Highland Dragon Rebel by Isabel Cooper – Spotlight and Giveway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Isabel Cooper who is celebrating the recent release of Highland Dragon Rebel, the second book in her Dawn of the Highland Dragon series. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

By wing, by claw
By fire, by death
So long as dragons rule the skies, Scotland will forever be free.

After a long and bloody war, Scotland has finally won its independence. But Highland dragon Moiread MacAlasdair knows peace balances on the edge of a blade, and she will do anything to keep her homeland from falling to English control.

Even if that means escorting a powerful new ally into the otherworld itself…and defending him with her life.

Madoc of Avandos is on a critical mission to cement alliances against the British. Powerful men would kill to see him fail—but as he and his fiercely beautiful warrior fight their way through hostile lands, Madoc is faced with a difficult choice: sacrifice everything for the cause…or let himself burn for the love of a dragon.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“You’ll only have to do this the first time,” Moiread said. She sat tailor-fashion on a flattish stone. The brook at her side rushed loudly, swollen with the spring rains. “After, it’ll just be a matter of saying the words. It’s a compact you’re making, like most spells, though I’ve not heard of anything coming in person to agree. Too minor.”

“It’s rare that they do,” Madoc agreed, “or at least rare that they show themselves for it.”

Magic, or most magic, was a matter of talking directly to the forces of the world: the spirits of those forces in the oldest tales, the demons or angels governing their spheres in more modern lore. All spells invoked, most indirectly. Madoc had never been present for an actual summoning. When he was thinking sensibly, he was glad of that. Everything he’d learned said that even the holy ones would frighten the bravest man.

“Good,” said Moiread, evidently sharing his thoughts. “Here.”

She held out a twig of yew, dark needles and bright-red berries attached. In the last village they’d passed through, Moiread had taken them by a churchyard and stopped long enough to break the twig off the tree, which, as in many villages, grew by the gate.

“Now,” she went on, when Madoc had taken the twig, “hold it up and repeat after me.”

Slowly Moiread began, in Latin as good as any priest’s. “In the names of Gabriel, Amariel, Nargeron, and Almighty God, I call upon you, O powers of the worlds. I invoke you, and by invoking, I command you to grant me sight of the union of the spheres. Part the veil that blinds mortal eyes and give me to see the subtle workings of the world, now and whensoever I should invoke it again.”

As Madoc followed her lead, he felt power gathering. It wasn’t much—as Moiread had said, this was a minor spell—but the earth and the air both shifted, as if he could feel them being drawn slightly toward the yew twig. The twig itself began to feel both heavier and less present. Madoc was half worried that his fingers would go through it. In the sun at midday, it was hard to see, but he also thought it glowed. Moiread nodded. “Now crush the berries. Close your eyes, and smear them on your lids.”

The sliminess Madoc had expected lasted barely a moment. Then it turned to a cool tingling across his closed eyelids and, in another heartbeat, vanished. His skin felt untouched.

“And open.”

Madoc did, and caught his breath. He was no stranger to magic, but never had he been able to see the whole world through such entirely different eyes.

A faint haze hung above the grass and trees, a paler shadow of their natural green. The rocks and road looked normal, though their colors were deeper than they had been a moment ago. Madoc looked to the horses, peacefully cropping new grass a few feet away, and saw that each of them glowed a shade of brown: the steady darkness of wheat bread for Moiread’s horse and a slightly lighter color for Rhuddem.

Madoc raised a hand in front of his face. His fingers shone red, shot through with streaks of silver. He flexed them, and the colors shifted accordingly.

“By God,” he said. “This is truly a lovely art you’ve shown me.”

“Useful, at times. But aye,” Moiread said admittedly, “rather beautiful too, in its way.”

She was beautiful. The spell stripped her of her illusion. Her hair lengthened slightly, her figure swelled and narrowed, and her face became a shade more delicate, so that a young-looking woman in men’s clothing sat facing him. In the world of the spell, a pattern of dancing lights played across her body, like diamonds set onto the crisp blue that washed over her skin.
In this world, her shadow was nothing remotely human. Two vast wings stretched out behind her, the brook running through their shade. When she tilted her head to watch him, the shape of an immense head, on a serpentine neck, separated itself from the larger shadow and turned toward Madoc. The same pattern of lights glittered in the shadow.

Mayhap it would have been sensible for Madoc to fear her then, but he wished only that he had more time to sit and watch her.
“A bit revealing, aye?” Moiread asked, clearly aware of where he was looking. To his relief, she sounded amused. “That is why we don’t generally teach the spell. We didn’t come up with it, but we’ve enough luck that not many know it.”

“Do you care so greatly for concealment?”

She shrugged a shoulder. “It’s no great peril, in my view of things, to be found out. There are already those who know what we are and speak of it with varying degrees of truth. Once more knew, or we were more willing to admit it, or both.”

