#5OnMyTBR | Witches

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#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook
You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. 🐝

This week’s prompt was a Halloween freebie, and it truly made me remember a series I did Halloween week 2018, where each day I recommended five of my favorite books centering on some of my favorite spooky characters! It does make me giggle though, because those five are still probably still my five favorites in 2020! But today I’m going to pick five witchy books that I hope will give those five some competition!


Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…


The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk 

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?


Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?


The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab 
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These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.


The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.



 Okay, friends! You might also get another Halloween themed prompt tomorrow, too, for T10T! But please let me know if you’ve read and enjoyed any of these witchy reads! Sending you all so much love and light! 💗

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Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

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OwlCrate’s May 2020 Box – REBELS WITH A CAUSE 🔥
My Rep Code: MEL10 ❤️

This was such a pleasant surprise! Witchy is a graphic novel story that centers on a witch kingdom called Hyalin! In this magical kingdom, the witch’s powers are dependent on how long their hair is, and they take a lot of pride in that. But if your hair is too long, and you are too powerful, the witch government can burn you to death. Also, the government tests the magical abilities of the young adults, and they can get conscripted into the military guard to protect the lands, which is also viewed as a great honor!

But our main character, Nyneve, not only is forced to hide her extremely long hair, but they also are very untrusting of the ruler Jung, and the other ruling witches, because she witnessed her father getting burned because he was so powerful. But now that the conscription is going to take place at her school, she is feeling very scared and a little helpless. That is, until she does something that will change her fate forever and cuts her hair off!

This first installment is all about the conscription “tournament”, the ramifications of Nyneve’s actions, new journeys to find out the truth of this kingdom and world, and a very cute talking raven named Banana! This story is also pretty diverse with very many characters of color (I feel like they are mostly south and south east Asian), a trans side character (I feel like this entire world is very gender fluid, but this side character is confirmed), and with a vast range of different body types! I also think the color palette is very unique, and very much captivated me throughout!

Content and Trigger Warnings for loss of a parent, transphobia (challenged), medical examination difficultly, and abandonment.

But I really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait to see what comes next! I truly always love a good magical story about people choosing their own destiny, even if the path to figuring that out can be a little difficult at times! And starring Asian witches, created by an ownvoices creator? Be still, my Filipino heart. And with most of my graphic works reviews, I like to do mini break downs of each chapter/issue so it will be an easier recap for me when a new installment is created! (Also, I just really like breaking down things!) But use caution for spoilers if you do not want to know anything about this story before going in!

✨ Also, you can read for FREE HERE! ✨

Chapter One:
We get to find out mostly what happened to Neve’s father, we get to learn a little bit about this military guard the is forced to protect this witch kingdom, and we start to see that dictatorship can wear many masks!

Chapter Two:
Batu and Prill are Nyneve’s two friends, and both have my heart. Well, Prill was a little bit of an enemy, I think! But only for like a page. We learn about the conscription and find out it is in two weeks!

Chapter Three:
This chapter really makes you fall in love with Neve’s mom. We learn that she joined the guard because of a bet. And she proves that she is willing to do anything for her daughter, and sacrifice anything for her safety. We also get to see the conscription, and Jung separates the kids into different teams, where they are forced to compete. And we learn who gets recruited! (I’m sure you can see where this is going… hehe!)

Chapter Four:
Nyneve is exploring a new place, with a talking raven, and meets a whole new community that is run by Batu’s sister, Io! (Let me also say, that I, too, would have a crush on Io!) But we get to see this orphanage for kids whose parents have been burned, and we get to see that maybe they are going to grow up to be a resistance army. Oh, also, we get to see Nyneve and Banana studying in a library filled with banned books and I just really enjoyed it and it made my heart happy! We also get to meet a very mysterious tree person named Eynag! And we get to see Neve decide what she is going to do next, when everything feels so unsure.

Again, I loved this. I really have even higher hopes for the next installment! I might go on the website I linked above and read the next two chapters because I just want more and more from this world. The creator has truly blown me away and I just want to support them forever. I hope you all enjoy this one too, if you choose to pick it up!

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

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ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“The next full moon snuck up on me…”

Oh friends, this was truly the graphic novel I’ve been waiting forever for. From witchy magic, to unconditional family and found family love, to being the person you want to be on your own time, to the cutest F/NB relationship ever, I am so in love with Mooncakes!

One night, in a sleepy and paranormal New England town, a witch follows a white wolf into the woods. She doesn’t know what to expect, but it most certainly isn’t a horse demon fighting with her childhood crush! With the help of one another (and some cute grandmas) they unfold a story about a cult and people wanting to harness werewolf magic for their own.

