Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week - Grimms' Fairy Tales #bannedbooksweek

Having just finished reading The Brothers Grimm: Two Lives, One Legacy by Donald R. Hettinga, it got me thinking about instances I'd heard of these tales being challenged in the recent past. So I decided to examine the topic in today's post.

When Wilhelm Grimm was completing the second edition of the fairy tales, consolidating the two earlier volumes into one, he decided to make Household Tales less a book for adults and more a book for children. Despite censors wanting him to edit out "whatever refers to certain situations and relations that take place every day and simply cannot be hidden," (by "certain situations and relations," Wilhelm meant sex and pregnancies outside of marriage, and also the violence that had been complained of), Wilhelm was against removing these instances from the books. He said, "You can fool yourself into thinking that what can be removed from a book can also be removed from real life." (The Brothers Grimm, p. 100)

That last quote..fitting for Banned Books Week, I think. 

These are just a few instances of Grimms' tales or complete collections being challenged:

  1. Citing concerns about alcohol use, an illustrated edition of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned in two California school districts in 1989 because it depicted our heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother.
  2. The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was banned in classrooms below the 6th grade in Arizona in 1994, due to "excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, and anti-Semitic references."
  3. “Snow White” was restricted to students with parental permission at the Duval, Fl County public school libraries (1992) because of its graphic violence: a hunter kills a wild boar, and a wicked witch orders Snow White’s heart torn out.

Notably, in regards to Snow White, I read the Caldecott Award winning Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm several years back for my Children's Literature course in college and in this version, faithful to the Grimms' original, at the end, the evil stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she falls down dead. I'm sure this might also have contributed to the challenge above.

From his essay, Guardians of the Fairy Tale: The Brothers Grimm, Thomas O'Neill says:

The Grimms’ texts have undergone so many adaptations and translations, often with the intent of censoring objectionable material such as the violence meted out to villains or of making the themes more relevant to contemporary tastes, that most of us know them only in their sanitized versions. The dust-jacket copy of a recent translation plaintively wonders if all the retellings don’t “greatly reduce the tales’ power to touch our emotions and intrigue our imaginations.” 

In a fourth-grade classroom in Steinau, Germany, the town where the Grimms spent part of their childhood, I listened as the storyteller Elfriede Kleinhans, an opponent of prim retellings, asked the boys and girls how the princess managed to turn a frog into a prince at the climax of the “The Frog King,” the first tale in the Grimms’ collection. “She kissed it,” the children sang out. “No,” said Kleinhans. “She threw the ugly frog at the wall as hard as she could, and it awoke as a prince. That’s what the real story says.” The children looked as if they didn’t believe her. 

Scholars and psychiatrists have thrown a camouflaging net over the stories with their relentless, albeit fascinating, question of “What does it mean?” Did the tossing of the frog symbolize the princess’s sexual awakening, as Freudian psychologist Bruno Bettelheim asserted, or does the princess provide a feminist role model, as Lutz Röhrich, a German folklorist, wondered, by defying the patriarchal authority of her father, the king? Or—maybe—a frog is just a frog. 

The tales have also fallen prey to ideologues and propagandists. Theorists of the Third Reich in Germany turned Little Red Riding Hood into a symbol of the German people, saved from the evil Jewish wolf. At the end of World War II, Allied commanders banned the publication of the Grimm tales in Germany in the belief that they had contributed to Nazi savagery. 

On campuses across Europe and the United States during the 1970s, the Grimms’ tales were scorned for promoting a sexist, authority-ridden worldview. “Madness Comes From Fairy Tales” was scrawled on walls in Germany. Some of the stories were rewritten to accommodate certain political tastes. A revision of “Cinderella,” for example, has the heroine organizing a union of local maids, prompting the king to arrest her, after which she emigrates to the U.S. to escape the tyranny of kings and queens. 

Asked about this landslide of commentary by shrinks and scholars and ideologues, Bernhard Lauer, director and curator of the Museum of the Brothers Grimm in Kassel, Germany, looked sadly at me and protested, “The tales are literary masterpieces! They are not recipes for everyday life.”

