qualified to report on the game, but the book was awesome for someone who doesn't know much about basketball.  For people who play the game, I can only imagine that they would love a book like this.  Final Four is fast paced, full of street courts and college ball, living a tough life and then living a dream.  Volponi doesn't shy away from some of the issues related to college ball like the fact that lots and lots of people are making money off the games, yet the players play for free and the aren't allowed to take any gifts or sell any of their tickets for games.  It is interesting to look at these issues and more, through the eyes of the players in The Final Four.

Color Commentator:  Like basketball?  Got Game?  Get yourself to The Final Four.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quote by Flannery O'Connor

Quote by Flannery O'Connor

On Friday night I visited Garrison Keillor's bookstore, Common Good Books on Grand and Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota.  This quote by Flannery O'Connor, written on a pillar, caught my eye.

I love Flannery O'Connor.  She is a marvelous storyteller and if you haven't read any of her books yet, I encourage you to read one.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

1460's.  The 100 year war between England and France has just ended.  Henry VI rules as the King of England but he is feeble-minded.  Edward of York has gone to battle against Henry to take the throne of England and he defeats him successfully again and again.  It is the York house against the Lancaster house and in history it is referred to as The Cousin's War or The War of the Roses.

The White Queen is Elizabeth Woodville.  She is a commoner who captured King Edward's heart and he married her in secret, going against all his advisors.  Some say she used witchcraft to capture him.
Edwards brother's are George (who competes for Edward's throne) and Richard (the famous Richard III who is defeated by Henry Tudor who begins the Tudor dynasty).  The White Queen details Elizabeth's rise to Queendom as well as all the other women in court and behind the scenes who vie for the power of the throne.  Women who will stop at nothing to put their son or husband on the throne.  England is a country divided between two houses.

Also a major part of the story is one of history's biggest mysteries, the disappearance of Elizabeth and Edward's two sons, Edward and Richard.  I confess I didn't know much about this mystery but now that I do, it is very intriguing.  Gregory does an excellent job of disseminating the research and then telling a proposed reality to what "might" have happened.

I adore Philippa Gregory and her historical fiction novels.  I can't get enough of history told from the perspective of the women and the political intrique behind the rulers who wear the crown.  History is told and written by the winners and so often women voices are left out of the historical narrative.  Philippa Gregory recreates that written historical record with meticulous research and shares English history from a different point of view.  I always learn so much when I read Gregory and she makes it interesting and memorable.  It is not like learning history from a textbook, it is definitely more fun than that.  She has written more than 20 books on English history based in the Tudor period and The Cousin's war period.

I suggest you read the books in this order for The Cousin's War series.
Lady of the Rivers.
The White Queen.
The Red Queen. (you could switch The White Queen and The Red Queen, your choice)
The Kingmaker's Daughter.
The White Princess.

Have you read any of Gregory's books??

The White Queen is a new 10 part series on Starz network begining tonight (August 10, 2013)
Here is the trailer.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries

Have you ever visited a Little Free Library??

On Tuesday I visited my first Little Free Library.  I saw a picture online of a little free library and started investigating to see if there were any in St. Paul and what I found surprised me.  Little Free Libraries are located all over the world, including my home town.  So that settled it, I need to visit one.  So I grabbed some books to donate, because the premise of the Little Free Library is to take a book and leave a book.  Then I picked up my kids,  to introduce them to this literary phenomena, and drove to my first Little Free Library on 4th Street in St. Paul.

At first we couldn't find it but then we looked a little harder and there it was on the street, next to the sidewalk.  We brought four books to donate to the library.  When we started looking through the books I couldn't believe it, there were books inside that I wanted to read by authors I absolutely love.  I noticed there were lots of books inside by Minnesota authors and that made me very happy.

I chose three books by three of my favorite authors that I haven't read yet.

1.  Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak ( he wrote The Book Thief and I am the Messenger and I loved both of these books)  My son looked at this one and determined he MIGHT read it.

2.  Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak)  So excited to read this one.

3.  Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander ( Robert Alexander is from Minneapolis and wrote one of my favorite books, The Kitchen Boy, which incidentally is being made into a movie)  Yay!!  Happy to find this one, even though it is an ex-library book.

My daughter Georgia found one book.

1.  Snap by Alison McGhee.  McGhee lives in Minneapolis and used to be a teacher at South, where I currently teach.  I have not read any of her books yet.

My son took this picture and he was in a hurry.  He didn't wait for me to smile but please note, I am super happy about this Little Free Library.

Since Tuesday I have visited three other Little Free Libraries.  All of them in Minneapolis.  One is located at Minneapolis Public Schools district office and I was there for a training on Wednesday, so I snapped this picture.  I didn't find any books in there that really interested me this time.

Then as I was running errands and re-routed around construction, I ran into two more Little Free Libraries.  They are significantly more of them in Minneapolis, than in St. Paul.

This one is so pretty!  I just loved it.  I took a beading book from this library called Complete Beading for Beginners.  Georgia and I love to make jewelry together.

This was a nice homemade library because it looks a little different than the others.  I like the double shelf.  I chose the book Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews.

I think I will have to create a Little Free Library to put in my neighborhood.  I think this is the coolest idea.  Little Free Library was started by a man who lived in Hudson, Wisconsin (about 30 minute drive from my home) who created a Little Free Library as a memorial to honor his mother, who loved books. It has since taken off to become a world wide adventure in providing books to small towns and urban areas around the world.  So cool.

