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Posts Tagged ‘A Discovery of Witches’

Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart? -The Lovin’ Spoonful

Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can. -Alice Hoffman Practical Magic

So here it is again, almost another month has gone by and no updates from me. We still do not have Internet here, but I am hoping to change that tomorrow as I got a brand new computer at Best Buy yesterday. When I went to college I got a laptop and then when I started grad school my dad bought me a new laptop. That second laptop was on it’s last leg so Saturday G and I went to look at computers at Best Buy. I was all set on getting a new laptop, but after talking to the guy that worked there and looking at the desktops, I decided to go for a touch screen all-in-one desktop! So far, I love it. Now, if I could just get some Internet!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next post and what I wanted to write about. I’m still reading a lot of the Battle of the Books books and so far I loved Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson is one of my favorite YA authors and sometime soon I hope to do a post just on YA lit. Perhaps after I have finished my BOB reading list. I am in the midst of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Last week at school my co-coach told me that she got the questions for this book from another teacher which made me so happy. I am loving the story but I kept getting caught up in having to stop to write questions. I am happy to get to just read the book and enjoy the flow of the story.

My favorite season is upon us. I love Autumn. I love apples and pumpkins and leaves crunching under my feet and cooler air and sweaters and jackets and warm comfort food. To me Autumn is a time to curl up on the couch under a blanket on a grey day and read while enjoying a warm cup of apple cider. I started thinking about some of my favorite Fall comfort reads and I was having trouble coming up with books. I easily called to mind some authors whose books I must have read for the first time in the Fall or they just have such strong Fall themes that I can actually feel the chill in them.

My first Autumn Author is one of my all around favorite authors Alice Hoffman. Everything about Hoffman screams autumn. I started off my list with her book Practical Magic. Thinking about Practical Magic (which is definitely in my top ten books of all time) led me on a tangent about witchcraft and Halloween and I decided that next month I would write a post regarding my favorite Halloween-y books. Practical Magic isn’t very Halloween-y. It’s about family and traditions with magic sprinkled in. I rented the video when it first came out and I hated it. I didn’t watch it again until years later when there was a re-run on ABC Family. I got so into it and forgot why I ever hated it so. (Perhaps it was the fact that a 8 year old just can’t understand everything that occurs in the film). After that second viewing I rushed out to grab the novel. At that time I was very interested in reading all of Jodi Picoult’s books and I had been reading a lot of comparisons to Hoffman so I knew that this was perfect timing. I read the book in about 1 day and I adored it. It differs quite a bit from the movie, but they both have such an Autumn feel to them that I love them both independent of one another and I make a point to watch the movie and read the book (if I have time) each Autumn.

Another great Hoffman Autumn book is a collection of short stories that all revolve around one house in Massachusetts called Blackbird House. Honestly is there anything more Autumn and more magical than a blackbird!? I’m not normally a huge fan of straight short stories, but this book reads in a novel way since all the stories have that common element and you get glimpses of what became of the other characters in past stories. This book reads like a secret society and it is a great Autumn read. Honestly, any Hoffman books work well in this category, but these two books are just may favorite.

My second AA is Sarah Addison Allen. A native of the great state of North Carolina (and she sets all of her books here too!) Allen is a surprising pick for me. The first book I read of hers was Garden Spells and I honestly read it because it was cheap on the Nook and it was my first Nook purchase and I was desperate to read something on my brand new Nook. This book is also filled with magic but instead of the beautiful Autumn setting, we get it set in the middle of a hot summer. Magic always calls to mind Autumn for me. I think because I find the season such a magical time for myself I always crave books with magic in them. The most autumn-y Allen book that I can think of is really The Sugar Queen (which I will honestly tell you I have not read yet). This book takes place during the middle of winter instead of Autumn, but I know I can count on that magic to be there. At this current moment I have Allen’s newest book The Peach Keeper checked out from the library and I am anxious to start it.

Side note: Along with The Peach Keeper I also checked out The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag the second in the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley and I can not rave enough about these books. The fourth book in the series I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is due to come out in November and I jus can’t wait. I will need to read the third one in that time, but that should not be a problem at all. This winter look for a post on the Flavia series!

I elected to read Flavia first because I wanted to start Peach Keeper when the days are a little cooler, the air a little crisper, the leaves a little crunchier. This fall I am aiming to read only “magical” books. Books with witches and families and magic and spells. Of course in October I will also read about goblins and ghouls and all those scary things that I wait all year to read about.

So my last Autumn Author is actually an autumn book and it was one that I did not care for. A Discovery of Witches had such potential for a great Autumn read. So much so that I cheated and read it in the summer. I tried to convince myself that was why I detested the book so, but no, it was just not a book for me. I won’t continue on my rant about this book, you can find that here, in my previous post. However though, it is a magical family book and you may love it. I hope you do!

I am always looking for magical Autumn books so please send me any recommendations that you have! Happy Autumn and Happy Reading!

 

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It has been forever and a day since I have written a post, but it has been a heck of a few months for me. Since school got out G and I decided to spend the majority of our summer in the NC Mountains. I had hoped to be able to leave the school that I was at and move, preferably west. Before we left for the mountains, I had not heard anything from any of the schools I applied to so we decided to stick it out where we were for another year and then I would try again next summer. However, the townhouse that we were living in was way too expensive for what we got and we started to have some major problems with the Home Owners Association. So, we put a deposit down for a great stand alone house just down the road. It was roomier, cheaper and without an overbearing HOA. We had been in the mountains for a few weeks when I got a phone call to interview for a middle school position one county over from where we were (in the mountains). I interviewed and the very next day the principal called and offered me the position!

