Speaking of dragons...

Since Summer Reading's got some serious dragon power, I thought I'd mention a few teen fantasies. Great segue, huh?

The first is Robin McKinley's Newbery Medal winner, The Hero and the Crown, which was also an ALA Notable Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults book. It tells the story of Aerin, a princess--and an outcast--who grows up to defeat dragons rather than become a queen. The story takes place in a land called Damar, and is a prequel to another of McKinley's Newbery winners, The Blue Sword. See? There was a dragon in that one.

Secondly, I'd like to mention the Books of Pellinor, written by Alison Croggon. The series is a quartet, and takes place is a civilization which Croggon tries to convince us once existed, sometime 10,000 years ago. She even includes fake citations, as if she were doing research in a library with its ancient manuscripts. The first book, The Naming, starts us off with the main character, Maerad, and her companion, Cadvan. The second continues their story, and the third focuses on her brother, Hem, and his mentor, Saliman. The fourth concludes with the siblings united, and working against evil. Unfortunately, there aren't really any dragons, though we do encounter some talking animals.

By the way, if you haven't seen them yet, check out the dragons in the Downtown Youth area, as well as at the West and Malletts Creek branches.

June's Books to Film

Jonah HexJonah Hex

Jonah Hex is a movie based on the DC Comics Jonah Hex comic books.

"One of the meanest antiheroes in the comic-book world", bounty hunter Jonah Hex (played by Josh Brolin) has spent his entire life roaming from town to town searching for his next paycheck and earning it with a fierceness that's earned him a reputation for being a stern dealer of frontier justice. But behind that hard exterior exists a man who longs for the same comforts as any man - including love. (trailer)

The comic "Jonah Hex" began as a DC character first written by John Albano and Illustrated by Tony DeZuniga in the early 1970s.

Eclipse is based on Book 3 in theTwilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob --- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. (official trailer).

Princesses, Dragons, and Wizards… Oh My!

Princess Cimorene refuses to be a proper princess. She prefers fencing to embroidery, Latin and magic lessons to dancing lessons. And she certainly doesn’t want to marry the stuffy prince her parents have picked for her. So she runs away. To live with the dragons. Where she meets other captive princesses, a stone prince, a friendly and practical witch (with 9 cats), and some nasty wizards with nefarious schemes. Find out how she saves the day and gets an unconventional “happily ever after” in Dealing with Dragons, the first book in Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

May Books to Film, Already in Theaters

Iron Man 2 is based on Marvel’s Iron Man comic series. In this sequel, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, now a famous high-tech superhero comes up against the U.S. military’s demands to control the most powerful weapon on earth -- the Iron Man suit, while being hunted by a vengeful Russian criminal with some lethal technology of his own. Meanwhile, he could no longer count on his beautiful new assistant or best friend, Rhodey who are hatching their own strange, mysterious agendas.

Letters to Juliet is adapted from Lise Friedman's Letters to Juliet: celebrating Shakespeare’s greatest heroine, the magical city of Verona, and the power of love - an enchanting love story of encountering new sparks and rekindling old flames. (The scenery isn't bad either).

When Sophie, a young American, travels to Verona, Italy -- the romantic city where Romeo first met Juliet -- she meets a group of volunteers who respond to letters written to Juliet seeking romantic advice. Sophie finds and answers a letter that has been lost for 50 years, and is stunned when its author Claire arrives in Italy with her handsome but overprotective grandson to find the man she left decades before. Fascinated by Claire's quest, Sophie joins them on an adventure through the beautiful hills of Tuscany searching for Claire's long lost Lorenzo.

Over the years, there have been various big screen and television interpretations of the legend of Robin Hood – from the recent TV series; Mel Brooks’ farcical Robin Hood Men in Tights; to Errol Flynn’s 1938 iconic The Adventures of Robin Hood. Now see Russell Crowe as a beefy Robin Hood .

Instead, fantasy and alternative history fan might opt to try Hood : The Legend Begins Anew by Stephen R. Lawhead. In this first of the King Raven Trilogy, Hood tells the story of an alternative Robin Hood. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting – “ …(a) highly imaginative, earthy adventure that has little to do with Errol Flynn but is just as rousing”.

Author Birthdays: Eoin Colfer

Today, May 14th, is the birthday of Irish author Eoin Colfer.

Perhaps best known for his Artemis Fowl series, Colfer has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list many times over.

In 2008, Colfer wrote Airman, a teen novel which Publisher's Weekly believes is "An homage both to the 19th-century science fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and to the superheroes of Marvel and DC comics..."

More recently Colfer has written a sixth book, And Another Thing... for Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

One of his most interesting recent works is the collaborative novel Click. Published in 2007, it is the work of ten well-loved authors, including Colfer. Each of the authors, including such greats as Linda Sue Park, Gregory Maguire, and Tim Wynne-Jones, wrote a chapter of the life and impact of a photographer named George Keane. Also, the royalties for the book are donated to Amnesty International.

Gunslingers and Dark Towers

Think of Clint Eastwood. Now think of King Arthur and his knights. Now think of post-apocalyptic horror stories. Now imagine all of these elements swirled into one epic series. This is The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. King has described this series as his magnum opus and has been releasing installments of it for the past 30 years. The first novel of the series, The Gunslinger, was published in 1982, and the 7th and most recent book of the series (confusingly also named The Dark Tower) was published in 2004. Suddenly, waiting a year for J.K. Rowling to release the next Harry Potter book doesn't seem like it was so bad.

