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Familial Magic: A Secret History of Witches, Daughters of the Storm, and The Rules of Magic

13 Jun

All families have drama, but these three terrific novels prove that families of witches really know how to brew up some trouble.  Stop in to the Hoboken Public Library today and borrow them for a spell!

A Secret History of Witches
by Louise Morgan
SecretHistoryofWitches
Each section in the novel, A Secret History of Witches, focuses on a different witch in a long lineage starting in 1821 and going forward in time to 1937.  Although the women are witches, to me there is less a focus on the supernatural than on the relationship between mothers and daughters as well as the ways in which women who have attempted to wield power have been discriminated against and threatened through the ages.  This novel will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction generally and not just fans of fantasy.  Sometimes the characters can lack distinction in multigenerational sagas, but I found in this work each of the women was unique in her motivations and her relationship with her supernatural talents.  Although I enjoyed seeing the varied histories of the Orchiere family, I enjoyed the last section focusing on Veronica and her efforts during the War to be my favorite.  Louisa Morgan is the pseudonym of Louise Marley who has also written historical fiction under the name Cate Campbell as well as fantasy works under the name Toby Bishop.

Daughters of the Storm
by Kim Wilkins
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In Daughters of the Storm, a novel infused with magic, the focus is not on mother/daughter relationships but on the relationship between 5 very different sisters.  Bluebell is a fierce warrior, Ash is just learning her full magical abilities, Ivy is vain and selfish, Ivy’s twin Willow is a religious zealot of a new religion, and Rose is carrying on a secret affair after being forced into an arranged marriage with a man she doesn’t love.  They must work together to save their ill father, a king, who has been cursed by a powerful spell.  Their step brother wants to stop them and have the kingdom for himself.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones check out this fantasy saga which also has political maneuvering and familial drama a plenty.  This is the first in a new series.  The next book in the series Sisters of the Fire is scheduled to be published in the USA in January 2019 and is set 4 years after the events in Daughters of the Storm.  Wilkins is one of my favorite author’s and you can read more about her other novels in a previous blog post.

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
RulesofMagic
Over a decade after Hoffman’s bestselling novel Practical Magic about two sister witches, comes the prequel, The Rules of Magic, which focuses on an earlier generation of the Owens family.  If you liked the quirky aunts, Jet and Franny, from the original novel then you will enjoy getting to see them in their youth at the beginning of the 60’s when youth rebellion is raging and they must try to escape their family curse along with their brother Vincent.  All three learn that love is impossible to hide from.  Although it is hard to top the magic of her earlier work, I still enjoyed the novel.  I relished the plot of the previous work more, but I found this work to be more mature in its characterization; Jet, Franny, and Vincent seemed more fully developed.  Besides print, you can also borrow an ebook or digital audiobook version of the novel from eLibraryNJ or eBCCLS.  You can also read my previous post about some of Hoffman’s other novels.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Game On or Game Over?: Video Gaming Documentaries Available from Kanopy

30 May

My video gaming is mostly confined to using Pokémon Go as a way to entertain myself during my walk to and from work;  I like AR (Augmented Reality) games since they can make everyday reality a bit more fun.  My husband is more of a traditional console gamer and recently has gotten into VR (Virtual Reality) gaming on the Oculus (you can check out the VR experience for yourself during our Makerspace Mondays).  My son is part of the new generation who enjoys watching let’s play videos of game run throughs and gaming tournaments as much as playing the games himself.  The many ways we enjoy gaming continues to expand.  Kanopy has a variety of thought provoking documentaries that offer both positive and critical views of games and gaming culture that are available for you to stream.

State of Play: The World of South-Korean Professional Video Gamers
state of play
all images in this post from kanopy.com

Could someday professional video game tournaments replace the Super Bowl or the World Cup?  Thousands of Koreans attend the Proleague in Korea every year. The documentary State of Play follows three Korean gamers specializing in Starcraft, who are at different stages of their video game careers.  The documentary is also available from Hoopla.  If you enjoy this documentary you can also check out A Gamer’s Life: The Lives of Professional Video Game Players.

GTFO: Get the F**k Out – Women in Gaming
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GTFO was an Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival; it looks at misogyny in the realm of professional gamers, game designers, and players online.  The film captures a variety of experiences of those who have felt discriminated against or harassed.  The documentary was interesting, though I would have liked to have seen more men interviewed to give more insight into why the behavior is so often occurring and why it is seen as OK by those who are the perpetrators.

Gaming in Color: The Queer Side of Gaming
gaming in color

Much like GTFO, Gaming in Color examines the discrimination faced by some gamers, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, but it also looks at some of the positive experiences that queer gamers have had as well.  It briefly shows a few of the games which have begun to incorporate same sex relationships and visits GaymerX, which seeks to be an inclusive video game convention.  Gaming in Color is also available from Hoopla.

Besides these three documentaries you can find ones on topics like violence in video games with Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture and Joystick Warriors: Video Games, Violence & the Culture of Militarism; the impact of gaming on education in Mind Games – The Power of Video Gaming; and even the marketing potential of Virtual Reality in Infinite Reality with Jeremy Bailenson (part of the Stanford Executive Briefings Series).

If you are looking for historical perspectives on gaming than click over to Hoopla where you can learn about the history of gaming with the documentary Gameplay: The Story Of The Videogame Revolution.  Learn if the myth of the buried ET games is true and about the demise of Atari with Atari: Game Over.

Whether you agree or disagree with the perspectives in these documentaries, they open up important conversations about the future of gaming and how it will impact our lives.

And if you want to check out a new game, stop by the Hoboken Public Library where you can borrow everything from Super Mario Maker for the Wii U to Call of Duty WWII and God of War for the Playstation 4.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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