Tag Archive | witches

W for Widdershins and witches – Body of Water, by Sarah Dooley (book review)

book cover of Body of Water by Sarah Dooley published by Fiewel and FriendsWednesday – her home is gone in minutes.
Wondering why her best friend has gone into hiding.
Widdershins, her wonderful dog – gone forever?

Why can’t people just be nice when they don’t understand someone? As nature-centered Wiccans, Ember’s family stands out too much in this small Southern town, no matter how quiet they are. Her mom reads tarot cards for townspeople who call her a witch behind her back and won’t even say hello to her at the store. Ember uses her spells only for peace, for clarity, to ward off Ivy’s nightmares.

Her continuing search for loyal dog Widdershins – “who was a good dog and came when I called her – six times out of ten” – and for objects that the fire left behind brings her close enough to former best friend Anson’s place every week that he might speak to her, tell her why he set the fire… but his silence is very, very loud.

Float out on the lake with Ember, find balance and clarity on her favorite Body of Water, feel how being homeless doesn’t mean being hopeless.
**kmm

Book info: Body of Water / Sarah Dooley. Fiewel and Friends, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Three hours after the fire, Ember wonders if Anson did it, if her best friend torched her family’s trailer house everything they owned, if that would keep his father from doing worse things to them for their beliefs.

Just because folks in the little Southern town call them witches doesn’t make them bad people. Dad calls their beliefs Wicca, Mom says not-quite-Wicca and teaches young teen Ember spells for clarity and balance with nature and peace. She also says that revenge is a bad seed to plant in your mind as it just might take root in your heart.

So now they’re homeless, Mom and Dad and Ember and little sister Ivy. She can’t find her dog Widdershins, and big brother Isaac is away at college. No room in Grandma’s tiny apartment, as if that devout lady would welcome her pagan son and family anyway, so eventually they find themselves at Goose Landing Campground, beside the lake where Grandpa drowned, the event that stopped Mom and Dad’s wanderings.

Ember ventures back to her burned-out home every week, searching for things that the fire might have spared – half a pair of Mom’s sewing scissors, a soup ladle – and for Widdershins. She mourns the loss of her spell journal, of Ivy’s random collections, of her former best friend. The only place she finds peace is floating far out in the center of the lake, where the water and the sky hold her.

And now it’s time for school to start. How can Ember and Ivy attend when their address is a pup tent, when they have no notebooks or decent clothes? Can they ever find a place to live when Dad can’t find a job? Did Widdershins perish in the fire or run away to find a safe home? Will Ember even be able to speak to Anson when she sees him again?

A story that circles back again and again to home and family and hope, Body of Water brings readers along on Ember’s search for clarity and balance and peace. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Always a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough (book review) – Time travel, magic battle, prophecy

book cover of Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough published by ClarionFace her sister’s wrath or buy the world’s most unflattering bridesmaid dress?
Stay here to be with true love Gabriel or travel back in time to save the world?
Why doesn’t Tam ever have any easy choices?

As the first book in MacCullough’s duet ended, high school senior Tamsin Greene learned that she does indeed have a witch Talent and is one of the few skilled at time Travel. Oh, and that somehow she is now keeper of the Domani, the magical object that keeps the malign Knight family of witches under control.

No wonder Alistair Knight goes back in time to help his ancestors keep the Greene family from creating the Domani… no wonder Tamsin time Travels to stop him.

Twisted witch souls, lust for power, a big magical battle – be sure to read Once a Witch (book 1 – my review) before you race through the conclusion of this exciting duet.
**kmm

Book info: Always a Witch / Carolyn MacCullough. Clarion HMH, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Recommendation: Tamsin can’t let evil Alistair Knight go back in time to wipe out her family! Yes, she knows that time Traveling is dangerous, but the fate of the Greenes – and of all unWitch humanity – hangs in the balance.

Few can Travel, and no one else can repel another witch’s Talent or take it away – finding her magic Talent late is better than never, Tam decides, even if she doesn’t want to be “most powerful of them all,” as her grandmother reads the prophecy from the past and future pages of the Greene family book.

Clues indicate that Alistair intends to contact his 19th century relatives with information they could use to ambush the Greenes and prevent them from creating the Domani which controls the powers that witches have over mere humans. So Tamsin decides to get into the Knight household before he can arrive in 1887. Surely Gabriel will be able to draw her back into the present before her sister Rowena’s wedding next weekend…

Posing as a lady’s maid, Tam finds that more than just modern conveniences are lacking in the huge house. The matriarch, La Spider, is using highly unconventional means to retain her youthful appearance and to control her grown son and daughter. And the son is experimenting with ways to use humans, such a bother when they are used up…

Blood and a dungeon, an uncanny stone statue, a stealthy war of magic power that bustling New York City cannot even see – will Alistair succeed in giving Liam Knight the key to defeating the Greenes? Can Tamsin stop the Knight family without stranding herself in the past? Why are the pages of her grandmother’s prophecy book blank past the day Tam left for 1887?

