Tuesday, December 5, 2017

THE LAST WOLF & GIVEAWAY with Maria Vale



Title: The Last Wolf
Author: Maria Vale
Series: The Legend of All Wolves #1
Pub Date: February 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781492661870

For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…

Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…

Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her at https://www.mariavale.com/.

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GIVEAWAY

EXCERPT

In which Tiberius eats dinner with the hostile Pack and learns that not everything that is small and cute and furry is a puppy

Upstairs, the screen door opens and closes with a slam. Orders are barked out, and heavy treads stomp back and forth between hall and kitchen. As the Pack passes the stairs to the basement, the complex fragrances of the dishes they’re carrying waft down to us. Benches start scraping across floors, and I push Ti’s extra clothes into a bag and push the man himself up the stairs.
As soon as we reach the hall, the smile I hadn’t even known I was wearing fades. The Alphas of every echelon are standing around the heavy hand-scraped tables, each one of them holding tight onto their seaxs, the sharp daggers that all adult Pack wear at their waist.
There are strict penalties for attacking a table guest, and John will kill anyone who tries, but edgy wolves are edgy wolves and not always in control. I am this man’s shielder, and I face them, my thighs coiled low, my shoulders squared, and my lips curled back from my teeth, so these wolves know that I will fight, even in skin.
Tock, tock, tock.
Behind me, Ti is not even facing the right way. He’s looking at the table, opening up casseroles with one hand, while flicking his spoon up and down against his bowl with the thumb of the other (tock, tock, tock). As though there weren’t a hundred evil-eyed wolves staring holes into his back.
He lifts a hand-thrown lid and sniffs the saag paneer. Another basket with bread. A selection of Corningware casseroles hold cauliflower and lentil stew; sun-dried tomatoes and fresh cheese; corn chowder. Pasta with herbs. Egg salad.
“So…you’re vegetarians?” Ti says to no one in particular.
“Not vegetarians,” John answers. “But not carrion eaters either. You are our guest,” he says loudly to remind all the wolves with itchy palms about our very ancient and very strict rules of hospitality, “and free to hunt anywhere on our land, but Shifter? You must eat what you kill.”
“John?” I whisper, pulling at his elbow, and he bends down. “His name?”
John scratches his graying beard for a moment before pointing to one casserole dish in Blue Onion pattern. “Tiberius?” he says, “My personal favorite is the cauliflower and lentils. Be sure to add some toasted hazelnuts.”
Someone coughs, but John has broken the spell, and the Alphas reclaim their seats. Though when they do, they seem to have doubled in size, their broad shoulders and thighs now claiming whatever spare space we might have squeezed into.
I bend my head toward one of the empty tables. Those too will be full when the Offlanders come home for the Iron Moon, but for now, we sit there alone, side by side. The Pack starts talking again, bent low over their food because our table manners at home are not all they should be.
Naturally, there is a lot of talk about Ti, and while no one will question John’s decision, it is one of the peculiarities of the Old Tongue that the word giest means guest and stranger and enemy, so when someone speaks of our new giest, everyone understands the double meaning.
Then John says that’s enough Old Tongue for now.
A handful of pups scrabble up the stairs from the basement storage. They’re chasing something, taking wide frantic turns around the room.
“Mouse,” I whisper to Ti. “They don’t last long here.”
“She didn’t take me down,” Eudemos complains loudly.
“I mean, I was still standing.” He hacks at the big loaf of bread with his seax. “Where’sa butter?
“I neber submided,” he insists, a pale-yellow crumb flying across the table. He uses his thumb to push the mouthful back in. “If what she did counts as submitting now, I think we should change the laws, thass all I’m sayin’.”
“Deemer?” says John.
Victor, our Deemer, our thinker about Pack law, crosses his arms and looks at the ceiling for a moment. “The law does say an opponent must be pinned down,” he says. “But while Eudemos was not down, he was very definitely pinned, and that is the more important part of the law.”
“Your Alpha agrees. The spirit of the law was upheld.”
And with that, Eudemos will not say another word about the matter.
The mouse finally caught, Golan trots up to John, followed by a roiling mass of fur. He lays his tiny prey at the Alpha’s feet. John looks at it, making sure the kill was clean and the mouse didn’t suffer, then he scratches Golan’s ear and wishes him good eating.
Suddenly, Ti jumps and lowers his hand to fend off a juvenile, who has her damp nose in his crotch.
“Rainy!” shouts Gran Moira. “Come here!”
Rainy cocks her head to the side and stares up at Ti before running off.
“Why do you have so many dogs?” Ti asks, his legs now tightly crossed.
Nooo,” I hiss. They’re not…” It’s too late. He didn’t say it loudly, but our hearing is very good, and one set of very good ears is all that’s needed. One by one, the Pack falls silent, appalled by what Ti has called our children.
Four fuzzy snouts peek over the arm of one of the fireplace sofas. Other pups glower down from the curved stairs that lead up to the children’s quarters.
Then the only sound is the brittle crunch of Golan’s sharp, white teeth.
“Excuse me, Shifter?” pipes a small voice. A ten-year-old girl with long, pale-brown curls, wearing shorts and a much-washed blue T-shirt with a picture of a pickle on it, scratches the back of her calf with a bare foot. “I am sorry I smelled your crutch?” she says, glancing back at Gran Moira, who mouths the word crotch with an encouraging smile. “But that’s what I said. ‘Crutch.’”
“It’s ‘crotch,’” corrects Gran Moira.
“Oh,” Rainy says, turning back to Ti. “I am sorry I smelled your crotch? I didn’t mean to be offensive. I am just in the Year of First Shoes?”
The Year of First Shoes is the first twelve moons in the juvenile wing, when you’re too old to scamper around and be fed tidbits from the table, and you’re too young to see even the remotest advantage to being human. It’s when we first wear shoes and clothes.
It is a terrible, terrible time.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THE WIFE BETWEEN US REVIEW & GIVEAWAY




