Who Wants Free Books?

Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you do so it’s a good thing I’m doing another giveaway!

Lydia from Putnam has generously offered me three advance reading copies of Rough Country, the latest by John Sandford, bestselling author of the Prey series with Lucas Davenport. The lead character in Country, though, is Virgil Flowers, an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. This is the third Flowers adventure, with the following synopsis from Sandford’s website:

Virgil’s always been known for having a somewhat active, er, social life, but he’s probably not going to be getting too many opportunities for that during his new case. While competing in a fishing tournament in a remote area of northern Minnesota, he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to investigate a murder at a nearby resort, where a woman has been shot while kayaking. The resort is for women only, a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, and while it didn’t start out to be a place mostly for those with Sapphic inclinations, that’s pretty much what it is today.

Which makes things all the more complicated for Virgil, because as he begins investigating, he finds a web of connections between the people at the resort, the victim, and some local women, notably a talented country singer, and the more he digs, the move he discovers the arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, encompassing a multitude of motivations: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, fear. And then he discovers that this is not the first murder, that there was a second, seemingly unrelated one, the year before. And that there’s about to be a third, definitely related one, any time now. And as for the fourth… well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens.

Because it could be his own.

To enter the random drawing, leave me a comment answering this question: What’s the roughest territory or environment you’ve ever been in?

For me, it was Viet Nam during the early ’70s where, if my family wanted to eat chicken, we had to grab a live one and kill it ourselves. Ain’t no KFC there.

Your experience didn’t have to take place in another country, and “environment” could just mean a setting, like a family reunion or the prom. Let’s hear your survival stories!

To be eligible, you also have to:

  • be a subscriber or follower on Twitter
  • be a resident of the U.S. or Canada

If you’re on Twitter, you can get two extra entries by tweeting about this (my handle is @popculturenerd) but that’s completely optional. Entries will be accepted until 9 p.m. PST, Monday, September 28. Remember, I’m giving away THREE copies so you have a good chance of snagging one!



  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    September 22, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Good luck everyone! ‘Virgil Flowers’. That’s some wicked name! {PCN, I haven’t had to dispatch a chicken, something for which I’m extremely grateful.}

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm

      Shell, I hope you’ll never have to experience it. They do remain disturbingly active after their heads are chopped off.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I love Virgil Flowers! Well, high school was a pretty rough territory like you mentioned, but more mean girls than testing out survival skills.

    I did survive a roadtrip to FL from MI in a completely packed compact car – now that was a real test of wills!

    Thanks, PCN, for holding the giveaway!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

      When I read this, I envisioned one of those clown cars from which 28 people climb out and make me wonder how/where they all fit.

      Thanks for offering me the ARCs!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 8:21 am

    The roughest for me was a few Summers of my youth spent in Maine. There wasn’t any running water or electricity, we cooked over an open fire for all three meals and we built our own outhouse. We did have tents and, when it rained, we slept in our cars. That probably sounds like camping to most of you, but I was a teenager and me and my five siblings didn’t exactly relish three weeks in the backwoods with our parents during one of the hottest times of the year. In fact, just thinking of it makes me want to go take a shower.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      I’ve been to Maine in the summer and was almost sucked dry by mosquitoes and ticks. Your experience definitely sounds rough. I wouldn’t have lasted 3 days, much less 3 weeks.

  • Reply
    Angela T.
    September 22, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Hi! I’m a new follower of yours on twitter and I sent a tweet about the contest. Link below.


    I’m a native Floridian and the roughest environment I’ve ever been in was in South Carolina during Army basic training. It was winter and during marches I was always falling as I tried to learn how to march on the iced over roads. Not liking cold or snow didn’t make the experience any nicer.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

      Welcome, Angela, and thanks for retweeting!

      I’m honored to have an Army person here. I think military training is hard enough, but in ice or snow? I would not only fall down but require medical attention.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Hmmm…the roughest place for me…I don’t know if it was really rough, but it was scary for a kid! When I was younger, we lived in the mountains (not Heidi-like, just in a mountainous area)….when waiting for the school bus outside the before/after school care location, I glance to my right and just past a VERY short row of hedges is a BIG BLACK BEAR! It was crossing the street (probably from the garbage cans of the pizza place over a street or two) and was within 10 feet of me! well, my first thought was to run to the door, but I knew that the lady working would never get there in time, so I ducked behind the bushes! Luckily the bear wasn’t interested in me because there is NO way it didn’t see me. After it lumbered into the backyard, I dashed to the door and made it inside. WHEW!

