Thursday, February 4, 2016

Second Chronicles of Illumination Blog Tour with C. A. Pack

Second Chronicles of Illumination (Library of Illumination)

By C. A. Pack
Publisher: Artiqua Press 
Published: June 30, 2015

Amazon Synopsis:

When an alien invasion threatens the existence of all the knowledge in the universe, eighteen-year-old Johanna Charette and seventeen-year-old Jackson Roth must rely on their wits, guts, and pluck to save the fantasy-come-to-life world of the Library of Illumination. 

It wouldn’t be so bad—all right, it is bad but it would hurt less—if Johanna and Jackson weren’t the ones responsible for breaching the portals to a dozen distant worlds. Now, outside forces are causing shock waves in the space-time continuum, and if that isn’t awful enough, someone from another dimension is trying to steal a book of powerful spells created by a very famous wizard. 

At first, traveling to other realms in a time machine seems like a fun perk. However, discovering some inhabitants want to obliterate the teens doesn’t leave them with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Instead, they find themselves forced to sacrifice their own welfare and the safety of their loved ones for the greater good.

Book Links


Jackson carried an armful of returned books to a dimly lit alcove in the Library of Illumination’s cupola. It was a special area reserved for some of the library’s quirkier offerings. The teen enjoyed reading the various titles, but after looking inside The Pop-Up Book of Phobias, he refrained from opening any of the others. Unleashing overpowering arachnophobia is not fun.
He hesitated as he shelved Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. When he had some time, he would have to come back and take a closer look at that one. He wasn’t sure what a few of the other books were about. Prodigiorum Ac Ostentorums Chronicon was Greek to him, and he had never heard of The Codex Seraphinianus. There was the Egyptian Book of the Dead, but there was no way he would ever open that one. And no library would be complete without Ripley Scrowle and Prophecies by M. Michel de Nostredame. I wonder if Johanna has unenchanted versions of these.
The recess appeared shadowy, which mystified Jackson because there was an octagonal window at the end of the alcove. It should have allowed light to flow into the library, but the aging etched glass looked frosted and did not permit a view of the outside.
Jackson shook his head. Something’s not right here. After shelving the last book, he ran down the cupola stairs and shouted, “Illumination,” as he took off out the front door. He looked up at the area where he thought the alcove should be located, but didn’t see a window.
He tried circumnavigating the library, which wasn’t an easy thing to do considering it had no side alleys, so he had to go around the entire block. Still, he couldn’t find that particular octagonal window.
Johanna stood waiting by the door when he walked back in. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, really.”
“Where did you disappear to? I thought somebody died, the way you ran out of here.”
“The thing is,” Jackson mused, “there’s a little window in the alcove where we keep the wacko books, which should be visible from outside, but there’s no corresponding window out there.”
“Repeat after me, there is no such thing as a wacko book. And there has to be a window. If there’s one in here, you should be able to see it from out there.”
He grabbed her arm and dragged her out the door. “Look up. If the cupola stairs are near the center of the building and the weirdo-book alcove is on the left, the window should be right there.” He pointed. “But it’s not.”
“Wait. That doesn’t make any sense. I’ve got to go back inside and get my bearings.” Johanna went all the way up to the cupola, and then carefully traced her way back down and out the front entrance. “You’re right. There should be a window there. I guess the one in the alcove is a fake.”
“Why would anyone put a fake window in a library hundreds of years ago?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I’m thinking, maybe it hides a safe and there are piles of gold in there.”
Johanna covered her face with both her hands for a few seconds. When she finally looked up, she said, “That is so ... you.”
“C’mon. Let’s go look.” Jackson grabbed her hand and dragged her back to the alcove window.
For several minutes, they stood and stared at the octagonal wooden frame filled with radiating triangles of leaded glass. “I never realized you couldn’t see outside,” she said. “I wonder what would happen if we cleaned it.”
“Your wish is my command.” Jackson practically flew down the cupola stairs to retrieve some rags and a spray bottle of glass cleaner from the utility room.
He returned before Johanna had a chance to miss him. He doused the fabric with cleanser and started rubbing the window. Grime came off on the rag, but the view remained obscured. “It’s not a window, so no matter how much I clean it, we won’t be able to see through it. I’m telling you, it’s hiding something.”
