Title: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
Author: H.P Mallory
Series: Jolie Wilkins book 1
Publication Date: September 2010
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Reading Challenge: 2012 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
When I requested Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble from the library, I had no idea it was self-published. I had just won the third book in the series, Witchful Thinking, from the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing and it is being published by Bantam in February. So I was quite surprised that Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble absolutely screamed self-publishing from the instant I saw it. The first thing I noticed when I picked it up off the shelf is that it is not the standard mass paperback size. The second thing I noticed were the fonts used and the blocky layout of the cover. The interior formatting is much the same with a very plain font, odd section breaks, and layout that makes me think of the original manuscript not a finished version of a book.
While I've read several self-published books, some very good and others not so great, I still start a self-published book with a bit of hesitation. I always wonder if the author chose self-publishing as their first route to publication or if it was the final way to get the book out there after traditional publishing avenues had been exhausted. I know H.P. Mallory has quite a following and since she has been picked up by a traditional publisher for the third book in this series, I figured there must be something to her writing.
The first book in the series introduces the reader to Jolie Wilkins, a young woman who can see auras and sometimes receives visions but doesn't realize that she is actually a witch with an unusual power. Rand Balfour, an extremely hot warlock, comes into Jolie's shop one day and hires her to help solve a mystery. When word of Jolie's success on the case spreads, she is drawn into a community she didn't know existed and into a war she knows nothing about. Jolie moves from Los Angeles to England to be under Rand's protection and the close proximity makes it hard for both of them to fight the growing mutual attraction.
I had a hard time getting started with this book. The paragraphs and even sentences seemed short and choppy while the characters were fairly flat in the beginning. I warmed up to the book once the story line really got interesting but every once in a while something would break my concentration and have me rolling my eyes. Now I admit that I read very few books that are considered romance of any sort but some of the descriptions and dialogue in the book just seemed over the top cheesy to me. My overall assessment is that I wanted to like this book more than I actually did but I enjoyed it enough to read the next two books in the series. I'm really curious to see how the writing progresses from this first book through the second and if it changes the feel of the series at all once I reach the third book which has the backing of a large publishing house and all that entails.
Update: I will be going directly from book 1 to book 3 in this series as Toil and Trouble is only available as an eBook. Although Amazon does have a listing for the paperback version, it does not seem to actually exist as my library is unable to obtain it through inter-library loan (they said it is 'in use at the one library in the country that owns it.'). I really wish I had realized that this series was primarily in digital format before requesting Witchful Thinking because I would not have requested it from LibraryThing.
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