THE WIFE BETWEEN US

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies. (synopsis from Amazon)

Enjoy the teaser!  :)




Clever, ingenious, intricately plotted; all can be used to describe THE WIFE BETWEEN US, yet all fall woefully short of adequately capturing it. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen adroitly leads readers down the primrose path and the hits keep coming right up to the last page. I didn’t know what I thought I knew and relished it.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US is sure to surprise, in some shape, form or fashion, even the most seasoned reader.

5 stars and I don’t give those lightly.

The publisher is giving away a print copy (US ONLY) to one lucky commenter. This will be sent out from the publisher mid to late December.
What draws you to this book?  Do tell & be entered to win!

Meet the authors:


Friday, November 17, 2017

THE WIFE BETWEEN US Review




THE WIFE BETWEEN US

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies. (synopsis from Amazon)

Enjoy the teaser!  :)




Clever, ingenious, intricately plotted; all can be used to describe THE WIFE BETWEEN US, yet all fall woefully short of adequately capturing it. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen adroitly leads readers down the primrose path and the hits keep coming right up to the last page. I didn’t know what I thought I knew and relished it.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US is sure to surprise, in some shape, form or fashion, even the most seasoned reader.

5 stars and I don’t give those lightly.

Meet the authors:


Sunday, November 12, 2017

PICINIC AT HANGING ROCK Review & Giveaway


PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK
by Joan Lindsay
Foreword by Maile Meloy



Mysterious and subtly erotic, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (Penguin Classics; On-sale: October 3, 2017; $16.00; ISBN: 9780143132059) was first published 50 years ago and inspired the iconic 1975 film of the same name by Peter Weir—as well as a six-episode TV series starring Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer, scheduled to be released by Amazon next year. Widely considered one of the most important Australian novels of all time, it stands with Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides as a masterpiece of intrigue.

On a cloudless summer day in the year 1900, everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared…. They never returned.


My thoughts....


It’s not hard to see why PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is a classic. The central mystery, what happened to the girls and the math teacher on the rock, is still a puzzle to this day. 

