Blog Book Tour | “Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago” by J.B. Rivard

Posted Monday, 16 January, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary Collector’s print edition copy of “Illusions of Magic” direct from the publicity firm JKS Communications (of whom I also regularly review for) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title interested me to read:

I grew up watching David Copperfield on television – quite entranced by the art of illusion and the way in which magic can give us such a light of joy to observe. Illusion is meant to inspire and to entertain; never to harm or takeaway and I think that is what I loved about the art behind the acts so very much. In recent years, I’ve been re-inspired by the magical acts featured on America’s Got Talent – which is a variety act series I can either take or leave depending on the year. The reason I like seeing the new talent stepping forward is because there is such a lot of talent out there you might never get the chance to see; as they perform across venues and geographic locations. The series is a way in which everyone with a television or streaming capability can view the same act at the same time. In some ways, I think it draws everyone a bit closer; as we’re championing the talent, inspired by the acts themselves and leave the experience a bit more enlightened.

Of all the performers, one this past year truly touched my heart, as he took light and magic to a new height by combining it with illusion, theatrical interpretive dance and the joy of fusing heart into one’s act. The performer I am speaking about is Viktor Kee – although I am unsure how many would consider his act part of illusion when he has such a commanding presence on stage through the combined elements he puts into his artistry. To me, the illusion is the mastery of the elements – to create an experience for the observer that is not entirely part of our perception and transcends us into a different place if only briefly – to me his artistry is brilliant for how he evokes art out of passion. To see a video of his AGT performances, please visit his website and scroll down for the video.

When I first read the premise of the novel – there is just something about the plot and the setting being in Chicago that felt alluring in of it’s own. The winding down of vaudeville and the backdrop of the Great Depression is such a stimulating cross-section of where everyday people were trying to sort out the impossible: how do you go forward when even time itself appears to be standing still!?

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Blog Book Tour | “Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago” by J.B. RivardIllusions of Magic
Subtitle: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard
Illustrator/Cover Designer: J.B. Rivard
Source: Publicist via JKS Communications

The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Places to find the book:

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Genres: Historical Fiction


Published by Gray Dog Press

on 17th April, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 233

Published By: Gray Dog Press
Available Formats: Nearly exclusively E-book released; except for the Collector’s Print Edition

Converse via: #HistFic + #IllustratedStories

About J.B. Rivard

J.B. Rivard

Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

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the illustrations & beautiful artistry of j.b. rivard:

I love #IllustratedStories! In fact, I remember lots of stories of my youth and growing years were still illustrated with plates, even past the point of maturity where most of literature steps away from including illustrations. To me, this felt like the wrong move – somehow, illustration only seeks to add dimension to the craft of story-telling, not takeaway from it’s glory of standing on it’s groundwork of narrative and character-focused heart. No, I think more stories would benefit from illustrations and this is one reason why I love finding special editions of stories – not just the traditional variants of Classical Literature, but also, of modern classics or individual stories you might not suspect as being illustrated, do hold a few surprises for you to find!

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the fully illustrated stories, (such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret) which seek to carve out their own niche amongst the offerings of today’s literature. I happen to love the fusion of illustration within the context of narrative – such as Illusions of Magic – where you find the benefit of both side-by-side. I, of course, have a soft spot for pen and ink drawings or illustrations because it’s the one medium of art I have wanted to pursue myself. I started in oil paints and oil pastels, but as I’ve aged, I’ve grown more dear to illustrative arts and the mediums of choice from the artists who are bringing to life the story through their creative eyes.

There is something quite old-fashioned and familiar about the style Mr Rivard has used inside Illusions of Magic; the style is familiar because it is one I used to regularly see whilst I was reading but more to the point, his illustrations feel etched and purposeful in their imagery. I am thankful I have the Collector’s Print Edition – as the illustrations are brilliantly shining throughout the novel! Mr Rivard has captured the characters well – especially how their personalities align with their illustrations; including the shadier of characters appearing as you think they could be seen. It gives a lovely rhythm to the story and expands upon what is being built out of words and syntax.

My review of illusions of magic:

When a magician’s wife is injured in an act of illusion, she thought her husband would not only be sympathetic but at least hint at feigned concern for her injury. Succumbing to neither, Connie realised she had reached her limit of what she could tolerate of Nick; he simply was uninterested in particulars, with his whole mind spinning round ideas to re-produce an act that is not even treading an audience following! Her mind was frustrated behind the hilt; she even recited facts for him – about how motion pictures were taking over where radio had left off and how both were equally vying for audiences to be entertained without the presence of stage acts. In many ways, you can feel her vexations – how time had changed and how entertainment had taken on new industries.

