A seafaring adventure...

What happens when you take the sea-faring storytelling of Patrick O'Brian and introduce fantasy elements? You get Robin Hobb's The Liveship Traders trilogy. In book 1 Ship of Magic we are introduced to the Vestrit family, one of the oldest of the merchant families in Bingtown, the hub of trade. At her father's death, Althea's family liveship Vivacia is passed to her sister's husband Kyle. The spurred Althea then strives to regain his birthright. The story is continued in Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny.

Trickster's Choice: Audiobook

Alianne of Pirate's Swoop is in for a trouble when a trickster god makes a wager with her. Her adventures take her far from home and everything she knows, but Aly's quick wits and special skills will be needed to save her life and the lives of others.

This follow-up to Tamora Pierce's original Alanna series is even better than the previous series. I loved Aly's spunk and mischevious nature that made it clear why she was chosen by a trickster. There's a cool little musical intro and outro to the novel and Trini Alvarado, who read the original Alanna adventures on audiobook, reads these as well with just as much warmth and talent.

Alanna the First Adventure: Audiobook

Summer reading is approaching. Remember you can listen to books too, so why not try an audiobook?

In this first book by Tamora Pierce, Alanna wants more than anything to be a knight, but it's not allowed for girls in the country of Tortall. She finds a way to sneak into the school for boys, but she has a long and arduous road ahead of her before she can claim her shield.

Trini Alvarado, an actress who played Meg March in Little Women, reads the story. There are no special effects but her reading reminded me of an enthusiastic teacher and brought back good memories of elementary school storytimes. The audiobook our library owns is on cassette, but if you don't have a cassette player and would really like to listen to it, the CD version is available on melcat.

In this day and age it seems stories about girls wanting to break the gender role are at least as common as the ones who don't, so I was originally skeptical of this story. Alanna's desire to do boys things didn't seem enough to define her as an interesting and individual character. But the school drama of her knights training and the fast paced adventure got me interested enough to read the rest of the stories which I also recommend.

Fantasy author and former Ann Arborite Robert Asprin dies at 61


Robert Asprin was reportedly reading a novel by British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett when he died in bed last week at the age of 61. Asprin, author of the Thieves' World and Myth Adventure series, and the 1990 bestseller Phule's Company, is said to have effectively invented the humor fantasy genre back in the 1970s. Local historian Wystan Stevens recalls: "Asprin wrote many of his books in longhand, on legal pads, while nursing cups of coffee at the Brown Jug on South University Avenue."

Read more about Asprin in wikipedia.
Asprin's obituary.

The Tears of Artamon

Set in the snowy wastelands of Azhkendir, Sarah Ash has created a stunning trilogy called The Tears of Artamon. In book 1, The Tears of Artamon, our hero Gavril is kidnapped from his carefree life on an island and taken to Azhkendir. There he learns that he is heir to the kingdom, becoming both a captive and its ruler. The world in which Gavril lives is a mix of technology and magic, where armies fight with muskets, cannons, and magic. You can follow Gavril's story in book 2, The Prisoner of the Iron Tower, and book 3, The Children of the Serpent Gate.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #111

The History of Lucy’s Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters is fun, fluffy and fantastical.

29 year-old commitment-phobic Lucy is staring at the prospect of a perfect life with dishy and nice Anthony (with whom she had 400 plus one-night stands) and chucks it all, wondering if there’s something better on the horizon.

Sacked from her pointless job and bored, an errant time machine sends Lucy on a dating frenzy with bad boy Lord Byron, Leonardo da Vinci, Ovid and Casanova (a sweet guy, really). It’s a thrill ride but there’s also a lesson to be learned. The question is… Is Lucy ready for it?

This British chick lit./fantasy/romantic comedy is the first to be published in the United States by Deborah Wright, a graduate of Oxford University with three best-selling novels in the U.K.

A story for the ages...

The Magic of Recluse is the opening story in The Saga of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. The series is unusual in several ways. First of all, the series is not written chronologically. The book first actually occurs towards the end of the series. As the series progresses, characters in the stories will be in later books referred to as heros and legendary figures.

The books also feature an in-depth system of magic in the series. Instead of wizards just casting a spell, they must have the ability to control the natural forces of order or chaos inherent in all matter.

The author recommends reading the series in the order written, not chronologically. The second book in the series is The Towers of Sunset.


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.

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