23 April, 2014

Cover Reveal - When Camels Fly by NLB Horton

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in a cover reveal for When Camels Fly by NLB Horton!
I'm also taking part in the tour for this book, so keep an eye out for tour dates.

In the mean time, here's the cover and a some information about When Camels Fly.

Publisher: NLB Horton, via Amazon’s White Glove (May 15, 2014)
Agent:  Mary Keeley at Books & Such Literary Management 
Category: Contemporary suspense, thread of Romance 
Tour Date: May/June, 2014 
Available in: Print & ebook, 370 Pages  

A mother’s fatal shot. A daughter’s deadly choice. In Israel, archaeologist Grace Madison shoots her daughter’s abductor. Seconds later, a handsome shepherd drops from the sky to kill a second assassin. Their world changes in two blinks of an eye. Unbeknownst to them, a fiercely ambitious evil is destroying everything in its path—the unconventional path Grace and Maggie take. They struggle to right a wrong as old as time, and discover time is running out in the race for their lives. Family and friends are swept into their vortex, extinguishing old flames while igniting new loves. While the scale tips dangerously toward disaster, millions of lives hang in the balance. And the mother-and-daughter team soon realizes nothing is as it seems. Even each other. Because choosing what’s right is all that’s left.

 Advance Praise for When Camels Fly: "When Camels Fly brings an interesting twist to the typical suspense novels that I read. Usually, some man is the main character, who swoops in to rescue the girl, solve the mystery, and set all things right. Not so with this novel. The main character is a delightful woman named Grace, who is a brilliant archaeologist, but definitely no Indiana Jones. More comfortable digging and researching than getting involved in international “incidents,” Grace is lured (or dragged, she’d admit) into intrigue and danger when she discovers her daughter, Maggie, has been kidnapped. Like a mama grizzly, Grace heads out to find and rescue her daughter, get the bad guys, and make her daughter comply with her demands (essentially, go home and stay out of trouble). But Maggie has uncovered a disastrous plot that could affect the entire Middle East. And only Maggie (and now Grace) can do something to stop the mayhem and evil. When Camels Fly, of course, has intrigue and suspense, action-packed scenes, some fun humor, and vivid descriptions of Israel and the Middle East that will make you think you’re there in the middle of the action. But its strength really lies in its characters, in particular the mother-daughter relationship with its friendship and tension, which will have you rooting for the dynamic duo. These women are intelligent and strong. No swooning here, readers. And for those readers who still love a bit of romance, this novel provides twists and hints at love blooming. There's married love (the reader watches a “real” marriage between Grace and her husband and how they process the struggles of staying in love after decades), love lost but possibly found (Grace’s son and “the one” he let get away, to his great distress, or did he?), and love begun (Maggie meets a potential “one” or two suitors). The first in a series, you won’t want to miss When Camels Fly. It’s a fun read—maybe even something you could read with your mom!"Ginger Kolbaba, author of Desperate Pastors Wives and A Matter of Wife and Death  

"NLB Horton’s debut novel, When Camels Fly, incorporates features I have never before encountered in one novel: suspense, science, family, religion, and Middle Eastern intrigue. Middle-aged archaeologist Grace Madison, Ph.D., binds these elements as heroine, and my inner feminist cheered her, and the cast of characters, from the first page through the last. The Madison women — Grace and daughter Maggie, a hydrologist — are very human and very smart. Their relationship is complex, but loving and insightful, and laced with humor. They wrestle with moral questions in intelligent and intuitive ways, and are unafraid to do the right thing to protect family and produce the greater good. Mark and Jeff Madison, Grace’s husband and son, respectively, provide backup while working through a complicated relationship of their own, and attempt to rescue women who are completely capable of rescuing themselves. The characterizations of this mature family are worth the price of the book. One charming surprise — and there are many in this novel — is Grace’s octogenarian seminary professors, former spies for Mossad who converge in Israel and Jordan to assist the family they hold dear. Their espionage skills, masked by the perceived harmlessness of the elderly, allow them to move about undetected, and assist the Madison family in creative and unexpected ways. Another unique aspect of When Camels Fly is the incorporation of science and history as backdrops for the storyline. Horton’s enjoyable and interesting depiction of hydrology and geology are well researched, and give legitimacy not only to herself, but also to her characters. The technical knowledge isn’t overwhelming, but provides a solid foundation that increases the story’s tension. From drugged kidnappings and shootings at the Western Wall to a minor-key version of The Commodores’ Brick House in Jericho, When Camels Fly empowers women and family in an entertaining adventure. Unstoppable women, well-placed humor, and critical contemporary issues make this book my top read so far in 2014, and I’m watching for news of Horton’s second manuscript, scheduled to release later this year."- Leigh Bennett, Reader

 "I picked up When Camels Fly, and I couldn't put it down because the dramatic opening hooked me. Right off the bat, the relationship between Grace Madison and her grown daughter, Maggie, was committed, funny, and endearing — ideal, actually. They’re smart, adventurous women stranded in Israel, running for their lives, initially unaware that Grace’s husband Mark and son Jeff are in hot pursuit. Author NLB Horton’s vigorous dialogue moved the story along, and portrayed each character as uniquely intriguing. Her descriptions of Israel and Jordan were an enjoyable way to learn more about that part of the world, and it’s obvious she’s “been there, done that.” I felt as if I were in the markets and atop the camels, participating in the story. One of the most interesting aspects of When Camels Fly is that it’s contemporary suspense from a woman’s viewpoint, set in a part of the world normally filtered through a male lens. And it presents the region in a realistic, approachable way. I particularly appreciated Horton’s strong portrayal of the squadron of elderly intelligence agents. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a novel in which senior citizens (and I am one) were crafted with such lively respect. The Madison family is a refreshing, healthy model in the world of contemporary literature, where dysfunctional or overly simplistic family portrayals reign. When I discovered the end of the novel alluded to the story continuing in the next book in the series, I was delighted. I look forward to continuing the adventure begun in When Camels Fly."- Lillian Bohannon, Reader  

About NLB Horton: After an award-winning detour through journalism and marketing and a graduate degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, NLBHorton returned to writing fiction. She has surveyed Israeli archaeological digs accompanied by artillery rounds from Syria and machine gun fire from Lebanon. Explored Machu Picchu after training with an Incan shaman. And consumed afternoon tea across five continents. When Camels Fly is her first novel. Her second, The Brothers’ Keepers, will be available November 2014. Website: http://www.nlbhorton.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NLB-Horton/289059931145461 Twitter: https://twitter.com/NLBHorton Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nlbhorton/

21 April, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week





So I missed last week as we were travelling back from Rockhampton where my son was competing in the Queensland State Titles for trampolining.  Here's a short video of his routine. They need to do 10 skills and you can hear me counting as he goes. I missed two somewhere!

video


He did pretty well, walking away with a second place in double mini trampoline and first in trampoline. Which means he is the Queensland State under 13's trampoline champion.



Yeah, I'm a little bit proud! He now gets to go to National Champs in Melbourne at the end of May.

What Am I Reading Now

 


Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen. Still reading this. Gym time has been limited, although I have managed to watch the BBC version.






King's Ransom - Sharon Kay Penman. You need to be patient if you are a Sharon Kay Penman fan. Her last book, Lionheart came out in 2011. However your patience is rewarded with meticulous research and a great story. Really enjoying this which is the 5th book in her series on the Plantagenets


Fairytales for Wilde Girls - Allyse Near. So every year I aim to read all the books on the short list for the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Awards. They have 5 categories and I will read the Older Readers and the Younger Readers short lists. I'll get to the other 3 if I can.
The Slippery Slope - Lemony Snicket I have this audio ready to go for school going back this week. Wonder if we can knock the series off this year?

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay And finally an audio for when I am in the car alone!









What I read in the past two weeks.

For having had a two week break, I really didn't finish much! King's Ransom is fairly large and I have picked up a six week contract which cuts into my reading time! So for now there have only been two finishes.


Wildlife - Fiona Wood. This is the first of the books off the Older Readers list I have read this year. It was a great start.