“What happened?”

“To us? Time and duty. The world gets fuller. A clan turns from hunting to farming, and it’s no’ such great use for its laird to spend his days flying in dragon shape. Less use still in court, and we must go there to be part of the greater world, to lead a clan rather than a tribe in a cave. Our sires have other duties, and we as well. Our foes have magic of their own. Dragon shape is no sure victory.”

“I have heard that,” said Madoc, “and seen a little too. Only ran into one sorcerer myself.”

“We’ve not fought them often, no’ directly. The English magic turns more toward enchanted weapons”—she rubbed her calf, wincing in memory—“ or strengthening castles. Crafty spells.”

“Like the one I’m doing?” Madoc asked, speaking the words that courtesy would have Moiread avoid.

“No shame in taking a weapon from your foe,” said Moiread. “We may have fought the people we learned this from”—she gestured around her, indicating the world revealed—“ or we may fight them in the years to come. I’m still glad to have it.”

“So am I.”

About the Author: Isabel Cooper lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s managed to keep alive for over a year now—a personal best. By day, she’s a mild-mannered editor at a legal publishing company. By night, she’s really quite a geek: polyhedral dice, video games, and everything. She only travels through time the normal direction, and has never fought any kind of demon, unless you count younger sisters. She can waltz, though.

Website | Goodreads

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Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Isabel Cooper who is celebrating the release of Highland Dragon Warrior, the first book in her Dawn of the Highland Warrior series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Legend claims
When Scotland fell to English rule
The Highland dragons took a vow:
Freedom at any price.

The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.

What he needs is Sophia.

Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she’d learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she’ll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon’s claws..

Enjoy an Excerpt

Carrying a passenger was a new experience for Cathal, made doubly tense by the urgency of their errand and triply so because it was Sophia astride his back. He climbed above the clouds as smoothly as he could, and as quickly, since hesitation wouldn’t be useful. When he leveled out and felt Sophia’s weight still securely in place, with her breathing steady next to him, relief ran through him like strong drink.

Navigating by the stars, he flew slowly toward the south and Valerius’s lands, avoiding when he could any winds that would make him rise or fall too steeply or angle too sharply. It was not the most exciting bit of flying he’d ever done, but he wasn’t eager for it to end. Having Sophia close, even when he wasn’t in human shape, with the stars arcing overhead and the whole wide sky spread out before him… He could have stayed for far longer.

In time, reluctantly and more gently than he’d ascended, he dove back under the clouds to look for landmarks. He noted the small flecks of light from manors and stayed as far away as he could. Cottages were only lumps in the darkness, far harder to avoid, but they mattered less. Any peasant could claim to have seen a dragon, but it would take far longer for the story to reach anyone who knew its significance, and by that time, God willing, they’d be gone and Valerius dead.

For a while he could hear owls and bats, the few among his fellow creatures of the air who went abroad at night. Like most animals, they stayed well away from him, but he knew their cries as part of a familiar chorus.

As they approached Valerius’s lands, that chorus faded. They didn’t travel in silence as they’d done above the clouds, but the night birds’ calls were few, and many sounded weaker. Odd: he’d have expected more bats and owls near the sorcerer’s domain. Most said they were creatures of the devil.

Granted, most said that about dragons too.

Near the same time, the air changed. Cathal didn’t think anyone human would have noticed the faint staleness to it, or the slight suggestion of rot, but both were there, and got stronger the closer he flew. The colors of the land below him were muted too, even for early spring, and about them there was a hint of grayish-red, like a wound gone bad.

The land is poisoned, Lady Bellecote had said.

No wonder the birds sounded unhealthy; no wonder the crops never did very well. Even the edge of Valerius’s domain was wrong, though wrong in a way few humans could have pinpointed or even spoken about. Cathal didn’t think he needed to view the place through magical sight. For certes, he desired no such thing.

With everything in him, he wished to turn back. The thought of setting foot on the corrupted land was repugnant, and the idea of sending Sophia alone into it was worse. He felt his lips pull back into a snarl, exposing his teeth as if he could threaten Valerius from this distance—or rip his throat out—and he knew both impulses to be futile.

Only one course of action stood a chance of helping.

About the Author:During the day, ISABEL COOPER maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks.

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My Go-To Place to Write by Isabel Cooper – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Isabel Cooper as she visits as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of her newest book, Night of the Highland Dragon, book three in the series, which is scheduled for release on June 2. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of The Legend of the Highland Dragon, book one in the Highland Dragon series. Read our review of Legend here.

Where is your go-to place to write?

My go-to place to write? Work. Don’t tell my boss.

Seriously, though: generally speaking, I get most of my writing done either on my lunch hour, at another time when I’m waiting on an email or a call, or when I’ve finished all my actual work for the day and am just running out the clock or around in case I need to answer phone calls. Day jobs, you know?

