Magic To Memphis

magic to memphis

 

Magic To Memphis

by Julie Starr

 

 

Music, murder and everyday magic. Jessie is seventeen years old, a runaway musician living rough in a trailer with a pit bull dog called Bear. That’s fine by Jessie; she’s got big plans. A music contest in Memphis offers the chance of money, fame and escape from a nowhere town with no real prospects. Turns out there’s more in Memphis than music. When Jessie’s mom sends her a box of things belonging to her dad, she finds out that he made the same trip years ago. She’s determined to find him, but has no idea that the ring her dad left her is being hunted by a sadistic killer. Nor does she realize that he will stop at nothing to get it back. Suddenly, a simple music contest turns into a fight for survival and only a puzzling traveler called Finch has the answers Jessie needs. But will she listen? And can she trust in herself enough to change her luck and make magic happen?

 

 

Teenage runaway Jessie receives an unexpected package from her mother, containing memorabilia of her father.

Unfortunately a deadly killer named Kabos is searching for a ring that is contained in the package.

Enter the mysterious Finch, who instills magic into everything. After a message from Finch: there is always an end before a beginning,  Jessie loses everything; her job, her band and her trailer. This sets her off on her journey to Memphis.

I have to admit that I don’t really read a lot of YA novels and my expectations coming into this book weren’t particularly high. But how wrong I was!

I loved Jessie, she is strong and feisty but she’s also hurt, lost and vulnerable; struggling with her feelings of abandonment. The story follows her journey from filthy trailer park in Dorma to Memphis in search of her father and musical success.  Jessie is all alone having left home at sixteen after relations broke down with her mother. Well she’s not quite alone; she has her best friend, Bear, and what a friend he is. A big, ugly pit-bull terrier, born and bred as a fighting dog, but rescued and retired by Jessie. The two are inseparable and he is as big a character as anyone in the book.

The character of Finch was wonderful, guiding Jessie along the way with his magic and ways of teaching Jessie to look at herself differently.

What if your life is working from the inside out?

If only all teenagers had a Finch.

Then there are the members of the band that Jessie is the lead singer in. They all head to Memphis to take part in a music competition that could change all their lives.

Add to the mix the psychopathic killer searching for the ring that is in Jessie’s possession.  Kabos is an Egyptian sorcerer who has killed many times and will stop at nothing to get the ring back.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of Memphis. The author brought to life the area and its music really well.

I would recommend this book for all ages. There is enough depth for adults and the easy writing style ensures that it is clear enough for younger readers. It is totally engaging with memorable characters and storylines to keep the pages turning.

****

All royalties from this book go to children’s charities. If you would like to purchase the book you can do so here

Many thanks to Kate Appleton for sending me a copy.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Faerie Tree

the faerie tree

The Faerie Tree
by Jane Cable

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

Central to this story is The Faerie Tree, a magical place where people leave messages and gifts in the hope of them being answered by the fairies. In 1986 Robin took Izzie to the Faerie Tree and they both realised they were in love. Unfortunately the same day brought tragedy and the couple parted and didn’t see each other again for 20 years.

2006: Izzie and her daughter Claire are facing their first Christmas without husband and father Connor who died a few months earlier. While out shopping Izzie recognises a tramp on the street as Robin, the man she was in love with 20 years earlier. Finding out that he has been hospitalised, Izzie visits him, offering him a place to stay when he is well enough.

The couple find that they still have feelings for each other, but will that be enough? Their memories of the past are wildly different.

I love the characters in this book. Robin is wonderful, so fragile and damaged, yet still so full of love and compassion. His pagan beliefs and love of the natural world helping him through very difficult times. I fell a little bit in love with Robin and he will stay with me for a long time.

Izzie has also had her share of tough times, widowed at 44, and trying to cope with her teenage daughter looking for more independence, she is not dealing very well with her grief. Her mood swings are frequent; from seemingly happy and contented to fractious and petulant.

Claire is a teenager wise beyond her years; needing independence and starting a new relationship with a boy, she nevertheless understands her mother is not as strong as she would like her to believe.

