Monthly Archives: February 2013

WW Ladies/Men Book Club

Barbara Vey -- February 27th, 2013

I can’t believe that next Monday starts the week long Anniversary Bash.  Authors, this is your last chance to offer something up for the readers.  You can register and get details here.  Readers, mark it on your calendar.  The party goes from Monday through Saturday with tons of giveaways.

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joysann

joysann

Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Read by joysann

Atticus O’Sullivan, the last druid in the world, has spent the last 13 years training his apprentice for this time when she can be bound to the earth and become the first new druid in a thousand years. But conflicts from Atticus’ past adventures catch up with him, pitting him against gods and goddesses from several pantheons and some of the Tuatha de Danaan from his own country. But he can’t allow even the beginning of Ragnarok interfere with this important task.

Atticus is known as the Iron Druid, and Kevin Hearne’s series is fascinating excitement from book to book. The characters are fantastic and captivating, and story is written with charm and humor. I best enjoy the laugh-out-loud moments that are frequent and in just the right places, making it a series I want to suggest to every reader.

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Heidi

Heidi

True Love at Silver Creek Ranch: A Valentine Valley Novel by Emma TrueLoveSilverCreekCane

Read by Heidi

Adam DeSantis is back to Valentine Valley after his tour of duty, with the understanding how his grandmother’s health is getting worse and needs him. He is reluctant to go back to where he grew up, especially with his hard upbringing; but his grandmother sacrificed for him, so he must be there for her. Brooke Thalberg has been working hard for her family at Silver Creek Ranch, and there is always more to do. She seems to be wanting something different, something more, but isn’t sure what or how. When her father hires Adam to work at the ranch, Brooke becomes his boss, so the feelings that are making her insides stir, must be put away, no matter how hard it is.

You know how wonderful it is to put on comfortable clothes? You relax, and feel better inside and out. That is how I felt after reading this book. Great all over. And even with the side stories of the grandmothers fighting for the city, and Brooke helping out the local youth in town, it really made everything comfortable and cozy.

Joe

Joe

Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar by Lexi Georgedemonhuntinginadivebar-200x296

Read by Joe

Half-demon Rebekah “Beck” Damian owns a bar that caters to the paranormal residents of Hannah, AL. Beck’s firmly controlled life goes to hell in a hurry when a hot, arrogant Dalvahni demon hunter shows up, throwing Beck into infuriating lust and a load of unwanted trouble. Conall thinks Beck knows something about a weapon that can wound the near-invulnerable Dalvahni. Prickly Beck is bewilderingly attractive to the “unemotional creature of logic” that is the Dalvahni warrior, plus he’s supposed to kill demons, not fall for them. Added for fun and depth are a sweet shifter dog, a depressed vegetarian zombie, a screechy Wampus Kitty, and scores more.

For me this book fit into the moderately interesting category. The humor and snark in it kept me laughing, but there were parts of the romance elements that seemed rushed and odd to me. This may read differently for someone else. Not having read the first two, I don’t know if I would have gotten to book three if it took until now to introduce any weakness for the demon hunters other than human women. It’s part of the reason I never got fully behind Superman. Still, even with some of the leaps in romantic logic that come close to the physics examples given in a Die Hard movie, it was a solid read. A quick one too as there was always action going on.

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Joan

Joan

Untamed by Sara Humphreys

Read by Joan

Amoveos are shape shifters of various clans ruled by a high council, and have pre-designated mates, their one true love that they must find in life. Unlike most half breed Amoveos, Layla Nickelsen knows what she is and is determined to choose her own mate. However, when William Fleury of the Falcon clan shows up in her dreams and then at her farm she begins to find out more about herself and her future.

Untamed is the third book in the Amoveo Legend series. Not having read the first two books, I still was able to easily pick up the story line. It was a very exciting and romantic story with lots of conflict and tension in this paranormal world. I am anxious to read the next book, Undenied.

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Alice

Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

Read by Alice

David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings, saves Helena Fitzhugh, whom he’s secretly loved for years, from ruin when he offers her marriage after she is found in an ill-conceived rendezvous with married man. Helena reluctantly accepts, though she’s detested David since their childhood. Surviving an accident in which Helena loses her memory, David lives in fear of her recovery, thus ending the marriage he’s always desired.

