Blogo-Birthday Birthday Book Celebration and #Giveaway!

It’s snuck up on my again. Today is my 67th birthday.

Today is also “First Contact Day” in the Star Trek Universe, which is fitting as I’ve been a fan since I first watched the show with my dad as it was originally broadcast. To paraphrase another ‘verse, that’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The past is another country, and they do things differently there.

Referring to another fandom I fell into at about the same time, I’m having a Hobbit birthday, meaning that I’m giving away presents instead of getting them. (Galen and I aren’t doing presents this year, as we’re rolling all of this year’s presents into a later trip, but I did finally get myself a set of AirPods.)

Spring has officially sprung, and 2024 is one quarter over. Meaning that enough reading has happened here at Chez Reading Reality to make a giveaway of my favorite books of the year so far a VERY reasonable possibility.

So I’ll be giving the winner’s choice of one of my favorite books this year so far to one lucky commenter on this post. I’m going to be a bit loosey-goosey about it this time around, because 1)all the books in the Barker & Llewelyn series have been Grade A books so far, so this is another bite at that apple, and 2)two of this year’s bests are book two in their respective series so if you haven’t read the first book yet it will also be available.

This giveaway is open internationally. If the winner is in the US, the books will be shipped from Amazon or your local bookshop if you have one that can handle this business over the interwebs. But if the winner is outside the U.S. and not in one of the other countries where there’s a ‘zon outpost, books will be sent from Wordery, which ships worldwide for free.

The list to choose from is (drumroll, please):

The Bell in the Fog by Lev AC Rosen
The Bezzle by Cory Doctorow
The Black Hand by Will Thomas
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
Demon Daughter by Lois McMaster Bujold
Gryphon by M.L. Buchman
The Hellfire Conspiracy by Will Thomas
Holmes, Marple & Poe by James Patterson and Brian Sitts
The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by Malka Older
The Lantern’s Dance by Laurie R. King
Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen
The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi
Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge
The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older
Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire
The Missing Witness by Allison Brennan
Red Team Blues by Cory Doctorow
The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett
These Fragile Graces, This Fugitive Heart by Izzy Wasserstein
The Truth of the Aleke by Moses Ose Utomi
What You Are Looking For Is In the Library by Michiko Aoyama

I went diving a bit deeper in order to pick multiple genres to make sure there’s something on this list for everyone, but clearly it’s been a very murder-y, fantasy, SF-y year so far. So if I’ve missed your favorite genre and there’s a book you’re dying to read, I’d be happy to share that with you (up to $25 US) instead.

Just let me know in the rafflecopter what book you’d most like to have your very own copy of, from my list or yours, in whatever format suits you best. Someone is going to get very lucky, at least reading-wise!

This post ends this Lucky 13th Blogo-Birthday Celebration Week. If you haven’t checked out the rest of this week’s posts, there’s been a giveaway every day, so be sure to enter any and all that look like your jam.

Next year – OMG it’s wild to be talking about NEXT year when it seems like this year has barely begun – the Celebration will take place the week of March 31-April 5. Come one, come all, and be sure to come back over the year between to see what fabulous books and fantastic giveaways happen in all the months between now and then!

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A+ #BookReview: The Black Hand by Will Thomas + #Giveaway

A+ #BookReview: The Black Hand by Will Thomas + #GiveawayThe Black Hand (Barker & Llewelyn, #5) by Will Thomas
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, historical mystery, mystery
Series: Barker & Llewelyn #5
Pages: 289
Published by Touchstone on July 1, 2008
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books

When an Italian assassin's body is found floating in a barrel in Victorian London's East End, enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn are called in to investigate. Soon corpses begin to appear all over London, each accompanied by a Mafia Black Hand note. As Barker and Llewelyn dig deeper, they become entangled in the vendettas of rival Italian syndicates -- and it is no longer clear who is a friend or foe.

