PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for May, 2011

It is Join Hands Day!

Saturday, May 7th, 2011


“Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts. – William Shakespeare


And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together. – Robert Fulghum

And come what may our hearts are holding hands… – Loretta Lynn





Hand a man a book and he reads for one day, refer a man to PBS and he reads for a lifetime. – PBS Blog Team

Fantasy Friday – Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs‏

Friday, May 6th, 2011


Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs

Review by Janice Y. (jai)


The Premise: Aralorn has been called home after ten years away as a spy for the mercenary city-state of Sianim – her father, the Lion of Lambshold has died. Aralorn returns to the family she left behind and to the reasons why she left. She also discovers that her father is actually alive but kept in a death-like state through some malicious black magic spell which neither she nor Wolf can easily break. The question becomes – how can they free Aralorn’s father before his life leaves him for real, and who is responsible for his “death”, and why?

My Thoughts: This book starts off not too long after the events of the last book – just enough time for people to settle down again after what happened at the ae’Magi’s castle. The principle characters of the first book have gone back to their regular roles, and Aralorn and Wolf have gone back to the spying game. Apparently the world has accepted happened at the ae’Magi’s castle with minimal repercussions, and if there are to be significant world changing events because of it, they aren’t happening right away.

Almost no one knows or suspects that Aralorn and Wolf were ever involved with what happened, but when Aralorn’s father is targeted, the first thought to come to mind is that their fight is not over.  It’s natural to wonder if such a evil villain, whose body is never found, is really still alive. When people begin to have strange dreams that feel like they are memories rather than dreams, it suggests a perpetrator with magical power, again pointing at the ae’Magi, but there are a few magic users in the vicinity of Lambshold, including Aralorn’s brother-in-law as well as her shapeshifter relatives. And then, there’s the new ae’Magi. Thus, Wolfsbane is a sort of a magical whodunit to find out who is behind the Lion of Lambshold’s “death”,with the side effect that we get to delve into Aralorn’s beginnings and explore her relationship with Wolf.

I love Patricia Briggs’ current urban fantasy series, but when I read Wolfsbane and compare it to her newer work, it lacks finesse. I can see the foundation in Wolfsbane for the writer Briggs is now. It has the ideas and a relationship between two unique characters which I love in Briggs’ recent work, but the execution here is a little clunky. Aralorn and Wolf have only two weeks to lift the spell on her father but there’s little sense of urgency or pressure from Aralorn’s family about how little time they have and how little they know. Compared with Masques, which had quite a bit of action, Wolfsbane less physical, more verbal. It mostly deals with Aralorn and Wolf asking the opinions of the nearby experts, deciding what to do next, and contemplating their relationship with each other.

In both the mystery and the relationship I found things a little too scripted. Aralorn would tell stories or make decisions that seem out of the blue, but they had a direct bearing on the story later on. Similarly she knows Wolf’s state of mind before he does, and while he’s being the self-hating hero, she’s cheerfully understanding. I enjoyed Aralorn and Wolf’s relationship in Masques, because I felt that Wolf’s prickliness was well balanced with Aralorn’s ability to see what he was really feeling. Unfortunately, in Wolfsbane, this same relationship didn’t work for me, probably because Wolf’s role as a tortured hero was revisited constantly. After a while I began to find his angst and Aralorn’s response tedious. That’s not to say that there were not one or two sweet moments between Aralorn and Wolf that I liked reading, but I felt that some of the space used to repeat what we know about their relationship could have been used to deepen the plot and flesh out the secondary characters. Instead, the relationship took precedence over the plot, and the cheerful demeanor Aralorn uses with Wolf jarred in the face of her father’s near-death state.

Overall: Many aspects of this story were fit together in a way that lacks the polish I expect of Briggs today. It feels like an early work, and one that doesn’t quite have the same charm that I found in Masques. For die-hard fans of Patricia Briggs, this is a must read, but as a fantasy novel, it’s mildly entertaining, but did not stand out. The story may work better for readers who are more interested in the wounded-man-and-his-savior relationship between the two main characters and are not as invested in the fantasy aspects.

