#EnterTheFantastic with #WyrdAndWonder | Book Review of the Magical Midway Series [book two] “Life on the Lion” by Leanne Leeds

Posted Friday, 10 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: Earlier this Spring, I participated in an event uniting book bloggers and Indie Authors called #ReviewPit. One of the authors I discovered during this event was Leanne Leeds – of whom has penned a rather interesting Cosy Mystery series – wherein her lead character is a witch and the whole series is rooted out of her love of carnivals and her past experience of them. What intrigued me the most is how this is a Paranormal Fantasy Cosy series and I was thinking it would make a perfect series to curl up inside during #WyrdAndWonder!!

I was seeking stories during #ReviewPit which caught my eye for their uniqueness but also what was quite lovely is how most of the stories which intrigued me to read were actually within the realms of Fantasy! I found this wicked interesting and it is why I was thankful during #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 I could continue to celebrate my love of Indie Authors & Indie Publishers and Press!

I received a complimentary copy of “Life on the Lion” direct from the author Leanne Leeds in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: I didn’t realise until I was working on releasing the rest of my Magical Midway reviews (belatedly due to my four migraines this month and the aftermath that wrecked on me) that I somehow missed the fact the author’s name was not spelt correctly in the title of my first review nor in the url; having promoted the link on Twitter several times, I decided to let it stand in the url but I’ve corrected the title error. I didn’t realise this as like I said, I had four migraines this May and my recovery from them has been rather difficult. I simply didn’t catch it. My apologies to the author and my readers for that error as I always strive to catch my copy editing mistakes before I promote my posts. Sadly this one snuck past me.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Why I am *loving!* my discovery
of the Magical Midway serires:

I love how Leeds inserts her humour straight-off the bat – from how she first describes Charlotte arriving at the Midway and then, how she counters her reflective mirror on Charlotte a full week into the carnival life – wherein, you note how the lifestyle can take a toll on the person living it. It is raw honesty about the long hours and the taxing way the life can make a person feel exhausted in their bones and spirit but also, the humour can be added to cut the seriousness of it as well.

Knowing there is a story involving a lion in the series, I was curious if Uncle Phil mentioning Charlotte should tame them might be a foreshadow of events yet to come. If so, I love how the continuity of the series is immediately visual on the page – especially considering I hadn’t even finished reading the first chapter! Series which own their own world-building and have a proper development ahead of being written speak well of themselves. They make you feel as if the world your first stepping into is not just fully realised but it has already owned its own identity by which you simply have to make the transition as you move inside it. This spoke well of Leeds being able to pull us through her vision and to adjust our impression of how she wanted us to interact with her characters.’

There is a heap of plausible theoretic insight into how Leeds is shaping her world within the Magical Midway – from how there is a division between the humans and the paranormals (as she prefers to call the magical folk and creatures who inhabit her world) to how lifestyles which were once cherished and treasured are now amongst the least understood. It is a fitting augmentation of our own world – where those who lived a more unconventional and transient life in the world of carnivals and circuses suddenly found their centuries old profession to be viewed under a microscope of criticism.

When it came to the Cosy aspects of the story-line, I liked how we took a bit of a naive entrance into the Midway and the Witches Council because it added layers of intrigue into how little Charlotte understood of this world. It was a credit to the foundation of how Charlotte was raised ‘away’ from her heritage and how much she needed to learn on the job if she were going to make any headway at all at understanding what had happened. Traditionally cosy, we hug close to Charlotte as she attempts to unearth the clues she needs to put together a reasonable understanding of the crime which was committed seemingly without anyone observing any wrong doing – this puts us front and centre at the Midway but also lends a new perspective of the Midway to Charlotte.

