The Qwillery | category: Diamond City Magic


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Week in Review - March 8, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015

For those of you who read my Week in Review will remember that I had a slightly disappointing week in my selection of books. I tried to be good and not buy or request any more books from NetGalley. I can't say I was entirely fact...epic fail! So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015
I was perusing my Amazon recommends....again...and shouldn't have been I came across Trace of Magic (Diamond City Magic 1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Bell Bridge Books, August 29, 2014). I tried to be sensible and downloaded the sample first but ended up buying the book. Trace of Magic is set in a world of magic where criminal factions call Tyets rule the city. Riley is a very powerful tracer who can trace people even when they are dead. She is living below the radar so that she doesn't become a pawn in the battle between the Tyets. Riley uses her very specific and very special powers to save kidnapped children. She is very good at her job and very good at staying in hidden until she meets Tyet cop Detective Clay Price. Price blackmails Riley into helping him solve a missing person's case and it all becomes a bit too personal for the couple as the longer they work together the more they are drawn to one another. Price is everything Riley has avoided her whole life but her freedom may be too high price to pay.

On the whole this book was 'ok'. I say that because I liked Riley and even liked Price as characters. I thought the Tyets made for an interesting backdrop to the plot. Frances explains the society, the evolution of the Tyets' rule and mining of drugs that the Tyets' used to fund their existence in the first few chapters of the book. Unfortunately, the mining and the drugs didn't really factor in the plot so as plot points they didn't really stick in my head. In fact I completely forgot about them. I also thought that Francis introduced the romance a bit too early in the story which, for me, made it lose credibility. Imagine this if you have just be shot and almost die. You have been saved by the hunky cop who represents everything you hate and have been running from your whole life but who you are attracted to. You have been unconscious for 3 days and when you wake up you the hunky cop is by your bedside. Do you:

a) roll over and go back to sleep because getting shot and almost dying is tiring stuff;
b) despite the fact you have been shot and almost die you have sex with the hunky cop who you barely know and belongs to a Tyet;
c) you manage your growing attraction to the hunky cop despite wanting a more physical relationship because you have just been shot and almost died.

I am sure that you can guess what I would have chosen but what option the author decided to go for. Despite this I still thought the action was well balanced and interesting. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015
It was a good week for pre-orders for me as Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (Ace, March 3, 2015) appeared on my Kindle. This is the fourth novel in the Alpha and Omega series and is set 3 years after Charles and Anna first get together. In this instalment Charles and Anna travel to Arizona to visit Charles' childhood friend Joseph. Joseph is now an old man and dying from cancer which leads Charles to reminisce about his past and feel the burden of his near immortality while watching his friend slowly die. During their visit a Fae tries to harm Joseph's grandchildren which leads the couple to find and stop the kidnapper. Their investigation opens up a whole can of magical worms as they discover this is not an isolated case and just another step in the escalation of a war that the Fae want to start against humans.

I really enjoyed Dead Heat and I have decided that I prefer this series to Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. Brigg's starts the story with Anna trying to convince Charles that they should have children, something she has been researching with Samuel (Charles' doctor brother). Charles is worried that having a child will harm Anna who he loves and make him and the child vulnerable to his many enemies. This parenthood thread is woven throughout the story not just with the missing children case but also in the dynamic between Joseph, Joseph's werewolf father Hosten and Charles. Hosten is still a healthy man watching his elderly son die from a human disease when he could have been Changed. I found the scenes between Charles and Joseph rather touching and made me wonder whether Briggs had written these from personal experience. This book has everything from a perfect balance of action vs romance, good character development and the subtle development of the series plot arch. In short another great book in this series.

I am in the middle of reading The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman so I hope to tell you all about this next week. Until then Happy Reading.

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014

Please welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Qwillery. Trace of Magic, the first novel in the Diamond City Magic series, was published on August 29, 2014.

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014

Hello everyone and thanks to Sally for inviting me to play in the sandbox!

First, I want to offer a small hosannah and hallelujah for the fact that my kids started back to school today. I love my children, but oh, I need some time to work without interruption. I’m betting a few of you are dancing around happy, yourselves.

The reason Sally invited me here today is because I have a new book out titled Trace of Magic. It’s a noir/urban fantasy/mystery/romance set in Colorado. It involves a magical mafia, diamonds, a kidnapping, and a corrupt cop. My main character is Riley Hollis. She’s a tracer. Everybody leads behind a trail, like a ribbon of light, called trace. Some people can see it, and they are called tracers. The thing about Riley is that she’s a super powerful tracer. She can track dead people, which is pretty much impossible. She can do a few other things too, but the problem is, she can’t let too many people know, or she’s likely to end up killed or captured by a mob group. So she spends a lot of time keeping her head down and avoiding notice.