There are some very good reasons why kids should read the non-Disney versions of fairy tales (and don't get me wrong...I like the Disney versions just fine).

These original tales teach life lessons and encourage intelligence. For instance, “The Little Mermaid” was not written to teach us how to marry a prince, but to warn us that our actions have consequences. “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” --Albert Einstein

Fairy tales offer up hope. Hope of redemption, that good can conquer evil, that our enemies will be vanquished. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” --Neil Gaiman

The original tales tell the truth...often hard truths. The Disney versions often make happily ever after seem so easy. The original versions do not all have happy endings. They show us that bad things can, and do, happen. “When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he's everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he's not easy to spot; he's really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.” --Taylor Swift

They teach kindness and the true meaning of love. “There is the great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” --G.K. Chesterton

Fairy tales expand our idea of the world of possibilities. These stories bring fairies, magicians, giants, and trolls into our ordinary world, stretching the imagination and urging us to think "What if?" And though we realize these stories are fiction, we still like to believe they're true. “I really feel that we're not giving children enough credit for distinguishing what's right and what's wrong. I, for one, devoured fairy tales as a little girl. I certainly didn't believe that kissing frogs would lead me to a prince, or that eating a mysterious apple would poison me, or that with the magical "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo" I would get a beautiful dress and a pumpkin carriage. I also don't believe that looking in a mirror and saying "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman" will make some awful serial killer come after me. I believe that many children recognize Harry Potter for what it is, fantasy literature. I'm sure there will always be some that take it too far, but that's the case with everything. I believe it's much better to engage in dialog with children to explain the difference between fantasy and reality. Then they are better equipped to deal with people who might have taken it too far.” --J.K. Rowling

Fairy tales give kids scary in a safe format. They allow kids to learn that scary situations can be dealt with. As we read, we transport ourselves into the stories and, being stories, they allow us to avoid experiencing the scary directly. Rather, we learn how characters face fear. Lessons are learned from the experiences in the stories. “Every fairy tale had a bloody lining. Every one had teeth and claws.” --Alice Hoffman

Perhaps a very important reason for reading the less Disney versions of fairy tales is to show our girls that they can be who and what they want and they don't need Prince Charming to rescue them. Let's face it, Disney has really championed the Prince Charming idea (with the exception of recent films, such as Tangled, Brave, and Frozen, for which I commend Disney for bringing girls out of the shadow of being rescued by a guy), and in this age when women are still not getting the equal treatment/rights they deserve, it's important for girls to know that anything is possible. “Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years--I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.” --Elizabeth Gilbert

So, you see...the banning or challenging of original fairy tales could take valuable learning experiences out of the hands of our children. Yes, many of these tales may be harsh or violent, and that is when it is important to discuss the tales with our children by asking questions like, "What truth about the world is this story telling you?" or "Why did the evil stepmother meet such an evil end? Could her punishment have been dealt with in a different way?"

Conversation is key to helping our kids understand what is meant and what the lesson is. Completely disallowing them to have these learning experiences, not to mention the fun, is the true tragedy of banning and challenging books.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Banned Books Week - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks #bannedbooksweek

I decided to feature Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks today because this book was challenged by a parent in Tennessee, which is where I live.

Skloot's book is an award-winning account of science, ethics and medical history. It tells the riveting story of how one woman's cancerous cells were taken without her permission, and became an essential medical research breakthrough linked to an array of projects, including the polio vaccine.

Jackie Sims, a mother in Knoxville, Tennessee, whose son's school, the L&N STEM Academy, had the book on their summer reading list, took offense to her son (or any student, for that matter) reading the book and basically called it pornography.

When her son brought the book to her because certain passages were making him uncomfortable, she had this to say,

"I was shocked that there was so much graphic information in the book," Sims said.

What Sims read appalled her, she said, citing a passage that describes infidelity and another that describes Lacks' intimate discovery that she has a lump on her cervix.

"I consider the book pornographic," she said, adding it's the wording that bothers her most.

"It could be told in a different way," she said. "There's so many ways to say things without being that graphic in nature, and that's the problem I have with this book."

