Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Promo Blitz: Gifted Thief by Helen Harper





Title: Gifted Thief
Author: Helen Harper
Urban Fantasy
Date Published: 1/29/2016

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Orphan. Runaway. Thief. 

Since the moment I was ripped from my mother's womb, I've been an outcast amongst my own kind. The Sidhe might possess magical Gifts, unbelievable wealth and unfathomable power but I don't want a thing to do with them. I ran away from their lands in the Highlands of Scotland when I was eleven years old and I've never looked back. I don't need a Clan. I've got my own family of highly skilled thieves who mean more to me than any Sidhe ever could. 

Unfortunately for me, the playboy heir to the Moncrieffe Clan has something I desperately need. To get it back, I'm going to have to plunge myself back into that world, no matter what the consequences may be. I suppose it's just as well I have sense of humour. I think I'm going to need it. 

By bestselling author Helen Harper, Gifted Thief is the first book in the Highland Magic series.


Excerpt

From Chapter One


You have to do bad shit to get ahead. Taylor had told me that a million times and for a long time I’d bought into it. After tonight, however, things were going to be different. A new leaf and a new me. That was what I was planning.

I’d been thinking about it for a long time but since I’d received the letter in elegant, handwritten script demanding my appearance at the Sidhe court, I felt I had no choice but to step up my plans to vamoose out of the city. I didn’t want anything to do with those bastards. Not unless it meant ripping them off. Frankly, I’d rather head down to the Lowlands – and the Veil – than venture near the Clanlands.

At least Taylor had promised that my final hurrah was going to be a straightforward job. ‘In and out,’ he’d said. ‘The place will be empty.’

‘You know I’m leaving after this one,’ I reminded him. Not that it was likely it would have slipped his mind but with Taylor sometimes certain points bore repeating.

‘Of course, of course! As if I could forget.’ His eyes took on a knowing look that I chose to ignore. ‘You’ll miss it though. You won’t get many thrills from tramping around the countryside.’

‘It’s not tramping around the countryside. It’s mountain rescue. I think saving lives will be thrilling enough.’

He grimaced at that. ‘You’ll be bored.’

I simply smiled back. We’d had this conversation often enough in recent weeks. My mind was made up and even he couldn’t change it.

‘I’ll always be here,’ he said. ‘If you do want to come back, that is.’

I hugged him impulsively. ‘I might not come back to work but I’ll always come back. You’re my family.’ I meant every word. We’d had a few rough times over the years but who hadn’t? Taylor had been there for me when no-one else was, even if his motives weren’t always pure. I worried about him more than he’d ever know.

He looked abashed at my heartfelt words and ran an awkward hand through his hair. It was no longer the carroty mop he had when I first met him all those years ago. Now it was more silver, far closer in colour to my own locks, which still drew curious looks and the odd question about my ancestry, even amongst the Clan-less underbelly. For the most part I shrugged them off.

It was a very long time since I moved in Sidhe circles. I crossed the road to avoid passing close by any of my kin, no matter how distantly related they were. And one of the reasons I was leaving Aberdeen was because they’d contacted me.

It wasn’t that I was afraid of what they might do if they got hold of me, although that was a part of it. I just wanted a quiet life. My childhood with the Sidhe was little more than a distant memory; in fact sometimes I felt as if it had happened to someone else.

I ignored the gossip mags and whispered rumours about what each Clan was up to.  I lived in the underclass, far away from them. I didn’t care whether Aifric remained Steward and was therefore still in charge, or which man Tipsania Scrymgeour was currently stepping out with. I didn’t even care that her father, the Bull, appeared to be making more money than Bill Gates. The Sidhe could spend their days worrying about politics, jockeying for position and doing whatever they could to rise above other Clans. I only cared about me and mine. And none of mine were Sidhe. Or Clan.

I tested my kit, adjusting the harness at my back to ensure it was secure, and skirted round the back of the building. It might be the middle of the night during a bank holiday weekend but I still needed to be circumspect. It would be sod’s law if I got nabbed on the very last day I spent as a career criminal. Tapping my forehead three times with my index finger to signal to my waiting crew, I gave one last look around then sprang up.

My fingertips curled easily around the first ledge. Despite the typical Scottish chill, I was barefoot. It made it far easier to gain purchase on the smooth glass surface of the towering bank. I also admit that I rather enjoyed it when I glanced down and caught a flash of the sparkly nail varnish adorning my toenails. It felt appropriate for this job; we were, after all, going after some more sparkles ‒ albeit of the more expensive kind.

Clambering up with fluid, nimble ease, I made fast work of my ascent. Beads of sweat were only just appearing on my brow when I reached the assigned floor. Piece of cake. I tightened my grip with my left hand, using my right to reach behind and unclip the glass breaker that was hooked to my belt.

