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  • Tara Sonin 7:00 pm on 2018/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , breath of magic, crystal cove, , daughter of the blood, , erika mailman, , , gregory maguire, , , , , , naomi novik, , , paula brackson, practical magic, , , , , the witches of east end, the witching hour, the witchs daughter, the witchs trinity, toil and trouble, uprooted, , wicked deeds on a winters night, witch and wizard   

    16 Witchy Books You Need This Winter 

    You may think Autumn is the only time for witchery, but we say winter and witches go together like snowflakes and hot cocoa! If January has been keeping you cold, here are some witchy reads that will excite…and maybe even scare you a bit, too.

    A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
    When factions of supernatural creatures set their sights on a document that could give them the upper hand in a war, a reluctant witch must seek the protection of an equally reluctant vampire, her supposed mortal enemy. Witch stories have a tendency to emphasize the importance of family…but in this case, it could be her own family that wants her dead. Can true love between two warring beings prevail?

    Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    The Owens sisters are cursed: the men that they love will always die. But with that curse comes unique abilities—magic—that on more than one occasion, they have used to try and prevent others that they love from falling prey to the same fate. Gillian and Sally grew up as outsiders, always trying to escape the rumors about their family. One of them married, and the other ran away, determined never to do so. But when tragedy brings them together again, the curse is always there to welcome them home…

    Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts
    In this witchy trilogy, Iona Sheehan travels to Ireland to connect with family she has always yearned to know. Reunited with her cousins in the home of her ancestors, Iona is hopeful she’s found everything she’s been looking for. And then she meets Boyle MacGrath: a cowboy with no ties, except the one winding its way around her heart.

    Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, by Kresley Cole
    In the fourth installment in this paranormal romance series, Mariketa the witch has been stripped of her magic, leaving her with no choice but to seek the protection of her greatest enemy, Bowen MacRieve. Bowen is a tortured werewolf determined never to let his heart belong to another—especially Mari—but soon enough, they cannot deny the passion between them. Forbidden love, evil forces, and magic combine for a riveting tale.

    Breath of Magic, by Teresa Medeiros
    Arian Whitewood is a witch from the seventeenth century…which means she does not belong three hundred years in the future, but alas, that’s where a mysterious amulet takes her. She meets Tristan Lennox, a billionaire with no faith in magic…and so he never expected his reward of 1 million dollars to the person who could prove its existence to ever come true. Outlander fans will love this reverse-time-travel billionaire romance.

    Crystal Cove, by Lisa Kleypas
    Friday Harbor has been a good home to Justine; here she’s found the stability she never had with her untamable mother, Marigold, and she enjoys the safety in her mundane life of running a small hotel. But then, her world is rocked by the truth that her lack of love is the result of a dark curse cast on her at birth.

    The Witch’s Daughter, by Paula Brackston
    One of the most fascinating and engrossing witch tales I’ve ever read: you will not be able to look away from the tale of Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who has survived over three-hundred years in loneliness, only to discover a Witchfinder from her past has been stalking her through time, determined to collect on a debt. But this time, Elizabeth can’t run: she has a teenage girl under her care, and something more important than her own immortality to protect.

    The Witches of East End, by Melissa De La Cruz
    The Beauchamp witches try to live a normal life; the fact that they are forbidden to practice magic makes that slightly easier. But when murder and mystery find them in their solitude, they decide the time has come to defy the rules and do what must be done to defeat the evil in their midst.

    Daughter of the Blood, by Anne Bishop
    This high fantasy in which power is manifested through magical gems stars a mysterious Queen who will rise to a power stronger even than Hell itself. Three men seek to find and control the girl who is destined to ascend the throne in a ruthless quest of corruption, greed, and lust.

    Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
    The story of the Wicked Witch of the West begins at birth—born green, an outcast in society, she is nonetheless destined to wield a magic that will make her infamous. This villain origin story is action-packed, beautiful, and romantic.