Though her son was issued an alternate text, per district policy, Sims wants the book removed from the hands of all Knox County Schools students.

And therein lies the problem. What right does she have to decide what other people's kids read or don't read?

This Tennessee parent agrees...

"To try and stop the book from being read by all students is, to me, a modern day kind of book burning…. If someone comes along and tries to take the book out of the curriculum, then that affects me and that affects my child…If the parent doesn't want the child to read it, the parent doesn't want the child to read it, but do not take away everybody else's choice to read that book."

The author, Rebecca Skloot weighed in on her Facebook page:

"Just in time for ‪#‎BannedBooksWeek, a parent in Tennessee has confused gynecology with pornography and is trying to get my book banned from the Knoxville high school system."

She also pointed to a comment left by the vice principal of the L&N STEM Academy: "Know that the book and teachers have the complete support from the administration of the school. It's an amazing book that fits with our STEM curriculum better than almost any book could! The next book that the sophomores are reading? Fahrenheit 451… Oh, sweet, sweet, irony."

It's great to see the educators in this case standing up for the literature. It's exactly this type of case that makes Banned Books Week so essential to the reading world. That this received such media attention shows that this issue is important to a great number of people. United we are strong!



Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015 #bannedbooksweek

I missed kicking off Banned Books Week yesterday because I had a very busy Sunday. But that's okay. It's going on all week and I'll be sharing some books and tidbits the rest of the week. Banned Books Week is very important to me, as I believe that censorship is one of the greatest evils in the world, especially the censorship of the written word.

So, for those who may not know about this week, I will share, as I do each year, a bit about the history of Banned Books Week and what it's all about. I will also share an infographic from the ALA listing the top 10 most challenged books of 2014, along with other statistics for the year.

Why are books challenged?
Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. Read about Notable First Amendment Cases.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
  • the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  • the material contained "offensive language"
  • the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in Texas v. Johnson , said most eloquently:

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

If we are to continue to protect our First Amendment, we would do well to keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky:

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

Or these words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (" The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports , vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20):

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

Who Challenges Books?

Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.

In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”

According to the Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, parents challenge materials more often than any other group.

Source: American Library Association

What's the best way to promote the freedom to read this week...and beyond? 
  • first and foremost, read a banned/challenged book (or two or three)
  • talk about banned and challenged books with friends and family (knowledge is power)
  • blog about it...not just this week, but all year long. If you read a classic, or any book, that has been challenged in the past, share that info along with your book review
  • take the time to think to yourself about what it would be like to not be able to read what we want. This will renew your passion to act and inform. Awareness is also power. 
Check out this ALA infographic listing the top 10 challenged books of 2014. Share with me in the comments what you think about this list.


Friday, September 25, 2015

HFVBT: Spotlight on Donald Michael Platt's Bodo, the Apostate

Bodo, the Apostate
by Donald Michael Platt

Publication Date: September 29, 2014
Raven’s Wing Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

“… in the meantime, a credible report caused all ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church to lament and weep.” Prudentius of Troyes, Annales Bertiniani, anno 839

On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.

Bodo, the novel, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.

“In a masterfully controlled narrative, Platt builds up to this amazing moment, taking readers first through Bodo’s childhood, upbringing, and rise to power at the heart of the 9th century Carolingian Empire, whose kings, princes, prelates and ordinary people Platt captures with a pitch-perfect blend of research and dramatization. By the time the story winds its way to Bodo’s momentous decision, I, too, felt like everything in the world was on the line. A fantastic, thought-provoking novel; very enthusiastically recommended.” – Historical Novel Society (Editor’s Choice Pick)

Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.

Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.

After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.

Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.

For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule:
Hashtags: #BodotheApostateBlogTour #HistoricalFiction
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @donroc


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cat Thursday - Happy Fall, Sarah McLachlan and Random Fun!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I survived my sleep study and should be fitted for my CPAP device in a few days. Can't wait to see how Arya reacts to it since she's the one that sleeps with me all the time. Thank you everyone for all the well wishes. I really appreciate the encouragement. <3

You know what song he's talking about, right? The one that makes you cry every time they play that ASPCA commercial! 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fall 2015 #Bloggiesta

It's here again. Not sure how much I'll get done, but I do have a few specific things to accomplish...and may add more if I finish stuff on the list.

