The selections this week are brimming with magic and other unforgettable creative energy.
1. The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh is an older one, but it was an unexpected delight for me. I was drawn to the monstrous shadow shapes hidden on the cover. This tale set during medieval times described the life at an abbey for a young apprentice named Will. His daily life amidst the monastic schedule and way of thinking were so intriguing. Just as I was getting comfortable with that storyline, he saved the life of an injured hobgoblin which helped him realize that he had the Sight. With a setting in cursed woods and a never-ending supply of “bad” guys, this one is a page turner. The enjoyably developed characters (human and fairy alike) kept me invested in the story all the way until its conclusion.
Historical fiction mixed with fae folklore. (MG)
2. Recently, I’ve become enamored with the Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg. After reading two books and starting the third, I like where the story is headed. The characters have gotten more interesting and more complex over time, and I am clamoring to know what happens next. After finishing her university years, Ceony Twill feels jilted when she is apprenticed to Magician Emery Thane. She doesn’t grasp the importance of any magic that involves paper folding.
Before long, the cleverness of Thane’s inventions earns her respect…and mine. My favorites were the towering paper skeleton butler that guards the house, a paper dog that acts like the real deal and gets into trouble constantly, and a giant paper airplane that carries her between destinations. Each book explains a new type of magic, and there’s a twist in book two that makes me hanker for more. I love that the strength of the magic depends on the magician’s imagination. The bigger the idea, the more powerful the concoction. I think all of us can relate to using the strength of our own minds to create a better future for ourselves.
Creative magical systems and period drama. (Adult Fiction)
3. Honestly, I don’t know how Circe by Madeline Miller escaped my attention for so long. This took Greek Myth and storytelling to a whole different level for me. Move aside Percy Jackson, there’s a new contender in town. (Footnote: I love Percy Jackson and have read ALL of them.) Instantly, I fell in love with Circe’s voice and couldn’t put the book down. I read it in two days!
I love that a known antagonist becomes the protagonist in this retelling. The storyline reminded me of the book Wicked. Relating to her loneliness and isolation was easy for me since I’m an introvert myself. That theme of isolation begins in childhood spent with her Titan father, Helios. The abundance of heartbreaking moments made me continue to cheer for her until the ending. I wanted her to find peace and happiness, so I was wildly happy with the ending.
Myth retelling and strong female protagonist. (Adult Fiction)
4. This space opera starts with a bang and the action immediately launches the reader into hyperspace. Better hold onto your hat or you’ll miss something in The Key to the Universe by Patrick Scalisi. Like the hidden gems buried in the details. I laughed out loud at the creative name of one particular engine on a spaceship: the “Whyte Industries Limited Pulsar Class Faster-than-Light Engine”. Most of the character descriptions are very memorable and distinct like a Nalaxan that “resembled rhinos stuffed into designer suits” with high-pitched squeaky voices.
The characters get into never ending pickles but manage to stay ahead of a fleet of villains seeking to capture them. The whip smart dialogue kept me reading, but I was especially drawn to the relationship between the main character, Quinn, and his grandfather. The strong family relationship touched my heart and stayed with me long after I closed the book.
Science Fiction and witty storytelling. (YA)
Until next time, keep indulging in all the glorious words. Savor their sweetness and don’t forget to share some book ideas for me below.
Hannah is OHP’s acquisitions editor and fearless reader of the flock. We love her insights about books of all genres, and we’re thrilled to share those with you in a monthly series: Books are Better than Chocolate (Don’t get mad. We still really like chocolate).