I really enjoyed this historical with its twists and turns. It was romantic and charming, and made for an interesting read.

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Ashley

Ashley

The Enchanted Land By Jude DeverauxThe-Enchanted-Land

Read by Ashley

Morgan Wakefield father has died leaving her his ranch in New Mexico but the only way to inherit it is if she marries and lives with her husband there for a year. For shy, simple, plain Morgan this is a nightmare. But then she meets the handsome Seth Colter and proposes a marriage of convenience to him. Together they sent off on the Santa Fe trial where they will encounter dangers they never expected. Just when one challenge is over another occurs and the new lovers will have to fight for future together on their wild and enchanted ranch in New Mexico.

This might be Jude Deveraux best novel! Its an emotional rollercoaster, there are so many surprising twists and turns in the plot, I could not put it down! The Enchanted Land is truly an enchanted novel with adventure, thrills, and a steamy hot romance. It is honestly one the best western historical romance novels I have read this year!

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joysann

joysann

An Apple for the Creature, an anthology of stories edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L P Kelner

Read by joysann

Here is another of those fantastic anthologies that bring together short stories by multiple excellent authors, many of whom are favorites of mine and some who are new to me. ALL of the stories are exciting and chilling. The premise here is learning, whether as student, teacher or innocent bystander in a wide variety of spooky situations.

These incredible authors are Ilona Andrews, Amber Benson, Rhys Bowen, Mike Carey, Charlaine Harris, Donald Harstad, Steve Hockensmith, Nancy Holder, Faith Hunter, Toni L. P. Kelner, Marjorie Liu, Jonathan Maberry, Thomas Sniegoski. Some of the stories are related to a series the author may have going, and some go off in a wholly new direction for the author. Each of these stories were enthralling, and more than a few gave me goosebumps. They make for an excellent read.

Bottom Line:  Been snowing here for 2 days days…good thing it’s bright and sunny in my fantasy world of books.

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Email: bvey@publishersweekly.com

 

A Memory of Light

Barbara Vey -- February 25th, 2013
joysann

joysann

Hi There. joysann here. Have you experienced this?

This morning I’m looking at a huge audiobook case with 33 disks in it. I have been dying to get this book, and I’m certain I’m going to love it. Yet I’m looking at the box here with trepidation and hesitate to get started.

What I’m looking at is the VERY LAST book in a series into which I’ve invested years, twelve of them, at least. The series is Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time. It’s a wonderful sword and sorcery fantasy epic that has enthralled millions, including me. Here it is, something I’ve been waiting for… The. Very. Last. Book. I’m feeling reluctant and a little sorrowful about listening to it. When I do, it’s all over. And that makes me sad.

Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 with the story incomplete. But his estate contracted celebrated fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to use the notes and plans that Jordan left behind to complete the series the way he intended. Sanderson wrote the last couple of books, and I have been very happy with the results, and think he’s done justice to Jordan’s work. Since the release of A Memory of Light in early January this year, I have completely avoided any reviews or spoilers regarding this last book for I want only my opinions in my head. I want the wonder of it all for myself.

Another part of my regret involves the audiobook itself. All fourteen books in the series have been read by two fantastic narrators, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. These two have faithfully rendered the characters the same way with the same voices for all of these years, and they are wonderful to listen to. I have listened to all 30-something disks of each book at least twice, and I know that I will go back through the whole series again some day, just for the comfort of listening.

But this is the last book. I’m almost afraid to start it, and afraid for it to end. I’m thrilled and sad, all at the same time.

Book 14 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson, audiobook from MacMillan Audio, read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

Bottom Line: Once I start this, DON’T BOTHER ME. I’m busy!

The Morning Blend

Barbara Vey -- February 21st, 2013
Dianna Love, Barbara Vey and Molly Fay of The Morning Blend.

Dianna Love, Barbara Vey and Molly Fay of The Morning Blend.

The other day I was a guest on The Morning Blend tv show with author Dianna Love.  She talked about her books and I talked about the Reader Appreciation Luncheon I host here in Milwaukee.  I did it last year too and had an amazing time.  The lights, the camera, the rush.  You can watch the interview here.