It was a nifty piece of kit, designed to help trapped motorists break out of their cars. While I’d never heard of anyone actually using one to save their own life, I found mine particularly useful. It was a gift from Taylor when I graduated from simple manipulation tactics and dull look-out posts to full-blown thief. The others might scoff at its hot pink colour but I’d had it for seven lucky years and it had never let me down. I might wear black to stay camouflaged against the night sky but that didn’t mean that everything I carried had to be boring monochrome too.

Leaning back as far as I could, I swung it into the centre of the pane of tinted glass, shattering it instantly. Thanks both to the glass breaker’s and the window’s design, all the shards of glass fell inwards just as I wanted.

Flashing a satisfied smile to my inner thief, I heaved myself inside with a leap, landing far enough in to avoid catching my skin on any of the dangerous broken pieces. I pivoted round and grinned, curtseying at the now-gaping hole. Then I checked my watch. Less than ninety seconds from pavement to entry. That was impressive, even for me.

Without wasting another minute, I unclipped my harness and tested the nearby wall. The plaster seemed sound enough so I pulled out my tiny drill, made a hole in the wall and carefully inserted the climbing wire. I gave it an experimental tug; it would hold. Less than thirty seconds later, I was lowering the rope out of the window and whistling down softly.





About the Author: Helen Harper


After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time although she still fits in creative writing workshops with schools along with volunteering to teach reading to a group of young Myanmar refugees. That's not to mention the procession of stray cats which seem to find their way to her door!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

Helen currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with far too many cats - not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.

You can find out more - and learn how to get a FREE copy of Corrigan Fire - by visiting Helen's website: helenharper.co.uk



Contact Links



Twitter: @HarperFire



Purchase Links




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Monday, February 8, 2016

Cover Reveal: My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer Digiovanni





My Senior Year of Awesome
Jennifer DiGiovanni

Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: March 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
A girl desperately tries to avoid the boy she was voted most likely to marry by her senior classmates. To prove senior superlative votes are meaningless, she and her best friend create their own list of awesome high school achievements to be completed by graduation.



Author Bio:
Jennifer is a freelance writer and YA author. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, working on home design projects, or trying to meet the daily goals on her Fitbit. My Senior Year of Awesome is her first novel.



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Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Goat Mountain by David Vann

Title: Goat Mountain
Author: David Vann
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 2013

In the fall of 1978, on a 640-acre family ranch on Goat Mountain in Northern California, an eleven-year-old boy joins his grandfather, his father, and his father’s best friend on the family’s annual deer hunt.

Every fall they return to this dry, yellowed landscape dotted with oak, buck brush, and the occasional stand of pine trees. Goat Mountain is what this family owns and where they belong. It is where their history is kept, memories and stories that will be shared again by these men. And for the first time, the boy’s story will be added if he can find a buck. Itching to shoot, he is ready.

When the men arrive at the gate to their land, the father discovers a poacher and sights him through the scope of his gun. He offers his son a look-a simple act that will explode in tragedy, transforming these men and this family, forcing them to question themselves and everything they thought they knew.

In prose devastating and beautiful in its precision, David Vann creates a haunting and provocative novel that explores our most primal urges and beliefs, the bonds of blood and religion that define and secure us, and the consequences of our actions-what we owe for what we’ve done.
 


My thoughts:  This book is very different from the books I usually read and such am sure that I will not do it justice with my review.  While beautifully written, the themes and essence of this book are dark and tragic.  It explores the darker side of human nature through an 11-year-old boy, his father, grandfather and Tom, a family friend. 

"My left shoulder slammed against the ground over and over, and I was being shaken loose, gripping with that arm, and I would have let go if not for my grandfather watching.  I had lost the desire to kill.  I would have reversed time and not fired my rifle, let the buck leap into the brush and escape.  I felt remorese, though I had no word for that at the time or even any possibility of understanding the concept.  We were put here to kill.  That was immutable.  It was family law and the law of the world.  And I reached for my knife because my grandfather was there to enforce.  But who I was had changed.  From that moment on, every kill would be bitter to me.  Every kill would be something forced, something I did not want. And that's what would make me human. To kill out of obligation, to kill even when I did not want to."  (p150)
The book is narrated by the 11-year-old boy and is told 30 years after the incident has happened.  The relationship between the boy, his father and grandfather is complicated. While they thought they knew each other, the events that transpired on that fateful hunting trip proved otherwise. How well do we really know each other when all pretense is wiped away and we are stripped bare of everything that has come before? When our actions have changed the course of more than just our life, how will those we love react?  Will it bond them or break them?  With strong Christian undertones, these questions and more are explored in Goat Mountain.

While this is not a light read, and I can't say an enjoyable read because of the subject matter, it is one that I couldn't put down and will definitely stay with me. 