Although this is a Paranormal Fantasy Cosy Mystery – the world has attributes of recognition from our own modern realm. This includes a lot of hot topics of the hour – from currently used buzz words such as being ‘woke’ about Women’s Rights to the right to proper Equality between genders and a movement towards a future without the adversities of the past. There are keen moments of insight about how the constructs of this world are not a mirror per se of our world but they are influenced by our world or rather, each world in of itself is struggling with the same issues found in each others’ realms. Which means to say, there is still quite a bit to be understood in the Midway world which is countered against Charlotte’s upbringing in ours.

There are certain unique moments within the story where we can see the humour of Leeds shining through – especially considering how often a rainbow of colours is fused to a particular magical moment. The magic in this series is bright, vibrant and colourful – though not always benign, it has a way of presenting itself rather spectacularly! This was a lovely light read within a paranormal world which is letting you see past the veil of how it exists. I liked the cosy atmosphere of how Leeds paced the story-line and even though I had a suspicion of whom was the guilty party, she turnt the tables on me in regards to what the plausible motive would have been! Overall, I learnt I want to re-visit this circus and dig a bit deeper into how the world behind the Magical Midway works – as the truer mystery is how the witches and paranormals co-exist at the circus when no one truly understands the finer points of their own living histories. That, for me, is what caused me to cheer for a sequel – as I had a feeling – the closer Charlotte evolves towards a more confident ringmaster, the closer we’ll become towards understanding the hidden truths of her world.

-quoted from my review of The Witchiest Circus on Earth

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

#EnterTheFantastic with #WyrdAndWonder | Book Review of the Magical Midway Series Invalid book: 0 “Life on the Lion” by Leanne LeedsLife on the Lion
Subtitle: Magical Midway Cozy Paranormal Mysteries Book Two
Source: #ReviewPit Author, Direct from Author

A missing mentalist.
A magical ultimatum.
To save the family business, one witch must pull something spectacular out of her hat.

For newly-minted witch Charlotte, moving from the human realm to life in the magical circus is still a tightrope walk. But when the crooked Witches’ Council passes a law that gives her a week to hand over two of her friends, she wonders if she’s in for a big fall. To make matters worse, one of the humans in question goes missing before she can even think up a plan.

As she sorts through the clues, she fights off her feelings for the kind and handsome Gunther. With time running out, she can’t ignore the possibility that her crush could somehow be involved in the plot against her family. To protect her business and her life, she’ll have to find the carny, guard her heart, and hold off the Council before it’s far too late.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Cosy Mystery

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781983063817

Published by Badchen Publishing

on 2nd June, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 232

Published by: Badchen Publishing

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #MagicalMidway + #Paranormal #Fantasy

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The Magical Midway series:

The Magical Midway series is a paranormal cozy mystery series with eccentric characters, show-stopping magic, sweet romance subplots, and twisty mysteries. If you like eccentric characters, show-stopping magic, and twisty mysteries, then you’ll love this paranormal cozy mystery.

Be sure to visit the Synopsis for these stories on the author’s site!

Charlotte & Aidan (prequel short) | Synopsis

The Witchest Circus on Earth (book one) | see also review

Life on the Lion (book two) | Synopsis

Unbearable Magic (book three) | Synopsis

Go for the Juggler (book four) | Synopsis

Irrelephant Omens (book five) | Synopsis

→ A Call to Charms (book six) *forthcoming 2019 | Synopsis

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of life on the lion:

I was dearly looking forward to my return visit to the Magical Midway – I liked the world Leeds was building for me to re-explore and deepen my appreciation for the discovery of how a circus and carnival full of paranormals (of the animal variety) would take me on their next adventure! I almost felt Charlotte would go through a period of growth in my absence – as she’s a gifted (herein I refer to the fact she was given an incredible power boost!) witch who inherited the Midway from her Uncle. Clearly I was overly ambitious for her as when I started to re-visit with her, I noticed Gunther (the sweet bloke whose father runs the competition to hers: the Makepeace Circus) was losing his temper with her just a bit as magic comes easy to him but to Charlotte, everything is a new experience; with a steep learning curve!