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I have no problem talking to anyone at anytime.  Going on television doesn’t make me nervous.  It energizes me, it excites me, it gets my heart pumping.  I’ve discovered I really like it and now I’m considering doing some video blogging.  I really need to talk to PW about letting me do my blog once a week as a video.

Of course, on the downside, I couldn’t do it like I write a blog, usually in my jammies in bed.  I’d probably have to get dressed (at least the parts the camera sees) and then I’d need make up because my face is so pale it really washes out on screen.

Now thinking about it, this may be the reason so many people want to write a book.  When it’s time to sit down at the computer, you can be in your most comfortable clothes and nobody really cares what you look like.  All that matters is writing a really good book.

So, any authors who would like to send me a picture of them writing, I’ll put it in the blog next week.  You can’t fancy yourself up for the picture.  It has to be au naturale (that doesn’t mean nude in this case).  Send them to bvey@publishersweekly.com .

Bottom Line:  “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up,” ~ Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

Beautiful Creatures

Barbara Vey -- February 19th, 2013

beautiful creatures

With the movie version of Beautiful Creatures opening, I remember meeting the authors when the book first came out.  I was taken with the amazing cover and I took the book home and gave it to one of my YA readers.

May 29, 2009, here’s what we wrote:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Read by Rebeka, 15

After a beautiful, strange girl moves into Ethan Wate’s small, middle-of-nowhere southern town, nothing is ever the same again. Lena is the girl from Ethan’s dark and very real dreams. She is also a girl with a very dark secret. One that will change Ethan’s life forever.

I found this to be a truly beautiful book, filled with great twists, a love story, and magic. The story is unique, one I’d not seen before that left in me in awe. Any reader interested in an amazing modern fantasy should give Beautiful Creatures a chance.

Beautiful Creature

It’s not doing too well at the box office and I haven’t seen it yet.  It got a 45 from the critics (bad) on Rotten Tomatoes, with 74% of the audience liking it.  I’ll probably wait for the DVD to judge for myself, but it looks like another failed attempted to turn a good book into a movie.

Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?  Did you read the book?  Have you ever seen a movie better than the book?  Or at least as good as?

BTW, I went to see the new Die Hard movie this weekend and it was awful.  It made me sad because I’m such a big fan of John McClane.  He looked tired (which probably should be expected after 25 years), but it was actually a boring movie with none of the Bruce Willis charm.

Bottom Line:  As much as I enjoy movies, I’ll pick the book version any day of the week.

 

I’m Fine with Guys Wearing Kilts

Barbara Vey -- February 15th, 2013
High School Student William Carruba (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden)

High School Student William Carruba (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden)

 

It’s no secret that I cannot resist a book with a kilt on the cover.  There’s just something about it that oozes alpha male lazer rays my way.  My lifelong dream is to go to Scotland and bask in all that kilt glory.  There is a rich heritage there and image of the plaids representing clans fascinates me.

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That is why I read, in horror, the story about the high school student who wasn’t allowed to wear his family kilt to prom.  The school officials deemed it “not normal. “It’s not what we call normal wear,” his school superintendent said at special meeting addressing the great kilt conundrum. “We must adhere to our [dress] policy, to do otherwise would be reckless on our part.” Well, maybe we don’t see people walking around here in kilts all the time, but for this young man’s heritage, it is very normal.  Would burkas be allowed or is that “not normal” either?  How about yamakas?

 

Gerard Butler rocking his kilt

Gerard Butler rocking his kilt

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I don’t see anything obscene about this.  If anything, I see this as a wonderful tribute to this man’s roots.  Even his girlfriend is for it since she is a huge Gerard Butler (Scotsman) fan.  The student tried to explain, “One of my great-grandfathers came to this country in the 1700s for freedom,”  Saying I can’t wear my kilt … is a pronouncement that I cannot honor my family.”  But the school officials stuck by the lame excuse, “attending the prom is a privilege, not a right.”

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You can read the whole article here

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Bottom Line:  Dear School Officials, you have bigger fish to fry.

 

Love and Romance

Barbara Vey -- February 14th, 2013

Mickey

Today is the day that symbolizes love and romance.  There are hearts and candy and flowers everywhere.  There are teddy bears with big red bows and restaurants with lots of reservations and I’m sure there will be a few proposals before the day is over.

