Book 349: CITY OF TIME AND MAGIC by Paula Brackston

City of Time and Magic, Found Things #4, by Paula Brackston
ISBN: 9781250260697 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250260703 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250818874 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08TZ38281 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R2HCFLR (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 23, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Time-Travel

Xanthe meets Brackston’s most famous heroine, Elizabeth Hawksmith from The Witch’s Daughter, in this crossover story with all the “historical detail, village charm, and twisty plotting” of the Found Things series (Publishers Weekly).

City of Time and Magic sees Xanthe face her greatest challenges yet. She must choose from three treasures that sing to her; a beautiful writing slope, a mourning brooch of heartbreaking detail, and a gorgeous gem-set hat pin. All call her, but the wrong one could take her on a mission other than that which she must address first, and the stakes could not be higher. While her earlier mission to Regency England had been a success, the journey home resulted in Liam being taken from her, spirited away to another time and place. Xanthe must follow the treasure that will take her to him if he is not to be lost forever.

Xanthe is certain that Mistress Flyte has Liam and determined to find them both. But when she discovers Lydia Flyte has been tracking the actions of the Visionary Society, a group of ruthless and unscrupulous Spinners who have been selling their talents to a club of wealthy clients, Xanthe realizes her work as a Spinner must come before her personal wishes. The Visionary Society is highly dangerous and directly opposed to the creed of the Spinners. Their actions could have disastrous consequences as they alter the authentic order of things and change the future. Xanthe knows she must take on the Society. It will require the skills of all her friends, old and new, to attempt such a thing, and not all of them will survive the confrontation that follows.

 
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Xanthe Westlake no longer only has Harley to rely upon when finding lost things that sing to her. She has confided her talents to step through time to her mother, Flora, and her boyfriend, Liam. The third book of this series, The Garden of Promises and Lies ended with Xanthe traveling back in time with Liam. Unfortunately, Liam was snatched from her when they attempted to return to their own time. Now Xanthe, Harley, and Flora are eager to find something that not only sings to Xanthe but will take her back to the right time to rescue Liam. Xanthe’s past travels haven’t been without danger, especially in the form Benedict Fairfax, another time spinner. But this time she has to deal with dangers that not affect those of that time period, but her loved ones as well. Is Liam safe? Where is he? How is he? What dangers, if any, are awaiting Xanthe back in time? And what would motivate another time spinner to snatch Liam in an effort to obtain Xanthe’s attention?

If you’ve been following me for any time now, you know beyond any reasonable doubt that I re-read the previous books in this series—Little Shop of Found Things, Secrets of the Chocolate House, and The Garden of Promises and Lies—to re-familiarize myself (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), before reading City of Time and Magic. Just as the third book in this series was a bit different from the first two, this book reintroduces us to Elizabeth (Hawksmith) Balmoral, originally introduced in The Witch’s Daughter, as well as Mistress Lydia Flyte, Erasmus Balmoral — a time stepper, former lover to Lydia Flyte and now married to Elizabeth Hawksmith, Dougal Harley — publican, neighbor to Flora and Xanthe, and Xanthe’s “advisor.” We’re also introduced to a host of other characters that play major and minor roles within the story, including more time spinners. This particular chapter of Xanthe’s ongoing saga, she must not only right a wrong from the past, but she also to choose the side of the righteous spinners. Her choice will have repercussions on her friends and acquaintances from the past as well as her contemporary loved ones. Does she have to battle evil again, well you’ll need to read the book to find out for yourself!

Reading City of Time and Magic took me a bit longer than normal, not because I found in uninteresting but because of a variety of family trials (elderly parental health issues and a death in the family). I was simply unable to focus my attention on reading for a few days because of these situations. However, once I began to re-read this book, I was enraptured and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I enjoyed the interaction between Liam and Mistress Flyte, Liam and the Balmorals, as well as Harley with everyone else. Yes, Harley gets to travel back in time to assist Xanthe. Xanthe, Liam, and Harley make quite the team in this story and although I can’t tell you more about what happens, I sincerely hope that they will have more adventures in the future, especially with Elizabeth Hawksmith Balmoral! Can you tell I enjoyed this story? City of Time and Magic has hints of romance, intrigue, magic, betrayal, and more. I can’t say that this is the best book in the Found Series because I love them all. I can say that if you’ve read any of the previous books in this series then you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of City of Time and Magic to read. This author provides the reader with fascinating glimpses of the past and usage of past items when compared to contemporary times. The juxtaposition of the timelines is just one of the many things that make this series so enjoyable, at least to this reader. If you enjoy historical fiction, contemporary fiction, bits of fantasy, or just plain good writing, then I encourage you to read this series, consider it a gift to yourself for the holiday season! Something tells me I’ll be getting all four books for my 87-y.o. mother to read.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Spotlight: HELLO, REST OF MY LIFE by Rick Lenz