(I read and reviewed the first part of this duology, Masques by Patricia Briggs here.)

Author Interview with Robert Scott

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Foxy Lady III: In happier times



Robert Scott, the author of Crossing the Rainbow Bridge: Your Pet: When It’s Time to Let Go is also a new PBS member. Welcome to PaperBackSwap, Robert and thank you for the interview.

And thank you Diane G. (icesk8tr) for interviewing Robert for the PBS Blog.



Diane:  Thank you for allowing us to interview you for the PaperBackSwap Blog.

Robert: This is not only a pleasure, but a real honor. Thank YOU for having me!

Diane:  What inspired you to write this book?

Robert: This is odd. It’s the third time today that I was asked that question. I lost my Foxy Lady on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. The following Saturday, Oct. 16, marked the start of our anniversary of having moved into this house. I was sitting on the lanai, thinking of Lady and I started to sob as I looked across the lanai toward “our” bedroom. Early on, Lady was frightened by something in the middle of the night, and she hopped off her doggie bed onto my bed. After a few minutes of scratching and “rearranging” she found a comfortable “spoon” position next to me. She never used her doggie bed after that. When we went to sleep, she stayed in her position until the next morning when I got up to take her outside. As I was crying, it was almost as if Lady said to me, “Write down what you are feeling. Get it out of your system.”

I began writing down notes of our happy and sad moments. The notes grew and grew, and eventually became my book. It was extremely therapeutic, although I found myself in tears constantly as I recalled details that needed to become part of the book.

Diane:  As an animal lover, it was very difficult not to get emotionally involved while reading this book. How difficult was it for you to write about these experiences?

Robert: Oh, it was most difficult! Mentally recalling a visit to the vet, for example, when I was told that she was in advanced renal failure … I found it nearly impossible to type. I was crying so hard. I’d take a break, then resume. Overall, it was extremely difficult to revisit the unpleasant moments, yet they needed to be a part of the book.

Diane:  Dan and Cathy were very strong and able to take the good times with the bad times. Were they based on someone in your life?

Robert: It’s odd that you should ask that. Neither Dan or Cathy was based on anyone in my life; however, Dan’s parents, Bert and Millie, were the real parents of my best friend over the course of my lifetime, Frank Kale. Cathy’s mom and dad, Bill and Anne, were immortalized versions of my step-dad and Mother. Bill was an avid golfer and he was aptly described in the book. My Mother (uppercase intentional) was Anna, who died in 1995. She was a beautiful woman, but not at all self-absorbed as the Anne in the book.

Diane:  I know you still have a lot of fond memories of the “ladies” in your life, do you have a favorite you would like to share?

Robert: Oh, there are SO MANY, but one of my favorites can be read at this site:  http://rjscott-dogloverrevealed.blogspot.com/2011/04/so-whats-for-sunday-dinner.html. It involves two of my dogs from the ‘70s, Tammy and Heidi II. Another, others that I haven’t documented yet online, involves Tammy, who went blind, and with the help of The University of Pennsylvania, FULLY regained her sight. She was blind for about a year, and after she regained her sight, she lived for several more years.

Diane:  What message do you want the reader to get from this book?

Robert: I’d like readers to realize (if they don’t already) how important our furry friends are in our lives; that there is only one thing that they look for: the unconditional love that THEY already bring to the table. They want to share that love. They CRAVE our love, our friendship. And the thing is, they GIVE so much more. UNCONDITIONAL:  look up the meaning in Webster’s Online. Our furry friends give it FREELY. I cannot conceive of anyone not wanting to return such a pure love.

Diane: Do you plan on getting another dog in the future?

Robert: This is a wonderful question! Right now, my life is empty. It consists of memories that come and go. The house is silent. There is no “slurping” at the water dish; there is no tinkle of a chain collar as it meets a feeding bowl; there is no barking at an unknown sound in the night; there is no frantic race or barking around the lanai at the sound of an approaching motorcycle. (Lady LOVED to hate motorcycles! She would run around in circles around the lanai when she heard one … and there are many in Florida. Often she was so engrossed in her “task” to “holler” at the cycles, that she’d miss her mark and fall smack into the pool!

