Friday Face Off : A book with ‘Magic’ in the Title

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

A book with ‘Magic’ in the Title

Okay, hope everyone had a good time with this one and didn’t have a difficulty coming up with a book.  I was very tempted to go with one of two books that will be forthcoming reads for me but then, I couldn’t resist going with Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman:

My favourite:  Well, I’m not totally in love with most of these covers.  It comes down to two very similar covers for me:

I like the concept for these but they both have their faults.  I like the darker cover strictly speaking but the title and author disappear a little.  I would prefer the lighter version to not have the yellow box.  I think a combination of the darker background with the yellow font would be preferable.

But, my favourite is:

PM1

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next week – March is named for the Roman God of War – a Roman style cover or a cover with a God or Gods or simply a book about war

2021

March

5th – March is named for the Roman God of War – a Roman style cover or a cover with a God or Gods or simply a book about war

12th – Middle Grade – choose whatever pleases you

19th – Ruin or derelict, old and worn, could be the book itself, a building, a place

26th – A picture within a picture

April

2nd – A train or tram – travelling down the track, could be old style, futuristic, overhead, down below.

9th – Cartoonish or graphic

16th – I have to have it – a cover that gave you ‘grabby hands’

23rd – Your current read (if it has covers to compare) or any recent read

30th– A series that you love – highlight all the books in the series

May

Month of Wyrd and Wonder

7th – A Series where the cover changed midway through – which style do you prefer most

14th – The earliest fantasy you recall reading – or the first fantasy book you really loved, maybe the book that kickstarted your love of fantasy

21st – The Top Hat

28th – The Hood

June

4th – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

11th – A cover that annoyed you and why

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy

July

2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic #0.1)

My five word TL:DR Review : History, witch hunts, family, love

magiclessonsMagic Lessons is a sequel to The Rules of Magic and Practical Magic and in fact gives Hoffman the opportunity to go back to the beginning of the Owen’s curse.  In this instalment we jump back to the 1600s where a baby girl has been left abandoned in a snow covered field until she is lucky enough to be taken in by Hannah Owens, a woman known for practising the Unknown Arts.  The baby, named Maria Owens is taught everything she needs to know by Hannah who recognises immediately the girl’s potential.

We then follow Maria on her journey of loss, heartbreak, motherhood and love.

What I really liked about this is the story, finding out about the legend behind the Owen’s family curse, plus finding that events take us to Salem not to mention a number of other places along the way.  There is a lot more ‘magic’ in this book than I’d found in the previous instalment, perhaps as a result of the time depicted when superstition played a major role and then on top of this there’s the history behind the fear and hysteria of the period that resulted in the witch hunts.  

This is certainly a book full of witchery.  There are lists of ingredients and discussions of grimoires with knowledge being passed down between females and definitely a feeling of women coming together – although of course this isn’t always the case with jealousy and envy sometimes taking a sneaky peak.

I wouldn’t particularly call this a cheery book and in some respects it misses the lighter nature of some of Hoffman’s other stories.  The time depicted was tough, people lived hard lives and women more often than not didn’t have a voice.

In terms of the characters I liked Maria.  She overcame much before fully understanding the nature of her own earlier lessons, as did her daughter.  Unfortunately, even though they had certain lessons drilled into them over the course of the years it took experience and age for the lessons to really gain relevance.  Love is the only thing that matters.  Do as you will, but harm no one.  What you will give will be returned to you threefold. 

Criticisms.  Well, there was a little bit of repetition here, such as the lists of remedies, but, for me this give relevance to the fact that women, no matter where they were in the world, found remedies and cure alls and I enjoyed this aspect to the story.  I think the only thing I would observe here is that this one has a different feel, for me, than the author’s other books.  Of course the story is a sweeping one filled with love, hate, passion and even redemption but the darker tone and narrative style give it less of the charm and whimsy of some of Hoffman’s previous work. 

Overall I think this was a very apt story that really does provide a great set up for the Owen’s and their family curse.

