Monday, March 31, 2014

Far Arden by Kevin Cannon

Far Arden by Kevin Cannon

Far Arden is an island off the grid and missing from the world map and people are in a race to find it.  Its mythical, its tropical and it is somewhere in the Arctic circle.

Army Shanks, ex Royal Canadian Arctic Navy man, has the gumption and the will to find Far Arden but many obstacles stand in his way.  First he has to find his ship, help a orphan, fight a polar bear, (OK he doesn't fight the polar bear, someone else does), then he does battle with RCAN, meets a couple of weird college kids and so much more.

Far Arden is an adventure story, a graphic novel and 100 percent fun.  I loved all the clever plot twists and turns and how all the characters connect with each other in the end.  Far Arden is a page turning, karate kicking, stomach punching, thought provoking, kick ass graphic novel that will keep you guessing.  There are plenty of surprises thrown in that will make you laugh and pull your heart strings.

Far Arden is skillfully drawn in black and white with intricate detail.  Kevin is a well known cartoonist and cartographer and is artwork is drawn with heart and humor and will keep the reader coming back for more.

Oh, I just had an important thought here:  Army Shanks kinda of reminds me of an older and wiser Scott Pilgrim.  So Scott Pilgrim fans, this should be your next read.

Now I'm off to read the next installment of Army Shanks adventures and to see how he recovers from the ending of Far Arden.  Crater XV here I come!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Riot Quarterly Box

                                                   Book Riot Quarterly Box

Guess what I did for the first time?  I subscribed to the Quarterly Company subscription service and I chose the Book Riot subscription for obvious reasons, hint:  I'm a book lover.  So I have been patiently waiting for a little bit of heaven to arrive on my doorstep.  My Book Riot Quarterly box arrived last weekend and here is what I found inside,  squeeeeeeee!!!!!

First up:  I got a super cool letter which I loved.  It made the whole thing so personal.

Inside my little box of book heaven was a Banned Books mug.  It is my new favorite and I love it.  Tea and books go together well.

Next there was a poster that said Read Every Where.  I am hanging this up in my classroom.

Inside the box were three books:
1.  Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
2.  Judging a Book by Its Lover.  A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere by Lauren Leto
3. (ARC) Delancey. A Memoir. A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

Also included:  I found a magnet for my fridge that says:  Yay Books!
A Book Riot jump drive loaded with Short Stories
And a container of book darts to mark your place.  The container says Read Harder!

All in All, I love my Quarterly Box from Book Riot and I can't wait till I get the next one.  Finally someone out there knows what I love and buys the perfect gifts for a avid reader and book lover.
Now I'm going to go enjoy my little bit of book heaven.

If you would like to subscribe you can do so here:  Book Riot Quarterly Box

If you want to check out Book Riot website and podcast you can do so here:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Winner!

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Winner!

Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite authors so I am super excited to giveaway a copy of this book of essays to a BookSnob follower in honor on my 4th years of being a book blogger!

The winner of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is......

Julia H from Excelsior, Minnesota!

Congrats Julia.
Enjoy your new book, it is in the mail.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Moon Sisters Giveaway

The Moon Sisters Giveaway

I am proud to announce that BookSnob's blog is giving away one copy of The Moon Sisters in conjunction with TLC book tours and Crown publishing to a reader living in United States.  The Moon Sisters is destined to become a book club favorite and treasured book on your shelf.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A beautiful coming-of-age novel about two sisters on a journey to forgive their troubled mother, with a sheen of almost-magical realism that overlays a story about the love of a family, and especially between sisters.

Therese Walsh's poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother's spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he's a thief who shouldn't be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

Contest Rules:
Fill out the form
U.S. residents Only
Ends April 2nd at midnight
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

Meet Jazz and Olivia Moon.  Two sisters, polar opposites, on a odyssey to find the end of their mother's story.  They leave home shortly after their mother dies, a mother who may or may not have committed suicide.  Jazz finds a stack of letters, unopened, written by her mother to the father who abandoned her years before and brings them along to read.  A secret to her mother's past.  Olivia has her own secret, the last letter her mother wrote, on the day she died.

