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A GOOD READ: Magicians, rock stars and Cleopatra

Today, a smorgasbord of books to ponder if you're looking for a good read: 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.

Today, a smorgasbord of books to ponder if you're looking for a good read:

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 who is looking for something to entertain him when he meets Ivy. He finds Ivy fascinating but, as she is from the merchant class, there is no way they can ever 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 is 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 would give it a little bit more. Cleopatra is, of course, about the Egyptian queen, with a focus on her intelligence and her abilities as a ruler. The book does mention her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony - it is mainly about Cleopatra as a person, 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 intelligence to rule Egypt and she managed to keep her nation out of Roman hands for many years - not something that was easy to achieve as Rome had its eye on Egypt's fabulous wealth. Cleopatra was a multi-faceted person and I enjoyed reading a book that highlighted something other than her romances.

My Lurid Past by Lauren Henderson

This is chick-lit for grown-ups. Aptly-named and fun, it has a bit of romance but it's not sugary sweet. Juliet Cooper is the quintessential 30-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 okay 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. Juliet, confused by how she's feeling, talks to her two best friends, Mel and Gillian. They both have their own relationship issues so between the three of them, there is a lot to discuss. This is an entertaining, urban 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 around Coop and his attempts to become one of the cool kids. He suffers a major setback right as soon 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 was a nobody but, no, 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 has what it takes. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't know how to play an instrument and neither do his friends. But 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 what life in high school was like.

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.

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