Archive | Aimee Harris RSS feed for this section

Magical Histories of New York: Witches of New York and The Age of Witches

15 Jul

Sometimes when I’m at my desk in our library building with its tin ceilings and ornate woodwork, I wonder what it would have been like when the building first opened in 1897 or even earlier in 1890 when the library was first created. Back at the turn of the century when Ami McKay’s Witches of New York and Louisa Morgan’s The Age of Witches were set, Hoboken was just taking shape evolving from a pleasure resort for the wealthy to a popular shipping port and a place of invention by the newly created Steven’s Institute.  I enjoyed both the magical fantasy aspects as well as the insight these books give into history. 

The Witches of New York
by Ami McKay
The Witches of New York is set during 1880 and focuses on 17-year-old Beatrice who newly an adult, leaves her Aunt’s home near Sleepy Hollow to answer an ad for a shop girl in New York City which includes the mysterious phrase “Those averse to magic need not apply.”  There she meets Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair, two witches, who help Beatrice find her own powers and inner strength.  Here witchcraft is used as a metaphor for the power of women and the way in which that power was often suppressed and maligned in history.  I found the characters very enjoyable and there were enough hinted at possibilities for future storylines I have the impression it is likely not the last we will be seeing of these characters.  The three women’s story continue in the novella, Half Spent was the Night.  Adelaide also was featured in an earlier novel by McKay, The Virgin Cure

The Age of Witches
by Louisa Morgan

Set in 1890’s New York and England, The Age of Witches also looks at a group of three woman and the magic they possess, although in this case they are not all working in harmony.  Annis Allington is a young woman who wants nothing more to ride her horse and have the freedom not often given to woman of her age; her social climbing stepmother, Frances, however, sees a good marriage for Annis lifting them from their noveau riche social circle and into the highest levels of society.  Frances had previously used her magic to snag Annis’s father so that she could be lifted out of poverty.  Added in to this mix is Annis’s Aunt Harriet who wishes to keep Frances from manipulating Annis and awaken the young woman’s own power. The characters are strongly written and even when Francis falls into the evil stepmother trope there are still sympathetic aspects to her as a woman looking to rise above the limited circumstances society allowed her at the time.

Want more fantasy stories about witches?  You can read some more of my witchy picks here including Louisa Morgan’s A Secret History of Witches.

Check out The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and join us for a Zoom book discussion (online or you can call in with your phone) on July 20 at 6 PM. You can email hplwriters@ gmail.com to receive a Zoom invite.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

Anti-Racism: Authors Discussing the History of Racism and Proposing Steps to Move Forward

24 Jun

The issues of race, privilege, and social justice have been brought to the forefront of national discourse recently especially as they relate to relationship between Black and White Americans. Here are a selection of the many ebooks available to our Hoboken Patrons looking to explore this important topic further. They are all available from eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and/or Hoopla.

So You Want to Talk About Race
by Ijeoma Oluo

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Oluo discusses a variety of topics including intersectionality and affirmative action and how issues of race permeate American society.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo

DiAngelo’s New York Times bestseller examines how reactions about race when challenged can block an honest discussion of the topic and how this prevents change.

How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi is a National Book Award Winner.  In How to be an Antiracist he looks at how we can both understand and dismantle racism and inequalities.  It was called, “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” By the New York Times.  Also check out Stamped from the Beginning and the YA remix version Stamped-Racism, Antiracism, and You. You can read more about the book in a previous post where our staff chose their picks for best books of 2019.

The Origin of Others
by Toni Morrison

Best known as one of America’s most beloved fiction authors in The Origin of Others, Morrison, looks at topics that are prevalent in her work as well as society including race, fear, and a longing to be accepted. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a forward.

Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates, while reflecting on the topic as a father, looks at his own life and the history of the US and how it has led to our current situation, to look for a way to move forward in Between the World and Me. You can learn more in our Staff Post about our favorite recommendations from 2016.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla F. Saad
Me and White Supremacy looks at how readers can work to examine their own privilege and to be more aware of the frequently unconscious impact they may have on others because of it.  

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
by Austin Channing Brown

I’m Still Here details Austin Channing Brown’s experience of learning to appreciate herself as a black women growing up in a mostly white area.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD
Biased looks at the ways the topic of race and bias are discussed and how institutions from schools to the criminal justice system can both build and exacerbate these issues.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

%d bloggers like this: