Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GUEST POST/REVIEW: When Camels Fly by NLB Horton





Publisher: NLBHorton, via Amazon’s White Glove (May 15, 2014)
Category: Contemporary suspense, thread of Romance
Tour Date: May/June, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 370 Pages

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I am so happy to have author NLB Horton on the Back Porch today for a guest post about her book, "When Camels Fly".  

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NLB Horton guest post for Back Porchervations

Sometimes the topic a blogger asks an author to write about for a guest blog requires a great deal of thinking and creative “wordsmithing.” But when the topic is my time in the Holy Lands and Mediterranean region, writing the post is a mini-vacation, albeit to the occasional beat of heavy artillery in Syria and machine-gun fire in Lebanon.

When Camels Fly, the first of five books in the Parched series, shares its Middle-Eastern setting with the second, The Brothers’ Keepers (November 7, 2014). To be fair, The Brothers’ Keepers also rambles through Western Europe, but that’s a topic for another post. Regarding the larger Mediterranean region, the third book (summer, 2015) occurs in Greece and Turkey. The fourth will be in South America, and the fifth in the States. I have “been there, done that” in every location.

Sometimes I forget how odd I am, although I predict a delightfully batty old age.

I remember my first evening in Jerusalem years ago, on a hill across from the Old City. No sooner had my bags hit the room floor than the Muezzins began the call to prayer. Unlike days of old, when men truly stood atop minarets to sing out over the city, these chants are now broadcast from speakers—and are unavoidable. I pinched myself. The little girl from Texas was a long way from home.

I am well traveled, but wandering through the lanes of the Old City is an experience unlike any other. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a pedestrian zone, the lanes only wide enough for donkey-pulled carts. Raised ramps on each side of the pavers accommodate cart wheels. Kiosks and shops, many no bigger than a small closet, crumble and tumble into each other, depositing underfoot goods representing the four religions of the Old City Quarters: Christian, Armenian Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.

Favorite spots include the north of Israel, where I dangled all afternoon down the four-hundred-foot Cliff of Arbel, trying to remain polite. Catching my breath on the shores of the Sea of Galilee after a 118-degree day. (My protagonist’s daughter, Maggie, and her Arab-Christian bodyguard, Matthew, spar romantically here.)

Trying to get out of Jericho, one of my least favorite spots on the entire planet. (The Commodores’ “Brick House” bears mention here, but you’ll have to buy the book.) Marveling at the Ascent of Adumim, noted in the Old Testament book of Psalms. (My protagonist, archaeologist Grace Madison, escapes along this ridge via a camel caravan on its way to Herodium.)

Digging tel Dan, where I kept my head down during the aforementioned artillery and machine-gun fire. (Nothing happened here in When Camels Fly, but it’s a beautiful, verdant spot, nonetheless. And very memorable.)

I have walked the paths, ridden the camels (yes, photographic proof exists), heard the sounds, smelled the scents (cumin, turmeric, and lime!), felt the danger. Seen stone steps worn four inches lower in the center from millennia of leather soles and bare feet. Stood in the biblical wilderness, the most silent and desolate place I’ve ever been, wondering why snail shells littered the sand. Life is absurdly wonderful.

My precious Beta Readers remind me that my protagonist, Grace, is Everywoman. My Readers Guide for book clubs encourages readers to respond to Grace on a deeper level, and see how they would react when facing some of her tough decisions. I’m told Grace’s appeal is that she shares our normal concerns and priorities, although she’s managing to craft a meaningful “second life” that reflects her interests and passions. Her “Yenta-like tendencies” as she deals with her two adult children in situations more dangerous than I could bear reveal her humanity, and love for family. Her doubts and hopes for her relationship with her husband of thirty-plus years depict those of many partners in long-standing relationships. I have experienced these things, too.

Some of them I just happened to experience in the most amazing, dangerous, and important places on earth. It’s a joy to share these adventures, which every woman should share, at least vicariously. Join me via When Camels Fly, May 12, 2014.

