Spotlight: Notes of Magic

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Notes of Magic 
(The Bohemians #1)

Jessica Bucher
CreateSpace IPP, February 2018

Enchanted city. Old magic. New threat.

Taq, a young fiddler, comes to Prague with dreams of joining the Bohemians, a band of immortal, magic-wielding street performers. He has a mission to right past wrongs, but things don’t go as planned when he meets the beautiful performer, Katia. Now, he must decide if revealing his secret is worth losing her heart.

Katia has spent one hundred years chained to Prague, broken-hearted and silent, waiting for her chance to be free. But with a mysterious newcomer, and an impending threat on Bohemia itself, peace is starting to seem further away than ever. Now, Katia must decide if she should trust Taq, or put her faith in the one who broke her heart – the tyrannical Magistrate of Bohemia.

Curses can be broken, but at what cost?

Goodreads | BAM | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository


Jessica Bucher

About the author

Jessica Bucher is long-time lover of stories about young love and characters who are larger-than-life. It’s why she was swept off her feet by a soldier who stole her away to travel the world. Thirteen years later, they have two (almost three) children and more stamps in their passports than they can count. Seeing the world has inspired many stories and novels, with The Hereafter as Bucher’s debut. She is a Creative Writing graduate, blogger, yoga teacher, music lover and member of the Ansbach Writers Group.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Review: Antipodes

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Michele Bacon. Sky Horse Press, $18, 384p. ISBN 9781510723610.

Entry: antipodes. Noun. “Exact opposites.”

Such are Erin’s beginning and resulting understandings of happiness after leaving her A-list social status in her suburban Chicago high school to spend a semester in Christchurch, New Zealand. Mirroring her own New Zealand self-discoveries in her latest protagonist is author Michele Bacon, presenting Antipodes as her second novel.

As a very determined Ivy League medical school hopeful, Erin has every step for her next fifteen years mapped out: “Great school, great job, great life.” When Erin loses her position as captain of her high school swimming team, loses her boyfriend, and embarrasses herself at a party, she and her mother attempt to repair Erin’s perfect college application with a semester spent studying abroad.

Upon arrival in Christchurch, however, Erin is disheartened to find that she’s signed up for five months of having to get around town without a car, attending a school that doesn’t allow makeup or jewelry, sharing a small bedroom with the daughter in her host family, and being on a completely different time schedule than her best friend. As the months pass, Erin makes new friends and learns the value of family, sets a national swimming record, sees other beautiful parts of New Zealand, and picks back up a forgotten instrument, all while slowly realizing that she’s prioritized the wrong things in her attempt to find happiness.

Within her writing, Bacon consciously draws parallels between Erin’s physical journey and her personal journey. For example, Bacon uses Erin’s interests in astronomy to name the Moon as a constant, clearly reflecting opposite points of view from Erin’s Northern Hemisphere home in Chicago compared to the view from Southern Hemisphere Christchurch. Also, Bacon demonstrates a uniquely creative writing skill by using an interesting variation of divergent thematic patterning in her narrative. With every few forward-moving chapters proceeding from Erin’s flight to Christchurch, there is a backstepping, flashed-back chapter from before Erin’s flight to Christchurch. As Erin experiences New Zealand and ultimately begins to reflect on who she is and what her passions are, we see a glimpse of the seeming antipode of the current point in time.

Through fresh use of literary device with strong character development and vivid descriptions of setting, Antipodes is a masterfully written novel that shows that even when meaning and direction seems lost, it’s not such a long journey back to true purpose.


 

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About the Author

I was born in Trumbull County, the only square county in Ohio, where books were my favorite means of escaping an unhappy childhood. Writing was my transparent attempt to create the things I craved: big happy families, international adventures and unconditional friendship. From a young age, I was drawn to people’s stories, and I still want to know how you met your best friend or fell in love with your partner.

In high school, I embraced my inner geek and wrote my first novel. In college, there were short stories and still more novels. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in English, with concentrations in critical theory and creative writing.

Full-time work sapped my creative brain for several years, but my professional life was one of reinvention. In state government, business management consulting, and nonprofit fundraising, I adapted easily and absorbed the languages of different professions. My last paying job was as an independent fundraising consultant for nonprofit organizations. That was seven years ago.

