Friday, November 30, 2012

November Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

November Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway.

Down and Inside Giveaway ends at midnight tonight!

I can't believe it is the last day of November already.  I read a lot of good books this month but am behind in my writing because I was busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.  This month I am thankful for authors, especially Rebbecca Moen, the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight this month.

Today is the last day to enter to win Rebbecca's book, Down and Inside.  Click here to enter:  Down and Inside Giveaway

Please check out my book review of Down and Inside.  It is atmospheric and you can smell the hotdogs and hear the cheers from the stands.  If you love a good baseball game you will love this book.

Down and Inside Book Review

Please read my author interview of Rebbecca Moen.  Rebbecca talks about the pros and cons of working for a minor league baseball team in the 1990's.  She tells about the books she likes to read as well as why she prefers Minor League baseball over Major League ball.

Rebbecca Moen Author Interview

As November ends, I would like to thank Rebbecca Moen for being the November Author in the spotlight here on Booksnob.  I met Rebbecca at a Saints baseball game and am so happy she sent me a copy of her book and agreed to be featured in the spotlight.  The story of her career in the Minors is fun and interesting.  Please read Rebbecca's book and visit her at her website 

Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Today is Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day here on Booksnob. This is my third time participating in the Foodie Pen Pals event and today I get to show you what I got in the mail.  I love food!  Doesn't everyone?

Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean blog has been running this event for over a year now.  Everyone is encouraged to donate food to the food shelf in the month of December and she will be organizing foodie penpals again in January.  If you want to sign up you must do so after December 18th, go to The Lean Green Bean.

I sent my food package to Stephanie in Michigan and I received my package from Amanda in Tennessee.
This is Amanda's website:   (

My November has been busy with cleaning and cooking for Thanksgiving.  We served dinner for 32 people which included three turkeys and 20 pounds of potatoes.  My foodie package arrived on Saturday after the Holiday, just  in time for me to put my feet up and relax.  Here is what Amanda sent.

I told Amanda I want to eat more health foods including raw and sprouted foods.  So she got me Sprouted sweet potato tortilla chips and they are delicious.  Also included is carmel popcorn, apple clusters, and some awesome smelling Chai tea.  Chai tea is one of my absolute favorites as well as the pumpkin bread mix which I plan to make this weekend and top with a cream cheese topping.  Yum!  

 Did you notice the Elvis dark chocolate?  Dark chocolate is the best and my husband loves Elvis so naturally he wanted to keep the candy bar as a memento and I said no way!  I am eating it.  What would you do?  I cannot resist dark chocolate.

Here is the lovely note Amanda sent on a postcard from Tennessee.  Some day I want to visit there but until then I will enjoy some food from a beautiful place.

Thanks Amanda!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Down and Inside by Rebbecca Moen

Down and Inside:  The Mostly True Story of a Girl’s Life in the Minors By Rebbecca Moen

Batter Up!
During the 1990’s Sioux Falls joined the minor leagues with their new baseball team the Canaries.         Becky is a Minnesota girl fresh out of college and she lands a job working for the Canaries.  She is excited and feels like she is one lucky girl.  Young kids ask for her autograph, she gets to hang out with the baseball players and the owner relies on her.  Yet the downside is players get traded and people get mad at her and the hours are long and miserable.  Moen's story is a window into the minor leagues.

Rebbecca Moen sets up her book like a baseball game.  Top of First is where the game, I mean book begins.  Moen starts with a quote and stats from the St. Paul Saints (who are awesome) and the Sioux City Explorer's, championship game.  It is atmospheric and you can smell the hotdogs and hear the cheers from the stands.  If you love a good baseball game you will love this book.

Moen brings a much needed female perspective to the world of baseball.  It is kind of a insider's story to a sport that excludes women to this day.  Moen's life in the minor leagues is short but she gains experience and memories and shares them with her readers.  You will laugh, you will remember the baseball players from years past and you will wish it was Spring, so you could head out to a ballgame!

Strike one,
Strike two,
It's a homerun!!
The crowd roars.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Dellarobia Turnbow is a petite, fiery redhead who got pregnant in high school and married young.  She is 29 and parentless, with two young children, in-laws who don't respect her and a husband who is a constant channel changer.  Dellarobia resides in a small farming community in the southern Appalachian mountains and feels there is more to life than being stuck in her small home in Feathertown, Tennessee.

Her mind and heart begin to wander and as she takes a walk on the wild side to certain marital disaster, a miracle happens.  Dellarobia sees what she thinks is a forest of red fire (she forgot her glasses) but is actually a roosting place for monarch butterflies who are in the mountain by some kind of complex ecological misalignment.  Dellarobia is forever changed by the monarch butterflies, as the outside world invades her home and mountain.  Is it a miracle, or an environmental problem?  Dellarobia searches for her truth and the truth about the world as she knows it.

