Author Birthdays: Garth Nix

Today is the birthday of Australian fantasy writer Garth Nix, who just happens to be one of my favorite authors.

Nix has written many books for children and teens, including The Seventh Tower Series, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Abhorsen Trilogy, and a great collection of short stories, called One Beastly Beast: (two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales).

I highly recommend checking out his website; it includes writing advice, news, some of his favorite books, as well as an interactive story, kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Also, we might be expecting an addition to the Abhorsen Trilogy sometime this year.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #215

The Ice Princess** is economist-turned-novelist Camilla Lackberg's #1 bestseller in Sweden (pub. 2003) and the winner of 2008 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Best International Crime Novel . Ice Princess is the first of her novels to reach the US market.

Set in winter in the coastal town of Fjallbacka, Erica, a thirtysomething biographer returns to her hometown to deal with her parents' untimely death. On a whim, she visits her childhood friend Alex only to find her dead in the bathtub, in an apparent suicide. Alex's grieving parents and Erica's curiosity compel her to delve deep into Alex's past as well as her relationships. Working with a local police officer, Patrik, they uncover secrets and sordidness that the town folks would have preferred to stay buried under their glossy lifestyle and pristine landscape.

This will appeal to fans of Nordic crime fiction and psychological thrillers who prefer a strong female presence, especially those of Asa Larsson and other notable female writers such as Karin Alvtegen Karin Fossum, Mari Jungsted, and Helene Tursten.

** = starred reviews

To Kill a Mockingbird Celebrates 50 Years

Tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's renowned, poignant novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel, which Harper Lee once believed would have dismal sales (if any at all), was originally published on July 11, 1960 by J.B. Lippincott. Lee's story tackles issues of racism, flaws in the justice system, morality, and rape gracefully and became an instant success: on May 1, 1961, less than a year after it's publication, Lee was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. To Kill a Mockingbird has since made it's mark as an American classic, with 30 million books sold to date.

New to the library's collection is Scout, Atticus, and Boo : a Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy. This book is filled with anecdotes and interviews of writers and celebrities, from Tom Brokaw to Oprah Winfrey, that explores their reactions and inspiration gained from the novel.

Interested in reading this classic for the first time? Want to revisit the book that you read way back in high school? Here at the library you can find a copy of the book, a sound recording, and a DVD of the 1962 film adaptation starring Gregory Peck.

Author Birthdays: Radcliffe, Jordan, Tsuda

Apparently, July 9th is a good date for birthing authors.

Among those born on this day are Alexis Piron, Johann Nikolaus Götz, Matthew Lewis, Dame Barbara Cartland, Mervyn Peake, Oliver Sacks, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Ligotti.

Today is also the birthday of noted gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, who wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho, which influenced not only the noted gothicist Edgar Allan Poe, but also the Marquis de Sade.

In addition, we also can celebrate June Jordan, a Renaissance-woman of Caribbean descent. She was not only a novelist, but also a poet, journalist, teacher, and activist. Included in her works is the book Naming Our Destiny, of which Library Journal said, "Though Jordan's voice is especially musical in her sonnets, the range of all these poems is wide, touching our very souls".

Lastly, I'd like to mention it is also the birthday of Masami Tsuda, a Japanese graphic novelist, whose most noted work is the teen manga Kare Kano.

Summer Books to Film

winter's bonewinter's bone

Winter's Bone is based on the novel by the Missouri writer Daniel Woodrell.

16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive who skipped bail on charges of running a crystal meth lab, otherwise, she and her two young brothers will be turned out of their home. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost. (The New York Times review). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. (Official trailer).

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second filmed installment of Stieg Larsson's best-selling "Millennium Trilogy". Front and center this time is the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander. It follows up on her next nasty brush with the law and her heartbreaking backstory. Again, plenty of action and intrigue. (U.S. trailer).

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #214

Debut novelist Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion** is "Shakespeare's The Tempest in a steampunk setting".