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    Connecticut Couple Honored as 'Longest Married' in U.S. (ABC News)     Connecticut Couple Honored as 'Longest Married' in U.S. (ABC News)

Connecticut Couple Honored as ‘Longest Married’ in U.S. (ABC News) 

Here’s a couple who know a thing or two about love.  John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Conn. were married in November 1932.  They’ve been married 80 years.  In this day and age of 5 minute marriages (yes, Kim Kardashian, I’m talking about you), it’s refreshing to see that there is everlasting love somewhere.  I even saw where one law firm is offering free divorces today and how sad is that?

But, back to love.  This has to be an extra special day for readers and writers of romance, so how about sharing your love story.  Tell us about your special Valentine.  How did you meet?  What makes you stay together?  What’s your everlasting love story?

Bottom Line:  All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. ~ Charles M. Schulz

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Separating Negative Reviews from Personal Attacks

Barbara Vey -- February 13th, 2013

Please-253x300

I am struck by the amount of begging for reviews I see online.  The consensus is that the more a book is reviewed, the better chance it has to sell more copies.  Authors feel that good, bad or otherwise, a review will somehow make their book more legitimate.

While I agree that reviews can be helpful, authors need to have really thick skin about it.  Giving readers carte blanche can be asking for trouble.  With no boundaries, reader reviewers often cross the line and move from reviewing the book to reviewing the person who wrote the book.  Too often I see little about why the reader didn’t like the book and more about what an idiot the writer was in writing the book in the first place.  It especially galls me when the reviewer admits that they haven’t yet read the book.  How on earth can you say anything intelligent about it if you haven’t even read it?

Melissa McCarthy

Books aren’t the only things that garner personal attack reviews.  I’ve been following the story of reviewer Rex Reed going after actress Melissa McCarthy because of her weight while reviewer her new movie, Identity Theft.  He said she is “tractor-sized,” “a humongous creep” and a “female hippo.”  Please explain to me what that has to do with the movie.  In a world of stick thin models and actresses, I find watching women of different sizes refreshing.  Rex Reed has been around a long time and should know better.

Melissa McCarthy received an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids (which I saw 5 times, mostly because of her).  She stars in the tv show Mike and Molly that says it’s ok for overweight people to fall in love.  A part for which she won an Emmy.  I’d say there’s a little talent there.

I don’t remember reading about Robbie Coltrane’s weight as Hagrid in Harry Potter being an issue or John Goodman or George Wendt.   At least authors don’t have to worry about their weight being a reason for their bad book review (not that I’ve heard of…yet).

Melissa McCarthy hasn’t come out and commented on this and I give her a lot of credit for it, but her staunch supporters have.  It’s the same for authors.  Do not engage.  It seems to me that some reviewers are spoiling for a fight.  A yelling match doesn’t help anyone.

And, like books, sometimes bad publicity works.  Identity Theft is number one at the box office this week and isn’t that the sweetest revenge of all?

Bottom Line:  I plan to see Identity Theft because I like Melissa McCarthy, just like I read certain books because I like the author.

Bill Spence Loves Writing Romance

Barbara Vey -- February 11th, 2013

Jessica Blair

I absolutely love this story.  Bill Spence, 89 from England has been writing romance novels for the past 20 years under the name of Jessica Blair.

Bill, a former member of the RAF’s Bomber Command, started writing in 1959.  He wrote 36 westerns before he penned a nonfiction about whaling.  Bill then decided to put his historical knowledge to work in a romance.  When he sent it off to publishers, Bill says, “They said they liked it and would love to publish it but under a different name. The publishers were going to keep it a secret but it was picked up by a number of the papers, as here was someone who had been writing Westerns now trying to publish books under a female name.”

The Jessica Blair books take about 9 months to write.  According to Bill, “It is very different writing romantic novels as opposed to westerns. For one thing, romantic novels are a lot longer, about 100,000 words long, while westerns are about 45,000. I would never go back, I am too used to writing romantic fiction now, but I learnt a lot writing westerns.”

Bill doesn’t plan to stop writing romance any time soon.  “When I am writing I have got to think in a female way and I have got to think about the period I am setting the book in. I just love doing it. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it!”

You can read the whole article here.

So, what’s in a pen name?  A lot.  I know a lot of people who will only read books by men or only by women.  Some readers really believe that only certain sexes can only write about certain topics.  This is nothing new, but we still see established writers creating new names when they want to write a different genre.

