Review: Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston

 

Title:  Black Helicopters

Author:  Blythe Woolston

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

A teenage girl. A survivalist childhood. And now a bomb strapped to her chest. See the world through her eyes in this harrowing and deeply affecting literary thriller.
I’m Valkyrie White. I’m fifteen. Your government killed my family.
Ever since Mabby died while picking beans in their garden — with the pock-a-pock of a helicopter overhead — four-year-old Valley knows what her job is: hide in the underground den with her brother, Bo, while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, a teenage Valley (now Valkyrie) and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world — a not-so-smart place where little boys wear their names on their backpacks and young men don’t pat down strangers before offering a lift. Blythe Woolston infuses her white-knuckle narrative, set in a day-after-tomorrow Montana, with a dark, trenchant humor and a keen psychological eye. Alternating past-present vignettes in prose as tightly wound as the springs of a clock and as masterfully plotted as a game of chess, she ratchets up the pacing right to the final, explosive end.


Review:

Wow – this is a powerful read, despite the short length, but I don’t know how I feel about it.  I don’t know if this is a book that you can like.  It’s certainly compelling, and I could not put it down, but ultimately, there are so many questions that were never answered to my satisfaction.  I guess I hated that Valley was nothing more than a pawn, and even when she had the chance to leave her past behind her, she choose to hold steadfast to her father’s survivalist training and strike out at Those People.  Whoever the heck Those People were!   Argh!

Black Helicopters is told through Valley’s present day adventures and flashbacks to her childhood.  Her mother was killed by black helicopters when she was in the garden picking beans, leaving her father to raise her and her brother, Bo.  They live somewhere and somewhen in Montana.  Valley and Bo are expected to keep themselves hidden from Those People while their father is away from the family’s rustic cabin, so they aren’t shot and killed like coyotes.  They are trained in survival skills; drop Valley on the side of mountain with a knife, and she’ll get by without much else.  They have caches of supplies hidden in case the government comes for them, and they have been taught how to hide and how to fight.

In the present day narrative, Valley is a suicide bomber. She is angry and tired of not being able to strike back at the people who have taken so much from her.  She decides to make the ultimate statement and make the ultimate sacrifice to wake people up.  The government, with their secrets and their black helicopters, are out to get everyone!  Surrounded by like minded individuals, Valley and her brother have been training for something big like this for their whole lives.  After seeking refuge with Wolf and his family, Valley is dismayed at the changes in Bo.  He isn’t acting like her brother anymore, and she makes up her mind then, as he changes before her eyes, that she’s going to make people sit up and take notice.  What I found depressing was that I don’t think Valley ever really knew Bo; he was allowed freedoms denied to her, as he worked with their father, going into the outside world while Valley was left at home in the den, keeping herself hidden and secret.  Bo was able to see and do so many things, and the world outside of the den wasn’t such a mystery to him. 

Parts of this book just bothered me.  Valley is powerless virtually the entire book.  Her own father only values her for the help she gives him during his acts of domestic terrorism.  She and Bo have been thoroughly brainwashed, and she would never ever even dream of going against his orders.  Her entire purpose is to be a good little soldier and follow her mission to the end.  When  Valley is molested by the man who is supposed to offer them a safe haven, she doesn’t tell Bo.  She is forced to keep this terrible secret and endure this awful man’s abuse because she’s afraid he’ll kill her brother.  Valley doesn’t have much power over her own life until she and Bo escape to Wolf’s; there, she makes the decision to don a vest and make the loudest, most violent statement possible.

Another problem that I had is that it is so hard to like or be sympathetic for Valley and her family.  They see threats everywhere, and they must be constantly on guard.  They believe that the deadly black helicopters are just a horizon away, that they will eventually come for them and kill them dead.  Deadly conspiracies abound, and every one will end with their deaths.  With her constant vigilance, it’s hard to get to know her, and that ever present wariness kept an emotional distance from Valley and the reader.

All of that out of the way, this is an impossible book to put down.  I wanted to know what happened next, and I gobbled this book up.  I’m just not sure how much I actually liked it.  I certainly hated the ending, because it seemed so pointless to me.  I guess I don’t agree that any cause is worth dying for, and I was angry that Valley thought that hers was.  I just saw her as gullible and brainwashed, which made her come across as pathetic.  She wasn’t heroic or brave; she was a puppet, and that made this book even more depressing.  The adults who should have been teaching, mentoring, and inspiring her all failed her.  They were so caught up by their own agenda, by their own need to cause civil chaos, that they didn’t leave any other path for Valley.  My own mind set and world view is too firmly established to accept that any cause is worth the life of a teenager.  So, I recommend this book, with the many reservations listed above.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Spotlight and Giveaway! Under the Covers by Rebecca Zanetti!

 

Thanks to Entangled Publishing, I have a digital copy of Rebecca Zanetti’s steamy new release, Under The Covers, to give to one of you!  Open Internationally!  Just fill out the widget for your chance to win!

About the book:

Opposites don’t attract. They ignite.

The small Montana town near the Kooskia reserve seemed like the perfect place for Juliet Montgomery to hide from her not-so-law-abiding family. But when her peace is shattered by a break-in and threatening phone calls, it’s clear someone back in New York knows where she is. It’s time to plan her getaway, and fast—but first, she needs to tie up a few loose ends and find out exactly what the town’s sexy cowboy sheriff is hiding.

Sheriff Quinn Lodge has enough demons of his own to know when someone’s hiding something, and he’s determined to uncover what’s beneath Juliet’s uptight, city-girl exterior—preferably one piece of clothing at a time. But when their chemistry goes from fizzy to full-on explosive, things start getting complicated.