It opens with Harry Winslow, a lone narrator floating endlessly in an enormous zeppelin, with only the voice of his beloved Miranda for company. In a wild tale full of tin men, monsters, a magical playhouse, and a unicorn, Harry recounts his history with the Taligent family: Miranda, his lifelong love, her mad scientist of a father, and the role he plays to render them virtual prisoners in perpetual motion.

"Intoxicatingly ambitious", this novel is pointedly a commentary on language, art, technology, and alienation... It walks the tightrope between madness and genius, between profoundly difficult truths and pure nonsense, without a safety net for either writer or reader. A novel of ideas that holds together like a dream". Thoughtful, challenging and totally captivating.

Dexter Palmer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the works of James Joyce, William Gaddis , and Thomas Pynchon.

** = starred reviews

Speaking of dragons...

Since Summer Reading's got some serious dragon power, I thought I'd mention a few teen fantasies. Great segue, huh?

The first is Robin McKinley's Newbery Medal winner, The Hero and the Crown, which was also an ALA Notable Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults book. It tells the story of Aerin, a princess--and an outcast--who grows up to defeat dragons rather than become a queen. The story takes place in a land called Damar, and is a prequel to another of McKinley's Newbery winners, The Blue Sword. See? There was a dragon in that one.

Secondly, I'd like to mention the Books of Pellinor, written by Alison Croggon. The series is a quartet, and takes place is a civilization which Croggon tries to convince us once existed, sometime 10,000 years ago. She even includes fake citations, as if she were doing research in a library with its ancient manuscripts. The first book, The Naming, starts us off with the main character, Maerad, and her companion, Cadvan. The second continues their story, and the third focuses on her brother, Hem, and his mentor, Saliman. The fourth concludes with the siblings united, and working against evil. Unfortunately, there aren't really any dragons, though we do encounter some talking animals.

By the way, if you haven't seen them yet, check out the dragons in the Downtown Youth area, as well as at the West and Malletts Creek branches.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #213

the twinthe twin

The Twin, a debut novel by Gerbrand Bakker quietly beats out a number of seasoned writers and front runners (see the shortlist) to win the 2010 International Impac Dublin Literary Award - the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language.

When his twin brother Henk dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return to the small family farm. He resigns himself to taking over his brother's role and spending the rest of his days working in the remote Dutch countryside. Now 37 years later, Helmer finally is able to move his invalid father so that he could make a home for himself. Then the woman once engaged to Henk appears and asks Helmer to take in her troubled eighteen-year-old son.

"Ostensibly a novel about the countryside, The Twin ultimately poses difficult questions about solitude and the possibility of taking life into one's own hands. It chronicles a way of life which has resisted modernity, a world culturally apart, and yet laden with familiar longing."

$31,000 of the $123,000 prize will go to David Colmer whose superb translation allows the novel's authentic voice to be heard by English readers.

NPR was first to recognize The Twin by placing it on a list of Best Foreign Fiction of 2009.

School Library Journal picked it as one of the Best Adult Books for High School Students 2009.

For the budding novelists out there, take heart. This is the third year in a row that a debut novel has won.

Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel, 25 years later, to Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero. Everybody's older, but has anyone really changed? Clay is back in Los Angeles from New York assisting with casting for a screenplay he has written called "The Listeners." In typical Ellis fashion, paranoia ensues, all "friends" are suspect and Clay is faced with his own demons - and not all of them may be personal. When Clay meets a young actress named Rain Turner, things get even more complicated and mysterious.

Imperial Bedrooms does not match up to other novels like Less Than Zero, American Psycho or Glamorama but I think it's still a worthwhile read for Bret Easton Ellis fans. It's fast-paced, and actually quite short at under two hundred pages. I'm a little in love with the creepy cover, too.

Cynical Tabby

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of Garfield's first comic strip, which debuted in 1978 in over 40 newspapers.

Created by Jim Davis and named after his grandfather, Garfield held the Guinness World Record for the world's most widely syndicated comic.

While I was never into comics as a kid, I remember, quite fondly, watching the Garfield and Friends animated television series. However, nowadays, I know that kids are really into graphic novels, and so our collection of Garfield graphic novels will probably be more of a hit than that show from the 90s.

Either way, you can sit down, enjoy some lasagna, and have a good time.

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