Hello, Rest of My Life by Rick Lenz
ISBN: 9780984844265 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780984844289 (eBook)
ASIN: B09CVBZ1W7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Chromodroid Press
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Time Travel | Fantasy

 
 A TIMELESS LOVE STORY

When Danny Maytree, an ambitious young 1970s film actor, met Samantha on a blind date and fell in love, he decided he no longer cared about Tinseltown stardom. He still acted sometimes, but he became a writer too.

Now married and in their seventies, they find a dog whose faded tag has the name “Tali” and a Beverly Hills phone prefix from fifty years earlier.

Writing a time travel novel in 2021, Danny gets a call from a mysterious, velvet-voiced acting agent. He has a meeting tomorrow in Beverly Hills. Tali, in one of their singular “conversations,” questions Danny’s motives.

Now, Danny is in Beverly Hills-not at the meeting, but in the elegant home where he lived in 1974, forty-seven years ago. He is twenty-seven again, bewildered, but with a second chance at his Hollywood dream.

He doesn’t want it, because Sam is not in this world.

Unhappy in his new “now,” he realizes his journey back to “Kansas” hinges on the magic of film. A sharkish agent helps him navigate Hollywood’s rocky shoals. A worldly-wise teen and a New Age fortune-teller offer spiritual advice. And a sexy wicked witch throws a monkey wrench in his path.

Advance Praise

“…Readers of time travel stories are in for a special treat, because Hello, Rest of My Life isn’t your usual saga of becoming stuck in the past and searching for the way home. Its special blend of philosophical and moral dilemmas, flavored with humor and a heavy dash of romance, sets it apart from other, more singular accounts. The events give readers plenty of thought-provoking moments as Danny reaches for truths in the past, that he never allowed himself to consider in his former life with Sam.” — Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“…his prose approaches poetry on nearly every page … So we now know that Rick Lenz can likely enter any realm of storytelling and succeed.” — San Francisco Review of Books

Hello, Rest of My Life is an emotionally gutting, beautifully written, passionate story of second chances with a twisty time-travel plot that will blow your mind while mending your heart.” — USA Today best-selling author, Pamela Crane

Meet The Author

Rick Lenz is a graduate of the University of Michigan, past member of the Actor’s Studio, and active member in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a veteran Broadway, television and film actor who first came to national attention when he repeated his Broadway role in Cactus Flower, in the film version—opposite Goldie Hawn, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Matthau. He went on to appear in a long list of television series and movies, and to act opposite many of the entertainment industry’s biggest stars—Peter Sellers, Jackie Gleason, Maureen O’Hara, John Wayne (in Wayne’s final film, The Shootist), and many more. He is also a playwright and author (The award-winning The Alexandrite and more recently, Impersonators Anonymous). His memoir, North of Hollywood has recently been published in its second edition. You can find out more about him and his journey to becoming a writer on his website https://www.RickLenz.com.

Connect with the Author: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

This spotlight brought to you by Books Forward

 

2019 Book 307: SECRETS OF THE CHOCOLATE HOUSE by Paula Brackston

Secrets of the Chocolate House, Found Things #2, by Paula Brackston 
ISBN: 9781250072443 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466884113 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250242143 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07PHV8NMD (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07PBP38Q7 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 22, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


The second novel in a bewitching series “brimming with charm and charisma” that will make “fans of Outlander rejoice!” (Woman’s World Magazine)

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed? 





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Xanthe Westlake and her mother, Flora, moved to Marlborough to open their antique shop in Marlborough in The Little Shop of Found Things. Readers discovered that Xanthe has the uncanny ability to hear objects “sing” to her and then travel through time. In the first book, she traveled back to the seventeenth century at the behest of a ghost and a chatelaine to protect the life of an unknown girl. Whilst there, she met and fell in love with a local builder/architect, Samuel Appleby. Samuel helped her to prove the girl’s innocence and thus gain her freedom, but Xanthe knew that they were two people out of step with one another. She had obligations in her time and couldn’t stay in the seventeenth century and Samuel had his own obligations and couldn’t travel through time with her. There was nothing for her to do but leave him behind. Now, Xanthe has discovered a hoard of chocolate pots and one pot in particular is singing to her and the song seems tied to her beloved. The only thing Xanthe knows is that she must once again travel back in time and do whatever she can to help Samuel, but this time is not quite like the first. This time she meets other time spinners and one is willing to do whatever takes to learn just how Xanthe manages to control walking back-and-forth through time. Unfortunately, this time spinner also holds the fate of Samuel’s life in his hands. Can Xanthe free her beloved from this tyrannical time spinner without damaging his reputation and livelihood? Can she provide the answers this time spinner seeks without violating the time spinner code? Can she do all of this while keeping her mother safe and unaware of her time traveling? And if that’s not enough to deal with, can she handle all of this drama and deal with the reemergence of her former boyfriend and drug dealer, Marcus in her new hometown or will he finally accept “not interested” and “get lost” as her final answers?