How can Juliet stay beneath the covers with Quinn, when doing so means blowing her cover?

About Rebecca:

Rebecca Zanetti wrote her first story when she was six – a romance between a princess and neighboring prince.  The princess fell out of her castle and the prince rescued her. A happily ever after was had by all.

This theme of romance has been carried through Rebecca’s works until present time.  While today’s heroine may have a medical degree, black belt in Karate and her own 401K, she’s still after that happy ending.  And today’s prince may have fangs and wear a black hat, but hey, a modern princess likes a guy who bites.

Rebecca attended Pepperdine University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a Political Science emphasis.  While there she worked as the Editor-in-Chief of The Graphic newspaper, a member of the Pi Phi Sorority and an intern for President Reagan, who still gave 3-5 speeches a week, even though he was no longer president.

After college, Rebecca worked as an art curator and a Senate aide before heading to law school, where she received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho.  She married Tony Zanetti in the middle of her second year of law school and became pregnant with their first child during the third year.  She graduated law school, gave birth three weeks later, and took the Bar Exam three weeks after that.  All she remembers about the bar exam is that it was so quiet in the testing room, she thought about taking a quick nap.  But she continued on, passed the bar and became a lawyer.   She worked for a large firm, then a small firm, then the county while also teaching legal classes at her local community college.  Now she writes about vampires.

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories.  She resides there with her husband, children and extended family who inspire her every day.  Rebecca has completed several manuscripts, winning award throughout the writing industry for her work.  She is currently working on the Dark Protector’s Series published by Kensington Brava.

Connect with Rebecca Online

Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Title: Under the Covers (Maverick Montana, #2)
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 279 pages
Release Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-62266-781-9
Imprint: Brazen

Purchase links:

Amazon

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-the-covers-rebecca-zanetti/1114954605

Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Under-the-Covers/book-MciczsgC4ky9LO-Y0QQLHA/page1.html

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Character Interview with Rafe Hartley from Jayne Fresina’s Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal and Giveaway!

Please welcome dashing Rafe Hartley to the virtual offices today!  Rafe is the intrepid hero of Jayne Fresina’s Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal, and he dropped in for a chat. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rafe Hartley] Always left at the altar!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Rafe Hartley?

[Rafe Hartley] I work hard from first light to dusk, managing my small farm in Sydney Dovedale. But I don’t mind the long hours; it’s all worthwhile. In the evenings I sit by my fire and read – yes, I can read, thank you very much, despite what some folk think! – the daily newspaper to keep up with current affairs (in case I have the chance to impress Lady Frosty Bottom) and catch up with any boxing news. I also read the weekly Norwich and Morecroft Farmer’s Gazette. Occasionally, I am invited to Morecroft to dine with my father and step-mother. Since that means having to dress up like a dandy and put up with my great-grandmother’s snide comments, I don’t often accept, but I do like to visit my half sisters when I can and tease them unmercifully. If the mood takes me, I might enjoy a jug of cider and a game of cards at Merryweather’s Tavern of an evening.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Mercy?

[Rafe Hartley] Bossy, Stubborn, Buttercup!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?

[Rafe Hartley] She always thinks she’s in the right, even though I am.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Rafe Hartley] Let her get away from me once before. I was a young fool and should have stood up to her brother when he had our marriage annulled.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rafe Hartley] My wits! Nobody gets one over on me. Not even Lady Bossy Drawers Danforthe.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t being jilted at the alter?

[Rafe Hartley] I’m a bit of a daydreamer. I know you wouldn’t think it to look at me, would you? I daresay you look at me and think – handsome charmer, all brawn and balls – but no, I have brains too and quite an imagination. I’m not merely pretty to look at, as I keep telling Mercy Danforthe. I’m not here just to be her plaything! Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about that woman and what I’d like to….

Well, sometimes I make serious plans for the future. A man has to have plans. Of course, I haven’t always been this way. I used to be quite a reckless boy, aimless, enjoying life with no real path. I’ve grown up though. At least, I’m trying. A few folks might be surprised by that, but I mean to make something of my life and now I know what I want for myself. So look out!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Rafe Hartley] To kiss Mercy every day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Rafe Hartley] Thank you, my lady! It’s been a pleasure.

Giveaway Time!!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne (the book directly preceding Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal in the Sydney Dovedale Series).  Just fill out the widget below. earn extra entries for following.  US and Canadian addresses only, please.

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You can purchase LADY MERCY DANFORTHE FLIRTS WITH SCANDAL, or any of the books in the Sydney Dovedale series, from the links below:

Barnes and Noble

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

Chapters/Indigo

Discover a New Love

Sourcebooks

LADY MERCY DANFORTHE FLIRTS WITH SCANDAL BY JAYNE FRESINA – IN STORES JUNE 2013

When a Perfectly Proper Lady…

Lady Mercy Danforthe always has a plan. It’s what makes her such a successful matchmaker, and why she’s obligated to spend a great deal of time generously organizing the lives of her friends and family. But there’s one man beyond her help. One man whose recklessness she can’t rein in; whose chaos she can’t contain. Her ex-husband, Rafe Hartley. Her one—and only!—mistake.

Flirts with a Reckless Rogue…

Rafe has never forgiven Mercy for running out on him. Their hastily annulled marriage may have one lasted three hours, but that doesn’t mean he needs her help finding a proper wife. Someone needs to teach little Miss Know-It-All a lesson about keeping her adorably freckled nose out of other people’s business. And it just so happens that Mercy "Silky Drawers" Danforthe still owes him a wedding night…

A Scandal’s Never Far Behind!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Look for the fourth book in the Sydney Dovedale Series, Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction in March 2014. For more information, please visit www.jaynefresina.com.