Since then, I have been writing and traveling (and, let’s be honest, chasing down small people who don’t like to wear clothes). I’ve traveled to all 50 states and dozens of other countries, always collecting pieces of characters and ideas for stories. I recently spent a year on sabbatical in Christchurch, New Zealand, where I may have left my heart at Ilam School. Now that we’ve settled back in the States, I’m writing for adults and young adults, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and baking like a fiend. (You’d thinking baking would be the same everywhere, but it’s not. Something is different about kiwi butter.)

When an idea strikes, I scrawl sweeping plot outlines, character idiosyncrasies, and ideas for scenes on the nearest blank spot of paper. My current manuscript was born of those torn slips of paper, used envelopes, lollipop wrappers, fuel receipts and–once–that little paper bit that keeps a nursing pad sticky until it’s time to use it. My manuscripts are better than the quality of papers where they began. Promise.

Outside of writing, I am a tabletop game enthusiast, passionate skier, and lover of prime numbers. I also am a mentor at the Moving Words Writing Clinic, and a freelance copyeditor.

I live in Seattle with my husband and three growing children.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads


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Review: Laura & Emma

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Kate Greathead. Simon & Schuster, $25, 352p. ISBN 9781501156601

A fifteen-year window into the life of an NYC woman who is the outlier of her wealthy and privileged family is Laura & Emma. Author Kate Greathead presents her first novel, a story of a mother and daughter that explores family relationships, social standards, and the sacrifices that come with choosing motherhood.

It’s easy to completely relate to Laura. She is a woman who mostly keeps to herself, doesn’t fall in with social standards of the upper class, has a favorite neighborhood grocery store, and doesn’t exactly love the idea of all-the-time sex. Laura is embarrassed by the word “wealthy,” and she tries to independently make a living without her family’s money. She adheres to her own particular fashion habit of rarely buying new clothes with a “’Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’” mentality. She is quite content to be living a solitary and simplistic life.

Then, in the summer of 1981, Laura has her first and only sexual experience that leaves her pregnant. Laura schedules an abortion – her “greatest gift to the planet” – but changes her mind on the morning of her scheduled abortion. With the arrival of her daughter, Emma, Laura’s quiet life evolves into a life of pediatricians, private school admission applications, game nights, and beach vacations. Emma grows to be curious, energetic, and strong-willed; though Laura and Emma are close while Emma is young, they inevitably grow apart as Emma gets older, until Emma goes off to boarding school and Laura resumes her solitary life.

Greathead expertly weaves her novel through interlaying nods to the history of New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. With each abrupt introduction of a new scene, Greathead gives just enough information on what must have happened in the lost time to encourage her audience to continue on. Reading more like a narrated journaling that is built from a chronological collection of aperçus, Laura & Emma is a strong debut novel that gives so many more questions to ask than are answered.

Cover Reveal: Choosing Hope

Choosing Hope
Holly Kammier
Publication date: October 31, 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller

A broken marriage.

A love affair.

A lie that changes it all…

Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful young boys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy. She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along.

Adrian appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong, and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out.

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

Add Choosing Hope to Goodreads

Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, the things we do for love, and the rabbit holes we tumble into while chasing elusive fairy-tale endings. Dark around the edges with a shocking twist that I didn’t see coming, this is the kind of book you’ll be passing around to your friends so you can talk about it. Holly Kammier delivers romance, suspense, and a strong, smart heroine who turns out to be nobody’s victim. Don’t miss this one!

Kat Ross, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea


Holly Kammier is a former journalist an UCLA honors graduate who has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon. She is the author of Kingston Court, her debut novel.

Choosing Hope, her soon-to-be released second novel, is a cross-over to Kingston Court with overlapping characters and locations.

The California native and mother of two lives in San Diego, California, close to her family and friends. Holly is the Co-Founder of Acorn Publishing and is available for speaking engagements and content editing.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Review: Merle

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Angela Wren. CreateSpace IPP, $10, 208p.  ISBN 9781546811985.

Also a theatre director in Yorkshire and a self-proclaimed Francophile, author Angela Wren presents her second Jacques Forêt mystery, Merle. Like her first Jacques Forêt novel, Messandrierre, Wren sets Merle in a small, French town that soon discovers that murder visits not only Paris.