Chapter 25 of my book details my plans for bringing another dog into my life. If my book has any degree of success, I WILL bring another “Lady” into my life. The proceeds of my book will be used to ENSURE that a future Lady will be cared for by a competent, reliable pet lover in the event of my premature death. “Kaitlin,” a character in my book, is a real person. She is not the veterinarian that is represented in the book; however she does work for one: the veterinarian that cared for my Lady. And she DOES have a pet menagerie that is referenced in the book. She’s a true animal lover!

Diane:  Have you ever had any other pets besides dogs?

Robert: As a child, I had a number of cats in my life. I loved them as dearly as a child is capable of loving. However, once I got my “very own” first dog, I realized that dogs are dependent on people to be happy. A cat will be satisfied with a meal, two, or three a day, a litter box and basically, well, to be “left alone.” Dogs, on the other hand NEED their pet humans. They look forward to playtime, being fed, interaction, being petted and more. I have a need to fulfill the need of a dog at this point in my life, and God willing, I’ll see a Foxy Lady IV right here in my home in Florida. I will spoil that girl, I will love that girl. Those are rights reserved by all parents, aren’t they?

Diane:  Did your experience at America Online help give you some insight in writing this book?

Robert: To a degree, yes. My experience in editing helped me to write the book: Using proper grammar, being careful that historical information was accurate, and of course, the creativity were all key in having my book become a reality.

Diane: Have you thought about publishing another book?

Robert: Yes, as a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking about it. I have two ideas in mind: ‘Strange Things Our Furry Friends Say’.. and ‘How to Grow Up Poor.. and Remain That Way,’ a comical synopsis of my own life.

Diane:  Do you enjoy reading yourself? If so, what author has influenced you?

I really enjoy several authors: Julia Wilkinson, a woman whom I worked with at America Online. She’s written a number of books. And, Morgan Bramlet, author of “Virtual Death,” a sci-fi thriller. Morgan is married to Eileen (Clark) Bramlet, for whom I once worked at AOL. One of my favorite “pet” authors is W. Bruce Cameron, author of “A Dog’s Purpose,” a truly beautiful work! Another is Bobbi Erhart, author of “Paper or Plastic: Life in the Check-Out Lane.” It’s a funny book (complete with x-rated content) by a friend of mine “down the street” in Rotonda, FL.

Diane:  Is your book available in electronic formats?

Robert: Yes, Amazon.com offers my book in Kindle format. I got that version so that I can take it with me when I’m “on the go … “on one of my daily bike rides when I stop for a drink, or at the beach. It’s an “easy to carry” version and, odd as it may seem, I read my own book very often.



Robert Scott has generously offered an autographed copy of Crossing the Rainbow Bridge: Your Pet: When It’s Time to Let Go to a member who comments on this interview. A winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

Romance Review – Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory

Review by Dana (daedelys)

This was definitely not one of the best books that I’ve taken
the time to read.  I do have to admit that I was initially a little excited
to see a paranormal romance series that I hadn’t read yet, but when I sat
down to read this, I discovered why people will procrastinate finishing a

I found that the author’s writing style is just too simple.  I
like reading a book with lots of description to make me feel like I’m there,
able to experience the surrounding almost like the characters, and this one
just didn’t deliver.  I quickly got sick of short, vaguely descriptive
paragraphs that very often only had one sentence.  These short abrupt bursts
of thought by the writer just didn’t do well when it came to trying to pull
me into the story.  I found it rather sad that the author, or publisher,
didn’t take the time to use a more critical eye when it came to editing the
rough draft because that’s what this “finished” piece really feels like.
It’s just abundant with choppy, random thoughts that disrupt the flow of the

I also was distracted by the either inappropriate or just plain
stupid analogies that the author, who’s name I hope to forget after this
review, constantly peppered throughout the story.  When I’m reading a steamy
scene, I don’t want frenzied breathing compared to a deer being shot.  This,
coupled with the writer trying to make up new words like “teletransport”
instead of just using “teleport” so that her story has something unique in
it was another eye-roller for me.

