Graceling

Kristin Cashore's 2008 book, entitled Graceling, is listed as a honor book of the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award, and will be of interest to most teens looking for a fantasy.

The book takes place in a world of seven kingdoms. The main character, Katsa, is a Graceling--that is, a person who is Graced with an extreme ability. All Gracelings have complete heterochromia--two different colored eyes. The Gracelings are either seen as blessed or burdensome, and this provides much of the conflict in the book. It also provides much of the significance in the work, inspiring feelings of tolerance and acceptance of others'--and especially one's own--differences.

This book is probably best suited to teen girls who are independent or tomboys, as that is Katsa's character. There are elements of romance, violence, and sparring humor involved that create for a great storyline. However, the drawbacks may irritate some older readers; there are some instances of poor sentence structure, and the ending may be found wanting.

For those interested, her latest book is Fire, which contains the same seven kingdoms, though entirely different characters. It is not considered a sequel, but a companion.

Overall, it isn't one of the best works in teen fiction, but it is definitely worth a look.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #200

In Danielle Trussoni's contemporary epic fantasy Angelology**, Sister Evangeline, a 23 year-old nun at the convent of the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York is drawn into the 1000-year old conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the beautiful, powerful, and cruel, half-human-half-angel Nephilim when she comes across letters between philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller and the late mother superior, referring to "an ancient artifact" - an article the Nephilim are desperate to claim.

The imaginative multilayer plot; the circuitous unfolding of Evangeline's personal connections to the Angelologists; captivating characters real and imagined; scholarly blending of biblical and mythical lore; rich historical references; seductive imagery; treachery, mystery and adventure make for an engrossing and entertaining read.

Film rights to Sony Pictures with Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment producing. Rumor has it that Trussoni is at work on a sequel. Can't get here soon enough for me. (I won't spoil it for you though).

Comparison to The Da Vinci Code is inevitable but more appropriately would be Katherine Neville's The Eight; and Kate Mosse's Labyrinth.

Coincidentally, Trussoni, a graduate of University of Wisconsin and the Iowa Writers' Workshop now resides in the Languedoc region (France) where Labyrinth is set. Her memoir Falling Through the Earth was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times.

** = Starred reviews

And along came a spider...

"Fat Charlie" Nancy has a problem. He lives in London and has a job he doesn't much like. Charlie tries to contact his father in Florida and finds out he just passed away. So, Charlie goes to Florida for the funeral. While there, Charlie learns two disturbing things. First, his father was actually the human incarnation of Anansi the African trickster spider god. Second, he has a brother, named Spider, who shares some of his father's powers. From here on in, Charlie's life takes a bad turn, with Spider stealing his fiance, getting him fired, and being arrested for a white-collar crime. What will "Fat Charlie" do? Use his own magical powers of course. Follow the exploits of "Fat Charlie" in Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys.

If I were a rat...

Firmin is a rat. He is the runt of the litter. Born in a bookstore, his mother shredded copies of Moby-Dick and Don Quixote for bedding. As the runt, Firmin finds himself more and more isolated from the rest of the rat population so he turns to books as his friend. Later in our story, he is befriended by science fiction writer Jerry Magoon. Through Jerry, Firmin learns about jazz and other human pleasures. Travel along through Boston in the 1960's in Firmin Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage.

February Books to Film, Part 2

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The very popular The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book One by Rick Riordan is now a feature film (not yet rated).

This wildly popular series for young readers makes the leap to the big screen on February 12. Adapted from the first book in the series, the film is directed by Chris Columbus (who brought the first two Harry Potter books to the screen) and stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson.

It's the 21st century, the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson's Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they're not happy: Zeus's lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy's mother.

And FINALLY, the twice-delayed, Martin Scorsese-directed Shutter Island is to be released on February 19th (let's hope).

Shutter Island is an army facility turned hospital for the criminally insane. When a beautiful-and certifiably crazy-patient escapes, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, are called in to investigate. Embroiled in uncertainties and mystery, the two soon learn there's much more at stake than simply finding one missing woman.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max von Sydow star in this thriller based on the bestseller by Dennis Lehane.

Celebrate the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief Movie Party!

Hopefully you have read the books by Rick Riordan and are ready to see the movie based on the first book in the series, The lightning thief, that hits theaters on Friday, February 12. Come dressed as your favorite Olympian, and be ready to play some games, test your knowledge of Greek Mythology and the books. We'll have prizes and CUPCAKES from the Cupcake Station for snacks! If you haven't already be sure to read the rest of the books in the series The sea of monsters, The titan's curse, The battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian.

Kids and Teens in GRADES 4-8 are invited on Thursday, February 11, 7:00-8:30 PM at the Traverwood Branch. This event is FREE, and does not require registration.

The Wizard of Od (Not a typo)

In the city of Kelior, capital of the Kingdom of Numis, is the school of magic. The school was founded hundreds of years ago by the wizard Od. Once founded, she disappeared. Now she's back, with her newest student, Brenden, who has plant magic. Unfortunately, the King of Numis has total control over the wizards and has outlawed new magic. How will he respond to this latest threat to his power? Find out in Patricia A. McKillip novel Od Magic. You can also listed to the book on cd.

An Extraordinary Child with a Special Destiny

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the story of a hyperactive pre-teen boy who discovers that his real father is one of the great Greek gods of mythology. That makes him a demigod, a half-god half-mortal with special powers and a special destiny. He is whisked away to a magically protected camp where he discovers a whole community of demigod kids learning to survive and develop their special talents in a world suddenly full of magic and monsters. Percy soon discovers that a great evil is trying to use him to return to the world, and nobody can be trusted, not even the gods of Olympus.

This series bears many strong thematic resemblances to the Harry Potter series, and its a great fit for any kids or adults who enjoyed Harry Potter and are looking for other things in the same vein. However, Riordan writes from the perspective of young Percy and uses Percy's irreverent (and often sarcastic) voice to ensure things stay light-hearted on his quests of near-constant monster battles and conflicts.

The Lightning Thief, the first book of the series, is being made into a movie which is due to be released later this year. It has the potential to be great, despite its lack of my most favorite character, Nico di Angelo. That kid is awesome. Am I right?

More Adventures for Alice

Alice is in for more adventures this year. On March 5th Alice will return to Wonderland, this time in a live action movie directed by Tim Burton, the quirky mind behind many somewhat dark children's movies. Although Alice was ten when she had her first Adventures in Wonderland 145 years ago, Burton's Alice is 19 years old on her return. The movie promises many computer generated effects.

Burton makes a habit of casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in his movies. This time Depp makes his appearance as the Mad Hatter and Carter plays the Red Queen (whom Alice meets in Through the Looking Glass). The cast also boasts Anne Hathaway as the White Queen and Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar.

When you imagine Wonderland you probably think of the 1951 animated Disney version, but 2010 is not the first year in which a movie has portrayed a darker Wonderland. There was a 1966 made for television version with a decidedly Gothic spin and there was an Emmy award winning TV version in 1999, in which Alice was also portrayed by a teenager rather than a child, and which included Christopher Lloyd (as the White Knight), Martin Short (as the Mad Hatter), and Gene Wilder (as the Mock Turtle).

Happy Hogswatch

Every year the Hogfather comes to bring presents for children. What would happen if the Hogfather were killed? Who would fill-in for him? (Hint - he carries a scythe) Can Death's granddaughter find a way to defeat Mr. Teatime and save the Hogfather from the Auditor?

Only Terry Pratchett could come up with a story so original about Christmas. Be sure to read Terry Pratchett's other Discworld novels.

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