Marvel Comics has created an ongoing series of graphic novels based on Stephen King's original series. The comics series of The Dark Tower acts as a prequel to the main storyline of the novels. The comics tell the story of how the protagonist, Roland Deschain, becomes the man known as the gunslinger. Marvel has released four collections of The Dark Tower graphic novel series to date, which you can pick up right here at AA

A Game of Thrones

After the very suspicious death of the King’s right hand man, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell travels south to take over the position left by his old friend and mentor. Stark and his family soon find that subterfuge, cruelty and plots are more in fashion at court than duty and honor. Things aren’t much better at home. As winter approaches, men are disappearing, and an unknown menace stirs in the north.

A Game of Thrones is the first part of George R. R. Martin’s critically acclaimed 7 part series, A Song of Ice and Fire. So far only four of the seven have been released, but the scope and power of Martin’s writing rivals that of authors such as Robert Jordan or Margaret Weiss.

HBO has begun filming a television series adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire. If you liked The Tudors, keep your eyes peeled for this one. I can’t wait to see Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Word on the street is that this will hit the airwaves in Spring 2011.

The Song of the Lioness

Teen author Tamora Pierce's quartet, The Song of the Lioness, is a great fantasy series for independent young girls becoming young women.

The series starts out with the book Alanna: The First Adventure. In it, we meet Alanna, the young daughter of a nobleman, who wishes to become a knight, which is traditionally a role for sons. Alanna decides to disguise herself as a boy in order to achieve her dream, and the story follows Alanna through the steps of page and squire. We meet many characters, all of whom will warm the coldest heart, especially the king of thieves, George Cooper, and one of Alanna's instructors, Sir Myles.

The second book, In the Hand of the Goddess, picks up with Alanna still as a squire. The main plot of this one is a war between Alanna's country and a neighboring one, as well as Alanna's desire to be able to behave as a girl, and to be able to love. At the end, we go with Alanna as she faces the Ordeal, which will either make her a knight, drive her away, or even kill her.

However, if you realize that there is a third book, you'll figure out that the killing won't happen. In The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Alanna has started out on her quest as a lady knight, and encounters the renegade tribes of desert people in the South. There is no huge villain or battle in this book, but there is a pretty good quarrel.

The last book, Lioness Rampant follows the third very well. It introduces us to new friends, brings us a really cool treasure, and shows us that Alanna has finally grown accustomed to her womanhood. Unlike the third, there is an epic battle, which will most likely leave you crying.

Any girl who likes a strong, female heroine, as well as a good dose of magic, a talking cat, and maybe a wee bit of witty romance, will find this series as one she cannot put down. I know I'm going to be reading the next series that takes place in Tortall, The Immortals.

Steampunk Discovered (and rediscovered)

If you (like me) are new to Steampunk, here is a good definition : "A subgenre of science fiction, it typically (but not always) employs a Victorian setting where steam power and advanced technologies like computers coexist and often features themes, such as secret societies, found in mystery novels."

Though steampunk has been around since the 1980s, (check out these classics) there is a recent crop of exemplary new titles. A personal favorite is Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - a must-read for alternative history fan. It's the 2009 winner of the PNBA Award; and has been nominated for the 2010 Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Seattle, 1860, rumors of gold, greedy Russians and inventor Leviticus Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine set the stage for this "impressive and auspicious genre-hopping adventure". When this machine inadvertently triggers the release of a deadly gas that transforms people into the living dead, a wall is built around the uninhabitable city to contain the epidemic. 16 years later, teenage Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, impetuously decides that he must go into the walled city to clear his father's name. His distraught mother Briar, follows in an airship to try to rescue him.

Boneshaker is exceptionally well written. The plot credibly builds around zombies, steampunk technology, underground societies, mad scientists in a mix of horror/mystery. The fast-paced action is balanced by captivating characters, a strong female protagonist, and tender mother-child relationship. The young courageous Zeke will appeal to the YA crowd.

I first discovered the versatile YA author and an associate editor for Subterranean Press Cherie Priest in her genre-bending adult debut Fathom : a chill/thrill fantasy tale set in her native Florida. Part fairy tale, part modern gothic horror, it had me sleepless for a week.

Teen vampires...before Twilight?

It's hard to believe, but the incredibly popular vampire "genre" for teens existed before Twilight.

Authors such as L.J. Smith, Christopher Pike, Meredith Ann Pierce, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Annette Curtis Klause, and Mary Downing Hahn created vast literature for teens on the subject of vampires before the year 2000. While it is easy to find a score of vampire fiction written today for teens, it is very interesting to take a look back, before the apparent influence of Stephenie Meyer.

That is not to say that these authors haven't gained from the success of Twilight. L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries series turned to television last year, and her Night World series was recently re-released. Annette Curtis Klause had one of her books made into a movie in 2007.

One of the more inspirational of these authors would be Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She was first published--in novel form--in 1999 at the tender age of 14. She is still going strong today, too!

So, if you're looking for some good teen vampire fiction, as I know we all must be, take a look at some of their works. I'm not necessarily saying they're better than Twilight, but I might be saying that you can certainly see some eerie similarities.

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