On weekends or after work, I do a lot of writing on my laptop, often on trains or in train stations. All of my manuscripts are on Google Drive, and I’m lucky enough to live in a city where the local public transportation also involves somewhat decent wireless access—so usually I’ll get to the station early, sit down, and try to get five hundred or a thousand words written before I have to get on the train.

On occasion I’m even home, where I just use my desktop. It’s kind of nice, in that I can write without shoes or indeed sometimes pants on, but I often find the sheer amount of laundry I need to do kind of distracting.

When I’m at work or at home, I like to listen to appropriate music to set the mood. Sometimes this is period-accurate, but other times it isn’t—I use a fair amount of the Kill Bill soundtrack for my fight scenes—and it’s not an absolute necessity, as I can tune out train or train station noises when I need to.

I used to do a fair amount of the prep-work for a novel—sketching out the plot and characters, defining places, coming up with names and relationships and dates—during either meetings or classes. (Tip: if you look like you’re taking notes, nobody will generally notice what you’re taking notes on. I also planned out a few Dungeons and Dragons sessions during mandatory Modern Lit discussion sections, back in the day.) These days, I don’t have many of either, which is fortunate in some ways but does mean I relegate more of my planning to the train.

Planning is also the one thing I do off the computer. Sketching things out seems to come more easily in handwriting, but everything else is strictly electronic. I don’t know that I would have ever gotten published if I’d lived in the era of typewriters. Frankly, I don’t know that I would have lived this long without some kind of nervous breakdown—I tried to change a typewriter ribbon once, for a really archaic office where I temped in college, and I ended up with a broken typewriter and a face like a chimney sweep. My stories might be set in the past, but God, I love modern tech.

5_29 Isabel book cover“They say,” said the girl, “that people disappear up there. And I heard that the lady doesna’ ever grow any older.”
“The lady?” William asked.
“Lady MacAlasdair. She lives in the castle, and she’s been there years, but she stays young and beautiful forever.”

In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword—and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land—and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.

William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands…and the woman he can neither trust nor deny.

He prays she isn’t the murderer; he never dreamed she was a dragon.

About the Author: During the day, Isabel Cooper maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts. Website

Buy the book at Amazon, BAM, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, IndieBound, or Kobo.

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Guest Blog: Isabel Cooper

First of all, I will note that I’m an incredibly lucky girl where time management is concerned. I’m continually impressed when I read other authors’ blog posts about balancing writing with the rest of their lives. These women are raising families, working at fairly exhausting jobs, and still making time to do great work—and by comparison, I have it easy. I have an eight-hours-a-day desk job, no pets, no kids, parents who have their own lives several states away, and a boyfriend who can and does feed himself, bless him. If I can’t do a decent book or two a year, I really have nobody to blame but myself!

That said, I do have my own commitments: I have dinner or play games with friends a couple of times a week, I often go down to see some old college friends and professors, I go to the gym regularly, and I spend the odd weekend or three with friends in the woods, pretending to be a fantasy character. (I’m a pretty huge geek, really.) I also like to travel a lot. These aren’t the kind of time constraints that family life or a job as an ER doctor might put on me, but I have to work around them.

My biggest ally in that struggle has been modern technology. I can type a lot faster than I can write—I had a weird Dickensian childhood where playing Typing Tutor on the school computers was all the entertainment that existed some days—and that certainly helps, but that’s only the beginning. I write all of my novels in Google Documents these days, which means that I can access a draft in progress from any computer, as long as it has an Internet connection. That’s a huge change from a year or two ago, when I had to constantly email drafts to myself, and an even bigger one from my youth, when transferring something as big as a novel between computers meant dealing with floppy disks—and God help you if your school used Macs and your home computer was a PC!

And now I would like a cane, so that I can wave it at kids and tell them to get off my lawn.

I wrote a lot of No Proper Lady at what was then my job, while I waited for people to call or email. I made many of the edits in a car with my parents, going down to Pennsylvania for Christmas vacation—Dad, ever the technophile, got one of those mobile wireless hot spot things—and I’ve written bits of the sequels at friends’ houses, at Internet cafes, and even on the commuter rail in Massachusetts. I’ll never get the complete trifecta of planes, trains, and automobiles—air travel makes me too nervous to write—but I know I finish books about twice as fast as I would have done a few years ago.

Which takes me back to people who impress me: anyone who wrote in the days before the Internet, before computers—or the days before typewriters! I don’t think I’d have ever finished a novel, let alone published one, if I’d had to rely on my handwriting.

I know no editor in the world could have read my stories, anyhow.

NO PROPER LADY BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011

It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.

ABOUT THE AUTHORDebut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2012. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.

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