Top 5 book characters from my 2021 reading list. #TuesdayBookBlog

Inspired by my recent list of Top 10 book covers (read the post here) from 2021, I have been thinking out some of the characters that whisked me away for a bit of escapism reading.

John Maripaz is an artist, interpreter and narrator of The Exhumation by Nick Padron. This story is set during The Spanish Civil War and follows on from Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. John and his partner have been hired by the family of Hemingway’s character Robert Jordan, to bring his body back to America. As the story unfolds John’s hidden skills emerge, and it is his tale which engages the reader in this book. I was very pleased with the balance of description and action, and could easily picture the nighttime bombardments of Madrid, the civilian life and the warring sides.

Celwyn, an immortal magician led the storyline in steampunk mystery The Violins Played Before Junstan by Lou Kemp. Set in 1865, this story offers murder, mayhem and mischief, along with heroic aided escapes and a small band of travellers that grows in number as the adventure rolls along until the story reaches a grand climax in Prague. I easily found myself immersed in the narrative and could picture the wonderful scenery and magic that Celwyn conjured. 

Amber Montgomery in Sweet, Sexy Heart by Melissa Foster is a book shop owner in a small American town. She also suffers from epilepsy and has a trained seizure dog to help her live an independent life. While Dash Pennington is a high profile ex-footballer who is launching his debut novel at Amber’s shop. Although this is a very sweet loving (and hot) romance, it tackles epilepsy in an open way without it feeling like a lecture.

BB is the narrator of Any Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe by Steve Schatz. A story set in a gay bar in Magawatta, Indiana. The whole story takes place on one summer Sunday evening; a group of friends gather each week at Nacho Mama’s patio café to catch up on news, and to listen to the drag artists sing at the bar next door. On this particular night lead singer Miss TiaRa del Fuego announces her retirement. This is a book full to the brim with a rich language about a group of friends and their concerns for each other, all set against a colourful drag setting.

The lead character in superhero fantasy It Takes An Oni by Scott Rhine is Solomon, a priest to a god of the underworld; he believes that he is a hideous monster, hiding his face behind numerous masks. Solomon is a deeply layered character who fills much of his life with good deeds to compensate for being the monster that he believes that he is. The book opens with an exciting heist and the fast pace continues with a story full of mythological and paranormal themes.

What characters from the books that you read in 2021 were memorable for you?

A Mix Of #MagicalRealism And #Steampunk. Rosie’s #Bookreview Of The Violins Played Before Junstan by @AuthorLouKemp

The Violins Played before Junstan (Celwyn #1)The Violins Played before Junstan by Lou Kemp

4 stars

The Violins Played Before Junstan is a magical realism story, also using the genres steampunk and historical fiction.

The story opens in San Francisco during 1865. Celwyn is an immortal magician with incredible talents but several enemies. He is employed to capture an evil inventor, Professor Kang, by Kang’s brother; the capture is to occur en route to Singapore. However, Celwyn discovers that many aspects of the brother’s story are untrue.

Kang is unusual because he is an automaton, but he has very human habits. As I turned the pages I came across much murder, mayhem and mischief, along with heroic aided escapes and a small band of travellers that grows in number as the adventure rolls along until the story reaches a grand climax in Prague.

This is a well written story; I easily found myself immersed in the narrative and could picture the wonderful scenery and magic that Celwyn conjured. There are a couple of dark threads which weave their way through the story and the reader is kept guessing about their outcome until the end. I liked the characters too; they were well rounded and quite believable.

The pace of the book is leisurely and reflects both the era and the style of the chosen transport that the characters use. Occasionally I did wish that the story moved at a quicker pace as it dragged a little, but not enough to frustrate me greatly. I did spot one or two plot holes: characters appearing or events happening that weren’t absolutely feasible and needed a bit more explanation or thinking through. However, they didn’t detract much from the overall enjoyment that I had from the storytelling.

Overall, a good start to a series, and I shall be interested to know where the author takes the characters to next.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Desc 1

San Francisco, 1865.

At first, the immortal peyote-eating magician Celwyn is hired to deliver an automat, Professor Kang, to a priest called Talos. Everything Talos told Celwyn was a lie, and by the time their ship, the Zelda, encounters a terrific storm in the Arctic Circle, Celwyn finds he must reconsider his allegiance. He chooses Kang, and they travel to Singapore, preparing to journey west. In order to deflect the attention of the city’s police, they allow an American heiress to go with them as she escapes matrimony to seek adventure. Her crazy aunt hops another train, and the pursuit is on. The third member of their friendship is from Juba in the Sudan; a widower, scholar, and brave but superstitious man. Their deep friendship grows as they battle several malevolent forces at the same time, and rescue two orphans along the way. Celwyn has avoided caring about anyone for hundreds of years, and now must learn the cost of friendship, and loss. Eventually they reach Prague. The culmination of their battles with evil occurs on the Vltava River under the shadow of the Prague Opera House. As always, it is accompanied by the ethereal music of the magician.

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