If I should die before I wake...

The other night my son asked me a very profound question. "What would you do if you found out you only had two days left to live?" I told him that I'd spend it with my family. No parties, no wild adventures, no spending sprees, just time with my wife and kids. That got me thinking. What would I read if I could only read two books in my life. My first pick is the Bible. My second is The Hobbit.

Why The Hobbit you may ask? Well, the story of Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarfs is a classic for all ages. Written by J. R. R. Tolkien, the story was originally intended to amuse his three sons. The library has several different versions of the story: Book on CD, Book on Cassette, DVD, graphic novel, large print, Spanish translation, and Korean translation.

So, if you could only read two books, what would they be?

A trip down the Ohio River.

What do a fire in Manhattan, P.T. Barnum, Irish gangsters, and an Aztec deity have in common? Nothing unless you're reading A Scattering of Jades by Alexander C. Irvine. In his first novel, Irvine combines historical facts with elements of fantasy to make this a great book.

Artemis Fowl: Audiobooks

Some twelve year olds might be prodigies. Artemis Fowl, however, is a criminal mastermind. While plotting to restore his family's wealth after his father's disappearance this young Irishman discovers an entire world below Ireland, full of fairies, elves, and all manner of creatures of legend. But gone are the days when magic is their only weapon. These mythical folk are armed with high-tech gadgetry and they bring it all out in defense of their gold.

All the audiobooks are read by Nathaniel Parker who does excellent Irish accents and voices for all the characters. The stories also start and end with a techno-rock theme that, while some may find cheesy, I quite liked and I thought it definitely fit the tone of the story. I liked the audio versions so much that I listened to the entire series which is currently five books long with a sixth (Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox) scheduled to come out July 15th. It is also worth noting that the audio versions are the original Irish editions and not changed or edited for America. There are very few changes, but if you'd like the original versions, audio's the way to go.

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.

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