Flight Behavior is mesmerizing and detailed and oh sooooo good.  The writing is exquisite, a electric mix of words blended together to form sentences that create a visual picture that is stunning.  Kingsolver captures the reader from the first page and holds their attention rapt until the reader flies on to their next book.  For a word lover, like me, Flight Behavior is just plain delectable.

I just have to quote some of the great sentences in Flight Behavior.  "A certain feeling come from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture." Pg. 1. "Her car was parked in the only spot in the county that wouldn't incite gossip, her own driveway." Pg. 3. "The electric pulse of desire buzzed through her body like an alarm clock gone off in early light, setting in motion all the things in a day that can't be stopped." Pg. 3.

Barbara Kingsolver fans will be delighted with her new novel Flight Behavior.  Flight Behavior is everything a Kingsolver novel should be, full of environmental issues, an awareness of cultural differences, a beautiful landscape, creative characters who go through a metamorphosis and a moral dilemma.  This is the fifth book I have read of Kingsolver's and I am reminded that I need to get busy and read the rest of them because she is such an amazing writer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French

Twenty years ago, three preteen children went to out play in the woods near their home and mysteriously disappear.  After frantic emergency calls, one child is found left alive with blood in his shoes and no memory of what happened to his friends.  Needless to say the event haunts the remaining child yet his mind is sealed against the tragedy.  He moves away, changes his name and is forever changed.

Fast forward twenty years and another child is found murdered in the same neighborhood, in the same woods and the main detective on the case, Rob Ryan, just happens to be the child who was found alive clinging to a tree all those years ago.  Detective Ryan, along with his partner Cassie Maddox must solve the mystery of the murdered girl.  Yet it affects Ryan deeper than he knows, as his mind begins unraveling, as images and memories from his past come flooding back.

In the Woods is a psychological thriller that left me anxious to find out what happened to Detective Ryan 20 years ago.  The most recent murder in the book was rather easy for me to figure out and about half way through the book, I told my book club my guess and it happened to be right.  Unfortunately In the Woods offers no resolutions to the reader and I was left confused and bothered that I didn't have all the answers.  I felt mad and cheated because the book is 429 pages and I wanted a neat ending.

On the positive side Tana French is an excellent writer who provides exquisite detail and description.  Her crime detail is well researched and interesting.  It was not scary but a little mind bending and definitely disturbing.  In the Woods is the first book in a series.  I will not be reading any more of French's books but I know the other members of my book club plan to.  So if you love mysteries and psychological thrillers, In the Woods just might be the book for you, even though it wasn't the book for me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Last Standing Woman by Winona LaDuke

Last Standing Woman by Winona LaDuke

With a memorable cast of characters, Last Standing Woman chronicles the history of the people from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.  The story begins at the borderlands of the Dakota and Anishanaabe with a woman,  a woman who was drawn to the border, the Last Standing Woman. The event that occurs is the Dakota Conflict of 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota and it results in the largest mass execution in the U.S. and the removal of the Dakota Indian tribe from Minnesota lands.

Last Standing Woman follows the White Earth Anishinaabe (also known as the Ojibwe or Chippewa) tribe from the 1860’s to present day.  Last Standing Woman follows seven generations and is a powerful first novel.You learn how white settlers tricked and teased the Native Americans out of their land and systemically set out to destroy their culture.  LaDuke takes you on a journey from suffering to independence as the White Earth nation fights for their tribal rights, land and culture.  The Anishinaabe culture leaps off the page and you can practically smell the fry bread cooking on the stove and hear the drums beating in the distance.

Even though Last Standing Woman is a work of fiction LaDuke states in her author’s note that the history, traditional stories and even some of the characters are true, written to the best of her ability.  LaDuke has written a powerful narrative of her people’s heritage and it shows the strength of the Native people to overcome, adapt and survive.

The White Earth Indian Reservation is still the poorest and largest reservation in Minnesota.  The characters in Last Standing Woman are strong, especially the women, as they overcome adversity, abuse, starvation, diabetes, death of loved ones, alcoholism and more.  This is not a novel that dwells on sadness and loss but a novel that highlights the history and strength of the Anishinaabe people and the adversity they face.