Formerly a Parisian policeman, Jacques Forêt is now a private investigator who has been commissioned by Vaux Consulting to investigate the possibility of corporate corruption among executives. As Jacques spends time with the employees of Vaux Consulting, he finds that there is more being hidden within Vaux Consulting’s walls than originally suspected. Jacques is quite confident in his investigative skills, however, and isn’t afraid to ask awkward questions to find out what he needs to know; Jacques seemingly begins to upset the wrong person, and receives notes threatening himself and his lover, Beth, who has just decided to move to Merle with Jacques. Before any resolution arrives, corruption spirals into murder, and the lives of people near to Jacques are put into danger.

Wren demonstrates her skill as theater director by fragmenting her plot and rearranging the pieces in a way that opens her novel with an apéritif showing a glimpse of the denouement. Wren keeps Jacques and Beth dimensional with subplots exploring how how serious Jacques and Beth’s relationship is, and how Beth’s hobbies will thrive in Merle. Wren’s astute attention to detail of French culture, architecture, and geography keeps her writing relevant and pleasant.

Packed with continuing complications to intensify the final unraveling, Merle is a thrilling read about authority, corruption, and the power of secrets to deprave a genial French town.

Cover Reveal: Three Heart Echo

Three Heart Echo
Keary Taylor
Publication date: September 12, 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Suspense

The demented thing is that this evolved from the most sickly sweet, heart-wrenching love story you’ve ever heard. I went to Sully because I just couldn’t get over Jack’s murder. I couldn’t deal.

Iona came to me for the same reason most did: because there was no closure. A love cut too short. She begged me to open the gate between the living and the dead.

We should have left it shut.

This. This is not a love story. This is a possession story. A story of lies. A story of two faces. This is a story of death and violent echoes from the other side.

And there will be no happy endings.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order


Keary Taylor is the USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now splits her time between a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and Utah, with her husband and their two children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Cover Reveal: Coldmaker

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When the rivers boil and the air is too hot to breathe deeply, only one commodity is valued above all others: Cold.

Those that hold Cold, hold power.

Spout is not one of those lucky few. Born a Jadan – a slave – he is forced to stand on a baking hot street for hours, waiting to do the bidding of the Nobles who control the city.

But Spout has a secret. When the sun goes down, he tinkers into the night. Using his extraordinary talent, Spout turns worthless junk into incredible inventions.

If found Spout will pay the ultimate price, but as the rulers of the sun-drenched city tighten their death-grip on all Jadankind, Spout’s gift might be the only hope for him and his people of ever being free. 

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                             TITLE:  Coldmaker
                       AUTHOR:  Daniel A. Cohen
                          GENRE:  Fantasy
                 PUBLISHER:  HarperVoyager
          RELEASE DATE:  November 2, 2017

Okay, now that that’s out of the way.

Before I share Dan’s website or any other bookish links to make his pub and literary agent happy, let me let you in on a coldmaker – er, sender of chills down your spine.

Ever heard of a “memestagram”? You know, a meme-Instagram. Yeah, that.
It gets better: Ever heard of a book having a memestagram?

Real. Thing. I mean…

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Proof, yo. Go follow @coldmakerbook for your fix of “cold themes” and “fire memes!”
While you’re at it, check out Dan’s author website at www.danielacohenbooks.com, and keep up with Dan’s current saxophoning on Fierce Kelly’s Facebook page!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Having spent most of his life trapped in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, Daniel decided to dream himself somewhere new. Fantasy worlds became his refuge, giving him a place to escape from the cold and mundane. His first novel The Ancillary’s Mark was published when Daniel was only eighteen, receiving critical acclaim. His second book Masters of the Veil was published by Spencer Hill Press.

In addition to his writing career, Daniel is a semi-professional saxophonist in Austin, Texas, spending his days in front of the page and his nights in front of crowds. Sometimes the crowds cheer, and Daniel often wishes the page would do the same.

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Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

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Chelsea Sedoti. Sourcebooks Fire, $18, 400p. ISBN 9781492636083

From an author who lives in the desert and enjoys hunting down abandoned buildings and haunted houses comes a young adult novel that resists growing up as much as its author did. Chelsea Sedoti’s The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is a refreshingly written, coming-of-age story of a small-town girl who takes on a big-time investigation in an effort to find her place and feel belonging.

