Tag Archive | witches

Magic & music together are forbidden – should SOFI AND THE BONE SONG change that? by Adrienne Tooley (YA book review)

book cover of Sofi and the Bone Song, by Adrienne Tooley. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Winter won’t go away,
talent isn’t always rewarded,
what else will Sofi endure? (don’t ask…)

After years of obsessive practicing, long-motherless 16 year old Sofi’s perfect performance is upstaged by an untutored young woman who didn’t even bring a lute to the Guild audition, yet wins apprenticeship to the ruling lute Musik, Sofi’s own father.

Lara didn’t use a Paper to perform, or all would have seen the spell inked into her skin – music is the only craft forbidden to use the Paper spells sold by the king.

When Sofi’s father suddenly dies, Lara must immediately qualify to be the lute Musik by traveling through the country and performing specific complex songs in certain towns – songs that Sofi knows and Lara doesn’t.

Away the two young women go with the Musik’s lute made of bones, through their ever-winter land, knowing that some Musiks of the Guild want Lara to succeed, but if she fails, perhaps Sofi has a chance at her life’s dream.

Why did the seasons stop changing when they were babies?
Is Lara using illegal magic to learn this complicated music so fast?
Will the malfunctioning Papers sold to neighboring kingdoms lead to war?

Rivalry becomes companionship and so much more, as Lara and Sofi begin to truly understand the magic of their musical gifts and their growing bond with one another.

What instrument would you play if magically given the skill?
**kmm

Book info: Sofi and the Bone Song / Adrienne Tooley. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M is for THE MAN OF THE MOON AND OTHER STORIES FROM GREENLAND, retold by Gunvor Bjerre & Charlotte Barslund, art by Miki Jacobsen (book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Published by Inhabit Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

So many folktales, you’ve heard over and over, with slight variations and “happily ever after” to soothe modern listeners.

Not so with this collection introducing us to long-ago stories from Greenland that most folks nowadays have never encountered.

These stories told by elders and parents during the long, dark Arctic winters reflect the difficulties of living in brutally cold terrain where one mistake during a hunt can doom a whole village.

Many begin with “Once upon a time…” like “The Wild Geese Who Made the Blind Boy See” as they punished his greedy grandmother and “Manutooq, Whose Daughters Drifted to Akilineq on an Ice Floe” after their father abandons them on a hunting trip.

It was dangerous to ignore warnings – don’t shout at a harpoonist hunting in their qajaq (kayak) like “The Old Man Who Trapped Children Inside a Rock” and never be rude toward a shaman or else their helper spirits can’t help you find “The Witch Who Abducted Children in Her Amauti.”

Some stories give the history of why things are, like why the Sun and “The Man of the Moon” are never seen at the same time and “The Great Fire, or How the Mussel Came to Be” a coveted food source.

Hunger and death are frequent visitors, and stories of orphans are common – some grow up to be good hunters who provide for all (even after constant bullying), others don’t survive their childhood (even with the help of supernatural beings).

There’s an Inuktitut-English glossary in the back, and illustrations help us place these stories in their habitat of sea and ice, white bears and seals, rocks and snow.

Inhabit Media is based in Nunavut, the northernmost province of Canada, publishing books in English and languages of the First Peoples.

What’s the most unusual “once upon a time” story that you’ve heard?
**kmm

Book info: The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Inhabit Media, 2016. [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is for the Impossible Task they must complete or stay mere WITCHLINGS forever! by Claribel A. Ortega (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Witchlings, by Claribel A. Ortega. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not chosen for a coven,
doomed as a Spare –
or complete the Impossible Task!

Seven Salazar is sure she’ll be placed in the same five-witch coven as BFF Poppy at the Black Moon Ceremony, but instead the 12 year old is left out as a Spare with new girl Thorn and bullying classmate Valley.

When their coven bond doesn’t take, Seven invokes the Impossible Task so the three tweens don’t stay Forever Witchlings with limited magic. Even being outcast Spares in their witchy town would be better than no flying.

Consulting the Oracle, the Town Gran announces their Impossible Task: fell a Nightbeast in 21 days or be toadified!

Soon the vicious monstruo Nightbeast will fully waken from hibernation, fed by its minion cucos darting out of the Cursed Forest, seeking food like Seven’s powerfully magical baby brother.

Their families believe in them (except Valley’s haughty rich parents), and the Town Uncle puts protective spells on their houses.

The girls research in the Ravenskill Library and the bookstore that Thorn’s parents now own, practice useful spells (some unapproved for their level, but desperate times…), and begin to trust one another.

Days tick by, and their plan comes together – they’ll have to be as brave as the Witches of Heartbreak Cove in their favorite book series to make it work!

In the long history of the Twelve Towns, only one group of Spares has completed their Impossible Task and bonded as a coven – can these not-quite-friends succeed or will they become toads forever?

The name given at their birth is sign and prophecy – will Seven, Thorn, and Valley discover their true meaning during this ordeal?

Hurry along to your local library or independent bookstore for this exciting just-published book!

