Cold Fantasy for a Hot Summer's Day -- Part 2: books for older readers

In my previous post, I offered some Cold Books for younger readers (7 to 10ish). Here's a rather eclectic, off the top of my head, selection of books for older readers (11 and up) that are delightfully chilly, guaranteed (maybe) to take your mind off the heat.

No list of Cold Books would be complete without the classics--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (and the even colder The Silver Chair), and The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. These, I feel, are so familiar that no discussion is necessary...other books, however, aren't so familiar:

The Snow-Walker Trilogy, by Catherine Fisher (The Snow-Walker's Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves)
This book features lots of cold, the sort where the dregs of the wine freeze in the bottoms of the cups, and concomitant desperate circumstances for the people struggling in snowy wastelands against oppressive evil. This trilogy, drawing on Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology, tells of the evil magic of the Snow Walker Gudrun, who rules the Jarl and his people with her oppressive power. Banished to the most northern keep, where Gudrun's monstrous son is imprisoned, Jessa fears for the lives of herself and her brother. But even in the frozen north there is hope... (Anyone curious about Catherine Fisher's pre-Incarceron books might do worse than to start with these books--I enjoyed them lots).

Norse mythology lends itself nicely to cold--another good series (for upper middle grade readers) is that of Katherine Langrish, beginning with Troll Fell (my review). If memory serves, by the second chapter we are knee-deep in snow, and very cold withall.

The Owl Keeper, by Christine Brodien-Jones (2010)
In her dystopian fantasy (another for upper middle grade readers), Brodien-Jones went the Cold route. The apocalypse that destroyed much of civilization left supposedly uninhabitable frozen zones in its wake...but, as young Max discovers, there are many things that he hadn't been told. There are the horrible secrets, such as the hideous destiny for which he is being prepared, but there are also more pleasant surprises awaiting in the frozen lands to which he escapes....Definitely a book that will make you glad your feet are warm and toasty!

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld
Some people might remember the steam-punk elements of this book, or the strange genetically- crafted Darwenist creatures. Although those are still clear in my mind, I also remember lots of struggling in snow in the Swiss Alps. (here's my review).

Three books have taken the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" and run with it -- Ice, by Sarah Beth Durst, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George, and East, by Edith Pattou. I've checked East out of the library at least three times....and never read it, but I can attest to the fact that the first two books both have lovely ice castles--just the thing for a hot August day.

Winter Rose, by Patricia McKillip (1996), is a Cold Book I'd recommend to fans of lyrical fantasy:

""Who are you you?" I whispered. Cold racked through me, the thorns tightened their hold. She was something wild in my wood, the glint of an eye on a lightless night, the formless shadow the moon reveals tangled in the shadow of a tree. "Who are you?"

"I am night," she said, and it was. "I am winter's song," and I heard it. "I am the shadow of the bloody moon and all the winds that harvest in it." I felt them. "I am the dead of winter."

She wore my mother's face." (page 185)

Moving off into space, to cold planets, two in particular come to mind. Marion Zimmer Bradely's Darkover, with its red, inadequately warm, sun, is the setting for numerous books. I think the coldest of them all has to be City of Sorcery, in which there is much plowing through snowdrifts and falling off icy mountains and other wintry fun. And then there is Winter, a freezing planet created by Ursula Le Guin in The Left Hand of Darkness. This is a sci fi classic for two reasons--the world building is superb, and it is a powerful exploration of what "gender" means. It's also one of those imaginary places that are so cold you'll be glad it's summer, which was the whole point of these lists....

Like I said up at the beginning, this list is a bit of a smorgasbord. Please do feel free to suggest others--the colder the better!

Edited to add: Readers have reminded me that Hannah's Winter (my review) and The Doomsday Book (my review) are both very nicely cold indeed. And also The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and Elidor, both by Alan Garner (which I should review someday...)

(just in case anyone was wondering why I didn't include Thief Eyes, which I just reviewed, since it is set in Iceland, and therefore is not exactly warm, geography-wise. However, in as much as the central character finds herself on the verge of setting fire to the world for a good part of the book, it didn't seem quite cold enough).

And maybe (since, ironically, it is a very pleasantly un-hot day here in southern New England) I'll go downstairs now, and read Lord of the Burning Sands, which somehow I wasn't quite in the mood for much of our own burningly hot July...or I could go and do more wood stacking. Winter, after all, is On Its Way.

(Message for Tanita, over in Scotland, who has been frustrated of late by my recommendations of older books--Troll Fell and Winter Rose are available in the Glasgow Library; the Snow-Walker trilogy, not so much. My faith in the Glasgow Public Library hit rock bottom when I found that it did not have a copy of Mark of the Horse Lord, by Rosemary Sutcliff, which I had made Tanita promise, more or less, to read, as her first Sutcliff book. The Shame of it).