“Forget it. There’s no way we’re going to open it,” Johanna said dismissively. “Besides, it looks like it’s painted in place.”
Jackson tried prying it with his fingers. “Wait ...”
He bolted down the stairs again, and returned a few minutes later with a box cutter. This time his breathing sounded a little more ragged. The cupola steps spiraled straight to the first floor—five stories below—with no exits along the way. Running up and down the staircase several times took a toll on the teen, but not enough to derail his overall enthusiasm. He used the box cutter to slice through the paint that sealed the window to the wall. Once he had cut through all eight sides, he tried to pry the window open again.
“I don’t think it’s going to open,” Johanna said. “Let’s quit before you hurt yourself.”
“No. This is my mystery, and I want to solve it.” He ran downstairs again, and returned with a crowbar.
“No.” Johanna grabbed it away from him. “I can’t allow you to destroy library property.”
“I’ll fix anything I destroy.”
“Oh really?”
“Yeah. Ask my mother. I’m the one who fixes everything around the house. If I destroy this, I’ll fix it and you can deduct the cost of materials from my salary.”
“I don’t know ...”
Before she had a chance to think it over, Jackson jammed the edge of the crowbar under the window frame and tried to pry it off.
“They must have screwed this thing in place, because it’s not giving way. Nails would have pulled out by now.” He inspected the wood, but it had been covered by so many centuries of paint and varnish, he couldn’t determine where the screws would be. “I need to give this one more try.” He grimaced as he shoved the crowbar against the window frame with all his strength. Little beads of sweat broke out on his brow, and a vein in his forehead became clearly visible. He stopped to rest for a moment.
“This is crazy,” Johanna said. “It’s not going to open. There is no safe behind it. Why are you wasting your energy?”
“It’s my energy to waste. Besides, I think I can do it this time.” Jackson took a deep breath before applying force against the crowbar. “Aarrgghh!” He grunted as he worked to remove the window frame. Crack. A one-inch chunk of wood broke away and dropped to the floor.
“At this rate, you should be done in less than a week.”
“Not funny. The least you could do is help me. If we both pushed against the crowbar, I bet it would work.”
Johanna sighed. “Okay. Whenever you’re ready.”
“On the count of three. One ... two ... three.” They pushed as hard as they could, but nothing happened.
“Okay,” he said reluctantly. “Forget it. I’m throwing in the towel.”
“It’s not like opening it is going to provide any illumination for this space.”
As soon as Johanna uttered the word illumination, the octagonal window flew open, and the great outdoors did not appear on the other side.
Johanna and Jackson each held their breath for a few seconds.
“You said, ‘illumination.’”
As soon as he repeated the word, the two of them were sucked through the portal to a place that was extremely strange, yet eerily familiar. It had the same proportions as the Library of Illumination, but instead of books, row upon row of crystal obelisks lined the narrow shelves. They walked out of the alcove and found the surrounding area laid out exactly like the cupola in their library.
“Where are we?” Johanna whispered.
“It looks like a mirror image of the library, but it’s got all these tall, pointy things where the books should be.”
“Let’s get out of here.”
“Wait. I want to see where we are.”
Johanna shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Where’s your spirit of adventure? Where’s your plucky, can-do attitude? Where’s your imagination?”
“It’s my imagination that’s telling me to go back where we belong.”
“Okay, see you later.” Jackson said it breezily as he walked to the cupola steps. “Look.” He pointed to a strange symbol embedded in the stair post. “This must be their equivalent of the number one. I’ll never understand why this floor is considered the first level, while the main floor is called level five. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Johanna walked closer to look at the symbol. “I read about it in Mal’s diary,” she explained, as Jackson grabbed her hand and pulled her down the stairs. “The cupola is the highest level, so it’s number one. Think of it like winning a prize. If you win first place, that’s the highest you can go. It’s first, not fifth. With that in mind, it makes sense that the window level right below it is the second level. Those massive arched windows were designed to flood the library with light, although the light in this library is sort of unearthly.”
“Yeah, like they’re lighting the place for a horror film.”
“The third level,” she continued, “is the halo. It’s just a single layer of shelves on a narrow balcony that overlook the floors below. The fourth level is known as the residence level.”
“That’s a no-brainer, considering that’s where your apartment is.”
“And the main floor is the fifth level.”
They had reached the main reading room. The circulation desk was the same familiar shape, but the shelves still held crystal obelisks.