Light Horse Boy - Dianne Wolfer.  This was the first of the books off the Younger Readers list. Again, a great start.










Not a book finish, but I did also finish a quilt this week!
You can read more about it here.

So what are you reading this week? Leave me a comment, I'd love to know!

Quilting

I'm trying desperately to get back to doing more quilting. I managed to finish this project over the weekend. My sister asked me to make it for her to give to a newborn baby girl. That was last year some time! Thankfully my sister is a patient woman and some time this week I will pop this in the post for her.





I made it using a pattern from Sew Little called Baby Pinwheels

 If you google it, it's easy to find.

Once I got started on this I really enjoyed it. Next up are two quilts for my nieces who both turn 21 this year. I have the fabric for one, but no idea of a pattern, and a pattern for the other but no fabric yet! Wish me luck!

20 April, 2014

Book Review: Light Horse Boy

From GoodreadsIn 1914 Jim and Charlie abandon the Australian outback for the excitement and adventure of the war to end all wars. But in the Light Horse they quickly discover the brutal realities of life on the frontline. And nothing will ever be the same again.
Featuring stunning charcoal sketches by Brian Simmonds alongside primary source documents and historical photos, Light Horse Boy goes behind the scenes of the great ANZAC legends for an intimate look at their experience of World War I.

Thoughts: I love my Kindle, but books like this are why we need to keep hard copy as well. A book like this would just not work in an electronic format. This is beautiful. It's well written, well researched and just all round charming. It follows the story of Jim and his horse Breaker as they fight in the Great War - World War I. It starts with Jim joining up as a 17 year old (lying about his age) and follows him through to the end. The story is told through traditional third person narration and letters between Jim and his sister Alice back in Australia. Wolfer skilful story telling shows younger readers how many of those who joined up saw it as a big adventure and how they came to realise it was actually a terrible, horrible experience. In the lead up to Anzac Day, this book would be an excellent resource in any classroom to facilitate discussion and reflection.
I read most of this book sitting on a beach, surrounded by sand in the hot Australian sun. It made me pause to think as I read the descriptions of the Egyptian sand and sun and how something I was enjoying so much could also be so harsh and hard.
I read this as part of my yearly challenge to read the Children's Book Council of Australia Younger Readers Book of the Year awards. It's the first I have read in this category and it's was a great start.

Book Review: Wildlife

From Goodreads: Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…


In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.

 
Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.
Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.
And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.
A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.


Thoughts: This is the first book I've read from the CBCA Older Readers shortlist for 2014 and what a wonderful way to start! Fiona Wood has written a great book about realising what true friendship is, the importance of being yourself and the trials of being a teenager. And she has done it with characters who are believable and identifiable. I think to appeal to the older readers or young adult audience you need to give them characters and stories they can see themselves in. I'm fairly sure just about everyone has known a Holly or a Ben, can pick out the Michael in their year level.
Wildlife is described as a companion book to Six Impossible Things which I suppose means you don't have to have read Six Impossible Things to understand Wildlife. It's true, I haven't read Six but I certainly want to now, especially since I assume it gives you more of Lou's story. I hope there is more in this series, I think it has a lot of places to go and I really would like to know how the characters continue.

Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Shortlist

Children's Book Council of Australia


It's that time of year when the CBCA releases it's short lists for the Children's Book of the Year Awards! The CBCA has 5 categories - Older Readers, Younger Readers, Picture Books, Early Childhood and the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. Each year I read the books in the Older Readers and the Younger Readers category. I may or may not try to get to the other categories.

This year's lists are as follows:

All links lead to GoodReads.

Older Readers









Younger Readers








I'll read them in no particular order and review them as I go. I've either borrowed them from the library or am on the request list for them. So looking forward to this!

07 April, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week





What Am I Reading Now

As I finished two books this morning (one book, one audio) and haven't decided what is next, I'm only reading one book at the moment - feels very strange!
 

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen. I think I am enjoying this more than any other Jane Austen I've read. I watched the movie (Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant one )the last week and I have the BBC mini series to watch as well.









What I read last week.

