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Tag Archives: magic

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“Once they were librarians, but that is a subject they will only discuss if heavily intoxicated.”

Since childhood, Celia and Marco have been trained to battle each other in a magical competition that neither is fully certain of all the rules. They are not even certain of each others identity. The venue, Le Cirque des Rêves, is a circus that is only open at night. As the battle continues to weave its way across the circus and those who call the circus home, it becomes clear that only one will remain standing.

The story is unique. I’ve read circus stories before but not with this premise and it is refreshing to find a different angle in a book that is getting a lot of press. However, the atmosphere is where it is at. From the beautiful language (Morgenstern had me as exsanguinated) and lush descriptions to the building romantic interests it grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. The chapters are short so it also appeals to the reader who likes a quicker read and perhaps this is why it is such a successful book. It reaches several of the different appeal characteristics without seeming to sacrifice anything. While I don’t think it lives up to the hype (really what book can) it is a beautiful book. 2011, 387 pages

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Fantasy

 

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The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

“She thought about what Sebastian said about every life needing a little space, and how that leaves room for good things to enter.”

In Walls of Water, North Carolina strange things are afoot. Paxton Osgood, local good girl who still lives with her parents and is the president of the Women’s Society Club has everyone fooled that she can do anything. Renovations on the stunning Blue Ridge Madam into a B&B are almost complete and Paxton is determined to have the 75th anniversary of the club celebration there.

Willa Jackson, part of the Jackson family that used to own the Blue Ridge Madam, has returned to Walls of Water and is trying to lead a quiet life that her father would have been proud of. Her reputation as a prankster in high school follows her constantly. When a body is found under a peach tree on the grounds of the mansion, Paxton and Willa join forces to find out the identity of the body and perhaps find a way to break out of the self-made molds they are living in.

Sarah Addison Allen has become an automatic purchase for me. As my first boss and queen of readers’ advisory taught me-there are some books that you just know you want to read again in retirement. Indeed. Allen wraps together an intriguing mystery with raw, emotional characters with a touch of magic in a southern package that is hard to resist. Light, easy and by the end you usually have a happy sigh and want to eat a cupcake. Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. That is the ultimate compliment I can pay to an author. Peach Keeper isn’t her best but the elements that have garnered her many fans are there. 2011, 288 pages.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in General Fiction

 

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The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

“I make it easier for people to leave by making them hate me a little.”

Tamara Goodwin has always gets everything she wants and lives a life of spoiled luxury in Dublin, Ireland. Everything changes when her father commits suicide and she is forced to move with her mother to the Irish countryside. Tamara is used to a great deal of freedom and bristles under the ever-vigilant watch of her Aunt Rosaleen. Life is never going to be the same but when Tamara finds a book on the traveling library that appears to tell the future, maybe she can find the life she was meant to live.

This is a classic coming of age story with a magical twist. The story has a relaxed pace and is character driven. The secondary characters are interesting enough that you really want to know more about them but their back stories are absent. What I like about Ahern is the way she throws her characters into everyday life that everyone can relate to with a touch of magic that adds a sense of wonder to it all. What I didn’t like about this specific book is the feeling that the author wanted to dabble in creating a suspense novel with Rosaleen and her odd behavior. For this reader it was just awkward. 2011, 312 pages.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Chick Lit

 

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Demongalss: A Hex Hall Novel by Rachel Hawkins

I love it when I get to read a book I really want to read before it’s release date. Neener, neener! I’m such a professional…

Demonglass picks up where Hex Hall left off. Sophie has just learned that she is a demon. A demon? A creature so vile and prone to destruction that there is only one other demon in the world-her long absent father. Concern that her epic powers will cause harm to those she loves Sophie travels to London to go through the removal-the procedure that will destroy her powers but may also very well destroy her.  As she spends time getting to know her father and more about the magical community she knows little about, Sophie starts to question is her choice is the right one. Oh, and Archer-the crush/assassin from book one? Surely, she still doesn’t have any feelings for him anymore…right? 

The second book in the series sets a darker tone than the first but the snark is still there and readers’ will continue to be amused at Sophie’s gangling through her new magical world and powers.  2011, 359 pages.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Young Adult

 

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

While I was presenting a readers’ advisory pre-conference with two of the best RA gurus around (Lucy & Kaite), they both sighed the reader’s sigh-you know the one-where you loved a book so much you wish you could read it again just thinking about it. The book they were sighing over was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and I begrudgingly wrote the title down and put it on hold. That was the beginning of my love affair with Sarah Addison Allen’s writing.

This tome is a little shorter than her first two books and with the delay in publishing I am sure there is a story.  Regardless, the storyline focuses on two main characters Emily Benedict, a 17-yr old who has come to Mullaby NC for the first time after the death of her mother and Julia, who escaped Mullaby in high school and is on a two-year plan to make a profit with her father’s BBQ restaurant and escape once again.  Emily is struggling to learn about her mother’s past in Mullaby with a gentle giant of a grandfather that is none to pleased to share her secrets. Julia is struggling with her own past and the events she had little control over growing up.  Throw in a little magic and a town that is as quirky as the residents mixed with a gentle southern humor and answers are bound to be discovered.

The main appeal in all of Allen’s books is the depth of the characters and how well their growth is developed into the story. You can imagine sitting in a porch swing listening to someone you love telling you the story in such a way you can’t wait to hear how it ends.  The characters are flawed and human but in the end love prevails over everything like a soft blanket and a cup of chamomile on a cold and rainy day. 2010, 269 pages.

Reading this book I am instantly transported to my grandfather’s family who we often visited in North Carolina on the way to the beach. I can instantly smell the salty water and remember my shock that there was BBQ that wasn’t red in nature and my double shock at the taste.  I smile as my great-aunt Carol’s gentle Carolina drawl drifts around my head and my older cousins become the big brothers and sisters I’ve never had-if only for the week we spend together. Bliss.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2010 in General Fiction

 

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Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

I recently found myself in Portland Oregon at the Public Library Association conference and like most folks, I fell in love with the culture and vibe of the city. Anyone hiring? So, when I happened across an enthusiastic patron who went on and on about this series of urban fantasy books set in Portland I decided to give them a go.

Magic to the Bone is the first title in the Allie Beckstrom series. In Allie’s world, magic has been discovered for the last 30 years and the city has responded with magic grids under the city, buildings rebuilt with magical elements and as with anything in demand there is an entire counter-culture devoted to the dark side of magic. Allie is a Hound, a person that can trace the source of magic used on a person. Using magic takes a toll on its user and people have found a way to offload this toll onto other people. When an offload almost kills a five-year old boy and Allie traces the source back to her father the magical world Allie thinks she knows well is turned on end.

This alternate fantasy presents as an action packed urban read but as you go along what you find is much more delving into the character Allie and her internal and external dialogue. In fact, they are what make this book more than average.  The storyline is intense and interspersed with both humor and great pain and sorrow.   2008, 355 pages.

I hate to bring it up again, but really, anyone in Portland hiring?  Librarian, readers’ advisor, book freak and musician interested in what makes this world tick.  I love rain and don’t carry an umbrella!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2010 in Fantasy

 

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