#FemaleAuthorFriday – Lisa Maxwell

Welcome to the Disappear Here Book Blog’s first ever #FemaleAuthorFriday. In an effort to post more than book reviews, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite female authors on the blog. 

I began this blog with a review of Lisa Maxwell’s The Last Magician, so it only feels right to begin this series with her as well. 

I first stumbled upon Lisa Maxwell in Barnes and Noble in Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. I enjoy reading all of the recommendation cards scattered around book stores and there was a book titled The Last Magician with a note highlighting that the author was local to the area. 

I’m not sure if the synopsis stood out to me at that moment, but supporting a local author – yes, please. 

Once I began the novel, a love story began (between myself and Lisa, of course). I read the first novel in the series, eagerly picked up the second novel The Devil’s Thief (my review here), and now the third novel The Serpent’s Curse is next on my TBR. 

Side note, Lisa Maxwell also likes and comments on things I tag her in on Instagram. I know that may seem like a silly thing to some, but it makes me so happy I can barely contain myself when it happens. 

I won’t rehash her whole bio, you can read it here on her website, but one more cool fact is that she lived in Birmingham, AL, for a while – which is where I am now. Almost like we switched places. Maybe some of her motivation to start that first novel will rub off on me while I’m here for the next few years.

I’ve included the synopsis of her novels below, but if you like magic, badass female protagonists, a good love story that isn’t the central focus of the plot but OH SO perfect, and a fun adventure around the U.S. – The Last Magician series is for you. (Full disclaimer, I have not read her novel Unhooked.)

Unhooked

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged into a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.

Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?

The Last Magician

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Devil’s Thief

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

The Serpent’s Curse

Esta isn’t a stranger to high-stakes heists. She’s a seasoned thief who has no reservations about using her affinity for time to give her an edge, and she’s trained her whole life for one mission: travel back to 1902 New York, steal the ancient Book of Mysteries, and use its power to destroy the Brink and free the Mageus from the Order’s control.

But the Book held a danger that no one anticipated—Seshat, an angry goddess was trapped within its pages. Now that terrible power lives within Harte, and if given the chance, Seshat will use Esta to destroy the world and take her revenge.

Only Esta and Harte stand in her way.

Yet in their search to recover the elemental stones needed to bind Seshat’s power, Esta and Harte have found themselves stranded in time with a continent between them. As Esta fights to get back to Harte, the Order is no longer the only obstacle standing in her way.

Saving Harte—and magic itself—will put even Esta’s skills to the test. And all the while, another danger grows, one more terrible than both Seshat and the Order combined…

Book Review – Home Body by Rupi Kaur

Genre: Poetry

Rating: 5 / 5

I’ve been a fan of Rupi Kaur for years. I was first introduced to her when my husband and I decided to read her debut book Milk and Honey together. We sat in bed for two nights in a row reading poetry aloud. Reading Rupi Kaur’s poetry is an intense experience when you do it alone, and it’s even more powerful when you share the moment with another person.

For me, it was like someone finally was able to verbalize things I have been through. For my husband, he said it was moving to hear a woman’s perspective, especially one with such writing talent as Rupi Kaur. 

One poem in the book Milk and Honey inspired the tattoo I have on my left arm. While not a direct replica of the art in the book, it was the foundation of the final product. 

I read Home Body in an airport/on an airplane, so the experience was a bit different than my reading of Milk and Honey. But the power and raw emotion behind Rupi Kaur’s words were not dimmed. I read through the book in about an hour and spent the next hour flipping through and re-reading poems that really struck me. 

At one point I found myself holding back tears. 

If you are a woman, man, young, or old – you need to read everything Rupi Kaur has ever written. She will find a way into your soul. 

Instead of a standard review, I am going to share a few of my favorites from Home Body and hope you take the time to go read the entire book. 

The poem above covers one of the lighter topics in the book, but it really struck a chord with me. Throughout high school and college I had such a solid group of friends (and still do). We did everything together. It was rare for me to go a day without seeing my best friend. 

Now, here I am, with my overly demanding job, a wife, almost a mother of two, living hundreds of miles from the people I have selected as family. It’s hard. 

I’m good at being alone, and my husband and I are such a strong team. But I often find myself missing my best friends. The laughter, love, and fun we always had – whether we were at the grocery store, sitting at home, or out with a large group of friends – we always had a smile on our faces.

They know who they are – I love you. 

The other day I was staring at myself in the mirror, and all of the sudden I started to cry and laugh. The woman I was looking at, she amazed me. I thought she was beautiful and strong. 

As I continue the journey into my thirties, there is so much focus on “looking young.” My friends are visiting the doctor for botox or plastic surgery. We are all fighting to hold onto our youth. 

But here I was (no botox – no plastic surgery), looking at this woman with a swollen, pregnant belly, arms her younger self would have fainted over (because they aren’t perfect), and laugh lines all around my eyes. It was a magical feeling – falling in love with myself.

My body has done so much for me. It has carried me through trauma, given me one (almost two) perfect children, shown me pleasure, and fought through pain. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t love this body with every part of my heart and soul? 

This poem, along with a few others in the book, brought me back to that moment. It was a sacred experience I hope I never forget. 

These are just two poems selected out of one of the most powerful books I have ever consumed. Please pick up a copy and experience it for yourself whenever you have the chance.