There are five major kinds of talents in Diamond City, where the novel is set—tracers, travelers, dreamers, makers, and binders. Then there are a whole lot of more minor powers, some more useful than others. There are haunters—they have to touch you, but then they can get inside your mind and mess with your perceptions and create nightmares that you can’t escape. But they have to be touching a person the entire time. There are also tinkers, who can essentially move things telepathically. They are frequently doctors or medical personnel, but some are good with flesh, others limited to metals, others who can only work with plastic. It’s pretty arbitrary who gets what, and how much they might do with it.

There are hundreds of minor and odd sorts of little talents, and then varying levels of power. What tremendously fun about writing in this world is that even when you’re stupid powerful, your talent can only get you so far. Sure, Riley can find people, but once she does, she could be in serious trouble. It’s not like she can throw fireballs or paralyze people or throw them across the room. She has to use her brains and sometimes she gets into a fair bit of trouble. She’s caught between this place where she feels the need to hide from getting noticed (her mother was murdered and her father vanished, so she has reason to fear the mob) and yet she wants to use her talent for good.

And then . . . doing good gets her noticed by the wrong guy. Everything goes haywire from there.

It’s a really fun story—fun to write and I hope fun to read.

Now let me ask you—if you could have a magic talent to help in your daily life, what would it be?

Oh, and buy the book! I’d appreciate reviews as well, and word of mouth.

Read an excerpt:

Trace of Magic
Diamond City Magic 1
Bell Bridge Books, August 29, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 252 pages
Review Copy: Provided by the Author

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014
Even the most powerful tracers can't track you if the magical trace you leave behind is too old. But I can track almost anything, even dead trace. That makes me a unicorn, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Lock Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake. And if anyone ever finds out, I'll be dead or a slave to one of the Tyet criminal factions.

Riley Hollis has quietly traced kidnapped children and quietly tipped the cops to their whereabouts one too many times. Now she's on the radar of Detective Clay Price, a cop in the pocket of a powerful magic Tyet faction. When he blackmails her into doing a dangerous trace for him, Riley will have to break every rule that keeps her safe. Or become a Tyet pawn in a deadly, magical war.

Qwill's Thoughts

Trace of Magic features exceptional worldbuilding, an interesting magic system and terrific characters. Francis does a wonderful job showing the relationships between the characters - whether it's Riley Hollis and her sister Taylor, Riley and her friend Patti, or Riley and Detective Clay Price. I especially love the verbal interactions between Riley and Clay. Their banter often brought a smile to my face.

Riley is the pivotal character in the novel and tells the story. The events swirl around her, usually/mostly out of her control. She's tough and does not give up even when it comes at personal cost to her. I enjoyed watching her journey during the novel. She's often conflicted, makes mistakes and treads where she should not. Riley makes some difficult decisions and by the end of the novel we, like Riley, have a much clearer sense of what she wants to do and be going forward. Detective Clay Price is a great foil for Riley and an engaging (and well-developed) character. He also has changes in store for him over the course of the novel some clearly not as welcome as others.

The worldbuilding is really well done. The magic system is both different and interesting. The story has dark touches of noir swirling around like the snow falling on Diamond City. I got a clear geographical sense of Diamond City, which is fascinating in its own right. The pacing of Trace of Magic could not be better. There is plenty of action, bad guys, and many in the grey area of are they good or bad or both?  There is a romance in the novel as well, but all that I am going to say about it is that it's very well done. Trace of Magic, however, is not primarily a romance novel, though I enjoyed that part of the novel a lot.

Bottom Line: Trace of Magic is a wonderful start to the Diamond City Magic series and Riley Hollis is one of new favorite Urban Fantasy heroines.

About Diana

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014
I didn’t start out to be a writer. I was a storyteller from as far back as I can remember, and a daydreamer of epic stories, but it never occurred to me to write anything down. I read voraciously, but I wasn’t one of those people who said–hey! I could do this! Or even, this is so awful I could do better. I marveled at writers and thought of writing as something other people did. I did try my hand at some really horrible poetry in my senior year of high school. It was dramatic and bleak and world-tiltingly awful. When I got to college, I did poorly in my freshman comp class. I wrote in purple prose and use twenty words for what I could say in two. I loved language, but I didn’t really have much control over it. Then I took a creative writing class. It was awful. Total slaughter. I had caught the bug, though, and from there on out, I wrote. Eventually I wrote a really bad romance and finished it. I finished it! I could do that! And then I went to graduate school and another graduate school, got married, had dogs, had kids, went to work professing, and kept writing. Finally I had my first book accepted and I’ve been writing ever since. As far as the prosaic stuff goes, I like to crochet, bake bread, spoil corgis, eat chocolate, sing to the radio, pretend to play tennis, geocache, crochet, and garden. Though I really hate weeding. I also like to make my hair purple with some frequency. You can find me on Twitter as @dianapfrancis and my website at or on Facebook.

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014

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