What do you think?  If you read a book that you thought was written by a woman and then found out it was an 89 year old man, would it change your perception of the book?   Have you ever had it happen that you read a book and really enjoyed it only to find out that the writer wasn’t who or what you expected? 

Bottom Line:  Thinking of my mom today who would have been celebrating her 83rd birthday.

Monday GiveawaysfreeStuff

From Susan Hanniford Crowley:  On Feb 14th, Nights of Passion celebrates its 4th anniversary with a major give away. Authors Susan Hanniford Crowley, Marian Lanouette, Leia Shaw, Char Chaffin, Angela Scavonea, Meggan Connors and Gerri Brousseau share scenes of romance from their published works. Each author will be giving away a free copy of their most recent publication, so stop by and join in the fun. Help them celebrate another 365 nights of passion. Details at Nights of Passion blog.

From Eileen Dreyer:  I will be holding weekly giveaways starting this Friday on my yahoo group. Readers can join the Yahoo group by going to my website. When they sign up they are automatically entered each week for the Friday Freebies.

From Romance at Random:  WEEKLY GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a copy of HIGHLANDER MOST WANTED by Maya Banks!

WW Ladies/Men Book Club

Barbara Vey -- February 8th, 2013

Today joysann wrote an insightful piece on the book she read (blurb below), Schooled by Deena Bright on my website.  Deena is yet another teacher being scorned for the books she writes and actually lives close to joysann.  We also welcome new readers Alice and Autumn today.  Thanks for your contributions and I hope we see many more.

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Alice

Warrior Betrayed by Addison Fox

Read by Alice

After the death of her father, Montana becomes the leader of his shipping company. Strange things start happening, including her mother reappearing after 20 years missing, talking about curses, immortal warriors and Mt Olympus. She hires and begins to fall in love with handsome security expert Quinn Tanner as her life changes and she discovers the truth behind her mother’s words, and finds he is part of it all.

Warrior Betrayed was a fast paced good read with lots of romance and intrigue. I couldn’t put it down. It was easy to relate to the characters, and I’ll be picking up the next book in the series right away, Warrior Enchanted.

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Ashley

Ashley

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie DickersonFairestBeauty

Read by Ashley

Sophie is a poor kitchen maid in the evil Duchess Ermengard’s castle. The Duchess is known for her evil and hateful antics toward all the servants, especially Sophie. Sophie often dreams of escaping the terrible castle, but she has no family, no money and nowhere to go. Then one day a young handsome man named Gabe shows up at the castle claiming she is the betrothed to his brother and life as Sophie knows it gets  flipped upside down. They plan a daring escape and begin  a frightful journey back to Gabe’s castle, where they  must not only protect each other from the dangers around them, but  also protect their hearts as a romance together is impossible.

The Fairest Beauty is a masterful retelling of the fairy tale Snow White. It has everything that a great romance needs, a young forbidden love, an action-packed adventure, and a happily ever after ending. The Fairest Beauty was unique enough from the classic fairy tale that it kept totally engrossed throughout the entire novel. I can’t wait to read more books like this!

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joysann

joysann

Schooled by Deena Bright

Read by joysann

High school teacher Jenelle Garrity suddenly finds herself out of her marriage and alone, but handsome Briggs Alexander, a popular sports celebrity, is happy to keep her company. So is compelling Leo Cling, a brilliant, up and coming businessman. Problem is, both young men are her former students from years ago. But the college grads aren’t boys anymore…

Deena Bright’s erotic contemporary is a delightful escape from ordinary life with the not-so-plausible circumstances sparking a woman’s imagination. The double controversy of a) former students and b) two hunky men makes for good conflict, and the likeable characters make the story titillating. I think it is a fun, sexy entertainment, and I’ll be watching for the sequel.

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Joe

Joe

Ever After by Kim HarrisonEAhcCover

Read by Joe

The ever-after, the demonic realm that parallels our own, is shrinking, and if it disappears, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to fix the ever-after before the fragile balance between magic users and humans falls apart.

