magic

Back of a princess as she moves through the castle garden

Entwined

By Wallwork, Heather Dixon
4
Rated by Anne G
Sep 6, 2022

Entwined is a fairy-tale inspired fiction of the story The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It's a suspenseful retelling. If I'm honest, the folktale that inspired this fantasy fiction was never been one of my favorites. This author manages to take a rather thin story and turn it into something interesting with a hero that is a strong woman of steel! This atmospheric version is my favorite retelling.


 


As an added bonus, the romantic tone does not bore you to death describing scenery. The castle is as luscious as the cover art, but unlike other versions, it is not the main character. This was

Mar 18, 2022

I have not loved a book this much in a very, very long time. I have to be careful about saying that though because it immediately sets the bar at an almost impossible level. This book landed in my hands at exactly the right time. It was the first book I’d been able to read read (as opposed to listen to on audio) since having a baby. With my daughter finally sleeping through the night and in her own room, I was once again able to curl up with a book in bed and let my not-quite-as-sleep deprived brain travel to another place.


This book immediately brought up the same emotions I felt while

Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor
5
Rated by Anne G
Jun 9, 2020

“Lesson one,” Anatov said. “And this is for all of you. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard.”
― Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Witch


This young-adult culturally diverse fantasy, set within the modern times, centers on Sunny Nwazue, an adolescent born to Nigerian parents in the United States. A couple of years before our story begins, Sunny's family moved back to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where our primary woman of steel currently lives with them just outside a tiny town. Sunny “confuse[s] people,” she explains in her own voice, not only thanks to

Three Hands for Scorpio

By Andre Norton
4
Rated by Anne G
Feb 21, 2020

     Three Hands for Scorpio is the last adult book for young adults of Lifetime Grand Master of Fantasy, Andre Norton, who passed away on March 17, 2005 after a long and extremely fruitful career.  Her magically detailed world-building skills, upright, against-all-odds characters, and fast pace will be sorely missed.  Tor rushed a copy of this book of women-of-steel into print, so that the 93-year-old author could see it before she died.  It is the last manuscript she penned alone, and has an action-packed storyline.  I have read most of Ms. Norton's books, and especially enjoyed her women

Deerskin

By Robin McKinley
4
Rated by Anne G
Feb 21, 2020

     You know, sometimes you just need some escapist fantasy about self-discovery in women.  McKinley's seventeen-year-old girl Lissar was just the ticket for me last night. Deesrkin is a beautiful, haunting, and sometimes painful coming-of-age story that ends with a message of hope.  The first half of the fantasy fiction is really about the traumatic aftermath of a violent assault and rape by the heroine's own father.  These dark themes are handled appropriately, realistically, and with great compassion but they do make for some hard reading in the gateway fantasy.   


     If you have any

Trickster's Choice

By Tamora Pierce
5
Rated by Anne G
Dec 11, 2019

     I previously read Trickster's Choice with courageous teenage girls a little over a decade ago, and I wanted to revisit it.  I had forgotten just how easy it is to get drawn into Aly’s adventures which cause her to become a slave as a girl, and I am so glad to have revisited because it was similar to visiting with an old friend.  This is the story of Alianne Cooper, who wants to be a girl spy, and is the daughter of Spymaster Cooper and the famous Lioness of Tortall and champion of the throne.  Certainly Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite writers in this genre, and Alianne (Aly) stands

Jun 20, 2019

The Legend of Zelda, the Wind Waker HD is an outstanding, unique entry in the already well-loved Legend of Zelda video game series. This time, our courageous hero, Link, lives with his sister, Aryll, and kindly grandmother on peaceful and remote Outset Island. Great floods have submerged the once mighty kingdom of Hyrule and left only small, scattered islands in an endless ocean. One day, as Link and his sister are out exploring, Aryll is snatched and carried off by an enormous, malevolent bird. Link must brave the vast ocean with the help of his talking boat, a crew of dastardly pirates, and

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

By Moira Fowley-Doyle
5
Rated by Chris K.
May 15, 2018

If you don't close your mouth, a fly will fly in, and then you'll have to swallow a spider to catch the fly, and then a cat to catch the spider, and then a dog to catch the cat, and then a goat to catch the dog, and then a cow to catch the goat, and then a horse to catch the cow, and then a lost soul to catch the horse.


Enchanting. Atmospheric. Mysterious. (a lost soul to catch the horse) Lush. Gritty. Suspenseful. There are so many good words I can think of to describe the beguiling collection of words that is this book. Dark. Mature. Sensual.