Educate yourself by reading Last Standing Woman.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rebecca Moen Author Interview + Giveaway

Rebecca Moen Author Interview + Giveaway

Rebecca Moen is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight this month on Booksnob. Rebecca worked for the Sioux Falls Canaries minor league baseball team and she writes about her experiences as a woman in a man's sporting world. Down and Inside is a fun, entertaining, lighthearted read and will have you rooting for the hometown girl. Read on to learn more about Rebecca and her book Down and Inside.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a pretty typical Norwegian-looking Minnesota girl, with the round cheeks (both kinds) that are common around here. I was a big nerd in high school, really focused on my grades and very straight-laced. It was a little nerve wracking having people that knew me then read about my lifestyle as an adult. I’m still pretty much a nerd and love my job. I work in biomedical research for the Duke School of Medicine and work from my home in Minneapolis. I do a lot of grant writing, which is very different from creative writing, but it does make it easier to at least get words on paper. I love living in Minnesota and came back here because I missed the lakes and, honestly, the winter. The fact that I work from home makes the winters a lot easier to bear. My husband and I go out to my mom’s house on the lake in Willmar as often as we can. The water soothes a place in both of our psyches.

2. Why did you decide to write Down and Inside?
For several reasons - first, it was the challenge of it. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid (who doesn’t?) and I wanted to see if I could do it. Second, I was told by so many people that the stories about the Canaries were so funny that they should be written down. Third, once I had decided to do it, I couldn’t let it go. It took me years to finally actually write, but it had been in my mind since my best friend told me I should in 2004. Finally, all of the other books about minor league baseball have been written by men. I thought a female perspective should be in the mix.

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

Of course, I love to read. My favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, and the Grapes of Wrath and I read them over and over again. I love stories set in historical times. As a kid, I loved reading Stephen King - I still think he is one of the best storytellers in the world. He suspends disbelief in a way I’ve never otherwise experienced. The Talisman is my favorite book from him.

4. Why are you drawn to minor league baseball and not major league baseball?

Major League Baseball is a corporate venture - it’s too perfect. I like the grittiness of minor league ball, the same way I like dive bars - they’re more real to me.

5.Did you marry “Mickey” in your book?  

Don’t tell anyone, but no. I wrote the book before I met my real husband. I liked the twist and it seemed like a sweet way to end it. My real husband is far better than the imaginary “Mickey.”

6.What are the best and worst parts of your experience working with the Sioux Falls Canaries?

Best part by far was the people - the families, the fans, my friends in the front office, the  summer workers, the ownership and coaching staff, and sometimes the players. I’ve maintained long friendships with many of them. I knew these people at a time in my life when I was figuring out who I was - they kept me on the right course.

7. Worst part was the stress. It doesn’t come through well in the book, and most people would be surprised to hear that working in baseball could be stressful, but those summers were more stressful than any management position I’ve ever had since. The hours we put in just amplified it - there never seemed to be enough sleep and fresh fires to put out every day.

8. Do you plan to write a second book?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I would love to write a second book and maybe someday I will. I’ve thought about writing a story about the stray dogs that live on the beach in Costa Rica. I’d like to do it from the dogs’ perspectives - what a life they lead - running in packs, making friends with the tourists, but sleeping hidden in the forest, and living off scraps. I’m concerned that this type of story may require better writing acumen than I possess, but we’ll see...

9. In one sentence, tell us why we should read Down and Inside?
It’s fun, a quick read, and cheap.

Thanks Rebecca!!

If you would like to win a copy of Rebecca's fun book about minor league baseball enter here: Down and Inside Giveaway

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book of Fire by Cary Waterman

Book of Fire poems by Cary Waterman

Cary Waterman has written a wonderful collection of poems in the Book of Fire.  The book is divided into five parts with many different themes reflected.  The theme of fire runs through the book as well as the myth of Persephone, Waterman's travels to Iceland, nature, seasons and gardens in Minnesota and war. These are poems of investigation.

Waterman's poems reflect deep imagery, stark reality and promote pondering.  The individual poems in Book of Fire will pull on your heart strings and some will make you smile.  Book of fire has a poem that each one of us can relate to.  Like the poem, Polar Bear,  in which Waterman writes about the first polar bear to swim to Iceland in many years and how it was eventually shot by police.  Or the poem, The Transplant, where a friend of Waterman's receives a heart and a second chance at life.  Writing in Bed is about the death of Waterman's mother and it is deeply moving.

I met Cary Waterman recently and she spoke about writing as her spiritual practice.  Some of the poems in Book of Fire just came to her as gifts, as Muse, and others took time.  She is currently a teacher at Augsburg college and is doing what she is meant to do.

Personally I don't read a lot of poetry but I used to.  It has to be approached different than fiction or non-fiction, as poetry takes time to reflect and digest.  Poetry speaks to most people through their heart and soul and touches people on a deeper level.  Poetry speaks to the individual and Book of Fire spoke to me.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Orchard by Theresa Weir

The Orchard. A Memoir by Theresa Weir

City girl, Theresa Weir reinvents herself when she falls in love with a local apple farmer at age 21, whose orchard is supposedly cursed.  She grows up despised by her mother, abandoned by her father and she ends up trying to survive by working in her uncle's bar in Burlington, Iowa when cute farm boy, Adrian Curtis walks in the door.  Her uncle warns her to stay away from Adrian but she is drawn to him like a bee to honey.

She marries Adrian after a short courtship and expects to have found a loving family.  Instead she finds herself rejected as white trash and never accepted in the family.  Theresa's in-laws despise her and run their apple farm with a hard hand.  They spray herbicides and pesticides on the apple trees to protect them from the codling moth.  Adrian comes home reeking of chemicals, the smell and taste of it is everywhere.  The apple farm has been in the Curtis family for generations and their farm practices are slowly ruining the land and making people sick.

The Orchard is a powerful page-turning memoir.  From the very first page I was hooked and could not put the book down.  The Orchard is shocking, raw and true, and I will never look at another apple in the same way again.  In many ways The Orchard is a fairy tale gone horribly wrong, from the wicked mother in-law to the poisoned apple, readers will hope for the happy ending.

Theresa Weir aka "Anne Frasier" is a well known mystery and romance writer, although this is the first book I have read of hers.  Theresa details a difficult and genuine time of her life with grace and wit.  Don't let the cover deceive you, The Orchard is an unforgettable story that will possible change your perceptions about farming.  I am adding The Orchard to my list of the best books I have read in 2012.  It is thought-provoking, timely and necessary for all to read if you care about the food you eat and the world we live in.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Down and Inside Giveaway

Giveaway:  Down and Inside by Rebecca Moen

Enter to win one of 5 copies of Down and Inside, The Mostly True Story of a Girl's Life in the Minors by Rebecca Moen.  Rebecca is the November Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  This contest is open to U.S. residents and this book would make a great gift for the sports enthusiast in your life.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Naive, small-town Minnesota-raised Becky is fresh out of a tiny Lutheran college when she somehow manages to snag a prime internship with the Sioux Falls Canaries. The bright lights and the big dreams soon run foul, though, as Becky soon learns that working for the Canaries is not as glamorous as it seems. The team is made up of veteran ball players with injuries, drug issues, and attitude problems-- with some players only lasting weeks before being replaced. Still, there is innocent, old-fashioned fun to be had in the minor leagues, and Becky is ready to take it all in. In Down and Inside, author Rebbecca Moen tells her "mostly true" stories of the highs and lows with the Canaries, in a hilariously honest voice. And, like her alter-ego Becky, you may never look at baseball, men, or the world at large in the same way, again.

U.S. residents only
Ends 11/30 at midnight
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Get Real-Contemporary YA authors on Tour

Get Real-Contemporary YA authors on Tour visit South High in Minneapolis.

Five amazing contemporary Young Adult authors visited South High for an hour in the afternoon, on November 6, 2012.  Two teachers brought their classes (one of them was me) and students who loved books and reading showed up to listen and ask questions of the author panel.

All of the authors have new books which have recently been released.  Janet Gurtler wrote Who I Kissed.
When Janet writes she does not create a outline but focuses on strong character development.

Miranda Kenneally wrote Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker.  Miranda has 2 others books releasing soon and one is non-fiction compilation by a variety of teen authors called Dear Teen Me.  Miranda lives in D.C. and writes stories with strong female characters.

Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters and a strong writing team.  Their book is called Lies that Bind, it is the sequel to The Liar Society.  They write every other chapter in order, so one sister writes a chapter and emails it to the other.  Then she writes the next chapter and so on.  When asked their favorite author, these two moms said they love Sarah Dressen.

Goeff Herbach is a local YA writer and his son just happens to be in my world history class, which is so cool.  Geoff wrote Stupid Fast and Nothing Special and the 3rd book in the series is coming out in 2013.  Geoff is a college teacher who noticed that young men don't read as much as young women and so his books are geared toward teenage boys.

The audience of students asked great questions of these YA authors and it was full of stimulating conversation.  Thanks for spending the afternoon at South High!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Leaning into the Wind by Susan Allen Toth

Leaning into the Wind.  A Memoir of Midwest Weather by Susan Allen Toth

Everyone's life is affected by weather.  If you happen to live in the midwest you life through cold and snowy winters, severe storms in the Spring, hot and humid summers.  On a particular day in Minnesota the temperatures can vary over 50 degrees.  Midwest weather can be extreme and Toth does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of it.