Great, but this meant that we just lost $900 in the deposit and we had to move across the state in about one week! Eek! In the end, we worked it all out and got moved (though it was a nightmare!) and I started my first day as a middle school librarian yesterday!

I love to read the daring librarian blog and I enjoy writing this blog (when I’m not rushing to move across North Carolina, that is!) and so I have decided to start a new blog that focuses on school librarianship. I wanted to do this last year and I rue the fact that I did not. However, I am now in a new school and at a new level and even though this will be my second year as an official, licensed librarian it still feels like I am a first year. The other blog (which I haven’t started yet so I don’t have a URL to share) will chronicle the year ahead. I will be sharing daily life as a MS librarian, relevant articles and issues in school librarianship as well as in public education in general, reviews of YA novels and anything library related.

But, back to this blog…

What have I been reading since I last wrote… Hmm, let me see… the last post I made was about Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home. It feels like so long ago that I read that book (and it kind of was- almost two months)! I read Finding Grace (which I won in a giveaway on GoodReads, so exciting), A Discovery of Witches, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Wench, A Visit From The Goon Squad, These Things Hidden, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Romiette and Julio (for the Battle of the Books competition this year. Another exciting thing about moving up to MS is that I get to coach a BOB team!), and I am currently reading the very lengthy first book in the Outlander series, aptly named Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Since it has been so long, I decided to not just pick one to write about, but rather to do a quick review of each one (save for Outlander since I have not finished it yet, but so far I am loving the book!)

Finding Grace by Sarah Pawley
I liked this book. I liked it. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I liked it. The main character, Grace, strongly reminded me of myself. She was a very precocious farm girl who loved to read. When her overbearing family attempted to force her into marriage, she runs away to Chicago to live with her older brother who had also fled the farm. There she meets and falls for an older man. However, as typical of stories, her past comes back to haunt her. I found this book to be typical. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in it. It was well written but it didn’t grab me, and in fact, it took me a while to buckle down and finish it.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I was so excited to read this book. I read about it on IndieBound as it was a recommended on and then it became a top wished-for book on there. I knew it would be great! It has vampires! It has witches! It has England! It has LIBRARIES! I did not like this book. It felt ridiculous and forced and it was nothing more than a grown-up version of Twilight. I skimmed the last fifty pages because I was so ready to read something, ANYTHING, else. which leads us to the next book I read, and enjoyed…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book was sent to me as a gift from my aunt who loved it. I took it with me to the beach and I ended up reading it all in one day. It wasn’t anything super special and I’m not exactly sure why it won the Pulitzer, but it was a good, quick and engaging read. It is confusing at times and it is told from multiple perspectives (but not in the Jodi Picoult way that I enjoy (see the review for These Things Hidden below). And as soon as you think that Oscar is going to be okay, he’s not. And that shouldn’t have surprised and affected me as much as it did since the book tells me that his life is going to be brief.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This is another one that I had been excited to get my paws on since IndieBound raved about it. This one was good. It was so odd though. I finished this book in a chair on a riverbank in the NC Mountains. A man in a kayak rowed by and asked me what I was reading about. And I told him that I honestly was not sure! It’s bizarre and confusing and fun. When I was in Asheville I went to my very favorite bookstore and it was a recommended read there. Good choice, good read, but be warned, you will be craving lemon cake for weeks! (I had to cave in and bake one). Also, check out Synesthesia.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I bought this one from a used bookstore. It caught my eye in Barnes and Noble one night and the cover said something about how this book is good for those that also enjoyed The Help (which you know I did as I named it my book of the year for 2010, yes even though it was released in 2009- get over it!). Since the cover promised a likeness to one of my favorite books I added it to my to-read list and finally caved and bought it when I realized that the library was never going to get their copy back. It was mediocre. I didn’t care much about the characters. And, it was nothing like The Help. Yeah, okay, so it dealt with slavery. So? Just because there is a book with African American women in it it automatically has to be like The Help? Don’t think so.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I first heard about this book from a Kindergarten teacher at my old school. She said she really enjoyed it and read it in her book club but she would really like to go back and read it again since everything kind of comes together in the end. Knowing each of the characters and how they connect to the main character, I totally see what she means. I then heard about this book on GoodReads as it was the book of the month pick for July. This book was my second Pulitzer winner I read this summer. I must say I enjoyed this one MUCH more than I did Oscar Wao. Beware though before going in that there are many, many characters in this book. So many that I had to make a character map that expanded into more than one page. All of the characters all are connected through the main one. Super confusing if you don’t read carefully, so do- I highly recommend this book!

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
If I have to choose one book to recommend from the list it’s this one. A mystery of sorts told through multi-character POVs (in a good Jodi Picoult way) with a surprise twist at the end. As soon as I finished this one I gave it to G’s mom to read and she devoured it in a day. I am so excited to read her other book The Weight of Silence

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Common sense information. I wouldn’t bother.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
This was the first Battle of the Books book I read. I just have to say that I am so thankful that not all YA novels are written this poorly, especially Drapers books! Her Hazelwood Trilogy is wildly popular and she wins so many Coretta Scott King awards I had such high hopes for this book. I saw what Draper was attempting to do here, but in my humble opinion she failed. It was a great idea, but it lacked any reality and I don’t think that teens are going to swallow this book. To me, it felt as if Draper wasn’t giving any intelligence credit to youngsters. I can only hope that the rest of the BOB books are better than this one. What a chore to get through.

Enough for now I have again written too much. I will try to write more frequently and smaller posts. Next up, my review of Outlander, stay tuned!

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