Wait for a sign.
If the lights

Echo

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
5
Rated by Emily D.
Nov 29, 2017

Echo follows the stories of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, Ivy, and the mysterious harmonica that ties them together! The magical thread of music carries you through this wonderful tale. Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California are all dealing with the wrath of a war that tore countries and families apart. Friedrich is living with a birthmark that Hitler deems unsuitable, Mike will do anything to keep him and his brother together, and Ivy is learning that prejudice in America affects even the innocent. But they all find solace in music. With the help of the harmonica, someone

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

By Peter Winther
4
Rated by Amanda C.
Dec 21, 2016

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear is the story of a professional student who gets pushed out into the real world (finally, at the age of 30) to find that not everything is as it seems and magic is real. He is hired by "the library," an age-old institution that traps magical artifacts and prevents them from falling into the wrong hands. This particular mission is to find a magical biblical spear, whose parts are scattered around the globe, and which is also hunted by a mysterious nefarious group, the Serpent Brotherhood. Flynn is aided by his guardian, a woman skilled in martial arts but who

Aug 31, 2016

This isn’t Hogwarts or Narnia, exactly. It’s more like a dark reflection of those popular magical fantasy novels. In the first season of The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, Quentin Coldwater discovers magic is not only real, but potentially fatal. While studying at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, Quentin and his classmates are attacked by a magical being that is linked to their favorite childhood fantasy series about the land of Fillory that the author never completed. 


Can they use magic to enter this other world and finish the story? The real

The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern
4
Rated by Katie S.
Aug 11, 2016

When Le Cirque des Reves appears out of thin air, in the middle of the night, you can't help but be curious about what is inside. And once you step inside, you will not be disappointed. Intricately organized as an elaborate stage for two magicians - Marco and Celia - to compete on, the various tents and stages amaze the nightly visitors. However, the magicians don't know the full details of their competition, nor who they are competing against, and the story that unfolds is one of romance, magic and heartbreak. 


Erin Morgenstern has written a mesmerizing tale of forbidden love. The Night

Into the Woods

By Stephen Sondheim
5
Rated by Caitlin T.
Dec 3, 2015

What a fabulous movie version of this amazing musical! This is arguably Stephen Sondheim's best musical with lyrics that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you rewind to listen to them again. Though I was nervous when the movie rights were sold to Disney, I was delighted to find they did not sugarcoat the potentially risqué topics of infidelity, child abandonment, and death.


The singing is fabulous with the two exceptions being the two biggest names, Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences clearly disagrees with me though, since Ms. Streep

The Bone Clocks

By David Mitchell
4
Rated by Hope H.
Nov 20, 2015

Audiobooks are my preferred method of distraction during my daily commute, and while The Bone Clocks didn't grab me immediately, eventually its clever interlinking story arcs lured my mind away from the surrounding river of taillights and exhaust.* Like Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, this novel hops through various time periods, each time switching to a different main character and point of view. The result is a multifaceted story told across many generations and narratives, but all connected to independent and resilient Holly Sykes.


Her story begins in 1984, when she leaves home in a fit of

A Thousand Nights

By E.K. Johnston
5
Rated by Jennifer R.
Oct 9, 2015

There are monsters in the desert. They came from the sea and fought with man, but now they wait, picking off their victims one at a time until they see fit to rage against the world of man once more. 


As Lo-Melkhiin rides the storm into Her (there are no names in the book except for Lo-Melkhiin) village, She knows that he is coming to claim a new bride and her beautiful sister will most likely be his pick. Lo-Melkhiin has had three hundred brides already, and each one has met a swift death.


Without a second thought, She makes it so there is no other choice but to pick Her as his bride

Uprooted

By Naomi Novik
4
Rated by Katie S.
Aug 31, 2015

Imagine a land far, far away where an evil Wood marks the boundaries around small towns. This Wood is a constant reminder to the citizens of Dvernik and other towns that they need the wizard called Dragon to protect them from its powers. In exchange for protecting them, he comes every ten years and selects a young girl to live with him and those girls never return to live in the valley. So it is not surprising that the girls up for the choosing do not want to leave their families and their lives, both of which they hold dear. One choosing day, the Dragon mistakenly chooses clumsy Agnieszka

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

By Maggie Stiefvater
5
Rated by Jennifer R.
Apr 23, 2015

Blue Lily, Lily Blue takes place shortly after the events of The Dream Thieves, with the characters recovering from their fight against Kavinsky. Summer is over and school is starting, but the raven boys and Blue have many other things on their minds, particularly Blue who has been searching for her mother lost in the tunnels following the ley line. Unlike The Dream Thieves, which was a heavily focused Ronan novel, Blue Lily, Lily Blue focuses on all the raven boys and Blue. They are closer than ever to finding Glendower, now the only questions are, who will survive and what will they wish for

Bell, Book and (DVD)

By Director: Richard Quine
4
Rated by Nancy B.
Mar 24, 2015

Long before Samantha and Darrin, there were Gillian and Shep. Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is a romantic comedy directed by Richard Quine and is based on the successful Broadway play by John Van Druten. The film stars Kim Novak as the brash, sexy siren Gillian Holroyd. Jimmy Stewart plays the mild-mannered upstairs neighbor, Shep Henderson,  lured in by her spell. Blithely seducing Shep away from an old college nemesis, Gillian finds herself caught in a web of her own making. Soon she must decide: Is love worth losing everything?


