Blog Book Tour | “The Cadence of Gypsies” (Book No.1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey with a Guest Post by the author!

Posted Tuesday, 6 September, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for the F.I.G. Mysteries series hosted by iRead Book Tours. As I prefer to read serial fiction in order of publication and/or order of the series (if differential), I requested to receive the first novel in order to understand the second in sequence. This is my first review for the tour which is anchoured to my second review highlighting it’s sequel on the morrow! I received a complimentary copy of “The Cadence of Gypsies” direct from the author Barbara Casey in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I enjoy YA Lit esp Mysteries:

My quest to seek out Mysteries under the umbrella of YA or MG Lit began quite innocently through my local libraries – as I would visit different branches of my regional libraries to seek out a better cross-section of Young Adult Literature as well as finding different authors in Middle Grade of whom might not be locally featured. I grew up reading the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries right alongside Agatha Christie – so you could say, I’ve had ‘mysteries’ on my mind for most of my life! This even extended into the series on television I would develop into a passion of seeing, too, as it began with “Murder She, Wrote” and expanded through the decades to include all the family-based mysteries and/or police procedurals that had unique ‘family’ casts of quirky characters (everything from Remington Steele to Nash Bridges to The Commish and to more recently Rizzoli & Isles, NCIS (x3), The Mentalist, etc !)

I even had a bit of luck of finding some wicked good contemporaries in this vein of interest such as: the Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springer (one of only two after canon authors for Sherlock Holmes I’ll read!); the Keepers of the School series by Andrew Clements; Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (even though I had a few issues with how the dialogue was presented); the entire Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett (as I only read the first books before the motion picture release!); The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams; The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone (which is now a series!); Madhattan Mystery by John J. Bonk  and my most beloved mystery whilst growing up myself was The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!

I even have two of the first novels in the Anthony Horowitz Alex Rider series on my bookshelf! I was sidetracked by watching copious amounts of his historical suspense series Foyle’s War by borrowing the BBC series from the library rather than engaging inside this wicked series, which I discovered via it’s film adaptation! I wished they had made more to be honest! Similar to the way I felt after The Seekers: The Dark is Rising film adaptation was made based on the novels by Susan Cooper (another series I aim to read!).

There are several stories in this category I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading such as: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani, When by Victoria Laurie (this one I started and put down; timing was off to read it), The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stoud, Secret Letters by Leah Scheier, Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller, the Agency series by Y.S. Lee, The Diviners by Libba Bray, And then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart,  and The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt for Young Adult mysteries.

Whilst equally curious about these in Middle Grade: the Theodore Boone series by John Grisham (as I read his legal thrillers as a teenager!), Pie by Sarah Weeks, When You Reach Me & Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead, the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (as somehow I missed these growing up!) as well as others I am forgetting at the moment!

Mysteries to me stimulate my ability to think ‘outside the proverbial box’ whilst increasing my quantitative analysis of what is or isn’t in plain view of being seen, understood or processed. I love curling inside a mystery to see if I can follow in suit of what is happening (both in the mystery itself but also the layering of the character’s journey) whilst encouraging my mind to take a ‘hiatus’ to appreciate the built-up the author has left behind – to go so far to curiously ‘predict’ the outcome but not necessarily solve the mystery outright, as I want to feel what the character(s) are feeling within that moment their living through ‘something’ outside the pace of their normal lives!

Of course, I like the lighter side of the genre for YA & MG readers, but sometimes I like seeing how writers can handle harder hitting story-lines without breaching what I would consider ‘alright’ for the target readership to enjoy reading. Sometimes children like to be challenged by literature but most children (as I was one of these myself!) don’t like to step too far afield from where they feel comfortable until they are ready for the adult waters of literature. In other words, there is an invisible balance that must be struck. It’s those authors I am keen on seeking out – not only for review or blog tours, but through my own pursuits as a reader and future Mum!

On that note, the YA mysteries I am enjoying currently are the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective series of which I am returning to reading this Autumn, as I fell out of step and sequence with the series. (see my first review) I have also appreciated finding these authors who are giving stimulating suspense & mysteries for this age bracket: the Ian Quicksilver series by Alyson Peterson, the Piercing the Veil series by C.A. Gray, the Cobbogoth series by Hannah L. Clark, Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt, the History Mystery series by Deborah Heal; and for Middle Grade: To Cat a Cat Thief by Sean Cummings and The Contaminated Case of the Cooking Contest by Peter Y. Wong & Pendred E. Noyce.

Thus, when I came across the F.I.G. Mysteries by Barbara Casey, I was most excited to see where she took her own creative muse and how she defined her section of the genre!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Cadence of Gypsies” (Book No.1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey with a Guest Post by the author!The Cadence of Gypsies
by Barbara Casey
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women.

