Fairy Tales and Journeys Across the Sea

Set in 19th century Norway, West of the Moon tells the story of 13 year old Astri, who has just been sold to a cruel goat farmer by her greedy aunt. Clever and determined, Astri makes a daring escape to reunite with her sister and find a way to America. Remembering the heroes in fairy tales told by her mother gives Astri the strength to persevere in her journey and uncover family secrets.

Margi Preus was inspired to write the novel after reading a mysterious diary passage written by her great-great grandmother, Linka Preus, who immigrated to America in the 19th century. Fascinating images and information about Linka’s world are included in the Author’s Note.

For other retellings of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, try East or Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. If you’d like to read the Norwegian fairy tales mentioned in the Preus novel, check out East of the Sun and West of the Moon: old tales from the North.

George R.R. Martin Releases New "Winds of Winter" Chapter


George R.R. Martin has released a new chapter from The Winds of Winter, his long-awaited sixth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. There is still no official release date for The Winds of Winter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, fans can enjoy this latest glimpse of what is to come of our friends in Westeros. And to further tide over anxious fans there's A World of Ice and Fire, a comprehensive history of the world Martin has created, from the Andals and the First Men to Robert's Rebellion and beyond.

The new chapter is from the point of view of Sansa Stark, who is now... well, I won't say. Read the books, or watch the show! The speculation is that because the Game of Thrones TV show characters' story lines are veering further away from their counterparts in the books, Martin wanted to get his interpretation of Sansa out there ahead of HBO's Game of Thrones season 5 premiere on April 12. I prefer to think that he's just a benevolent creator who knew his fans needed a crumb before the feast. But maybe "benevolent" isn't quite the right word. Is "beneviolent" a word?

And remember, maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but The Winds of Winter is coming!

The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

The new season of Game of Thrones is almost here and for many fans April 12th cannot come soon enough! If you're as excited as I am about the return of the new season, you may be on the lookout for any small sliver of (non-spoiler!) Game of Thrones news or for more content to devour before the start of the 5th season.

A recent addition to our collection is The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, a comprehensive history of the Game of Thrones universe. As many of George R. R. Martin's fans know, one of his many strengths is the complex worldbuilding within the Game of Thrones novels. The World of Fire and Ice does an amazing job of simplifying the plethora of information offered throughout the series into a (relatively) concise history of the Game of Thrones world.

This 326 page mega-book contains detailed maps of the Game of Thrones world, color illustrations, full family trees for each of the major Houses, and an extended history with cultural information spanning the entire Game of Thrones universe. It also includes all-new material that George R. R. Martin wrote specifically for this collection. This incredibly informative companion novel is a must read for fans searching for an in-depth look at the history of Essos, Westeros, and everywhere in between.

Looking for a quicker way to get reacquainted with your favorite Game of Thrones characters and their backgrounds? Give the Game of Thrones graphic novels a try! For more information about the HBO television series specifically, be sure to take a look at Inside HBO's Game of Thrones for a cool sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes of one of the most popular shows on television.

Back Down the Rabbit Hole

Recently, Disney has been re-making some of their classic stories, Cinderella and Maleficent being the newest. But, going further back, we see the re-make of Alice in Wonderland from 2010. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are very popular children's novels, and are full of images and stories that delight children and adults alike. (Check out The Annotated Alice for details on the inspiration behind the book!) Since the original publication in 1865, it has inspired art, music, books, and multiple film adaptations.

In fact, the story has been told and retold so many times, isn't it possible that the original story has changed over time? That is what author Frank Beddor explores in his trilogy, The Looking Glass Wars. In Beddor's book, Lewis Carroll meets a young girl named Alyss, who has escaped her home kingdom of Wonderland, a place run on imagination. But when she tells her story to Carroll, he gets everything wrong and writes his book Alice in Wonderland! Follow Alyss in this 'true story,' along with her bodyguard Hatter Madigan, as she tries to return home, defeat her evil Aunt Redd, and reclaim her kingdom in the first book of Beddor's young adult series, The Looking Glass Wars.

RIP Terry Pratchett, Fantasy Author


Prolific British fantasy author Terry Pratchett passed away this week, leaving behind a legacy of over 70 novels and legions of fans. He continued to write through his diagnosis with a rare form of Alzheimer's Disease in 2007, completing his final novel last year. In his 35-book Discworld series, Pratchett skewered everything from the postal service to the invention of the steam engine with his trademark wit.

Toward the end of his life, his brain struggled with the tasks of reading and writing, and he began using speech recognition software to compose his novels. In a touching but funny remembrance of Pratchett on NPR, the author admits he had to teach the American-designed software a lot of words, and not all appropriate ones.

He will be remembered for his beloved fantasy books, which were endlessly creative and never without a sense of satire, and his unflagging sense of humor. Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett!

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault

Already anticipating next year's release of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie? Antsy to get your hands on new Harry Potter reading material?

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is a brand new companion book to the series, and is bursting with information regarding your favorite Harry Potter creatures. This enormous book is filled to the brim with behind-the-scenes information, including rare concept art and backstage photographs. Learn about dragons, acromantulas, hippogriffs, house elves and more with detailed profiles of each creature, including which books and movies each creature appears in. This stunning book delves into the process each creature took from page to screen, and details each stage of development. Also included are interesting filmmaking secrets from the set (did you know that Hedwig was played by at least 7 different snowy owls?). This mesmerizing collection is a must read for any Harry Potter fan. A word of warning: some of the early development pictures can get pretty creepy!