    The Witch’s Trinity, by Erika Mailman
    This fascinating tale of witchcraft, fear, and history begins in 1507 when a German town is struck by a famine…which one friar believes is the result of witchcraft. Güde Müller has been tormented by visions that she cannot explain…and soon she realizes that her position in the town is compromised, perhaps even by her own family.

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
    This unique story is difficult to describe, but incredibly ethereal, dark, and haunting. A man comes home to Sussex for a funeral, and is drawn to the mysterious house at the end of the road where, as a child, he met a mysterious girl and something magical and dangerous happened to him as a child.

    The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe
    Connie’s summer is full to the brim with research for her PhD. But when her mother asks her to help handle the sale of her grandmother’s house, Connie finds herself pulled into a dark mystery involving a family bible, an old key, and a name: Deliverance Dane. Who was she? And why is Connie suddenly having visions of the Salem Witch Trials?

    Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
    A terrifying wizard known as The Dragon kidnaps girls in a small town every ten years—and soon, Agnieszka’s best friend will be chosen. That is, until a twist of fate results in her being chosen instead.

    Witch and Wizard, by James Patterson
    In a dystopian world of governmental control, Wisty and Whit Allgood are siblings accused of being a witch and wizard. Young people everywhere have been torn from their homes and forced to face judgment for this “crime” of magic.

    The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
    This lush, dark, and gorgeously gory paranormal series introduces readers to the Mayfair witches, whose stories have been told for centuries by the Talamasca. This time, Rowan Mayfair is a neurosurgeon who never knew of her abilities until one day when she brings a man back from the dead. Cursed (or gifted, or both) with the ability to see the dark realm and the evil spirit who wants to come through to the mortal realm, Rowan must find a way to defeat him and protect the world—and people—she loves.

    What witchy books do you love?

    The post 16 Witchy Books You Need This Winter appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 9:00 am on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , fresh complaint: stories, gregory maguire, hiddensee: a tale of the once and future nutcracker, , , manhattan beach, mark helprin, , paris in the present tense, rules of magic, , the stolen marriage, Tom Hanks, uncommon type: some stories, , winter solstice   

    October’s Best New Fiction 

    If you’re in the mood for spooky witches this fall, Alice Hoffman’s Rules of Magic—a prequel to Practical Magic—delivers chills, thrills, and sibling strife. October also brings mystical retellings of the Nutcracker and Cinderella; two historicals set in North Carolina; and Jennifer Egan’s first novel since A Visit From the Goon Squad won the PulitzerRounding out the list are two short story collections. The first is by Jeffrey (Middlesex) Eugenides, and the second introduces us to a little-known, up-and-comer by the name of Tom Hanks.

    Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks
    Whichever role you most associate with Hanks—boy who wishes himself Big; perpetually annoyed women’s softball coach; partner to Hooch—cast it aside and prepare for a new one: short story author. With 17 tales to choose from, one of which concerns showbiz life, and all of which involve typewriters (the actor’s a fan), this collection of character-driven and nostalgic stories will charm Hank’s acting fans and avid readers alike. Whet your appetite with Hanks’ 2014 piece from the New Yorker.

    Fairytale, by Danielle Steel
    If fairytale updates and mash-ups are your jam, add this to your stack, ASAP: a modern retelling of Cinderella, set in a Napa Valley winery called Chateau Joy. Tragic Parental Deaths? Check. Evil, mesmerizing stepparent (in this case a Parisian countess)? Check. Handsome prince and fairy godmother? Absolutely. Add a Harvest Ball, plenty of Steel’s trademark romance, and a dash of magic and you’ll never want to leave Chateau Joy behind. Within the story’s Cinderella roots, Steel brings her own unexpected twists to a classic story. 

    Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, by Gregory Maguire
    The author of the bestselling book and Broadway smash Wicked invites you to take a fresh look at the Nutcracker in this “double origin” story of the famous wooden toy and its creator, Drosselmeier. Who is Klara’s mysterious godfather, born a German peasant and seemingly fated to provide her with the sensational trinket? And what dark enchantment did he experience in his youth? Combining myths and historical legends, and written in the style of a Brothers Grimm tale, Hiddensee promises to delight and intrigue.

    Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The fourth in her heart-and-hearth-warming “Winter” series, which are always set in Nantucket at Christmas, Solstice treats us to a reunion with the eggnog-guzzling Quinn family (patriarch Kelley, who owns the Winter Street Inn, and his four grown children). Each of them need help with romantic, business, or military entanglements. This year, heavy issues rise to the surface, from PTSD to hospice care and late-in-life regret. But with patience, love, and the bonds of family, the Quinns will pull each other through the tough times in this touching story.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
    After winning the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From the Good Squad (2010), Egan’s highly anticipated follow-up appears to be less experimental than her previous works, but just as moving. Set in New York City during the Depression and World War II, Manhattan Beach follows the struggles of Anna Kerrigan, first as an adolescent accompanying her father on a desperate job-seeking mission, and later at 19, after her father has disappeared and Anna is charged with supporting her sister and mother by working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard as its sole female diver. A chance encounter with her father’s mobster boss begins to shed light on the truth about Anna’s dad. You may want to have tissues on hand for this detail-rich, feminist historical, which has already been long-listed for the National Book Award.

    Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    In this illuminating, entertaining prequel to Hoffman’s bestselling Practical Magic (also a 1998 film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock), readers will learn what it was like for witchy sisters Franny and Bridget (Jet) Owens to grow up in 1950s/1960s New York City with a frustratingly strict mother (understandable, given the family curse: any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will meet a gruesome end). In Rules, we meet a charming younger brother, Vincent, who also grows up ignoring Mom’s warnings, with far-reaching consequences. Will any of the rules-averse siblings figure out a way to outwit their fates? If you loved the adolescent longings and heartaches of Hoffman’s poignant, private school-set River King, you’ll especially appreciate this coming-of-age tale.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    The first short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex, Fresh Complaint depicts several relationships prior to implosion, including that of a young Indian-American woman who plans to ditch her arranged marriage; a poet-turned-criminal; and a friendship affected by dementia. Fans of The Marriage Plot will enjoy spending time with lovelorn Mitchell Grammaticus as he travels to Thailand in the story “Air Mail,” and there’s also a check-in with Dr. Luce of Middlesex fame, who throws himself into the study of intersex conditions after losing a patient to suicide. Written between the years of 1980-2017, this collection showcases Eugenides’ incredible ability to empathize with and write about people from atypical backgrounds.

    The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash
    Juggling a 70-hour, night-shift work week at a textile mill (for which she’s paid crushingly low wages), marital abandonment, and four children who need feeding, Ella May Wiggins finds herself in the middle of a union dispute in 1929 North Carolina. The idea of a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and a 5-day work week sounds like a fantasy to her and her friends. Rather than give a speech, Ella May composes a song during a rally, a way to give voice to herself and the other workers. She and her cohorts are branded communists, but their devotion to creating a world worth living in for their children is especially prescient today, and the fact that it’s based on a true story is inspiring.

    The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain
    Bestseller Chamberlain’s latest concerns an aspiring nurse trapped in a marriage-of-convenience in a small North Carolina town where she is disliked and mistrusted. It’s 1943, and Tess’s life just took a hard left: Impregnated by a man not her fiancée, she casts off her dream of a medical career alongside her true love and moves away with Henry, the baby’s father, who is uninterested in Tess’s potential. It soon becomes clear Henry is hiding things from Tess. With the polio epidemic in full swing, Tess gets a chance to use her nursing skills at last, but the home front remains as unsettling and mysterious as ever in this suspense-filled, World War II-era tale.

    Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin
    74-year-old Jules Lacour, a teacher at the Sorbonne reeling from his wife’s death and inaccurately believing himself a failure, thinks it’s about time he left behind the earthly plane as well. But his leukemia-ridden baby grandson needs him to find the money for treatment, and he hasn’t yet made peace with the tragic, seminal events in his life, including the deaths of his family members in the Holocaust. Perhaps there is yet time to play the cello, fall in love again, and save the day, if he’s willing to take a few risks. Paris looks to be invigorating and haunting read.

    What new fiction are you excited to read this month?

    The post October’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 5:48 pm on 2014/12/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , gregory maguire, , , , , merry christmas!, ,   

    Have a Merry Christmas with these Books and Stories Set on Christmas Day 

    GrinchAs soon as the holidays roll around, everyone starts talking about their favorite Christmas movies and songs. For the most part, I’m all about it. I mean, I love me some Jingle All the Way and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as much as the next girl. But, as a book lover, I never understand why people don’t get equally excited about their favorite Christmas books. They might not get the attention of their TV and radio competitors, but there are a lot of fantastic Christmas stories for readers of all ages and interests. Like feeling all warm and fuzzy inside? I have a Christmas story for you. Like talking animals? I can recommend one of those, too. Like zombies, theft, and murder? I can give you everything you want in a book all wrapped up in a nice big bow. Just have a little faith in me, turn off the electronics for a couple hours this holiday season, and give some of these books a read. Only a real Scrooge wouldn’t get caught up in these stories’ Christmas magic.

    How the Grinch Stole Christmasby Dr. Seuss
    Anyone who doesn’t love How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, well, a Grinch. My heart grows three sizes every time the Whos gather around the Christmas tree to celebrate the real reason for the holiday. Plus, how cute is Max with his little reindeer horns?

    A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens
    Probably THE Christmas classic, this book is equal parts sad, scary, and triumph-of-the-human-spirity. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he takes a supernatural journey through his own past, present, and future to discover the real spirit of Christmas and save himself from a dark end. I personally liked the Muppets’ version best, but Dickens is pretty good, too.

    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobeby C.S. Lewis
    Imagine being trapped in a world where it’s always winter but never Christmas! Luckily, the Pevensie children are here to save the day, with the help of some talking animals and a pretty awesome lion. Maybe not technically a Christmas story, but Santa Claus is in it, so that’s good enough for me.

    Hercule Poirot’s Christmasby Agatha Christie
    Nothing says Christmas like a good old-fashioned parlor room murder. Detective Hercule Poirot must figure out who killed Simeon Lee, a multimillionaire who invites his family over for Christmas and then winds up dead. I guess someone must have been on the naughty list that year…

    The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terrorby Christopher Moore
    Christmas is great, but Christmas with zombies is better. When an angel tries to bring a dead man dressed as Santa back to life, all hell breaks loose as flesh eaters begin attacking the town. I just love the smell of brains roasting on an open fire, don’t you?

    The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry
    I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever attended school read this in their English class around the holidays. A young couple attempts to buy the perfect gift for each other, but they have to make a sacrifice to get it. The ending is sure to make you go “Awww!” and feel all gooey inside.

    The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    When a jewel is found inside the throat of a Christmas goose, Sherlock Holmes must figure out how exactly this bird laid such a valuable egg. Expect a jewel heist, fowl hijinks, and some brilliant deductions by our favorite detective.

    Letter from Father Christmasby J.R.R. Tolkien
    Did your parents ever leave you notes from Santa when you were a kid? Well, Tolkien used to entertain his children every year with letters from Mr. Claus, telling them all about the shenanigans going on in the North Pole. These letters were compiled into one heartwarming and magical Christmas collection. No hobbits, though, sorry.

    Visions of Sugarplumsby Janet Evanovich
    Stephanie Plum can’t even get a day off for Christmas. Between a toymaker who skipped bail, her crazy family, and the strange but sexy guy who showed up in her kitchen, Stephanie’s going to need a Christmas miracle to get through the holidays.

