This blog is the place where I post reviews of the books I have read. I review audiobooks, regular books and eBooks for authors and publishers as well as any other book or audiobook that catches my eye.
It’s another peaceful day in the village for the Mood Bears – until Happy Bear spots a yellow cloud on the horizon and knows someone needs her help.
The cloud takes Happy Bear to Amie, who feels lonely and sad after moving to a new flat far away from her friends. She has no one to celebrate her birthday with her, either.
So, Happy Bear throws a party for Amie’s big day and invites some very special guests to remind her that she is never alone.
If you look at my first name and the way it is spelled, you will realize why I chose this children’s book to #ReadAndReview It is exceptionally rare to find a book (or anything else) with my name (Amie) spelled correctly.
Upon first reading of the book, I was introduced to the Mood Bears. They seem to be a UK updated version of the Care Bears that were popular here in Canada for many years and in fact seem to still be going strong. The major difference seems to be that the Mood Bears books and stuffed animals are sold as a way to make money for children’s charity whereas the Care Bears are strictly for making profit.
Amie’s Party is not just an entertaining story, although it very much is entertaining. The story talks about some very serious issues that children often need to face. One of those issues is the fact that Amie’s parents have split up and because of that, Amie and her mother move from their house into an apartment which is a very big change to Amie’s life. Children who, like Amie, experience the divorce of their parents, and/or a housing change, often suffer in silence. This book validates their experience and helps them to feel less alone.
“According to ONS figures from 2018, 1 in 10 children “often” feel lonely in the UK.”
Because of their move, Amie has moved away from all her friends and because of their financial changes Amie understands that there just isn’t any money for a fancy birthday party. She doesn’t know anyone in her new neighborhood, so who would she invite anyway?
This is when the Mood Bears come in and ensure that Amie has a great birthday party. They even invite a few of the children around her age who live in her apartment building, thus introducing Amie to a bunch of potential new friends.
This book is beautifully illustrated and written with sensitivity towards children’s mental health. This is a subject that most children’s books avoid.
In addition, the Mood Bears have a website where stuffed Mood Bears are available to buy.
Alma Katsu, the visionary author of The Fervor, The Hunger, and The Deep, brings readers a terrifying short story about monsters among men—and the thin lines that divide them.
Germany, 1945. In the waning days of World War II, the Nazis have been all but defeated. Uwe Fuchs, never a fighter, feels fortunate to have avoided the front lines as he cared for his widowed mother.
But Uwe’s fortune changes when Hans Sauer, the village bully, recruits him to join a guerilla resistance unit preparing for the arrival of Allied soldiers. At first, Uwe is wary. The war is lost, and rumor has it that Hans is a deserter. But Hans entices him with talk of power, brutality, and their village’s ancestral lore: werewolves.
With some reluctance, Uwe joins up with the pack and soon witnesses their startling transformation. But when the men’s violent rampage against enemy soldiers takes a devastatingly personal turn, Uwe must grapple not only with his role in their evil acts but with his own humanity. Can he reclaim what this group of predatory men has stolen from him?
Or has he been a monster all along?
“The Wehrwolf” by Alma Katsu is a definite Must Read for Fall 2022.
Do not let the title dissuade you from reading this novella. I guarantee it is unlike any werewolf tale you have previously read.
Alma Katsu chose to set the story in Germany just as WWII was coming to an end.Choosing this moment in world history as the setting of her tale was nothing less than inspired.
I have rarely encountered books that focus on the lives of ordinary German citizens at that moment in time, most of whom had no say in what the country’s government had chosen to do and wanted no part in the hate and the genocides.
The main character is Uwe Fuchs – a simple man, a good man. A man who loves his family above all else. The question is not what he will do to keep his family safe, but what won’t he do? I think we can all relate to that.
The Wehrwolf held me rapt. Once begun, this tale is impossible to put down.
The characters are so real that you will find yourself wondering if somehow the author went back in time to observe them firsthand.
Alma Katsu’s previous career working for the CIA and the NSA has given her a perspective that us mortals could never comprehend. She knows evil and she knows people – their motivations, their fears, their very souls. She probably knows people better than they know themselves. It is this intense knowledge that kept me riveted by her story.
The Wehrwolf is very much worthy of 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
*** Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free advance copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alma Katsu (born 1959) is an American writer of adult fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, and has been published in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Spain and Italy
Katsu was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, the daughter of an American-born father and a Japanese-born mother. She spent the majority of her youth living near Concord, Massachusetts, to which she attributes her interest in the early American history featured in her novels. She attended Brandeis University (BA in literature and writing, 1981) where she studied with novelist John Irving and children’s book author Margaret Rey, and the Johns Hopkins University (MA in Fiction, 2004).
“Alma Katsu spent more than three decades witnessing horror. It was part of her job: Katsu spent 25 years at the National Security Agency and eight years at the CIA. She still works as a consultant for the government, “but that’s all I can say,” she tells me with a little chuckle, taking a sip of Orangina. I want her to follow that up with “or I’ll have to kill you,” but that’s too Hollywood. Plus, I don’t want to offend a woman who spent decades clandestinely planning missions to protect our country — which left her with bouts of PTSD and a neurological disorder. We’re at a French bistro in suburban D.C. far from where she was born, in Alaska, but close to where she spent her career after growing up “on the wrong side of the tracks” in Massachusetts, near Lexington and Concord.”
“Katsu, 59, knows evil. In the 1990s, she ran “complex contingency operations” to stomp out mass atrocities around the globe. She’s used that knowledge to launch her second career as a popular horror writer.”
“I don’t think the book is super frightening,” says Katsu of her latest, The Hunger, which was named one of the best horror novels of 2018 by NPR, The New York Times and others, and earned front-cover kudos from Stephen King, the American icon of horror and suspense.”
“The Horror Writers Association defines horror not as a genre but as a feeling of dread and terror. And The Hunger, historical fiction based on the 1846 expedition known as the Donner Party, is just that. Katsu twists an overlay of the supernatural into the true-story tale of cannibalism. She says her book asks: “Under what circumstances could you be turned into a monster?”
“It’s not the monsters that are scary in this book; it’s the evil in man,” says her editor, Sally Kim of Putnam. “When I first signed up the book … I loved the idea of it and her writing,” says Kim, who is also Katsu’s editor on The Deep, historical horror fiction based on the Titanic out in March 2020.”
To learn more about this author visit the following links:
* Signed Limited Hardcover Edition: * Limited to only 500 signed and hand-numbered copies * Personally signed by Alma Katsu on a specially designed full-colour illustrated signature page * Larger 6.14” x 9.21” trim size * Printed on a heavier 100gsm acid-free paper *Bound in premium cloth with coloured head and tail bands * Hot foil stamping on the front boards and spine * Offset printed and bound with full-colour endpapers * Sewn binding for increased durability * Stunning dust jacket artwork and interior illustrations by Francois Vaillancourt