Even more interesting is the aftermath of their disappearance. The effect on those left behind, and the sole survivor, is an encapsulated study of human nature; and it's not always pretty or noble.

Disquieted best describes how I felt during and after reading PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK.

However, I would caution against reading the foreword in its entirety. When she recommends stopping, please do. A lot of my reading pleasure evaporated after reading the ending the author alludes to in several scenes. These incidents stand alone fine without the original ending, thank goodness.

3 stars

Penguin is offering a print copy giveaway to one lucky commenter who answers this question.
What are your thoughts on a bit of ambiguity sometimes?  Does knowing the original intent of the author sometimes ruin it for you?
Good Luck!

*All print giveaways are US only unless stated otherwise. Not responsible for 3rd party giveaways*



Sunday, October 29, 2017

DARK SIGNAL Review

Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called "A must read" by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.
Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.
Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident? 
While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up―and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again. (synopsis from Amazon)

4.5 Stars

Kate Fox returns in the sequel to Stripped Bare. When last seen Kate was picking herself up in a bold, in your face way. DARK SIGNAL opens with Kate having accomplished her goal and being indoctrinated the hard way with a gruesome death.
Kate insists on investigating, for the most part, her way. Following her instincts and running into the occasional trouble. Being the new kid on the block, there’s some proving to be done. Kate’s knowledge of the residents, again, works in her favor. Things really heat up in the last quarter or so with enough action to satisfy those who like a mix of the plodding procedural and adrenaline-fueled action.
Par for the course family plays a major role in Kate’s life and decisions. Reader’s discover more about family members while the subplot with Kate’s niece continues to intrigue. Big doings are brewing with that situation you can feel it simmering.
In addition to the growth of current characters, interesting characters who could be significant to Kate are introduced.
Once again the Nebraska Sandhills loom large. The area, for me, is as much a character as Kate. It feels forbidding, isolated, and unforgiving. The people who choose to live there are a breed apart. The beauty is mentioned, and there are occasional glimpses/hints, but it’s a stark, cold beauty. These mysteries work for me, in large part, because of the area and the atmosphere it invokes.
DARK SIGNAL’s mystery is solid and grounded in both the location and way of life with numerous clues and red herrings scattered throughout. Readers attuned to nuances will be pleased to be able to figure out most, if not all.
I like where Kate appears to be going and how she’s growing. She has a lot of options before her, and I’m excited to see what choices she makes. Count me in for book 3.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Shana Galen's THRID SON'S A CHARM & Giveaway!


Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy—but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion.

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard—until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done—fight for what he loves.