~I originally received this book through Edelweiss for review, but was unable to read it at that time, so I obtained it from the library for my current review.~






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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Brotherhood in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Penguin/Berkley Jove
Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016


Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy. . . .

Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head.

Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze.

As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming.


My thoughts: I can't remember when I read my first "In Death" book, but it was probably in the late 1990's. A coworker and I would share them as they were published.  I lost track of the series in 2004 when my son was born and I became a stay-at-home mom.  It has always been on my backburner that I wanted to get back into reading them. I wanted to know what happened with Dallas and Roarke!  They were 2 characters that definitely stayed with me over the years.  I wanted to believe that there was really a Dallas and Roarke out there somewhere in the universe.  J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) has written at least 2 book in this series a year since 1995, with Brotherhood being book 42.  You don't need to read these books in order, but if you only read one, you will be left wanting to know more.  

You get thrown into the case very quickly when the husband of one of Eve's coworkers and friends is attacked.  Having a personal connection to the case make's it Eve's priority and when the bodies start piling up, it begins to bring up bad memories from Eve's childhood.  By the end of the book, it isn't clear what should be right or wrong or who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.  The action moves rapidly covering only a few days in the 388 pages.  I like that as it makes the reading go very quickly as well.  

If you haven't read any of the In Death series, it is time to start.  I highly recommend this book as well as this series. 

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my unbiased review.~



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cover Reveal: Address to Die For by Mary Feliz




Inside the Book:


Title: Address to Die For 
Author: Mary Feliz 
Publisher: Lyrical Underground 
Genre: Mystery 
Format: Ecopy

For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list . . .

Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn’t confined to her clients’ closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house her husband, Max, has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she’s shocked to discover the house’s dilapidated condition. When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it’s the detectives who end up moving in. What a mess! While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large—exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can’t help but clean up . . .




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Meet the Author




Silicon Valley is my home. I love its foibles and the easy access to some of the most beautiful coastal and mountain terrain anywhere. The traffic? Not so much.

It hasn't always been home—I've lived in five states and two countries. Traveling to other areas, I'm frequently reminded that what seems normal in the high-tech heartland can seem freakish, odd, or even alarming to the rest of the country.

I'm a big fan of irony, serendipity, diversity, and quirky intelligence tempered with gentle humor, and I strive to bring these elements into my writing. My characters, however, tend to take my manuscripts in directions I've never imagined. It can be a wild ride, but I love it when Maggie and her friends take charge.

While there are always traits that writers share with their characters, I assure you that Maggie is thinner, fitter, braver, funnier, and wittier than I am. Maggie is also more organized, efficient, poised, and better at thinking on her feet. We both love animals, a strong cup of coffee, cookies, and a cold glass of California chardonnay.

I'm a firm believer in professional organizations and am a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild (which sounds like it should confer robes, wands, and the ability to do magic). I particularly adore the Writers' Police Academy, where I've met lifelong friends who share my excitement about learning the best ways to murder someone and get away with it.

When Maggie told me she was a professional organizer, I joined the National Association of Professional Organizers and was delighted to meet organizers who generously shared their experiences stumbling on damning evidence amongst ordinary household clutter.

I'm a Smith College graduate with a degree in Sociology and a broad smattering of other subjects. I guess that makes me well suited to examine and catalogue Silicon Valley's unique anthropological customs. I live with and have raised excellent examples of the indigenous nerd.

Before my career as a mom, volunteer, and writer, I worked in Corporate Communications, which taught me to write compelling copy about vacuum tubes and other items of limited interest to the general public. Outside the world of the Fortune 500 and nonprofits my writing credits include first-place recognition from SouthWest Writers for a young adult short story and finalist status in contests run by Writer’s Digest, Pacific Northwest Writers, and Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. My personal essays have been published in anthologies published by Mothers At Home and Mothers of Preschoolers.




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Monday, February 1, 2016

January Wrap Up

Ok, so January is over, and while I have joined a bunch of challenges, I have not posted one book review.  Shame on me!  The following books were read in January and hopefully you will see reviews soon:

The Drowned Cities (Ship Breakers Book 2) by Paolo Bacigalupi
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Book 2) by Ransom Riggs
Matched (Matched, Book 1) by Ally Condie - audio
Crossed (Matched, Book 2) by Ally Condie - audio
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


Following books are currently being read/listened to:
Goat Mountain by David Vann
Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
Reached (Matched, Book 3) by Ally Condie - audio
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Not sure how I ended up reading so many at one time.  I am about halfway through all of them, so they will all probably wrap up at about the same time.

And - Since this is Books and Needlepoint - I have the first finished Needlepoint of the year!  This is Ho! Ho! Ho! by DeeBee's Designs.


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