Cold Fantasy for a Hot Summer's Day -- Part 1: books for young readers

When it's hot outside (as it so often is in summer), I like to curl up with a cold, cold book. One where the snow is falling, and ice is everywhere. Here are some great cold fantasies for younger readers, 7-10 ish; books for older readers can be found in Part 2.

The Ice Dragon, by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin is best known for his on-going adult fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. But he also wrote a very cold book for young readers--The Ice Dragon, first published in 1980, but re-issued with illustrations by Yvonne Gilbert in 2006 (107 pages).

It begins "Adara liked the winter best of all, for when the world grew cold the ice dragon came." Adara is a Winter child--her mother died giving birth to her in middle of the coldest winter her village had known. And all her life she loved winter best, building castles out of snow with her bare hands, gently holding the ice lizards, easily killed by the warm hands of the other children, but happy with her cold touch. Better still, though, was the Ice Dragon, on whose back she rides...But when the peace of Adara's cold life is shattered by war, she must turn her back on winter, and sacrifice the ice dragon to save her family.

A fairy-tale type story that makes lovely pictures in the mind's eye.

Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist (2009, 117 pages)

In Norway, long ago, a boy named Odd leaves home very early one cold winter morning, when it was supposed to be spring, but wasn't. There in the snowy woods he meets three animals--a fox, a bear, and an eagle--and learns that they are Norse gods, transformed by the curse of a Frost Giant. The giant has claimed Asgard, the realm of the gods, as his own, and, unless he is driven out, winter will last forever.

It's a wonderfully cold and snowy world, peopled by gods and giants, and a brave and smart boy (my review).

Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson (first published in English in 1958)

My favorite winter book, no holds barred. In her earlier Moomin books, Jansson was happy to have fun--they are very Adventure driven, have a large cast of characters, and are somewhat episodic. This book, however, focuses primarily on a single character-- young Moomintroll, facing winter for the first time, while all the rest of his family sleeps. It is cold, dark, and incredibly haunting, as well as being lots of fun! This book is where the grown-up reader, who has never read any Moomin books, should start the series.

The Last Polar Bears, written and illustrated by Harry Horse (2007)

"Dear Child,
I am writing to let you know that Roo and I are well. I'm sorry I was unable to say goodbye to you properly and I hope that you can understand why I had to go on this expedition. I am going to the North Pole to find the Last Polar Bears."

All his life, the grandfather writes, he has either been too old or too young to do what he wanted to do, so with his dog Roo he has set off to find the polar bears before they are gone. In letters to his grandchild, he tells of a journey full of snow, and ice, and strangeness. This is a book that made both laugh and cry, and there are a number of bits that are very cold indeed. (my review)

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken (1963)

One bitterly cold winter's day, a young orphan named Sylvia travels by (freezing cold) train to the home of her cousin Bonnie. When she arrives at Bonnie's grand home, she is dismayed that Bonnie's parents are preparing to depart for a long voyage...and there is good reason for her trepidation. Beset by wolves and winter without, and by an evil governess within, Sylvia and Bonnie face a cold journey (literally and metaphorically) before warmer weather comes and all is well again.

What are your wintry favorites for younger readers? (I'm putting The Dark is Rising in the next post, btw, so do not be dismayed by its absence).


The Grey Horse, by R.A. MacAvoy, for Retro Friday

The Grey Horse, by R.A. MacAvoy (1987, YA, although it was marketed as an adult book--there wasn't much fantasy marketed as YA per se back in the day, 247 pages)

Before the explosion of paranormal romances, before fairy lovers were as common as all get out, before the myths of Ireland had been written about and written about, there was The Grey Horse, by R.A. MacAvoy.

A hundred and thirty years or so ago, when the English ruled all of Ireland, an old man named Anrai met a grey horse on the hill. And Anrai, Irish through and through, was much taken with the animal, which was clearly a native born and bred, just like himself. When the horse offered him a ride, Anrai cast off common sense and mounted...and the grey horse took him for a wild race, over the hills and through the town, past its staring inhabitants:

"God to you, Anrai O Reachtaire!" called one of them, "I have the weaving your own Aine spoke for!" Anrai stared straight ahead of him with a face of forbidding majesty, and affected not to hear. One hand he carried clenched at the horse's withers, as though it held a rein of such fine and narrow leather it could not be seen from a distance, while with the other he fished in his waistcoat pocket and drew out his silver pocket watch, which he held in front of his face in a preoccupied, businesslike manner." (pp 8-9)

Clearly this is no ordinary horse. In fact, not a horse at all, but one of the other folk...Ruairi Mac Eibhir, who has come back to the mortal world to find a bride. But will the woman who has entered his dreams agree to his proposal? Maire Standon is no weak reed, to fall for fairy magic--she is is as strong and stalwart as a young tree, more than a match for any fairy foolery. To win her heart, Ruairi will need more than magic. He will need to prove himself by his actions in the human world.