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Lady Lorraine manages to sneak off to meet Francis, her would-be-lover in the garden. Ewan Mostyn tracks them down and interrupts Lady Lorraine trying to convince Francis to kiss her.
_______________________________________________________________
“Kiss me,” she said, looking up at Francis with adoring eyes the bastard did not deserve in the least. “I could wait forever if you would but kiss me.”
It was perhaps the silliest speech Ewan had ever heard. It was the sort of thing he expected one of Beaumont’s women to say, and yet despite the melodrama of the sentiment, at that moment Ewan hated Francis more than he ever had when his cousin had been his daily tormentor.
His loathing was so strong and so incomprehensible that Ewan regained control of his body and stepped out from behind the topiary.
Francis saw him first, and he stiffened and stepped back, putting a respectable distance between himself and Lady Lorraine. His expression was wary and, to Ewan’s satisfaction, frightened. The lady spun around as well, but her face showed no fear, only annoyance. She gave a long sigh. “Mr. Mostyn, I believe you know your cousin, Mr. Mostyn.”
“Ewan.” Francis looked him up and down. “We seem to keep meeting. Run along now. Lady Lorraine and I were having a private word.”
Ewan held out his hand to Lady Lorraine. “Come.”
“I see your vocabulary remains much the same,” Francis remarked. “As I’m certain you will use your simple grunts and growls to inform His Grace about this meeting, be sure to mention that I did nothing improper.”
“More’s the pity,” Lady Lorraine muttered. “At least the lecture and scolding would have been worth it.”
Ewan had the urge to laugh. Instead, he beckoned her with his outstretched hand. She did not take it. “I am not a dog, Mr. Mostyn. You needn’t crook your finger at me.”
Francis bowed. “I see I am no longer needed. My lady, sleep well tonight. I will see you…soon.” With what Ewan perceived was to be a meaningful look, Francis marched in the direction of Carlton House.
Since the lady seemed to have such an objection to them, Ewan folded his arms across his chest. He waited for her to speak. He felt he should say something, but he was not certain what that something should be. He had supposed Francis to be taking advantage of the lady, while it appeared she was the one intent on ruination. Francis was no paragon of honor and virtue, and Ewan would have liked little more than to beat the man to a pulp. But he could not fault his cousin for the scene he’d witnessed tonight.
“You won’t tell my father, will you?” Lady Lorraine finally broke the silence.
Ewan let out a breath of surprised air—half laugh, half incredulity.
The lady grasped his forearm. “If you do, it will not only doom me, but it will reflect badly on you as well.”
Ewan inclined his head, acknowledging the point. He’d made mistakes before, and he always took his punishment like a man. He was not much of a gentleman, but he had retained enough of his upbringing to know that one did not lie or cheat to avoid trouble. One faced the consequences of his mistakes with head held high. “Then so be it.”
She gaped at him. “You do not even care? You will be dismissed.”
Ewan blew out a breath. He did care. He cared very much, much more than he wanted to admit to.
Her hand on his forearm tightened, and he looked down at her. The damned chit was shivering with cold. Ewan was impervious to all but the coldest temperatures, but she looked almost blue. “Very well. Tell him. Nothing happened anyway.”
“Not for your lack of trying. I should tell your father you don’t need a bodyguard. You need to be locked in a convent.”
Now her eyes narrowed, and she released his arm as though it were filth she could not bear to touch any longer. “So now I am to be censured by you?”
He frowned at her. “Why not me?”
“Are you married?”
The question took him off guard. Conversation with women generally had the effect of unsettling him. He could never predict where their maze-like minds might wander. Conversation with men began at point A and ended at point B. Women often meandered to C then R and back to L before coming to the point.
“It is a simple question, Mr. Mostyn. Are you married?”
He shook his head.
“I didn’t think so. Are you a virgin?”
Ewan gaped at her. The question was so wildly inappropriate that, in his opinion, she had abandoned the points of the alphabet all together.
She waved a hand. “Yes, I know I am not supposed to ask you that, but humor me. I am making a point. Just answer yes or no.”
He shook his head as he did not trust his voice at the moment.
“Of course you are not. And yet no one thinks anything of the fact that you have bedded a woman who is not your wife. If I had to guess, with those eyes and those shoulders and chest”—she looked him up and down, and he actually felt himself heat at her frank perusal—“I imagine you have bedded more than your share of women.”
Ewan’s head was spinning at the rapidity of her speech, but what he did understand was that she had just complimented him. She admired his body, and the thought of her eyes on him caused him to have to take a breath. His chest felt tight and he lifted his hand to loosen the goddamn cravat before he remembered where he was.
“Of course,” she went on, “it is seen as perfectly natural for a man to want to kiss a woman, touch her, undress her, take her to bed, and—”
Ewan cleared his throat, not only because the already inappropriate conversation had descended beyond the pale, but because her description of the intimacies between men and women made him think of doing those things with her. And now the woman had not only fired his blood but stirred his rod. If she continued in this vein, his state of growing arousal would be evident to both of them.
“My point,” she said—and thank God she was finally reaching it—“is that it is considered natural for men to want these things, but when a woman wants them, then we should be locked away.” She gestured wildly with her hand, losing hold of her wrap so it slid to the ground and trailed after her as she paced. “What is so wrong with wanting a man to kiss me?” She gave Ewan a direct look, challenging him to give her an answer.