Jazz is the oldest, headstrong and smart.  When her mother got pregnant with her, her father cut her out of his life.  Jazz feels partly responsible for this and doesn't feel as well loved as the youngest sister, Olivia.  Jazz also feels like her mother has pinned her dreams of going to college on her and Jazz is never going to college.

Olivia has synesthesia, a neurological condition where she sees sounds, smells words and associates sights with people.  For example, her mother smells like the sun and Hobbs tastes like tomorrow.  Olivia is home schooled, strong willed and determined to try everything.  She doesn't have too many fears.  She is partially blind from staring too long at the sun.

Olivia has decided she is going on a journey to take her mother's ashes to the setting of the story her mother was writing when she died.  Jazz is forced to go with her and tries to talk her out of this quest every step of the way.  But when Olivia hops a train to god knows where, Jazz gets seriously worried about Olivia's safety and things begin to change.

The Moon Sisters is a sweet, endearing story of love and magic and coming to terms with the family you have been blessed with.  Walsh has created a cast of interesting characters that you will come to love and grieve over their pain.  I would describe this book as magical and endearing and full of heart.

I loved the adventure of The Moon Sisters where these two girls are thrust out of their small town life, into the life of a train hopper and wilderness trekker.  They meet an interesting cast of characters, all on a different path in life.  There is danger and kissing and secrets and a future unknown.  Through it all these two sisters must work through their differences, the loss of their mother, the past and it's pain to come to a place of love and forgiveness.

I predict The Moon Sisters will become a favorite book among book clubs.  It is that good.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kevin Cannon Guest Post + Giveaway

                                           Kevin Cannon Guest Post + Giveaway

Kevin Cannon is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the fabulous month of March.  The snow is melting and the temps are rising here in Minnesota.  Kevin is a cartoonist and a graphic novelist and he has written a guest post about how he creates and envisions his books.  This is super interesting guest post and I think you will agree.  Read on to learn more about the process of creating a graphic novel.

                                           CRATER XV PROCESS POST

There is no right way to produce a graphic novel. Some cartoonists will begin by drawing directly on the page and watching the story flow from that, while others methodically script every panel out before putting pen to paper. I'm more of the latter. For Crater XV -- my latest graphic novel, which follows the misadventures of aging Arctic pirate Army Shanks -- I planned the entire book out beforehand, a process that began with writing out fragments of scenes on scraps of paper and arranging them in order on my bed, and culminated with me sitting down and writing one full chapter per night for seventeen straight nights.

Once the script was out of the way, then I could focus on the fun part -- the actual drawing -- which is what I want to describe during this post. I didn't keep good photos or scans of my actual process working on Crater XV, so I'm going to invent a brand new panel just for Book Snob.

STEP 1: Rough sketch

I'll begin by doodling directly on the script until I have a rough idea of what each panel will look like. I might go through a few different sketches at this stage until I find the right shot. Better to experiment now when each drawing takes only a handful of seconds than to have to redraw a whole panel later and risk wasting an hour or more.

STEP 2: Rule the border

Cartoonists usually work at 150-200% the size of the printed artwork because then their art looks crisper and cleaner when shrunk down. This also means that we need to draw our lines a little thicker than usual because they'll eventually be cut down in width. My standard panel size is 8.2 cm wide by 7.3 cm high.

STEP 3: Lettering (Part One)

The sad truth about modern comic books is that most artists simply leave room for word balloons and then have some outside firm drop the text in, almost as an afterthought. This creates stilted, inorganic artwork, and often the lettering doesn't reflect the tone of the art; it just floats on top of the artwork like some strange garnish. Indie cartoonists, however, know that lettering is part of the artwork itself, and so we prefer to letter directly on the page.