Obviously, I had to take time to read The Little Shop of Found Things before reading Secrets of the Chocolate House. Glad I did because it provides the backstory for Xanthe and her mother. By the way, did I forget to mention that Xanthe’s mother, Flora, is suffering from debilitating arthritis and going through a somewhat acrimonious divorce from Xanthe’s father? Also, Xanthe served a few months in prison on drug charges because of her former boyfriend and his drug dealing and he refused to step up out of fear he might go to prison (what a guy!). There’s a lot going on in both The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House but for those of you that enjoy time travel stories with hints of romance, then I strongly encourage you to read these books! (Might I suggest drinking plenty of hot chocolate whilst reading Secrets of the Chocolate House, seems appropriate doesn’t it?) I thoroughly enjoyed all of the drama from the contemporary and historical timelines. I liked all of the characters, except for Marcus and the tyrannical time spinner, Benedict Fairfax. There are bad guys in these stories and horrible guys in these stories. Some get their comeuppance and others seem to walk away (you’ll need to read the books to learn which does what). I rather enjoyed the fact that Xanthe doesn’t really know what she should do and constantly struggles to find the answers. She’s a bit quirky but she has pluck and perseverance. Secrets of the Chocolate House has plenty of returning characters and it was nice to get to know them a bit better, such as Gerri the tea and pastry shop owner, Harley the publican, and Liam the mechanic. It was also nice to revisit Samuel in the seventeenth century and get to know some new characters, such as Mistress Flyte – the owner of the chocolate shop and an experienced but retired time spinner, and Edmund – the worker at the chocolate shop. I’ve enjoyed reading previous books by Ms. Brackston and can’t wait for the next book in the Found Things series. For now, I’ll be content with rereading The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House while I wait. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed Secrets of the Chocolate House and am eager to see what happens next for Xanthe and friends.



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 135: THE SKIN MAP Review

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Release date: May 31, 2011 (paperback)


C. Christopher “Kit” Livingstone is an average 20-something male. He is employed and has a girlfriend, and he isn’t happy with either one. Kit’s life changes when he meets his great-grandfather and is taught about ley lines that provide for inter-dimensional time travel — different times and alternate universes. Unfortunately he tries to impress his girlfriend, Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug with ley line travel. Mina gets taken to early 17th century Prague whereas Kit is taken to 17th century England. What follows is a wild adventure of discovery and intrigue. Mina finds her place by becoming a successful merchant as co-owner of a bakery and coffeehouse and even earns a royal warrant. Kit is still floundering while trying to understand the importance of ley lines, the “skin map” that depicts and decodes these ley lines, and his role in decoding the information. 


This story is told from multiple points of views, namely Kit, Mina, Lord Burleigh and Arthur Flinders-Petrie. The reader travels to Macau, ancient Egypt during the times of the pharaohs, early 20th century Egypt and the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb by Henry Carter and Lord Carnarvon, and alternate 17th century European civilizations. The mystery lies in the ultimate purpose of the ley lines and the search for the Well of Souls, something that only Mr. Flinders-Petrie apparently knew and had coded into symbols tattooed onto his body. There are hints given to myths and mysteries but nothing is ever spelled out.


Although Kit’s role seems to be pivotal to this story I found all of the other characters much more interesting. Mina is determined to make the best of a bad situation and quickly adapts to living in the 16th century. Mr. Flinders-Petrie is the key and we’re allowed a glimpse of his life and travels in Macau and ancient Egypt. I enjoyed reading about the various adventures each person has and even learning about the theories behind the ley lines and their importance in the hypothetical omniverse. The Skin Map is well-written but it moved a little too slow for my tastes, not to mention leaving too many questions to be answered in, presumably, the remaining books. I enjoyed this book but I doubt if I’ll be reading any more in this series, it simply wasn’t that captivating.


Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”