And the world of Maire and Anrai and their families is not a happy one. The Troubles are at their height, and Ireland is a volatile powder keg of injustice. In the real world, real people are suffering, at a personal, homely scale as well as in the larger political realm. And Ruairi, the gray horse of Ireland, can only do so much...

This is a book with just tons of heart, and tons of magic made intimate and real through R.A. MacAvoy's loving and detailed world-building and people-building. If you like a. shapeshifters b. fairy lovers c. historical fiction about Ireland, in which ordinary people can do extraordinary things d. books about old couples, very much in love still, keeping their dignity in the face of fierce odds e. horses, or f. any combination of the above, find this book!

(although I really would have liked a bit more romance...there was lots of chemistry, but not quite enough, um...er...)

Apologetic end note: sorry I didn't put in the fadas on the names (that's the acute accent)--I don't know how...

Every Friday Angie at Angieville hosts Retro Friday, and I am have been meaning to write this one up and contribute it for ages! Yay for getting something off the mental to-do list.


Thief Eyes, by Janni Lee Simner

Thief Eyes, by Janni Lee Simner (Random House 2010, YA, 256 pages)

Haley's mother disappeared into the mists at Thingvellir in Iceland, the central gathering place of the medieval Icelandic settlers (shown below). She was never found. A year later, Haley and her father have returned to that very spot. There is no sign of her mother, but Haley finds a small silver coin, that burns her hand when she picks it up. And that night, the dreams come--dreams of fire, and smoke, and destruction.

Picking up the coin has bound Haley to the dark spell cast a thousand years earlier by her ancestor, Hallgerd. It was a spell cast in anger, made of blood on the day when Hallgerd found that her father was going to break his promise, and give her in marriage instead of letting her have her freedom. The spell led Hallgerd's soul down through all the line of her female descendants, looking for one who would change places with her....and at last it has led Hallgerd to Haley. An American teenager, greiving for her mother, knowing almost nothing of the legends of Iceland in which she is now entangled.

The spell draws Haley into a world where the Norse gods are real, where fire demons can send their power into the living, where one of Odin's ravens plays tricks with the memory of the entire island. With Haley is Ari, an Icelandic boy, with his own ancient magic brought to life by the reverberations of Hallgerd's ancient spell. Trapped by forces even older than Hallgerd's spell, the two must make their way back to their own present, and find some way of breaking the power of the fire that has taken hold of Haley's spirit. For the fire is seeking its own way out, to burn and to destroy....

Thief Eyes merges the Icelandic sagas and a story of contemporary teenagers into an adventure that reminds me of forays into the myths of the British Isles that characterized many twentieth century books for older children--I'm thinking of such luminaries as Alan Garner, Catherine Fisher (although she's early 21st century as well!), and Susan Cooper. The mythological and historical elements, freshly drawn from the original sources, provides the danger--that particular danger that happens when old magic ensnares the modern child. This is one of my favorite types of fantasy, and the Norse myths and sagas are still pretty fresh ground, fantasy-wise, so I was predisposed to enjoy this book very much.

And I did. It didn't have all the emotive power of the authors I mention above--there weren't any moments when the numinous hit me in the face and I was struck cold, but I enjoyed it lots. It helped, I think, that I'm pretty familiar with Njal's Saga, from which Simner drew heavily. I read Njal's Saga in Iceland, during a long cold summer spent digging up an abandoned medieval farm, and Hallgerd, a central character in the saga, came to be vividly alive in my mind. Simner's Iceland, a place where passion plays out in a magically-charged landscape that is fairly unfriendly to people, felt pretty much spot on to me. But I wasn't quite convinced by the trajectory of the magical danger in Simner's story---I would have preferred to have the focus stay more firmly on Hallgerd and her machinations, and felt that the involvement of the fire demons and Odin's raven confused the issue at hand somewhat.

On the contemporary side of things, Simner likewise doesn't quite achieve thematic coherence in the emotional forces buffeting Haley. I found Haley and Ari to be engaging central characters, whose growing attraction for each other added a nice dollop of (paranoramally flavored) romantic interest. This part of the story should appeal greatly to teenaged readers, and I liked it too. However, in addition to trying to work out just what she feels for Ari, Haley is also grieving profoundly for her mother, while trying to resolve the desperately scary circumstances into which the Hallgerd's ancient spell has propelled Ari and herself. These three elements of Haley's story seem to take it in turn to be on center stage, never quite working together to make one larger, more powerful, story.