And the two main characters of this graphic novel are everything! One, being Nova, who is Chinese-American, and still coping with the loss of her parents, while living with her two grandmothers (be still, my heart). All of these women are witches and collect rare spell books! And Tam, who is also Chinese-American, and a nonbinary werewolf who grew up with Nova, but recently left their family who wasn’t very kind to them.

And if I haven’t already sold you with the plot and the five star rating, this is also just a story about two young adults learning who they want to be, both separately and together. Nova and Tam are both dealing with hurt from their parents, and even though it is a different kind of hurt, they are there for one another, and unconditionally support one another. It’s beautiful, and powerful, and I had the biggest smile on my face while reading from the first to last page.

Overall, this really was the queer, magical story that I’ve always wanted. I loved the rep, I loved the story, I loved the illustrations, I love the banter, and I truly love both of these main characters so very much. I can’t wait to see what Wendy and Suzanne do next! Also, I’m totally buying mooncakes on the way home tomorrow, because your girl has such a craving.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: talk of abusive parental figures, captivity, and loss of loved ones in the past.

I read this for SummerAThon! ❤

[BONUS:] I got to meet both creators at Book Expo and they were so kind! Even though I was probably a little awkward and called Wendy birb royalty.

Recommendations | My Five Favorite Witch Books

Hey, friends! I’ve been having a hard time getting into the Halloween spirit this year for some reason! So, I thought a good way that could help make me feel a little bit more spooky would be to share my love for the paranormal with you all! For five nights I’m going to spread a little love for my favorite eerie entities: Witches, Ghosts, Demons, Shifters, and Vampires! I hope you all enjoy and maybe pick up a new book that will make your Halloween feel a little more haunted! 🔮


➽ Circe by Madeline Miller

What better way to start out the spooky season, but with reading about the original witch?  This book is about healing and doing what it takes to come into your own. This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic, and how we can find it in ourselves if we look hard enough. This is a book about becoming the witch you’ve always buried deep inside you.


➽ Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton 

My favorite book of 2018. What a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Literally perfection. A true gift to the literary world. Friends, if you’re looking for a spooky book, with a dark fairy-tale vibe, that heavily talks about society’s gender expectations, while being a love letter to gender fluidity, with the most heartwarming polyamorous relationship, look no further than this masterpiece.


➽ Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1) by Grace Draven

Gilene is a Fire witch who has been the sacrificial girl for her village for the last four years, using her magic to disguises herself as a new girl. Even though she has to endure the torture of the night, she is able to walk free from the fire every year, without anyone noticing. Well, she didn’t think anyone could notice. This is one of my favorite romances of the entire year! Beautiful start to a series that I completely recommend!


➽ Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

This is the most realistic witch story that was nothing short of a beautiful delight to read. This was moving, and powerful, and magical, and sweet, yet also heartbreaking. This reads like a mix between Girl Made of Stars and The Wicked Deep, and if you love either (bonus points for both) then you will completely love this story, too!


➽ The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
This book is my heart! This is an ownvoices, Asian inspired, fantasy story that stars a young necromancer, looking for her place in a world that has constantly told her she is going to become evil. This story is told in two parts, but not equally. The lesser part, before every new chapter, are the events taking place through a bard’s eyes, who is chronicling the events currently, where Tea is proving to become the evil villain the world wanted her to be. But the main story is told in the past, and we get to slowly find out what happened to put Tea on this path that the bard is seeing.



Okay, friends! I hope you enjoyed! And I hope the end of your October is filled with all the amazing books! Tell me your favorite witch story in the comments, please! And happy Halloween! Stay spooky! 🎃✨

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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(My amazing friend Madalyn, at Novel Ink, gave this to me as a birthday gift!) 💖

“Of all the stories about my family, the Fernweh women and the island of By-the-Sea, there are two that no one will ever forget. One is the story of how my sister, Mary, and I were born. And the other is the story of the summer we turned eighteen. This summer.”

This was nothing short of a beautiful delight to read. This was moving, and powerful, and magical, and sweet, yet also heartbreaking. This reads like a mix between Girl Made of Stars and The Wicked Deep, and if you love either (bonus points for both) then you will completely love this story, too!

This book is set on a very small island, where Georgina and Mary’s graduating class only consisted of 30ish kids. This summer is not only Georgina and Mary’s eighteenth birthday, but it is also the last summer before they leave the island for the first time to go away to college. Their mother runs the inn that has been in their family for many generations. Yet, no one really stays until the summer solstice, when a magical bird comes to the island and attracts so many tourists.

Georgina – Our main character, a lesbian, and a witch who has not discovered her power(s).
Mary – Georgina’s twin sister, who has already discovered that her power allows her to float in midair.
Vira – Georgina’s best friend, who works at the local ice cream parlor, who is aroace, and my freakin’ favorite.
Prue – Visiting the island, bisexual, and has feelings for Georgina.
Harrison – Prue’s brother, who has come to the island to see a bird that appears every summer.
Annabella – The magical, one of a kind, bird, who also might be somehow related to Georgina and Mary.