Honestly… it did not surprise me Uncle Phil was trying to takeover Charlotte’s role at the Midway, either! He had a rather larger than life personality to begin with and his sense of duty to the Midway is bar none to others sense of obligation. The fact he still wants to remain an active part of the Midway and therefore inflicting a bit of unease in Charlotte as she’s unfortunately finding her role less than stellar at this point – felt a bit fitting. The series overall is about facing your challenges head-on, finding that the greatest courage is the belief you have in your own abilities and aligning yourself with positive friends who become as close to you as your own family. The series has a lot of heart inside it and I couldn’t wait to see how Charlotte would thrive through this next challenging circumstance she was about to meet mere months after she solved her first murder!

As we re-align into her life, we are met with some of the parafriends of hers feeling as if she’s disowned her own inheritance and also, that she’s in danger of becoming an elitist. At least by witchy standards as she is in the one group of paratalented individuals who had the upper hand in their world for quite a long while now. It was the witches who overruled everyone else and that lent itself to becoming a problem to her closest friends. Each of them a different species and/or talented in a way which showcased the diversity of the Magical Midway itself. Yet, despite their openness to welcoming Charlotte into their group, these new friends proved the point about how if you grow up offworld from the Midway, you really have a huge gap in your education in regards to what paranormals go through and how they must endure the obstacles put in front of them.

You know, I really disliked those terrible three witches in the first meeting we had with them but this second meeting!? They really do take the cake! Mina, Mercy and Mabel are the kind of witches who make your skin crawl because they don’t have an ounce of warmth in their heart; cold-hearted the whole lot of them! I was as outraged as Charlotte hearing their ridiculous claims against two of the performers at the Midway; then again, when exactly were they enthralled with anything Charlotte did or said or even defended?

Gunther and Charlotte are now arriving in that awkward stage in their relationship between trusting each other and keeping a healthy dose of distrust alive instead. It would be helpful to them both if his father wasn’t quite as harsh as it is but in another way of looking at it, Gunther could do himself a favour by confiding in Charlotte. That would strike a better balance than Charlotte constantly feeling as if Gunther was purposefully keeping her a step removed from anything remotely connected to her or the Magical Midway.

Serena is the werelion and she has become smitten by the human named Mark whose the mentalist at the Midway. I found that rather interesting as I was curious if there might be inter-species relationships happening here – everyone is naturally drawn to each other due to their common interests and the fact, they each have an innate gift (for some it was latent) others outside the Midway do not share with them. It would make sense I felt if some of them were to start to pair off even if that meant a bit of creative workarounds if they er, weren’t of the same lineage?

It never fails to surprise me the layers of authority within the Midway – even though Charlotte has the most authoritative control over the circus itself, what she can’t overrule are the individual hierarchies within the circus per each species represented. This becomes a bit of a sticking point each time something arises which needs to be addressed as Charlotte can only intervene ‘so far’ before she is naturally overruled or reminded that it isn’t her place to make that kind of judgement. In this instance, it is the werelions and their pride which rankles you a bit because although the girls’ in the pride are more friendly towards their fellow paranormals, its their leader Leo who could use with a douse of reality in regards to ‘how not to behave badly’.

What is almost at the crucial breaking point is Charlotte’s relationship with Samson, her familiar (the cat) – between his snarky remarks whenever she is confused about something integral to the circus itself or the ways in which he believes he’s helping to influence her mind about an immediate threat; he rubs her the wrong way for how his self-inflated ego doesn’t allow him to come down from the rafters very often to relate to her on equal ground. He definitely still believes she’s the wrong choice for the job and his impatience with her is actively on display. He simply loves to put her in place and make her feel as if she doesn’t have the upper hand at her own circus!

