The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

McKay_WitchesI have been enchanted by Ami McKay since her first novel, The Birth House, and it seems she still has me under her spell. (See what I did there? This book is about witches. You get it.)

With both The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, McKay set a precedent as an author of great skill and imagination, and The Witches of New York certainly rises to the occasion. No matter the story, McKay writes evocatively, and effortlessly transports the reader back to early 20th century Nova Scotia or late 19th century Manhattan. She has a knack for convincingly integrating fact (historical tidbits about the setting, medical practices, high society, etcetera) and fiction, and a talent for creating incredible women who are vivid, strong, intelligent, and able to persevere and thrive in the face of adversity and misfortune.

Witches is technically a sequel to The Virgin Cure—it returns to the story of young Moth, now Adelaide Thom—but this new installment is entirely able to stand on its own. It’s the first of McKay’s novels to venture into the mystical, and even the touches of magic are so well integrated that they seem almost normal—as if psychics and spell keepers and young girls who can commune with the spiritual world have always been a part of the natural fabric of Manhattan, and McKay has simply pulled them straight from history, finally telling the stories of the witches of New York.

No. 12 on my challenge. Ami McKay lives in Nova Scotia and my edition of the book was published by Knopf Canada.

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The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Yes, I’m still working on my 2016 book challenge.

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Since The Painted Girls fulfilled the “something your mom recommends” category, I present to you my genius mother’s review:

“This book called my name from several places—bookstores, airports, discount chains—so I finally gave in and purchased it. Having a niece in the ballet industry, combined with my love of historical fiction, drew me in, wooed me. And once I began to read I couldn’t put it down. The dark underbelly of Paris, teeming with ne’er-do-wells, is revealed: the façade of the well-to-do patrons, the incredible struggle of the poor, the heartbreaking sacrifices of the dancers, all woven together to create an intriguing tale of love and loss.”

No. 18 on my challenge. Thanks for the recommendation, Momma. I whole-heartedly agree.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

threemusketeers-dumasLike most things in my life, my love for Dumas’ famous musketeers stems from a Disney movie.

Starring the thespian talents of Kiefer Sutherland (Lordy, that voice), Oliver Platt, Charlie Sheen (long before he had tiger blood coursing through his veins), and the hunka hunka burnin’ love that was a twenty-three-year-old Chris O’Donnell as D’Artagnan, the 1993 version of the Three Musketeers is a rip roarin’, family-friendly interpretation of the classic French novel that I now know does a marvellous job of introducing the infamous musketeers as Dumas first portrayed them—brave, loyal, and chivalrous, with rapier wit and hella impressive skills with a sword (which, fun fact, would have been a rapier). I watched that movie over, and over, and over, and over, and have since enjoyed every big- and small-screen adaptation I’ve seen—especially the recently concluded BBC television series, which I could not get enough of. So you can imagine my delight (and relief) when I loved the book just as much as I have all the adaptions. I guess there’s just something about a pack of unbeatable besties who would lay down their lives for loyalty and honour that warms the cockles of my heart.

No. 12 on my challenge. Originally serialized as Les Trois Mousquetaires in the French newspaper Le Siècle between March and July 1844, the first English translation was produced in 1846 by William Barrow and is still in print today.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

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Well, Oprah certainly enjoyed it more than I did, but I didn’t not like it. I just didn’t love it. I should have just sat down and read it in one sitting, but I don’t think I cared enough about the characters or the story to do so. All in all, though, it was a decent read. And LOOK at that cover.

No. 10 on my challenge. I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco.

This Godforsaken Place by Cinda Gault

Want to read a really fantastic review of a really fantastic book? Thanks to Naomi over at Consumed by Ink, you can!

Consumed by Ink

It is 1885, and Abigail Peacock wishes she had never come to this Godforsaken place (otherwise known as Northwestern Ontario).

No matter how much I want to deny it, I had to admit that I was inescapably trapped, bayed in this Godforsaken place, and brought to my knees with the despair of it.

After Abigail’s mother dies in England, she and her father decide to come to Canada to make a new life, like so many others. Abigail’s father gets sick, and she spends her days nursing her father and teaching the other men in the sparsely populated settlement English.

Mother found happiness elusive because she avoided risk. I became the adventurer and still nothing made me happy. I exasperated myself. Maybe happiness was not what I thought it was.

Then she buys a gun, and her world changes. For the first time in her life, she longs to get…

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Proud of these!

Every day I’m thankful to be working in the publishing industry, especially with these great companies and the amazing people that helped bring these books into the world. Here we have it: our spring line up from Brindle & Glass Publishing and TouchWood Editions.

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander. Diana Gabaldon.

I’ve always fancied men in kilts and Scottish brogues. Throw in time travel, historical fiction, romance, sadism, humour, fear, and a healthy dollop of erotica and what’s not to worship? (Obviously, I’ll be binge watching the series.)

No. 4 on my challenge. Thanks for my signed copy, Mom!