Leaning into the Wind is a unique memoir where Toth tells her story within twelve essays. The focus of the book is her life amidst midwest weather.  Toth grew up in Ames, Iowa.  Met and married her first husband in California and then moved to Minnesota where they both had teaching positions.  She raised a daughter and remarried a architect named James Stageburg.  He designed and built her a lovely weekend house in Wisconsin.

Toth compares her turbulent first marriage to Minnesota storms in one essay.  She writes about gardening and her hatred of bugs of all sizes.  She writes about how every day, the first thing she checks in the paper, is the weather and when she mentions the daily forecast to her husband, he seems ambivalent.  She writes about weather from the different stages of her life.  She includes excellent quotes at the beginning of each essay.  She writes thoughtfully and creates a visual picture with her words about weather.  Toth will make you laugh and she will make you think about how weather has been an important part of your life.

"Weather dominates everything."
Quote by Stephen E. Ambrose, Nothing like it in the Wind. (pg. 1)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kmart Shoes Giveaway Winners!

Kmart Shoes Giveaway Winners Announced!

Lance Ward in conjunction with 7th Avenue productions is giving away two copies of the graphic novel, Kmart Shoes to Booksnob followers.  I am excited to announce the winners!

LeAnn from St. Paul, Minnesota
Jennifer from Trinity, Texas

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

Here is an excerpt from my book review of Kmart Shoes:
Lance draws and tells the true story of his life growing up disillusioned and disheartened.  Kmart Shoes is a gritty graphic novel that throws out punches as Lance struggles to survive and find love.  Some people are lucky to grow up and have everything they want but not Lance.  Lance is a survivor of a tragic childhood and his book is a triumph of his will to endure and survive.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reading Retreat

BookWomen Reading Retreat 2012

Last weekend I attended a BookWomen Reading Retreat held in northern Minnesota at St. John's University.  16 women from multiple states attended with the women spanning four different decades and states as far away as New Jersey, Washington and Arizona who came together for a weekend to talk about books.  Our facilitator was Glenda, who is an amazing women.  She and friend Mollie began The Women's Press over 25 years ago.

Each woman read 5 books around the theme, "Earth, Wind, Water, Fire:  Shaping Midwestern Women".  The retreat started with dinner and then conversation began in a circle as we got to know each other and shared our story of "What has shaped you".

The first morning we gathered around the fire-place to discuss the theme, Earth and the book Last-Standing Woman by Winona LaDuke.  Winona LaDuke is from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.  Other books mentioned were A Geography of Blood by C. Savage, The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich and Spirit of the Ojibwe by Balbin, Bailey and Nayouonabe.

After lunch I took a walk through the woods and explored St. John's campus.  We stopped and viewed the Illuminated Bible in the Hill Museum.  Very beautiful and a must see for book lovers.  I bought a beautiful book about books that is a work of art in itself.  We stopped at the student bookstore and bought St. John's bread and browsed their great book selection.

In the afternoon we met to discuss the theme, Water and the book The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin.  This book is about women who lived in three different centuries and who are connected through Lake Superior.  As a Minnesotan, Lake Superior is our ocean and is the largest fresh water lake in the world.  The conservation was stimulating.

After dinner we again shared some more pieces of our life on the questions, Do you tell your Story?  When and Where?  It was an engaging day and I retired to my room to read and to reflect on these amazing women I was spending the weekend with.

On Saturday morning we met to discuss the theme Earth and the book The Orchard by Theresa Weir.  Most people in the group really enjoyed this book and we discussed the question, What makes us a survivor?  The level of trust and empathy in the group was astounding.  This was a memorable conversation.  Other books discussed include:  Turn Here, Sweet Corn:  Organic Farming by Atina Diffley

After lunch, Cary Waterman, poetry author of Book of Fire, joined the group for an afternoon of reading and discussing beautiful poetry around the theme, Fire.  Each participant picked their favorite poem in the book and read it aloud to the group.  I read Skull.  It reminded me of a Georgia O'Keefe painting.

After supper we watched the film Sweet Land which was a originally a short story written by Will Weaver called A Gravestone Made of Wheat.  Excellent movie.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it as I have now seen it twice.

The last day, we met to discuss the theme, Wind, and the book Leaning into the Wind by Susan Toth.   This is a memoir about midwest weather.  We discussed living in the midwest and the weekend went incredibly fast as it was full of beautiful women and wonderful books.

It was great to spend the weekend with like-minded people and it felt like coming home after being gone for years.  We picked a great book, talked about our venue and hugged goodbye, hoping to see each other again because many of us left friends.

Thanks Glenda!!