I felt like cheering for Charlotte! She broached such a strong point about complacency and how rules which were never challenged could become your undoing. She was becoming a voice of reason, logical intervention and a person who saw the benefit in not subscribing to the past as a direct indication of how the future needed to necessarily play out. In other words, Charlotte was starting to shake things up quite a heap in the paranormals world at the Midway for her out-of-the-box thinking, her forward visions of how life could be lived and how she refused to accept that just because something was an ancient rule didn’t necessarily mean everyone had to continue to blindly adhere to it now. This felt like she was not just finding her wings as a ringmaster for the Midway but she was benefiting from being raised on Earth.

If she had been raised with the paranormals and the witches from the start of her life, she wouldn’t have had the perspective she needed as the ringmaster. It wasn’t that her Uncle Phil was one dimensional and was limited in scope to see the larger picture she was seeing now herself – it was the fact that once everyone choose to live at the Midway they tended to exclude other places outside of that existence. Meaning, no one bothered to counter a rule or a decree of law simply because it wasn’t part of their instincts to do so – whereas for Charlotte, being a newbie to this world and to how its ordered, she could in theory question everything and seek change.

Ah, we finally get to see Makepeace Circus and make some cross-comparisons once we are there! I was hoping we’d get to see Gunther’s father’s carnival as there is so much supposition about the last two circuses in this series that it makes you wonder why they aren’t united together rather than remaining apart. I suppose in some ways that goes back to a person’s morality and their choices they make which speak well of their personal values. I never felt Makepeace was a man of his word nor of his conscience as he seemed to be more ego and monetary driven.

What was striking about this installment is how Leeds anchoured the heart of the story to how prejudicial preconceptions can destroy any community. In this one, it is how certain factions of paranormals are angling themselves to go to battle with other groups – in that side of the story, as each of these installments is co-anchoured through a layering of story-lines – thereby keenly invested in Charlotte’s personal journey, the future of the Midway itself and the goings on with the whole paranormal world at large. What makes it realistic is how Leeds approaches discusses these prejudices and how those prejudicial views are allowed to become manifested in a world where you would think accepting a tolerance for individual differences would have been more commonplace.

In regards to the world being built behind the Midway:

In this installment, we learn more about the Witches Council and the inter-workings of how the witches are affecting everyone else in the world itself. From the angst of the paranormals at the Midway to how the witches have overtaken themselves a bit with duties no other paranormal can fulfill and thereby ensuing a bit of a distrust amongst all paranormals in general. You also have a better impression about how the circus is run by how many different species of were-animals are on the grounds. It is an interesting circus from that stand point as similar to the thoughtfulness Leeds put into the debut novel, she has maintained it throughout this sequel. The main cause of concern of course is the perception of circuses and how they treat their animals. I felt by having most of the paranormals in this circus, she was proving how you can run a circus but run it differently than the past standard.

Note about the font size:

This copy of the Life on the Lion is in large print – which I felt was lovely as I sometimes find reading larger print stories helps me ease back into reading after a severely horrid migraine. The beauty of it of course is the less taxing stress on my eyes and my ability to shift easier into the story-line – this font size is slightly larger than traditional large print which would make it agreeable to anyone who might need a size higher than standard print.

Subnote about the printed text:

I wasn’t sure what happened at the printer for this edition as on page 134 the ink on the crease-line area disappeared to where you had either a letter or two letters obscured from being read. It did not hinder my readings of the novel because there was enough to go on to read the page(s) entirely without losing traction in the pacing of the scenes but it seemed odd. I’ve had my fair share of odd printings in the past or issues with the editions I’ve received – such as the infamous book which was glued together and/or the book where all the time shift into the past was literally unreadable!

There are other instances too, but these stood out enough to re-mention. This print incident is very minor and it just struck me as ‘odd’ but not substantial enough to put the book down – mostly because once you reach this particular section you desire to know EXACTLY what is going to be happening ‘next’!!

the cosy and fantastical styling of leanne leeds:

Ms Leeds has a fantastic way of addressing IRL issues with thought-provoking discussions within her series which are generated by her characters. Even as they are discussing their own world’s problems you can find cross-revelations which equal our own world’s concerns. This is a trend she showcased in the first installment and happily she’s carrying it forward into the sequel. One of the most obvious cross-referenced inclusions is the debate about men vs women in a politically charged role to where men should take a step down to allow a woman to succeed in a role they do not have gender equality in to perform.