    Matchless: A Christmas Story,” by Gregory Maguire
    Gregory Maguire takes the sad tale of “The Little Match Girl” and gives us a slightly more upbeat version. While her fate doesn’t change, we’re introduced to a young boy named Frederik who unknowingly crosses her paths. The same strange magic that the Little Match Girl discovers helps save him, too, albeit in a very different way.

    What’s your favorite tale set on Christmas?

  • Sabrina Rojas Weiss 8:00 pm on 2014/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , gregory maguire, , , patrick ness, William Ritter, ,   

    Egg & Spoon and Other Modern Spins on Old Tales 

    William Ritter's JackabySometimes we forget that all those books about witches, vampires, werewolves, and fairies are basically based on tales people used to pass around the campfire. But vamps and wolfmen aren’t the only supernaturals in town, and 2014 has seen the release of some excellent YA novels that are breathing new life into myths and legends less well-trodden than their pointy-toothed and winged brethren. Here are some recent releases that are making the bookstore into our own campfire.

    Egg & Spoon, by Gregory Maguire
    Maguire, the fairest fairy-tale reteller of them all, weaves folk characters into a sort of retelling of the Prince and the Pauper, centering on two girls in Tsarist Russia. The rich girl carries with her a Fabergé egg depicting three mythical creatures—an ice dragon, Baba Yaga, and the Firebird—and then, of course, all three turn out to be real entities in her world. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch who controls the elements and travels around in either a mortar (steered with a pestle) or her own creepy, bird-legged house. Here, for our modern enjoyment, she’s got certain other Maguirian characteristics.

    Exquisite Captive, by Heather Demetrios
    You may know the jinn by their other name: genies, who you might recognize from their appearances in Aladdin (based on a story in One Thousand and One Nights) and I Dream of Jeannie. Here, Demetrios takes us both back to the original pre-Arabic mythology about these magical creatures, and to present-day Hollywood, where Nalia, the last of a powerful race of jinn, is held captive by a power-hungry master who sells her wishes to clients. Back in her own world, Arjinna, there’s a war going on between other races of jinn, and the rebel side’s leader wants Nalia’s help.

    Jackaby, by William Ritter
    Like Sherlock Holmes, R.F. Jackaby is a private detective using his unmatched powers of observation to solve crimes at the turn of the 20th century. But Ritter’s hero notices even more than Holmes: he can see the fairies, spirits, banshees, and other supernatural creatures at work in his New England town of New Fiddleham. Abigail Rook learns all about the existence of such beings (taken from folklore all over the world) when she signs on as Jackaby’s new assistant.

    The Crane Wife, by Patrick Ness
    We’re venturing into adult literature for a moment, but since Ness is a YA favorite, we think you won’t mind that the main character, George Duncan, is middle-aged. The day after he rescues a wounded white crane in his backyard, a mysterious woman visits his shop. As they simultaneously fall in love and create art together, we wonder if she could be the crane in human form. This is all based on a Japanese folktale of the same name that seems designed to warn men not to take their wives’ magical gifts for granted.

    We’re still waiting for someone to send Paul Bunyan to high school. What folklore- or fairytale-inspired novels have you read lately?

  • Nicole Hill 7:00 pm on 2014/09/26 Permalink
    Tags: , egg & spoon, , gregory maguire, , , ,   

    A Glimpse of the Present in Tsarist Russia With Gregory Maguire’s Egg & Spoon 

    egg&spoonWicked scribe Gregory Maguire takes his patented vim, vigor and wit and applies it to Russian folklore in his latest, Egg & Spoon. At times rollicking, the story follows two young girls, Cat and Elena, in a classic tale of princess-and-pauper mistaken identity. But Maguire has made flipping classics on their head his bread and butter, so naturally things aren’t that simple. While Rasputin might be the window dressing, this is a story with relatable modern elements, like an environment gone haywire, which sets much of the action in motion. There’s also Maguire’s madcap take on the legendary figure of Baba Yaga to keep you entertained.

