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.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #103

Tired of the bleak Feb. days? Looking for something light and engaging? You might want to try Gods Behaving Badly by first time novelist Marie Phillips.

The immortals of Mount Olympus have fallen, and not just on hard times. Apollo, Aphrodite, Artemis, Eros and Zeus are slumming in modern day London, working menial jobs as a dogwalker, a phone sex operator, a TV psychic; and falling for their cleaning woman, all the while worrying about their waning power and each other with their endless squabbling.

"Phillips imagines a hilarious world that explains all that is inexplicable in our own". "Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar" ~ Publishers Weekly.

Phillips is a graduate of Cambridge University currently working at the BBC and writes for the blog StrugglingAuthor.blogspot.com.

Have Sword Will Travel

One of my favorite fiction characters of all time is Conan the Barbarian. Robert E. Howard introduced the world to Conan in 1932 in several stories he sold to Weird Tales. In The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian you will find a collection of 13 stories as originally written by Howard, including my favorites The Frost Giant's Daughter and The Tower of the Elephant. The library has a nice collection of both books and graphic novels featuring the coolest barbarian around if you're looking for even more Hyborian adventure.



Best movie of 2007 (in my opinion anyway) now available at the library! It's based on the illustrated novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman. If you haven't seen it, put it on hold or rent it from our Zoom Lends today!

I was expecting to be supremely disappointed by this movie, but watching an interview with Neil Gaiman coaxed me into seeing it. I'm glad I did. I loved this movie. This was one of the best fantasy movies I've seen in years. Period. I really shouldn't have doubted Neil. Of course, to be fair, it was actually Hollywood I was doubting which I think is entirely fair. The God of movies is often fickle and cruel, but every so often true gems fall to Earth from his devilish workshop and Stardust is one of those gems.

An Epic Tale

David and Leigh Eddings have been writting epic fantasy for many years. Their first series is The Belgariad. In the first book Pawn of Prophecy we are introduced to Garion, a farm boy being raised by his Aunt Pol. Together, they leave the farm travelling with Mister Wolf the story teller to recover a mysterious object stolen by a no-name theif. You too can travel with them by reading this and the rest of the books in the series, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanters' End Game.


I generally like listening to audiobooks but I had some issues with the audiobook of Garth Nix's Sabriel. The story itself is compelling: the tale of a young girl who inherits her father's powers as a necromancer and goes on a journey to find her father only to discover that she must defeat a formidable, albeit long dead foe. Tim Curry's performance is also engaging. My complaint, and it sounds like a small one, is the music at the beginning and end. It sounds like music from a bad slasher movie which is not appropriate for the actual tone of the novel. This made me very dubious of the story when the first strains pierced my ears and annoyed when it was played over an otherwise moving ending scene. Then there's also the fact that it's a complicated story which is probably better understood when read. Although, I did have a professor say that her husband got addicted to this audiobook while on their car trip so this clearly isn't everyone's opinion of the audio.

The same but different

After reading the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks wrote The Sword of Shannara. The story follows Shea Ohmsford's adventures to recover the Sword of Shannara and defeat the evil Warlock Lord. The story shares many elements of Middle Earth, but takes place on a alternate world in the distant future, after the downfall of the high tech society. Published in 1977, this was the fantasy novel to ever to appear on the New York Times bestseller list.

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