There’s also just too many things happening that I feel that the
author added because she felt she need to get it all into one novel.  At
times, I felt more like I was reading a series of short stories put together
instead of one long continuous one.   Plus, I this book just doesn’t deliver
what I’ve come to consider “romance” substance.  If you’re looking for some
hot sex, you won’t find it in this one.  Mostly, there’s just a lot of
teasing and some petting (no pun intended as Jolie does even manage to date
a werewolf-give her time, I’m sure she’ll find a vampire, too) that is at
best awkward and, thankfully, brief.

The characters in this story are all so vapid that it would
amaze me if much thought was given into developing them.  You are pretty
much going to know if they are to be “good” or “bad” in the story
immediately upon our heroine meeting them and letting us know what she
thinks of them.

That is, if she could think.  Overall, I found the female lead
in this book to be TSTL (too stupid to live) as she bumbled her way
throughout her printed adventure.  Jolie, as she is called, appears to think
of herself as a down-to-earth, Plain-Jane who’s been holed-up from the
dating world and just isn’t attractive to men.  Yet, after being outed as
witch, just about every Tom, Dick and Harry in the Underworld that she comes
across is attracted to her and she just can’t help but be attracted to just
about all of them.  I mean really, a girl who remembers her first, and only,
time as being unpleasant is not going to be constantly wanting to ice her
own cupcake over ever guy she trips over like the one in this book does.  It
just made me want to gag, because I guess I expect a romance to actually
have a couple who were going to experience something romantic, but instead
it felt like watching some teenage drama with the new girl in high school
flirtingly teasing all the boys and then not understanding why the guys get
upset.  The goody-goody turned sex-kitten just got old fast.

Jolie’s best friend, Christina, isn’t much better and I was put
off by the “best friend” who flirts with Jolie’s (albeit initial) love
interest.  Once again, another reason to dislike our lead character is when
we wonder why she would keep such a friend who needs to be bespelled in
order to NOT hit on, Rand, one of Jolie’s “men”.

I would get into describing the men in this book, but why
bother?  If they’re good guys, they are probably going to be described as
delectable and if they are bad they will be sinister and menacing.  The
author’s not very creative and I don’t see her being able to write a truly
gripping suspense novel any time soon.

As for their magic and special abilities, I found the characters
just too powerful to keep the story interesting and me wondering what would
happen next.  Even for a fantasy world setting, this book really stretches
the “believable”.  It has a very Charlaine Harris-like feel to the world,
which just gets beyond ridiculous at times.  The spells that are used, and
their frequency, might have sounded wonderful to the author when she wrote
the book, but they are really quite lame for anyone who’s spent time reading
fantasy novels where characters can’t just “focus” anything they need into
being.  I felt that these types of scenarios just made the story lose
credibility when any little problem equivalent to a hang-nail could, and
would, be solved in two, okay maybe three since they are short, paragraphs.

Then, the story took a turn for the worse when Jolie is pretty
much compared to as some sort of messiah to the Underworld she’s become part
of by being discovered to be a witch.  It was at that point, that I realized
even though I would finish this book, I didn’t want to see what the rest of
the series would turn out to be like.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of moments where I
thought that the book had taken a turn for the better and I would be diggin’
it and it would be great, but it would usually do something to nose-dive
shortly afterwards and I would again find myself playing some Black Ops
because getting pwned repeatedly by thirteen-year-olds was infinitely better
than having to trudge through the pages of something bad.

Call me crazy, but I felt I came away from this novel feeling
quite pessimistic.  Perhaps it was the author’s way of writing that the cup
is half empty instead of half full that left me feeling bitter.  The world
described through the lead character’s eyes seems to be one in which
everything that surrounds the Jolie either annoys her or is out to get her
(music’s too loud, no one’s paying attention to her, too many people are
paying attention to her, etc.).  I understand that in the past, previous
authors have pioneered contemporary romance into something that is fun and
cheeky and fresh.  But, when someone like this author figures they can do it
to make a buck, too, they haven’t figured out the saying “Less is More”.
The quips were cute at first but eventually made me want to gnaw on
something like an angry puppy.  The lack of originality just becomes more
apparent with each flip of a page.

