The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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Alice Hoffman returns, 22 years later, to tell the first part of the story. The Rules Of Magic follows Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens as they uncover the mystery of their witchy heritage, and try to break the curse that haunts their fate. This prequel to the 1995 best-seller Practical Magic is an essential prelude to the first book, providing a fundamental understanding of the family and the secrets that follow them.

In The Rules Of Magic, we are introduced to Maria Owens, the Salem witch Hoffman uses to root the family tree in witchcraft and magik. The plot opens with Franny, Jet, and their younger brother Vincent, and explains to readers why they are the way that they are. Witch-y.

“What mattered was the blood that ran through him, the same blood that flowed through Maria Owens.” (53).

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Lotería

Lotería was the 2013 debut novel of Mario Alberto Zambrano.

With her older sister Estrella in the ICU and her father in jail, eleven-year-old Luz Castillo has been taken into the custody of the state. Alone in her room, she retreats behind a wall of silence, writing in her journal and shuffling through a deck of lotería cards. Each of the cards’ colorful images—mermaids, bottles, spiders, death, and stars—sparks a random memory.

Pieced together, these snapshots bring into focus the joy and pain of the young girl’s life, and the events that led to her present situation. But just as the story becomes clear, a breathtaking twist changes everything.

This book was stippled with Spanish aphorisms and phrases, and included an impressive amount of vocabulary in-context, to help teach Spanish to non-speakers. A full deck of Lotería cards is presented back-to-front, to mark the chapters, as if the reader is flipping a card when turning the page, reminiscent of Isabelle Allende and Salvador Plascencia’s magical realism. Image result for loteria el nopal

“I didn’t feel like remembering today so I laid out the cards close to each other so that they were touching like tiles, like El Nopal.” (175).

Luz associates her memories with the Lotería cards, using them to prompt her, to spark her memories. Than she writes about it in her journal. As we read her diary — addressed to “You”, always capitalized, in reference to the reader, or in reference to a higher power — we understand the trauma she is trying to run from. Continue reading

A Crown Of Wishes

Image result for a crown of wishesThe sequel to Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel The Star-Touched Queen remains equally adventurous as the first, transporting the reader to the far-away otherworldly lands of Bharata & Ujijain, Alaka and beyond, this time following Mayavati’s younger sister Gauri on her own journey of self-reflection and self-discovery. Filled with adventure, politics, friendships, sisterhood, romance, illusion, transformation, sacrifices, trials and tribulations, A Crown of Wishes weaves an otherworldly story, carried on the wings of birds with feathers of glittering gold.

In A Crown of Wishes we find Gauri, the legendary warrior princess of Bharata, exiled and imprisoned in Ujijain at her brother Skanda’s command. Scorned by her people for the lies Skanda has spread, Gauri faces execution in Ujijain. But Vikram, the cunning ‘Fox Prince’ of Ujijain, sees her potential and offers Gauri a chance at redemption. Together, they enter the Tournament of Wishes with hopes of winning a wish from The Lord of Treasures that would secure them their greatest desires. Continue reading