Okay, okay, before you @us, we do know the difference. But what goes better with your favorite dessert than a good book and some mediocre word play? Here are three books to embrace on #nationaldessertday.
This story follows a family of banished saints, perched high in the Colorado desert where supplicants must travel far for a miracle. These saints can help you, but they can’t save you from yourself, as many pilgrims learn to their dismay. Still, there’s much to be gained by braving the miracles of Bicho Raro. Enthralling, luminuos, and with enough Mexican and Native southern states folklore to keep you from wandering the sand alone at night. At once grim and terribly hopeful, this is an exploration of love, family, and growth, set to pirate radio and the rushing wings of owls.
New York, magic, the turn of the century – what more could you want? Unlikely friendships? Varied mythology? This book has it all, weaving a lush and surprising tale out of a premise that asks more questions than it answers. A golem and a jinni meet in New York. It’s more likely than you think! I love fantasy being laid over history like velum, especially more modern history. New York, and only a hundred years ago, is not where you most expect to encounter myth, but weaving it in seamlessly can make a world close enough to imagine, both in time and in possibility. goodr
Street smart and clever, Dara bites off more than she can chew when she summons an ancient and magical creature to her side, soon discovering that she has magic and an ancient legacy drawing her as well. She will have to travel to the city of the djinn itself, where struggles for power, purity, and prestige rage in the streets, if she hopes to find the truth of her past. Opulent, adventurous, and deeply ruted in folklore, this is a must read for anyone who wants a world that breathes with magic, prophecy, and intrigue. If you’re seeking mythology that often gets overlooked, pick this up.
I’m always a fan of a clever reimagining, and the tale of Scheherazade was neglected for far too long. You’ve got a lot of classic fairytale beats, like the murder of wives, along with a clever heroine, an unfathomable mystery, and gutting revelations. Scheherazade volunteers herself after her best friend’s murder, intent upon revenge against the cruel monarch who weds and murders so many young girls. But it’s not so simple as it appears, and though Scheherazade makes it to the morning and more, with each dawn she is less certain of her hatred.
This is the point where I confess that Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite Miyazaki movie by far. They’re all good! But I connect with Sophie on a deeper level. If you’ve yet to read the book, get ready to have the experience of the movie turned up to eleven. Sure, it’s not as soft or as serious, but believe me when I say you will not miss it. Obviously the movie is iconic, but the book characters are on a whole other level. Thanks for coming to my ted talk. Here are some memes.
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Who doesn’t want to be very very old? Sure, hypothetically the curse is a punishment, but Sophie clearly finds it as liberating as I would. Meek little Sophie Hatter starts breaking into magic houses and bullying demons. Talk about a glow up. In the book, Howl tries to lift Sophie’s curse, but her own magic keeps it in place. It really goes to show they’re a good match. She’s ridiculously stubborn and he’s just ridiculous. Still, we stan, and I think we can all relate.
It’s What he Does
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This might be the hottest take I’ve ever seen. Of course he bites her hair. It looks like stardust! And what does Howl do to stars? Eats them. You’d think he’d learn his lesson. Unless you’ve seen the movie, read the book, or heard about literally any of his choices. Learn his lesson? This is a man who literally will not stop ghosting immensely powerful witches and then running away. The mistakes are endless. She looks surprised here, but I don’t think anything can surprise Sophie anymore.
It’s a Different Vibe
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I’m not going to get all ‘the book was better’ on you because I absolutely adore both, but book Sophie is an honest to god force of nature. When she gets mad she kills an entire garden. It’s sort of the spiritual opposite of Howl’s slime meltdown, I guess, because it’s productive, but still absolutely ridiculous. Just talk about your feelings instead of throwing dramatic magic everywhere! You guys are too powerful to be this messy.
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Sure, education is important, but at what cost? What is it about just going to class that ages me fifty years? I can’t be alone. Maybe it’s the fluorescents, maybe it’s learning, maybe it’s the fact that I’m too lazy to wear my glasses at home, but there’s a sharp contrast. I don’t even need a witch to curse me. Just tell me I have sixty pages to read in two days and I wither like the witch of the waste trying to climb the stairs. Stay strong, and don’t use school mirrors.
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True story, every day for about a month I walked past a closed popup, but it’s banner was still outside and described it as ‘a slime experience’. Who would want that? Howl, apparently. I’ve had some hair dye gone wrong, and I’ve been dumped, but never have I flooded my entire living room and half of Porthaven. He just hired Sophie, she just got everything clean, and now he pulls this? Still, it’s one of the most memorable scenes, and characterizes Howl pretty powerfully without any explanation needed.
