Thursday, January 06, 2022

Where Is Your Bookmark: The Witch Haven & Connect 5: Series Reading

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading, hosted by the amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader. Friday 56 is a weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading, hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

Book Beginning: 

The East River smelled distinctly of death. [first line from The Witch Haven]

Friday 56: 
Like her office, she is dressed entirely in black velvet, from her floor-length dress to her cape, identical to those the other women wear, save for the fabric and the monstrous moonstone brooch secured at her throat. Her snow white hair is piled atop her head in a pompadour. She sits as straight as a board in her chair, her yes narrowed, looking down her pointy nose at me. [excerpt from page 56 of The Witch Haven]

My Bookish Thoughts : 

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 448 pgs)

My interest in all things witchy is how this book landed on my wish list and then under the Christmas tree thanks to my daughter (okay, so mostly due to my husband). It was my choice of first book of the year—in part because I wanted to start the year off with something fun, and also because I am terrible about reading books gifted to me in any sort of timely manner and decided I should work on changing that.

This historical fantasy novel is set in 1911 New York City and follows the story of Frances Hallowell, a seventeen year old seamstress whose magic comes alive during a brutal attack that leaves a man dead and Frances not knowing exactly how it happened. The next thing she knows, she is whisked away to Haxahaven Sanitarium, which, it turns out, is a school for witches.

Life at Hexahaven does not turn out to be all Frances hopes it will be, unfortunately. The headmistress makes it clear magic is dangerous and their lessons are geared toward simple and relatively safe magic. Frances knows there has to be more to it than that. When mysterious notes appear on her pillow implying knowledge of what happened to her brother, Frances sneaks out of Hexahaven to find out who and what the person knows. Things do not go quite as planned.

I was glued to the pages of The Witch Haven for much of the novel. Frances does not always make the best choices; her tunnel vision to find out what happened to her brother sometimes getting in the way. It is clear she loved him and is grieving his loss. I liked her and wanted to know what happened to her brother as much as she did. But I also was really interested in knowing more about the girls around her, especially her closest friends, Lena and Maxine, who she meets at the school, each with their own specific magical gifts. There is also charming Finn, a friend of her brother’s and a fellow magic user, who promises to teach her and her friends the kind of magic they are not allowed to learn inside Hexahaven’s walls. He also agrees to help Frances on her quest to find her brother’s killer. When other bodies turn up in the same spot where her brother’s was found, solving the mystery becomes more urgent.

I liked how the author weaves the history of the time period into the story: woman’s place in society as well as touching on women fighting for the right to vote, how race/ethnicity and class played into it, and the insidious practice of forcing Native American children to leave their families to attend schools where they often faced abuse or worse. Such details, while in the background, add a layer to the novel that only makes it stronger.

In addition, corruption, money and power play roles over the course of the novel. The witches of Hexahaven are not the only ones with magic. An old boys club, mostly made up of a membership of wizards, pretty much has everyone of authority in their back pocket. And when they learn just what Frances is capable of, their leader wants her on his side. Even if she was interested though, would Hexahaven be willing to let her go?

The Witch Haven has a good mix of magic, mystery and romance. I was swept up into this story of self-discovery, girl power, a murder mystery, a rivalry between witches and wizards, the magic, and first love. The novel was quite an adventure with many tense moments and twists. I do wish the author had given us more insight into Maxine’s backstory—there is some, but it’s mostly vague—as well as some of the other characters at Hexahaven. I think it would have more fully fleshed out that aspect of the story for me. Even so, in the end, I was pleased with the direction the author went with the novel and I enjoyed it.

Have you read The Witch Haven? If so, what did you think? Does it sound like a book you would like to read? 

Connect Five Friday is a weekly meme where readers share a list of five books, 
read or unread, or bookish things, that share a common theme. 
Hosted by the  Kathryn of of Book Date.

In my year end post last week I wrote about how I want to catch up with some of the series I have started. I have begun an embarrassing amount of series over the years. For today's Connect Five Friday, I thought I would list five series in which I have read more than one book and have more than one book to go to get caught up. Rather specific I know--but I had to find a way to narrow down the list for today somehow. 

The Hollows Series
by Kim Harrison
  1. Dead Witch Watching  ~ read
  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead ~ read
  3. Every Which Way But Dead ~ read
  4. A Fistful of Charms ~ read
  5. For a Few Demons More ~ read
  6. The Outlaw Demon Wails ~ read
  7. White Witch, Black Curse
  8. Black Magic Sanction
  9. Pale Demon
  10. A Perfect Blood
  11. Ever After
  12. The Undead Pool
  13. The Witch With No Name
  14. American Demon
  15. Million Dollar Demon
  16. Trouble With the Cursed (upcoming release)

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman ~ featuring 
  1. The Invisible Library read
  2. The Masked City read
  3. The Burning Page read
  4. The Lost Plot read
  5. The Mortal Word read
  6. The Secret Chapter read
  7. The Dark Archive
  8. The Untold Story

The Maggie Hope Mystery Series by Susan Elia MacNeal
  1. Mr. Churchill's Secretary read
  2. Princess Elizabeth's Spy read
  3. His Majesty's Hope read
  4. The Prime Minister's Secret Agent read
  5. Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante
  6. The Queen's Accomplice
  7. The Paris Spy
  8. The Prisoner in the Castle
  9. The King's Justice
  10. The Hollywood Spy

The Others Series by Anne Bishop
  1. Written in Red read
  2. Murder of Crows read
  3. Vision in Silver read
  4. Marked in Flesh read
  5. Etched in Bone
  6. Lake Silence
  7. Wild Country
  8. Crowbones (upcoming release)

The Kate Daniels Series
by Ilona Andrews
  1. Magic Bites read
  2. Magic Burns read
  3. Magic Strikes read
  4. Magic Bleeds read
  5. Magic Slays read
  6. Gunmetal Magic
  7. Magic Rises
  8. Magic Breaks
  9. Magic Shifts
  10. Magic Binds
  11. Magic Triumphs

Are you a series reader? Have you read any of these series?

