All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

My first book review of the year is a book I looked forward to ever since I knew it was written, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman. This is book four and the conclusion of the Practical Magic series but with a witchy world full of wonderful characters with many backstories to explore a reader can always wish for more.

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Book cover for The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Title: A Book of Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: fiction, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 6th Jan 2022

Blurb

‘Full of Hoffman’s bewitching and lucid prose and vivid characters, The Book of Magic is ultimately about the very human magic of family and love and actions that echo through generations… it casts a spell’  —Matt Haig

THE STUNNING, UNFORGETTABLE CONCLUSION TO THE BELOVED PRACTICAL MAGIC SERIES

For centuries, the Owens family has been cursed in matters of love. When beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the sound of the deathwatch beetle, she knows that it is a signal. She has finally discovered the secret to breaking the curse, but time is running out. She has only seven days to live.

Unaware of the family’s witchcraft lineage and all it entails, one of the young sisters of the new Owens generation has fallen in love. As the curse strikes once again, her love’s fate hangs in the balance, spurring three generations of Owens to venture back to where it all began and use their gifts to break the spell that has marked all their lives.

But doing so threatens to destroy everything the family has fought so hard to protect. How much will they give up for the greatest gift of all?

My Thoughts

I had high hopes for this book, and it didn’t let me down. From the moment Jet heard the death-watch beetle and begins a mission to stop the 300-year-old curse for good, I was hooked back into the world where reality is blended seamlessly with magic to discover whether this could be achieved.

The Rules of Magic, which follows the siblings Franny, Jet and Vincent, is my favourite novel in the series so I loved meeting them again, even if they were in their 80s. The journey to find a cure for the Owens’ curse brings the characters to Essex in England, and the descriptions and sense of place reignited my desire to visit there. It has been on my literary tour wishlist since I read Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine.

The strength of these books are the original characterisation, depth of magical world building and the lyrical prose that is littered with references to herbal references. This all adds to the central witchy theme.

It is a strong conclusion to a series about curses, forbidden love and redemption and this one in particular is an ode to books and libraries.

Though it could be read out of sequence, you will enjoy it more and be less confused with the multitude of characters if read in order. This could be done in order of the release dates  – Practical MagicThe Rules of MagicMagic LessonsThe Book of Magic – or chronologically –Magic LessonsThe Rules of MagicPractical MagicThe Book of Magic.

Would I recommend?

If like me and those at The Enchanted Emporium you love books about magic, witches and books, this is a series to read. With magical prose and storytelling, a unique collection of characters and immersive worldbuilding this novel gives a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful tale of revenge, love and redemption.

I look forward to having a physical copy on my forever bookshelf for rereads and I know as soon as a copy is put on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, it will be on permanent loan by the witches of Whitby and beyond.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Have you read this series or watched the film Practical Magic starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock? Let me know in the comments below.

Trailer for Practical Magic

Happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Best Books of 2021: The Year of the Witches

It’s a new year so time for me to share my favourite books of 2021 before I leap into reading this year’s offerings. 2021 galloped by and threw many obstacles my way, but it produced some amazing books though for me, the world of witches and magic have shone above the rest.

In no particular order here are my best books of 2021:

Threadneedle book cover

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

The book cover for The Woman and The Witch

The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Book cover for Witches of Barcelona

Witches of Barcelona by Caedis Knight

The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Other books without a glimmer of magic but I adored anyway are:

The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn – review coming shortly

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Dear Grace by Clare Swatman

2022 looks like it will also be a wonderful year for magic and romance with the publication of the final instalment of the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman and the future publication of Miranda Dickinson’s The Start of Something.

What were your favourite reads in 2021 and what are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below.

A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Random Things Tour, all the publishers who have supported my blog and allowed me early access to these wonderful books and of course, you my readers.

Happy New Year!

Happy reading and writing.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue

It’s the run up to Halloween so I am pleased to share a witchy book to add to your Halloween reading list, All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donaghue.

Book Review: All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue

All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue Book Cover

Title: All Things Hidden

Author: Caroline O’Donoghue

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: YA fantasy, witch lit

Release date: 21st July 2021

Blurb

I’ll give up the tarot readings. I’ll apologize to Lily. 

But Lily doesn’t come to school on Monday. Or Tuesday. It’s not until Wednesday that the police show up. 

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.

Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her? And will their special talents be enough to bring Lily back, before she’s gone for good?

My Thoughts

I heard about this book via a friend who knows I have an interest in tarot. The blurb caught my attention. Overall, I enjoyed it. The beginning is slower paced and sets the scene, but by the middle I was as captivated as I hoped to be and couldn’t put it down. I needed to know where Lilly was and how Maeve would make things right, or if she could.

I loved how tarot and the card meanings were blended into the tale, but it was the author’s use of magic and witchcraft to delve into the world of homophobia, racism and privilege that made me love this story. It revealed parts of Irish culture I never knew about, as well as exploring the undercurrents and tension we see all over the world.

Maeve is a hard character to like, never mind love with her sense of privilege, outspoken and bratty nature. The cards force her to study her behaviour and see the hurtful consequences of her actions. It is a coming of age story and I would love to read more about what happens next. There is so much more to discover and I felt it was setting up to be a sequel with some threads left dangling.

Lilly is an unseen constant in the book, and you only hear Maeve’s voice and view of what happened. I would love to see Lilly’s viewpoint too because she sounds like she has so much to say.

Would you recommend?