What spell would you learn to fight a huge, hungry monstruo?
**kmm

Book info: Witchlings / Claribel A. Ortega. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

BLOOD LIKE MAGIC, by Liselle Sambury – her witch test will destroy love or family! (YA book review)

book cover of Blood Like Magic, by Liselle Sambury. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Safety is staying in her family home,
facing the forces outside is her fate…
how can she balance the magic required?

Oh yes, her extended family is exasperating on a day-to-day basis, but 16-year-old Voya knows they love her and that she’d do anything to keep them safe in mid-21st century Toronto.

Now the Trinidadian-Canadian teen pleads for a second chance to claim her Calling as a witch, through a task to be set by her ancestor.

But this task is brutal, far beyond what anyone in her extended family experienced in their Calling – ‘destroy her first love.’

Time is of the essence as Voya must fall in love with someone and then eliminate them…or her little sister will die, and her entire family will lose its long-held magic!

Love match via genetic blood test?
Cozying up to a rival magic family?
Surely there must be another way…

Find this great YA debut at your local library or independent bookstore now. The series continues with Blood Like Fate in August 2022.

What would you sacrifice to keep your family safe?
**kmm

Book Info: Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic, book 1) / Liselle Sambury. Margaret K. McElderry Books (S&S), 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can she stay safe from THE MEMORY THIEF? by Jody Lynn Anderson (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson, published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lurking spirits,
Mom mourning loss,
stories hide secrets!

When 12 year old Rosie decides it’s time to burn the stories she’s written to fill the empty spaces in herself, the old seaside house that she shares with so-forgetful Mom is filled with ghosts!

Her best friend Germ (really Gemma) starts liking makeup and boys, but Rosie has other things to worry about, like bringing her widowed mom back to the present long enough to sign progress reports so no one suspects her lack of attention to the sixth grader and her obsession with watching the sea.

The ghosts she can now see lead Rosie to an ancient book, The Witch Hunter’s Guide, that reveals much about her family history and perhaps why Mom can’t remember Rosie from day to day.

Somehow Germ also begins to see the ghosts (when not practicing with mean girl Bibi for the talent show!) who lead them to hidden buildings and warn that the 13 witches controlling the world know Rosie is coming into her powers!

What’s keeping the ghosts tethered to her New England town?
Can Rosie and Germ escape the Memory Thief’s cursing touch?
Could they rescue “him floating out there” that Mom is longing for?

First in a new trilogy by the author of My Diary From the Edge of the World (recommended here).

What family story do you want more details about?
**kmm

Book Info: The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches, book 1) / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Unwise love and unforgivable secrets to read with your ears! (audiobook reviews)

Forced together by circumstance, forced apart by society, choosing to remember…or forget.

This week’s pair of audiobooks bring us a mother and daughter’s modern then-and-now story and a fantasy enemies-to-lovers (maybe) tale.

Download either or both titles to your phone or tablet using the links below so you can listen whenever you like through the Sora app.

These are available on the AudioSYNC site free through Wednesday evening 3 June 2020. If you miss the free download for any of these featured audiobooks, check your local library or school library.

CD cover of In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo.
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In Search of Us (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Brilliance Audio.

Mom says her black father died before Angie was born, but new information about him sets the mixed-race teen on a road trip to California, with her ex-boyfriend!

Marilyn’s own love story as a teen in the 90s derailed her career as actress and photographer, but what brought her and baby Angie to New Mexico?

CD cover of Serpent & Dove,  by Shelby Mahurin. Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Serpent & Dove (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Shelby Mahurin . Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio.

Escaping her coven, Louise tries to survive in the city by her wits alone. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” guides Reid as he hunts them down.

When Lou and Reid are caught in a compromising position, they must marry or else!

When is it time to let secrets remain secret?
**kmm

Intertwined these three, THE MERMAID, THE WITCH AND THE SEA, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (book review)

book cover of The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To stay alive, to stay together,
to realize that there’s more to life…
to risk everything?

Killing a man ensures their place on the pirate ship, as dark-skinned Alfie’s little sister Flora becomes Florian in the Nameless Captain’s crew of cutthroats who enslave passengers and harvest mermaids in spite of the Pirate Supreme’s decree.

Daughter of Imperials, Evelyn has never pleased her haughty parents, only wishes to stay with her adored young maid, is sent away in arranged marriage to an officer far across the seas. The teen’s possessions are packed into her coffin, for she will never return to the capital.

Aboard the Dove, Florian is set as Evelyn’s guard against the rapacious crew, gradually becoming fond of the rich young lady (whose heart is captured too), hoping that the Captain’s command to imprison all passengers never comes, marveling at her rapport with the new-caught mermaid.

The Sea will punish those who steal her mermaids, the Witch will draw the tales from Florian’s blood, the Pirate Supreme will stop the Nameless Captain – but will Evelyn and Florian be alive to know?

Japanese names, clothing, and traditions strand through this newly-published debut novel of conquests, colonies, love beyond expectations, and undercover history-changers.

When do you know that your ‘you’ is right?
**kmm

Book info: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea / Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.