Title: The Fortune Teller
Author: Gwendolyn Womack
Publisher: Picador USA
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Semele Cohen appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan
auction house, specializing in deciphering ancient texts. And
when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of
Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author
tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as
Semele delves further she realizes the manuscript is more than it
seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work
of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural
disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.
The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect
Semele’s life. But what happened to the cards? As the mystery
of her connection to the manuscript deepens, Semele can’t
shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person
can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Brossard.
Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his
own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him
than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?
The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to
interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the
Brossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her
to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old
secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.
About the Author
Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.
Praise for Gwendolyn Womack and The Memory Painter
“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic.”
―M. J. Rose, author of the Reincarnationist Series
and The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Gwendolyn Womack is a storytelling virtuosa, whose sexy,
action-packed mind-boggler of a book is destined to become a classic.”
―Anne Fortier, author of Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood
A Jeremy Fisk Novel #3
William Morrow, January 2016
Mass Market Paperback
Merritt Verlyn, loosely patterned on WikiLeak personage Julian Assange, is arrested and held in jail pending trial. Then a series of sniper attacks begins, with the continued threat of one person being killed each day until Verlyn is released from prison. Detective Jeremy Fisk takes the lead in an effort to stop the killer who has brought the City of New York to a standstill. Meanwhile a Mexican cartel has placed a contract on the NYPD intelligence detective, adding to his woes.
Thus begins an exciting chase with plenty of action. Originally, Verlyn, who possessed thousands of classified and sensitive documents, released a few to Chay Maryland, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, including Fisk’s unlisted home address, exposing him and others to vast dangers, setting up a conflict for the need of secrecy vs. Second Amendment rights. The question of how this will be resolved is another interesting development.
The conclusion is far-out, more suited to a technocratic motion picture, perhaps, but makes for more and more thrilling descriptions, a specialty of the author, the writer, producer and creator of the TV series “Law & Order”. Part of a series, the novel is a page-turning stunner, and is recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2016.
From the publisher—
Rowan is a Second Child in a world where population control measures make her an outlaw, marked for death. She can never go to school, make friends, or get the eye implants that will mark her as a true member of Eden. Her kaleidoscope eyes will give her away to the ruthless Center government.
Outside of Eden, Earth is poisoned and dead. All animals and most plants have been destroyed by a man-made catastrophe. Long ago, the brilliant scientist Aaron al Baz saved a pocket of civilization by designing the EcoPanopticon, a massive computer program that hijacked all global technology and put it to use preserving the last vestiges of mankind. Humans will wait for thousands of years in Eden until the EcoPan heals the world.
As an illegal Second Child, Rowan has been hidden away in her family’s compound for sixteen years. Now, restless and desperate to see the world, she recklessly escapes for what she swears will be only one night of adventure. Though she finds an exotic world, and even a friend, the night leads to tragedy. Soon Rowan becomes a renegade on the run – unleashing a chain of events that could change the world of Eden forever.
Joey Graceffa is definitely a child of modern times and he’s made an indelible impression on the social media world. It would be easy to dismiss him as just another celebrity thinking he can write a book worth reading but that would be a mistake. Mr. Graceffa can put thoughts and words together quite nicely.
Some have said that dystopian fiction has outlasted its welcome but I still find it intriguing and highly entertaining, engaging my brain as well as providing great stories. Children of Eden is easily one of the better dystopian tales I’ve read for several reasons, not least of which is a very interesting protagonist.
Imagine being 16-year-old Rowan, essentially a prisoner in her own home her entire life. As comforting and welcoming as it is, this is still a prison and her father’s attitude towards her is dismissive, almost as though he resents her existence. When the day comes that Rowan is told she has to leave her safe haven and literally the only three people she knows, her reaction—to run—is natural. Unfortunately, Rowan is not prepared for the outside world and finding other second children, also in hiding, will change her life, as will catastrophic events within her family and a secret she could never have expected.
Along with a cracking good tale and an appealing main character, we find other characters who are perhaps less appealing for various reasons but that actually makes them more interesting. In particular, Lark and Lachlan got my attention with their sort of jealousy of each other with regards to Rowan.