It’s important, especially in these turbulent times, to appreciate what makes each day special, and what better way to do that than through reading! We’ve rounded up five authors who invite a touch of magic into the everyday world. So read on! And invite a little magic into your day.
KERRY ANNE KING
Kerry Anne King is exactly the sort of writer who unleashes the extraordinary in the ordinary. Best known for her acclaimed novel Whisper Me This, which was an Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller, King is back with the life-affirming Everything You Are.
Barbara O’Neal, author of The Art of Inheriting, “loved every magical word,” of Everything You Are, while Terri-Lynne DeFino, author of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) notes that “Love and sorrow, regret and hope are woven into every aspect of the story by music—not just any music, but the magical kind that leaves both creator and listener, for better or worse, irrevocably changed.”
“Kerry Anne King writes with such insight and compassion for human nature,” says Barbara Taylor Sissel, bestselling author of Crooked Little Lies, and she’s right!
So without further ado, check out the blurb for Everything You Are, and bring a little magic to your day, today!
One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey’s hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, Braden wants desperately to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.
When his ex-wife and son are killed in a car accident, Braden returns home, hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can he hope to rescue her from the curse that seems to shadow his family?
Ophelia “Phee” MacPhee, granddaughter of the eccentric old man who sold Braden his cello, believes the curse is real. She swore an oath to her dying grandfather that she would ensure Braden plays the cello as long as he lives. But he can’t play, and as the shadows deepen and Phee finds herself falling for Braden, she’ll do anything to save him. It will take a miracle of forgiveness and love to bring all three of them back to the healing power of music.
Don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win Everything you Are, an amazing pair of headphones and more magical prizes!
So, okay— Tana French may be best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series, and that may not sound too magical, or too ‘everyday’, for that matter. However, while the wider DMS series is about detectives solving murders, each book is about something more than that. I want to talk specifically about her novel The Secret Place, which is the fifth DMS novel, but focusses heavily on a group of teenage girls who are potentially involved in the murder of a boy on the grounds of their boarding school. The girls have a strangely supernatural bond, one the hardened detectives haven’t seen before, and the tender and raw exploration of this magic and the girls’ relationships with each other, is wonderfully woven together with all the page-turning suspense of a good murder mystery.
Not all of French’s books contain magical elements, but the ones that do are imbued with an extra spark that will hook you from the start.
Check out the blurb of The Secret Place and get excited!
The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear.
If you read Angela Carter’s feminist reimaginings of fairytales, The Bloody Chamber for school, then you’ll know that the 80s surrealist and feminist writer took a vivid delight in imbuing the everyday with a twisted magic all of her own. When I first read her novel The Magic Toyshop at sixteen, I nearly lost my mind I was so excited by her strange descriptions of a girl climbing an apple tree at night in her mother’s wedding dress, of her uncle’s toyshop, her mute aunt, the lifesize chess set and the giant swan puppet… Throughout the book, nothing distinctly magical happens, everything is possible, but so fascinating, imaginative and unlikely as to add up to much the same thing as magic.
Her novel Nights at the Circus is also one of my favorites, following a journalist who goes on tour with a traveling circus, the star of which is a supposedly winged woman, Fevvers, who alleges she is half swan.
Here’s the blurb for The Magic Toyshop!
One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the home of her childhood, she is sent to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie and Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the toys he makes in his workshop: clockwork roses and puppets that are life-size – and uncannily life-like.
A woman and her little girl move to a French village and open an intoxicating chocolate shop which causes a stir in the village. Vianne’s mysterious arrival and the effect of the chocolate on the villagers are both imbued with an undefined magic that intrigues and delights.
Chances are, you’ve seen the Oscar-nominated movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, but did you know the story continues in three more books featuring Vianne and her chocolate? Lollipop Shoes,Peaches for Monsieur le Cure, and The Strawberry Thief are all part of Harris’s gorgeous series that brings so much good and lighthearted magic to the everyday!
Check out the blurb for Chocolat!
When a mysterious stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet with her daughter and opens an exotic chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock – especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial.
As passions flare and the conflict escalates, the whole community takes sides. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the sinful pleasure of a chocolate truffle?
