Saturday, November 19, 2011

John Flanagan's The Outcasts (Book 1 of the Brotherband Chronicles)

The Outcasts: Book 1 of the Brotherhood Chronicles by John Flanagan
Ages 10 and up.
ISBN-10: 0399256199  Hardcover $18.99
Publisher: Philomel (November 1, 2011), 432 pages.

The blurb:
Hal never knew his father.  A Skandian warrior, he died in battle when Hal was a young boy, but his reputation lives on long after death.

Hal, unlike his esteemed father, is an outcast.  In a country that values physical strength over intellect, Hal's ingenuity, and the fact that his mother was an Araluen slave, only serves to set him apart from boys his own age.

The one thing he has in common with his peers? Brotherband training.  Forced to compete in tests of endurance and strength and to learn the skills he needs to become a Skandian warrior, Hal discovers that he's not the only outcast in this land of seafaring marauders.  And that his battle for acceptance has just begun.

I'd loved John Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice series and had high hopes for the first book in his new series, The Outcasts.  This time, Flanagan tells the story of Skanians, a race and culture similar to the Vikings, through the point of view of Hal. Hal's father, Mikkel, was a renowned warrior who had traveled with Erak and was killed in battle while Hal was a very young child.  Mikkel's best friend Thorn promises to look after Mikkel's son and wife.  Hal grew up with his Araluen mother, always a bit of a stranger in his home.  Until he somehow saves the life of Stig, another outsider of sorts.

Stig and Hal become fast friends.  Stig is hotheaded, loyal, and  natural athlete.  Hal is innovative, meticulous, and a careful planner. Together, they make a strong team.  They make friends with other boys. By the time that the boys are of age for the Brotherband training, they're excited and eager to prove themselves.

For Skanians, Brotherband training is a rite of passage and a chance to make a name for themselves.  The year that Hal and Stig participate, there is an unusual number of boys.  Instead of two teams, Erak agrees to create three teams.  The last team is made up of the boys that we're selected by the other leaders - much like those last chosen during gym class but with much higher stakes.  Stig is Hal's loyal lieutenant and Hal agrees to lead the group.  It becomes clear through his carefully thought out decisions that Hal has both the mind and personality to lead by example.  Though their group, the Herons, face groups with greater strength and skill, the competition teaches the boys the power of teamwork and loyalty.

In The Outcasts, John Flanagan gives us another set of heroes to root for and adventures to enjoy.  I loved The Outcasts and am looking forward to the next in the series.  It's a book I'd recommend for young readers and something I think even reluctant reader of a nephew would enjoy.

Ages 10 and up.
ISBN-10: 0399256199  Hardcover $18.99
Publisher: Philomel (November 1, 2011), 432 pages.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library.

About the Author:
John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer, and after a successful career in advertising and television, he began writing a series of short stories for his son, Michael, to encourage him to read.  These stories would eventually become The Ruins of Gorlan, Book 1 of the Ranger's Apprentice, the international phenomenon that has sold millions of copies and mad readers of kids the world over.
Mr Flanagan lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife.  In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.  You can visit John Flanagan at and at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turning up the Heat Blog Tour: Cara Elliott's Too Wicked to Wed & Lilli Feisty's Deliciously Sinful

I use all sorts of excuses to stay in to read.  When it's scorching hot or freezing cold, I like to curl up with a book.   Forever Romance's Turning Up the Heat Blog Tour comes just as we're heading towards the holidays and cold weather. 

Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliot
ISBN-10: 0446584576 - Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (November 1, 2011), 384 pages.

The blub:
Outspoken and independent, Lady Alexa Henric is happiest in the quiet of the country, where she is free to run her family's estate as she chooses.  But shen her brother's recklessness forces her to London, a chance encounter with the ton's most wicked rake -- and his searing kiss - awaken a longing for adventure.

A man of many secrets, Connor Linsley, the Earl of Killingsworth uses his rakehall reputation to avoid innocent young ladies and their marriage minded mothers. Yet even his most shocking behavior can't dissuade Lady Alexa.  From the moment her lips press against  his, their fates are irrevocably sealed.  Together they enter a shadowy world of intrigue, deception, and desire. Consumed by passion beyodn their wildest imaginings, Connor and Alexa must risk all they hold dear for a chance at love.

Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight) introduces us Alexa Hendrics, a smart, business savvy heiress.  Alexa isn't looking for a husband, but she's drawn to the incorrigible Connor Lindsley (a.k.a. the Irish Wolfhound).  It's clear to everyone around them that this can only bring heartbreak and scandal.  Certainly, no one expects Lindsley to fall in love with the beautiful, naive heiress.

