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Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain (Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Book 1)

Magic of the Gargoyles (Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Book 1) by Rebecca Chastain

“Just really, really believe in what you’re trying to do. Don’t let people alter that. Let people advise you and lead you down paths to make smart business decisions. But trust your instinct and trust that overwhelming drive that made you put all your dreams and everything on the line.” – Luke Bryan

Magic of the Gargoyles
All Mika Stillwater wants to do is finish this finicky, delicate job, get paid, and maybe, just maybe, get some sleep. That doesn’t seem like such a huge request, does it? After all, if she can finish the delicate crystal vials for that grumpy, obnoxious healer apprentice Althea Stoneward, she will be that much closer to blowing off her dreary Jones and Sons Quarry job and opening her own shop. Just twelve little vials, and all of her dreams will have their true beginning.

Really. It wasn’t that much to ask.

However, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. And Mika’s wishes are shattered, in more ways than one, when a baby gargoyle slams into her life. Literally. Now, Mika must decide between fulfilling her dreams or saving a clutch of baby gargoyles from true evil. What’s a girl to do? Why, saddle up and ride to the rescue!

I have been fortunate lately to read a few books that have impressed me in their portrayal of strong women characters, and this is one of them. Mika doesn’t have any illusions about her powers making her Superwoman. Instead, she is modest almost to a fault, realizing her boundaries and working hard to move herself beyond them. She is kind and honorable, willing to do what has to be done, even if it destroys her own dreams, just because it is right. Ms. Chastain’s world-building is beautifully wrought and believable within its context, and left me wanting to learn more about the world in which Mika lives. The characters are well drawn, and pace and context well designed. There is no ‘romance’ to the book, this is straight fantasy, and well worth the read.

The next book in the series is “Curse of the Gargoyles” and I already have it downloaded through Kindle Unlimited to my tablet.  The third book in the series, “Secret of the Gargoyles” is in print now.

Enjoy!

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The Glass Gargoyle (The Lost Ancients #1) by Marie Andreas

The Glass Gargoyle (The Lost Ancients #1)“Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Fairy-stories

 Archaeologist Taryn St. Giles just can’t catch a break. Her last few patrons died or disappeared on her, Crusty Bucket is drunk again, and some jerk started a fight in the Shimmering Dewdrop. On a Tuesday night, no less! And to top it off? The same jerk who started the fight is the character she has been trying to find all day. Well, if she can’t work as an archaeologist, she has to do something. And at least being a bounty hunter puts food on the table and keeps a roof over their heads. Yes, I said “their.” As in, Taryn, the aforementioned Crusty Bucket, Garbage Blossom and Leaf Grub. Taryn never asked to be the caretaker of faeries, but now that she is, keeping them in line is a job and a half.

This is a great story. So strange, so fun, so much laughter. . . Just my thing. Taryn lives on a world where ‘once upon a time’ left ruins. As in, Elf ruins. She has been fascinated by the ruins since childhood, and all she has ever wanted to do is learn about the elves. How they lived, how they thought. But without a patron, there is no digging for Taryn. When a well-respected professor decides to be her patron, Taryn is at first thrilled. But then things get really weird. And everything everyone thought about the elves, their ruins, and reality may never be the same. Oops.

This book was a true pleasure to read, and I very much look forward to the next. Laughter is good!

Review: The Accidental Alchemist #Mystery #HerbalAlchemy #FoodieMystery

“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold.

That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The Accidental AlchemistWhen Zoe Faust moved to Portland she was hoping for a quiet, unobtrusive life, away from her memories. She wanted to start a new life. That isn’t anything unusual. Many people move to Portland to start over, away from their old lives. Of course, the fact that Zoe is over 300 years old and studied as an alchemist under Nicholas and Perenelle does make her a bit different from those others who have washed up upon the green and fertile shores of Portland. To-ma-to, to-mah-to. It seemed so simple. Buy the old, rundown house in a good neighborhood. Set up her online herb and antiques business. Have a nice, quiet life. At least for as long as she can get away with it.

All-in-all, it might have been better to stay in France.

Things began well enough. Find a discreet contractor to come in, fix up the house (including the nearly fallen in roof) and while he is at it, have him build an alchemical oven in the basement cum lab, then take his money and forget he was ever there. But as with all things, issues arise. Such as the fact that said contractor winds up dead on her front porch before he can even pick up a hammer. Then of course there is the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle who climbs out of one of her packing boxes. There is the break-in in which the gargoyle’s ancient alchemical volume, and several other volumes and items of great financial and alchemical value, are stolen. At least Dorian Robert-Houdin can cook. Although he really doesn’t get the whole vegan thing – but when it becomes a challenge, well, the food that comes from the kitchen is enough to make even a non-vegan’s mouth water.

A chemist, a cop, a tea shop owner and a 14-year-old housebreaker are only a few of the interesting characters you meet in The Accidental Alchemist. The mystery is well plotted and very well executed, and the author’s knowledge of the history of alchemy truly adds to the story. Being born in 1600’s Salem, Zoe has seen a lot in her time on Earth, not all of it good – but not all of it bad either. Now, in order to save not only the tea shop owner, Blue Sky, from being convicted of a murder she did not commit, but also to save Dorian from returning to stone – an excruciating way to “die” when he won’t really be dead, only trapped in an stone body, his mind still alive and functioning – Zoe must find out who really killed her contractor and get Dorian’s alchemical text back in order to save Dorian’s life.