Three finishes this week! Goodreads now tells me I am only one book behind schedule to read the 100 I want to get through this year.


So Much For That - Lionel Shriver. On the eve of leaving his old life behind - including wife and children if they don't want to come - Shephard is told his wife has cancer. All plans are put on hold as instead they battle the cancer with inadequate health insurance.
Shriver is never a comfortable read, but always compelling. For the most part this is a depressing book, but in the last 50 pages it changes completely. Well worth sticking with it to the end.


The Household Guide to Dying - Debra Adelaide. I found it interesting that at the same time I was reading a book about someone battling cancer (So Much For That), I was also listening to one about someone dying from cancer. Two very, very different books about the same topic. This was lighter and a lot less depressing than So Much For That, but just as thought provoking.





The Bookstore - Deborah Meyler. I picked this up on due to a Monday post. Wish I could remember who is was because I loved it. Thoughtful and intelligent chick lit!











So what are you reading this week? Let me know!


Book Review: The Bookstore

From Goodreads: Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.
The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?
A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.


Thoughts: I love books like this if for no other reason than I want to believe there are places like The Owl. Places where someone can find refuge and discover a bunch of quirky but kind people who immediately take them into their group and love and protect them. I also love it for the fact that it crept up on me. I enjoyed it from the start, but at some stage I found myself not just enjoying it, but loving it. Wanting nothing more than to read it, to find out what happens. For me, it's chick lit masquerading as something more - that rarest of books, really good, intelligent chick lit.
I found the characters lovable, frustrating, pretentious, honest and real. At times there was a danger of a couple of them being a little two dimensional, but you don't always get to know everything about them, although there are hints of there being more. Luke is a perfect example. He comes across as slightly aloof and judgemental , but every now and then you get snippets of something more. However, since the book is told in the first person from Esme point of view and there is never a convenient out pouring of life story from Luke, you never get more than hints. I actually applaud this type of restraint. You know what Esme knows and quite frankly, that will have to do. 
I found the character of Mitchell quite interesting in the end. It is very easy to cast him as the pompous, arrogant rich kid who cares nothing for anyone but himself. You wonder what Esme sees in him. But his encounters with her just before and after the baby are born had me wondering whether once again there is more there than you think. I can't say without giving too much away, but in reading other reviews no one else seems to be thinking along the lines I am. If you have read this, please leave me a message with an email address so I can talk to you about it - I'd like to know someone else sees what I do!


Book Review: The Household Guide to Dying

From Goodreads: "As I resigned myself to the fact that the latest Household Guide I'd written would be my last, I conceived in a flash the best idea ever. I rang Nancy and left a message. 'Think of the title,' I said. 'How catchy does The Household Guide to Dying sound?'"


When Delia Bennet–author and domestic advice columnist–is diagnosed with cancer, she knows it's time to get her house in order. After all, she's got to secure the future for her husband, their two daughters and their five beloved chickens. But as she writes lists and makes plans, questions both large and small creep in. Should she divulge her best culinary secrets? Read her favourite novels one last time? Plan her daughters' far-off weddings?
Complicating her dilemma is the matter of the past, and a remote country town where she fled as a pregnant teenager, only to leave broken-hearted eight years later.
Researching and writing her final Household Guide, Delia is forced to confront the pieces of herself she left behind. She learns what matters is not the past but the present–that the art of dying is all about truly living.
Fresh, witty, deeply moving–and a celebration of love, family and that place we call home–this unforgettable story will surprise and delight the reader until the very last page.


Thoughts: What a lovely book. Funny, thoughtful, sad, perfect. Debra Adelaide has taken an incredibly sensitive subject and treated it, not with kid gloves, but raw emotion and honesty.
The Household Guide to Dying jumps around a bit, from the present day, to the near past and to the far past - but it's easy to follow and you need to know everything that happens in each of those times to understand what is happening now. The book is also confronting. What would you do if you were dying? What are the things you would have to finish, find answers for, leave behind? What book will you be reading, what music will be playing and what will be truly important. As Delia examines all of these questions, you find yourself asking the same questions.
I love and admired Delia quiet determination, her acceptance of what was happening and her desire to leave a bit of herself behind for her daughters. I love her lack of reverence for certain things and the feeling of freedom she expressed. When my time comes, I can only hope I do it with as much grace and dignity as she did.
A word of warning - if you have someone close to you battling cancer this book may cut close to the bone. It may require you to think about things you may not want to, but possibly should. It makes me think Adelaide either did some really good research or she is incredibly empathetic. Her portrayal of  someone dying appeared to me to be authentic and true, but not depressing. A wonderful book.

