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Winter Kissed Fantasies: Back in a Spell and Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

4 Jan

Back in a Spell
by Lana Harper

Newly published Back in a Spell, is the third in Lana Harper’s Witches of Thistle Grove series; although it refers back to events and characters from the previous books, it is still possible to enjoy this charming novel on its own. Nineva Blackmoore isn’t just a lawyer whose powerful family owns a medieval theme park and other local businesses, she is also secretly a witch. A year after her fiancĂ©, Sydney, dumps her, her best friend encourages her to go on a date with a nonbinary hottie picked from a dating app. Morty Gutierrez is quirky, laid back, and spontaneous nothing like the usually tightly controlled Nineva, but she thinks that might just be what she needs to get over her ex and bring some excitement into her life. Unfortunately although there is an attraction, their first date doesn’t go as well as planned. But if they aren’t meant to be together than why is Morty suddenly gaining powers, something that typically only happens when a witch is a committed relationship? Then Nineva’s magic begins to surge, which her power hungry mother and grandmother think they can use to gain control. I enjoyed that the story is not simply about Nineva’s unfolding relationship with Morty, but also her struggle to decide whether she will chose the selfish path her family has laid out for her or if she can find the strength to break away. Set during the snowy winter, this would be a great book to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate. Fantasy and romance fans will both be spellbound. You can enjoy another blog post for fans of witchy romances here.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries
by Heather Fawcett

Out next week is another read perfect for capturing winter’s chill, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is about Emily Wilde who is a professor of Dryadology and has gone to a remote Scandinavian island to study “the hidden ones” one of the most elusive groups of fairies for her encyclopedia. Her studies feel midway between a sociologist and a zoologist with the faeries being depicted as mimicking humans in some ways, but in others feeling completely alien in nature with their behaviors and emotions. Emily is one of those academics who feels more comfortable studying in remote locations with her canine companion, Shadow, than trying to awkwardly interact with other humans. When her only friend, Wendell Bambleby, a fellow researcher and academic rival shows up on the island, she is both annoyed and slightly relieved. As Emily’s suspicions about Wendell grow, she also finds herself falling for the insufferable enigmatic charmer. I enjoyed how the study of fairies is depicted in such a serious and thoughtful way as if it were indeed a real area of scholarship. The island is also captured in such detail, you’ll be wanting to up your thermostat as Emily explores its frozen woods. This novel should appeal to fans of Discovery of Witches and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Fawcett is able to build a sense of peril for the main characters, while still having moments of humor. Highly recommended to both Fantasy, Romance, and General Fiction Fans. For those who can’t wait for the next in this, her first adult series, Fawcett has several charming YA and Middle Grade novels to chose from including The School Between Winter and Fairyland.

I received copies of the books for review in advance from NetGalley and the publishers.

Written by:
Aimee Harris

Holiday Reads (without the Romance)

21 Dec

There are lots of holiday romance books and movies, but sometimes I want books with a festive theme or wintry backdrop but with a little mystery, fantasy, or memoir instead. These were my three Christmas picks, I enjoyed this holiday season.

Blackmail and Bibingka
by Mia P. Mananasala

I’ve become of fan of Mia P. Mananasala’s Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery Series so was excited that her newest, Blackmail and Bibingka was set during the holiday season. Lila Macapagal and her family and friends are busy with the weeks leading up to Christmas preparing lots of delicious sounding treats including Bibingka. Bibingka is a slightly sweet and soft rice cake that Filipino families often make and eat around Christmas; if you are curious to try them, there is a recipe for Bibingka as well as other yummy treats mentioned through out the novel at the end. Added to the holiday hubbub, Lila’s estranged cousin Ronnie has recently returned and is attempting to start a winery centered around exotic fruits. When one of Ronnie’s investors passes away under mystery circumstances, Lila investigates to prove her cousin’s innocence. Like any good cozy, the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mysteries are filled with charming and quirky characters, but the diversity of backgrounds represented adds depth. You can also read my review of the first in the series Arsenic and Adobo. If you are looking for more Christmas mysteries, check out my recent review of Donna Andrew’s Dashing Through the Snowbirds.

Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas
by John Baxter

My father was born in Paris so for me Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Bouche de Noel (log cake) and other French delicacies. As a child I would need to explain to anyone new to our celebrations that it was a marathon and not a sprint so they would be prepared for a meal that could be sometimes 6 or 7 courses; I couldn’t resist therefore John Baxter’s, Immoveable Feast about an Australian man’s quest to prepare himself to prove to his Parisian in-laws that he was up to the challenge of creating a Noel dinner worthy of their family. His stories about sourcing ingredients were frequently filled with humor. The memoir also mixes bits of his experience living in Australia as a child, as well as a sprinkling of his career writing about the movie industry (some big names are dropped) with his adventures in France with his wife, daughter, and in-laws. Some of his wife’s families traditions differed from my own, but many aspects resonated with me and I enjoyed learning about how Christmas is celebrated in Summer in Australia. Baxter has written several other books about Paris for those who are Francophiles, including Paris at the End of the World.

A Scandal in Battersea
by Mercedes Lackey

A Scandal in Battersea is the the 12th in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters Series. We picked it for this year’s December book discussion for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group at the Library. The story starts out strong with a perfect Victorian Christmas with afternoon tea, pantomimes, and sleigh rides, but darkness is lurking as a brash, foolhardy would-be-magician attempts to summon a powerful being that he thinks will make his dreams come true. It is, however, a penny dreadful nightmare when the young women, whom he brings the creature, return from the other dimension zombie like, unable to respond but to follow basic commands. The book alternates between the efforts of the magician and the protagonists, a group of psychically and magically gifted original characters along with with Sherlock Holmes and Watson. The book brings in a lot of diverse elements which sometimes felt like they could be developed more and I wish the holiday trappings had continued throughout rather than being dropped towards the end, but overall I enjoyed this fast paced fantasy read with some clever plot twists. Some of the books in the series incorporate fairytales like Reserved for the Cat, a personal favorite of mine that I highly recommend.

You can also read previous posts about some unexpected Holiday Movie picks. For those who prefer holiday romance check out this post about the Dash and Lily series and next month I’ll be reviewing Wintery Paranormal Romances, Back in a Spell and Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries.

Do you have a favorite December Holiday or Winter Read; share it in our comment section!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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