Alexa's  in love with dangerous rake.  But she doesn't resort to the usual feminine wiles.  Instead, she approaches him and his problems with a straightforward, carefully thought out approach.  And wins Connor's respect and love.  The couple faces problems both large and small.  Light, fun, and a romantic escape, Cara Elliott delivers once again!

Deliciously Sinful by Lilli Feisty
ISBN-10: 0446571555 - Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (November 22, 2011), 352 pages.

The blurb:
Restaurant owner Phoebe Mayle thought she had it all under control.  Sure, her new chef has a bad-boy reputation -- and a chiseled body to match -- but she's positive she can whip him into shape.

But from the moment Nick Avalon roars into town in his Hummer, he makes her whole world sizzle.  Not only has Nick taken over her kitchen, he's taken over her mind and her body.  His insatiable appetite for pleasure leaves her breathless with carnal cravings only he can satisfy.  Can their hunger for each other be a recipe for a love that lasts?

Deliciously Sinful is a fun contemporary romance.  We have Phoebe Mayle, a high strung entrepreneur who is trying to manage her family business.  She is surprised by how much her new chef rubs her the wrong way..  It turns out underneath all the antagonism is a deep attraction between the two. The uncertainty, the arguing, their slow capitulation makes for fun reading.  If you're looking for a light, fun, and hot romance, I recommend Deliciously Sinful.

Forever Romance and the Hatchette Book Group is generously sponsoring a giveaway of both books to 3 lucky winners.  To enter the giveaway, please share your favorite romantic couple in fiction and tell us why you like them so much.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.
3.  One winner per household.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on Dec. 15, 2011.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman (NOLO)

The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman, JD

The blurb:
What copyright law protects. . . . and doesn't.  No writers like to see their hard work or creativity copied by others -- or to be accused of copying. Fortunately, The Copyright Handbook provides everything you need to protect yourself!  Find information and forms to help you:
  • register your work
  • maximize copyright protection
  • transfer ownership of copyright
  • avoid infringement
  • deal with infringers
  • understand the "fair use" rule
  • get permission to use copyrighted work
  • profit from your copyright
The 11th edition is updated to provide the latest copyright regulations and rules for filing a copyright online.  There are over 30 easy-to-use legal forms on CD-ROM.

The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know by Stephen Fishman (11th Ed.) published by NOLO is particularly geared towards writers, as the title suggests. I found the book helpful both as an attorney who does not have much experience in the area of intellectual property law and as a writer who wants to know how to best protect ownership of the works that I create.

I have over half a dozen NOLO books and have found them to be reliable, informative and practical. I'd consider them my go-to books when I want to understand a specific area of law. The explanations are clear and geared towards the layman but without being simplistic. The NOLO guides serve as a way to prep before going to a professional. This Copyright Handbook gives you an overview and practical advice in a clear and comprehensive way.

Among the topics that the Copyright Handbook addresses are:
  • what intellectual property is subject to copyright protection, what different rights exist (reproduction right, distribution right, right to create adaptations, and performance and display rights), and who holds the specific rights
  • where to place the copyright notice and what text to use
  • how to register published books, magazine articles, newspapers, online media and unpublished material
  • how to treat works that are created in the course of employment (works made for hire), by people working together (jointly authored works), derivative works, collective works, and works created by one person
  • what works would be regarded as part of public domain, what cannot be subject to copyright protection, etc.
  • the ways to register, the advantages of preregistration of unpublished works, and the forms for registration at the Copyright Office
  • how to correct errors or change copyright notice and/or registration
  • how to transfer ownership of copyright
  • how to protect your rights against infringement, how to prevent a charge of infringement and the effect of a charge of infringement
  • an overview of federal income tax for self-employed writers but this chapter is not sufficient to prepare taxes yourself
  • when you need to obtain copyright permission and how best to approach a publisher
Among the forms included in the CD and the book are standard form of: (1) Work-Made-for-Hire Agreement, (2) Collaboration Agreement, (3) Copyright Assignment, (4) Notice of Claimed Infringement, (5) Counter-Notification, and (6) Text Permission Letter Agreement.

If you are a writer by profession or as a hobby, or if you work in publishing or want to learn more about publishing, I highly recommend The Copyright Handbook.

ISBN-10: 1413316174 - Paperback $49.99
Publisher: NOLO; 11 edition (September 7, 2011), 440 pages.
Review copy provided through the Amazon Vine Program and by the publisher.

About the Author:
Stephen Fishman is a San Fransisco-based attorney who has been writing about the law for over 25 years, with many popular titles including The Public Domain (Nolo).