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Nov. 11th, 2009 | 12:25 pm

I just finished reading War of the Rats by David L. Robbins, bestselling author and Advanced Fiction professor extraordinaire. As I told him, I kept picking it up with the intention of reading critically to see whether he'd done any of the things he told our class not to do, but I failed, as I was always drawn into the story right away. So if anyone "sits down" or "looks up at the stars" ("You don't need to say 'looks up at the stars!' That's where we keep them!"), I know nothing about it.

I loved the book - which is really something, considering that I am a person of notoriously squishy sensibilities whose last encounter with what you might call a war novel was a required reading of The Killer Angels in tenth grade. This was the poignant, moving, and exceedingly high-stakes story of snipers in WWII Stalingrad, centered on a duel between the single best sniper in the Russian army and the Nazi supersniper flown in from Berlin to hunt him. All but one of the four POV characters are meticulously-researched real people, and the action takes place in the jagged, haunting landscape of the bombed-out factory city. A great book, and one I thoroughly recommend.

Aaand, yesterday was the release date of DLR's new book, Broken Jewel. Be excited!

I plan to follow a fun piece of advice I once saw for friends of authors. I will walk into my little local branch of Barnes & Noble - the only bookstore in our area - and ask where the book is. If they do not have it, I will make Eyes of Surprise and say, "Really? David L. Robbins is a bestselling Virginia author!" (Do not say this if this is not true of your author friend. Just focus on the what is true and sounds good.) Then I will order the book. If nothing else, it may put his name on their radar a little bit. And if they do have it already, then yay! New book for me!

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