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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Playlist, & Giveaway!! The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

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The Luthier's Apprentice 
Publication Date: May 15, 2014 
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Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another… When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms. But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini? Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…
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Emma heard voices coming from the front of the house, but they didn’t last very long. A moment later a door shut, leaving behind total silence. The hands holding her now loosened their grip.
Emma jammed her elbow into the stranger’s torso, pushed open the pantry door, and spun around.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
“Who are you?” he asked back, stepping out of the pantry. He held the side of his stomach. “Did you have to do that?”
“What did you expect? And you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Neither have you,” he said.
The stranger looked about her age, but he was taller—a lot taller. He had alert, brilliant green eyes to die for, raven black hair and an arrogant, way too good-looking face that instantly annoyed her. He was dressed in a dark green hoodie and jeans, and had a slight accent she couldn’t quite place.
“Monsieur Dupriez was—is—my teacher,” Emma said.
“Well, we have one thing in common. He’s my teacher, too. What are you doing here?”
“That’s not any of your business.”
“You sneaked in here for a reason. You don’t look like a thief, so my guess is you’re here for the same reason as I am.”
Emma crossed her arms against her chest. “Which is?”
“To find out what happened to him.”
For a moment Emma didn’t know what to answer. She was too aware of the passing minutes.
“I’m right,” he said, half smiling. “Well, that’s two things we have in common. And there’s a third one, too.”
“We have no time to lose. Come on,” he said, as if he had read her mind. He started toward the door.
“Wait!” Emma wasn’t sure if she wanted another ‘partner.’ With Annika, that made them three. The way she saw it, three was a crowd. On the other hand, he looked pretty smart... and three minds could work better than two. Or couldn’t they?
“What’s your plan?” he asked.
“Going into his study.”
“I agree that’s the best place to start. How did you manage to get in, by the way?”
“It’s a long story. My friend helped. What about you?”
“I’m supposed to be cleaning the upstairs windows,” he said.
“Then why are you hiding, if you have permission to be in the house?”
“She said not to come downstairs until she got back.”
They crossed the foyer and stopped in front of the study door.
Both extended a hand to open the door. Throwing her a look, he pulled back his hand and said, “Be my guest.”
After an instant of hesitation, Emma grabbed the doorknob and turned it. Great. It wasn’t locked. She bent under the yellow crime-scene tape and entered. He followed close behind and shut the door behind them. Luckily, the curtains were drawn, so nobody could see them from the street.
Nervously, Emma glanced at her watch. Almost eleven. She wasn’t even sure what to look for. She had been here hundreds of times, and knew every nook and cranny. The study was about fifteen square meters. Except for two large square windows, the rest of the walls were lined with bookcases. A cherry wood desk with a dark green leather top sat at the far end of the room. Apart from the desk chair, there were two armchairs with a little round table between them. The middle of the room had always been kept free for teaching purposes. A music stand with some old scores stood in one corner. The only adornment was a Persian rug in the center of the oaken floor. Books, notebooks, legal pads, papers, Post-Its, pens, and pencils cluttered the desk.
“Anything in particular we should look for?” he asked. But there was something peculiar about his tone, as if he already knew what he was looking for and he was asking her just for the sake of asking. He had gone straight to the desk and opened one of its drawers. He rummaged inside.
“How about a secret passage?”
He turned to look at her. “Secret passage?”
“That’s always how it works in books, isn’t it?” she said defensively. “A person can’t disappear just like that.”
“I agree,” he said, surprising her.
She had half expected him to mock her. The fact that he didn’t, and that he was looking seriously at her with those sharp, brilliant green eyes, made her blush.
“If he…um...if he really wasn’t seen leaving this room, then there must be a secret passage, otherwise it has to be the work of…” she hesitated.
Her pulse raced. She stared at him. He didn’t stop surprising her. “That’s right—magic. Do you think that’s lame?”
“No. The idea already crossed my mind.”
She was half incredulous, half thrilled. “Really?”
And then, to her utter astonishment, he adopted a stuck-up British accent and recited from Sherlock Holmes. “‘An old maxim of mine, that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’”
She was speechless for a moment. “That’s from Sherlock Holmes! You don’t look like...like you read Holmes.”
“You shouldn’t trust appearances.” He yanked open another drawer and started rummaging inside, as if nothing had happened, as if reciting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a stranger was completely normal.
Okay... You look for the notebook, I’ll look for the secret passage—” She froze—literally froze, just as he turned to look at her. Why had she said notebook with such conviction? Were her new abilities kicking in again?
His eyes narrowed, and when he spoke, his tone was cautious. “Notebook?” 
Emma looked away, flustered. “Why not? That’s what people put in desk drawers. Maybe he kept a journal or something.”
“Maybe.” But he sounded doubtful.
Emma had to wonder: was he suspicious because she had guessed what they should be looking for or because she had guessed what he was looking for?
Whatever. She didn’t have time to think about this now. She checked the bookcases for the possibility of a secret passage, even though the idea of a passage felt less and less exciting by the second.
Like Grandpa’s house, this was an old maison, probably one-hundred fifty or two-hundred years old. Old constructions often had moving bookcases…or at least they did in the movies. She had never seen one for real, of course. For the next several minutes, she searched the walls while he concentrated on the desk. She tapped and knocked for hollow sounds and secret latches. But all along, her mind kept whispering...notebook.
