There’s something eternally captivating about the circus, and Calico Thunder Rides Again finds a new twist – magic and mythical creatures. It’s an interesting take, and an engaging story. The alternative reality is very believable and well-constructed, so much so that I kept forgetting references to a character being an ogre meant he was ACTUALLY AN OGRE and weren’t metaphorical (ha!). Perhaps my favorite part of the book is when supporting character Grace sees the reality behind the magic business and what it means for the animals – this had echoes of reality and should be a wake-up call for people to pay attention to the industry behind many everyday things judged “harmless.” I give the book 3 stars because it was a solid, enjoyable read but it didn’t “wow” me. *I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for participating in the cover reveal!
Thomas Fenske does not disappoint with his third installment of the Traces of Treasure series, Lucky Strike. Changing focus from the lost gold mine to a mystery buried treasure from World War II, Fenske steps it up in the complexity department. I’m impressed by his ability to weave together so many disparate parts into a coherent whole, slowly revealing bits of information both about the resolution of the mystery and about the characters we’ve met through the first two books. World War II, deserters, and buried treasure; international criminals, kidnapping, and murder. Oh, and our friends the ghosts, who once again play a pivotal role in the resolution of the key drama. As the drama unfolds, we learn in bits both information useful for solving the mystery of the lost treasure as well as some of the backstory to the characters we’ve come to love from the first two books. I originally erroneously thought the series was going to end with this book, and that made me sad because Sam, Smidgeon, and Lance have started to feel like old friends. I’ve spent so much time with them and in Van Horn that sometimes I forget I’ve never actually been to Texas. I’m glad to spend more time with them, though at the same time I do wish they could live in some sort of peace!