Despite these reservations, I enjoyed the book very much; I almost loved it, which is why I went into detail about why I didn't. I had no trouble whatsoever turning the pages briskly till I reached the end, and I'd highly recommend it to those who enjoy their YA fantasies infused with myth and history, who are ready to accept the elements of those older stories with which they are unfamiliar, and willingly journey through an ancient land where the echos of past anger reverberate in the present.

Bonus feature: really charming arctic fox.


Which Newbery Award winning fantasy do you like best? A poll

Update: 52 of you have spoken, and the winner is....a tie between The Hero and the Crown, and A Wrinkle in Time, with ten votes each! Truly both are classics. Feel free to keep voting, if you haven't already done so!

The past two winners of the Newbery Award have both been science fiction/fantasy, and I found myself wondering just how many winners are from this, my favorite, genre. (The 1950s seems like a bad time to be a sff writer for children).

So I looked, and having looked, wondered which one I liked best, and wondered what "liking best meant" --is it "if I could only save one and the rest would be lost forever to posterity" or is it "which am I most likely to re-read." I decided to go with the later, more personally meaningful, definition--the book I love best.

And then, just for the heck of it, I made a poll, to see which sff Newbery winner is the most popular, according to that definition. Here it is:

Which do you like best?

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I hope I found all the sff winners--but I haven't read them all. Please let me know if I missed any!


The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams, by Rhonda Hayter, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams, by Rhonda Hayter (Dail, 2010, middle grade, 242 pages)

Abbie Adams is going through a rough patch. It's hard being one of a family of witches, trying to pass as normal in elementary school--the temptation to use just a smidge of magic to get out of trouble is great! And it's even harder when your much younger brother has just started at the same school, and you have to worry about his own magic getting away from him...Abbie wishes she could tell her best friend all about her life; it's hard to relax when every time your friend comes over you might have to use a forgetting spell on her...

But Thomas Edison (yes, the Thomas Edison) is having an even harder time. He's been dragged through time as an enchanted black kitten. By chance, Abbie's father found him, and brought him home as a surprise for Abbie. It soon became clear to everyone, though, that this was no normal cat. Although he can't (being a kitten) tell anyone what happened to him, he uses his formidable intelligence to figure out how to use the computer with his little paws...and when his true identity is revealed, it becomes clear that someone wanted young Tom out of the way, to serve his own sinister purposes. Somehow Tom must be returned (preferably in boy form) back to the past, before it changes so much that Tom, and his inventions, are written out of history.

Off the top of my head, I feel that there are a number of books about families of witches living among us. But I think Hayter does a fine job making that aspect of her story fresh and fun. Abbie's problems are vexing enough to cause her real anxiety, while still staying firmly on this side of entertaining. The magic side of things is interesting, although sketched rather than explored and explained in detail.

It is the time-travelling kitten, however, who steals the show. Poking his little nose into every gadget around, Tom marvels at the 21st century. Even though for much of the book he's unable to express his feelings, it's clear that he's utterly fascinated by everything he's learning. And it's great fun to watch his relationship with Abbie unfolding--even though I shrink from Life Lessons in books, it's a pleasure to watch his example of hard work rub on her.

I don't think I've ever read a book in which someone time travels to the future enchanted as an animal. It's a fine premise in its own right, and even more fun that it is someone so very famous. The addition of Thomas Edison to Abbie's witchy world makes what could have been just a light, fun, book into a still light, but very fun indeed, book. And I think Tom, hero to all scientifically minded ten year olds that I know, adds a generous dollop of boy friendliness. I am determined to try it on my ten year old, using Tom as a hook...

(disclaimer: my copy of this book was received through The Picnic Basket, where you can read the thoughts of many others)


Report on my trip to the Toadstool

Yesterday I bravely set out from home and drove far, far to the north (an hour and 25 minutes, which is a lot for a Rhode Islander) to the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford, New Hampshire, so that I could enjoy a panel entitled “Writing Fantasy for Children and Teens: Insights from Seven Authors.”

And a lovely panel it was--here are the seven authors, and the topics that each discussed with eloquence and charm:

Ellen Booraem (The Unnameables) --Character as starting point, and how to write distinctive characters
Chris Brodien-Jones (The Owl Keeper) -- Creatures and their creation
Leah Cypess (Mistwood) -- Description and fantasy
Marissa Doyle (Betraying Season) -- What is YA fantasy?
Deva Fagan (The Marvellous Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle) --The relationship between fantasy and the real world
Angie Frazier (Everlasting)-- What is historical fantasy?
Kate Milford (The Boneshaker)-- Mythology and folklore in fantasy