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MY REVIEW

Oh my *****!  When a book starts with a woman (Maggie Madison) hearing two of her kidnappers outside the tent planning her death, you know the camel spit is about to fly.  In flies Mama Bear Grace, an "archaeologist of mature vintage" by her own admission.  Thanks to her eagle-eye shooting and some 2nd-half help from a mysterious handsome shepherd, and the first rescue is in the record books.  But whom do you trust when it some of the players are not who they appear to be?

I was grateful for the list of terms in Hebrew and Arabic at the front of "When Camels Fly".  I already knew some of them, but it was very nice to have a reference list to check as to not slow down the pace of the story.  Also, most chapters were preceded by a character or time of day notation as well as geographic location.  The entire Madison family (father Mark, mother Grace, son Jeff and daughter Maggie) take us to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, England and Colorado, switching from one place and person to another until the family is reunited.  And reunited in more ways than one.  In one location, which in itself has not happened for years, and actually communicating with each other (as opposed to talking at each other).

Being set in the Middle East, religion is almost another character in the book.  Grace prays for direction quite often in the book, and given the situation, I would probably be doing the same thing.  She has a split-second moral dilemma about shooting a man, but when it comes down to that or losing her daughter, the choice has already been made.

"When Camels Fly" has something for everyone:  exotic locations, intrigue, spies and their 'offices' on three continents, betrayal, old love, new love, despair, hope, enemies working together, friends and family having each other's back in incredibly tense and dangerous situations, and a host of people "of mature vintage" who apparently don't know how to retire...  I could go on.  But I won't.  Because you need to discover "When Camels Fly" for yourselves.

I started reading "When Camels Fly" one evening and when I looked up it was *ahem* well past my bedtime.  So I told myself "one more chapter".  Yeah, right. :O)  I also featured this book in my latest "Friday 56" post.  And I posted a quote on GoodReads for the first time; it's the one about "Hercules in a burkha".

The bitter end of the book actually gave me the shivers.  So I am thrilled to learn that we will be seeing the Madisons again, in several different locations.  I hope you will join me, because you KNOW I'm going to be there!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR



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.




(Disclaimer:  I received a print copy of "When Camels Fly" by NLB Horton from the Author, Publisher via Virtual Author Book Tours in exchange for my unbiased opinion.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.)

12 comments:

  1. When Camels Fly sounds like a really compelling book!

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    1. Almost like Dorothy being dropped into Oz...but Camels could be real!

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  2. Thanks for taking part in the tour and hosting NLB! I'm Glad you loved 'When Camels Fly"!

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    1. My pleasure, Teddy. Thanks for letting me be a part!

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  3. Thanks for publishing my guest blog, LuAnn. I really appreciate sharing archaeologist Grace Madison's adventures with your readers, and hope they "camel up" with us on our exciting journey! If Goodreads and Amazon reviews are any indication, Grace is in for a wild ride! NLBH

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    1. What is is 'they' say? The family that plays together, stays together? :O)

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  4. Congrats to NLB! When Camels Fly sounds like a great book!

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    1. I highly recommend it, Cherie! Thanks for visiting. :O)

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    1. I totally agree, Tammy. It is lovely. I can hardly wait for the next book!

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  6. And ladies, the "gorilla in the room" is Amazon. We're in cover design on The Brothers' Keepers (November release) now, so going forward bravely, just as Grace would. But for every author out there, please remember that your reviews are essential to our success, and Amazon won't recommend anything with less than twenty reviews. It's easy to be buried — as Grace and Maggie literally discover in When Camels Fly — so help those of us whose work you enjoy by reviewing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. And don't forget my favorite — Goodreads.

    Now ... what do edelweiss and Martin Luther have in common? The Brothers' Keepers, that's what! Prepare to release, and camel up! NLBH

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    1. Fed the gorilla. Had trouble entering review on B&N, but finally did it as "anonymous" and put my name in the body of the review. Couldn't figure out Kobo. Already reviewed on GoodReads. Let me know if there are any more places I can spread the news! :O)

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