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Fiction Five: Journey to magical worlds

From a department store that sells dreams to an island bursting with berry-good magic, these stories will transport you to a place unlike any other. Step through the wardrobe and into one of this month’s enchanting new releases filled with nostalgia, sweets and the occasional life lesson.

The Lost Story by Meg Shaffer

book cover mysterious tree with a doorAs boys, best friends Jeremy and Rafe went missing in a West Virginia forest. Six months later they mysteriously reappeared with no explanation for where they’d gone or how they’d survived.

Fifteen years later Rafe still bears scars but has no memory of what happened. Meanwhile, Jeremy is a famed missing persons’ investigator. With his exceptional skills, Jeremy is the one person who can help Emilie find her sister who vanished in the very same forest as Rafe and Jeremy.

Only Jeremy knows the fantastical truth about the disappearances: the two boys were in a magical realm filled with beauty and danger. He believes they’ll find Emilie’s sister there. Though Jeremy has hidden the truth from Rafe for his own inexplicable reasons, the two must now, alongside Emilie, return to the enchanted world and confront their shared past.

“Jeremy, Rafe, and Emilie all embark on a wild and magical adventure that makes for a perfect cozy fantasy read, reminiscent of the childhood books we grew up loving.” –HuffPost

The Dallergut Dream Department Store by Lee Mi-ye, translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

book cover department store with magical things in the windowsVisitors from all the over the world visit the Dallergut Dream Department Store. They come in their pajamas all hours of the day looking for a nostalgic memory or a mysterious adventure. Each floor in the department store sells a unique kind of dream.

Penny is an enthusiastic new hire at the Department Store. When a very expensive dream is stolen during Penny’s first week on the job she sets out to find the culprit. Who among this curious cast of staff and clientele could’ve stolen this most coveted dream?

“This delightful story transcends Penny’s experiences to be about so much more. A comforting story of dreams, lives, and the ways people process all that reality offers them.” –Kirkus

Maria: A Novel of Maria von Trapp by Michelle Moran

book cover woman in the alpsIn the 1950s Oscar Hammerstein is asked to write the lyrics for a musical based on the life of a woman named Maria von Trapp. While Maria had committed to the idea of life as a nun, she tutored a young girl, fell in love with the family and fled from the Nazis. He finds his subject intriguing and her story moving.

Hammerstein knows Maria’s story has big Broadway potential, but he also recognizes audiences will be turned off by the horrors of a war still fresh in people’s minds. For this musical to be a success, he’ll need to reinvent the story of the von Trapp family.

When Maria sees the script based on her life, she sets off to confront Hammerstein in person, but is redirected to air her complaints to his secretary, Fran. The duo strikes up an unlikely friendship as Maria tells Fran about her epic journey, contradicting much of what will eventually appear in the acclaimed musical about her life.

“For anyone who loved The Sound of Music, and I am one, Michelle Moran’s beautifully drawn portrait of Maria von Trapp will add multiple dimensions to your understanding of the beloved classic. With meticulous research and a fine sense of style, Maria evokes the real miracle of the incredible singing von Trapp family, and it brings their story vividly to life. Getting to know the real woman behind the beloved story will only make you love her more.” –Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

All This & More by Peng Shepherd

book cover magical doorsMarsh has just turned 45 and her life is in shambles. Her career is stagnant, her marriage has imploded and her teenage daughter grows more distant by the day. Marsh is desperate for a do-over.

She can’t believe her luck when she’s selected to be the star of All This and More, a show that uses quantum technology to allow contestants the chance to revise their pasts. It’s Marsh’s only shot to seize her dreams and she’s determined to get it right this time.

But even as she rises to become a famous lawyer, gets back together with her high school sweetheart, and travels the world, she begins to worry that All This and More’s promises might be too good to be true. Because while the technology is amazing, something seems a bit off.

“In Shepherd’s imaginative latest, playfully mines nostalgia for Choose Your Own Adventure series (“If Ren didn’t break up with Marsh last night: Turn the page”). Whichever path readers take, they’ll find a tantalizing and well-knit story. Reality TV fans especially ought to take note.” –Publishers Weekly

The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst

book coer happy sparkling cottage in the woodsKiela isn’t great at dealing with people. As a librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, she and her assistant, Caz — a magically sentient spider plant — have spent years sequestered among the empire’s most precious spellbooks, preserving their magic for the city’s elite.

When revolution arrives and the library goes up in flames, Kiela and Caz flee with all the spellbooks they can carry and head to her childhood home. Taking refuge, Kiela discovers, much to her dismay, a nosy (albeit handsome) neighbor who shows up daily to check on her.

In need of income, Kiela identifies something even the bakery in town doesn’t have – jam. With an old recipe book her parents left her and a bit of illegal magic, her cottage garden is soon covered in ripe berries. Kiela must decide if she’ll risk the consequences of using unsanctioned spells to open the island’s first-ever secret spellshop.

"Reading this book was like sitting in the sun, watching bees in the foxgloves; a warm, peaceful delight of a novel. You can almost smell the jam, and hear the ocean. I finished the book smiling." ―Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

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