Chocolat was Joanne Harris’ first book about Vianne Rocher,and was turned into a popular Oscar-nominated film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. The story of Vianne and her daughters was continued in Lollipop Shoes, and then in Peaches for Monsieur le Cure, and now in her new novel, The Strawberry Thief.
Alice Hoffman is probably best known for her novel Practical Magic which was adapted for the big screen, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, but pretty much all her books, from old works like Property Of, to her latest novel, The World That We Knew, have magic woven into them. In their starred review of The World That We Knew, a holocaust novel featuring threads of magic realism, Booklist calls it “An exceptionally voiced tale of deepest love and loss…one of [Hoffman’s] finest. WWII fiction has glutted the market, but Hoffman’s unique brand of magical realism and the beautiful, tender yet devastating way she explores her subject make this a standout.”
Inspired by a true story told to Hoffman by a fan at a book signing, The World That We Knew explores the ‘hidden children,’ Jewish children sent to live with non-Jewish families to keep them hidden from Nazis during World War II.
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.
Leigh Bardugo is an incredible YA author famously known for her immersive worlds and cast of diverse, interesting characters. Her previous YA fantasy series include theGrisha trilogy, King of Scars, and the popular Six of Crows duology. Set in a world known as the Grishaverse in which different Grisha possess magical powers under different orders of magic—The Order of the Living and the Dead, the Order of Summoners, and the Order of Fabrikators—Leigh Bardugo created fictional countries with such unique cultures and locations that they almost seemed believable. And let’s not forget how much we all fell in love with Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. Amidst the buzz about Shadow and Bone, the first book in the Grisha trilogy, coming to Netflix, Bardugo has decided to dive into a new realm of magic by penning her first adult novel.
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Bardugo’s new novel, titled Ninth House, seems to be the first book set outside the Grishaverse. And this setting might be slightly more familiar to us—it’s New Haven, Connecticut. The book follows a Yale freshman with a bad past, Alex Stern. She was raised by a hippie mom and dropped out of school to mess around with drug dealer boyfriends and bad jobs. It’s unlikely that she would end up at Yale, but when she becomes the only survivor of a multiple homicide, Alex is offered a full ride to one of the most prestigious universities. Alex’s benefactors instruct her to monitor the suspicious activities of the secret societies within Yale, and she soon discovers that these societies are more sinister than one might expect. The Yale societies are made up of prominent rich and powerful figures who conduct occult activities and forbidden magic in windowless clubhouses referred to as “tombs.”
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Bardugo, a graduate of Yale herself, says that she’s had the idea for Ninth House since her first day in New Haven as a student. The book’s release date is October 8th, and Bardugo says, “October is the perfect time for sinister tales, and I hope you’ll find Ninth House to be thrilling, eerie, funny, and maybe a little unnerving.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Leigh Bardugo makes the switch from young adult fiction to adult fiction. Her books have certainly dealt with dark themes surrounding magic before, and they’ve always held a particular air of maturity for YA books. Still, maybe Ninth House will be even more mature now that Bardugo is incorporating some of her own experiences. It also makes you wonder just what Leigh Bardugo experienced at Yale to imagine their secret societies as something occult. But what even are the Yale secret societies? Does her fantastical interpretation have any weight?
Each Yale secret society is small and only allows fifteen members or so. As is to be expected, it’s almost impossible to find information about these societies or what they do, but many of them also have impressive amounts of wealth. Yale has forty-one secret societies that we know about, each with menacing names like Berzelius, Skull and Bones, Book and Snake, Wolf’s Head, and Scroll and Key. With names like Skull and Bones, why shouldn’t we be suspicious? Skull and Bones is probably the most famous secret society and its alumni include William Howard Taft, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Most of the societies’ alumni seem to be involved in political or financial positions of power… possibly bargained for by occult means? The architectural style of the tomb-like, windowless clubhouses was designed with privacy in mind, so we may never really know what goes on inside.
image via curbed.com
After a few break-ins to the “tombs,” the floor plan of the original Skull and Bones building was published and it seemed like a fairly normal clubhouse. Nonetheless, who knows what the members of the societies could be concealing behind hidden walls and doors? Maybe Bardugo discovered something in her time at Yale and is finally revealing the dark, supernatural truth.
With a mix of such creepy rumors surrounding the Yale societies in real life and Bardugo’s thrilling, intense writing style, Ninth House is sure to be an amazing first adult fantasy novel for this author.