My Review:

So far, at least, the Barker & Llewelyn series is a bit like a caper movie. Not that Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn are committing capers – their job is to either thwart or investigate such goings-on. Instead, just like a good caper movie, the story opens at a climactic moment and then rewinds to the beginning of the story we’ve just been dropped into the middle of so we can see how things came to such a desperate pass.

As those climactic moments are generally life-threatening, and specifically threatening to the life of Thomas Llewelyn, it’s a good thing that we go into that pulse-pounding scene knowing that Llewelyn must have survived. After all, part of his job as private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker’s assistant is to chronicle Barker’s cases – and dead men tell no tales.

The tale that Llewelyn has to tell this time around is the story of a brewing turf war among London’s criminal underbelly. There’s a new player in the old game of gangs and turf and money, but a new player under a very old and familiar name – the Sicilian Mafia.

Muscling for territory in wide-open London with their signature stilettos against native gangs and older immigrant groups who rely on fists, brickbats and other coshes to get their dirty work done, the incomers cut a wide swath, literally, through the forces scrambling to array against them.

Including both Scotland Yard and the Home Office, which is where Barker and Llewelyn get dragooned into the fight. A fight that Barker most certainly did not start, but is utterly determined to finish – no matter how many favors he has to call in, how many compromises he has to make, or how many of his own hostages to fortune he has to put in harm’s way.

Escape Rating A+: There are three – well, at least three – things going on in this book, and every single one of them just adds to the reader’s compulsion to keep turning the pages, starting from that chilling, riveting opening.

The first thing, of course, is the case itself. The Mafia – or at least one arm or finger of that organization – is doing its damndest to carve out a toehold for itself in London – by carving up as many as possible until they get their way.

Barker’s remit – to be handled however he sees fit – is to make London so hot for the Sicilian gangs that they go back to Sicily, before their brand of bloody assassination becomes the norm in London.

But just because Barker has carte blanche from the Home Office, that doesn’t mean they’ll provide him with anything else, and certainly not any of their own forces. They don’t even want Scotland Yard involved but have left Barker to do things as he sees best. After all, they can always blame him for whatever goes wrong after the fact.

He sees best to call in a whole lot of favors, which means that the reader, through Thomas Llewelyn’s eyes and pen, gets to learn a whole lot more about who Barker really is under the persona he has created for himself, where he comes from, and who and what he holds dear. As well as how many rules, regulations, laws and ethics he is willing to bend if not outright break to see this thing through.

Those revelations rock Llewelyn to his foundations but don’t change his mind one single bit about following the man he refers to as ‘the Guv’ anywhere he leads – even into the jaws of hell.

So, there’s the case. Then there’s the deeper dive into Barker’s secrets – a set of revelations that should continue as the series progresses.

Last but not least there’s the resonance to the now in this story that is very much steeped in the ‘then’. Because while the case may be about the Mafia, what’s behind their advent into London is a debate about immigration and immigrants and just how easy or difficult it should be and just how much enforcement is necessary and which way and upon whom the economic impacts have and will fall.

And doesn’t all of that sound bloody familiar?

I’m here for all of the above, but even if just one part of that appeals to you, the fully realized historical setting, the whodunnit, the network of ‘Irregulars’ that Barker and Llewelyn are developing, Llewelyn’s continued training, OR the way that the past links to the present, this series is utterly fan-damn-tastic every single step of the way.

The deeper I read into this series, the better it gets. Each book in the series has been tight, taut, thrilling and compelling, all at the same marvelous time. They’ve just been awesome so far, and I can’t recommend the whole thing highly enough – although I plan to keep trying. I also, of course, plan to keep reading, and suspect that it won’t be long before I pick up the next book in the series, Fatal Enquiry.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Because I’ve enjoyed this series so much so far, it was an obvious choice for one of this week’s Blogo-Birthday giveaways – especially as the latest book in the series, Death and Glory, is coming out later this month!