“Damn,” she said, feeling frustrated. She turned to him. “Did you find anything?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” He was leaning against the desk with an open notebook in his hands. He was reading, absorbed by its contents. Then he looked at her.  
Emma swallowed. “What’s that? A journal?”
“No, not a journal. A notebook. How did you—?
“I told you. It was just a wild guess. Why? Is it important?”
“Maybe. Did Monsieur Dupriez ever mention to you that some modern violinists were playing in a way similar, very similar, to some of the old masters?”
Emma frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Once, while watching a New Year’s concert on TV, he said that the violinist who played—the famous Maria Damasio—was a copycat of Jean Pierre. You know, the famous Swiss violinist who disappeared in the 30s.”
Monsieur Dupriez often had them watch concertos on TV to demonstrate the performers’ techniques.
“What’s so unusual about that?” she said. “Many young violinists copy the techniques and mannerisms of the old masters.”
“That’s true, but the way Monsieur Dupriez said it struck me; he was very insistent.”
Emma remained thoughtful.
“Look,” he said, showing her a notebook page filled with two columns of names. “Here’s a list of new violinists… and next to it is a list of old ones.” His finger moved down the list until he reached Maria Damasio. Next to her name Monsieur Dupriez had written “Jean Pierre.” “This is a list of all the violinists he thought were copying the old masters. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with his disappearance. Probably not. But I have a hunch...Anyway, I’m taking it with me.”
“You’re taking the notebook? That’s illegal. What if the police find out?”
“I have to do something about this. The police aren’t doing anything. They’ve found nothing so far about the other three violinists. What am I supposed to do?  Sit and wait?”
She felt just a twinge of suspicion. Why would he go to such extreme? But then again, wasn’t she doing the same? Here she was, trespassing at the scene of a crime and messing with the evidence.
She sighed. “I feel the same way. He was my friend, too.” Then she asked, rummaging among the books and papers. “Isn’t there anything else that can give us a clue?”
“I don’t think so. He was working on his book. The stuff on his desk seems like it has to do with the book.”
“There’s his violin case,” Emma pointed. The black leather case lay on the floor by one of the armchairs. She crouched, opened it, and inspected the empty, red velvet interior. “Don’t you think it’s odd that his violin disappeared with him?”
“Maybe whoever’s responsible wanted his violin, too.”
“Why would someone want it? It was a fine violin. My grandfather made it. But it wasn’t something priceless. Besides, nobody has asked for any ransom, and none of the other violinists’ violins have turned out in the black market. Well, at least that we know of.”
“Are you Donatelli’s granddaughter?” He looked surprised. “Emma? The double-jointed girl?”
Emma felt herself blushing. “Um...yeah.”
“Monsieur Dupriez talked about you a lot. It was annoying. The last time was to warn me that you would be my toughest rival at the Christmas competition.”
“What? You’re competing, too?” The thought of competing against him sent a jolt of excitement through her. She had double joints, but something about the way he’d recited Holmes told her he had an uncanny memory, and this came extremely handy when memorizing concertos. “Who are you?”
 “Fletcher, Corey Fletcher.” The way he’d said it made her think of James Bond, but maybe she was being paranoid.
“Oh, yeah... Monsieur Dupriez mentioned you, too.”
“So what are you playing in the competition?” he asked.
“The Beethoven.”
His eyebrows shot upwards. “Cool.”
Hmm. Really? Brahms? Big deal. Okay, so she was a little bit jealous. It was a tough concerto to play well. But so was Beethoven’s.
“‘I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner,’” Corey quoted in a stuck-up British accent again.
Heat rose to her cheeks. “What?”
“From The Man with the Twisted Lip.”
Either he was a nutcase, a total show-off, or a genius. It certainly took a special talent to memorize lines so well from a book. It also took a great deal of self confidence to recite them to people he’d just met. Who did he think he was? So what if he was incredibly hot? He annoyed her. She was crazy about Sherlock Holmes, but the only line she could quote from him was “Elementary, my dear Watson,” just like the rest of the world. Oh, and, “The game is afoot.”
“We’re wasting time,” Emma said, not impressed. “Let’s stick with what we came here to do.”
Okay.” He seemed amused. He put one hand up, palm out, and stepped out of her way. “You have a quick temper, don’t you?”
“I’ve been accused of that,” she retorted.
Emma searched around the room for something, anything that might offer a clue, while at the same time she tried not to feel self conscious under his presence. Then she stared at the carpet.
She bent down and started rolling the carpet, displaying the floor beneath.
“Let me help,” he offered.
They pushed the roll of carpet aside. The oak boards were marred with tiny dents, scratches, and some discoloration, but the floor looked normal.
Emma kneeled down and knocked on the wood. “Seems solid.”
He also went on his knees and together they knocked all over the floor looking for hollow sounds.
His hand moved across a part of the floor that had been damaged. “What’s this?”
“Discoloration. The varnish is gone.”
“It seems more than discoloration.” He touched his nose to the wood and sniffed. “It smells like it’s burned.”
Emma was about to smell the area in question when they heard voices from outside approaching the front door.
A jolt of panic raced through her. “She’s back. Quickly, roll back the carpet!”

Mayra Calvani’s Playlist

Moonlight Sonata
Figlio Perduto
Snow White soundtrack
The Village soundtrack
Interview with the Vampire soundtrack
Dracula soundtrack
And last but not least—in fact, currently my personal favorite: the Revenge (series) soundtrack

About the Author

Mayra Calvani
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. She's represented by Serendipity Literary. She lives in Belgium with her husband of 25+ years, 2 wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets. When she's not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.
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