  • Sign up post for FrightFall Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading
  • Create button and announcement post for Season of the Witch at Castle Macabre (Oct)
  • whittle down email inbox. Back at 20K+ so I know I won't get them all cleared
  • write review for Friday for Sisters of Versailles (rescheduled for Tuesday)
  • Visit and comment on blogs 

Extra bullet points..just in case.


Cat Thursday - My week

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Quick post here, as I'm out the door to my second sleep study (sleep apnea...ugh) so scheduling this for midnight and I'm out. Wish me luck!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

HFVBT: Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun - Spotlight and {Giveaway}


Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling debut novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

“A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King.”—Booklist, starred

“Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they’re unusual enough to seem invented. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail…More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome.”—Kirkus, starred

“In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT: Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen’s ‘Molly Murphy’ mysteries and Victoria Thompson’s ‘Gaslight Mystery’ series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women.”—Library Journal, starred

“A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I’ve seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“How could you not fall in love with a book about one of the first female deputy sheriffs and her sisters–especially when it’s written by the enthralling Amy Stewart? Full of long-held secrets, kicked-up dust, simmering danger, and oh yes, that gun—this gritty romp illuminates one of history’s strongest women with a hold-your-breath panache.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“Girl Waits With Gun makes excellent use of history to put a fresh spin on classic cop-and-crook types. Amy Stewart’s true-life protagonist is a ‘rough and tumble’ version of the early 20th century’s New Woman. She is witty, sharply-drawn, and suffers no fools!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“Yowza! Amy Stewart’s debut boasts pomaded gangsters, pistol-packin’ dames, kidnappings, shots in the dark, and everything from Girls Gone Wrong to carrier pigeons finding their way home. You might want to stay up all night reading, you might want to lie down on your fainting couch with a cool cloth on your forehead. Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.” —Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife

“Girl Waits with Gun is fresh, funny and utterly compelling– and Constance Kopp and her sisters are not just great investigators, but completely original women. It was a blast from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what Deputy Kopp gets up to next.”— Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files, How to Start a Fire, and others

“Amy Stewart has crafted the best kind of historical novel; she uncovers an intriguing, all-but-forgotten historical nugget and spins it into a wildly entertaining tale with an engaging, tough-minded heroine. Girl Waits With Gun hits the bulls-eye.”—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

“Amy Stewart’s debut novel Girl Waits With Gun is an irresistible and thoroughly enjoyable book, a suspenseful historical mystery spiced with marvelous characters, wit, and humor. Is it too soon to beg for a sequel?” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule

“Engaging, lively, and substantive, Girl Waits with Gun is a perfect mystery, and the Kopp sisters are my new best friends. Amy Stewart writes about crime as well as she writes about plants and poisons. I loved this book, and will be first in line for the next installment.”—Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and–just once–on TLC’s Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information visit Amy Stewart’s website. You can also find her onFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Tour Schedule:
Hashtags: #GirlWaitsWithGunBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #Mystery
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @HMHBooks @Amy_Stewart

GIVEAWAY: One paperback copy. Open to US residents only. To enter, leave a comment telling us what intrigues you about this book. Last day to enter - September 30, 2015.

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon #TackleTBR

I almost forgot! So here I am...another read-a-thon. Is the other one still going on? I don't know if I'm coming or going. lol

I'll be reading books for the R.I.P. X challenge, plus this week I have to finish The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie.

I'll try to remember to post updates periodically. *wink* Yeah, we know how that goes.

Thanks to Tressa for hosting!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cat Thursday: Authors and Cats - Little Kitty the Cat Burglar Special Spotlight (47)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

I'm very thrilled today to welcome one of our fellow bloggers, Tracy Terry (Pen and Paper), and the book she worked on, Little Kitty the Cat Burglar (she wrote the first chapter!).