“I think a person can be a home, sometimes, just as much as a place or a house can.”

The entire island, and all of these character’s lives change when Annabella doesn’t make her annual arrival to the island. Georgina makes it her mission to not only find out what happened to Annabella, but also what happened to her sister, Mary, because she is acting really depressed and secretive. Georgina also is trying to figure out if she will never manifest any magical abilities like most of the women in her family, and she is also realizing that maybe she has real feelings for someone visiting the island this summer.

Yet, this book also has a darker message about rape and rape culture and the topic is laced throughout the entire story, so please use caution. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship with the person. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. It doesn’t matter what you’ve said before. It doesn’t matter any circumstances; if it’s not consensual then it is rape. Rape culture is so real, so apparent, and so very much thriving in 2018. And for anyone who needs it, especially right now: I believe you.

“Because there was nothing in a girl’s history that might negate her right to choose what happens to her body.”

This is also a story about sisterhood, and unconditional love, and it discusses the sacrifices that we are willing to make to help the ones we love. This is a book about sexuality and those moments when you feel so validated and you feel like you are finally the person you’ve always wanted to be. This is a book about community, and found family, and respecting your family heritage, culture, and customs.

“How I would miss you—every part of you—but especially the smell, always the smell: of salt, of brine, of water, of spells, or potions, or feathers, and of what it would mean to leave it all in just two months.”

Overall, I just loved this. I think it’s the perfect blend of light and dark. It feels so whimsical since witchcraft is delicately folded in to this story, but it feels so hard-hitting and realistic, too. The messages, discussions, and themes are important and life changing. The characters feel completely fleshed out and I couldn’t help but fall in love with all of them. Plus, the f/f romance in this was magnificent and gave me all the feels. And this story is written so very lyrically, that I never wanted it to end, because I wanted to stay on this island with these characters forever. I truly loved this, and I think it’s one of the best 2018 publications. I recommend it with my entire heart and soul.

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Content and trigger warnings for off page rape and sexual assault, mention of drugging people without them knowing (not in a date rape way, but it still felt bad to read), underage drinking, drug use, anxiety depictions, and an animal death.

Buddy read with Taryn at Taryn and Her Books! ❤

 

Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova

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ARC provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Labyrinth Lost ★★★★

🔮 My favorite review for Bruja Born: Lilly’s!

“This is a love story. At least, it was, before my sister sent me to hell.”

Friends, Bruja Born was such a treat. It’s the ownvoices, Latinx, magical story you’ve been looking for. And I liked it even more than Labyrinth Lost, which I loved! When I first requested an ARC of this, I was completely surprised when I found out it wouldn’t be following Alex, the main character of Labyrinth Lost, but her sister, Lula, who I quickly and easily fell in love with, too.

“Magic transforms you. Magic changes you. Magic saves you. I want to still believe in all those things.”

But Lula’s story also quickly and easily breaks my heart. I want to write so much here to give you guys a synopsis, but I’m going to be very vague. The book’s actual synopsis feels really spoilery, in my opinion. I went into the book without reading the synopsis, and I truly think I had a better reading experience because of it. But Lula finds herself in a very heartbreaking situation, and when this tragedy strikes, the goddess of death herself is there to pick up the pieces. Lula finds herself unable to give someone up and uses her magic to desperately try to keep them close to her, but she quickly discovers that not all things are meant to stay.

Trigger and content warnings (please do not read if you want to go into this book completely unaware of the events) for car crash, blood, gore, loss of a loved one, grief, trauma, a lot of talk of death, talk of dead bodies, and scenes with physically harming oneself.

One of the best elements of Bruja Born is the strong emphasis on familial bonds, and how unconditional love will always be the most powerful kind of magic any of us will ever possess. Lula, Alex, and Rose are such sister goals, but their entire family and their willingness to sacrifice is something so beautiful that I don’t even have words for it.

“You really think I’m going to betray my sister for you? Boy, bye.”

And Lula’s personal journey, to loving herself, outside and inside, is so powerful that I wish I could put this book in the hands of every teenage girl in the world. Being able to sacrifice for the ones you love, but to ultimately put yourself and your life first is a combination I hardly ever read in books, but it is so very needed. This truly is the most beautiful love story of all time: the love story of loving yourself, unapologetically.

“My mother told me beauty was a gift. If they’re right, then what am I now? All I know is I left fragments of myself in Los Lagos and I don’t know how to get them back.”

