Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: The Clock Flower by Barbara Casey with Giveaway

Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries 
by Barbara Casey
Gauthier Publications, The Hungry Goat Press Imprint
February 2018
YA Mystery/ Fantasy 
208 pages

Tour dates: Feb 26 to March 30, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is light profanity and some threat of violence.)

Dara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.

​Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.

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Three girls, who are geniuses in very different areas, must part from each other for the very first time in their lives, only to be drawn back together in a twist of mystery and danger.

The FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—are three orphaned girls and best friends. Now heading off to different colleges thanks for their very different areas of talent, they must face the world on their own. Mackenzie, gifted in math and problem solving, takes center stage in this book as she finds herself in China on a mission to find a missing, ancient ingredient, and ends up in the middle of so much more.

This is the third book in the series and works perfectly as a stand-alone. I did not read the other books first and had no trouble diving into this one. The first 75 or so pages are mostly filled with backstory, allowing the reader to dive into the characters and their situations. It makes for a slow beginning. After this, however, the story picks up pace and draws in until the last page. 

The mystery is well woven and offers many unexpected twists. This isn't a mystery with light depth, but the author uses the girls' genius attributes to bring intellectual depth into the mystery. Still, the girls manage to come across as their age and face normal problems of awkwardness and confusion, which girls heading out on their own often face. It was easy to connect to the girls and Carolina. There's a nice addition of darkness through the gypsies, which I loved. It adds just the right amount of tension in the early part of the book without revealing too much.

This is written from several points of view, which change with the chapters. Unfortunately, it's not clear who's turn it is until reading the first sentences—which is normally not a problem, but the point of view is not restricted to the girls and Carolina, but touches on other characters as well. It allows the mystery to gain wonderful hints and dabs, but took a few seconds to figure out who the character was and what their purpose might be. Still, the story flows nicely, and the writing is well done and natural.
The FIGs are fun to get to know, and I'm now curious to go back and see where their other mysteries have led them.

Although THE CLOCK FLOWER is the 3rd book in the F.I.G. Mystery series, it is a stand-alone novel. If you want to read the previous two books in the series, they are:

The Cadence of Gypsies: Book 1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries
by Barbara Casey
YA Mystery
272 pages
April 2015 (e-Book)
​Content Rating: PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

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.

The Wish Rider: Book 2 of the F.I.G. Mysteriesby Barbara Casey
YA Mystery
160 pages
Release date: May 10, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13

Seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.'s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.

Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.

Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that
Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.

And here she is. . .

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in 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.

Connect with the author:  Website

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1 comment:

Barbara Casey said...

Thank you so much for your nice review and for taking the time to host me. I am glad you enjoyed THE CLOCK FLOWER, and I appreciate your complimentary remarks. I wish you and your bloggers all my best.