This beautifully restored film (released on DVD in 1999) is

The High Druid's Blade

By Terry Brooks
3
Rated by Jared H.
Jul 30, 2014

I grew up reading Terry Brooks and have loved his books for a long time. As I read this new addition to the world of Shannara, The High Druid's Blade, I couldn't help compare it to my absolutely favorite story, The Wishsong of Shannara. It is in Wishsong where we are first introduced to the powerful magic of the Sword of Leah, a talisman that has become just as important to this series as the Omhsfords themselves. I was thrilled that here was finally a tale that would allow us to learn more about this enchanted and dangerous blade.


The High Druid's Blade didn't quite live up to my

Half Bad

By Sally Green
5
Rated by Bethany T.
Apr 28, 2014

Nathan is the seventeen-year-old son of a White Witch and a Black Witch, and in the viciously divided community of English witches that makes him an outcast.  Questioned, brutalized and eventually imprisoned, the Council will stop at nothing to make sure that Nathan's half-Black Magic side doesn't corrupt the rest of the underground magic community.  It doesn't help that his father is one of the most violent Black Witches in the world, responsible for more deaths than any other living witch.  But Nathan doesn't feel evil...although he doesn't necessarily feel good either, and this duality

The Assassin's Curse

By Cassandra Rose Clarke
4
Rated by Josh N.
Feb 27, 2014

Ananna is the only daughter of the leaders of the Tanarau pirate clan. When her parents try to marry her off to the son of the Hariri clan, Ananna chooses to flee both families and the arranged marriage. The Hariri are so angered, they send a magic-using assassin after her. But when the assassin, Naji, confronts Ananna and she accidentally saves his life, he becomes bound to her through a powerful, magical curse. They set out on a quest to break this "impossible curse," all the while fleeing the angry Hariri clan and strange, otherwordly beings with a mysterious agenda.


The Assassin's Curse

Apr 29, 2013

In Wild Magic, Tamara Pierce returns to Tortall, the home of Alana the Lioness. Tamora Pierce has once again given us a strong, female protagonist whom we can root for as she overcomes magical mayhem, a mysterious past and a stubborn talking pony in her quest to save her new home. Daine is a young orphan who has “a way with animals.” After helping rescue a master mage trapped in the body of a hawk she learns to put a name to her strange talent, Wild Magic. Her new friend Numair’s teachings put her on the path of self-awareness and purpose.  In this first book of the Wild Mage Quartet, Daine

Jan 11, 2013

In The Night Circus Morgenstern has crafted a wondrous tale of dysfunctional families, manipulative caretakers, impossible love, and the many facets of friendships. If, like me, you’ve been reluctant to read The Night Circus for fear it can’t possibly live up to its hype, fear not. It’s all that you’ve heard . . . and more. In a battle falling somewhere between cockfighting and afternoon tea, two crotchety old magicians engage their apprentices in a fight to the death. Unfortunately, the apprentice magicians don’t know what their challenge is, who their opponent is, or when the battle will end

Oct 31, 2012

I don't generally like reading negative reviews and I like writing them even less. But sometimes a book affects you so powerfully in all of the worst ways, you have to say something. This is how I feel about Lev Grossman's The Magicians.

I'm a fan of classic fantasy by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, which are obvious influences on Grossman. (The magical land of Fillory is clearly influenced by Narnia.) I'm also a fan of "hidden magical world" stories (the most well-known example being J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which is referenced a number of times in The Magicians.) So

Beastly by Alex Flinn

By Alex Flinn
3
Rated by Kate M.
Jun 23, 2010

Kyle Kingsley is the most perfect guy in school, just ask anyone. He has everything he wants, money, the right friends, the hottest girl in school. But no matter now beautiful Kyle is on the outside he is ugly on the inside, where it counts. Kyle decides to make fun of a new girl in his English class by pretending to ask her to the spring dance and then standing her up. But little does Kyle know that the new girl is actually a witch and she gets back at Kyle but cursing him and turning him into a beast.


Now he has two years to find someone to love who will love him back, a seemingly