The author’s core theme of ecological disaster is not a new idea but it always bears repeating in our own time of seeming inability to take environmental concerns seriously enough. Could we end up in a future like this one, ruled over by a faction that believes it knows what’s best for society? Of course we could and many of us would find life as chafing as Rowan does.
I do have one personal negative issue with Children of Eden—there’s a humongous cliffhanger which I could do without but such is life, right? I’ll just have to hope the next book is forthcoming sooner rather than later because I really want to know what’s going to happen next.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2016.
About the Author
Joey Graceffa is one of the leading content creators and actors on YouTube. His memoir, In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World, was published in 2015 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. Joey ranked third on Variety’s 2015 #Famechangers lists and has been featured in numerous publications such as People, Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, and The Hollywood Reporter. In 2013, between his daily vlogs and gameplay videos, Joey produced and starred in his own Kickstarter–funded supernatural series, “Storytellers,” for which he won a Streamy Award, and was recently announced for a season 2 in 2016 in partnership with Legendary and Style Haul. In 2016, he debuted “Escape the Night”, a surreality competition series for YouTube Red. Joey is a passionate storyteller and carries that sentiment into all of his projects, now with his latest fictional narrative, Children of Eden. For more information, please visit ChildrenofEdenBook.com.
Rainy Day Women
An Austin Starr Mystery #2
Stairway Press, July 2015
Also available in trade paperback
It takes a while to figure out that the novel is set in Canada of the 1960’s or perhaps early in the next decade. The novel also takes a while to sort out some tangled threads and get moving. Even then, the pace is deliberate and, in today’s frenetic world, almost ponderous.
Our protagonist is an amateur investigator named Austin. She’s one side of an uneasy triangle; the other sides being her oppressive and surly husband, David, and her infant son Wyatt. What Austin has going for her is an insatiable curiosity and a lively analytical mind. If the pace of the novel matched Austin’s more assertive tendencies, things would move along rather more briskly. That would be a good thing.
Austin, over the objections of her husband, flies across the continent to Vancouver upon the call for help from long-time girl friend, Larissa, who may or may not be suspected by the RCMP of murder. Austin has adventures traveling, encounters a fair share of weird and undesirable characters, and eventually sorts out Larissa’s difficulties. The characters and the setting all have unrealized potential which one hopes will be pursued in subsequent novels.
We’ve heard how it takes a village to raise a child. In this book, it takes a screwed-up blended family to rescue one while doing some pretty meaningful healing in the process. Nick’s not over her mother’s death and struggles to hold on to good moments. Luna, her slightly older step-sister deals with her parents’ divorce by rebelling and doing risky stuff with boys to try and find happiness. While the two of them are pretty snarky to each other, it’s pretty easy to read between the lines and know they get emotional support from the process. Luna’s dad is an alcoholic con artist who has been promising different outcomes, but delivering the same disappointing results for ages.
When Nick’s dad married Luna’s mother, they uprooted the girls, moving them to Coquina Bay after selling the record store that was home to Nick where she was surrounded by classic rock and a happy cat. There was little or no thought to what the girls were leaving behind. As if being uprooted wasn’t bad enough, the newlyweds are rehabbing a decrepit place, hoping to turn it into a B&B. All Nick sees is her college money courtesy of Mom’s life insurance evaporating into the project.
When the stepsisters go to see a friend do her alligator act at a nearby park, Nick can’t help but notice a really creepy man who’s with a girl about her age. He touches her in inappropriate ways and she’s dressed as though she’s much older, not to mention acting like a zombie. It takes Nick a while to get Luna on board with her suspicion that the girl isn’t with this creep willingly, but once she does, things get really interesting.
By the time the story reaches its conclusion, Luna’s dad has finally come through, Nick’s grandmother has gotten in the act and the stepparents have come up for air and discovered that the girls might be more mature and responsible than they are.
This is not only a good YA mystery, but a good story for teens who have experienced family loss or dysfunction. It’s a smooth read with a cast of intriguing characters.
Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2016.