In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Genres: Crime Fiction, Suspense, Upper YA Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780982081280

Also by this author: The Wish Rider

Published by Hungry Goat Press

on 15th April, 2011

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 272

Published By: Hungry Goat Press (@HungryGoatPress)

an imprint of Gauthier Publications

NOTE: the info reflects the version I received to review (the Large Print Hardback Edition) whereas the cover-art shown for this book on my review was provided to me by iRead Book Tours reflects the newer version of the book which is the ebook edition released on the 2nd of April, 2015. Blessedly the hardback is still in print, for those of us who read traditionally through print editions!

 Available Formats: Large Print Hardback Edition and Ebook

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Apothecary & Naturopathic Medicine:

In the opening pages of the novel, we are greeted by an apothecarist whose curing her own herbs and materials for Naturopathic medicines she would sell at market or within her village. Natural medicine has been misunderstood for millennia and it didn’t surprise me that part of the fundamentals of the Gypsies was being wizened to the knowledge of how plant-based living practices can en-tome better well-being than relying solely on conventional standards. Even during the time-frame of the story, having a balance between traditional and non-traditional medical practices was best for the wholeness of a person’s health.

My review of The Cadence of Gypsies:

We begin listening in on a wise Gypsy whose distraught over the passing of years without the hope of finding a gifted one to pass on her knowledge and talent. She has watched children come and go, not given the talent she was blessed with herself and in this regard, she ached for a nodding light of guidance, as how does knowledge pass forward if there isn’t an ear to receive it? She muses the plight of her kind to herself as she continues her work, strengthened in her resolve to keep to basics and to honour the gift of understanding how to grow and harvest her own bounty of herbs and medicinals, yet curious for the future.

We shift into sight of a girls’ only dormitory academy where cheeky individuals are cutting curfew to pull a prank – yet what surprised me a bit was the surface renderings of their personalities. In other words, outside of a few scant descriptions to differentiate who was whom, I did not have much to go on, as their persons were not as rounded as the Gypsy. She had more depth to her simply how she was approached and how she revealled her emotions; the girls on the other hand, felt like quick sketches and I had hoped at some point they might make a bigger entrance. In regards to pranking the campus, it was a far cry from a scene out of The Trouble with Angels as this time round it was harder to visualise their concept nor understand their work.

The story is augmented through a slipping of time spent with the girls (F.I.G.S) at the academy and the Gypsy whose teaching the next generation what she’s learnt through her lifetime. She’s the one with the most angst due to the impatience and impetuous behaviours of her students; seeking the quickest route when patience is the better virtue to embrace. The girls at the academy have an intercessor working on their behalf – one whose come to the academy not with a false entrance but one that clouded a purpose she’s been working on since she first recognisd her own life’s purpose. She’s a trained student – rising through degree programmes and seeking out her research on a project she never shared until now.

Blessedly, the further we dig into the story, the more tidbits on behalf of the girls are surfacing. I think I might have enjoyed having a bit more of their backgrounds closer to the start than a quarter the way through but sometimes a slow paced story has it’s merits, too. What I thought was a beautiful connective key tying both story-lines is the parentage of Carolina; the girls keeper at the academy. She had to distract them from their boredom, as part of the F.I.G.S issues were stemming out of never finding themselves academically challenged nor inspired to learn outside what they could already surmise on their own accords. In effect, they were on a higher level of understanding than their peers but without the advantage of relatability or any ounce of being humble. They viewed themselves superior and enjoyed finding ways to express their displeasure of being ‘stuck’ at school. In some ways this is understandable – but I couldn’t tell if the undertone was positive or slightly jaded, due to how it’s written.

The only thing that seemed a bit confusing is for me – the sections with the kind-hearted Gypsy felt a bit more removed from contemporary times – almost as if that was a time shift to the past and it’s augmented a bit against the present where we pick up with Carolina and the F.I.G.S; except that that would be inaccurate (as I won’t add spoilt the reason ‘why’). I do like historical mysteries – so when it was mentioned there as an ancient manuscript to unearth and seek after, I was keen on knowing a bit more about that section of the story-line. The bits in-between this new vein of thought were less inspiring, as I felt the forward motion was a bit forced in some places and fluid in others. Mostly all the scenes with the Gypsy moved well for me, it’s when we’re back with the F.I.G.S I felt were more awkward. Even though eventually – nearly half-way through, we’re granted more leeway towards their back-stories.