 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!

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  1. Wow. You are making progress on your lists and series. Good for you.
    My Friday Quotes

    1. Anne - Considering some of these series I haven't touched in a couple years at least, I am not sure it can be said I've made much progress. Haha. These are just a handful of the series I've been working through over the years. And many more I've only read the first or a later book so have a long way to go.

  2. I tend to avoid witchy books, but I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

  3. Witch Haven does have an attention getting opening sentence!

  4. Witch Haven sounds really good! I am going to take a look.

    Ooooe new series' to add to my toppling TBR pile - Maggie Hope Mystery series, check. The Invisible Library is already added.

    Have a good weekend and enjoy your books!

    Elza Reads

    1. Mareli/Elza - It was a fun read--just what I was looking for. :-) I hope you do give the Maggie Hope series a try. I've enjoyed it so far! Sometimes I think the mystery plays second fiddle to other things going on in Maggie's life, but I don't mind. And you have to read The Invisible Library series. It's so good!

      I hope you have a great weekend too!

  5. I haven't read The Witch Haven yet but it has been on my radar ever since it released.

    1. Stephanie - I am glad I got the opportunity to read it--and such a pretty cover too! I hope you enjoy The Witch Haven when you read it!

  6. I really need to get caught up on The Hollows, The Others, and The Invisible Library too. :)

    1. Lauren - I am actively working my way through The Hollows series right now thanks to some coaxing from a friend. She has to stop feeding me spoilers though. LOL

  7. I do love the sound of 'The Witch Haven', especially that opening. I'm also terrible at reading gifted books in a timely manner! I don't mean to forget, there's just so much else to read, you know? I'm glad your first read of the year was a good one. I hope you have a lovely weekend :) Juli @ A Universe in Words

    1. Juli - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. That's the way it is for me too. I don't mean to forget, but with so many reading options, it can be hard not too. I hope you have a great weekend too!

  8. One of these days I'm going to sit down and list out the series I'm reading. You seem to be doing great!

    1. Tammy - I started to list them all, thinking it might help me to be better organized. Oh my gosh, it's such an overwhelming task! I will have to think of a more stress free way to do it. Maybe add to the list as I go or they come to me instead of trying to pull them all from my backlog. I had done a couple of posts several years ago (2007/2008) where I listed out series I was reading or wanted to start reading. Those lists have changed so much in the last decade. Of course, the series that stand out the most to me, I'll remember better, so those are the series I should probably focus on to start.

  9. The Witch Haven was definitely added to my TBR, and I've played around with keeping track of several series I've started eons ago and never kept up with. Something I will definitely consider now.

    1. Cathy - I definitely need to be better at keeping track of the series I read. My problem is I'm always starting new ones . . . I hope you enjoy The Witch Haven if you give it a try!

  10. I've read the first three or four books in the Kate Daniels series and the first one in the Others series. I really need to get back to them because I really enjoyed them. Hope you have a great weekend! :)

    1. Ashley - It'd be easier if we weren't always picking up new series to try, wouldn't it? I hope we both get back to the series someday! I hope you have a great weekend too!

  11. I've not read Witch Haven but it sounds fascinating!

  12. I haven't read the book, but it sounds good. Those series look like good ones too.

  13. Sounds like a wicked read!! Happy weekend!

  14. I don't read a lot of supernatural stories with witches, ghosts or those with vampires etc, but I am glad this was a good one for you. I have not read any of those series, but am also beginning to make a list for my Finish the Series Challenge. I have 18 on my spreadsheet, but I know there are more, Wendy. Here's hoping we both get some finished this year.

    1. Carla - I hope you will share your list for the challenge with us when you compose it. I imagine we could spend years catching up with all the series we are reading. :-)

  15. Witch Haven sounds like a good choice for a first book: fun and lively, setting a good reading tone for 2022.

    1. Helen - I am so glad I decided to start the year with it!

  16. The Witch Haven does sound good. I like that the author includes historical information from that time period also.

    1. Wendy - I liked that she included the historical aspects too.

  17. Keeping up with series we enjoy is good. I loved the Anne Bishop series but have one to go and I think she has one out this year. The Maggie Hope looks like one I could enjoy too.

    1. Kathryn - Yes, Crowbones is coming out in March. I'm so excited! I do recommend The Maggie Hope books. I really enjoy the series.

  18. I've read all these series ( and am up to date) but the Maggie Hope one. They are some of my favorites, especially Ilona Andrews!

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  19. The Witch Haven sounds fantastic! I need to do better at reading books when I get them too! I am up to date with the Kate Daniels series, the Invisible Library series, and the Others series. They are all great. This year I hope to get caught up with The Hollows and The Dresden Files.

    1. Carole - I am behind on the Dresden Files too. Another one for my catch up list. Haha

  20. I've had my eye on The Witch Haven so I'm glad to hear it was a good read for you. Good luck finishing up all of those series. I have a long list of unfinished ones too. Knocked a few of them out in 2021 but still have a looonnnnggg way to go.

    1. Suzanne - Thank you! I think my list of unfinished series is forever long. I have a feeling it will take me a long time to get to all of mine too. I hope you enjoy The Witch Haven if you read it!

  21. The Witch Haven sounds good and glad you liked it. I've read at least one book from all of those series! And I have several other series that I'm quite a ways behind. Good luck to you reading more of these series books!

    1. Jan - Thank you! I need all the luck I can get. I am a series junkie and am in the middle of so many . . .


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