Friday, June 22, 2012
The Flower Bowl Spell Blog Tour
Journalist Memphis Zhang isn’t ashamed of her Wiccan upbringing—in fact, she’s proud to be one of a few Chinese American witches in San Francisco, and maybe the world. Unlike the well-meaning but basically powerless Wiccans in her disbanded coven, Memphis can see fairies, read auras, and cast spells that actually work—even though she concocts them with ingredients like Nutella and antiperspirant. Yet after a friend she tries to protect is brutally killed, Memphis, full of guilt, abandons magick to lead a “normal” life. The appearance, however, of her dead friend’s sexy rock star brother—as well as a fairy in a subway tunnel—suggest that magick is not done with her. Reluctantly, Memphis finds herself dragged back into the world of urban magick, trying to stop a power-hungry witch from using the dangerous Flower Bowl Spell and killing the people Memphis loves—and maybe even Memphis herself.
I’ve always known that rats live in the Muni Metro tunnels, but this morning, after I almost fall onto the tracks, I find out that fairies hang out there too.
This should come as no surprise to a person like me, even though I banished magick from my life two years ago. In that time, I haven’t come across anything like fairies or talking sparrows. Not one rag doll has tried to jump into my shopping cart in ages. Yet, all at once, magick has come back to me.
In the Castro Street station, waiting for an M, L, or K car to take me to work downtown, I stand on the edge of the platform with a trickling crowd of morning commuters. Teenagers heading to Union Square for midsummer shopping sprees mingle with hipsters and Asian elders. There are a couple of indigents, one slumped against the wall, the other pacing and muttering. They wear shabby clothes with dirty, threadbare cuffs. Their BO could be bottled for biological warfare.
A high whining sound and blasting horn signals an inbound train. I move with the crowd, the wind from the tunnel gritty yet refreshing on my face. A shove at my back throws me off balance. It’s split-second fast, and I can’t tell if I’m being pushed to the tracks or pulled away, as my head is thrown back and the dim yellow ceiling lights lurch into view. At the same moment, a woman’s voice cries,
A disheveled man in a San Francisco Giants jersey has hold of my arm. I glance at him as the train pulls up in front of us and the doors open—his eyes obscured by sunglasses and the bill of his baseball cap, and his face covered in graying stubble. He’s the homeless guy who’s been sitting on the floor.
“Thanks,” I mumble.
“You okay?” A young woman dressed like an H&M salesclerk puts her hand on my shoulder, and the man’s tight grip on me loosens and slips away.
“Yeah,” I say as the woman and I step through the doors together, carried forward by the impatient crowd that could give a hoot about my almost-accident. You’re alive, aren’t you? No biggie, their indifference says. The doors close. The man has not followed us. In fact, he seems to be distracted by something just behind the train. I let my shoulders relax, unaware until then that they’ve been tightly hunched. I look out the window. Our train hiccups once before starting its slow glide out of the station. He stands on the platform and, unexpectedly, I read the gray cloud of his disappointed aura—but in response to what, I can’t tell.
With a smile of thanks to the young woman, I move away from the door farther into the car. I find standing space near a back window. As the train enters the subway tunnel, something on the tracks catches my eye. It’s a rat, looking a little dazed and sniffing a bit of discarded muffin. Isn’t it terrified by the rumbling train? I wonder why it doesn’t scurry away. Then I see the reason. A tiny fairy is riding it bucking-bronco style. A fairy who’s waving a shiny sword at me.
In the few seconds before the train rounds the corner of the tunnel, I note that the fairy is only pretending to ride the rat. Its wings beat rapidly, much like a hummingbird’s. I’m not familiar with this variety of pix. The ones I’ve seen are slow flitterers mostly, butterfly-winged. I can’t determine the fairy’s gender, but guess it’s a dude. No self-respecting female fairy would take part in such tomfoolery. He waves the sword around his head as if holding an imaginary lasso.
I allow myself to toy with the idea that perhaps I’m merely hallucinating. Perhaps there’s a speck of dust on my retina or this is just a childhood memory resurrected. But I know that’s wishful thinking.
And I have to say I’m more than a tad concerned.
When I first heard about The Flower Bowl Spell I was excited. A witch with Chinese heritage who can see fairies, has a cool job reviewing musicians, lives with a hot guy and can cast some serious spells with stuff you keep around the house. Memphis rocks.
What I liked about this book:
From the first page, Memphis becomes someone you want to know in real life. Fairies in the subway and a childhood filled with magic both seen and unseen and a personality that feels completely real. In other words, not all sunshine and moonbeams. The girl has some attitude and being a cranky type individual myself, I can appreciate that.
What I Didn't Like:
Not A thing. Well, there were no zombies, but the fairies and witches rocked!
This is a great summer read that I enjoyed very much. The voice of the book grabbed me on the first page and it was a page turner from then on. The fairies, magic and spells with regular household items was right up my alley! I will be looking for more books in this series and was very excited with Olivia was able to answer a few questions for the blog tour!
1. Do you ever watch zombie movies? What is your favorite?
I don't watch them often because I get easily scared by horror movies and then have trouble when, inevitably, in the middle of the night I wake up needing to use the facilities and am too terrified to uncurl from the fetal position I’m in. Not a comfortable feeling, and rather ridiculous at my age. But that said, one of my favorite movies—and this is on my Facebook page!—is Zombieland. The dialog is just so smart and funny, as are the situations. I try to work the term "double tap" into a conversation at least once a week.
2. If you were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, what would you most want to have with you? (twinkees, a large baseball bat...)
Honestly? I'm going to have to go with a lifetime's supply of calcium and disposal contact lenses in my extra-strength prescription along with saline solution. Otherwise, I'm zombie meat because I'll break a bone or be unable to see as I run away shrieking.
3. Have you watched The Walking Dead? What do you think of it?
As soon as they ate the horse in the first episode, I knew I wouldn't be able to take it. Too stressful for this wimp (see answer to Question #1).
4. What is your favorite zombie book?
Hm. I'm sure I read one as a teen because I read a couple of horror series, and the names escape me now (no, not Goosebumps—I was too old for that). Hollowland by Amanda Hocking is on my Kindle, waiting to be read. I know The Passage by Justin Cronin is considered a post-apocalyptic vampire book in general, but I thought the creatures in that were more like zombies in their creepitude and lack of sexual chemistry. Man, I’m really going to have to suck it up, and read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At least I have the illustrated postcards, so that’s something.
5. All writers have quirks. What is your weirdest one?
Weirdest quirk, weirdest quirk…This is actually pretty normal—and essential—when you’re a writer, but I always keep pen and paper handy by the bed in case I’m struck with inspiration in my dreams or as I’m falling asleep. And as I indicated is my answer to Question #2, I’m pretty nearsighted, so I’ll scrawl an idea blindly. Half the time, I can’t read it in the morning and it’s usually never as profound as I thought it was at 1 a.m. The pen is also good for stabbing zombies on the way to the bathroom in the dark.
If you would like to check out more about Olivia Boler, pop over to her website: http://www.oliviaboler.com/