Drumroll please! On this third day of my Blogo-Birthday Celebration, today’s giveaway is the winner’s choice of ANY book in the Barker & Llewelyn series in any format, up to $25 (US) which should be enough to get even Death and Glory if you’re already caught up!

Good luck with today’s giveaway and remember that there’s more to come!

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Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

I’m trying to figure out how a bunny made of honey would actually work – and it’s not working for me. This gold bunny is the closest I could get to a honey bunny – but it’s more like a honey-colored bunny with chocolate inside. Mr. Dark Chocolate Bunny here is adorable, especially with his mini-me. Although their ears aren’t nearly big enough. After all, the ears are the best part!

A survey at Taste of Home for last year’s Easter proclaimed that the Lindt chocolate bunny was the best of the chocolate bunnies they tested, although they confessed that the bow might have influenced their decision just a teensy bit.

If I were in the market for a chocolate bunny, I’d certainly give this one a try – even if it is a bit lacking in the ear department. My preference would be the dark chocolate shown above, but Mr. Gold Bunny does also come in Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate.

What’s your preference in chocolate bunnies? Or just chocolate in general? Answer through the rafflecopter for you chance at winning the usual Reading Reality hop prize of the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in books.

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For more hopping good prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Spring 2024 Seasons of Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Spring 2024 Seasons of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by It Starts At Midnight and Versatileer!

Once upon a time, this was the Month of Books Giveaway Hop, now it’s the Seasons of Books Giveaway Hop, with the hops starting on the days the seasons change. Today is the first official day of Spring no matter whether or not Spring has actually sprung where you are. I’m in Atlanta so it’s been in the 60s most days, flowers are beginning to bloom and the trees in the backyard are starting to hint at leafing out.

But the question this season is the same question it’s always been for one of these particular hops. What book or books are you most looking forward to this season?

I’m never looking forward to just one thing when it comes to books. Here are a few that are at the top of my list for this spring of 2024:

A Body at the Dance Hall by Marty Wingate
Close to Death by Anthony Horowitz
Court of Wanderers by Rin Chupeco
Fiasco by Constance Fay
Funny Story by Emily Henry
Ghostdrift by Suzanne Palmer
Lost Birds by Anne Hillerman
A Murder Most French by Colleen Cambridge
People in Glass Houses by Jayne Castle
What Cannot Be Said by C.S. Harris

What about you? What books are you most looking forward to this fall? Answer in the rafflecopter for your choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in books so you can get one or two of the books on your list!

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For more wonderful winter prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Lady Luck Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Lady Luck Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

Sometimes books give me earworms. Sometimes it’s because of the book’s title. I’ve been having an earworm of Frank Sinatra’s version of the song “Luck Be a Lady” and wondering what that was about. So, naturally I looked it up.

Some of it is clearly inspired by the name of this hop. The rest, quite possibly as a result of reading Mastering the Art of French Murder last weekend as I was setting up the Sunday Post. “Luck Be a Lady”, although not Frank’s rendition, was one of the songs that came out of the then-popular hit musical, Guys and Dolls. In 1950. Exactly the year that Mastering the Art of French Murder is set.

So there was a reason. At least sorta/kinda. And we are lucky, at least here in Atlanta, to be experiencing spring – at least off and on – as March seems to be coming in this year like a rather wet lion. Your local mileage may definitely vary on that part.

What song is stuck in your head this early March? Answer through the rafflecopter for you chance at winning the usual Reading Reality hop prize of the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in books.

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To test your luck further, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Wish Big Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

At this moment, I’m wishing for wellness – an excellent thing to wish for no matter what the season. I pulled my right hamstring about a month ago, and I’m finally at the point where it mostly doesn’t both me – although I’m still annoyed at the things I can’t quite get back to doing. I’m also just getting over the truly nasty cold that’s been going around. If there’s anything more annoying than being snotty all the time, I haven’t found it. Not that it’s life-threatening or anything terrible, but it’s one’s nose, and one just can’t away from one’s own nose no matter how much one might want to.