When text and art are incorporated onto the same drawing surface, not only does this allow the lettering to feel like it's living in the same plane as the art, but playful interactions may occur as well. Words and balloons may hide behind a character, for instance, or a balloon may spill off into the next panel if what's being said is simply too much for the borders to handle.

There's a danger, though, in getting too bizarre with lettering. For simple dialogue I like to stick with simple lettering. In these cases I want the reader to be focusing on the art and the characters, and ignore the lettering as much as possible. Only when the narrative calls for it do I draw attention to the lettering.

For this basic lettering I use a ruler to mark out 4 mm for each line and 2 mm for the space between each line. I pencil lightly using a hard lead to block out the balloon, then go in with a softer lead to put in tighter letters. If I get to the end of the line and find that I don't have enough space, I'll usually just make a little star at the beginning of the line, which is a signal to ink the letters narrower than how they're pencilled. If I have room, I may also make a vertical line to signal where to begin each line. These marks save me from having to erase a faulty line and write the whole thing over again.

Normally I'll jump into inking using a Micron 08 for the roman letters and a Micron 1 for the bold letters. If a word is especially large I'll outline it using a Micron 005, which allows me to get nice, crisp corners. But with this sample image some of the artwork is going to cross in front of the lettering, so I'm going to wait to ink the lettering until the last step.

STEP 4: Penciling

 Now that the lettering is on the page I can begin to draw the art around it. I'll start with my hard lead again and block out the basic shapes, using my thumbnails as a guide. During this stage I may make last-minute decisions about adding or deleting elements from the panel. At this stage, for example, I have a better sense of how much information I can fit in the background without it distracting too much from the foreground.

When everything feels like it fits, then I grab a softer lead and do the tight pencils. These are the lines I'll be inking over so I want to make them as close to the final product as possible. At this stage I'll make some changes on the fly, as well as doing some detail work (like in the faces) that I didn't bother with during the loose pencil stage.

STEP 5: Inking

Like a lot of cartoonists I started out my career by using a brush. Brushes are nice because you can easily get different line weights depending on how you much pressure you put on the brush or at what angle you hold it. But lately I've moved to using pens exclusively because they're more predictable and you don't have deal with washing them like you do with brushes (I'm lazy). But I still like to have that varied line weight in my art, so as a compromise I use several different pens, each with a different nib size. 

I'll normally start with the outlines of characters and shapes, which are the thickest lines. Here I'm using a micron 08 for the balloon border and a micron 05 for the character outlines.
Next I'll fill in basic interior lines using a micron 01.
And finally I'll take a micron 005 -- the thinnest nib I can get my hands on -- to add the intricate detail work like the fibers on Army Shanks' sweater or the chain on the walrus' monocle.

STEP 6: Lettering (Part Two)
With the foreground inked, I can now safely go in and ink over the lettering. Like I said earlier, I'll use a micron 08 for the roman letters but then outline the bigger letters with a .005 (and then fill them in later).

STEP 7: Erase
Then I'll erase and scan the image and do any last minute clean-up or changes using Photoshop. And that's it, the whole process from script to ink. Now just repeat this process 3000 times and you've got yourself a graphic novel!

Thanks Kevin.  This was awesome!!

If you would like to buy a copy of Kevin's graphic novels please go to:
I linked to his page where you can find all of his comics and graphic novels.  Go check it out.

You can view all of these images and more at Kevin's website:

If you would like to try and win a copy of Crater XV please click here:  Crater XV giveaway

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

                                             The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Have you ever read a book you couldn't wait to tell everyone about it? Well if you have, you know how I feel as I say to you; You. Have. To Read. The Ghost Bride.  I want to shout from the rooftop or at least all over the internet:  Read The Ghost Bride.  It is AWESOME!