Nick was left in the dark of not quite understanding why Connie was as fumed as she was when she took off to her brother’s house; the notorious Liver Jack and his wife Noddy, became her refuge but it wasn’t quite the welcome wagon she had hoped it might be. Liver Jack had made a reputation for himself from the streets into the unions; he worked his way up with a fearless attitude of being ‘someone’ was not dependent of ‘where’ you were raised but the moxie you had in your soul. They differed in politics and argued themselves into heady rows over the wars of the city – yielding to Liver Jack trying to find the patience to keep Connie in residence.

Complicating matters – Nick is hired by a bank manager bent on securing lost documents from an unknown thief who took a heap from the bank yet left no trail of the theft. Connie is slightly happy to hear Nick is on a rebound of sorts in fiances but it’s what she tells him and her brother which boggles them more! She honestly might have overheard something in connection to Nick’s new job! Imagine?! There are some really shady characters popping in and out of scene – you can feel the momentum of the story picking up pace in places where the underworld of Chicago is coming out to play whilst Nick & Connie seem to be caught inside the cross-hairs of other people’s influences.

By the time Nick was centered in on the mystery surrounding the missing artifact of the banker’s – he was knee deep in the intrigue surrounding his old girlfriend Iris. She was caught up in the goings-on of the inner city whilst not realising how deep she had become attached to that hidden world until she re-crossed paths with Nick. As he’s trying to chase down leads, his mind re-plays the reel on his days with Iris; from school years to the moment he lost sight of her – where she disappeared outright when he was nineteen. Theirs is an unresolved love story – of where innocence is lost in the tides of life disrupting a path they could have taken into their futures. Connie on the other side of his life, nearly felt like someone he settled to marry but didn’t fully love as he had Iris.

Iris had her own troubled secrets to hide; secrets she was even afraid of sharing with Nick; which eventually do come out into the light. When they do, you can feel her shame and the pain she endured whilst thinking no one would understand what had happened to her – as Rivard arches the story-line through Nick’s intersection with her world with the retrospective intuition of lost love. It’s a world Nick truly doesn’t completely understand and in some ways, never should have accepted an assignment inside as it’s truly out of his depth. The further he goes down this rabbit hole the further away he gets from where he began.

Ironically or not, this is less a story about illusion and magic and more to do with how real-life erupts out of the ordinary hours to confuse your alliances and re-affirm who you are when the hour is arriving where you have to choose the kind of person you want to be. Nick, Iris, Connie and even Liver Jack are on the fringes of society – they each in turn, interact with powerful people, of whom would make anyone a bit anxious around the edges. This is a story about second-chances and near-misses; where sometimes the best way to change your stars is to believe in the impossible – because sometimes someone is going to surprise you and help you start a new chapter of your life.

on the suspenseful writing style of j.b. rivard:

I appreciated the full back-story on what inspired Illusions of Magic – as I must confess, I didn’t get to learn about the historical significance of this story’s prelude until I read it from the author’s words themselves. There is a whole hidden history behind the events of 1933 apparently – including how something quite dire affected the President and set off a course of events that directly effected others around him. The story percolates from Miami to Chicago – whilst the fuller backdrop of history during this decade is explored and digested into a new variant of illustration on what those events might have led to in reality. I liked how the author was quick to point out, if there are any omissions or errors, he yields to the knowledge he gleamed from his research and the information gained from the press. It is quite a true statement to say, how history is known and unknown simply by what is focused on in the press or how news translates from truth to fiction by the sources who know the real story from the fictional.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Illusions of Magic blog tour via HFVBTs.This is a blog tour I am thankful I could stay a part of as three of my blog tours for HFVBTs had to be pushed forward into January – from late November and throughout December wherein I was dealing with a family medical emergency. On that note, one has posted recently (You’re the Cream in my Coffee, see Review) whilst the other two are upcoming this week: The Semper Sonnet and Who is to Blame? This marks my return to blogging full-time again whilst playing a bit of  ‘catch-up’ on the stories I had to suspend from reading and finding a voice to blog about them during my father’s recovery. I am thankful this is one of two new tours this month I’m hosting for HFVBTs, as the second is Beyond Derrynane on the 23rd! Thank you for your patience.

As an aside, for those who appreciate following @JKSlitpublicity my two held-over reviews for them will be running this week as well: Indy Writes Books + Such Mad Fun. One is an anthology of stories (if you’ve taken a moment to read my latest anthology review, you’ll know I have a strong affinity for them!) and the other, is a memoir of Old Hollywood – something I’ve been looking forward to consuming & ruminating about!

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Reader Interactive Question: What draws your attention to Magic & Illusion? What do you appreciate the most about pen & ink illhttps://twitter.com/JKSlitpublicityustrations and the cohesiveness of illustrated stories!?

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Illusions of Magic”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of J.B. Rivard and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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 Monday, 16 January, 2017 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Chicago, Crime Fiction, Domestic Violence, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Indie Author, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Second Chance Love, The Great Depression, Vulgarity in Literature




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