Johanna reached for Jackson’s hand and relaxed when his warm fingers curled around her own.
He pulled her toward the curator’s staircase. It was right by the residence, and it was the staircase they used most often. There were also stone steps built into the foundation near the front door that linked the main reading room to the residence level, but that staircase was rarely used because the books closest to it were about obscure musical tonalities with archaic chord-scale relationships—not a trendy topic. The more popular books on music could be found closer to the curator’s apartment.
Johanna studied the main floor as they walked across it. The reading room looked downright uncomfortable. The furniture, or what she supposed was furniture, included an assortment of oddly shaped surfaces dwarfed by the thousands of obelisks crowding the shelves. She looked up. The windows, opaque with grime, looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in a millennium. It looked like their library, and yet it wasn’t their library.
“Let’s go up to the next floor,” Jackson urged.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” she whispered.
“Why? I don’t think there’s anyone here.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Do you hear anybody?”
“Maybe they’re in the antechamber, binding books.”
“What books?”
“All right, they’re polishing the crystal.”
“One more level isn’t going to hurt.” He tried to pull her up the steps.
“No,” Johanna said, wrenching her hand away from his. “That’s the residence level, and I have no intention of finding out who lives there.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Wouldn’t it be cool to see how your other half lives?”
“My other half!”
“Shhh. They’ll hear you,” he whispered.
“Exactly.” She turned to go back.
“I’m going without you.” He quickly climbed to the next level.
Johanna couldn’t help herself. Instead of returning to the cupola, she walked into the middle of the reading room, where she could keep an eye on him. The balconies on the residence level were fairly visible, and Johanna followed Jackson’s progress until he stopped just outside the curator’s apartment. She waved to get his attention, but either he didn’t see her or he ignored her. Why does he have to be so difficult? He’s playing with fire.

Jackson began to notice subtle differences in the obelisks, not just in their height and width but on their surfaces as well. At first he thought they were dusty, but on closer examination he saw that they had subtle etchings on them, like a design, or another language, or code. He looked down at Johanna and waved at her to come up.
She adamantly shook her head from side to side.
She’s so stubborn. He felt sure they had discovered something monumental about this library, but he didn’t know what it was. He wanted to discuss it with her, but knew if he walked back down the stairs, she would interpret that as a signal they could leave and would head back up to the cupola. There has to be a way I can get her up here. 

Johanna’s impatience grew. Why tempt fate? Why can’t he wait until I ask Mal about this? She needed to know what to expect. She motioned for Jackson to return. He held up one finger, as if to say, wait a minute. She didn’t want to waste another moment. I should just leave, and if he wants to follow, fine. She raised her arm to wave goodbye, but could not stop herself from shouting “No” when Jackson reached for the crystal lever that opened the bookcase-door to the residence. He looked down at her and waved.
She watched in horror as a dark tentacle shot out of the residence, wrapped itself around Jackson’s neck, and dragged him inside. Her heart nearly stopped. Jackson had been caught trespassing, but by what? And who knew what kind of trouble he had gotten himself into? Her fear was for him rather than herself. She practically flew up the stairs to the residence. When she got there, the shelf that disguised the entrance had swung back into position and the crystal lever was gone. She began hammering on the wall behind the obelisks, hoping for Jackson’s sake that there would be strength in numbers—hopefully, two against one. After not receiving any response to her pounding, she decided the best way to get attention would be to make some real noise. She picked up the closest obelisk and hurled it across the aisle, sending it crashing into a shelf crammed with more of the literary crystals.
Instantly, the balcony filled with swirling fog. An odd being that looked like he had been formed out of molten gold rose from the depths of the mist. A blue diamond band surrounded the entity’s head, and lightning bolts shot out of it at varying intervals. It began communicating in a language Johanna could not understand. Even the translation app on the iPad would not have been able to help her. The words sounded more like grunts—“iks” and “ogs,” “nnhs” and “utzs.”
She shrank back against the shelf that had held the obelisk. She suddenly realized she couldn’t calmly close a book and make the apparition go away. There was no book to close, and the obelisk that she had sent sailing through a sea of air had broken into tiny pieces. She thought about how she would feel if someone had trashed one of her precious books. Her shoulders sagged. She had done something childish, something to gain attention, although not the kind of attention she wanted. In the process she had destroyed something precious, if not to her, to someone else. Not to mention she could be electrocuted at any moment.
Before she could give it any more thought, something wrapped around her neck and dragged her into the residence. The sudden loss of oxygen coupled with surprise caused Johanna to black out. When she came to, she saw Jackson standing in the middle of the room.
“I knew you’d come,” he said.
She struggled to her feet, choking on the oily mist that enveloped her. She looked around, but couldn’t see much in the hazy darkness. “Where’s ...”
“He went out after dragging you in.”
“Come on, then, let’s get out of here.”
“I’d love to, but I can’t move.”
“What do you mean, you can’t move?” She took a step toward him, afraid that she, too, might be unable to move, but if that were true, she would have never been able to get up off the floor. She reached for his hand. Zap. She felt electrified, in a bad way.
“Force field ...” they said in unison.
“I have to get you out of here.” She thought of how they had handled the force field surrounding the blue orb. “Illumination.”
“Uurrgg.” Jackson gurgled and squirmed. He suddenly looked like he would choke to death.
“Delumination,” she cried out.
He loudly gasped, taking in great gulps of air.
“Can you move?”
“I was hoping ‘delumination’ would work.”
His body relaxed. He took another deep breath, then a step. “The second one worked, which is good, because for a moment I thought you might kill me.”
“I guess it’s like the little window. You have to say it twice for it to work. Anyway, we need to get out of here. But I did something stupid. I broke one of their obelisks ... on purpose, and it released an odd being with lightning coming out of its ... head. Since the obelisk is broken, I don’t know what they’re going to do to contain it. Whoever captured you may still be out there.”
“Unless it took the obelisk to the antechamber to glue it back together,” Jackson speculated.
“There must be something it can do to repair it. Anyway, just be prepared for anything when I open the door.”
“Excuse me?”
“Just a family saying. My brother, Chris, once said ‘friggan shit’ in front of my mother, and she had a conniption. So he got into the habit of condensing it into ‘frit,’ and now we all say it, even my mother and my little sister.”
“That’s nice. Can we get back to the problem at hand?” She had no idea what kind of beings they were dealing with. “Do you think they’re human?”
“My mother and my sister?”
“Don’t joke. I’m talking about whatever captured you.”
“I don’t think so. I didn’t get a chance to pay much attention to what captured me, but I can tell you, it had an iron grip.”
“Just be prepared to run. Butand this is a big ‘but’—if we can’t outrun it, we shouldn’t go back the way we came, because we don’t want it following us back into our library.”
“How are we supposed to stop it from doing that?”
“I don’t know.”
“I wonder if there are any more windows to nowhere, in any of the other alcoves.”
“What good would that do us? We might just end up in a library that’s scarier than this one.”
“Yeah, but there’s usually no one up in the cupola. We could just hide out until we think it’s safe.”
“Unless whatever is chasing us follows us there.” She sighed. “Let’s just make a run for it and try to get back home. Ready?”
They each took a deep breath. Jackson nodded to Johanna, and she hit the lever that opened the door to the residence. No one was there. They tiptoed down to the main level and across the floor, and then broke into a run—straight up the stairs to the cupola. They didn’t slow down to see if anything was behind them. They couldn’t afford to waste precious time.
“Illumination,” Johanna cried as they ran into the alcove. They hit the wall hard but remained in the same unfamiliar library. She could hear someone, or something, stomping up the cupola stairs.
“What are we going to do now?” Jackson asked.
Johanna thought about him being trapped behind the force field in the residence, and how she had said the wrong thing at first. “Delumination.”
Nothing happened.
“Why did you say, ‘Delumination’?” As soon as Jackson repeated her command, they felt themselves swoosh away to another place.
“Oh my God,” Jackson exclaimed.
“What?” she cried, looking around in a panic.
“It’s the Pop-Up Book of Phobias.” He smiled at her, and in a singsong voice said, “Honey, we’re ho-ome.”
“Maybe not,” Johanna whispered.
“What do you mean?”
She looked down.
Jackson immediately knew what she meant. The floors were as transparent as glass.