The Ghost Bride takes place in colonial Malaya in 1893.  Li Lan is 18, beautiful and the daughter of a bankrupt opium addict.  She has zero marriage prospects until her father is approached by the wealthy Lim family with a proposal.  A proposal to marry their dead son and to become his ghost bride.  Li Lan must consider her future and visits the Lim mansion where she learns that Lim and the Lan families are connected.  She meets the Lim heir and finds herself attracted to him.

In her heart Li Lan does not want to be a ghost bride.  But nightly she is visited by the dead son of the Lim family.  He invades her dreams and weakens her spirit, stealing bits and pieces of her strength and resolve.  She seeks help from her Amah as her body gets sicker and sicker.  Eventually her body is caught between the realm of the living and the dead and her spirit breaks free to enter a parellel spirit world.  The Chinese afterlife.

Choo has created a sensational, creative, and fascinating Chinese afterlife, complete with the creation of the Plains of the Dead.  The Plains of the Dead is the most interesting place.  It is parellel to our world and you must travel far to get there.  Ghosts stay there until they are up for reincarnation and live their afterlife in a way similar to the life they just left.  No one knows that Li Lan is not dead and still a living spirit caught between worlds.

Choo is an amazing storyteller.  I can't wait until she writes her next book because I will be first in line to buy it.  In many ways I hope she writes a sequel to The Ghost Bride.  The plot is so darn cool and original.  And the characters are so real and imaginative and full of mystery and myth.

The Ghost Bride is a mix of Chinese culture, history, religion, and folk beliefs.  You will be drawn into another world, another place and time and will take great pleasure in a sensory filled reading experience.  All of these elements are woven into a superb story that will keep me raving about this book for a long time to come.

The Ghost Bride is my favorite read of the 2014 so far!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crater XV Giveaway

Crater XV by Kevin Cannon Giveaway

Kevin is the March Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob. Kevin Cannon is giving away one signed copy of his graphic novel Crater XV to an international follower.  You are in for an adventure!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Straight from the pages of the hit digital series Double Barrel! You've never seen a Cold War like this! In Crater XV, the follow-up to 2009's Eisner-nominated Far Arden, Kevin Cannon weaves together an intoxicating tale of swashbuckling adventure, abandoned moon bases, bloodthirsty walruses, rogue astronauts, two-faced femme fatales, sailboat chases, Siberian pirates, international Arctic politics, and a gaggle of horny orphans. Mixed up in all of this are Army Shanks, our salty sea dog still reeling from a devastating loss, and Wendy Byrd, a plucky teenager who wants nothing more than a one-way ticket off the face of the Earth. For mystery, thrills, and Arctic chills, set a course for Crater XV!

Fill out the form
Open Internationally
Ends 3/31 at midnight
Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Madonnas of Leningrad Giveaway Winner

The Madonnas of Leningrad Giveaway Winner

I'm giving away a copy of The Madonnas of Leningrad in honor of my 4th blogging anniversary.  I visited Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg, in 1991.  It was an amazing experience to travel to Russia.  It is also a wonderful experience to travel to another time and place in your mind, through the pages of a book.

And the winner is...

Jessica W from Oklahoma.
Enjoy your travels.
Enjoy St. Petersburg, Russia

Enjoy your new book!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Swati Avasthi and Carrie Mesrobian visit South High

Swati Avasthi and Carrie Mesrobian visit South High

Last week Young Adult authors, Carrie Mesrobian and Swati Avasthi visited South High to talk to students about their books and their writing lives for "I Love to Read" month.  Both of their books are up for the 2014 Minnesota Book Award.  I seriously wish they both could win.

Carrie and Swati took South High by storm with their funny stories and their writing advice.  They started out speaking to a large audience in the auditorium.  Then they had lunch with teachers and then spoke to a poetry class about writing.  Students in this class reported that they learned a lot about the writing craft.