I’ll admit I haven’t read all of the previous ten books in this series, but this was an easy book to slide into with even no knowledge of all the players. Also, it is a testament to the writing that even in the eleventh book in a series you can introduce evolution in the characters. Because to follow a series and group of characters for that long you need to have an attachment to the characters. And while the ending had a truly epic feel to it, the whole thing was handled with a grace that wouldn’t unbalance the worlds they live in for the next installment in the series. A truly excellent read.

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Autumn

Autumn

Blood Promise by Richelle MeadBlood Promise

Read by Autumn

From a young age the fiery dhampir Rose Hathaway vowed to always protect her best friend Lissa Dragomir, a Moroi princess and the last of her line. But this vow was made before the mysterious and handsome Russian guardian Dimitri Belikov entered into Rose’s life as her private combat instructor. Soon the physical closeness of their combat training turned to a heated love affair with Dimitri always on Rose’s mind. After an attack on the academy by the sinister Strigoi, resulting in Dimitri being turned, Rose had to make the hardest decision of her life- leaving Lissa’s side to set out on a vigilante mission to set Dimitri’s soul free from the irreversible Strigoi curse. But if Rose finds Dimitri, will she be able to look at the face of her lover and kill him?

Blood Promise is a mesmerizing and emotional page turner full of suspense, longing, seduction, and deception.  I could not put this book down and jumped straight into the next book of the series; the anticipation was killing me!

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Ashley

Ashley

By the Blood of HeroesByTheBloodofHeroes
The Great Undead War: Book I
By Joseph Nassise

Read by Ashley

During World War I, the desperate Germans introduce a new gas to the battlefield. This gas nicknamed the “corpse gas” changes the entire war; the gas resurrects the bodies of the dead, giving the Germans an unlimited source of troops. When famous Allied pilot Major Jack Freeman is shot down and taken captive by the Germans, only one veteran officer is crazy enough to attempt a rescue mission.  Captain Michael “Madman” Burke is fearless and wild enough to go behind enemy lines and attempt a vital mission.
 
By the Blood of Heroes is not what I would normally read, but after reading this, I am now totally in love! I am ecstatic that I found a new genre! It’s a full-on action packed adventure, filled with lots of blood, guts, and gore. A thrilling ride of a novel, historical and adventure readers will enjoy!

Bottom Line:My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.”  ~Thomas Helm

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

Barbara Vey -- February 6th, 2013
joysann

joysann

Hi There. joysann here.

As a rule I don’t watch much television on a regular basis, so when my friends start talking about popular TV programs, I only vaguely know what they’re talking about. I do get interested, though, when they enthusiastically profess to enjoy them. If a series does sound interesting to me, I’ll pick up the DVD at the library when it comes out and indulge for several days in a row, if I find I like it.

Recently I got the first season of both Grimm and Once Upon a Time, which was a fun way to endure some of the cold winter evenings this January. I liked both shows, and enjoyed the clever ways the bedtime stories we’ve heard all our lives have been mixed in with modern police mysteries. It was fun to see if my husband or I could guess the character before it was revealed. We do pretty well. But occasionally there’ll be a story with which I’m not familiar, and that’s vaguely unsettling because it seems like I should know all of them after all these years.

Fortunately, this year award-winning, best-selling author Philip Pullman celebrated the 200th anniversary of an original compilation by publishing Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and I’m finding it fascinating. As you may know, Pullman is the author of the very popular His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass). The original fairy stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm was titled Children’s and Household Tales. Pullman’s collection is a re-telling of fifty of those stories for modern readers (not modernized), with his observations on the story’s origin, or comparisons to stories from other cultures, or the intent behind them. His commentaries are as enlightening and interesting as the tales themselves.

One thing I’ve been reminded of is that not all fairy tales are Happily-Ever-Afters. Some stories are very dark, or rather gruesome, and Pullman doesn’t attempt to make them prettier. Many are not at all what I think of as children’s stories. (Shiver!!!)

As expected Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel, and Rumpelstiltskin get their moments in Pullman’s sun, but so do characters you may have never known, or some you’ll enjoy meeting again. Pullman himself says this is not a text book, but I feel that a huge hole in my cultural knowledge is more satisfactorily filled.

Bottom Line: While enjoying the explosion of fairy tales on TV and big screen with many of our favorite actors and actresses, as well as the animated Disney productions, it’s fun to take a few minutes to find out how the real nitty-gritty stories go.