An overly rich treacle tart, sweet and flavorful but hard to get through.

THE BOOK OF MAGIC

In the conclusion to Hoffman’s Practical Magic series, a present-day family of witches and healers wages a final battle against the curse that has plagued them since 1680.

Thanks to an ancestor’s bitter curse, anyone who's been in love with and/or been loved by an Owens family member for the last 300 years has met death and tragedy (with rare exceptions involving risks and personal sacrifice). Hoffman’s prequel, Magic Lessons (2020), detailed the origin of the curse. In this series finale, Hoffman brings the three most recent generations together: sisters Sally and Gillian, whose youthful adventures introduced the series in Practical Magic (1995); their beloved elderly aunts, Jet and Franny, and long-lost uncle Vincent, children themselves in 1960s Manhattan in Rules of Magic (2017); and Sally’s daughters, Kylie and Antonia, whom she’s shielded from knowledge of their unusual heritage and its curse. The novel opens with Jet about to die, aware she has no time to use the knowledge she’s recently gained to end the curse herself. Instead, she leaves clues that send her survivors on a circuitous path involving a mysterious book filled with magic that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Then an accident makes the need to break the curse acute. What follows is a novel overripe with plot twists, lofty romances, and some ugly violence along with detailed magic recipes, enjoyably sly literary references, and somewhat repetitive memories of key moments from the previous volumes. While centered in the Massachusetts town where the Owens family moved in the 17th century, the novel travels to current-day England (briefly detouring to France) and becomes a battle of good versus evil. The Owens women’s greatest challenge is knowing whom to trust—or love. Hoffman strongly hints that the danger arising when someone chooses incorrectly is less a matter of magic than psychology and morality. Ultimately, for better or worse, each Owens woman must face her fear of love. For all the talk of magic, the message here is that personal courage and the capacity to love are the deepest sources of an individual’s power.

An overly rich treacle tart, sweet and flavorful but hard to get through.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982151-48-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A thoughtful exploration of one thief’s motivations and relationships, featuring a healthy dose of romance and suspense.

NIGHTWORK

A lifelong thief needs to pull off one last job—while getting revenge and keeping the woman he loves safe.

When Harry Booth was only 9 years old, he became a thief. With a cancer-stricken mother and bills piling up, it was his only option. But as he gets older and keeps breaking into homes—what he calls his “nightwork”—he realizes he possesses an unusual skill for it. Harry can pick any lock, slip into any home, and navigate even the highest tech security system. The nature of his work makes it hard for him to settle down anywhere, so after his mother’s death, he travels around the country, never staying in one city long enough to become suspicious. In New Orleans, though, he makes connections and finds a familylike bond with fellow thief Sebastien. But when he joins Sebastien on a job for a dangerous client named Carter LaPorte, Harry’s life changes forever. Harry moves on and tries to start a low-key life as a college student in Chapel Hill, where he falls for an aspiring writer named Miranda Emerson. But LaPorte isn’t ready to let go of Harry, and he uses threats to Harry’s aunt—and Miranda—to force Harry into working for him again. Harry abandons Miranda and spends years on the run. That is, until he finally gets the chance to take LaPorte down—with Miranda’s help. Roberts takes her time setting up Harry’s character and his motivations, making it easy for the reader to sympathize with a thief who has a code of honor and a deep love for his family. But since the first half of the book is largely an exploration of Harry’s character, the story drags a bit. Once Harry and Miranda’s love story starts in earnest and LaPorte reappears, the plot picks up. The story’s strength, however, lies less in the thrill of Harry’s break-ins and more in the complexities of his touching relationships with his mother, his quirky phone-psychic aunt, Sebastien, and Miranda.

A thoughtful exploration of one thief’s motivations and relationships, featuring a healthy dose of romance and suspense.

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7819-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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