This was Carrie's first invitation and speaking event at a school.  She thinks the title of her book, Sex and Violence is scaring the librarians and teachers away.  South High is proud to hold the title of being her first school!! Yahoo.  The teachers at my school love her book.  She told students about how the title was chosen for her book and we looked at alternate book covers.  Carrie is so laid back and funny that she would make a welcome visitor to any school.  Carrie teaches creative writing at the Loft Literary center in Minneapolis.

Swati talked about her two books Split and Chasing Shadows and her past life as a (almost) lawyer.  Swati showed a slide show of alternate book covers and brought up the issue that people of color are rarely put on book covers.  It was super interesting and something important that students rarely think about.  I loved both of her books.  Swati teaches creating writing at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Swati and Carrie are friends and write together with a writing group at a coffee shop on Tuesday's.  Together they make a great speaking team.

Carrie will be a featured Author in the Spotlight later this year where I will interview her and review her books.  Swati was recently featured in February so be sure to read the author interview and book reviews of Split and Chasing Shadows.

Sending out a big THANKS to both Swati and Carrie!  We would love to have you back to speak at our school.  How does your schedule look for next year?

Go check out their books.  You will love them!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chasing Shadows Giveaway Winners

Chasing Shadows Giveaway Winners

Swati Avasthi was the February Author in the Spotlight here on Book Snob and she is giving away two copies of her young adult book, Chasing Shadows, which is nominated for a Minnesota Book Award, to a Book Snob follower.  I am excited to announce the winners.  Drum roll please.....

Anita Y. from Georgia
Denise P. from New Jersey

Congratulations Ladies.  I hope you enjoy your new book.

Here is an excerpt from my book review:

Avasthi is a great writer and her characters are so beautifully flawed that you can't help falling for them as she leads you through a plot that you don't expect.  Chasing Shadows brings you to the brink of death, through mental illness and grief and into the bonds of friendship.  Chasing Shadows is bold and strong and daring like its characters.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the March Author in the Spotlight

Happy 1st day of March.  Spring is hopefully right around the corner.  It is below zero here in Minnesota and we are celebrating Mardi Gras.  I cannot wait for the cold and snow to be gone from my life.  Seriously.  This has been a tough winter here.

One thing I am looking forward to this month is reading Kevin Cannon books.  Kevin Cannon is a cartoonist and he is amazing.  He has written a lot of books and comics as well as creates maps and so much more.  You need to seriously check out his website.

The two books I am going to read and feature this month are Far Arden and Crater XV.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Far Arden:
Meet Army Shanks - crusty old sea dog and legendary brawler of the high Arctic seas! He's got just one mission: to find the mythical island paradise known as Far Arden, which lies hidden (so they say) in the wintry oceans of the far North. But there's more than just water standing between Shanks
and his goal: he'll have to contend with circus performers, adorable orphans, heinous villains, bitter ex-lovers, well-meaning undergraduates, and the full might of the Royal Canadian Arctic Navy! Not to mention he's not so sure how to get to Far Arden in the first place... In his first solo graphic novel, Kevin Cannon (Top Ten; Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards) proves himself a master spinner of yarns with Far Arden.

Crater XV:
Straight from the pages of the hit digital series Double Barrel! You've never seen a Cold War like this! In Crater XV, the follow-up to 2009's Eisner-nominated Far Arden, Kevin Cannon weaves together an intoxicating tale of swashbuckling adventure, abandoned moon bases, bloodthirsty walruses, rogue astronauts, two-faced femme fatales, sailboat chases, Siberian pirates, international Arctic politics, and a gaggle of horny orphans. Mixed up in all of this are Army Shanks, our salty sea dog still reeling from a devastating loss, and Wendy Byrd, a plucky teenager who wants nothing more than a one-way ticket off the face of the Earth. For mystery, thrills, and Arctic chills, set a course for Crater XV!

I love graphic novels.  Don't you?
This month on BookSnob you can expect two book reviews, an author interview, a contest and a hopefully a guest post by Kevin.  Check back often and have a great month!