A must-own for fans of magic, Steele’s book is a fun peek into the history of magic’s golden age.

Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic


Steele assembles the long-lost memoirs of the “Queen of Magic,” a once-famous, nearly forgotten female magician.

Aside from Harry Houdini, few magicians from the golden age of magic have any contemporary name recognition—and any that do are men. Yet around the turn of the 20th century, Adelaide Herrmann held her own as a popular female magician. But because magic’s allure waned as the century wore on, few remember her. Enter Steele, a magician and Herrmann fan, who also performed tributes to the late magician. After acquiring Herrmann’s missing memoir in 2010 after it was discovered in a descendant’s closet, Steele edited it for this publication, a compilation of the memoirs along with an impressive selection of photographs, magazine articles and other ephemera. The memoir itself is compelling—it tells of her early life as a dancer and her falling in love with renowned magician Alexander Herrmann—although Steele notes that Herrmann “wasn’t above occasionally re-casting herself into anecdotes that had originally starred her husband. As much as I adore her, I don’t always trust her.” Alexander received all the attention during his life, and when he died, his nephew Leon briefly took over the act but proved ill-suited for the role. Herrmann next stepped up and made the show her own. She traveled across the United States and Europe, encountering floods and fires and often performing the “bullet catch” trick. It’s a fun story improved by Steele’s peppering the text with photographs to illustrate Herrmann’s text, giving the book the feeling of a well-loved scrapbook. The additional ephemera at the back of the book features writing about Herrmann’s costumes, articles Herrmann wrote for magazines about her job and numerous mentions of her in the press.

A must-own for fans of magic, Steele’s book is a fun peek into the history of magic’s golden age.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1883647216

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Bramble Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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