{Review/Excerpt} UNCOVERING COBBOGOTH by Hannah L. Clark

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UNCOVERING COBBOGOTH was first released as a self-published novel entitled COBBOGOTH. 
It will now be traditionally published by Cedar Fort Publishing, and comes out this Tuesday, May 13th!

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This review was first posted on March 6, 2012.
The new version of the book only arrived a week or so ago, and there wasn't enough time to read it again and review any changes made.

I love when books can be categorized as "mythology" or a "fairy tale" even when they're 100% out of the author's own imagination with no reliance on a traditional tale.  For me, this is COBBOGOTH.  It creates its own mythology and makes you feel as though Cobbogothians are real. It makes you want to look up tales about this race of people and hear more about their stories.  Sadly, the Cobbogothians are an invention purely from the mind of author Hannah L. Clark, though she'll kindly be returning to them in future books.  Another fun fact about COBBOGOTH is that, while it's the first in a series, it has a sense of feeling self-contained.  While there are a couple of loose threads left at the end that encourage a return to Clark's world at a future date, there's no cliffhanger to leave one tearing hair out.  I also enjoy the fact that the legends are set in Iceland, rather than the author's home country, giving readers a fresh perspective.

 Norah Lukens has always known about the Cobbogothians, but has always thought their race to be a mythological one.  She grew up living with her uncle, a famous archaeologist, after her parents died in an accident shortly after her birth.  The day she leaves school to return to her uncle, he's found brutally murdered.  He anticipated that this would occur and has left encrypted clues behind for Norah to discover.  Norah becomes swept up in a dangerous quest as she attempts to solve a mystery that will shed truth on the discovery of a lifetime, one that has been carefully kept hidden from the public eye.  She's told to trust  no one, and feels she can't even share things with her childhood crush after overhearing a private conversation of his.  Caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time during a second murder, Norah finds herself being chased by police and on the run.  She makes her way to Iceland, where life as she knows it will change in drastic ways beyond her control.

COBBOGOTH is full of mystery and intrigue.  Clark deftly delivers a world where readers are as curious about what's going on as the novel's narrator.  Too many books make the direction they're going in obvious for readers; this one never did and I was surprised multiple times.  To me, this is the sign of a good mystery and am intrigued by the world Clark has immersed us in.  I'm eager to see what path she leads us on next and get a more in-depth look at characters introduced late in the title.

Here's an excerpt from

Nor? ” James rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the heel of his hand. One look at me, however, and he was wide awake. “What is it? Is it Gram?”
“No. No, not that,” I croaked, guilt rushing through me for causing him more worry.
The panic left his eyes, and he squinted at me.
I shuffled self-consciously. I knew I looked terrible. I’d been up crying half the night after my argument with Uncle Jack about James breaking my heart. Finally, I snuck out my window, climbed down my cherry tree, and headed to the fire station to see James.
“Hey, Riley! Cut the lights, man!”
James glanced back into the dark, communal bedroom where the rest of the night shift firefighters slept.
“Come here.” He took my hand, closed the bedroom door and, in stockinged feet, led me down the hall. A moment later, we were sitting side by side on the stairs. James still held my hand, and I hoped he’d never let go. I watched as he reached into his shirt pocket, fishing around until he found a piece of peppermint gum.
He offered me half. I shook my head, so he stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. Then he turned those kind, piercing eyes on me.
Growing warm under his gaze, I cleared my throat. “I-I’m so sorry to wake you up,” I started. “I hoped you’d still be awake. It’s just . . .”
James mindlessly ran his thumb in circles over my knuckles. I lost my train of thought. Blinking, I took a deep breath and plunged on. “My uncle . . . he wants me to stop spending time with you. I mean, I can still help with Gram and everything, he just doesn’t want us hanging out any other time.” I sucked in another unsteady breath. “But I—I can’t let that happen, James. You’re my only friend.”
James was quiet for what seemed like forever. I prayed he wouldn’t just shrug his broad shoulders and shuffle back to bed.
To my relief, he reached up, rumpling his chocolate curls with his free hand. “Did he give you a reason why?” he asked, avoiding my eyes. I shook my head. “I think he’s afraid you’ll end up hurting me—that you’ll break my heart. You know how protective he is.”
He was silent again, this time longer.
Stupid, Norah! Why had I come here? Why did I think James would even care about this—that it would upset him at all?
Finally, James let out his breath. And the next moment, he was pressing the back of my hand to his lips.
I swallowed my shock. I’d never imagined that his lips could be so warm and soft. The contact sent a shock straight to my heart.
“What do you think?” James mumbled a moment later, still contemplating my hand. “Do you think I could hurt you?”
I wanted to burst into tears all over again. “I don’t think, James, I know. But it would be worth it.”
James chuckled this time, resting his forehead against my temple. “Now that’s a compliment.”
I smiled. Having him so close—smelling the fresh peppermint on his breath—was a fierce mixture of agony and ecstasy. They were feelings I’d never imagined I could feel.
“I’d never hurt you, Nor,” James whispered at last, and his breath tickled my neck. “Not really.”
The basement wasn’t a terrible place to kill time, especially since Ronnie had put a pool table, a couch, and a mini-fridge down there. Every so often he’d have some friends over and they’d all disappear downstairs, and we could hear pool balls cracking up against one another and smell the cigarette smoke as it drifted up through the living room carpet. He didn’t love us hanging out in his space, but tonight I had no choice.

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The digital version of the cover is really, really pretty. Those purples/reds/golds/etc. pop and look gorgeous. The physical cover doesn't have nearly as much pigment, however, and the cover looks much more muted. Granted, it still features the same awesome design, but those covers on the screen are much more striking to me. (A case for an ebook over a physical book when it comes to physical design? I didn't think I'd ever say that, since most pretty books look best in person!)

Back when the book was self-published, Clark hired her friend Rebekah Shakespear of The Pink Lime Studio of Design to create an amazing look. I loved that the author and illustrator both paid close attention to the book's interior in addition to its exterior.  Most novels don't have nearly as much detail, and I'm always happy when I find a beautifully designed book! I loved it so much, I even featured it on a YouTube video so everyone else could see it, too.

While a few small pieces of artwork remain when you flip through UNCOVERING COBBOGOTH's interior, much of the amazing design and style is gone. Since I saw the first version, I know what was lost, and it makes me sad. Most people, however, will be satisfied because the interior is still more detailed and unique than many books. It still looks good. It just doesn't blow me away anymore.
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Author: Hannah L. Clark
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.

When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.

Hannah L. Clark lives with her husband and their son in the Rocky Mountains. She has always known she would be a storyteller. In 2006 she graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in English, and immediately began writing Uncovering Cobbogoth.

Hannah loves running, mythology, laughing, soulful bluegrass music, and growing things. Like her heroine, Norah, she is slightly inclined to believe that trees have souls.

To learn more about Hannah and the Cobbogoth series, visit www.cobbogoth.com.

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