    Oh, please count me in for the contest too! I am a follower on Twitter (@GRgenius) and am also retweeting! (http://twitter.com/GRgenius/status/4175887796)


    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks for retweeting and stopping by, GMR!

      I would’ve wet my pants then lost consciousness (not necessarily in that order) if a bear came that close to me. Sounds like you made the right call. Whew, indeed!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I’ve been camping but nothing was as rough as the 3 months I lived in my shell of a home while we renovated it in the winter. No walls, no ceilings, no electricity, no heat. Surprisingly plywood and rolls of plastic that we stapled each night to make outside walls don’t do much to keep heat in when it’s 40 outside. Bare concrete floors ensured it stayed cold. When it rained and stopped construction, I got the pleasure of seeing my own private inside waterfall in what was to be our new kitchen. Our kids loved every minute of it as they though it was funny that we stapled their Pokemon sheets to make walls for the bathroom and beach towels up to make doors. Of course they got to sleep next door with a warm shower and heat during the worst of it so at least those memories won’t be the focus of future psychiatrists visits. 😀

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm

      Ha ha! You didn’t love your indoor waterfall? I can’t imagine!

      This reminds me of when my house flooded when I was a kid. The water came up to my thighs (granted, I was little). My siblings and I thought it was fun because we took turns sliding down the banister and diving into our indoor pool! Oddly enough, our parents were much less amused.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I got lost in the woods one time during one of my families annual camping trips from Hell.
    After about 6 hours of drizzly cold rain, I found my way back. I know, it doesn’t sound very dangerous but I was more than a little scared.

    I’m following you on twitter as southrngrl and I live in the US.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:26 pm

      Oh gosh, I got lost once when I was 5 on a busy city block with tons of people milling about. That was terrifying enough and it was only for about half an hour (felt like forever). I can’t imagine your being lost in the woods for six hours in the rain! Glad you found your way back.

  • Reply
    Deb's Book Nook
    September 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I’m definitely an indoor sort of gal and to me rough territory means no water and electric.

    DH’s family had a small cabin by a local lake. There was electric but running water which didn’t thrill me but figured I could cope. But when we got to the lake and found a snake skin inside the cabin….that was a bit more roughing that I wanted. UGH!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm

      No, no, no, not SNAKES! Few things scare me more than snakes. I recoiled in horror just reading your story.

      This reminds me of the time I went on vacation with my family to a rustic cabin in a remote area. There was no electricity there except the sparks we generated every time we touched anything in the house, including the toilet seat. Getting zapped on the butt every time we went to the bathroom was NOT fun.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I know I do not qualify, but I’ll share a bit.

    One of the toughest environments I ever was was when a bunch of friends an I decided to climb the Iztaccihuatl -you know, the 17,159 feet above the sea level volcano near Mexico City. It was so weird, but I was so cold and yet incredibly sweaty so I couldn’t stand my jacket (but I knew I shouldn’t take it off, because I’d risk hypothermia). It took me almost nine hours to walk up and about 4 to descend, and it was extreme. Somewhere going up I was almost mountain-sick; I felt like crap, couldn’t move my legs and almost gave up, but then I got to “the knees” and saw the summit so close that I just couldn’t let myself give up. So I went on and arrived to the summit!

    It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      Oh, man, Poncho, I want to see pictures of you at the top! Can you please send? I’m so impressed by your successful ascent despite the hypoxia. Is Everest next on your list?

      • Reply
        September 22, 2009 at 11:52 pm

        I didn’t quite get height hypoxia, but was very close -the reason I know I wasn’t mountain-sick is that a friend of mine, who was in our group, got hypoxic and it wasn’t nice-.

        The thing is that, the way the walk is to the summit is that you get to a “partial summit” which would be equivalent to the “knees” of the “Sleeping Woman” (you do know that Iztaccihuatl is the nahuatl for “Sleeping Woman”, don’t you?), and then you walk down to the “belly” so you can then climb to the “chest”=the summit. So I got my chance to recover my breath in the brief descent to the belly (which, by the way, has the strongest wind currents I’ve ever witnessed).

        I’ll be posting the only pic I got of myself in the summit -the same I have in my bookshelf in my room!

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          September 23, 2009 at 8:43 am


          No, I didn’t know what Iztaccihuatl meant. Thanks for enlightening me.

          Even if you didn’t get hypoxia, your accomplishment is amazing. Where will you be posting this pic, please?