As we dig further into the series, we start to see how Leeds wanted us to perceive the circus – as it is quite literally its own ‘city’ within the carnival atmosphere – wherein, the rules of how it is maintained in both order and law fall onto the shoulders of Charlotte, who despite appearances is still sorting out how to be the new ringmaster. It is here we start to see how difficult the job was for her Uncle Phil – at least, from the outside, as the closer you look at his job from his own perspective the more you understand how he felt it was a natural talent he had to endeavour to rule over the circus with mercy, kindness and a strict code of ethics if things went wrong.

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Fantastical Elements:

→ Everyday Magic & enchantments

→ Paranormal and Fantastical characters

→ Telepathy (known as “spirit connection”)

→ Sparkly lights (herein reflect a magical event)

→ Astral Projection

→ Shapeshifters (ie. shifters)

The magical and fantastical elements were a bit more downplayed in Life on the Lion – meaning, now that Charlotte was getting down to brass tacks as they say to run the Midway, she wasn’t using magic in a predominate way nor was magic being overly visual round her or the others who live there. What you could infer instead was how ordinary magic looks when it is part of someone’s regular life – how the shield protecting the Midway is in effect ‘magic’ but it is like the force fields in Star Trek: The Next Generation – where you know what the technology involves yet by appearances it looks as normal as it would to those in the Federation who use it regularly. Leeds has achieved this kind of organic familiarity with the Magical Midway now – where the magical attributes are becoming inherently normal to the world in which we are residing.

I am uncertain if I spent a lot of time discussing the shifters in this series – however, the paranormals [are] shapeshifters but not in the traditional sense. Some appear to be shifters of the regular variety I have seen in other works of Fantasy – where they take-on different species and shapes per each instance they feel they need to shift. However, what I love about how Leeds interpreted the shifters in her series is how they take-on the personalities and outward appearances of the kinds of wild animals you’d find at a circus. Some also can shift into a humanoid version of themselves but in regards to the ducks, I think they were more duck than anything else! Laughs.

The mode of transportation explored in this installment is teleportation via astral projection – which in of itself is a hard mode of transport to depict but I liked the way Leeds handled it. She gave it a strong foundation and it was how she choose to explore this kind of transportation that tickled me to no end because in many regards the person who was using this kind of technique was more ingenue than novice!

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This book review is courtesy of: Leanne Leeds

Leanne Leeds author logo provided by the author and used with permission.Be sure to return next week when I reveal my thoughts about the third book in this series “Unbearable Magic”! I’m reading my way through the Magical Midway series this #WyrdAndWonder!

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reading this novel counted towards

my 2019 reading challenges:

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.

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whilst being read during my participation of:

Wyrd And Wonder banner created by Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.
Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.

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Be sure to NOTE these two bookish treats
from Leanne Reeds:

Open this tweet s/o to find out how you can secure your own FREE copy of the novel I’ve just ruminated over to begin your own journey into the Magical Midway Cosy Mysteries! Whilst visiting this book page on her site wherein you might be able to spy out a special offer for the prequel!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “Witchiest Circus on Earth”, “Charlotte and Aidan”, “Life on the Lion”, “Unbearable Magic”, “Go for the Juggler” and “Irrelephant Omens” as well as the author photograph for Leanne Leeds, author biography, book synopsis, series synopsis and author logo badge were all provided by the author Leanne Leeds and are used with permission of the author Leanne Leeds. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com. Beat the Backlist banner provided by Novel Knight. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Wyrd And Wonder Book Review badge and the comment box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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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 Friday, 10 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosy Mystery, Familiars, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Shapeshifters, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Urban Fantasy, Witches and Warlocks

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