I suppose I simply identified more with the Gypsy – Lyuba had such a dynamic story to her – she wasn’t just a natural healer, she was a woman with a complicated past and uncertain future. She could also see into the spirit of those around her – understand what their aura was relating to her of their internal health and in doing so, had to make preparations in order to act to run interference if someone was in danger of succumbing to darkness or illness. Hers was not an easy path to walk – she had to remain true to herself and the legacy of her people; all of which ran inside her veins and was strengthened by her heart and mind. Her own spirit felt renewed by continuing the work of her elders, but she faltered in wondering if all the work she was doing was for naught; especially if new generations had less patience for the old ways. In this, I felt was the strongest part of the story’s central theme.

Fly in the Ointment:

Strong language in YA just always seems a bit wrong to me. Which is why I feel this is more Upper YA than traditional YA. It’s just a difference of classification and opinion. Not that this was overly done – it was beyond minimal but when you add-in the tone and the way it’s told, I felt it was more for exiting high schoolers and college readers who want to read stories they can relate too. Plus, I kept feeling the undertone of the story was from a jaded perspective rather than one spun out of intellectual curiosity. Something felt a bit off in the undercurrents of where the narrative and dialogue co-merged as well as how the duality of the focuses interceded with one another. Since this felt more adult than transitional for teens, I marked it as Upper YA.

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Topic of Interest: I am forgetting how I worded the topic directly, except to say I was asking how Ms Casey originally conceived of the idea for her YA Lit Mysteries as it was from such a unique perspective and vein of entrance to explore!

In the Beginning…

For me, writing is a journey that begins with a collection of thoughts, images, conversations, memories, and things that involve the senses. This was especially true when I first started writing The Cadence of Gypsies, Book 1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries. The story was first conceptualized from a memory of an orphanage I used to drive by each morning on the way to the university. For some reason, I connected that memory to a poem involving gypsies.

In The Cadence of Gypsies, my three main characters are seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres.The three are collectively referred to as the FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius) around the campus of Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range. The three orphans travel to Frascati, Italy, with their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, who has convinced the headmaster of the school to allow her to take the girls to the small town in Italy in order to do research on a school project a few weeks before graduation.

Carolina’s real purpose in taking “her girls” with her, however, is because she is also an orphan, and she is trying to learn about her biological parents and find the source of an old letter she received from her birth parents on her 18th birthday written in an unknown script.  It resembles the same script of the most mysterious document in the world—the Voynich Manuscript, believed to have been created as early as the 1200s. And it was at the Villa Mondragone in Frascati where the Voynich was originally discovered. With the help of Larry Gitani, Carolina’s resourceful boyfriend who teaches at the University of North Carolina, Carolina had already learned that her birth parents were Italian gypsies.

By including her three charges in what she refers to as her “special project,” she hopes the experience will give them the confidence they will need to face whatever the future holds once they graduate and leave the protective walls of Wood Rose.It is also her intention to keep the FIGs out of mischief for the remaining few weeks of the school term so that they can graduate with their class. The FIGs are prone to “expressions of creativity” as Carolina prefers to call them, the latest of which involved pruning the headmaster’s prize red-tip bush, his Photiniafrasen, to a magnificent, perfectly shaped, 14-foot-tall phallic symbol.

In Book 2, The Wish Rider, of the F.I.G. Mysteries, Carolina and the FIGs have returned from Italy and a long hot summer stretches out ahead of them at the orphanage before Dara, Jennifer, and Mackenzie are to leave Wood Rose to attend the universities where they have been accepted. Dara, however, the most outspoken of the three FIGs, asks Larry if he can find out any information about her own mother. When he gives her a list of addresses, all in New York City, shedecides to go there in order to try to find her mother who abandoned her in a candy store when she was a young child. But only if Carolina, Mackenzie, and Jennifer will go with her.

Relying on her own gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that provide not only numerical solutions but answers to life’s most difficult questions, with Carolina’s loving guidance, Dara and her determined best friends tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.

Against a backdrop of Grand Central Terminal, the young women face a danger more terrifying than they ever could have imagined as Dara tries to find the answers she so desperately seeks.

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Thank you so much for giving us a clearer understanding on how you’ve crafted the series! Be sure to leave your comments & reactions for the author below in the comments!

About Barbara Casey

Barbara Casey

Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 6 September, 2016 by jorielov in Apothecary, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Herbalist, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Medical Fiction, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Upper YA Fiction

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “The Cadence of Gypsies” (Book No.1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey with a Guest Post by the author!

    • You’re welcome, Ms Casey! I honestly felt a bit more connected to the how the characters in the sequel than I did in this first installment. I liked the pacing of the second novel better, too. I appreciated having the chance to get to know your style of writing and enjoyed hosting you for the tour! Blessings to you in return!

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