Will I read anything by this author again?  I certainly hope
not.  But, if you are an easy-to-please reader, you may like this book.  I
tend to find myself too easily distracted by poor writing to truly enjoy a
story like this because I hope to discover something more worth my time out

National Teacher’s Day

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011


We have all had at least one teacher who changed our lives, redirected our futures, made a lifelong change in us. The lucky among us have had many.

They have taught us to read, to add and subtract and most importantly, to think. They have taught us self-discipline, made us spit out our gum, and pretended to not see us pass notes while we should have been learning. They chaperoned our proms, sat through endless school plays, and cheered us at graduation. Some brave ones even taught us calculus.

A person who can guide a whole classroom of students, full of diverse personalities, from different backgrounds, with different belief systems, who are all at different levels of learning is nothing less than a magician. We call them teachers.

Take a minute today to thank a teacher.


“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. ”
Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”


So many wonderful books have been written about teachers and teaching. Below are a few favorites of PBS members:

Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man


David Shribman’s I Remember My Teacher


Sam Pickering’s Letters to a Teacher


Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman & Ralph Leighton


Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide A Memoir
The Blackboard Jungle A Novel by Ed McBain as Evan Hunter
Bruce Coville‘s My Teacher books
Becky Kelly’s A Teacher Gave Me Wings

Author Interview with Angus Donald

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Author Interview with Angus Donald by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)

Jerelyn: Angus Donald is the author of the novels “Outlaw” and “Holy Warrior”.  This telling of the Robin Hood Story isn’t your Granny’s Robin Hood or Hollywood’s.  It is a gritty, violent, and frankly is a riveting view of the legend.  As it states on the front cover, “Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest”.  They are not kidding!

I would like to thank-you Mr. Donald, for agreeing to be interviewed for the PBS blog.

Angus: Absolutely my pleasure!


Jerelyn: I think that the term “A worldly man” describes you very well.  Will you tell us about yourself?

Angus: Well, I’ve certainly knocked about the world a bit, if that’s what you mean. I was born in China (my parents were British diplomats) and as a child I lived in Greece, Hong Kong, Zaire and Indonesia – and when I became an adult I lived and worked in Greece, Hong Kong, New York, India – all over the place really. I did six months field work as an anthropologist in Bali – studying magic and witchcraft.  I became a journalist in Hong Kong, writing for newspapers and magazine, and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia. And later I was a foreign correspondent in New Delhi, and Pakistan and I did a brief stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan. But I stopped all that junketing around when I was approaching 40 – I sat down and thought hard about what I really wanted out of life and decided that I wanted a family and an old house in the English countryside – and to write historical novels for a living. I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been able to achieve those aims.


Jerelyn: Jeanne wonders if your upbringing contributed to your story telling abilities.  She calls you a prodigy.  How does it make you feel when your fans say such things?

Angus: A prodigy? Absolutely not! Mozart was a prodigy, writing and playing exquisite music by the time he was six. It took me until my mid-forties before I’d written even a single novel – my first book Outlaw. And I am very aware of its shortcomings as a novel and my own as a writer. I hope, though, that I’m getting better as I hone my craft with subsequent books.


Jerelyn: You have a wicked sense of humor, it is something that always attracts me to an author’s work, and I promised Jeanne to ask you about it.  Where does it stem from?

Angus: Some people think that life is either tragedy or comedy – I believe it’s actually always a bit of both. My hero Alan Dale is appalled by the horror of warfare, and yet he finds that there are always moments of comedy even in the bleakest situations. I am reminded of the dark humour of the troops in the First World War, who quite often faced certain death with a quip or a joke shared between comrades. I like to use humor in my novels to lighten the mood after a particularly bloody battle.


Jerelyn: As a journalist was it always your intent to one day take up writing novels?

Angus: Yes, I felt that I was learning to write as a journalist but my goal was always to leave the ephemeral world of newspapers and write something with a bit more longevity.


Jerelyn: Who are your influences, as far as writing goes?

