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.

Garth Nix: Fantasy from Down Under

Did you like Harry Potter? If so, try the short, complex series for teens featuring magic, royal blood lines, the kind-of-but-not-really undead, and a sassy talking cat by Garth Nix, called the Abhorsen (also known as Old Kingdom) trilogy, started in 1995.

Its first book, Sabriel, features a young girl who must rescue her father from the depths of Death itself. Along the way, she is helped--or perhaps hindered--by her father's "pet" cat, Mogget, and a strange boy she released from an even stranger prison.

The second book, Lirael, introduces a new character, the dark-haired Lirael, who feels absolutely isolated in her home at the Clayr's glacier. In order to gain a friend, she has to create one out of magic she learns as a Second Assistant Librarian. With her new friend, the Dog, she must help Sabriel's son, Prince Sameth, fight to save the world.

In the final book, Abhorsen, Lirael, who is now Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and Prince Sameth face off against the evil threatening the world, with the help of their friends and families. The climactic ending to the trilogy provides interesting insight into society. Publisher's Weekly stated that it is "at once an allegory regarding war and peace and a testament to friendship...a thought-provoking fantasy."

Nix also has a few series for the slightly younger crowd, including the still-in-progress Keys to the Kingdom, vaguely reminiscent of the fantastical world of Alice in Wonderland, and the magical Seventh Tower series, starring the downtrodden and loveable Chosen named Tal.

Not Twilight…but close…

If you find yourself reading and re-reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, you might want to try some of these fantasy love stories:

Swoon by Nina Malkin
Dice tries to help her cousin whose body is inhabited by a ghost. She accidentally frees the ghost and so needs to kill him before he destroys the whole town. The problem: Dice falls in love with the ghost.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Grace loves watching the wolves behind her house. Sam is a wolf-by-winter and human in the summer. While human Sam meets Grace and falls in love...Sam then struggles to remain human as winter approaches.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant spends the summer on a small island with her mother. She meets Leo, falls in love with him, and then realizes he might be a mermaid.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Aislinn unlike other teenagers can see faeries. One of the fairies, Keenan, wants Aislinn to become his queen, and he is determined to make this happen at any cost.

Looking for a Christmas Read?

In previous years, I've suggested popular fiction for holiday reads. This year I have decided to concentrate on two of my favorite genres: Romance and Mystery.

Recently, I buried myself in Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower Series. The final book in this 5 part series is Wallflower Christmas. Once Lillian Bowman and the other Wallflowers are settled with beaus, it's time to find her elder brother Rafe a wife. If romance, action, mystery, and the supernatural meets your interest, try Kerrelyn Sparks' All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire part of the Love at Stake Series. If short stories are your thing try this Christmas compilation: Wish List with stories by Lisa Kleypas, Lynsay Sands, Claudia Dain, and Lisa Cach.

For good Christmas mystery reads try Deck the Halls and it's sequel He Sees You When Your Sleeping co-written by bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark. Regan Reilly, Carol Higgins Clark's dynamic young sleuth, meets Alvirah Meehan, Mary Higgins Clark's famous lottery-winning amateur detective, and both embark on a desperate search for Regan's kidnapped father and then reassemble in the sequel to help a family reunite during the holidays. Additionally, there is the short story collection Wolfsbane and Mistletoe with tales by talented authors such as Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur, and Carrie Vaughn.

For more suggestions of Romance, Mystery, as well as other Fiction Christmas reads, Check out:

World Fantasy Awards

Created in the mid-1970s, the World Fantasy Awards, associated with the annual World Fantasy Conventions were established as a fantasy counterpart to the SF-oriented Hugo and Nebula Awards. If you enjoy reading/watching/writing fantasy or science fiction, the annual conventions are definitely for you! Think about attending the 2010 convention. It will be close by in Columbus, Ohio on the weekend of October 28-31. A great way to celebrate Halloween by dressing up as your favorite fantasy character- a Volturi anyone?

Here are the winners for best novel:

The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford: In the wake of a classmate's disappearance, a sixth grader and his older brother observe strange events in 1960s Long Island, including the appearance of a man in a large white car and the deteriorating mental state of the school librarian.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan: A young woman who has endured unspeakable cruelties is magically granted a safe haven apart from the real world and allowed to raise her two daughters in this alternate reality, until the barrier between her world and the real one begins to break down.

Best Anthology:
Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, by: Ekaterina Sedia, ed.
A collection of urban fantasy stories featuring cities--whether real or imaginary and throughout history--and how they affect the lives and experiences of their inhabitants.

Best Collection:
The Drowned Life by: Jeffrey Ford: In this mesmerizing blend of the familiar and the fantastic, multiple award-winning New York Times notable author Jeffrey Ford creates true wonders and infuses the mundane with magic.

It's your bet...

Griffen McCandles is a dragon, he just doesn't know it. Dragons have adapted and learned to live virtually undetected in the human world, taking on human form and mannerisms, but they are still dragonish. McCandles has been making his way through college mostly playing poker, earning himself the nickname "Grifter." One day Uncle Mal drops a bombshell on Griffen and his sister, they're dragons. What will the two of them do? Fortunately, they have friends and find themselves in New Orleans where "Grifter" can put his poker skills to good use. Follow the story in Robert Asprin's Dragons Wild and Dragons Luck.

Youth Music Notes -- Wizard Rock


The Ann Arbor District Library has been fortunate enough to host wizard rock bands Tonks and the Aurors and The Remus Lupins, but did you know that we also have a collection of wizard rock on CD -- that fans of all things Harry Potter can listen to whenever we want?

Harry and the Potters bring us the "good" side of wizard rock, their several CD's chock full of inspiring music to fight the Dark Lord by. Exactly what we expect from the co-founders of the Harry Potter Alliance. Have I mentioned that they also have a special Christmas CD? How...seasonally appropriate.

Representing the often overlooked Slytherin perspective, we have evil wizard rock band Draco and the Malfoys, with a collection of twelve heart-wrenching tunes to remind us that evil wizards are people too.

And, of course, for purists, we also have many authorized CD's of the Harry Potter movie soundtracks.

In the words of Harry and the Potters, "It's never too loud to read," so turn up the CD player and get ready to sing along to some quality wizard rock.

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