Also, whenever either of us sneezes, it scares ALL the cats half to death themselves. It’s like all them suddenly have 16 legs each, all madly scrambling in opposing directions, all at the same time!

So, what’s at the top of your wish list right now? Share in the rafflecopter for your chance at Reading Reality’s usual giveaway hop prize, the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in Books.

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If you’re wishing for more chances at more big prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Love is in the Air Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Love is in the Air Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media!

There are holidays, and then there are ‘Hallmark Holidays’. You know the ones I mean, the ones that seem like they exist solely for the purpose of selling greeting cards. Groundhog Day is actually on the list of Hallmark Holidays, and I’m suddenly wondering what those cards look like and who one sends them to? The people who take care of Punxsutawney Phil?

It seems as if Valentine’s Day may be falling into the ‘Hallmark Holiday’ zone – along with Sweetest Day, which I remember my parents making a big deal of back in the day, but not a holiday you hear much about anymore. Except in the greeting card aisle of the grocery store, of course.

What do you think? Is Valentine’s Day in danger of falling into the ‘Hallmark Holiday’ zone – or is is still a big deal for you and yours? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at a bit of love and/or cheer from Amazon, courtesy of Reading Reality.

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To put even more prizes in your air, please visit the other stops on this hop!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

This name of this hop is a bit of an earworm, isn’t it? The song “Heart to Heart” by Kenny Loggins was everywhere back in the day. Now it’s stuck in my head and I can’t get it out. I’m hoping that by sharing the earworm it will migrate to someone else’s head and leave mine alone, because it’s been running through my brain for days at this point.

But this month is Valentine’s Day, so there are going to hearts and flowers everywhere – and not just musically. What’s the romantic or Valentine’s Day song that is stuck in your head? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at Reading Reality’s usual giveaway hop prize, the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in Books.

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For more prizes to love, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

Anyone actually wishing FOR winter this year has probably already had all they can stand. And if they haven’t, there are plenty of places available where they can get all of it they could possibly want for the season, all in one weekend! With encores!

Personally, I have never wished FOR winter – at least not since I was no longer in a position to be hoping for snow days off from school.

Because BRRRRR! I say again. BRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Mostly, I wish for winter to be over. And for there to be oodles of lovely books to read while I’m inside my cozy house drinking blissfully hot tea or cocoa with as many cats as possible crammed into my lap. Because they don’t like the cold any more than I do.

What about you? Are you wishing for at least six more weeks of winter – or have you already had more than enough?

Share your thoughts in the comments for your chance at Chez Reading Reality’s usual giveaway hop prize, the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 in Books.

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For more frosty prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the New Year, New You Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

2023 kind of just zipped by, didn’t it? Some years seem interminable – I’m trying so damn hard not to think of 2020 because YEESH that was a year I hope we never revisit – while others, like this year just passed – seemingly pass in the blink of an eye.

It’s been a good year here at Chez Reading Reality. There have been good books (as evidenced by last week’s Best Books list). Everyone is well and as happy as we all can be. Even George and Lucifer who had their regular vet checks over the weekend. (They even seem to have forgiven us for the whole capture and car trip thing.)

Looking ahead to this year, April 4, 2024 will be the OMG THIRTEENTH Anniversary of Reading Reality’s first post back in 2011. So, in the hopes that 13 will be lucky instead of unlucky, I’ll be trying something new – or new for Reading Reality, at least – starting with this very post.

I’ve had an Instagram account for a while, but haven’t gotten into it. I’m still more about the words than I am about the pictures. But in the wake of this year’s inanity and insanity at the service formerly known as Twitter, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see X go to a pay for play option. Not that there aren’t plenty of other reasons to get the hell out of that particular Dodge already.

So Instagram, or rather, Bookstagram, is my plan B for Reading Reality’s outreach. We’ll see how it’s all turned out, this time next year.

Happy New Year!

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For more fabulous celebratory prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.