You can order a library kit or build your own.  You must make sure it is weather proof and register your library on the website.  I have noticed some of the libraries have a name plate on them.

Here is the website to check out.  Click on the map to find Little Free Libraries near you.

Isn't this cool?  I want to hear if you have visited or found Little Free Libraries in your neighborhood.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Daisy is being sent to live with her cousins in the English countryside because her step-monster doesn't want her around and her father is in "love".  She has never met this aunt or her cousins in her entire life because she lives in the United States and she can't believe she is being sent away.

Daisy is isolated on the farm with her cousins, there are 4 of them, when a World War begins.  England becomes occupied by an unnamed enemy.  Her aunt is stuck in Oslo, Norway when the transportation system is shut down.  The phone works sporadically, the food is being rationed, no one knows who the enemy is or what information to believe and Daisy is falling in love.  It all seems a bit surreal and magical to Daisy.  No rules, no adults, no school.

There are five young adults, alone on a farm in England, in the middle of a war. Yet the war seems far away affecting only "other" people.  Until the war separates them.  How I Live Now is about the threat of terrorism and a war in which we are not sure who the enemy is.  It is a story of love, betrayal and survival.  Ultimately, How I Live Now is a war story for our generation.

Rosoff is an excellent writer and I enjoyed her narration immensely.  Daisy is a great narrator/character and each of her cousins are great characters as well.  I loved the idyllic nature of the farm juxtaposed against the backdrop of a world at war with itself.  I thought Rosoff does an excellent job of communicating the harsh realities of what war is really like to her readers.  Rosoff includes fear, starvation, death, cruelty, love, hate and kindness in How I Live Now which is quite the discussible little book.  How I Live Now relates to how We live now.

The Printz award is one of my favorite book awards.  I know that I will have to think and question what I know when I read a Printz award winner.  I love powerful books that change how you see the world.  How I Live Now won the Printz award in 2005 and it is very deserving of the prize.  I looked at war through Daisy's eyes and saw it through a different lense and it was powerful.

How I Live Now is a new film set to be released in England in October, 2013.  Not sure when it will be released in the States.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wild Boy Giveaway

Wild Boy.  The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron Giveaway

Mary Losure is the August, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Book Snob and she has agreed, along with Candlewick press, to give away two copies of her book, Wild Boy to Book Snob followers who live in the United States. Yay!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

What happens when society finds a wild boy alone in the woods and tries to civilize him? A true story from the author of The Fairy Ring.

One day in 1798, woodsmen in southern France returned from the forest having captured a naked boy. He had been running wild, digging for food, and was covered with scars. In the village square, people gathered around, gaping and jabbering in words the boy didn’t understand. And so began the curious public life of the boy known as the Savage of Aveyron, whose journey took him all the way to Paris. Though the wild boy’s world was forever changed, some things stayed the same: sometimes, when the mountain winds blew, "he looked up at the sky, made sounds deep in his throat, and gave great bursts of laughter." In a moving work of narrative nonfiction that reads like a novel, Mary Losure invests another compelling story from history with vivid and arresting new life.

Here is the book trailer:

 Contest Rules:
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Must be a resident of the U.S.
Ends 8/31 at Midnight.
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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Moonbird by Philip Hoose

Moonbird.  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Philip Hoose

The Moonbird, also known as B95 for the bracelet it wears around his foot, is a Rufa Red Knot shorebird.  It is called the Moonbird because scientists have estimated that B95 has flown the distance to the moon and back, an estimated 325, 000 miles in his long life.  The Rufa Red Knot is a shorebird that flies a distance of approximately 18, 000 miles per year round trip, from the southern most tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic to breed, and then back to Tierra Del Fuego.

The Rufa Red Knot species of shorebird is amazing.  They can fly for 4000-5000 miles without stopping for rest, food or water. They spend a week or two fattening up and refueling stopping about 3 times on their 9000 mile trip one way.  Their bodies are amazing and can grow a gizzard when they need it, they re-grow their feathers twice a year.

This amazing bird has been studied for about 20 years and in that time around 80 percent of the population has disappeared.  The reasons they shorebirds are dying is because the food sources on the migratory route have been declining due to human influence.  In Delaware Bay the shorebirds feed on horseshoe crab eggs but people are killing the horseshoe crabs and the birds die of starvation and can't get enough fuel to make it to the Canadian Arctic.

B95 is the one of the world's most famous birds because it is one of the oldest surviving Rufa Red Knots. This is the first time I have learned of this amazing bird because I read this amazing book by Philip Hoose.  I am now a fan and have searched to see if B95 was spotted this spring in Delaware Bay, NJ and he was!  He was seen in May of 2013.

Hoose tells the story of the Rufa Red Knots and B95 in eight chapters full of maps, pictures, and graphs.  I learned so much from this little book.  Hoose teaches the reader about each stopover place in the migratory route and it's food source and why it is important to the Red Knots.  At the end of each chapter Hoose profiles an important person/scientist/activist involved in the quest to protect this bird from extinction.  The Last chapter contains groups and ways to get involved to save the shorebirds from extinction.

Moonbird is a perfect book for bird lovers but teachers, parents, teenagers and kids would also love it.  It is informative, action-oriented and discussible.  OK, time to get out my bird book and my binoculars and look at the birds.