For more Harry Potter creature research, try the classic Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. For more behind-the-scenes action, take a look at Harry Potter Film Wizardry, one of my personal favorites.

Waiting for More Mistborn

As followers of Brandon Sanderson may know, his second book in the Wax and Wayne series, entitled Mistborn: Shadows of Self, is due to be released on October 6. Sanderson's original Mistborn series started with a trilogy, including The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages. 300 years after that trilogy had ended, Sanderson has set his next trilogy in the same world, starting with The Alloy of Law.

For those of you waiting eagerly, Sanderson has part of the novel posted on his website: Shadows of Self.

For those of you who can't wait for his next book, check out some of Brandon Sanderson's other stand-alone novels that won't have you committing to a whole new series.

Elantris
The Emperor's Soul
Warbreaker

Award Winning Audiobook: Ready Player One

Ready Player One 2011. 15 hrs., 41 min.

Awards: The book received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.

Author: Ernest Cline

Narrator: Wil Wheaton

It is the year 2044, and Wade Watts is like everyone else - he escapes the horrible circumstances of his life by spending nearly all his time in the OASIS, a limitless world of virtual reality. Ready Player One is the story of a massive treasure hunt, where clues are only solved by players with the greatest knowledge of 1980s pop culture, and the quest for money and power undermines the future of the human race. This fast paced and engaging audiobook is enhanced by Wil Wheaton’s expert voice acting, and as a self proclaimed geek, the narrator is a perfect fit.

For similar audiobooks, check out:

Surface Detail by Iain Banks
Makers by Cory Doctorow
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

The 2015 Reading List

While most of the country's households were glued to the Superbowl, and Chicago was slammed with a memorable snowstorm, the intrepid librarians at ALA Midwinter announced this past year's best of the best in genre fiction - the Reading List. The winner in each of the 8 categories are:

Adrenaline
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Detroit serves as the economically battered backdrop of this inventive, visceral suspense story about a series of bizarre murders that draws a group of memorable characters into a complex web of violence. Smart, stylish and addictive, this page-turner shows how the American Dream has failed many on a personal level.

Fantasy
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Following the sudden, suspicious deaths of his entire family, exiled half-goblin Maia becomes emperor, a role requiring diplomacy and adherence to strict protocols. Focusing on the intricacies of court life, this elegant novel unfolds at a pace that allows readers to savor the rich tapestry of character, setting and plot.

Historical Fiction
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Banished from the court of Versailles, spirited Charlotte-Rose de la Force meets a nun who weaves together the strands that form the Rapunzel fairy tale, revealing its surprising origins. A captivating marriage of history and folklore featuring characters true to their time periods, yet timeless in their dreams and desires.

Horror
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
Beneath the streets of 1970s New York, Joey meets the merry children, a gang of ancient child vampires, and discovers that immortality isn't all fun and games. Gritty, clever and gonzo, this fresh take on the vampire mythos gets darker and creepier as the pages turn.

Mystery
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
This classic English mystery follows Amory and her estranged husband, Milo, whose paths cross at a seaside resort, where suspicious deaths implicate Amory’s former fiance, Gil. A vivid mystery that sparkles with personality as Amory and Milo puzzle out the truth behind the murders and negotiate their own complicated relationship.

Romance
Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Comic misunderstandings ensue when playboy Bollywood director Samir travels to America to secure an annulment for his brother, married at age four to Mili in a traditional arranged Indian wedding ceremony. Appealing protagonists, a diverse supporting cast and a colorful multicultural backdrop lend this charming story unexpected emotional depth.

Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir
Stranded on Mars, wisecracking botanist Mark Watney proves that an astronaut has to be smart, resourceful and, perhaps, a little crazy to survive. Strong characterization, well-researched but accessible technical detail, and a deft blend of suspense and humor will please science enthusiasts and fans of survival stories on any planet.

Women's Fiction
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Patricia Cowan, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, remembers two different lives, two different careers, two different families and two different worlds. A striking novel of how tragedy turns to joy and heartbreak turns to love with a narrative twist that hooks the reader and never lets go.

Check out the shortlists and readalikes, in the complete list.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #494 - “Magic: it was what happened when the mind met the world, and the mind won for a change.” ~ Lev Grossman

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg is "an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight (readers) of all ages."

19 year-old Ceony Twill, graduated (at the top of her class) from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Despite her dreams of being a smelter, she has been assigned as a "Folder," (paper magic) - the lowest in the hierarchy in the pantheon of magicians.

Things get off to a rocky start when she is greeted at the door by a paper skeleton, but under the tutelage of the amiable Emery Thane, Ceony learns to bring the most amazing paper creatures to life. That is until Emery's past comes back to haunt him. To save her teacher's life, Ceony must face an Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic and embark on an unbelievable adventure.

Just released is The Glass Magician, the sequel.

If you have been floundering for something magical to read since The Night Circus, your wait is over. Fans of Karen Russell and Lev Grossman might want to check these out too.

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