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A GOOD READ: From magicians to teenage musicians
Fall is here and it’s time to cozy up with a good book. Here are several of them:
• The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett: Imagine a Jane Austin novel taking place in a world where magic is commonplace and you’ll have the setting for this book. This is the story of Ivy Lockwell, daughter of a merchant-class magician. Ivy is a respectable young woman with two sisters, a mother and a very ill father. She is the glue that holds the family together and although she feels this pressure, she doesn’t mind it. Enter Dashton Rafferdy, a wealthy young gentleman. Dashton was looking for something to entertain him when he meets Ivy. He finds Ivy fascinating but as she is from a different class, there can never be together. Both Dashton and Ivy are aware of this and resign themselves to simply being friends. This soon becomes the least of their worries as the pair are soon caught up in political events affecting their country.
• Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: This book has received a fair amount of publicity already but, as I liked it so much, I thought I’d give it a little bit more. Cleopatra focuses on the Egyptian queen’s intelligence and her abilities as a ruler. The book mentions her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, of course, but it’s mainly about Cleopatra as a person and not Cleopatra as a seductress. Cleopatra was amazingly intelligent, she spoke five languages and her teachers were the most learned men of the day. She used her smarts to rule Egypt and she managed to keep it out of Roman hands for many years — not something that was easy to achieve as Rome had its eye on her nation’s fabulous wealth. Cleopatra was a multi-faceted person and I enjoyed reading a book that highlighted something other than her ability as a seductress.
• My Lurid Past by Lauren Henderson: This novel is chick-lit for grown-ups. It’s aptly-named, fun and it has a bit of romance but it’s not sugary sweet. Juliet Cooper is the quintessential thirty-something urban woman. She works in food PR, which is a lot flashier than it sounds as her biggest client is an up-and-coming celebrity chef. Juliet isn’t in a relationship with anyone and she’s OK with that until the day that she isn’t. The books starts with Juliet ready to embark on an brief affair with a young man. Unfortunately for both of them, that’s the day that she finds that short-term relationships are no longer working for her. Confused by how she’s feeling, she talks to her two best friends Mel and Gillian. Mel and Gillian both have their own relationship issues so between the three of them, there is a lot to discuss. This is an entertaining romance that doesn’t end in a neatly tied bow.
• Beat the Band by Don Calame: This hilarious young adult novel about three teenage boys — Coop, Matt and Sean — centres on Coop and his attempts to become one of the cool kids. He suffers a major setback as the school year starts when he is paired with Helen for a semester-long health project. It wouldn’t be so bad if Helen were a nobody but she is the least popular person in Coop’s grade. Coop has decided that he and his two best friends need to counteract his association with Helen by competing in the school’s Battle of the Bands contest. Everyone loves a rock star and Coop is pretty sure he’s got what it takes. Trouble is, he doesn’t know how to play an instrument and neither do his friends. But whatever, they have a couple of months to practise and what possibly could go wrong? This story is funny and heart-warming and is a fun and occasionally painful reminder of life in high school.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Sharon Visser Araujo works at Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam.