Friday, January 31, 2014

Giveaway notice

There are only three more days left to win The Hardest Part by Heather London. I hate to ask my readers all the time to enter the giveaways. I guess because I love books and contests so much, I enter as many as I can. And yes I do enter romance and YA also. I think I told you my theory. If I was meant to read it, I will win it or it will be made available to me. For example, I found a site where they give a certain amount of advanced copies to people that sign up, and I may have mentioned this, but you may have 25 copies and 878 people wanting this book. Well I put my name in for a few books and got on two lists already and the books are being mailed to me. Yipee!

In case you missed the The Hardest Part blitz, this book is labeled as an dark adult contemporary romance. It got 3.88 stars of 17 reviews. I love dark anything! Dark comedies, dark fairy tales. I may enter! I can even though it is my giveaway. But I want to see you win. There has to be room on your shelf for one more book! I know there tends to be a lot of romance novels here but the tour group I deal with, or really all of them, have a lot of YA romance and paranormal romantic thrillers. I try to vary it. But YA is where it is at right now unless you have been under a rock. I know I have YA fans out there. Or in this case NA.

So give the wheel a spin and see where it lands!! Be on the lookout for a blitz tomorrow and it will be for a fantasy book. So I hope that you enter both giveaways because there are a heck of a lot coming up for February. I have signed on for more tours to bring you more books and more giveaways. I was also trying to get different genres of books to blitz and or reviews/tour. So get busy and win some free books!

Midwestern Memoir Tracks 'Flyover Lives' Of Author's Forebears

by Maureen Corrigan)

Diane Johnson's previous books include Le Divorce, Le Mariage and L'Affaire.

The second best quality Diane Johnson has as a writer is that she's so smart. Her first best quality — and one that's far more rare — is that she credits her audience with being smart, too. Whether she's writing fiction, biography or essays, Johnson lets scenes and conversations speak for themselves, accruing power as they lodge in readers' minds.

So it is with her memoir, Flyover Lives, which is bookended by a moody anecdote. Johnson recalls how she and her husband were invited to spend a night at a friend's rental villa in Provence, France. The villa was filled with other American couples and two of the men were retired Army generals whose well-preserved blonde wives were politely hostile to Johnson. Even as Johnson embarks on her memoir proper — partly as a response to her French hostess's remark that "you Americans" are indifferent to history and "don't really know where you're from" — we readers are still troubled by the curious meanness of those other women. Flyover Lives is a fairly traditional memoir, in that Johnson tries to define who she is by fleshing out the histories of her ancestors; but, at the same time, that tale of the strangely sour house party adds a note of mystery: How do you ever really know what's really going on with people, let alone the truth about the lives of your long-dead forebears?

Flyover Lives is a memoir of the Midwest sure to charm readers — especially of a certain age — with its detailed observations of small-town American life before the advent of television and rural meth labs. As a consequence of growing up in landlocked Moline, Ill., Johnson read seafaring adventure tales as a girl and dreamed of being a pirate. She perceptively observes the long reach of the past in the daily domestic routine of her childhood world: "My aunts, all of them," Johnson recalls, "always seemed to me to be busy making things — canning and quilting, knitting and crocheting — activities carried over from the preindustrial agricultural world in which they still seemed to live." With the exception of her father, who had served overseas in World War I, "none of my relatives," Johnson says, "had been anywhere else; tales were not told about distant places, only about Bloomfield, or over to Pontiac or Muscatine or faraway Des Moines, journeys to be made by automobile on two-lane roads ... commenting on the progress of the crops, waiting for the Burma-Shave signs to unfold."

But, of course, some of Johnson's ancestors had to have caught a primordial itch for travel, and she locates her family's "first arrival" in a pair of brothers, Rene and Francois, who left France early in the 18th century and promptly had their names Americanized to "Ranna" and "Franceway." Johnson discovers the brothers because of that greatest of boons to genealogical detectives: a distant relative who wrote things down. In Johnson's case, the family chronicler was a great-great-grandmother named Catherine Martin. Martin was born in 1800 and wrote about immigrating to the Midwest with her husband and children, and homesteading in a two-room log cabin. Martin's account of losing her three little daughters (she calls them her "three little prattlers") to an epidemic of scarlet fever within the space of one week is the devastating center of Johnson's family memoir.

Johnson tells us that her life, in comparison, has been "lacking in drama." Granted, she escaped a bad early marriage and enjoyed some minor brushes with history — a summer job at Mademoiselle where one of her fellow interns was Sylvia Plath; a screenwriting gig with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining. But Flyover Lives is, as its title suggests, chiefly a memoir that tries to recapture the texture of the life once lived by many people in the vast American heartland. If she has a larger aim, Johnson says it's to remind readers "of things people talk about as being missing in America today" — fairly simple things like Mom-and-Pop restaurants and nice, long vacations and trains. Johnson is no reactionary and she's well aware of the pitfalls of nostalgia; but in Flyover Lives, she vividly reminds us that the country we're all from is the unfamiliar one called the past.

Read an expert of Flyover Lives

Karl Lagerfeld’s Glamorous Illustrations for ‘The Allure of Chanel’

by Michelle Dean)

The novelist Paul Auster caught some notice the other day by remarking, in a talk at the Morgan Library, that he liked to think about a class of books he called “boy’s literature.” In this category he includes the disparate work of Poe, Pynchon, and Borges. He is able to do this because he defines the quality of “boy”-ness, as such, pretty abstractly:

[S]omeone who is so excited, takes such a sense of glee and delight in being clever, in puzzles, in games, in… and you can feel these boys cackling in their rooms when they write a good sentence, just enjoying the whole adventure of it. And the boy writers are the ones you read, and you understand why you love literature so much.

Anne Margaret Daniel of the Huffington Post wrote up the remarks with an appropriately bemused tone. The questions she poses at the end are, naturally, also mine:

[A]s someone who aspires to fit into Auster’s definition of “boy writer,” I’m wondering if he might extend his coinage to include “girl writers” as well. Who are they among women, the creative sparks, the gleeful, the ones who make you want to read? Does the sometimes wickedly funny, immensely creative, and also stately Virginia Woolf, for example, cross the line, if there is one, between “girl writer” and “grown-up”? Would Auster care to add some “grown-ups” among women writers to be in company with Hawthorne and Tolstoy?

Daniel’s questions raise the issue of why this discussion should have to be gendered at all. There is nothing in the concepts of “glee,” “cleverness,” “puzzles,” and least of all “cackling,” which belongs exclusively or even predominantly to those who would answer to a disembodied voice crying, “Boy! You there, boy!” I assume Auster simply extrapolates from the fact that the writers which make him excited about writing are men, adds in his observations about playfulness, and stirs. But that doesn’t actually transform “books that led Paul Auster to love literature” into “books that have a monopoly on everyone’s soul,” and that’s where he’s reaching.

I’m actually not averse to either a concept of, or discussion about, “boy literature” per se. I’ve never heard it used the way Auster does here, sure. But people do sometimes use it to describe either Hardy Boys/Jack London/Robert Louis Stevenson type books, or else the sort of novel of arrested-Brooklyn-development which so plagues contemporary literary fiction today. And I think they’re not totally wrong to think that there is a certain connective tissue between those books, and also not wrong to see that as connected to the ever-evolving concept of “masculinity.”

Coming from someone who has spilled more than her share of pixels about gender and literature, perhaps that sounds strange. But I actually applaud the implicit recognition that even our best books are not adequately addressed as “literature” which emerged from an abstracted, universal subject sitting high atop Mount Humanity. It isn’t just “important” but actually crucial that we understand that the truths about human existence we are fed by any one book or author are necessarily partial and incomplete and unstable. And that one reason they are so is because Mount Humanity is more of a Tower of Babel kind of thing, teeming with a lot of different experiences. No man being an island in this Tower (woof, time to jump ship on all these metaphors), the fact is you have to read widely, and read a lot, to get any kind of depth of perspective. And so: it’s good to know what categories you’ve already got covered — meaning, knowing you’ve already read a lot of boys, you might then be more inclined to consciously re-orient yourself towards (cough) girls.

Furthermore, I’m just not one of those people who thinks that all sentimental attachments to literature should be put out of critical discussion. If Borges makes Auster excited about literature, that is wonderful and even, I would say in full sincerity, good to know. I would be happy to read an essay from Auster about it, and happy to listen to his talk. In fact, I would be happy to read pieces from all manner of writers about the books that make them excited about words. But the experience of coming to books is gendered in our world, and it might forever be that way. Just like the books aren’t produced in the abstract, they aren’t read that way either. Tune in to the conversation about Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch this week and you’ll see that she and others report that it affected them as women as well as readers. And again, if I’m making the rules, which I’m not, I’d rather be up front about the particularity of the attraction than simply do a lot of lit-professor hand-waving about “great literature.”

But that’s me, and maybe Paul Auster. As we say on the internet, your mileage may vary.

2013 In Comic Books: Hickman, 'Saga' Rise To The Top

by Brian Truitt)

When toasting the end of 2013, clink your glasses a few times for the excellent year in comic books.

The medium continued its momentum, especially in terms of creator-owned material, where Image Comics is still the standard bearer with Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Ed Brubaker's Fatale and Velvet, Kurtis J. Wiebe's Rat Queens, John Layman and Rob Guillory's Chew and Ales Kot's Zero among a very deep roster of talent.

Superheroes are as big as ever, too, and Marvel and DC continue to rule the roost with good guys and bad guys aplenty — and everyone in between. Marvel rolled out a slew of high-profile fare such as Age of Ultron, Infinity and Inhumanity, while DC finally unleashed Forever Evil, an event that the publisher's been building toward since its 2011 relaunch.

There's an ocean of "cape comics," though, and the Big Two aren't the only fish in that sea anymore. In addition to being the home of Hellboy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Horse made a big push toward the superpowered with X, Captain Midnight, Brain Boy and others, while Valiant continued to expand its roster beyond stalwart series such as X-O Manowar and Harbinger in its second year post-revamp.

The smaller companies were no slouches either, thanks to the continuing growth of digital comics and a surge in do-it-yourself quality. MonkeyBrain Comics claimed its first Eisner Award for Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover's Bandette this past summer just after the fledgling company turned 1 year old, and Titan Comics launched in 2013 on the other side of the pond with Numbercruncher and Death Sentence.

Some creators had a big 2013, too, especially Matt Kindt and Charles Soule. In addition to his own Mind MGMT, Kindt became DC's go-to guy on Justice League of America and Suicide Squad as well as the scribe on Valiant's Unity series, and Soule had a busy breakout year with the sci-fi series Letter 44 plus Superman/Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns and Thunderbolts. Old standbys also had memorable years — this one saw Geoff Johns put his final touches on epic runs of Green Lantern and Aquaman. (If he's looking for something extra to pass the time in 2014, Johns could write a killer Doom Patrol. Just sayin'.)

Things weren't always peachy, though. Batwoman creative team J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman left abruptly over creative differences, leaving fans atwitter on Twitter, and Apple rejected Sex Criminals and has kept it off its iOS platforms such as Comixology due to content guidelines, thereby creating a new nemesis for comic fans. (Though you can find issues at your local comic shop or digitally at the Image Comics website.) News tidbits like those were balanced with the better aspects of the industry, for example when a comic such as The Liberator comes around and pledges to donate proceeds toward animal-rescue organizations.

We're not Apple, though, and Sex Criminals gets two thumbs up from me. So with 2014 just hours away, it's time to fete that and the best of the rest that comics had to offer in the past year.

Best writer: Jonathan Hickman. Honestly, he belongs in this spot for just pulling off Marvel Comics' Infinity event, plus the Avengers and New Avengers tie-in issues, and making the whole thing grand as one could ever hope. Add in the wondrous Western apocalypse tale East of West, the zany and brainy The Manhattan Projects and the beginning of God is Dead (putting mankind at Ground Zero for the return of the gods) to further cement his comic-book superstardom. Honorable mention: Scott Snyder. He continued his hot streak as the man in charge of all things Gotham City with Batman and the "Zero Year" story line — including one notable issue that was more than likely the origin of his Joker — and also launched Superman Unchained with Jim Lee. The year also saw the debut of Snyder's immersive The Wake with Sean Murphy, together putting out the smartest horror comic of the year.

Jenny Frison creates beautifully creepy covers monthly for "Revival."(Photo: Jenny Frison/Image Comics)
Best cover artist: Jenny Frison. I am far removed from college, but were I still matriculating, one could imagine I'd have all of her beautiful and usually creepy Revival covers on a dorm-room wall. In addition, she did some great stuff for Red Sonja, Mind the Gap, Pretty Deadly and many others you should have in your collection. Honorable mention: Mark Brooks. Fearless Defenders shouldn't have been cancelled for many reasons, but near the top of those would be Brooks' covers. In making them look like faux romance-novel jackets and action-figure cards, he made them distinctive from everything else on comic-store shelves.

Best artist: Fiona Staples. Saga wouldn't be such a sci-fi saga if not for the universe of strange-yet-familiar characters she draws magnificently monthly — from cosmic tabloid journalists to an old, weird one-eyed author. Honorable mention: Nicola Scott. There are a lot of superhero comics out there, but the Australian illustrator stands out among the in-crowd on Earth 2, putting a stunning alternate-universe spin on iconic characters like Batman and Hawkgirl and currently making Superman the most angry guy around.

Best ongoing series: Saga. Just when you think it couldn't get any better, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples outdo themselves the very next issue. This year has featured bounty hunters easier to love than hate, sentimental adventures in space between a girl and the coolest kitty in the universe, and more drama and humor with Marko, Alana, Hazel and their motley clan on the lam. Honorable mention: Locke & Key. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez wrapped up their masterpiece about the Locke children and the legendary Keyhouse this year with final issues filled with shadow demons, tragedy, love and heaps of redemption. It's truly one of the best comics ever, and now is the time to give the whole darn thing to potential readers and show them what kind of brilliance can be created in this medium.

Best new series: Sex Criminals. What's criminal is how utterly outstanding Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's randy and heartfelt outing is in a year full of tremendous debuts. Susie and Jon can both freeze time during sexual climax, and that leads to great coming-of-age moments and a current story arc where they're in the middle of a bank heist — robbus interruptus, indeed. Where the series really excels, though, is in the witty sequences when you're not expecting them, including the hilarious bathroom-wall walk-through of sex moves and Fraction's Post-It-notes explanation of getting Queen to sign off on using their lyrics while Susie belts out Fat Bottomed Girls. Honorable mention: Pretty Deadly. One doesn't normally find comic creators using the artistic stylings of blind Spanish balladeers of yesteryear. Yet, it's fitting because Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios' Western supernatural fantasy excellently departs from all sorts of conventions in telling of Death's reaper daughter and the richly realized characters around her.

Best miniseries: Polarity. Max Bemis proved he could rock it on stage (he fronts the band Say Anything) and on the page. With his comics debut, Bemis penned a memorable tale of a bipolar man who gets superpowers from his disorder that's as endlessly funny as it is dramatic. Here's hoping Bemis keeps moonlighting as a comics scribe. Honorable mention: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. This is just a rockin' category, because 2013 also brought us the return of Gerard Way to comics with this miniseries continuing the plot from a My Chemical Romance record. Becky Cloonan's art is also killer in this futuristic ode to originality and never letting "the Man" — in this case, an evil organization with henchmen in vampire masks — get you down.

Best digital series: The Bunker. Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari's DIY digital comic garnered a print home with Oni Press and a TV deal, too. As it should, since its concept — a bunch of kids are faced with what their future selves will unleash — is one of the best seen in any entertainment medium this year. Honorable mention: The Private Eye. Only Brian K. Vaughan doing a surprise comic could crash a website with people wanting to peep it. He and Marcos Martin let fans pay whatever they want to for installments of their sci-fi mystery about a society where people wear masks for privacy's sake, yet it's so good, one might consider it priceless.

Best all-around: Jeff Lemire. After saying a heartfelt goodbye to his deer boy and the cast of Sweet Tooth, Lemire continued his work as one of DC's prime-time superhero writers on Justice League Dark, Green Arrow and Animal Man, but also penned and drew his own Trillium series, a neat mix of romance, sci-fi drama and time-travel intrigue. Honorable mention: Riley Rossmo. He continued to branch out this year, writing and drawing the weirdly wonderful Drumhellar, adding to the outstanding artwork he did on Bedlam and a series of variant covers for G.I. Joe: Cobra.

Rookie of the year (creator): Caitlin Kittredge. Coffin Hill, the novelist's debut horror comic about a Boston cop who returns to the Massachusetts hometown where something wicked and witchy happened in her youth, is the one book that could lead Vertigo Comics back to being on comics' cutting edge — even in a year that saw the return of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Honorable mention: Chris Dingess. The Being Human writer crossed over into comics with Manifest Destiny, a supernatural story of a different kind where Lewis and Clark are Thomas Jefferson's chief monster hunters under the guise of Western explorers.

Rookie of the year (character): Forever from Lazarus. While she's engineered to be the perfectly trained protector of her family in a dystopian future in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's action series, there's a lot more to the warrior underneath that adds to the Game of Thrones-meets-Mad Max atmosphere. Honorable mention: Ruben from Buzzkill. Donny Cates and Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek hatched one of 2013's more original superheroes, a guy who's torn between being sober and embracing the addictions that give him extraordinary abilities.

Most insane read: Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight. Quentin Tarantino would be proud of the B-movie craziness Alex De Campi hath wrought in her noteworthy paean to exploitation cinema, from Bee Vixens taking over a Texas town to a women-in-prison movie on a spaceship. Honorable mention: Ballistic. Where do you start, really, with a book that contains an air-conditioning guy as its chief protagonist, a living monster gun named Bang-Bang, a '57 Chevy with wings and rabbit porn? Quite simply the weirdest comic out there that's as enjoyable as it is certifiable.