Angus: I’m a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell – I think he more or less invented this genre of writing. I’ve read some of his books four or five times. Actually, I have included a little homage to Mr. Cornwell in Outlaw, it’s just a line in the middle of the book, but I wonder whether any readers will be able to spot it?


Jerelyn: Why tackle Robin Hood?

Angus: I’ve always been interested in Robin Hood as a character – the good man who is an outlaw; a man who stands outside of society and who defies it. There is something about living in the wilderness of Sherwood, away from the town, away from the constraints of law and church morality that appeals to me deeply.


Jerelyn: Who was Robin Hood, or maybe I should ask who is your, Robin Hood?

Angus:  I think Robin Hood is a myth, not a real person. There may well have been a man called Robert who lived in the middle Ages and who became an outlaw and a folk hero, but I don’t believe we will ever satisfactorily identify him. And even if we did, we would not recognize him as the fellow we love from the tales. If he did exist, I think he would have been a pretty rough customer. We have a way of whitewashing criminals over time – look at Billy the Kid or any of the other Western outlaws. They often did terrible things and yet we idolize them – I don’t fully understand why. I have tried to make my Robin Hood a little more realistic than the sanitized Hollywood version of the man, so I have made him a gangster, more or less. He does have a very specific code of honour but it doesn’t chime with the codes of the rest of society. Basically, he favours clan over country – he will give his life for anyone inside his family circle (in the medieval sense, which includes those who serve him and whom he serves). But anyone outside that circle means nothing to him: they are quite often prey.


Jerelyn: What do you find so engaging about this time period?

Angus: I hate to admit it, but it was a time when might was right. And I find myself sneakily fascinated that. It was a time of strong men, and women, and a knight had to hold his land against all comers – again there are echoes of the Wild West to medieval England. One has to remember that in England, only a hundred or so years before my story begins, William the Conqueror has basically stolen the whole kingdom. He declared that all the land was his, to dispose of as he wished. His barons disposed the Saxon lords and held the land much as an occupying army might do. Every time I meet an English aristocrat, I remind myself that his great-great etc. grandfather was basically an armed thug who stole a piece of land from its rightful owners.


Jerelyn: What made you chose Alan a Dale as the voice for your books?

Angus: I wanted a counterpoint to my rather brutal Robin, and Alan provides that. He is quite often bitterly disappointed in the amoral way that Robin behaves. Alan is a Christian and yearns for a just society, united under God, in which all men are free. Robin only believes in looking out for himself and his family. I find these two opposing principles intriguing: we all feel the tug of our duty to our families and friends and sometimes it comes into conflict with our duty to the country and society in general. When I was a child, I remember asking my father once if he would turn me in to the police if I had committed a murder. We discussed it for a long while, agonized over this hypothetical question, but finally my father said that he would have to turn me in as his duty to society had to outweigh his duty to me as his son. I was a little outraged, to be honest. But that conversation was the germ from which the characters of Robin and Alan sprung.

There is another more prosaic reason why I wanted Alan Dale to be the narrator: as a trouvere, he is able to travel about the country, visiting different castles and entertaining people with his music. Trouveres (the northern French word for troubadours) were diplomats, spies and messengers as well as musicians and I thought this might be very useful career for my main character. Also I am interested in troubadour culture. There was a great cultural shift during my period in Europe, which is sometimes called the 12th century renaissance. Music and poetry flourished, chivalry was born, and knights made the shift from being well-armed brutes on horseback to seeing themselves as noble and a force for universal good.


Jerelyn: Quite honestly, I find Alan as interesting a Robin.   Do you have another favorite character?

Angus: My favourite other character is Alan’s musical mentor Bernard de Sezanne: cowardly, drunken, lecherous, vain – and very good fun. Quite a lot of the humour in the books comes from him. I absolutely love him.


Jerelyn: Alan has a genius for music, is this a trait you share?

Angus: Not really. I used to sing in a church choir when I was a boy, but now I only warble in the shower. My lovely wife Mary is very musical, though, and I hope our little two-year-old daughter Emma inherits that trait from her.