My Thoughts:

C.A. Pack’s spellbinding writing provides us with a rollercoaster ride into other realms connected by Libraries of Illumination. Johanna Charette and Jackson Roth have to use all of their combined talents and skills in order to survive when the accidentally open the portals to twelve other worlds. Now one of those worlds wants to dominate all of the others and Johanna and Jackson find themselves in the middle of it all in trying to stop them.

The Second Chronicles of Illumination was indeed a spellbinding, action-paced, fast-paced book to read. While the story jumped from one realm to another quickly where things were happening simultaneously, the jumps were seamless and logical.

There were two stories within the book – the main story (the takeover of the dimensions) and a minor story (Pru Tellerence’s child). I liked the addition of the minor story as it helped us get to know some of the characters better.

The shock-waves in the space-time continuum were an interesting concept and made the reader think about what might really happen if you met yourself if traveled through time into the past or future.

Filled with strange creatures, different worlds, time travel, magic and a little clean romance, this fantasy has it all. I would highly recommend The Second Chronicles of Illumination to any reader of fantasy novels. I gave this book a rating of 5 stars.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Pack is an award winning journalist from New York who worked as an anchor/reporter and educator (she considers herself the fairy-godmother of television news reporters)—and has written for WNBC, LI News Tonight and News 12 Long Island. She also worked on PBS documentaries, radio and television commercials and created and produced a pilot for a news show focusing solely on marriage and wedding trends.

She's a past president of the Press Club of Long Island and a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. Pack has been a speaker or panelist for organizations such as Women in Communications, Fair Media Council, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The author lives with her husband and two picky parrots “on” Long Island, New York.

Author Links
Website  *  Facebook  *  Blog

Tour sponsored by:
Reading Addiction Blog Tours

No comments :

Post a Comment