Best horror comic: Ghosted. Josh Williamson's tale of a criminal mastermind tasked to put together a group of disparate individuals to kidnap a ghost from a haunted house melds together all sorts of horror-movie and heist-film tropes yet still manages to be original and exciting in its execution. Honorable mention: Afterlife with Archie. Archie ain't just for kids anymore with this horrific masterpiece that turns Jughead into a zombie and puts an adult spin on Riverdale. The all-ages stuff has done well for the publisher for decades, but man, they might have a future with a mature-readers line, too.

Han Solo and Princess Leia returned in the pages of Dark Horse Comics' "Star Wars."(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)
Best throwback: Star Wars. Dark Horse Comics also began an adaptation of George Lucas' original screenplay with The Star Wars, but Brian Wood's terrific return to the classic trilogy with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader and a squadron of X-Wings almost makes up for Jar-Jar Binks and midichlorians. Almost. Honorable mention: A whole heap of The Shadow. Dynamite Entertainment offers the old-school pulp hero in as many flavors as possible. Like the classic? There's The Shadow. Dig team-ups? There's Masks and The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights. Modern day more your thing? There's The Shadow Noir. The Shadow knows ... and also fills up your pullbox.

Best team-up: Quantum & Woody. Valiant's new series that brought back "the world's worst superteam" balanced the oddball and the dramatic with two estranged adopted brothers brought back together when their father is killed. The publisher is doing a lot of good things with its superheroes, with Woody right up there with Shadowman and Archer & Armstrong as the line's finest. Honorable mention: Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have created a lovable group of hapless supervillains that almost rival Flash's Rogues. Led by Boomerang, these guys just wanna get by and not get punched by Spidey, and we just wanna watch.

Best villain: The Crime Syndicate. It's hard to really pick out which one of these Earth 3 baddies is the worst in the current Forever Evil event. The Superman analogue Ultraman is ultra-vicious, Atomica and Johnny Quick are a straight-up brutal Bonnie and Clyde, and the alternate-universe Lois Lane, aka Superwoman, is probably the most homicidal of them all. When you make Lex Luthor look like a good guy, you're pretty bad. Honorable mention: Capitan Haken. "The Hook," as he's known in Peter Panzerfaust, is the Nazi version of Captain Hook in this World War II take on Peter Pan. Nazis always make for good villains, and this dude is right up there.

Best use of history: Uber/Three (tie). Kieron Gillen has a two-fer going: With Uber, he reimagines the waning days of World War II and changes the landscape with Nazis and their superhuman army, and the writer takes on Spartan legend with Three, centered on a trio of slaves trying to escape the vaunted army of 300. Honorable mention: Satellite Sam. Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin dig into the real-life golden age of TV — specifically 1950s kids' shows — and the early days of networks to create a seedy episodic journey of sex, murder and mystery, all in fittingly glorious black and white.

Best indie book you should be reading: Edison Rex. MonkeyBrain's head man Chris Roberson channels Alan Moore in his superhero deconstruction efforts here with Edison, an ex-villain who wants to be a hero so bad he decides to take out the do-gooding Valiant and replace him. Honorable mention: Sheltered. Ed Brisson made a splash first with Comeback and most of all with this pre-apocalyptic comic with artist Johnnie Christmas where the kids of a survival colony revolt against their parents.

MVP: Jordie Bellaire. Unless you're a hardcore comic nerd, you might not recognize her name, but if it's a good-looking book, she probably colored it. The titles she works on — and has added a spectrum of awesomeness to — could be a best-of-the-year list on their own: Pretty Deadly, Zero, Three, Young Avengers, Mara, Deadpool, The Massive, Quantum & Woody and many, many others. So when you want to find your next favorite comic, just look for her name on the cover. Honorable mention: Tom Brevoort. The Marvel Comics executive editor is a treasure trove of knowledge about superhero comics, and, as one of comics' nicest guys, there are not many folks better to have as a public face — and voice — for the top publisher in the business.

Best comic-book movie: Thor: The Dark World. Together, the Avengers are magnetic on screen, yet it could be argued that Chris Hemsworth's Thor thrives more in his own films, which balance huge fantasy with a healthy dose of humorous whimsy. The sequel surpassed the surprisingly good original film, and with a mid-credits tease, set up Marvel Studios' journey to the stars for Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe we'll see Hemsworth in space for Thor 3 — is it too early to line up for the midnight show? Honorable mention: The Wolverine. After the disaster of the first Wolverine solo film, Hugh Jackman's second solo vehicle went the best and most un-superheroic direction possible: Director James Mangold's movie pulls from revenge dramas, the samurai oeuvre and old-school Westerns to set the bar higher for everybody else in the comic-movie game.

Best comic-book TV series: Arrow. The aim is true for the CW series' second season with Stephen Amell in the emerald togs and bow that Green Arrow made famous. And among the small-screen superhero fare, it's the best at reimagining the comic mythology, with Easter eggs for in-the-know fans and cool takes on everybody from Brother Blood to Black Canary to Slade Wilson to Barry Allen, a guy who might not be — ahem — a flash in the pan since he's getting his own spinoff pilot. Honorable mention: The Walking Dead. Admittedly, the AMC show's been a love/hate thing for me since the beginning — seriously, one whole season at the farm? — but the two Governor-centric episodes this year, showing many layers to David Morrissey's villain, were highlights of the series so far.

Jonathan Hickman had an impressive 2013, from his creator-owned books "East of West" and "The Manhattan Projects" to "Avengers," "New Avengers" and "Infinity."(Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Hickman)
Best event: Infinity. The Avengers and pretty much the universe vs. the most powerful force imaginable. Thanos and his crew vs. Earth and a cadre of Inhumans. Jonathan Hickman sticking the landing. 'Nuff said. Honorable mention: Unity. Valiant's biggest comic doesn't have a gazillion crossovers. Instead, it just has a small cast and makes up for a quantity of tie-ins with a quality conceit, where a super team has to be formed when Aric of Dacia (in his X-O Manowar outfit) annexes Romania to be his new Visigoth nation.

Best single issue: Hawkeye No. 11. Lucky, aka Pizza Dog, gets the spotlight in Matt Fraction and David Aja's genius and mostly wordless issue from the point of view of the charismatic canine, who springs into action when a corpse is found on the roof. Honorable mention: Black Science No. 1. A spectacular splash page of giant turtles walking around with temples on their backs in the middle of a purple-tinged lightning storm wins me over every time. That scene was one of many cool aspects that caused readers to dive into Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera's dimension-hopping sci-fi drama.

Best collection: The Sixth Gun: Gunslinger Edition. Oni Press puts a faux leather cover on the first hardcover volume of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's supernatural Western, and places it in a box made to look like General Hume's coffin along with art prints and other exclusive accoutrement. Honorable mention: The Sandman Omnibus Edition. If you've never read Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and have an extra 500 bucks from your holiday money, here's the whole shebang in two hardcover volumes signed by Gaiman.

Best gutsy decision: Dan Slott's Superior Spider-Man. One year ago, Slott ended the long-running Amazing Spider-Man, and with it the life of Peter Parker, and launched Superior Spider-Man with the mind of nemesis Doctor Octopus guiding the body of Marvel's signature wall-crawler. What could easily have been a disaster ended up being a well-done story line that made Spidey fresh again, gave him a different kind of girlfriend and personality, and a horde of new obstacles to tackle. With "Goblin Nation" coming, change could be again on the horizon, but at this point, more fans probably have the mind-set "In Slott we trust." Honorable mention: DC's "Villains Month" 3-D covers. I wasn't a comic reader for most of the 1990s, and after seeing a decade full of foil covers and other odd gimmicks, maybe I didn't miss a whole lot. DC rolled out a whole month of bad guys in three dimensions, yet the stunt worked — the art was cool, the stories were pretty cool and the 3-D was pretty slick. Then again, I didn't have any of them melt in my vehicle.

Best series set in Oz: The Emerald City of Oz. Skottie Young's distinctive art style has fit with L. Frank Baum's Technicolor landscape for quite a few miniseries, and it's fun for all ages — literally, crazy kid-friendly — with the Nome Army and the Phantasms of Mount Phantastico when Dorothy takes Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to Oz. Honorable mention: Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz. If you like your Wizard of Oz a little more on the adult side — say, with Dorothy in a cleavage-baring crop top — then this is your Ozian jam, retelling the heroine's journey to a fantasy world in search of a mystical scepter.

Best comic to save for my daughter: Captain Marvel. No, I'm not just copying myself from last year. As long as Kelly Sue DeConnick's penning the further adventures of Carol Danvers — who's getting a relaunch in the new year — I'll keep setting them for the 1-year-old future CarolCorps member. (I might even bag and board them!) Honorable mention: Fearless Defenders. Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney's female team book was unfortunately cancelled, so thank goodness for trade collections and the like that keep the series around for future generations. It was fun, fabulous and, dare I say, fearless in its action adventure and will be sorely missed.

Pet of the year: Lying Cat. The Will's feline sidekick in Saga communicates so much with one word: "Lying." She's a walking, purring lie detector who was thought dead for a time but came back to feature in the comic's most tender moment. Honorable mention: Lockjaw. The large Inhuman dog pretty much saved Earth from blowing up in Infinity No. 6 with a well-timed bit of teleportation. Black Bolt must have thrown him a Pupperoni for that one.

Authors Launch Yearlong Series of New Adult Romances

by Jessie Potts)

Today we get to visit with half of the authors (the other half get their say tomorrow, Feb. 1) involved in the Unfiltered series, 13 novels written by 14 different authors with Payge Galvin co-writing for continuity. One New Adult-oriented and steamy book launches each month, with book one, Unfiltered & Unlawful by Ronnie Douglas and Payge Galvin, out now. Next up, on Feb. 14: Unfiltered & Unknown by Lynne Jaymes and Payge.

Here are co-authors Ronnie and Payge to give us an overview of how the Unfiltered series came into being and what readers can expect …

Ronnie and Payge: The Unfiltered series started as a way for a group of friends to stay in touch. After several rounds of poolside cocktails, we thought it would be fun to write something together. We quickly had ideas for characters, a starting plot, and from there, we created plans that led to a book a month for a full year. Unfiltered starts when 12 strangers walk away from a night-shift shooting with more than $100,000 each in drug money, a pact never to speak again, and the chance to start over. Each story in the series follows one of the original 12 characters as some seek fame, others seek forgiveness, and some simply skip town. But every character — whether looking for it or not — finds love.

Jessie: What is your story about?

Ronnie Douglas (book one): Unfiltered & Unlawful is about Sasha "Sugar" Kovac, a girl who's made a lot of mistakes and is still making them at the start of the series. After the shooting of a drug dealer at the coffee shop where she works, she ends up on the run with her tattoo artist/best friend, Adam. He's everything she wants — and is sure she doesn't deserve.

Lynne Jaymes (book two): Unfiltered & Unknown is about Dillon, a singer who uses his share of the money to go to Vegas and audition for the show American Voice with his best friend, Savannah. As each of them moves up in the competition, they learn that their desire for each other just might be bigger than fame and fortune.

Bridgette Luna (book three): Unfiltered & Unsaved is a bit of a sexy good-girl book! My character Hope is a religious girl torn by guilt over being part of the conspiracy. That leads her to a chance meeting with a curiously honest (hot) con man, an evil crime boss, and a chance to use her cash to do some good for people in trouble. Falling passionately in love along the way might just be her road to salvation.

Jane Lukas (book four): My book, Unfiltered & Unhinged, is the story of one of the baristas from the Coffee Cave. Cass races motorcycles and meets Dev — a gorgeous and sexy mechanic — when she brings her bike in for repair. During the course of the rebuild, Cass and Dev discover their need for speed is matched by their need for each other.

Danni Pleasance (book five, Unfiltered & Unraveled): After the events at the coffee shop, Violet Laswell ends up in rehab for a drinking problem she doesn't have to avoid being disowned by her family. She falls hard for Cameron, a counselor at the rehab, but relationships between patients and staff are strictly forbidden.

Meg Chance (book six): Unfiltered & Undressed is about Lauren Taylor, a former webcam stripper who's always dreamed of being a lifeguard in sunny SoCal, but who never learned to swim — kind of a deal-breaker if you plan on saving lives Baywatch-style. To make matters worse, her new swim instructor, Will, is not only incredibly sexy, but like Lauren, is trying to escape his past.

Jessie: How was it writing a whole series with so many other authors?

Ronnie: I was nervous because there are some very strong personalities (including mine), but we didn't fight. Instead, it was like our friendship became even closer.

Payge: We started this whole project as a way to have fun and keep in touch, and it has exploded!! In a good way, though. We're in touch constantly, and we seriously all love these books to pieces! Best plan ever!

Lynne: I was afraid we wouldn't get along or that there would be conflict, but it's been amazing. Every day I look forward to long e-mail conversations with my friends, and I have so many smart people to turn to if I get stuck on something.

Bridgette: It's really exciting! We're all friends, and we were in love with the idea of the series the minute we came up with it. We also loved having a wide variety of "heat levels" and themes, so while we're all writing from the same shared starting point, we're bringing our own style and spice to the table. I've been amazed by the energy and enthusiasm of all of my friends ... it's really pulled us even closer together. Super fun!

Jane: Surprisingly easy to work with so many other writers! I love my friends, and we have all been super supportive of each other's stories be it in drafting them or editing them. I can't believe how much fun it has been!

Danni: I was intimidated by the idea of co-writing because I thought it meant giving up control of my story, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by how well it's worked. It's been AWESOME having people to discuss ideas and plot problems with, and cheer you on when you hit a rough spot.

Meg: Working with this many strong women has been nothing short of amazing! I thought we might butt heads, but instead we all have different strong suits that complemented one another beautifully.

Jessie: Which book are you most looking forward to?

Ronnie: I feel like I'm cheating because I've read several already and LOVE them all, but Lynne and I were writing ours at the same time, so we swapped notes the whole way through, too. That means I'm going to have to say book two, Lynne and Payge's book, Unlawful & Unknown.

Lynne: They're all so different, it's almost impossible to pick one, but I'll choose Unfiltered & Unhinged by Payge Galvin and Jane Lukas because I just finished it and it has a tough-as-nails heroine and a hot romance. And motorcycles — can't beat it!

Bridgette: I wouldn't miss a single one, but I confess I'm really looking forward to Unfiltered & Undecided by our fearless leader, Payge Galvin, and Lucy Byrd.

Jane: I can't wait to read Katy West's Unfiltered & Untouched! I love funny romances, and this book has it in spades! It tells the story of Allison, who attends a group therapy session as a way to meet the hot group leader and inadvertently signs a pledge of abstinence. Hijinks ensue!

Danni: I'm really looking forward to Raychel Price's Unfiltered & Unloved, because Raychel has some fabulously funny things planned involving her character and the fire station. Big boots and poles — imagine the possibilities!

Meg: I'm crazy excited for Unfiltered & Unraveled, Danni Pleasance's book about a girl who gets her first DUI and lands her in rehab (even though she isn't an addict) where she falls for a rehab counselor. Knowing Danni, it'll be devilishly fun and wickedly romantic!

Find out more about the Unfiltered series at Ronnie Douglas' website. And don't forget to stop by HEA tomorrow (Feb. 1) for more from the Unfiltered authors.

Jessie Potts, also known as Book Taster, adores books in all forms. She also does reviews for Bitten by Books and RT Book Reviews and is an intern at Entangled Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@BookTaster).

Romance Author Says Yes To The Dress

by Joyce Lamb)

Valerie Bowman, author of "Secrets of a Runaway Bride."(Photo: Valerie Bowman)

Valerie Bowman, author of Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage and the upcoming The Unexpected Duchess (April 29), landed on TLC's reality show Say Yes to the Dress and she said … no spoilers, sorry. You can watch her episode tonight (Friday, Jan. 31) at 9 p.m. ET on TLC (there's a link to TLC's website below). Here, Valerie shares her adventure with HEA …

Valerie: Last spring, I was innocently sitting around my house on a Saturday, browsing the Web for pictures of bridal gowns. I was engaged to be married and needed a dress. And, yeah, I'm the type of bride who would pick a simple, inexpensive gown off a website cuz that's how I roll. So, I started posting pictures of the gowns I liked the most to my Pinterest page. (They're still there, by the way. I also have a board full of people with chickens, but I digress.)

Then, I headed over to my Facebook page and posted a link to the board. "Help me pick a wedding dress!" I suggested to my friends. Romance author Anne Barton posted, "You should go on Say Yes to the Dress!" Well, readers, I did it. I quickly searched the Web for Say Yes to the Dress casting and soon found myself filling out a simple online form. "What is your 'hook'?" they asked. "I'm a romance author who writes about brides and who is a bride," I offered.

It must have done the trick. The producers called me a few days later, and two weeks after that, I was on my way to Atlanta to film an episode. I brought along my friends Candice and Tonya, my sister and my cousin. My mother-in-law (who just so happens to live in Atlanta) met us there.

First, to answer your burning questions! No, there was no makeup artist or hair stylist. They didn't pay me a dime to be on the show, and I had to cover all my own travel expenses. They did offer me a discount at a local hotel, however. There was no food, and we were told to have a large breakfast before we arrived because shooting lasts several hours (we were there from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with nary a snack!).

They encouraged me to wear something with a belt or waistband so there would be something to hook the mic to. No houndstooth! It looks crazy on camera.

The interviews were probably the most interesting. It's a lot of answering questions while remembering to speak in the past or future tense as necessary and no mentioning of the wedding date because they don't know when the episode will air.

At the end of it, I got to see how the great American pastime of reality TV happens. I got to meet some great people who you can tell truly enjoy their work. "I'm a storyteller, too," the camera woman told me. I loved that.

Yes, the consultant and the camerawoman saw me in my underwear. No, they don't film that part. THANK HEAVENS! Yes, you have a mic hooked to you the entire time, and it's a chore to take it all off to go to the bathroom.

Meeting Robin and Monte (the bridal consultants) and Lori (the owner of the salon) was such a treat. I even gave all of them a signed copy of my novel, Secrets of a Runaway Bride. And in the end, I did, indeed say yes to the dress! I won't give away which one or what it looked like, but tune in tonight for my episode, By the Book. It airs at 9 p.m. ET tonight (Jan. 31) on TLC.

And the REALLY big news is that I'm giving away the dress! Be sure to check my website on Saturday (Feb. 1) for the details of my giveaway!

Do you have any questions about what it's like behind the scenes at Say Yes to the Dress? I'm happy to answer them!

(Photo: St. Martin's)

"The Unexpected Duchess" by Valerie Bowman.(Photo: St. Martin's Paperbacks)

12 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs To Visit

by Arianna Rebolini)

1. The Eagle and Child (Oxford, England)

Flickr: irenetong / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis

This University pub, which dates way back to the mid-17th century, served as the official meeting place for Tolkien, Lewis, and the rest of their writing group, called the Inklings. From 1933 to the early 1950s, the group met weekly in the Rabbit Room, the bar’s private back lounge, to distribute and critique each other’s unfinished manuscripts.

Today, the walls of the cozy Rabbit Room are decorated with bits of memorabilia, framed photos of the authors, and a signed document with a note — “The undersigned, having just partaken in your ham, have drunk to your health” — from the authors to the former owner.

2. Vesuvio Cafe (San Francisco)

Flickr: nicholaskaeser / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady

This kitschy North Beach bar was the stomping grounds of some Beat generation heavy-hitters, and the alley behind it is even named after Kerouac. Sitting right across the street from the renowned City Lights Bookstore, it now serves as a monument to jazz, art, poetry, and the creative lifestyle. It also serves some pretty stiff drinks.

3. White Horse Tavern (New York City)

Flickr: katie_cat / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Dylan Thomas, James Baldwin, Anais Nin, Norman Mailer

The White Horse Tavern opened in 1880 and was known for being a longshoreman’s hangout until the 1950s, when Welsh poet Dylan Thomas started coming around. It is most famously (and morbidly) known as the place of Thomas’ last drink; in November of 1953, after downing eighteen shots of whiskey, he collapsed on the sidewalk and later died at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Still, the West Village tavern remained a favorite spot for the literary set, attracting writers and poets to this day.

4. El Floridita (Havana, Cuba)

Flickr: amycgx / Creative Commons

Notable Patron: Ernest Hemingway

The world fell in love with El Floridita in the 1940s, and Hemingway was right in the middle of the fervor. It was his favorite bar throughout his 20 years living in Cuba, and his drink was their signature frozen Daquiri. He helped popularize the spot and its original cocktail (the bar was also known as “La Cuna Del Daquiri,” or “The Cradle of the Daquiri”) in his writing, specifically Islands In The Stream, and the bar has returned the love. Papa Hemingway is honored today with a dedicated bar stool, bust, life-size bronze statue, and assorted memorabilia and photographs.

5. Cerveceria Alemana (Madrid, Spain)

Flickr: jafsegal / Creative Commons

Notable Patron: Ernest Hemingway

It’s no secret that Hemingway liked to drink, so it’s no surprise that he’s left a scattering of favorite bars around the world. In Spain it was Cerveceria Alemana, a 1904 beer hall that is resistant to change, and which Hemingway honored in The Sun Also RIses. Visitors can still sit at his favorite table, marble-topped and overlooking a window.

6. Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone (New Orleans)

Flickr: weeklydig / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Truman Capote

Hotel Monteleone has hosted so many writers in its history that the Friends of the Library Association designated it an official literary landmark in 1999. Its impressive guest roster has included some of the South’s most influential writers, and Truman Capote famously claimed to have actually been born in a Hotel Monteleone room. (The hotel denies it, though Capote’s mother was living there during her pregnancy.)

The hotel and lounge are historic landmarks of the French Quarter and must-sees, but visitors can expect to spend a good amount of cash when doing so.

7. Kennedys (Dublin, Ireland)

Notable Patrons: Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde

The literary history of Kennedy’s is especially interesting because it includes both patrons and employees. Back when it was also a grocery store, a young Wilde earned a wage stocking the shelves. Today the pub is just a pub — and a college one, at that – but visitors can enjoy a beer at the same marble bar where old friends Beckett and Joyce sat.

8. Old Town Bar and Restaurant (New York City)

Flickr: josepha / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Frank McCourt, Seamus Heaney, Nick Hornby, Billy Collins, Pete Hamill

This Flatiron District bar is a favorite of some of the best modern writers, and it’s got signed book jackets hanging on the walls to prove it. The writers who stop by not only drink there (Hamill wrote on the book jacket of A Drinking Life, “For the one bar that still makes me thirsty”) but also choose it as a venue for their book parties. Most of the bar’s furnishings and decor are unchanged since opening in 1892, but these days local beer, courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery, dominates the menu.

9. Les Deux Magots (Paris, France)

Flickr: roboppy / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway

Les Deux Magots was the place to be for anyone who was anyone in the early 20th-century French literary scene. The cafe was the rendezvous spot of choice for artists, writers, and intellectuals like de Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus, and — of course, because if there was drinking involved, he was there — Hemingway. Today it’s a tourist haven, which means less time for whiling away the afternoon in the wicker chairs on their sprawling terrace, but it’s still worth stopping by for a coffee or martini.

10. Red Key Tavern (Indianapolis)

Flickr: clarkmaxwell / Creative Commons

Notable Patron: Kurt Vonnegut

Die-hard Vonnegut fans will want to add this one to their next road trip. The no-nonsense bar — opened by a WWII Veteran and Prisoner of War, and decorated with model airplanes hanging from the ceiling — is said to have been Vonnegut’s favorite watering hole, with many regulars claiming to have seen him writing and drinking in his booth. The tavern also made an appearance in Dan Wakefield’s 1970 novel Going All The Way.

11. Antico Caffe Greco (Rome, Italy)

Flickr: ladyous / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: John Keats, Charles Dickens, Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Maria Zambrano
Having opened in 1760, this historic landmark is Rome’s oldest bar (and Italy’s second oldest). Its reputation as a haven for writers and artists was built largely by Shelley and her contemporaries, who worked on manuscripts and swapped ideas while enjoying a cappuccino at the Caffe’s marble tables. It continues to draw some of Rome’s most influential minds today.

12. La Rotonde (Paris, France)

Flickr: cycletheghostround / Creative Commons

Notable Patrons: Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald
This Parisian cafe was a favorite during the American ex-pat era, and its popularity is noted by frequent patron (you guessed it) Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises: “No matter what cafe in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde.” That popularity has not waned, but travelers looking to visit will have to wait a few more months. The cafe closed in January for renovations, and is scheduled to reopen in March 2014.

WWII Tour Group to Meet Author Alex Kershaw, Historians, General, Vets Says Magazine


Photo: Jim Heupel, PRWeb

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (PRWEB) January 31, 2014

Bestselling author Alex Kershaw—author of World War II books including THE BEDFORD BOYS (2004), ESCAPE FROM THE DEEP (2009), and THE LIBERATOR (2013)—will be among the speakers featured during AMERICA IN WWII magazine’s Double Victory Tour this May, the publisher announced today.

The WWII tour will visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans; the Museum of the American GI in College Station, Texas; and the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas—plus other sites and regional attractions along the way—May 16–25, 2014.

AMERICA IN WWII is actively seeking attendees for the tour, which is being coordinated by Specialty Tours of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Kershaw will speak on aspects and stories of the American role in the European theater of World War II. Other speakers for the tour and their topics include:

Vincent P. O’Hara, author of THE US NAVY AGAINST THE AXIS: SURFACE COMBAT, 1941–1945 (2007), and numerous books on naval war in the Mediterranean, speaking on the US naval war in the Pacific and European theaters;
General Michael W. Hagee, USMC (Retired), 33rd commandant of the US Marine Corps and president and CEO of the National Museum of the Pacific War, on telling the story of the Pacific war;
George F. Cholewczynski, author of POLES APART: THE POLISH AIRBORNE AT THE BATTLE OF ARNHEM (1993) and co-author of AIRBORNE TROOP CARRIER THREE-ONE-FIVE GROUP (2003), on the roles and interrelationship of Troop Carrier pilots and mixed Allied paratroopers in the European theater; and
Michael Joseph Edwards, historian, on the Higgins boat and its origins, maker, and role in the Normandy D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. Edwards is also expected to lead a military-history-themed tour of New Orleans.
Work by Kershaw, O’Hara, Cholewczynski, and Edwards has appeared in AMERICA IN WWII magazine over the past several years, according to AMERICA IN WWII publisher Jim Kushlan. Each of the speakers will be available for photos, questions, and book signings after addressing the tour group.

The Double Victory Tour “is going to be somewhere between a tour and a rolling World War II conference,” says Kushlan, who will personally host the tour.

“Once the attendees get themselves to New Orleans, we’ll be into World War II up to our ears, and loving it.”

Among the WWII tour’s planned attractions, says Kushlan, are in-depth exploration of America’s two top World War II museums—the National WWII Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War—plus visits to the Museum of the American GI and its impressive tank collection; Texas A&M’s Colonel Earl Rudder Monument, to the man who led the 2nd Ranger Battalion up Pointe du Hoc on D-Day; and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum (of the WWII-veteran Bush).

WWII-themed activities will include tanks in motion, warbirds in the air, live swing music, and a Pacific island combat simulation with a real flamethrower.

“All that said, I think the high point of the whole thing will be the veterans we’ll meet in New Orleans and in Texas,” Kushlan remarked. “That and the friends we’ll make along the way.”

The Double Victory Tour is priced at $1,995. Details of the WWII tour, including a complete itinerary are online at

AMERICA IN WWII is a bimonthly magazine about the American experience in the Second World War—the war, the home front, and the people. It is available at Barnes & Noble and Books A Million stores, and select other bookstores.

Subscriptions to the print edition are available at 1-866-525-1945 (toll-free). Readers can also find digital editions for any device by searching for “america in wwii” on their mobile and handheld devices’ app stores, or by visiting (print subscriptions can also be purchased there).

AMERICA IN WWII and are publications of 310 Publishing LLC of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a company committed to telling the stories of history in human terms.

Specialty Tours, based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, offers affordable and authentic tours for the WWII military enthusiast.

JK Rowling Sues Daily Mail for Libel Over 'single mother' Article

(from the
by greensladeblog)

JK Rowling: suing the Daily Mail for libel. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

The Daily Mail has taken down a story from its website about the author JK Rowling after she sued the paper for libel.

Rowling says the online article, headlined "How JK Rowling's sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered", misrepresented her comments.

In so doing it injured her reputation and caused her great distress and embarrassment, according to documents filed at the high court by Rowling's lawyers, Schillings.

They argue that the article - also published across two pages of the paper in September last year - suggested Rowling had given "a knowingly false account of her time as a single mother in Edinburgh."

They say the article meant that that she had "falsely and inexcusably accused her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner towards her, of stigmatising her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother."

Rowling believes the Mail story was "premised on a false picture" of her own article published 10 days before on the website for the single parents' charity, Gingerbread, "I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life". Rowling is president of Gingerbread.

Her court filing states that she had not "accused her fellow churchgoers of 'stigmatising' or 'cruelly taunting' her." Instead, "she had referred to a single occasion involving a woman who had visited the church one day whilst she was working there."

It further states that a woman quoted in both versions of the story had neither been "upset" nor "bewildered" and claims that the Mail had been "misleading and unfair" by accusing Rowling of "making knowingly false statements".

According to the document, a Mail journalist did contact Rowling's representative prior to publication but he "failed to put to her or offer any opportunity to comment on the allegations he was proposing to publish", which is "contrary to basic standards of fair and responsible journalism."

Rowling is seeking unspecified damages from the Mail's publisher, Associated Newspapers, for publishing the story. In the printed paper it carried a slightly different headline, "How JK Rowling's sob story about her single mother past has surprised and confused the church members who cared for her,".

The Daily Mail declined to comment.

Hat tip: Press Gazette

Time For a Little Misconduct … New Erotic Romances Are Here

by Joyce Lamb)

Here are some newer erotic romance and eroticas, compiled for you and HEA by some of our favorite authors (info provided by publishers and/or their websites):

Misconduct by Lily Harlem (Ellora's Cave). Hot Ice, Book 6. Manage the Vipers hockey team! Me? Well, that's my role now. Shame a gorgeous, cocky goaltender is testing my patience. Sweet cheeks—really, is that any way to refer to the boss? Dustin "Speed" Reed certainly seems to think so. It's okay though. I'll escape to my billionaire father's paradise retreat. Except Dustin decides to jump on for the ride. Then the tension really heats up, hotter than the scorching midday sun. I want to slap him and kiss him. Push him away and rip off his clothes. The feeling is mutual—a potent cocktail of anger mixed with lust. I know we shouldn't. It can't end well, especially when I'm going give him the sack as soon as I push him out of it. But what's the fun in having rules if no one ever breaks them? I'll take what I can, give him what he wants and worry about balancing the books tomorrow. Surely my heart will be fine.

Seeds of Love by Berengaria Brown (Ellora's Cave). Beverley is hopelessly in love with Hyacinthe. Hyacinthe loves Bev, but she also loves their hot-bodied coworker Inigo. Which doesn't help Bev's already low self-esteem. The only saving grace is that Inigo seems a pretty decent guy. Ménage sex gradually brings the triad together—until Cinthe's fairy wings sprout. Inigo and Bev don't cope well with this change—because everyone knows there's no such thing as a fairy. Bev's obsession with her physical inadequacies takes a backseat to her concern over the wings sticking out of her lover's back. While Beverley struggles to come to terms with having a fairy for a girlfriend, she also has to deal with someone stealing rare plants from the botanical gardens where they all work.

Hot Tango by Sidney Bristol (Ellora's Cave). Good Guys Wear Black, Book 1. SWAT officer Cole Westling walks a fine line of control. If his wife knew exactly what he wanted to do to her, he'd lose the most precious thing in his life. Instead, he throws himself into work. Tanya Westling did not leave her job as a globe-trotting humanitarian to spend her nights playing roller derby and sleeping alone. Armed with a few adult toys and a prayer, she challenges him to a sensual game that will strip away their ideas of what sex should be. Cole's surprised but it's his dream come true. With each sexual encounter, the walls between them come crumbling down and each must face the truth of what their marriage has been and what it could be.

Break Me In by Sara Brookes (Ellora's Cave). Book 3 in the Geek Kink series. Elena avoids relationships by using her flogger as a shield. Alex is struggling with substance abuse and Elena will do nearly anything to help him conquer his demons, even risk losing him forever. When he comes home, whole and healthy, he raises the stakes by requesting their friendship turn into a D/s bond. His submission will change their dynamic forever. She convinces herself it's just sex. Love and desire aren't part of the equation. Under Elena's reverent command, Alex finds a comfort he's always yearned for. He's happier than ever as he spends his days slinging coffee and his nights bound and collared. Submitting to Elena exposes more than his strengths—it reveals a powerful attraction. Most of all, it uncovers their passionate love. He's ready to convince her there's no reason to mask her feelings, but his efforts are derailed when his toxic past resurfaces to annihilate their future.

Dark Innocence by Madeline Pryce (Ellora's Cave). Hannah Grey will do anything to escape the tortured memories haunting her. Every breath brings back the pain, the fear and the unbearable knowledge that she'll never be the once-perfect girl everyone thought her to be. When the self-destructive fog of drugs, alcohol and meaningless sex starts to clear, Dante, a lion shifter sexier than sin itself, emerges through the darkness ready to rescue her for the second time in so many weeks. In the safety of Dante's embrace, Hannah allows herself to become the woman she's always wanted to be—smart, sexy, capable and empowered. His every touch electrifies. His hot, hungry kisses set her senses ablaze. As Dante masters her body, Hannah finally finds the strength to master her fears. Perfection shatters as threats from a mysterious vampire escalate from anonymous phone calls to violent encounters. When Hannah's enemies unite, placing both her and Dante in mortal peril, she's going to need her newfound strength to face the coming darkness and save the man she loves.

Speakeasy Sweetheart by Clare Murray (Ellora's Cave). Her boyfriend dumped her, she's being evicted and she has no job prospects—Sasha Kelly doesn't have much to look forward to. Until she stumbles through a mysterious door at her college graduation after-party and lands in a New York City speakeasy in the Roaring Twenties. Before she even figures out what's going on, she's in the lap of Blaze O'Rourke as they escape both a police raid and the dangerous criminal who is Blaze's archenemy. Blaze can't resist the beautiful woman in his lap, but he's determined to find out why she was singing in Vincent Cornell's club. If that means kidnapping and seducing her, so be it. Cornell killed his brother and Blaze has been seeking revenge for two years. But Sasha's presence re-awakes Blaze's hunger for someone to love and he's truly enjoying life—and sex—for the first time in years. Then Cornell kidnaps Sasha, forcing Blaze to choose between revenge and love.

Alone at Last by Caitlyn Willows (Ellora's Cave). Nine years of marriage haven't dimmed the fires of fantasy that fuel Jill and Royce Osbourne's lust for each other. However, children make living those fantasies tricky. Royce has the ultimate present for his wife on their ninth anniversary. The kids are with Grandma, the house is theirs for the weekend, and redesigned for pleasure. After a hard day in court, Jill comes home to a quiet house and a hot husband wielding a willow switch. What's a needy woman to do but get out of her panties as fast as possible…especially when she learns two guests are waiting in the wings to join them in a ménage fantasy…or two. A willow switch, a hot husband, two hunks… It doesn't get any better than this.

Touch of a Dom by Madeleine Oh (Ellora's Cave). Book two in the Dominant Lovers series. With her mother recently dead, Adele Royer is determined to find the father who abandoned them when she was a toddler. The only clues she has are two addresses in Nice that she finds among her mother's papers. Determined to start her search in the South of France, she applies for a job as cook in Eze and becomes part of Luc Prioux's staff at Les Santons. She loves the job and is more than ready to begin her search but Branko Odic, Luc's secretary, proves to be a delicious distraction. The passion they share is undeniable, their chemistry tangible. He becomes her dream Dominant in bed and a true friend as he aids her in her quest. Together they find her father in nearby Cannes. But Adele is in for the shock of a lifetime.