Jerelyn: You have described this book as more of a guy’s book.  What makes you think that?

By the way I don’t think that.  But then again I like Cornwell and Iggulden.

Angus: I’d say it is a guy’s book mainly because of the high body-count. It really is quite gory in some places, as I’m sure real medieval battles were. But I’m glad if women enjoy it too. And there are some tender moments and a nice love story evolves in later books.


Jerelyn: Holy Warrior will be released in July 2011 in the U.S.  Will you tell us about it?”

Angus: Holy Warrior carries on the story of Robin, Alan, Little John et al as they head off on the Third Crusade with Richard the Lionheart. Robin behaves despicably, Alan heroically . . . but you’ll have to read it for yourself when it comes out in the US in August 2011.


Jerelyn: I happen to know there is a third book, when will it be available in the U.K. Is there any word when it will be available in the U.S?

Angus: The third book is called King’s Man (in the UK version, which is being published here in August 2011). I don’t know what my US publishers will call it. And I’m afraid I don’t know when they are publishing it. Sorry. You guys are about a year behind the UK publications, but I think that you can probably get hold of it when it comes out on this side of the Atlantic, if you really want to, that is. I’m in the middle of writing Book 4, at the moment, and I have Book 5 all planned out, too. There may be as many as ten Robin Hood books ultimately – fingers crossed!


Jerelyn: You have said you want to write five Robin Hood books, what then?

Angus: After Book 5, I’m planning a series about Restoration England (17th century) with a new even more rascally hero. Don’t want to say more at the moment. But I would like to return to Robin Hood after a while – you will notice that there is a reference to Runnymede in the first few pages of Outlaw and I would like Robin and Alan to be present (and instrumental) in the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 – the foundation stone of our democracies.


Jerelyn: I always ask this, but I wonder how you, as an author, feel about sites like PaperBackSwap?

Angus: Hey, first and foremost I’m a book-lover and any institution that promotes reading and books is a Good Thing as far as I’m concerned! So I’m definitely a fan of PBS.


Jerelyn: Who do you read?

Angus:  Everyone: I love Bernard Cornwell, Robert Low, Giles Kristian, Lee Child, Patrick O’Brian, Mary Renault . . . I could go on forever.


Jerelyn: Thank-you again Angus!  If you would like to read more about Angus Donald visit his web site at http://www.angusdonald.com/ .  It is highly entertaining peek into the writers life.

I also want to thank Jeanne L. (bkydbirder), for turning me on to Angus’s books.


Angus is offering a copy of his novel Outlaw to be given away to those who comment on the blog!A winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!


Mystery Monday – A Thousand Cuts

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic

Review by Cheryl R. (Spuddie

Note that the book was originally published with the title “Rupture” in the UK–a much more appropriate title, I thought. Blast publishers who feel the need to tweak titles in different countries!

This is a first novel, a police mystery about a school shooting in London where the perpetrator was a teacher who shot several students, a fellow teacher, and then himself. The teacher, Samuel Szajkowski, was the new history teacher at an exclusive prep school and had apparently endured unremitting bullying and pranks from everyone from the headmaster down to the students almost from his first moments at the school.

The investigation is conducted by DI Lucia May, who is unwilling to glide through her investigation–which on the surface, seems cut and dried. We know whodunit–does it really matter why? Eventually, Lucia wonders if the shooting was connected somehow to the vicious beating of another student that had already been under investigation. She also wonders why her boss is so eager to put the ‘closed’ stamp on the case and is attempting to rein Lucia and her investigation in well before she thinks it’s time.

The story is told partially in first-person as Lucia listens to the various witnesses, and partially in third-person narrative from Lucia’s point of view, alternating chapters. It’s a very effective and interesting tool, and the author skillfully brings each witness into focus without ever naming who they are. A very timely piece of fiction, focusing on bullying, which has been so much in the news of late.

I can’t say I really enjoyed the story itself–the whole scenario is just plain gut-wrenchingly horrible. But I did very much enjoy the author’s thought-provoking telling of the story. Going to be looking for more from Mr. Lelic, to be sure!