The prophecy heard in Once a Witch (my review here) echoes over and over through the closing book of the duet, as Tamsin strives to do what’s best for her family without destroying the world. One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Once a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough (book review) – prophecy with no power?

book cover of Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough published by ClarionGetting away from a bad situation always seems like a good idea… except when a bigger problem roars down from an unexpected quarter.

There’s always someone, somewhere, who is taller or has a better free throw average or solves the crossword puzzle faster than you – usually we find something else to focus on and things seem better.

But Tam’s birth prophecy said she would be “most powerful” and “a beacon to us all” – she’s not imagining her family’s disappointment as she grows up with no Talent at all. Her mom’s arguments about Tam leaving home made the weather storm and moan; her grandmother’s future-sight never shows whole pictures.

At least Gabriel is here now – his Talent for finding things might help Tam as she searches for the professor’s long-lost family heirloom. And a little time-Traveling with a cute guy…

Followed by Always a Witch which extends and completes the story of Tamsin and the Greenes as they struggle to keep the Knight family from gaining control over humankind.
**kmm

Book info: Once a Witch / Carolyn MacCullough. Graphia HMH, 2009. [author’s website] [book website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Recommendation: Boarding school is a better place for Tamsin, unTalented among her family of powerful witches. There, she can almost forget the words of her seer grandmother – that Tamsin will be most powerful of them all. Ha!

At least her childhood pal Gabriel and his mother have moved back to Hedgerow, where the extended Greene family has lived quietly for many decades, more than content to stay out of public notice. He doesn’t yet know that Tam’s Talent never manifested, but someone will surely tell him soon.

When a professor visits the family bookstore and asks her help in tracing an heirloom, mistaking Tam for her very Talented sister, she agrees. A bit odd that McCallum finds them both in New York City soon after, as Rowena shops for her wedding dress…

Tam’s search for the missing clock takes her and Gabriel much further than she had imagined – back to 1899, in fact, thanks to Gabriel’s time-traveling Talent. But finding the clock triggers a new quest as Tam learns more about her family’s history and their past battles with another group of witches who’d rather rule over unTalented humans than avoid their notice.

Can Tam keep the clock away from the professor long enough to discover its secrets? Have she and Gabriel altered the path of time? How can she do anything to help her family when she has no Talent?

Tam tries to balance her personal world with the larger questions of good versus evil in this first book of a duet which is followed by Always a Witch. Surely Rowena will decide on a wedding dress before it’s all over… (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

This Thing Called the Future, by J.L. Powers (book review) – tradition, love, AIDS, hope in South Africa

Tomorrow is South Africa Youth Day, celebrating the 1976 youth protest in Soweto. Khosi’s mother and father were among the many who fought for freedom from apartheid, the South African government’s brutal racial discrimination policy.

Although apartheid has crumbled, Khosi and Zi are growing up in an era of changes, as traditional beliefs clash with Christianity, and new menaces stalk the villages and cities of Africa. “The disease of these times” Khosi calls it – HIV and AIDS leaves many children orphaned.

I visited with author J.L. Powers at TLA, and she told me of life in today’s South African townships, the funeral bells, the push for education. Reading this strong book, we can believe that Khosi will stay in school and find a way to balance her beliefs, avoid threats to her health, and see a bright future.
**kmm

Book info: This Thing Called the Future / J.L. Powers. Cinco Puntos Press, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Khosi wants to do well in school, keep her family safe, escape AIDS, “the disease of these times” in South Africa. Life can be so confusing at 14, as she prays to the great God-in-the-sky at the church and also honors her ancestors with traditional ceremonies, uses herbal cures from the sangoma as well as modern medicines from the clinic. Born on the day that her grandfather died, Khosi often has vivid dreams – are they merely warnings from her ancestor or dire predictions of the future?

She and her little sister live with their grandmother in Imbali township, while her mother teaches in another city, coming home on the weekends; their father lives so far away that they see him only on holidays. Khosi wishes that Mama and Baba were married, but during the struggle for Liberation who could afford the lobolo, the bride price?

A widowed neighbor accuses Mama of stealing her late husband’s money, a drunken man near Gogo’s house follows Khosi and Zi home from school every day, and the witch woman calls out that she will take Khosi’s spirit! How Khosi wishes she could just ignore these things and plan her future as someone who heals or dream about her crush on Little Man at her school …

When Mama comes home, sick and skinny and weary, Khosi fears that the neighbor and the witch have cursed her family. What can she do?

Author J.L. Powers’ time in South Africa has given her great insight into the lives of its girls and women, ever-shadowed by HIV, neighborhood violence, and the struggle to rise above poverty, as she brings us a powerful story that still holds hope for This Thing Called the Future. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.