Today I bring you a book that’s a bit out of my usual but…
Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings (The Lily Singer Adventures, Book 1) by Lydia Sherrer
Saving the world is such a bother when it makes you late for tea.
By day, book-loving wizard Lily Singer manages library archives. By night? She sleeps, of course. In between, she studies magic and tries to keep her witch friend Sebastian out of trouble. Much to her displeasure, he finds it anyway and drags her along with him.
From unmaking ancient curses to rescuing a town lost in time, Lily and Sebastian fight to avert magical mayhem. Meanwhile, Lily’s mysterious past begins to unfold–a past hidden from her by those she trusts most. Will she be able to discover the truth despite them?
Beginnings is the first installment of the Lily Singer Adventures urban fantasy series. Full of unexpected twists and snarky humor, this story has been known to cause: loud snorts of laughter, inexplicable craving for tea, and loss of work productivity. If you enjoy magic-filled adventures like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch then you’ll love Lydia Sherrer’s delightful new series. Pick up Beginnings to enter your magical escape today!
Magic, mayhem, and mystery combine in this exceptional debut novel from author Lydia Sherrer. A natural storyteller, Sherrer sets out from page one to spin her tale in a voice that is in turns both snarky and sincere, and you know right away you’re in for an unforgettable ride.
Book-loving Lily Singer–librarian, archivist, and wizard–prefers tea (with scones) to trouble any day. But with a friend like Sebastian, a witch who can’t seem to stay away from trouble, Lily rarely gets to stay snuggled up in her safe, cozy library for long. When trouble calls, Lily–however reluctantly at first–leaves her magic studies behind and joins forces with Sebastian, and together they harness their individual gifts and skills to battle the pesky magical forces of evil and world domination.
Sherrer is a world builder by nature, and she presents a unique perspective on the origins of supernatural gifts and the obligations they place on those so gifted. With a keen eye for human nature, she never gives us one-dimensional characters. Her world’s inhabitants–human and otherwise–have layers; their complex backstories give them credible motivation and make it impossible to characterize them as all bad or all good. They’re real, multidimensional beings, and Sherrer’s competent writing brings compassion, conscience, and empathy to the table, making her world easy to believe and hard to put down when the book ends.
So it’s a good thing she’s written a sequel… –Lori Brown Patrick, Editor at Grammarwitch LLC
Lydia Sherrer’s Beginnings offers readers a new look at modern fantasies, painting delightful, fast-paced dilemmas in episodic format. Her idiomatic chapters boast a crisp, learned tone. The slightly more formal episodes pair nicely with her humorous and sometimes less-than-clean interlude. The tension increases from one segment to the next, allowing readers a gradual look into the protagonist’s dreams, mirroring her own inability to face some of her deepest wants.
This magical parallel to our own world takes readers into a vivid reality painted with love, laughter, and a great deal of research. This is a page-turning experience for even non-fantasy readers. –Brittany Thibodeaux, Book Reviewer at Brittanys Lair
About the Author
Lydia Sherrer is a fantasy author whose goal is to leave this world a better place than when she found it. Growing up in rural Kentucky, she was thoroughly corrupted by a deep love for its rolling countryside, despite all the mosquitoes and hay-fever. She was instilled with a craving for literature early on, and her parents had to wrestle books away from her at the dinner table. Though she graduated with a dual B.A. in Chinese and Arabic, having traveled the world she came home and decided to stay there. She currently resides in Louisville, KY with her loving and supportive husband, and their very vocal cat.
When not writing or promoting her next book, Lydia enjoys ocarina playing (think Zelda), traditional archery, costume design, and art. She believes dark chocolate and tea are legitimate sources of nutrition, and one day hopes to visit every country in the world.
Lydia is not just out to write good books, but to make the world a better place, one story at a time. Her goal is to write with a purpose and inspire others to reach for their dreams, because she’s reaching for hers and loving the adventure. You can learn more about her and her books at http://lydiasherrer.com/
I’m not sure why, but I don’t usually read a lot of fantasy. I used to, when I was younger, and I enjoy movies and series about it, but these days I don’t seem to have the patience for some of the world building, complicated names, and tonnes and tonnes of characters that seem to be the usual fare in many of these stories. When I saw this book and read what it was about, something made me check the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon, and I enjoyed what I read. And yes, I was right. I did enjoy the book.