From Now On by Eliza Lloyd (Ellora's Cave). Mad Duchesses, Book 2. Sebastian Traynor had his chance. Once he could have eloped with Grace. Once he could have had the one woman for whom he lusted. But back then he hadn't been willing to give up his freedom when there were so many women from whom to choose. Except he never found a woman he loved as much as he loved Grace. He broke her heart before. Grace should refuse to see him now. Now that she has lost her beauty. Now that she has finally found peace. Sebastian has the skills needed to seduce Grace and once she is naked and in his arms he will use them all to remind her of the love they shared before.

A Secret Worth Keeping by Lakisha Johnson (Delphine Publications). Shelby is a career woman turned housewife who enjoys the friendships that have been built with her 5 best friends; Camille, Lynesha, Raylin, Kerri and Chloe. They are all career women with different businesses, husbands and even children but something is missing and they can't seem to find it at home, in a store or even in a book. So, they search for this missing piece in the beds, arms, cars and even offices of other men who don't mind paying for what Dem Dam Divas can offer. They enjoy the thrill of sneaking, creeping and even vacationing on someone else's dime but they soon find out that all good things come to an end. What happens when it becomes too much? From secretly wanting someone who doesn't want you, loving only to not be loved back and being caught up in a dream that you're about to be awaken from; will it be worth it in the end?

Hearts Forged in Fire by Cassandre Dayne (Cassandre Dayne). For rancher Zeke Parker, the death of his lover, David, had nearly stripped away his soul, leaving him empty inside. His beloved ranch in ruins, he had nothing to live for. Only the love of a horse kept him from going over the edge. Then Cupid intervened in the form of movie mogul, Drake Wilson and one charity auction benefiting a worthy cause. Sadly, both men were too damaged to try and love again. When tragedy struck, forcing them to face their greatest fears, could the love of one horse give them the strength they needed to fight the fires of love?

Dark Moon: Spirit Wild by Kate Douglas (Aphrodisia ). The second in the sizzling new Spirit Wild series from Kate Douglas—Aphrodisia's top-selling star—has the extremely hot erotic scenes and complex characters that made her Wolf Tales series a phenomenal, long-running success.

Slow Seduction by Cecilia Tan (Forever). Two months after Karina's painful departure from James, she heads to London to locate him and win him back. There she meets an enigmatic man who promises to help her find James—for a price. Karina insists her heart belongs to James, but Damon is determined to have her. By the time she finds James, Karina has been "trained" to please another. Will James reject her again…or find her more irresistible than before?

The Wolf and the Vampire by Olivia Black (Siren Publishing). Book 5, Silver Bullet Series. Holden Turner feels rejected. To hide the hurt, he turns to drinking and dancing, looking for something to fill the void in his heart. One night while partying inside the Silver Bullet, he drinks too much. Jack Hearst is lonely. It's becoming harder for him to sit back and watch his friends find love. Things change when he spots his True Match on the dance floor, surrounded by men. Approaching the group, he flashes his fangs and they quickly take the hint…running away. When Holden wakes up in a strange place, he quickly escapes only to find out that someone has marked him. Unsure of what to do, Holden hides out hoping that his memory will return. Before he can find the man, tragedy strikes leaving Holden fighting for his life.

Chalkboard Romance by Melissa Keir (Secret Cravings Publishing). Lauren Walsh, a divorcee and elementary teacher, wanted to feel sexy again, after her ex tossed her aside for a younger woman. Her teaching partner and best friend encouraged her to sign up for The Playhouse--a renowned dating agency. Mac Thomas remained trapped in a marriage to a money grubbing socialite. Forced to stay away from his young son, Mac lost the ability to trust. After the death of his wife, he returned to care for his son but his sister wants more for him. She sets him up with The Playhouse. Passion ignites but Mac's a parent of one of Lauren's students. A teacher and a parent dating could cost Lauren her job and her chance at happiness. Will Mac be able to convince the school and Lauren, that love is the most important thing?

Disciplining Allie by Allie Blocker ( Some rules weren't meant to be broken and it was becoming quite clear to Lewis that his sweet Allie was forgetting that. Or she was attempting to goad him by breaking his cardinal laws. It didn't matter which, he didn't care for explanations and he was really in no mood to entertain pretty pouts and soft smiles. No, his Allie needed discipline and he was all too happy to oblige...

Freeing Miss by Marteeka Karland and Shara Azod ( "All good things must come to an end…" had become Elena Miller's silent mantra. The only issue was, what she needed to end was more so comfortable than good. During her self discovery as a submissive she'd once thought her first and only Dom was everything she desired. Sadly, her discovery became a cold hard reality. In essence Brayden Mathis was a wonderful man but he simply wasn't the man. Their final night together, Elena opens herself to saying goodbye, to accepting what her true needs are and to being freed...

The following new releases were compiled for HEA by Desiree Holt, author of Quarterback Sneak. Her website is

Bound to Be Dirty by Savanna Fox (Berkley). Lily Nyland married bad boy Dax Xavier because he made her dreams come true—in bed and out. But after a decade of marriage, her helicopter bush pilot husband is geographically and emotionally distant, and the best sex she's enjoyed recently comes from the Dirty Girls Book Club's erotic selections. Now the club has decided to research the popularity of BDSM novels, despite the objections of Lily, a feminist family practice doctor. Although Lily is anything but submissive, is it possible that the club's selection will be the catalyst that puts the spark—and the love—back in her marriage?

Broken Road by Alexa Bourne (Decadent Publishing). Catriona MacGregor leads a quiet life, working in the local school of Glenhalish, Scotland and spending time with close friends. She's content to sit back and be an observer of the life around her. But all that changes when a recently deceased family friend leaves her a flat in Edinburgh and challenges her to spread her wings. With his work as an international bodyguard, Ian MacKenzie has no time for a serious, committed relationship. Yet when he comes home to Glenhalish for a visit and to clear his mind, he is drawn to down-to-earth Cat. The more time they spend together, the more he wants her. Though they agreed to a friends-with-benefits arrangement, Cat soon discovers exactly what she wants for herself and it involves all of Ian—body, mind and soul. Their connection ambushes Ian. He's not ready for the intensity they share. Can this Highland lassie steer her lad back onto the right path to a love that will last a lifetime?

Truth or Dare by Elizabeth Morgan (Decadent Publishing). Do you dare tell the truth? A tequila-fuelled game of Truth or Dare is not Dani's idea of fun, but when Cameron, the jerk who rejected her a year ago, is the one provoking her into playing, how can she say no? Not that he's giving her the option in the first place. Bravado compels her forward, but when the dares get physical and their friends leave them alone, Cameron's questions turn to her feelings for him and, unfortunately, lying is not part of the game. Will a dare give Dani the courage she needs to tell Cameron the truth?

One Steamed Night by Lara Nance (Decadent Publishing). Mina Davis is sick of the modern dating scene with its vanilla settings and weak-willed suitors. What ever happened to old-world romance and swashbuckling gentlemen? She craves adventure, and hungers for a charming rogue who'll sweep her off her feet and into his bed. When her friend, Regina sets her up on a one-night stand through an exclusive matchmaking website, Mina leaps at the opportunity. Little does she know, and thanks to Madame Eve's magic touch, Mina's about to have one steamed night.

The Ex Factor by Cate Masters (Decadent Publishing). Once half of the most powerful 'it' couple in Hollywood, actress Susan Ainsley is tired of shallow guys or men who only want to bask in her spotlight. When her ex can't seem to stop trashing their relationship even though he's remarried, she looks to Madame Eve's 1Night Stand service to help her find a real partner. Susan has starred in director Jared Thornwell's dreams for years. But after divorcing her cardboard husband, it seems she's out on the town with a new guy every other week. Jared wants nothing more than to be the man who fulfills her dreams too, but even with Madame Eve's help, does he stand a chance with her for longer than one night?

Private Tasting by Nina Jaynes (The Wild Rose Press/Scarlet Rose). Years of fantasizing about her sexy Sicilian neighbor, Lucio De Luca, is about to end—tonight. Beth Thomas has plans for the luscious vineyard owner. She knows he's not the commitment kind of guy and doesn't care. One night—an entire night if the bulge in his jeans is any indication—is all she needs. Or so she thinks. Will a taste quench her thirst or whet her appetite for more?

The following new releases were compiled for HEA by Tara Sue Me, author of The Submissive Trilogy. You can visit her at

Bad Slave by Kay Berrisford (Loose Id). When the king commands former war hero Captain Jay Ghair to find him the perfect royal sex slave, Jay's quiet new life as a librarian is shattered. Jay discovers the boy he's looking for in Alix, a lowly miner and wannabe court scientist, whom Jay can't help but secretly adore. However, teaching the rebellious Alix to be a docile slave is difficult. Alix will behave for just one man, and it isn't the king. It's Jay. Standing by while the king's treatment of Alix becomes cruel is torturous for Jay. He longs to return to his library, yet he can't bear to leave Alix, or his people, unprotected. To rescue Alix—and save the realm from the increasingly tyrannical king—Jay must confront the demons of his military past and take up the sword again. But his most important battle must be won through returning Alix's love and learning to master this bad slave who submits only for him.