Although all were interesting, it was Leah Cypess' discussion of description that was most fascinating to me. She suggested that the writer should try to channel description through the point of view of the characters, killing multiple birds with a single paragraph. Not only do you get a description out there for the reader, you also get the chance to show the character's opinions, their mindset (what they notice tells a lot about them), hints about the nature of what is being described, and even a bit of foreshadowing. Here's the example that she used from Mistwood; it's the scene where Isabelle, the central character, meets the princess Clarisse for the first time:

"The girl kept smiling as she moved forward, the motion of her legs almost invisible beneath her long silk shirt. She was wearing a dark blue dress with a tight bodice and flared sleeves that would be impractical in a fight." (page 13)

It was the sleeve detail to which Leah drew our attention--that Isabelle would be thinking of a fight shows both what sort of person she is, and foreshadows the tensions between the two characters. And I think, although Leah didn't say so, that Clarisse's fixed smile and invisible leg motion are rather telling too...

The nicest part, though, was chatting to folks at the end, informally. I'd never met Deva before, never even really emailed her, but I felt like we were old friends. And it turns out that Marissa and I actually were old acquaintances--we both went to Bryn Mawr, both wanted to be archaeologists, and she was in fact my designated Mentor at an event pairing upper and lower class(wo)men.

I was also able to help Kate Milford viz the central character of her new book. It is about a girl named Charlotte, so I was able to share insights on what being named Charlotte is like, and how tricky a name it is to pair with last names (my own, Charlotte Taylor, stinks. Also, names beginning with N, or any vowel, are bad. Unless you want your daughter to be vexed by people thinking she is named Sharla, Charlene, or Shirley....). Kate's new book sounds fascinating, by the way--Kate sounds likes she has had a blast with her city building for it, which you can see for yourself for yourself here at Nagspeake Online, the official site of the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture.

And speaking of new books, it was very pleasing indeed to hear all about the new books everyone has in the pipeline! Lots of good reading to come....We saw the cover to Ellen Booraem's Small People With Wings, for instance, and it sounds like great fun, as do Deva Fagan's forthcoming intergalactic circus books. And I'm happy as all get out that Leah Cypess has a companion novel to Mistwood coming, and that Marissa Doyle has a prequel to her series; Angie Frazier has two new books coming too, one a sequel to Everlasting!

I shall stop here-- I am half way through The Owl Keeper, and a third of the way through The Boneshaker, and must finish those....and then I must read Everlasting, which sounds lovely too!

(The Toadstool in Milford, incidentally, might not look all that enchanting, set as it is in a strip mall, but it has the best YA section I've seen in an independent bookstore. Well worth a trip!)

Ripley's Believe It or Not- Enter if You Dare!

Ripley's Believe It or Not- Enter if You Dare! (August 12, 2010) is a wonderfully diverse showcase of the disturbing, the bizarre, the sometimes gross, and the sometimes just pleasantly fascinating. It is just the sort of book to leave around the living room, to dip into when time allows and to be amazed (too overwhelming to curl up with, but just right for snacking), and an excellent book to give to your ten year old, so that you can have the pleasure of watching him do the same.

Of special interest to fans of the paranormal is a large vampire spread, that features a four page (I just learned that this is called a "gatefold") picture of a vampire hunter's kit, with all the paraphernalia therein explained in side-bars. I was very pleased to see our own Rhode Island vampire, poor Mercy Brown, included! But even more fascinating, to me at least, was the generous section on unbelievable art. I am rather tempted to make a gummi bear chandelier of my own....and who knew that toilet paper was so versatile?

And more fascinating to my son was the amazing science section, in particular the "mad inventions" section. Many of the tidbits of information contained therein have become very familiar to the rest of us, thanks to his word for word regurgitation! There's a very considerable amount of non-fiction here-- in particular, I appreciated that the "Ripley Research" boxes explained the science behind the fantastic. Here's a sample double page spread:

Like all the Ripley's books, this is a lavishly illustrated, fact-filled feast of the fantastic! (although the cover might scare your younger child and he might ask you to hide it).

(disclaimer: review copy received from publisher)

The Non-Fiction Monday Round-up is at Shelf-Employed today!


This Sunday's round-up of Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy posts from around the blogs

It's a lightish week for middle grade sff, but then, it seems like this was a week of quietude in general around the blogs....However, in a break from my own quietude, I'm off to New Hampshire, to hear seven most excellent authors talking about the writing of fantasy for kids and teens, which is most exciting for me. I'll be reporting about that on Monday (d.v.).

As usual, please let me know if I missed your post, because every week I find older reviews that I didn't include, and am saddened. Here's way I find things, by the way--via google reader (although I've missed things that I should have noticed), via blog searches on "middle grade fantasy" and "middle grade science fiction," and by specific searches for newly released titles that I think must have been reviewed somewhere.....(but this last is very hit or miss, depending on how much time I have). So please do let me know, anytime during the week, if you have a post for me! (email me at charlotteslibrary at gmail dot com).