This is such a wonderful book. It’s about so much more than just two people losing and finding each other again. It’s about memory and how the mind deals with grief; it’s about tragedy and people’s differing reactions to it. But it’s also about love and friendship and it is beautifully told. What could be a heavy, dour subject is written about with such a light touch that it is very affecting but never depressing.

I read this book so quickly but I didn’t want to finish it. I am now looking forward to reading other books by Jane Cable.
Highly recommended.
****1/2

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy via Netgalley

Season Of The Witch

season of the witch

In her award-winning novel, Mostert blends alchemy, the art of memory, high magic and murder to create a highly original psychological thriller.

Gabriel Blackstone is a cool, hip, thoroughly twenty-first century Londoner with an unusual talent. A computer hacker by trade, he is also a remote viewer: able to ‘slam a ride’ through the minds of others.

But he uses his gift only reluctantly ― until he is contacted by an ex-lover who begs him to find her step-son, last seen months earlier in the company of two sisters.

And so Gabriel visits Monk House, a place where time seems to stand still, and where the rooms are dominated by the coded symbol of a cross and circle.

As winter closes in, Gabriel becomes increasingly bewitched by the house, and by its owners, the beautiful and mysterious Monk sisters. But even as he falls in love, he knows that one of them is a killer.

Towards the end of last year I came across this author on Netgalley with her most recent book Dark Prayer (also reviewed on my blog) and I loved it. It was definitely one of my books of the year. Wanting to read some more I picked Season of the Witch which I didn’t know until after I had read it has won The Book To Talk About: World Book Day Award. I have to say that it more than deserves its award.

It is a long time since I read it but this book reminded me of The Magus by John Fowles but with none of the confusion of that book.

The story is about Gabriel Blackstone a computer hacker, or as he says himself, a thief. He steals secrets and sells them to the competition. An extremely lucrative business. But Gabriel has another talent; he is a remote viewer, he can see into other people’s minds.

After a visit from his ex-girlfriend, Gabriel is reluctantly drawn into the search for her missing stepson Robert Whittington. This leads him to Monk House and the mysterious Monk sisters, Morrighan and Minnaloushe. They are very different sisters; one is full of physicality the other cerebral, one has black hair the other a redhead, one writes a diary the other is a murderer.

Gabriel is drawn further and further into the world of Monk House just as Robert Whittington was before him, he believes he is strong enough to keep his own mind but then makes a discovery about the sisters and realises that he may end up losing it..and more.

Natasha Mostert is a wonderful, intelligent writer. She takes what could easily come across as a dense complex story and turns it into an immensely readable thriller which includes; murder, mystery, magic, alchemy, memory and romance and what’s more every page of it works.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys intelligent writing with a brilliant storyline and beautiful prose. You will sink into this book and not want to come up.

Natasha Mostert is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I am really looking forward to reading more.
*****

Dark Prayer

dark_prayer

Dark Prayer
By Natasha Mostert

Eloise Blake is on the run from a life she can no longer remember. And from a killer who will stop at nothing to protect a secret as old as time. From the award-winning author of SEASON OF THE WITCH comes a thriller about memory, identity and the murderous consequences of a quest gone wrong.

In the 1980s, a child witnesses the murder of her mother. Twenty years later, Jennilee Gray disappears from her home. When she is found she is no longer the same girl. She has no memory of her previous life and has created a new identity for herself as Eloise Blake.
Her guardian, Daniel Barone, fears for her safety and asks for help from his old friend, Leon Simonetti. Simonetti sends his son, Jack, to help.
Jack is at first unwilling to help but soon finds himself fascinated by Eloise and the life she has created for herself. He soon comes to realise that she is in danger.

The concept of the book is brilliant. Through a riveting storyline, Natasha Mostert deals with the mystery of memory as the key to who we are. She shows how closely linked are science and magic/mysticism. How power and greed and even love can make you do unimaginably cruel deeds.

Something that I had never heard of before is parkour/free running, which plays quite a large part in the story and fits perfectly. The descriptions of the characters pursuing this activity were excellent and had me running to youtube to check it out.

This is definitely one of my books of the year. There is not a dull page in it. It is totally compelling, with vivid descriptions and an intelligent and commanding narrative. Hugely recommended.
*****

Many thanks to the publishers for my copy via Netgalley