Mark Cooper versus America by J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry (Loose Id). Mark Cooper is angry, homesick, and about to take his stepdad's dubious advice and rush Prescott College's biggest party fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Greek life is as foreign to Aussie transplant Mark as Pennsylvania's snowstorms and bear sightings. So, when the fraternity extends Mark a bid, Mark vows to get himself kicked out by the end of pledge period. But then he's drawn into Alpha Delt's feud with a neighboring fraternity. Studious Deacon Holt is disappointed to learn Mark's pledging Alpha Delt, his fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa's sworn enemy. Mark is too beautiful for Deacon to pass up an invitation for sex, but beyond sex, Deacon's not sure. He wants a relationship, but a difficult family situation prevents him from pursuing anything beyond his studies. Mark and Deacon's affair heats up as the war between their fraternities escalates.

Sweeter Than This by Samara King (Loose Id). With her best friend murdered, the man believed to be partly responsible under the nose of her gun and a stranger looming in the shadows out for blood, Officer Elle Taylor is running out of time and people to trust. Will Elle risk crossing the line between attraction and revenge to take help from an unexpected source, before the murderer strikes again and leaves her life in flames? Durant Kane is no stranger to trouble, especially the kind that comes with a gun trained on his face and an angry woman attached. But Elle's something different, something unexpected and sweeter. He never could have imagined coming to feel so deeply about her, even if his own disastrous path in relationships hadn't left him so wary. But he'll have to take the risk if he doesn't want to lose the woman he's come to realize he can't even think of living without.

Thunder and Roses by Dawn Montgomery & Ditter Kellen (Loose Id). Tonya knows it's time for a decade long conspiracy to come to a head, but no one can know her true identity. Her feral nature and instinctive mistrust have kept her alive for the past five years of deep cover. When her only choice is to run or face death, she runs. What she doesn't count on is Dakota Thunder, a Council bounty hunter who never misses a target. Tonya is running out of time, and the only man she can trust is the last man who should ever believe her. Dakota Thunder is no stranger to betrayal. From a childhood born of nightmares to the death of his sister, he knows exactly what his kind are capable of. No one escapes his justice. What should have been a routine bounty pick up drops Dakota in the middle of a deadly blood feud involving shifter trafficking, extortion, and murder revolving around one wise-cracking beautiful woman of leopard royalty. She gets under his skin, digging her claws into his heart and reminding him of things buried long ago. He'd planned for everything except Tonya and the evidence that could bring down one of the most powerful organizations in the shifter world.

The following new releases were compiled for HEA by Beth Williamson (Emma Lang), author of The Fortune (Malloy series, book nine). Her website is

Final Strike by Jana Leigh (JK Publishing). Thane carries the weight of the fallen soldiers on his shoulders. He needs this to end so the men still living can settle into their lives with their partners and he can go on his way. He was born alone in this world and figures he will leave it the same way. Mel and Dario are on the run and heading to the only one they know who can help them figure out what is going on. But what they find upon reaching their destination is their chance at happiness if they can end the destruction of everything they hold dear.

The Laird's Future Bride by Hazel Gower (JK Publishing). In book one of the MacLeod Clan: In a world where "different" can be a death sentence, Clan MacLeod is special. By protecting all paranormal people, in return they receive the ability to recognize their soul mate. Holly is on holiday in Scotland with plans of attending a Valentine's Day sixteenth-century period weekend party at the MacLeod castle. When she arrives, lightning surrounds her taking her back in time to the fifteen hundreds and face to face with Duncan MacLeod.

Bound in Blue by Annabel Joseph (Scarlet Rose Press). At a small, struggling circus in Ulaanbaatar, a fearless trapezist fascinates Cirque du Monde talent scout Jason Beck, until he realizes, halfway through the act, that he already knows this exotic, blue-eyed beauty. Intimately. If he'd known she was part of the act he was here to recruit, he never would have done such basely carnal things to her the night before! Torn by professional and personal desires, Jason invites Sara to Paris. She's thrilled to join Cirque du Monde, but her trapeze partner, Baat, is less cooperative. When tensions threaten the future of Sara and Baat's act, she finds solace in a sexy, consuming Master/slave relationship with Jason. Jason's strict requirements match perfectly with Sara's desires to submit, to do whatever it takes to please her Master. Soon they're barreling toward deeper commitments, even love.

The Submission by Serena Shay (Liquid Silver Books). Two is better than one. Most would agree with that statement, but not full-blooded shifter LeAnn Turone. To accept her need for multiple partners means facing a lifetime in a one-sided triad. She's better off denying her heritage even if that means walking away from two of the most delectable alpha males she's ever met. Rick Taylor and Trent Warren each think they've found their mate in LeAnn, but a midnight meeting deep in the woods proves them wrong. Not only do they both long to connect to the sexy, but skittish female, they also find themselves attracted to one another. Each member of this triad must free themselves from the fear of the future and submit to the greater power of love.

Be Were by Eliza Gayle (Gypsy Ink Books). Dean had a family once. Until tragedy and betrayal consumed them. Now he lives on his own terms keeping life simple and carefree. Then one night leads to one bite and he's forced back into a dangerous world that reminds him he's still as angry as ever and this time he's not leaving until he gets what he wants. Niki. Niki Harris has lived a life of secrets and solitude with no interest in making a change. But an easy one night stand turns complicated and she finds herself marked. Now she has to decide, tell the sexy shifter with a possessive streak a mile wide she's pregnant and in danger or do what she's always done--run.

You Really Got Me by Kelly Jamieson (Samhain Publishing). Kendall Vioget fell hard for Police Chief Jason Holloway, until the best sex of her life became something more, something she wasn't ready for. Afraid of what he asked of her, afraid of her own desires, she walked away. Now her brother's fiancée has gone missing a week before the wedding, bringing Jason back into her life. She needs his help, but her body is losing the battle to resist the hunger to satisfy the dark cravings he can set free. Jason understands what she needs, and when her increasing submission banishes the self-doubts he's been carrying around, he knows a perfect match like this comes along only once in a lifetime. Until the missing persons case becomes a murder investigation, and suspicion falls on her brother. Kendall will do anything to protect the only family she has left, and Jason will do anything to make sure a killer is put behind bars. If he doesn't handle this case right, the most precious gift she could have given him—her trust—will be destroyed. Permanently.

Hunting Medusa by Elizabeth Andrews (Samhain Publishing). Ever since the original Medusa ticked off Athena by bragging about her beauty, her cursed daughters have been paying for that mistake. To this day, successive Medusas play cat and mouse with the descendants of Perseus, known as the Harvesters. When Kallan Tassos tracks down the current Medusa, he expects to find a monster. Instead he finds a wary, beautiful woman, shielded by a complicated web of spells that foils his plans for a quick kill and retrieval of her protective amulet. Andrea Rosakis expects the handsome Harvester to go for the kill. Instead, his attempt to take the amulet imprinted on her skin without harming her takes her completely by surprise. And ends with the two of them in a magical bind—together. Though their attraction is combustible, her impending PMS (Pre Magical-Curse Syndrome) puts a real damper on any chance of a relationship. But Kallan isn't the only Harvester tracking Andi, and they must cooperate to stay at least one step ahead of a ruthless killer before they can have any future, together or apart.

Gone by Annabel Wolfe (Samhain Publishing). Jack Templeton was dead. Or so everyone thought. Red-carpet welcome aside, he knows returning from a highly secret year-long mission won't be easy. He's even prepared for the possibility that his girlfriend, whose face carried him through the hellish months alone, has moved on. But he never expected she'd move into the arms of his best friend. Nicole is beside herself with joy to learn that Jack is alive, but there's a small complication. Actually a huge one, and his name is Eric Janssen. Now her tangled feelings are stretching her heart to the breaking point. Eric has always been sure of what he wants, but now he's off balance on shaky emotional ground. He's relieved his best friend is home…but he loves Nicole. And he's not about to just hand her over. There's only one way to hash this out. And the battleground is about to move from the boardroom to the bedroom

Re: Follow Friday - Spine Poetry

Here is an example of what I was talking about in my earlier post:

If I stay some quiet place without conscience, things fall apart.

Good right? I think so I love it.

I am going to attempt it. I can take a photo I just do not know where the photo is in my Galaxy S4. If anyone more technologically advanced then I am, before I get the instructions all the way upstairs, knows how to get the photo from the above mentioned phone, please comment! Because I plan on taking the picture with that phone when I am done with my Spine Poetry.

The above was done by by Alice and you can find her blog at

I have another example, the one I mentioned that I could not find earlier:

Demon’s Curse
On Midnight’s Wings
Stolen Nights
Just Like Fate
Elysian Fields

The above was done by one of our hosts for Feature and Follow and you can find her blog at

I would LOVE if any of my readers gave it a try. I would be more than happy to post it here on my blog and mention your name. I think it is such a creative idea and would like to see what everyone can do. If I come along  more today, I will post them. I will try to save a few at a time so you are not getting them one by one.

Only a book reader would think of this. :)