The Reviews:

Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck, by Dale E. Basye, at Kinder Scares.

The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper, at The Book Nest.

Dark Life, by Kat Falls, at Bending Bookshelf, Bloggin' 'bout Books and Back to Books.

Jaguar Stones (Middleworld), by J & P Voelkel, at The Reading Zone and The Discriminating Fangirl.

Magic Thief: Found, by Sarah Prineas, at Eva's Book Addiction.

The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, at Wands and Worlds.

The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud, at Educating Alice.

Scumble, by Ingrid Law, at Kids Lit.

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere) by Jacqueline West, at Shelf Elf.

Spaceheadz, by Jon Scieszka and Francescoc Sedita, illustrated by Shane Prigmore, at Maddigan Reads, Janet Reads, and Bookworming in the 21st Century.

Tatsinda, by Elizabeth Enright, at Readatouille.

Windblown, by Stephen Messer, at Journey of a Bookseller.

The Interviews:

Cynthia Leitch Smith chats with Marianne Malone, author of The Sixty Eight Rooms.

John & Pam Voelkel, authors of The Jaguar Stones: Middleworld, are on a blog tour right now, and isn't it just the most fortuitous timing that a fantastic Mayan discovery was announced this week? Here are the stops I found for this week: SciFi Chick, One Librarian's Book Reviews, The O.W.L.

Other interesting things:

Ink Spells takes a look at science fiction for kids that includes both insightful insights and some recommendations -- not to be missed!

Kate Coombs, aka Book Aunt, goes back to the first half of the 20th century for a look at some fairy tale retellings.

The Boy Book/Girl Book issue came up again, in a conversation at The Enchanted Inkpot. Janni Lee Simner writes a response at her own blog, Desert Dispatches. Interesting stuff. And, coincidentally, an Associated Press article (picked up by the Winnipeg Free Press, among many others) takes a look at farts (aka books for boys).

At Scribble City, you can read "The Snow Woman's Hair," a brand new myth by Lucy Coats.

And just because I came across it, I thought I'd share that Steph Su Reads is giving away a copy of Nightshade City, by Hilary Wagner. (I'm not going to try to find all the mg sff giveaways out there, but if anyone wants to send me links, I'll happily share them!)

And just because I like to feel helpful, here is something that might be of interest:

"The Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) is accepting proposals for the Gulliver Travel Research Grant from July 1st 2010 until September 30th 2010.

SLF travel grants are awarded to assist writers of speculative fiction (poetry, drama, creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research. We are currently offering one $800 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses." Via Ambling Along the Aquaduct, where you can read more.


Five get into a linguistic fix--dragging Enid Blyton into the 21st century

From today's Guardian--"Enid Blyton's Famous Five Get 21st-Century makeover."

The one time my dear mother really truly betrayed me is when she oh-so-conveniently left our complete collection of Famous Five books in the Bahamas when we moved back to the States. She never liked them--she had somehow gotten it into her mind that Enid Blyton wasn't exactly what she wanted her daughters to read and re-read and re-read...But goodness, I did enjoy them.

And a large part of their charm (even though I took it for granted at the time, being essentially a sweetly jolly British-esque school girl myself*) was the vividly-written British-ness of them. That is about to go out the window--ten of the books are being bland-ified, to make them more accessible to today's young. For example, "she must be jolly lonely all by herself" will become "she must get lonely all by herself". Blah!

My own boys have listened to audio books of several of the original books with much enjoyment (although goodness knows I winced at some of the racism and sexism, so much so that I'd rather read them aloud myself, so that I can do my own editing; maybe this is why my mother ditched them). But what really is bothering me is the sense I get from this that the world is becoming far too linguistically homogeneous. Surely there are still people in England who say things are "jolly?" My own dear husband (who has provided italicized interjections) comes from (the dismal working-class slums of) Liverpool, and has never called anything jolly with any sincerity (Jolly? Luxury! i.e. it's a class thing), but there must be some people still there who are glad-eyed and upright and sincere (and upper-clarse ....)

And even more than that, I am vaguely bothered to find that I have been speaking in outdated English English myself--it is no wonder that I am so often misunderstood (pities self). One of the things I say quite often--"it's all very peculiar" is being changed to "it's all very strange". Although I would say "it's all really peculiar," overusing "really" as I do (sigh--a quick search of my blog revealed a "really" in almost every post).

But anyway, it all seems wrong and pointless. Blah, I say again.

*so much so that I was chosen for a UK TV commercial, in which I sailed with Captain Birdseye, promoting fish fingers.


