The Winter Prince

Having grown up reading a lot of fantasy books, I used to be of the opinion that the world didn’t need any more retellings of the King Arthur legend. Didn’t the ones already out there cover all the bases? But I’ve been forced to revise my opinion after reading The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein. This retelling is told from the perspective of Medraut (called Mordred in most other versions) and is more a character study than the usual quest. So if you’re looking for a fantasy book that’s a little different, check this one out—and then read the companion books: A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter, and (coming soon) The Empty Kingdom.

Fly the friendly skies

In Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey tells the story of Lessa. She is the sole survivor of the noble family ruling Ruatha Hold, located on the northern continent of Pern. Lessa eventually becomes a dragon rider and attempts to save Pern from an impending Thread reappearance, which would destroy the existing civilization. If you enjoy this story, you can find other Pern stories. You can also listen to Dragonflight on CD.

The Golden Compass Series: Audiobooks

Golden CompassGolden Compass

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) follows the story of Lyra Belacqua, the secrets surrounding her birth and future, and travel between the worlds.

With the recent film and a revival of the controversy that has always surrounded the Golden Compass series, these books are once more in the public eye. I've been told that even people who like them find the books difficult, but I throughly enjoyed listening to them on audio. This is possibly because they're performed by a full cast complete with sound effects and narration from Philip Pullman himself, making the whole experience more like an old fashioned radio drama than your average audio book. I highly recommend the entire series.

Get Your Game On! Strategy Style....

Settlers of CatanSettlers of Catan

Join us for an afternoon of strategy and fun gameplay - this Sunday, March 30 from 1:00-4:00 PM @ the Downtown Library (in the MP room)! The library owns copies of the award-winning Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Condotierre and Chrononauts, but attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring along their favorite Euro-style board game (no Monopoly or Sorry here!). Bring friends, learn to play a new game, or teach someone to play your fave - Teens in grades 6 & up and adults are welcome! These may be no-tech games, but there are definately not no-fun. Alex Horvath, owner of the store Get Your Game On (on Packard @ State) will be there to play games and offer a coupon to his store for attendees. Snack and drinks will be served - see you there!

Same Story with a Twist

What happens when you take L. Frank Baum's classic The Wizard of Oz and turn it inside out? You get Gregory Maguire's book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Follow the story of Elphaba as she grows-up and eventually becomes know as the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. The book was made into a musical. We have the CD and sheet music. Enjoy!

The Tiffany Aching Series: Audiobooks

In Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith we meet Tiffany Aching, a young girl learning to be a witch and helped along the way by the formidable Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld’s most renowned witch and an entire colony of tiny little blue men….

Stephen Briggs, does a hilarious rendition of the tiny Scots men known as the Wee Free men in the audio versions of the Tiffany Aching series, the story of a young girl learning to be a witch. Briggs also does an amazing Tiffany as well as all the other voices. Briggs has been in many Discworld plays and reads many of the other audiobooks in the Discworld series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #105

Black Ships* is debut novelist Jo Graham's captivating retelling of Virgil's The Aeneid from the perspective of Gull, a slave girl taken at the sacking of Troy.

At 17, Gull was chosen by the oracle Pythia as her successor for her prophetic visions, but she must decide if she would give up her exalted position and sail with exiled Trojan Prince Aeneas on the black ships, in order to guide him to his destiny.

Graham ably re-creates a vivid picture of the ancient world in this historically based fantasy. Her spare style complements the action-filled plot, and the “smoldering emotional resonance” fully engages the reader.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #104

L.A., gangs, turf war. Sound familiar? Well, Toby Barlow's debut Sharp Teeth* is anything but!

Written in free verse, this "highly addictive, enormously enjoyable, and unexpectedly moving", horror/thriller is about the fantastical world of werewolves. Caught in the middle of savage pack rivalry is Anthony, a kindhearted, down-and-out dogcatcher and the girl he loves who is in fact, a female werewolf.

This adrenaline-packed, fast-paced, darkly comic (card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing) debut by a Michigan author will surprise and entertain. Barlow is the Executive Creative Director of the giant ad agency JWT, whose clients include Ford, Shell and MTV. He lives in downtown Detroit.

* = Starred reviews

Ella Enchanted: Audiobook

I have loved the story of Ella Enchanted before it even won the Newberry Honor and I was vastly disappointed in the movie. But being a fan of audiobooks I had hope that this would be a good listen since, as an unabridged version, at least nothing would be changed. Unfortunately, this was probably the first audiobook where the voice of the reader bothered me. Nothing against Eden Riegel, who did an excellent job as young Miriam in the Prince of Egypt, but she made her voice sound too juvenile. Ella is supposed to age over the course of the book and an apparent romance between the prince and what sounded like an eight year old made me slightly uncomfortable. I would have been all right with her starting out sounding young and then sounding older over time, but her voice did not really change. I was able to get through the recording by imagining that it was a child reading me the story and not the character herself.

There was also music in places, which I didn't mind but I know it can annoy some people. I at least felt the music was generally roughly medieval sounding and thus appropriate to the story. Still, if you've not already read the book, then you might not have a set idea of what the character would sound like and not be bothered by the voice.

It's the end of the world as we know it...

and the start of a new one. Bloodring is the opening book in the Thorn St. Croix series by Faith Hunter. The world didn't end as expected during the apocalypse. Now the world has been thrown into a new ice age and seraphs battle demons. Our heroine, Thorn St. Croix is a neomage. She escaped the Enclaves and lives among normal humans, hiding her powers. When Thorn's ex-husband goes missing, she's accused of kidnapping him. Thorn must rely on her powers to find him, without being discovered to avoid punishment and possible death.

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