Although I love a good story and an ingenious plot, I’m a characters’ reader first and foremost. And that was what attracted me to this book. We have a female character, Lily Singer, a librarian, bookish and studious, shy, socially awkward, conservatively dressed (a pencil skirt, a blouse, and heels are her uniform), and a wizard (yes, not a witch). And a male character, Sebastian Blackwell, a charmer, full of social graces, always looking for a shortcut rather than hard work, casual and untidy, and always able to get on the good side of people. Well, most people. Ah, and a witch (yes, a witch). Although in classical literature men used to represent the intellect while women were nature, the intellectually superior woman paired with a man who is more into faith or instinct rather than brain is not unusual these days (from the X-files to Harry Potter, and even the Simpsons), and here it works well. The two characters like each other (so far not in a romantic way, although all is possible and I haven’t read the rest of the novels in the series), and drive each other insane (opposites attract), but their abilities complement each other and they make a good team. Where Lily studies spells, books, and ancient knowledge, Sebastian can get help from fae and mundane alike (mundane are non-magical beings, although Sebastian has no powers of his own. That’s what distinguishes wizards from witches, who have to channel other beings’ powers). Their interaction is fun, light, and humorous, and their backgrounds are more similar than they realise. They are comfortable with each other but not to the point of revealing all their secrets to the other. And there is plenty of room to further develop their relationship in future books.
The book is divided into a couple of stories or episodes. The first is one is a full case that gives the reader a good sense of who the characters are and what their relationship is like. It’s a ghost story, a case that Sebastian has been booked to solve but he needs Lily’s assistance. This story, although, written in the third person, is told from Lily’s point of view, and it has all the elements ghost story novels would love. A haunted house, the ghost of a man trapped by a scorned woman, spells… There is an interlude, again in the third person, from Sebastian’s point of view, that introduces what will be the next case, which is quite a personal one for Sebastian, as somebody has stolen a family heirloom, a magical object that alters time. Sebastian’s point of view helps us understand the young man better, and gives us insight into some of his actions that Lily lacks. Lily has to come to the rescue once again, in a case that introduces complex elements and concepts, including a time loop, and discusses in more detail elements of world building and the powers peculiar to objects, wizards, and witches in this world.
Both stories are quick paced and interesting, and although the cover (that I think is superb) perhaps seems geared towards a younger audience, the book touches on issues such as drinking, terminal illnesses, and its take on magic is more philosophical and scientific than would be expected in books for a younger audience. There are delightful characters (a fae that loves mouldy pizza, for example), there are things that make one’s mind boggle (the time loop), and the information about this alternative world is interspersed with the story, without slowing down the action or requiring pages and pages of explanation. The glossary at the end (the book ends at around 92% in e-book format, and the rest is the glossary, about the author, and a sample of the next book in the series) clarifies further some of the aspects of the story and some of the terms used, but there is enough explanation in the text itself to understand the plot without needing to go backwards and forwards to check the terms/
A couple of quotes from the text:
Criminals were sadly predictable, especially those with so little self-respect as to wear their pants around their knees.
Though probably only thirty or forty, her wrinkled skin, sunken face, and stringy hair made her look more like fifty. (Sorry, this one I highlighted because I’m 52, so I worried that’s how women in their 20s think of us…)
As I haven’t read Harry Potter, I can’t comment on similarities and differences, but there is a conversation between Sebastian and Lily about the nature of magic (including mention of the books with the boy with the scar) and here is what Lily says:
But unlike in stories, magic is part of nature, it doesn’t defy it. The only reason mundanes call what wizards do “magic” is because it’s science they don’t understand yet.
The book is set in the South of the USA (the library where Lily works is in Atlanta, Georgia) and the location and language add to the charm. I don’t want to enter into a lot of detail to avoid spoilers, but let’s say that I’d love to have access to some of the spells and magical objects Lily uses (oh, book lovers; you have no idea what she can do with books!).
In summary, this is a fun read, two stories in one book, set up in a recognisable world, with some added ‘magic’ and magical creatures, familiar but not quite as we know them, whose main characters become our friends and are people we’d like to spend more time with. Recommended to readers who like fantasy but prefer to engage with the characters rather than to read detailed descriptions and a lot of world-building, and who are looking for fun dialogues and quick-paced stories. Ah, and if you love cats, you’ll adore Sir Edgar Allan Kipling.
I was sent an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
Thanks to the author for her book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!