Star in the Forest, by Laura Resau

Star in the Forest, by Laura Resau (Random House, 2010, middle grade, 140 pages)

"There is a forest behind my trailer, through the weeds and under the gate and across the trickly, oily ditch. It is a forest of very, very old car parts, heaps of rusted metal, spotted orangey brown, with rainbow layers of fading paint, and leaves and vines poking and twisting through the holes. Birds and snakes and bugs sometimes peek out from the pipes and hubcaps." (page 3)

This is where Zitlally, whose name means "star" in Nahuatl, went to be alone the day her Papa, an illegal immigrant, was deported. With her Papa gone, Zitlally doesn't want to try to keep up with her wealthier friends. She doesn't want to keep trying in school. She doesn't want to have to put up with the two beer drinking tenants who have moved into the family's trailer. She just wants her father again.

Two weeks after he was sent back to Mexico, Zitlally ventures again into the forest of car parts, where flowers bloom among the wreckage. There she finds a dog, chained to an old truck. On the back of his neck a patch of black fur looks like a star, and so she shares her own name with him.

Ever day Zitlally visits Star. Then one afternoon a stranger follows her into the woods--Crystal, another trailer park resident. She's the girl Zitlally's old friends despised, the girl who's father is in prison. The dog brings them together, and their friendship grows. Hope grows too, when the sale of the family's truck brings enough money for Zitlally's father to pay for another border crossing. But then comes the news that he has been kidnapped as he tried to cross the border back into the US. $10,000, an almost impossible sum, is being demanded to secure his release. And Star has disappeared as well.

In the minds of the two girls, the fate of the man and the dog are linked. If they can find and save Star, maybe Zitlally's father will make it back home safely too...

Star in the Forest is short, and simple, and straightforward. Yet at the same time, in its simplicity are contained multitudes of complexity. It is a book in which large issues, primarily the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States, are made accessible by the clarity of the child narrator's voice. Zitlally doesn't talk about rights and wrongs--she talks about missing her Papa, about her mother's broken English, about the tension of trying to keep up with girls who have much more than she does. And so her story is one that teaches without being didactic.

The passage that opens the story, which I quoted above, shows, I think, how Resau can write lyrical prose about something horrible without being judgemental. The junky, trashy wood is not condemned--just described, in such a way as to make it almost beautiful. The harsh circumstances of Zitlally's life are likewise described with uncompromising honesty, but Zitlally doesn't pass judgements--she simply lives as best she can. It is left to the reader to draw her own larger conclusions.

One of my favorite posts ever, incidentally, is my interview with Laura Resau, about the intersection of fiction and anthropology.

How to tell when your child really loves a book, and parenting Fail viz gender stereotypes

My seven-year old has decided that he will have two children, Sapphire and Andrew. Last night he was deciding what he should take from our house to pass on to them (I had to write down the list)....and one of the first things to come to his mind was Swords, by Ben Boos (my review). "I think Sapphire and Andrew will like that," he said. And I was pleased that little Sapphie would get to share in the sword part of life.

But then my son got all squirmy and blushed a bit, and whispered, in a sickened tone of voice, "I think I'm going to have to buy Sapphire a .... Barbie."

And next came another blow to my hope (which was a pretty forlorn one already) that I'd raised gender stereotype free boys. "And I'll take the triangle mirror," he said, "So that Sapphire can look at herself and brush her hair." It's not even as though I model that behavior very much myself...

Grandma will just have to buy Sapphire a nice sword, and fencing lessons. And a doll for Andrew.


Gateway, by Sharon Shinn

Gateway, by Sharon Shinn (Penuin, October 2009, YA, 280 pages).

The black jade ring is the first sign that something strange has entered Daiyu's life. The old woman selling jewelry at the St. Louis fair insists is made for her, and even though she doesn't really want a ring, the next day finds her buying it. When it is on her finger, and she walks through the Gateway Arch that her city is famous for, her world changes. Literally.

Daiyu finds herself in a parallel world, one in which the Han colonized America. For the first time in her life as a Chinese girl adopted by white Americans, she's one of the powerful majority. And she's young and beautiful--just the right sort of person to pose as a debutante and get close to the governor of this other place. Just the right person to send him off into yet another dimension...where he can be brought to trial for crimes against humanity. At least, that's what the two people who planned her journey hope.

These two people say the man posing as governor is an evil infiltrator from yet another dimension, and they give Daiyu a talisman that will send him off to a place where he will be held accountable. Or so they say. Daiyu isn't sure she trusts them, but she does trust their handsome young associate, a poor white boy named Kalen whom they have taken in. And it seems like cooperating might be her best chance to get home again.