06 April, 2014

Book Review: So Much for That

From Goodreads: Shep Knacker has long saved for "the Afterlife," an idyllic retreat in the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Exasperated that his wife, Glynis, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go, Shep finally announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her. Yet Glynis has some news of her own: she's deathly ill. Shep numbly puts his dream aside, while his nest egg is steadily devastated by staggering bills that their health insurance only partially covers. Astonishingly, illness not only strains their marriage but saves it.
From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver comes a searing, ruthlessly honest novel. Brimming with unexpected tenderness and dry humor, it presses the question: How much is one life worth?


Thoughts: Lionel Shriver is one of those authors that makes you uncomfortable. Her subject matters are not pretty and she doesn't sugar coat her stories at all. However I find them compelling and hard to put down. In So Much for That, we follow the story of Shep, a man who is all ready to leave his life for a simpler one - something he has planned and saved for for years. It all comes crashing down when not only does his wife get a cancer diagnosis, they discover their health insurance will in no way cover all the costs. Suddenly his nest egg starts shrinking, and fast.
To tell you the truth, Shep annoyed the hell out of me. His inability to say no to people was, at times, infuriating and nauseating. I wanted to shout at him to grow a back bone!
And really the book is pretty depressing. Along with Shep and Glynis' gruelling battle with cancer, Shep's best friend Jackson has a daughter with a rare genetic disorder which will lead to an early death and a marriage badly damaged by a not so good decision. There are a lot of people in various amounts of pain in this book.
But it is worth hanging on for the end. Suddenly in the last 50 pages in turns from being this dark, depressing tale to one of love, light and joy. And Shriver manages to do it without you feeling like you have been cheated or lied to. I ended the book with a smile on my face and that I did not expect.

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival

From Goodreads: For fans of that slippery author Lemony Snicket, Book the Ninth is here, and it's completely (but wonderfully) dreadful.When the Baudelaire Orphans finally make it out of Count Olaf's car trunk (from Book the Eighth), they wind up at the horribly perilous Caligari Carnival. Trying to avoid capture but desperate to find out more information about a possible surviving parent, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny pose as circus freaks, only to be humiliated in front of visitors and pushed to the brink of consumption by lions. Fortunately, though, the three discover a few surprises about fortune-telling Madame Lulu, who offers a faint clue about V.F.D. and even the Snicket family itself.
Snicket fans will be in Ninth Heaven. Again, it's a sad state of affairs for the Baudelaires, but there are some fascinating morsels of hope, plus a few small surprises that might help link it all together. With riveting suspense, wicked intentions, and gullible freaks, The Carnivorous Carnival is definitely an installment that can't be missed.

Thoughts: Thank goodness we managed to finish this before the school holidays! Fairly sure the kids would have held me hostage in the car if we hadn't.
The situations in these books seem to get more and more ridiculous, more and more entertaining and more and more thought provoking. You could read these books and get into quite a long philosophical discussion about right and wrong, the world according to children and adults and various other issues, or you can read them and just really enjoy the silliness and suspense.
The previous book, The Hostile Hospital left us with the three Baudelaire orphans in the trunk of the their arch enemies car - Count Olaf. They had discovered that one of their parents may have survived the fire - the first glimmer of hope in the tale of ongoing tragedies. In this they end up disguised as freaks at Caligari Carnival, still trying to evade the clutches of Count Olaf and his troupe.
There are only 4 books left in this series and I am hoping against hope that there is some sort of happy ending for the orphans. Book 10 is all ready to go for term 2!