Bruadarach

Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

Tag: Books

Christmas Markets in Vienna, 2015 Edition

XmasCover E 2015When I started blogging about Christmas markets in winter 2012, I never thought it would become a book, let alone I would be publishing a second edition three years later.

After it was first published, I still wanted to go to new markets or revisit old ones, and I took my camera and Mick with me, to be safe. The plan was to update it for 2014, but we moved house and the project landed in the queue.

I was sure though, once the new opening dates and times were published I would manage a 2015 edition – and here it is! 🙂

Updated infos, seven new markets, and many more photos!

Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.de

Smashwords (and many more…)

Dawn’s Early Light – Blogtour

Dawn's Early LightI have been a fan of Pip’s and Tee’s writing for many years now. Naturally, when they ventured into Steampunk, I made the discovery with them. Reading the first two novels in the series was a delight and I have also already preordered Dawn’s Early Light.

When I heard about the blog tour I was excited to take part and – totally not selfishly – asked to post an excerpt of the book which I can share with you today.

Below you can find the links where to get the book, the excerpt and also more info about the authors. Enjoy!

Goodreads
Amazon
B&N

A selection from Dawn’s Early Light by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
released by Ace Books 

She reached for the lantern hanging at the bottom of the steps, struck a match, and then turned up the light once the flame caught. The sconce’s glow pushed aside the shadows to reveal a small analytical engine, her pride and joy, sitting in the corner of the room.

Perhaps it was an indulgence, but she was guaranteed a small amount of privacy and confidentiality when using it. The money should have gone to the church, but this device was in a sense keeping the church together. It was her personal line of communication with those who called upon her for specific talents. When noon struck, the green light on the panel before Van switched to red. She threw a few connectors forward, awakening the amber display in front of her. It squeaked lightly when she adjusted it to a more comfortable reading position. Yes, along with the piano, her analytical engine was also in need of some maintenance.  

TARGET IS FAST APPROACHING NORTH CAROLINA.
APPREHENDING OF TARGET ALIVE—TOP PRIORITY. 
ELIMINATE ANY OPPOSITION. 
RESPOND IF AVAILABLE. 
—HOU 

Van tapped her lips as she thought about the shadowy organisation. It had been at least six or seven years since the House of Usher had been active in America. What could it mean that they now wanted a hunt and retrieval from her? Whoever this mark was, the House wanted him or her badly, considering the terms of the bounty. 

The term “Eliminate any opposition” would be her judgement call—and solely hers—in the field. She had made a pledge to herself that in these assignments, her sword would only take a life if her own was threatened. She was not an assassin. She was a tracker and a retrieval specialist. 

Accepting this commission would see to the many needs of their church. The piano would finally be tuned, and the roof fully repaired in time for next winter. There could even be some money in the coffer for a garden. Meals for the poor. 

Her fingers had already begun typing before her eyes returned to the screen. 

ASSIGNMENT ACCEPTED. 
PLEASE FORWARD AVAILABLE IMAGE OF TARGET. 
WILL LEAVE IMMEDIATELY FOR N.C. ON DELIVERY.  

Van’s thoughts scattered when the signal returned to red. She flipped the switch underneath, and the display began to assemble itself, line by line. In an hour’s time she would have the face of her latest assignment. Even the telegraph could not offer that.

As the image assembled itself, she would have plenty of time to pack for an unexpected journey south. Van connected two more leads, and flipped a switch that would provide a printed copy of her screen once the image finished its travel through the æther. She turned toward the wall to the left of the machine and gave a section of its moulding a gentle push. The top half of the wall slid away, revealing several rifles and handguns. After a moment’s consideration, she took down the quad-barrelled Winchester-Henry-Armstrong 1892, and felt the weight in her hands. Stopping power and distance were guaranteed, provided the target’s weight was not an issue.

Van propped the ’92 up against the wall and looked over the handgun options in front of her. Her fingers ran along the edges of a wide, rosewood case. She tapped the sides of the box, wondering if these would be needed.

Apprehending of target alive is the top priority, she recalled from the message. Eliminate any opposition. The House of Usher wanted this target with no expense spared. The order was brief, but told her so much. There was no suspicion of opposition. It would happen. Without question.

Van pulled the box free of the wall case and flipped open its brass latches. The pair of .38 Smith & Wesson revolvers within duly reflected the lantern light. She had not picked up either pistol yet, but the wooden grip under her brushing fingertips felt warm, as if expecting her touch.

Closing the lid to the case and then hefting the rifle free from the wall, Van ascended the staircase, her speech to Everett already prepared. Two weeks. She’d only be away two weeks. Three weeks, at the most. For that amount of time, she would be able to do so much good for the church and their little town. Even her stoic partner would see that. The reappearance of the House of Usher could provide a welcomed windfall, and a gift from above. 

Van had to keep the faith that was why the House of Usher had returned to America. She didn’t dare contemplate the other possibility.

 

———–

Bio: New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author, with her husband Tee Morris, of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, and a Sir Julius Vogel. Morris is the author of Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana and the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. In addition to his work as a fantasist, he is also a social media pioneer and the author of Podcasting for Dummies and All a Twitter.

Pip’s website: www.pjballantine.com
Pip’s Twitter: PhilippaJane

Tee’s website: http://teemorris.com/
Tee’s Twitter: TeeMonster

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMinistryOfPeculiarOccurrences

Review – Two Steps From Hell by Scott Roche

twostepshellDescription:

“Laurent, a faerie sorcerer, lived for centuries. When it ended, instead of drifting into oblivion he awoke in Hell. After countless years of indescribable torment, a half-faerie half-human conjurer summons him to 21st century New Orleans. Laurent now has twenty-four hours to discover who used him as an unwilling murderer and to avoid a return to damnation. The only person on his side is the summoner’s sister, a half faerie police detective, investigating the murder he committed.” (From Smashwords.com)

 

Review:

When I first heard about the new Novella “Two Steps from Hell” by Scott Roche, it was by way of him showing off its cover on Facebook. I mean “showing off” in the most justified way possible. Because there wasn’t else to go by, I first judged the book by its cover, which was done by the fantastically skilled Scott Pond. Nowadays many things get self published and most look it. I appreciate that it’s a question of finances if an author does their covers themselves – I have often done that too – and a lot of book cover designers with affordable rates still make book covers look “self-pub”. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it can turn away some people. This made Two Steps from Hell a refreshingly positive experience. No one would think it was self published by looking at the cover. It’s simply stunning. I gave in to the cover’s pull and bought the book on Smashwords. Inside, there were a few editing flaws which will probably be sorted by the author soon.

Now onto the story. I like myself a good prantagonist, one where even his bad reasons are understandable in some ways. This is not just the usual crime novel from the murderer’s point of view, though. It felt more like the most un-morning person being woken up at 5 AM to spend a coffee-less morning in a room full of cheerful people. People would empathise with him too, if he’d end up murdering someone. It is actually quite a sweet story, in a grumpy and twisted way. The interaction of the characters is very funny and I laughed out loud a few times. They fit together very well too and this novella is a great setup for a series. I thoroughly enjoyed the story – it set up an interesting range of beings and powers about which I’d like to find out more. Explanations like “this can be done because it’s magic” and nothing more are usually not enough for me. I hope there is more to all the magic and powers and an underlying plan and a system to them. Of course that can be done in a sequel.

Which leaves me with the end – it is quite open, which kept me on the edge. Usually I like things solved unless it’s a series. Now I only have to hunt Scott down and make him write the next one. I can warmly recommend this novella and I didn’t get anything for saying that! 🙂

 

Two Steps from Hell is available at:

Smashwords and Amazon

 

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