Hawthorn is a seventeen-year-old girl who struggles with her state of nobodiness. She is conscious of her unpopularity at school, and wonders if she’ll ever experience a “movie kiss”. Notably contrast to Hawthorn is Lizzie Lovett, a girl to whom nothing bad ever happened, who had friends, and whose biggest problem has been “whether to match her shoes to her eyeshadow.”

Although Hawthorn never really knew Lizzie, other than understanding that she would never attain Lizzie’s status of popularity, Hawthorn finds herself trying to uncover what happened to Lizzie on her own. Hawthorn inadvertently accepts Lizzie’s old job at a neighborhood diner and befriends Lizzie’s boyfriend, with whom she shares her own wild theories of what may have happened to Lizzie.

Sedoti buries Hawthorn’s investigation into Lizzie’s disappearance under Hawthorn’s own journey to find belonging. Unless Hawthorn is actively talking about looking for Lizzie, the reader finds himself more engrossed in Hawthorn’s personal struggles. Because of this toggle, with the story of Hawthorn’s personal life taking some prevalence over Hawthorn’s search for Lizzie, the resolution of Lizzie’s disappearance toward the end of the novel comes as a surprise, catching the reader off guard.

Perhaps most refreshing about Chelsea Sedoti’s writing is her ability to put a phrase or conversation on paper exactly how it is thought or said. In Hawthorn’s narration, Sedoti writes “kinda” where the laws of grammar say to use “kind of”, and during the conversations of a chatty teenager, Sedoti stands confident behind run-on sentences. This allows the reader to fully feel as if they are standing in the room with Hawthorn, participating in the investigation and going through Hawthorn’s struggles with her.

As if showing the reader a glimpse back into his or her own teenage years through times of uncertainty, insecurity, and nonacceptance, Chelsea Sedoti weaves a story of a girl looking for meaning into a grim reminder that life is a reality, and calls her finished product The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett.

 

Review: With Malice

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Eileen Cook. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18, 320p. ISBN 9780544805095.

In her latest thriller, With Malice, author Eileen Cook places two girls in Italy and brings only one of them back – with broken bones and memory loss.

Cook opens her novel presenting Ivy League-bound Jill Charron waking up in a hospital, having just been emergency airlifted from Italy and not knowing that she was ever in Europe. After being told about the car accident that left her with a broken leg and aphasia, Jill struggles to put together the pieces of her missing memories. Jill tries to use a hospital phone to call her best friend, Simone, convinced that Simone will be able to fill in the gaps of her memories, but Jill is rudely thwarted by Simone’s parents. Jill later learns that although she and Simone had gone on the school-sponsored trip to Italy together, excited to immerse themselves in all the art and history that Italy has to offer, Simone didn’t return from Italy – and Jill is the leading suspect in Simon’s apparent murder.

Already wrestling with her lack of memory, Jill is burdened with pressure from her family’s lawyer, who is trying to control what the media publishes; from the Italian police, who want to extradite Jill to face charges of manslaughter; and even from her parents, who have doubts of Jill’s innocence. All the while, Jill strives to remember any piece of her time in Italy, her supposed “lover”, and what could’ve caused such an argument to lead Jill to possibly murder Simone.

Cook expertly keeps the reader from deciding between Jill’s innocence or guilt by venturing out of the normal form of writing a novel. Cook builds the story partially through published snippets of blog posts, Facebook posts and comments, text message threads, and interview transcriptions. Cook alternates her chapters from publishing witness accounts and social opinion of the Jill’s innocence or guilt, to progressing Jill’s story as she spending her weeks in therapy and residential care, anticipating the day when she’ll have to go to court. As soon as one piece of evidence is revealed that seemingly proves Jill’s guilt, another eyewitness account is presented that convinces of Jill’s innocence. This method of writing draws the reader into the story, and largely contributes to the thrill of reading on to find the truth.

Cook develops Jill’s character around internal struggles, self-discovery, personal growth, and the questioning of faithfulness, all of which a teenager battles during transition between high school and the “real world.” One common coming-of-age reality that Jill comes to face is the reality that she’s going to have to move forward with college and the rest of her life without her best friend, Simone, whom she’s known since fourth grade. Cook challenges this concept with Jill’s roommate in the recovery home, who teaches Jill to be open to trusting people regardless of how long or how well she knows them.

With Malice is a suspenseful read that explores the values of honesty, loyalty, and friendship, as well as the argument that a person’s real character is only discovered by persevering through difficult times.