There are some things about the book I really liked that others seemed to abhor. I loved how the author talked about food and cooking. I could nearly smell the scents from the kitchen as Dorian cooked – something he learned from a well-respected, but tragically blinded, chef long ago. It felt to me like a commentary on what it is like to live so very long, to be so very different that you have to hide yourself away. How lonely that life must be, and how Dorian immerses himself in cooking to fend off that aching loneliness. Coming to Zoe for help not only gives him hope that she might save him, but feeding her is a caring act, designed to show his respect and understanding of Zoe and her long, long life. So, I will respectfully disagree with those who found that part of the book unnecessary. To me, it was a very necessary part of the dialog – the understanding of the depths of loneliness and loss that surely burns at the soul of those touched by the Philosopher’s Stone. The same can be said for the complaints about Zoe not being ‘omniscient’ – not automatically remembering how to do absolutely everything she has ever learned. Being long lived must certainly be, in many ways, incredibly boring. You can’t retain relationships – someone might catch on that you aren’t aging. As the days flow on, pouring one unto the other, time certainly must begin to have no real meaning, lessons learned fading away until memory becomes dream.

I really, really liked this book, and look forward to more by Gigi Pandian. I listened to the audio version and Julia Moytka does a wonderful job with the narration. Her voice simply “fits” the characters, and her rendition of Dorian, rather than being “overly Frenchy” as one reviewer put it, is warm, carrying over the old fashioned French of the 16th century. If you try this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

About this author

Gigi PandianGigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand) and the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (The Accidental Alchemist). After spending her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Gigi’s debut novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut mystery novel by Suspense Magazine. Gigi also writes locked-room “impossible crime” short stories, and her story “The Hindi Houdini” was short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Gigi blogs at http://gigipandian.blogspot.com/ and posts gargoyle photographs at http://www.gargoylegirl.com.

Review: Heart of Stone by Christine Warren

heart
It has possibilities as a series. Ella is well written.
Click to order.

Christine Warren’s Heart of Stone came to me through Netgalley.com, with a request for interview. Honestly, what drew it to me was the “gargoyle” theme, as gargoyles have been an obsession for me since I was a child. Honestly, the main character in the book, Kees (pronounced like ‘peace’)  is not a true “gargoyle” but is instead a “grotesque,” a gargoyle-like character which was designed for protection rather than the movement of water along the gutters of ancient French rooftops. And protector he is. Kees and his six brothers were called centuries ago to protect humanity from The Darkness, an ancient evil that even the Light of the Universe cannot overcome.

 Ella Harrow, on the other hand, is definitely not a protector in her present standing. Instead, she is a quiet, reserved, and introverted museum docent who would rather walk over hot coals than interact with people. She isn’t just shy – she is terrified of people and crowds. I love Ella. Absolutely love her. She is quiet and shy, and more damaged than anyone would ever understand. She has horrors in her background – horrors which she can never allow to be known.

 Tonight, Ella has suffered through the quarterly fundraiser, and is more than ready to go home and curl up in her apartment, her ‘Fortress of Solitude,’ and forget all about having to interact with all the museum contributors. However, Ella’s life is about to change, and change drastically. No longer will she be able to run and hide, to shy away . . . for there are people, and creatures, after her. And only the statue, a grotesque come to life, will be able to help her to reach her true potential. If she lives long enough.

 I hadn’t realized that I had read any of Christine Warren’s works before. I once read part of On The Prowl and hadn’t remembered it. That particular book didn’t impress me at all – in fact, I gave it a 1-star rating on Amazon. I actually called it another poorly written, poorly conceptualized bomb of a book and I still stand by that review. To say that the lead female character was spineless and embarrassingly stupid was an understatement. I am glad I didn’t remember that book before I picked this one up or I wouldn’t have read it. This female character is much more self actualized and better written. Overall, this book, the first of a projected series, was worth the time I took to read it, and I will be watching for the next volume.

 The Netgalley copy that I received was an unedited volume with extensive errors that I am hoping were corrected in the final volume which was published in December 2013.

Interview with a Gargoyle – Jennifer Colgan

interview gargoyle
Click to purchase the book. Go ahead. Do It! You Know you want to!

Interview with a Gargoyle – Jennifer Colgan – Loved It!

I have loved Gargoyles since childhood. Some are funny, some are grotesque, but to me, all were fascinating. I would stare into their faces, searching for the soul within, often driving myself to tears as I peered into what I thought were tortured souls, reaching out for some touch of kindness, some brush of understanding. I felt, in all my own pain, a deep and abiding kinship with them that I feel even to this day.

It is rare to find a book about a gargoyle. There are a couple I can think of, and whenever I find them I snap them up and immerse myself. Interview with a Gargoyle caught my eye on a cruise through GoodReads and I snatched it up. I am very glad I did.

Gargoyle
Gargoyle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jennifer has written a wonderful book about the cost of brutality and superstition, punishment and revenge, and the slow awakening of forgiveness. Filled with witches and demons, as well as a very well written gargoyle character, Jennifer captured my attention from the first and never let it go. The only thing that really upset me about the book? It ended!  The end seemed to promise a second book, which I truly hope will happen. This one just came out at the end of 2012, so I have hope that a new one will be forthcoming.

As this was my first book by Ms. Colgan, I was interested to see what else she has written. I was surprised to find that she writes in a wide variety of genres, from paranormal to historical romance. I have already purchased Married to the MIB. Who can resist? The Men in Black have always tickled my interest, and this one looks like a great little short (125 page) story.

\I was surprised to find that Jennifer has very few reviews on Amazon. I am going to have to do what I can to fix that – starting by telling you all that you really should check out Interview with a Gargoyle. It was a very, very pleasant way to spend a few hours of my insomniac life!

Highly recommended.

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