And this book also heavily deals with the effects of grief. Everyone in this family is grieving from what they’ve lost or what they’ve found. PTSD, trauma, and grief are all touched upon in this book, and everyone is coping and dealing with it differently. Lula is the star of this book, and everything she is dealing with breaks my heart, but seeing her deal with it is so important and so inspiring.

Overall, I loved this and I think the world will love it, too. And I feel like I could never get enough stories about these Brooklyn Brujas! I’m guessing the next installment will be about Rose, and I’ll be honest with you all: she’s my favorite sister. So, I’m extra hyped. Also, Nova totally won me over in this book as well. So, hopefully we get both of them and more paranormal beings, because this book had vampires, shifters, zombies, and more! Please, Zoraida, give me all the fae! I loved Bruja Born and I hope you all fall in love with it too, this June 5th!


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Lilly at Lair of Books, Alexis at The Sloth Reader, Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills, & Lori at Reading with Lori! ❤

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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“It starts as a low croon that rolls in with the tide, a sound so faint it might just be the wind blowing through the clapboard shutters, through the portholes of docked fishing boats, and into narrow cracks along sagging doorways. But after the first night, the harmony of voices become undeniable. An enchanting hymn sailing over the water’s surface, cool and soft and alluring. The Swan sisters have awakened.”

Friends, if you’re looking for something atmospheric, spooky, and completely captivating, that is so very beautifully written, please pick The Wicked Deep up.

I’ll be honest with you all, I felt like this book was calling to me. I’d always see it on Edelweiss, but I had too many ARCS, so I knew I couldn’t allow myself to request it, but it always caught my eye. Then, upon release, everyone was buying it and I thought it was the most beautiful, holographic cover I’ve ever seen, but I still resisted. Then, I couldn’t stop seeing on all my social media feeds that Netflix bought the rights to it and is going to adapt it. Finally, my friend Julie posted she was going to be hosting a buddy read for it, and I knew that I could no longer continue to be haunted by this book. And I’m forever thankful I picked it up.

The Wicked Deep is a story about a small town off the coast of Oregon, called Sparrow, that is the pinnacle of a small, sleepy town, except for in June when tourists come from all around in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Swan sisters who were drowned to death for witchcraft over two hundred years ago. From June 1st until Just 21st (summer solace) no one is safe. And each and every summer, accusations get thrown at more and more girls, from boys who claim them to be the sisters who are responsible for the drownings.

“Magic is not always formed from words, from cauldrons brewing spices or black cats strolling down dark alleys. Some curses are manifested from desire or injustice.”

Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death two centuries ago for witchcraft, but their only crimes are from seducing the men in the town of Sparrow. But every summer the sisters rise from their watery graves, each inhabiting a body of a local girl, while making sure they take at least three boy’s lives while they walk among the town unbeknownst to anyone which local girls are being possessed.

Our main character, Penny, lives on a small island off of the mainland. She keeps to herself despite the small population to begin with, and only truly has one friend named Rose. Rose begs Penny to attend a party on the beach with the rest of the kids from their school, so they can annually welcome the Swan sisters. Penny lives with her mother, who hasn’t been the same since her husband disappeared three years ago. Penny reluctantly goes, meets a mysterious boy who is looking for work, and the sisters start to sing their song.

I really loved reading this. I was instantly thrown into the mystery and guessing game of who the sisters had possessed. I was instantly in love with the town and the mom and pop businesses. I was instantly impressed with the lyrical prose and the intelligently crafted story. I went into this expecting some Hocus Pocus vibes, but I came out enjoying this more than I ever expected.

“Loving someone is dangerous. It gives you something to lose.”

I saw a couple reviews calling this story instalove, but I was honestly swooning so hard for the romance in this book. That first kiss? One of the best first kisses I’ve ever read. I loved the romance(s) in this so much, and I will read any and everything by this author based on how well she wrote those scenes alone.

“Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan slip back into human form, disguised as local girls who emerged from the harbor, but not as themselves.”

My only real complaint comes from the nature of the story. This is ultimately a story about girls being possessed against their will, therefore, the sisters do questionable things with their host’s body without their consent. I can’t say too much, because I want this to be a spoiler free review, but just use caution going into this knowing that. And it’s nothing violent or physically hurtful, but I would argue that there is some grey area consent in this book.

Content and Trigger Warnings: loss of a loved one, abandonment, underage drinking, drunk driving (boats), murder, death, downing, and abduction.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Shea Ernshaw was able to evoke so many emotions from me. I cried so many tears during this book. I felt so blindsided and I honestly couldn’t control my weeping at a few parts. This story is so beautiful, and it truly is crafted so very well. To say I’m impressed is an understatement, and I can’t wait to see what this author does next, because their debut was nothing short of phenomenal.


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Buddy read with Julie from Pages and Pens, Lilly at Lair of Books, Jules at JA Ironside, Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills, & Paloma! ❤