  • Reply
    September 22, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    roughest environment- A few years ago I was at a bridal shower for a friend. I was the only single girl there. Felt like a leper
    I follow on twitter as (debbook)

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 1:48 pm

      Yikes, that can be brutal! Well, you are welcome here, single or otherwise.

  • Reply
    Sam Bradley
    September 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    My first thought was a training mission in Ukraine, but then I realized the roughest environment I was ever in was Lower Manhatten – Oct 2001. Yep, Ground Zero … a war torn place full of anger, fear, dust; people breathing badly, and doing medicine out of a tent – standing in the middle of “the pile” knowing the firefighters working next to you were not the only entities there. Spooky … yeah!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm

      Wow, Sam, sounds like you have some amazing stories to tell. Were you working as a paramedic at Ground Zero? My college roommate is an Air Force doctor and she’s always telling me intense tales about helping with disasters and/or bringing medicine to people in Third World countries.

      Thank you for the work you do.

  • Reply
    Stephanie C. Brown
    September 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    waking up in the hospital realizing I had lost 3 days..totally in some other reality

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm

      Wow. Did you ever find out what happened in those 3 days?

  • Reply
    Cara Powers
    September 23, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Following you on Twitter!
    Roughest environment: At first I was thinking Cameroon. I spent a month there. Finally, I’ve decided on the hospital. Whether working there or as a patient, you are subjected constantly to people at their worst–not dealing well with the trauma of being in the hospital, people who are overworked and exhausted.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 23, 2009 at 8:59 am

      Hi Cara,

      Luckily, I don’t spend much time in hospitals but judging from the experience I do have, I agree with you. But please tell us more about your time in Cameroon! Why were you there? What happened?

  • Reply
    September 23, 2009 at 8:38 am

    The roughest place I’ve ever been: I recently had a kidney transplant.

    My husband donated a kidney to me. When I went into surgery, I knew only that he had survived his operation. There was no information about how he was doing or if he would continue to survive.

    Recovering from the surgery was no picnic, especially since my husband and 3-year-old daughter were not able to visit me.

    It’s now one year later and I am finally healing from the surgery (I take meds several times daily to keep my immune system suppressed so kidney won’t reject). I’ve have to overcome a number of issues including minor brain damage (caused by the toxins my kidney was not able to clear prior to the surgery), medication side-effects (too numerous to list, but many serious), center of gravity issues (for example, how to run/lean/go down stairs/hit a ball without falling over since I now have 10 pounds of kidney and protective fluid in the bottom/front right corner of my abdomen)…

    Regardless of the hardships I’ve had to overcome, I’m truly grateful to still be alive and for all of the wonderful people, especially my husband, who helped me to get here.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 23, 2009 at 9:05 am

      Hi Marcie,

      I’m so glad you’re doing better. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m inspired by your strength.

      How’s your husband doing? How long did it take him to recover?

      • Reply
        September 23, 2009 at 9:25 am

        My husband recovered fully with no resulting problems or side effects within 2 weeks. He highly recommends donating a kidney to a loved one in need – for the most part it’s only a blood type match.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Hmmm. Rough environment…… Well, I guess one time I had to send my Xbox off to get repaired and it took OVER A WEEK to get back! Whew.

    The only other rough environments involved camping trips (one where our boots iced over while sitting outside) but since I chose to be in those environments and had fun, I can’t really count them.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

      How did you ever manage to survive a week without your Xbox?! That’s crazy!:-)

  • Reply
    September 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I have been living without running hot water for over a year now. The previous one conked out, and massive financial problems made it impossible to get it replaced. There’s some hope the situation will finally be corrected before this next Colorado winter gets going full time, but it’s definitely been the biggest, non-illness, hardship to come along.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 25, 2009 at 9:36 am

      Riley, I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope it gets fixed soon. Your winters are TOUGH.

  • Reply
    Lisa A.
    September 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Well, my husband went to college for a while in Muskegon, Michigan, and I was horrified to find they had a security fence around the school (to keep out the natives, apparently). Coming from the countryside, I was shocked at all the boarded up windows and general air of defeat there. Of course, this was in the early 1990s, so maybe it’s improved since then (I don’t see how it could get worse!).

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

      Hi Lisa, I used to tour high schools with a theater company, doing shows about teenage issues like drugs, sex, pregnancy, etc. I visited schools that had fences around them, topped with barbed wire, with cop cars parked right outside. There was also a school that broke out in a riot where students were beating on other students, set garbage dumpsters on fire and a lockdown was enforced with my colleagues and me still inside. Yikes!

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