I received a copy through netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic (Practical Magic) by Alice Hoffman

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic (Practical Magic) by Alice Hoffman.  Yes please – I’m always excited to see a new Hoffman book.

MagiclessonsIn an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s is here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

Expected publication : October 2020

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

TheWorldthatTo start this review I’m going to use three simple words, breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking.

This is a unique story that takes a look at a specific period in history and chooses to focus on the lives of three women in particular whose determination to stay alive makes for compelling reading.

A story of the holocaust Hoffman chooses to highlight not the concentration camps but the lives of those trying to avoid them and by infusing the story with magical realism and myth and folklore creates an epic journey of survival that is harrowing and yet hopeful.

What I really loved about this was the excellent characterisation and the way the story incorporates more than just the grim facts.  This was probably one of the darkest times the world has known and yet by focusing on those people determined to change things for the better and help others even at great risk to themselves it highlights the goodness in people too and this makes the story capture those moments of beauty and light that give it extra depth.  However, bear in mind that this is at the same time, a difficult story, made even more so because of the fact that nothing is held back and the starkness of the reality is undeniably sad.

Hanna and her daughter are in hiding in the City of Berlin.  Hanna has become a thief, sneaking out in the dead of night to try and find food for the family.  On one such occasion she takes her daughter along and when things go horribly wrong decides that the time has come to send Lea away to safety.  Hanna seeks the most unlikely help imaginable.  She visits the house of a rabbi believing that a golem is the best way to protect her daughter.  As it turns out the rabbi’s daughter, an intelligent and quick witted young woman, born ahead of her time really, and very modern in herself determines to help Hanna in her hour of greatest need, at the same time she strikes a bargain with Hanna so that she and her sister might also try and escape the growing horrors of the City.  This is the start of a remarkable journey indeed that takes us into France, explores monasteries and remote schools and farms.  It takes us across country, takes a look at the resistance and gives moments of pure innocence involving a message carrying crane that likes to dance with a young woman made from clay and water.

The main characters are Lea (Hanna’s daughter) a beautiful young girl who unfortunately seems to draw the wrong sort of attention on occasion.   Lea is also the love interest for the story when she meets a young boy and the two form a strong attachment that even when separated (for much of the story) helps to sustain them.  Ava is the golem created to protect Lea and take her to safety.  As the story progresses Ava becomes more and more human and her desire to stay alive begins to override her need to obey the reason for her creation.  Finally, Ettie, is the Rabbi’s daughter who helped Hanna.  Ettie’s story is fuelled by the need for revenge that sees her eventually joining the resistance.

This story is just rich, in detail, in plot, in emotions and scope.  It’s beautifully written and yet at the same time quite unflinching in the details of what is actually taking place.  There’s a love story, in fact there’s more than one love story – three or four – and there are some brilliant secondary characters along the way who support the story really well, I particularly liked Marianne.

To be honest, I don’t want to go too much further with this review or over elaborate on the story because there is a temptation to give things away and I don’t want to do that.  Basically, this worked for me on a number of levels.  It’s a brilliant historical novel, rife with details, that takes a look at a much smaller slice of life.  It has satisfying storylines that intersect and come together in a very pleasing way.  I was rooting for the characters and felt a feeling of deep dread about how everything would all end – and as it happens the conclusion is perfect.  On top of that the magical realism elements, which aren’t for everyone I realise, are so very well done. Ava is a substitute mother who develops needs and longings of her own, she cares deeply for Lea but has her own desires that help to share the story and also give it an element of ‘why shouldn’t she live the life she wants?’ It’s a really interesting discussion point and one that kept me thinking long after the book was finished.

I don’t have any criticisms.

I received a copy through Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

I would rate this 4.5 of 5 stars

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman. Because – ALICE HOFFMAN.  I love this author, I was so excited when I saw this book was due out that I nearly had a conniption!

TheWorldthatweknewIn Berlin in 1941 during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

Expected publication : September 2019

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