Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Heart Review and Blog Post: Making Magic by Donna June Cooper

Making Magic
Books of the Kindling Series
Book 3
Donna June Cooper

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Cover - Kanaxa aka Nathalie Gray 

About the Book:
Sticks and stones may threaten bones, but her words can conquer both body and soul.
Books of the Kindling, Book 3
During his law enforcement career, Sheriff Jake Moser has been called to Woodruff Mountain a few times to deal with some rather weird situations. Now, recovering from a bullet wound that should have killed him and fending off his mother’s ravings about the evil that lurks on the mountain, he’s making alternate career plans.
Just as those plans begin to take shape, someone starts kidnapping newborn babies, then returning them unharmed. To make things even more interesting, an irritating adversary from his past has returned to bedevil him in a whole new, delightful way.
After her erratic psychic gift forced her to abandon her home and a promising musical career, Thea Woodruff has spent years trying, unsuccessfully, to atone for the death of Becca Moser, Jake’s sister. Once she has mourned those she’s lost and apologized to those she’s failed, she intends to flee her mountain once again.
Jake would rather she stay to compose a new tune—with him. But their complicated harmony reveals a guilty secret that threatens not only their future, but their lives…
Warning: A temperamental flute-player returns to torment an old flame, but he has other ideas, and the music they make together is combustible—and magical.

Our Review:
Having read the first two in this series (loved them!!), I looked forward to Making Magic with great anticipation – and was not disappointed. On the contrary.
Thea Woodruff has been out of the family circle and away from the mountain for years. Those she left behind considered her lost to them forever. Jake Moser, the local sheriff, sees it the same way, but for very different reasons. Guilt, heartache, and remorse drove them from one another, but somehow, the mountain’s music calls them all back together – for the last time?
Making Magic is a beautiful and powerful story full of all kinds of deep and meaningful emotions. As usual, Ms. Cooper opens our eyes to the wonders of the Appalachian Mountains and her people, while gently schooling us on the woes we are bringing on ourselves and the earth by insensitive practices. In this novel, she also schools us, through her obvious love for these mountains, on the variety of music and musical instruments that are, perhaps, commonplace in the Appalachians. Some of the names seemed familiar, but when I Googled them, just to be sure, I received quite an education, and loved every minute of it.
As usual, Ms. Cooper’s story is beautiful, moving, and a very good read.
Again ~ Very well done. 

MRP would like to extend a very warm welcome to Donna June Cooper, author of Making Magic. Readers, enjoy!

Jake Moser, the hero of Making Magic, is not only a gifted musician, he is also a talented musical instrument maker. Some of the musical instruments that Jake crafts by hand are not widely known. In fact, I had to spend some time figuring out how to describe them to readers might not be familiar with instruments like these or might not have had the chance to hear true Appalachian folk music.

Jake's favorite instrument is the hammered dulcimer. As he describes it: "The hammered dulcimer is like a guitar with no neck, a much bigger soundboard, a lot more strings and two sound holes. And what makes it more fun? You play by whacking on it with tiny hammers." It is truly a gorgeous instrument, both in looks and in sound. And Jake, unlike many dulcimer makers, still hand carves his rosettes – those pretty pieces in the sound holes. It is an ancient instrument found under various names in many countries. In fact, the piano is a direct descendant of the hammered dulcimer.

Jake also makes another little known instrument with a long history – the bowed psaltery. Again, this one has ancient origins, beginning with the zither. But the psaltery was actually reinvented as a bowed instrument in the 1940s.  If you are familiar with an autoharp, the bowed psaltery is similar except without the "automatic" dampers. And instead of being strummed, the bowed psaltery is played with a bow, or with two bows in some cases. Like the mountain dulcimer, it can be held and played in many different ways.

Another instrument which Jake makes is the mountain dulcimer or fretted dulcimer. It is also called the lap dulcimer, because it is traditionally laid in the musician's lap and strummed, but it can be played many different ways. The history of this instrument is interesting and was only recently completely understood. It is also called the Appalachian dulcimer because that is where it originated – in the mountains, apparently as a result of the violin being more time-consuming and difficult to create. It is one of the easiest stringed instruments to learn how to play.

Back when he was a teenager, Jake carved wooden flutes for two important people in his life. The wooden creature on top of the flute is called a "fetish" (That word resulted in some interesting discussions with my editor). The fetish is usually an animal of some significance in the particular tribal tradition, such as an eagle, bear, cougar ("painter"), or coyote.

And finally, Jake carves wooden pendants for necklaces much like the ones above. One of those necklaces plays a rather important role in the book.
So now, when you read Making Magic, you will be able to visualize the musical instruments that play a role in the story!  

Thank you so much for joining us today, Donna June! We really enjoyed the visit. Good luck and great sales with Making Magic, and all of the books in the Magic series.

About the Author: A transplanted mountain girl. As the granddaughter of a coal miner and the great-great-granddaughter of one of the Muscogee people, Donna was raised in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains - in the beautiful hills of East Tennessee. After getting a couple of college degrees, she was lured away from her mountains by a gorgeous Italian guy, who married her and carried her off to Texas. (Texas, by comparison to her mountains, is very hot and very flat—a fact she points out often to whoever will listen.) Her vocations have included a little bit of everything, including a stint as an IRS tax auditor, a few years managing a bookstore, and a career in the corporate world writing technical courseware and documentation, but her avocation was always writing. She enjoys being walked by her Jack Russell Terrier (if you know Jack's, you understand), belly dancing (excellent exercise and lots of shiny costumes), reading (three books at once, at times), and travel (with family in Italy and England, who wouldn't?) But, like any child of the Appalachians, she doesn’t stay away from her mountains for long, and visits as often as she can.

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