Mayor of Hollywood

Mayor of Hollywood by MB Brophy – Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a diehard mystery reader. What you might not know is that I adore mysteries set in Hollywood, and if they include real celebrities, more the better. I devoured the old Hollywood novels by George Baxt years ago and frequently look for novels in this vein. Mayor of Hollywood certainly fills the bill and definitely does not disappoint.

Right away, we meet Lucy Cassidy, former child star turned university history professor specializing in the history of Hollywood. Brophy starts the action early on when Lucy makes a shocking discovery in her basement following a “coming out” party signaling her return to acting. Even while dealing with an apparent stalker, Lucy is called upon by her boyfriend, a hunky police detective, to consult on a murder case where the victims were staged to echo an old Hollywood murder case. As they dig deeper and deeper into the contemporary murder, Lucy is horrified to discover evidence pointing to old friends from her teenage acting days, and is forced to confront some of her own demons as more is revealed about one of the murder victims, a successful talent agent.

Brophy takes us on a wild ride through the underbelly of teenage Hollywood, the reality of celebrity stalkers, faded child stars, and creepy, predatory agents. The plot is decent and the action well-paced. I can’t say I didn’t finger the murderer about halfway through, but the story was fun enough to keep me reading. The climax was a bit unexpected but satisfying, and certainly tied up all the loose ends. I look forward to more form this author.

Recommended for light, fun summer reading.

Arrow of the Mist

Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Heading to Northern New York always means a few days of pretty much doing nothing but reading, and the last four days did not disappoint. I loaded my tablet up with several advanced reading copies from Netgalley and hit the road on July 3. The first ARC on my list was this lovely little book from Christina Mercer. I don’t read a lot of fantasy anymore, so I am always pleasantly surprised when I find a new book that pays some homage to classic fantasy, but has enough originality to hold my interest.

Arrow of the Mist introduces us to Lia, daughter of Carin and Dylan, a young herbalist determined to keep the old crafts of potion mixing and magic alive. She is well-taught by her Granda, who in turn learned from Lia’s magical Grandma Myrna. Lia lives in Rockberg, a village bordered by a mysterious, fog-bound land called Brume. She tends a beautiful garden planted in a labyrinth pattern around a huge crystal rock formation. Lia and her Granda are suddenly faced with finding a cure for a terrible illness that is striking down the men of the village, including Lia’s father. Lia and Granda are convinced the only cure lies within the land of Brume, and, accompanied by Lia’s cousin Wynn and his friend Kelven, they embark on what becomes a life-changing experience for all of them.

As soon as Lia enters Brume, she knows something has changed. She alone can hear the whispers of the shades that guard the fog. While in Brume, Lia and Wynn come to understand that they are descendants of royalty and it is their responsibility to bring magic back to their world. As Granda is stricken with the same poison attacking their home, Lia and Wynn embark on an adventurous quest to find the 13 ingredients needed to brew the curative potion. Along the way, they meet dwarves, unicorns, enchanted trees, and the master of the evil shades, Draugyrd, who has bound the spirit of Lia’s Grandma Myrna to his bidding. Will Lia and Wynn triumph? Will Lia and Kelven’s blossoming romance get legs? Will magic come back to Rockberg? Read this and find out!

It is clear that this is the start of a series, which promises to be very good. All the elements of a great fantasy are here – good against evil, three children rising up against oppression, fantastic creatures, communion with nature, and a beautifully drawn fairyland – all knit together by skilled storytelling. There are some echoes of Piers Anthony and even a little Terry Pratchett, but Mercer’s Brume is all her own. The characters are likable, the plot captivating, and the writing whimsical and evocative.

Highly recommended for middle school and up.