Teen Stuff: "I Am Number Four"

Pittacus Lore's sci-fi thriller, I Am Number Four, is best tagged as Alex Rider meets The Hunger Games, as readers tail 15-year-old John Smith, one of nine refugees from Planet Lorien who is hiding on Earth from the merciless Mogadorians. Aiming to wipe out the super-powered teens one number at a time, the Mogadorians have killed three of the Loriens already, and John is Number Four.

John plans to hide out in the rural town of Paradise, Ohio, with his guardian, Henri, and blend in as an average high school student. But several challenges, including a burgeoning love interest, a particularly sinister bully, and Number Four’s own growing powers are rapidly making him a marked target.

I Am Number Four is the first novel in the planned six-book series, "The Lorien Legacies." A film version is already in production for a 2011 release, with producers Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay behind the action, and hotly buzzing actor Alex Pettyfer in the lead role.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #229

The fact that Gentleman Captain is the first in a projected series is "jolly good news" for fans of Patrick O'Brian, C. S. Forester, and Dewey Lambdin.

1662: Restoration England. Cromwell is dead, and King Charles II has reclaimed the throne after years of civil war. It is a time of divided allegiances, intrigue, and outright treachery. With rebellion stirring in the Scottish Isles, the king asks Matthew Quinton to take command of a new vessel and sets sail for Scotland to defuse this new threat.

Matthew Quinton is loyal, if inexperienced, having sunk the first man-of-war under his command. Upon taking command of the Jupiter, he faces a resentful crew, a suspicion that the previous captain was murdered, and the growing conviction that betrayal lies closer to home than he had thought.

With cannon fire by sea and swordplay by land (and a hint of romance) Gentleman Captain is a "rousing high-seas adventure in the finest nautical tradition" from a talented storyteller.

Author J.D. Davies is one of the foremost authorities on the 17th century British navy and has won the 2009 Samuel Pepys Award for his Pepys's Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare, 1649-1689.

* * = Starred reviews

Author Birthdays: Atwood, Foster, Moore

November 18th marks the birthday of authors Margaret Atwood, Alan Dean Foster, and Alan Moore.

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer who has won many literary awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Handmaid's Tale and the Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin. She has also published novels like The Penelopiad, a reworking of Homer's Odyssey that focuses on Penelope, and The Tent, a collection of short stories and line drawings.

Atwood has also written many books of poetry. Among them are The Door, published in 2007 and discussing the topic of old age, and True Stories, which is dedicated to fellow poet Carolyn Forché and focuses on the subject of human rights.

Alan Dean Foster is an American sci-fi and fantasy writer. Among his numerous series are Flinx and the Commonwealth, Dinotopia, Spellsinger, and The Taken Trilogy.

Singular novels by Foster include Quozl, a tale of alien "invasion", which Booklist has called "entertaining and even comic at times without being frivolous", and Parallelities, a story of parallel worlds in which the main character, Max, finds himself many times over.

Alan Moore is an English writer and popular adult graphic novelist. His most popular works would probably be the graphic novels Watchmen and V for Vendetta, both of which were made into films. He has won many awards for his works, including the Jack Kirby Award, the Eagle Award, and the Harvey Award.

Moore has also written many other adult graphic novels. From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, like Watchmen, were turned into films as well. The Ballad of Halo Jones, categorized as a "feminist space opera", tells the story of Halo Jones and her need to escape her boring, futuristic world. Promethea, another one set around a superheroine, has been noted to be "awash in references to mythology, literature, religion, and arcania".

November's Books to Film

fair gamefair game

As the holiday season approaches, November promises big movie hits inspired by even bigger bestsellers.

A suspenseful and star-studded adaptation of an ex-undercover agent’s autobiography entitled Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government. This riveting action-thriller is based on real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson whose career was destroyed when her covert identity was illegally exposed.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is based on the last and final installment in Stieg Larsson's mega-bestseller, the Millennium trilogy.

Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, fighting for her life. If and when she recovers, she’ll be stand trial for three murders, unless she can prove her innocence, and will plot revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Love & Other Drugs is a comedic exposé of the highly competitive and cutthroat world of pharmaceuticals. It is based on the real-life experiences of one-time Pfizer rep Jamie Reidy, who as an ambitious college grad schmoozes doctors, nurses, hospitals and begins a relationship with a woman suffering from Parkinson's, all while competing against other salesmen who try to push their brand of drugs. Loosely based on Jamie Reidy's Hard Sell : The evolution of a Viagra salesman.

No shortage of eye-candy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway starring.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #228

It is not everyday that a debut novel is named as a finalist in these many awards:

- 2009 Governor General's Literary Awards for Fiction
- 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada & Caribbean)
- 2010 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
- 2010 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award - Fiction Book of the Year

WINNER of the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean * does not disappoint.

"You must look for the mean between extremes, the point of balance," Aristotle advises his royal pupil, the future military genius in this bold reimagining of one of history’s most intriguing relationships: between legendary philosopher Aristotle and Alexander the Great, the rebellious son of his boyhood friend Philip of Macedon.

Told in the brilliantly rendered voice of Aristotle - keenly intelligent, often darkly funny, The Golden Mean brings ancient Greece to vivid life via the story of this remarkable friendship between them.

"But before this impressively researched, vividly detailed novel settles into a contest of wits and wills between determined teacher and often unmanageable student, Lyon builds a fascinating portrait of the Athenian sage " - a sensualist gratified and enthralled by the world's often inexplicable plentitude, emphatically earthbound in his affection for the bewitching Pythias; or in awakening the potential for rationality in Alexander's seemingly mentally retarded older brother Arrhidaeus (perhaps the novel's most sympathetic character).

"As authoritative and compelling as Mary Renault's renowned novels set in the ancient world. One hopes we may learn more about Lyon's immeasurably brilliant, unflappably human Aristotle."

* = starred review

Author Birthdays: Turgenev, Sexton, Kertész

November 9th marks the birthday of authors Ivan Turgenev, Anne Sexton, and Imre Kertész.

Ivan Turgenev was a Russian writer best known for his works Fathers and Sons and A Sportsman's Sketches (also known as Sketches from a Hunter's Album or Notes of a Hunter). Though he was more a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he was perhaps closer to the French writer Gustave Flaubert.

In Russia, Turgenev's most read work was probably Home of the Gentry, which was about the desire of Russians to turn away from European ideals. Among his other works are First Love and The Diary of a Superfluous Man. We also have some of his novels in their native Russian.

Anne Sexton was an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her collection called Live or Die. Her work is mostly categorized as "confessional"; major themes include guilt, motherhood, sexuality, and mental illness.

Sexton was more widely read due to her later works like Transformations, which is a sort of retelling of Grimm fairy tales. Another later work is The Book of Folly, a dark collection of poems centered around alienation and death.

Imre Kertész is a Jewish-Hungarian author, survivor of Auschwitz, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his somewhat autobiographical work Fatelessness, the story of a young man who is sent to Auschwitz, which he later wrote a Hungarian film script for.

Among Kertész's other works are Liquidation, the story of a man who commits suicide after surviving both Auschwitz and Communist Hungary, and The Pathseeker, which Publishers Weekly called "a taut, grim allegory of man in the face of oppression".

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #227 (What's New in Urban Fantasy)

"This may be the most beautiful book about zombies this reviewer (Library Journal) has ever read", now THAT! got my attention.

The reviewer is referring to Alden Bell's debut The Reapers are the Angels * *

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. 15 year-old Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

Alden Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord. He teaches at a New York City prep school and is an adjunct professor at The New School. He lives in New York City with his wife, the Edgar Award-winning mystery writer, Megan Abbott.

Two other new Urban Fantasy series of note...

Cat Adams kicks-off a new series with Blood Song. (Cat Adams is the pen name of C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp)

Betrayed by her royal employers, bodyguard Celia is changed into a part-vampire and targeted by both human and supernatural adversaries while she leans on friends to survive and help her discover the source of her transformation. "Adams hammers home a page-turner.... a treat for urban fantasy fans who like smart, feisty heroines and complex, fast-paced stories".

Clever and assured, with an authentic NYC setting, Black Swan Rising launches an urban fantasy series with an unusual heroine by Lee Carroll, a collaboration between Hammett Award winning mystery novelist Carol Goodman and her husband, Lee Slonimsky.

Stumbling into a strange antiques shop where an enigmatic clerk asks her to open a vintage silver box, New York City jewelry designer Garet unleashes a centuries-old prophecy tied to her true identity as the latest in a family of women who have been killed by an evil force.

* * = starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #226

The Blindness of the Heart*** is Julia Franck's English language debut (translated from the German by Anthea Bell), - a rich, moving, and complex novel from one of Europe's freshest young voices.

Winner of the German Book Prize (2007) and a finalist for the 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, it opens in 1945 with a young mother named Helene standing with her seven-year-old son in a provincial German railway station, amid the chaos of civilians fleeing west. Having survived with him through the horror and deprivation of the war years, Helene abandons her son on the station platform and never returns.

The story quickly circles back to Helene's childhood with her sister Martha in rural Germany at the outbreak of the First World War. As we follow Helene into adulthood, we watch as the costs of survival and ill-fated love turn her into a woman capable of the unforgiveable.

"Franck's impressionistic style and empathy encourage fresh responses to familiar subject matter—fine, disturbing, memorable work." ~Kirkus Reviews. Readers interested in character-driven war stories lyrical and spare, might find much to like in Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare, translated from the Albanian.

*** = starred reviews (Read the New York Times review)

Author Birthdays: Dostoyevsky, Pound, Kimmel

October 30th marks the birthday of authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ezra Pound, and Eric A. Kimmel.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer, and is probably now best know for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Among Dostoyevsky's other works are Notes from Underground, often considered the first existentialist novel, and The Idiot, which tells the story of a socially-outcast epileptic.

Ezra Pound was an early 20th-century American poet. As an expatriate, he lived in London, and later in Italy. During WWII he was imprisoned there for treason because of statements he made about FDR. During that time, he wrote The Pisan Cantos, which were later published as part of a larger work of 120 cantos.

Pound also wrote a long poem called Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. It is made up of 18 shorter poems, the first section of which is a sort of autobiographical epitaph. For more on this man's troubled life, you can read one of the many biographies we have on him.

Eric A. Kimmel is a Jewish-American children's book author. He won the Caldecott Honor and Newbury Honor for his picture book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, as well as the Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Chanukkah Guest and Gershon's Monster.

Kimmel does not only write picture books, nor does he do exclusively Jewish tales. He has many other folklore stories in his grasp, like the Russian Baba Yaga, the Norwegian Boots and His Brothers, and the Mexican The Witch's Face. Also, his story of The Gingerbread Man has been described as having a "strong narrative, good dialogue, and a fine chorus" by School Library Journal Review.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #225 (What's New in Paranormal Romance)

So you think you don't read romance. Well, you might want to think again. If you had dismissed Romance as a genre for its characteristic lack of character development, these two titles might change your mind.

Christine Feehan, spins-off on her Drake Sisters series with Water Bound*, - the first in her Sisters of the Heart series.

Again, set on the shores of Sea Haven (inspired by lovely Mendocino), sea urchin diver Rikki Sitmore rescues a man from drowning, a man with no memory yet he possess the violent instincts of a trained killer.

"Feehan takes readers into turbulent, uncharted waters as a courageous, high-functioning autistic heroine with the power of a water mage is paired with a tormented hero with numerous psychic gifts and major issues of his own, delivering an edgy, compelling, character-rich (contemporary) romance".

One Touch of Scandal** by Liz Carlyle is a supernatural Victorian trilogy opener.

Accused of murdering her employer, governess Grace Gauthier begs the mysterious--and possibly dangerous--Lord Ruthveyn to help her unmask the real killer and clear her name.

A dark-eyed Lucifer, Ruthveyn guards his secrets and his shadowed past carefully. Grace’s plight and her quiet beauty moves him. He is determined to save Grace. But his growing passion places his own heart at risk and threatens to expose his dark gifts to the world.

"Grace's tenacity, wit, and compassion make her a very believable, multidimensional character and the perfect match for Ruthveyn's brooding and dark secrets. The romance sizzles, its unpredictability propelling this complex story far beyond its contemporaries."

* (*) = starred review(s)

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