    The author took a few moments to talk about his latest book—and that little matter of a Wicked movie adaptation.

    Egg & Spoon is certainly a departure from Oz. Where did the desire to dabble in Russian folklore come from?
    Anyone who grew up with “Lara’s Theme” at the local rollerama, or got slightly giddy with the dancing lily maidens and Cossack dandelions of the Tchaikovsky passages in Disney’s “Fantasia” has a yen to believe in the magic and romance of Russia. Tolstoi and Dostoyevsky came later (and Chekhov). The greats belong to everyone, even to Irish Catholic schoolboys with dirt under their fingernails.

    The setting, of course, is early 20th-century Russia. But the appearance of the last tsar doesn’t necessarily make this a period piece. It reads very much like a modern story, with modern problems, between the class issues and unexplained natural disasters. Is it challenging to tell a story that way, or is it actually more effective to couch our problems in something like a fairy tale—serve a little uncertainty with the familiar?
    One of my gambits as a novelist is to try simultaneously to make my readers feel off-balance and at home. In this instance, the intense poverty of the peasant girl is, for most American readers I hope, a bit of a stretch—as is the setting of a decaying Russian estate. But when issues of weather disruption and crop damage come into the story, I want my readers to think, “Oh, I kind of get this—I didn’t think I would.”

    The narrator of the story is neither of the main characters, Cat or Elena, but actually a prisoner. Why did you choose to frame the story with a self-described “unreliable scribe”?
    I tried to write the book without a narrator at first, and it seemed like an overweight fairy tale. Once I settled upon the fact that this was a quirky, slightly mad view of events, it allowed me to accept them not just for their quaintness and form, but also to indulge in the expression of vision and magic that would otherwise, in my narrator’s voice, have perhaps seemed indulgent. I, Maguire, wasn’t being indulgent: blame it on the unreliable narrator!

    Then there’s the matter of Baba Yaga, who is a hoot. How do you take that kind of legendary character and make her fresh? Granted, I suppose high-heeled table legs help…
    Baba Yaga rose up out of this book on the first page on which she appeared and slapped me on the face and said, “I’ll have none of your whiffy sentimentalism, you; I’m my own old broad, and stand aside.” I had no choice but to obey. She’s totally id, all acting out and roughing it up. I see her as Granny Yokum in the old “Li’l Abner” cartoons—Granny Yokum as played, perhaps, by Miss Piggy. Or, as someone said, Phyllis Diller.

    Be real: Who would play your Baba Yaga in the movie version?
    Well, as the aforementioned Phyllis Diller has gone on to her rewards, maybe (ooh, this is hard), Tina Fey? That, or the ghost of Robin Williams, as Mrs. Doubt-Yaga.

    I ask because, well, what’s the status of the long-awaited Wicked movie?
    I am told, about once a year, “Oh, we’re moving along—slowly. We’re taking our time to get it right.” That’s all I know.

    Back to Egg & Spoon: one line really struck me as the heart of the story, and I’m curious if you’d agree. It’s a line Great-Aunt Sophia mutters (naturally as chaos envelops her): “Have you ever noticed that the world can hardly fail to be beautiful even when it is falling apart?”
    You caught it. A story, if it has more than one true character, must have more than one true heart—but that line certainly represents one of the true hearts of the book.

    Before you go, I have to ask why you chose the dedication to Maurice Sendak.
    Sendak was a dear if occasionally distant friend of mine for more than 35 years. He remains my muse—if I am ever confused, or wonder if it is worth it to go on as a writer, I need only pick up any one of two or three dozen of his best books (among the hundred or so he worked on) and I am restored to faith about the value of the book that tells a truth—however comically—with conviction, with artistry, and with faith in the sharp mind and open heart of the reader. If I am going to stumble, let me stumble in the light and in the shadow of my heroes.

    Egg & Spoon is out now!

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