If you love of folklore, tarot or witchcraft, this is a YA novel to try. The gentle pacing at the beginning explodes with excitement at the midpoint. It explores gender, bullying and extremism bundled into a magical tale. The eeriness of this novel reminded me of The Changover by Margaret Mahy, which was the book that introduced me to supernatural and fantasy genre as a teenager. Like that one, I will not forget this novel and I now have a new author to follow.

This would be a popular book on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf especially with the younger witches.

Love

All about Books

#SFFRomFest Blogger Spotlight – Kate Kenzie

I’m thrilled to have been asked to help celebrate this year’s #SFFRomFest and chat about my favourite fantasy and sci-fi romances. As many of you know I love books involving magic, witchcraft or the paranormal and a romantic thread always makes them extra special.

  1. What has been your favourite SFF Romance from 2021 so far?

I hate questions like this because this year has produced some amazing and unique novels in the fantasy genre making it difficult to choose just one so I may have to cheat. Sorry!

 A true fantasy romance that stands out is Caedis Knight’s Witches of Barcelona, the second novel in the Blood Web Chronicles. It follows Saskia, a low level witch on her investigations into the murky world of the paranormals. It’s hot and sizzles in all the right places with a varied cast of characters and thrilling plot. The world building is fully developed, imaginative and with many twists and turns it kept me on the toes.  My review can be found here.

Witches of Barcelona by Caedis Knight

Another novel I adore and cannot get out of my mind is Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuzniar. It’s not out until the end of this month and I feel privileged to have read an advanced copy – thank you so much, Harper Voyager. Based on The Nutcracker ballet, Marietta is a heroine to admire and again, the depth and layers of the world the author has created drew me in and I did not want to leave despite the dangers faced there. It’s a tale of obsession, desire for independence and self-discovery bundled up with magic and illusions. Everyone who loves ballet or fantasies such as Caraval are in for a treat. The physical copies are also stunning and I can’t wait to own one.

Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuzniar
  • Which subgenre of SFF Romance do you tend to read most and what do you love about it?

I love magical realism and witchlit – stories that are based in reality but overlayed by magic and imagination such as portals to other worlds or characters with secret abilities. I find them more accessible than high fantasy, easy to visualise and I love the added excitement of knowing I could visit places mentioned if I wish. For example, I fell in love with Oxford through the Discovery of Witches and a tour is on my wishlist. I long to explore The British Library thanks to the wonderful worldbuilding in Threadneedle by Cari Thomas.

I also have a love of time slip novels such as those by Barbara Erskine, who is the queen of this genre. They tap into my love of history and the supernatural. I find I learn more about the obscure times and personalities this way rather than a textbook.

  • What was the first SFF Romance you can remember reading?

It has to be The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. Forget Twilight the chemistry between the two main characters, Laura and Sorenson Carlisle is perfect and the scene of her changing to be a witch is sensual and alludes to so much.

Photo of book The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

The first adult SFF romance I remember is The Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine which I borrowed from my mum after she raved about it, but another memorable novel from my teenage years is Past Forgetting by Alexandra Thorne. It’s a time slip novel involving a dress I longed to own and the aurora borealis. Duncan Carlisle is a hero to swoon after.

Photo of book Past Forgetting by Alexandra Thorne
  • What SFF Romance do you always recommend?

Currently, it is Midnight in Everwood but there is also Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy which blends my love of witchcraft, libraries and different species together. Caedis Knight’s Blood Web Chronicles are great for those who like romances that sizzle, and Kelley Armstrong is also one of my favourite authors to recommend. I’m not very good at choosing one thing, am I? There are just too many wonderful books and authors out there to love.

  • What SFF Romance is next on your TBR pile?

The next on my list is the last instalment of The Indigo Chronicles, Children of Shadows by N. Simmonds.

I’ll be joining in with the festival more on my Instagram account but if you want to discover more bloggers favourites or add to your TBR pile use the hashtag #SFFRomFest in your favourite social media outlet.

What are your favourite fantasy or sci-fi romance novels?

Happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

I am so excited to share my review for The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke on the run up to Halloween. I adore books seeped in the history of witches and this book promised just that and with a dark, menacing but beautiful cover, I just had to read. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

Title: The Lighthouse Witches

Author: C.J Cooke

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: witchlit, supernatural, gothic

Release Date: 30th September 2021

Blurb

The brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms. Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse? Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left. Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

My Thoughts

The Lighthouse Witches is a deliciously dark tale based on an isolated island in Scotland which automatically adds to the gothic atmosphere. The descriptions of the lighthouse’s interior gave it an ideal setting for an unnerving, fear based reading experience. Told by several narrators including an ancient grimoire it follows Luna who has to return to the island to discover what happened in 1998 when her mother and sisters disappeared but she is not as welcome to the close-knit community as she expected adding to the mystery and tension. With links to the 17th century Scottish witch trails, it grabbed my attention and did not release me until the end, but even then I keep finding myself lured back into thinking about it.

Midway I questioned how dark it was going to go and whether I needed to grab a cushion to hide behind, but it made me use my imagination for the darker moments which may have made things worse. The tension grew towards an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.

Would I recommend?

Yes. With strong female characters, many twists and turns and unique location this is one of my favourite books of the year and a perfect Halloween read.

As a page turner and with strong witch connections, this is a firm favourite on The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and loved by both Willow and Amber.

Author Biography

Photo of author C.J Cooke
Author C.J Cooke

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in twentythree languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

Other blogs on this tour

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love