As of Saturday the fifth of September, Little Kitty the Cat Burglar (the first chapter of which was written by yours truly) who ....

'Wouldn't exactly call herself a cat burglar. She just likes to bring back the occasional gift for her humans' ....

became available in paperback on Amazon (links at the bottom of the page) with a kindle version available to pre-order soon.

With all money raised going toAlzheimers Research, a great charity that is close to my heart, I'd like to thank my fellow authors Ann Bowyer, Suzan Collins, JB Johnson, Tottie Limejuice, Ros Lyons, Lucy Rayner and Jo Wilde as well as Catie Atkinson and Rachel Lawston for the illustrations and design and Jaine Keskeys (editor) all of whom gave their time and expertise for free. And of course not forgetting Mr T (my apologies for being a total pain) and author and friend Patricia Smith for all their encouragement and support.

To answer your questions that came about as a result of a previous post on Pen and Paper ....

A 'chain story', there were eight of us who wrote a chapter each. Knowing my love of cats and that I had a close family member suffering from this awful condition I was approached by Suzan Collins (whose books I had reviewed previously) who coordinated the whole project to write a chapter.

As for the cover (sweet, isn't it?), thanks must go to Catie Atkinson and Rachel Lawston for the illustrations and design.

Sorry but I'm afraid that my chapter won't be published anywhere other than in the book .... unless because the copyright for that chapter remains mine I choose to include it in any works I publish independently.

Available in paperback here on, my friends in the US can find it here on For friends elsewhere Little Kitty the Cat Burglar should be available, if it isn't already, on your local amazon site.

Note about the book: when you flip through the book, the cat in the top right hand corner appears to run. How fun!

Tracy is a cat lover herself and is sharing here today some pics of her past fur babies. (Love these Christmas shots!)

Enjoying their Christmas presents: 
Dotty (l), Puck (m) and Phog (r)

Peek-a-boo: Dotty

Puss-in-boots: Phog

Little man: Puck

Thank you to Tracy for sharing this wonderful book that was written for a very good cause. This would be a terrific Christmas gift for the kids!

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cat Thursday - Cats in Art (14)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

What do we have in the cat art gallery this week? More delightful paintings by Suzanne Valadon. She must have been a true cat lover. Enjoy!

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Bouquet and a Cat 1919

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Portrait of Miss Lily Walton with Raminou

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Raminou sitting on a cloth 1920

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Two Cats

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

HFVBT: Spotlight on Hilary Rhodes' The Outlander King

The Outlander King (The Aetheling’s Bride, Book 1)
by Hilary Rhodes

Publication Date: June 1, 2015
eBook; 476 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The story of The Lion and the Rose and the Norman Conquest continues in this spellbinding new historical fiction series from author Hilary Rhodes, pulling back the curtain on the lives of two remarkable women connected across centuries: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old English girl caught up in the advancing army of the “outlander king,” the man who will become known to history as William the Conqueror. Thrust into the center of the new Norman court and a dizzying web of political intrigue and plotting princes, she must choose her alliances carefully in a game of thrones where the stakes are unimaginably high. Embroiled in rebellions and betrayals, Aislinn learns the price of loyalty, struggles to find her home, and save those she loves – and, perhaps, her own soul as well.

Almost nine hundred years later in 1987, Selma Murray, an American graduate student at Oxford University, is researching the mysterious “Aethelinga” manuscript, as Aislinn’s chronicle has come to be known. Trying to work out the riddles of someone else’s past is a way for Selma to dodge her own troubling ghosts – yet the two are becoming inextricably intertwined. She must face her own demons, answer Aislinn’s questions, and find forgiveness – for herself and others – in this epically scaled but intimately examined, extensively researched look at the creation of history, the universality of humanity, and the many faces it has worn no matter the century: loss, grief, guilt, redemption, and love.

Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with medieval England while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in history, and is currently preparing for doctoral studies at the University of Leeds, fulfilling a years-long dream to return to the UK. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, blogging about her favorite TV shows, movies, and books, music, and traveling.

For more information please visit Hilary Rhodes’ blog.

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