Soon she is playing the role of a wealthy young woman, learning the social conventions of the Han, and learning more about the "evil" dictator, who is a charismatic leader, seemingly beloved by (most) of the people he rules. Happiness comes from stolen meetings with Kalen--they can't meet openly, because he is of the white underclass, and she is Han, but still they find ways to see each other. But the more she learns of this different world, the greater the danger in which she, and Kalen, find themselves in...not just on the political intrigue side of things with its potentially fatal implications. Because Kalen and Daiyu are in very great danger of falling in love, and Daiyu must eventually go home again....

Shinn has done some lovely worldbuilding here--nicely imagined and nicely detailed (in both the modern and the archaic sense of "nice"). And against this backdrop, the twin stories of love and intrigue play out beautifully. Shinn keeps the reader firmly centered in Daiyu's point of view, so that we understand things as she does. At the same time, she does an excellent job balancing Daiyu's emotions and reactions with the external plot, so that it all moves along most swingingly.

But all that good stuff aside, what I really appreciated is that the crux of the whole matter is whether Daiyu will find enough evidence of the governor's character to decide, For Herself, if he is a bad guy or not. She doesn't have to master an obscure martial art, or develop magical powers--instead, she has to think, and draw an independent conclusion. It would have been easy for her to just go along with what she was told, but that doesn't satisfy her. In short, Daiyu is a very fine heroine indeed. Gateway is not quite as stunningly original as Shinn's Angel books, but then, what is. I enthusiastically recommend it to those who enjoy their YA romance with a twist of time, fate, and political intrigue.

Thoughts on age appropriateness: School Library Journal has this as grades 6-9, which surprised me a bit. Because Daiyu and Kalen never get any privacy, nothing has a chance to happen, as it were, between them, so there's nothing that would make a 6th grader blush. But I think that thematically it is for older readers--I'd put it as upper Middle Grade/YA.

Thoughts on the cover:

Although on the one hand it would have been great if Daiyu had been clearly shown on the cover as the Chinese American girl she is (her nose looks awfully European to me), I think this is one of the most metaphorically rich covers I've paid attention to in ages (those who dislike overblown metaphor fun should stop reading now).

The black spot/hole at the center of the parasol is the chasm of time/space separating the two lovers--their lips can never cross it to kiss--while from it extend the ribs of the parasol (i.e. the lives of alternate possibility), that join the two together, giving hope that they will meet again. The parasol shows that their love in this time and place is shadowed--it is limited by cultural constraints, yet the two red birds (embodying passion) fly unfettered above them.

I dunno what the dragonflies on the parasol mean though. Or why he gets more of them on his side than she does.

My famous friends and the Nightmare Dystopia of the Tea Party!

Just wanted to share a link to this article at the Huffington Post, where my friends Pat and Sandy, of Emma's Revolution fame, were featured a few days ago.


The Doomsday Book, for Timeslip Tuesday, plus what I mean by "time travel as plot device"

In a comment on my last Timeslip Tuesday (Once a Witch), a faithful reader (thanks faithful reader!) wrote: "I'm curious as to what in your mind is the paradigm of time travel stories. You often say that in this story or other, time travel was only used as a plot device and I always wonder what that means." And I said to myself, "Gosh." It's all so clear in my own mind that I hadn't realized I wasn't being clear to others!

When I say that time travel is used as a plot device, I mean that it is an accessory to the main story. It might well further the course of events, possibly adding interest and magic. But the big story, the book as a whole, doesn't absolutely need the time travel in order to work, as is the case with Once a Witch. I have no objection to this--such books can be entertaining and well-written. But they aren't, in my mind, really truly timeslip books.

Those are the books in which the whole story depends on the time travel, and the book can't be imagined without it. The time travel doesn't just happen en passant. Its consequences are explored, there are emotional repercussions, and the effects of the time travelling are apparent not just in the course of events, but in the development of the characters. An outstanding example is Connie Willis' The Doomsday Book.

In a future Oxford, historians are busily travelling back in time, learning about the past first hand. The Middle Ages, however, haven't been explored yet--too dangerous. Kivrin, an undergraduate, is determined to go back to the early fourteenth-century despite the risks, and in spite of the reluctance of her unofficial tutor, Dunworthy. A flip of the switch later, and Kivrin has travelled back in time. At least, Dunworthy comforts himself, she's landed several decades before the Black Death reached England...

But things have gone awry. Tormented by the first deadly symptoms of a new influenza virus, the technician made a mistake. Kivrin is about to experience not only the profound cultural shock of the real Middle Ages; she is about to watch the family that has taken her in die of the plague. As the influenza begins to kill the quarantined residence of Kivrin's Oxford, Kivrin tries desperately to keep the Black Death from claiming the lives of the people she has come to care deeply about back in the past.

This is a story that hits all the marks of a great time travel spot on. There is the meticulous and detailed portrayal of the past, with the cultural shock of the time traveller given full weight. There is the attention paid to making the people in the past much more than cardboard cutouts of medieval stereotypes--the folk of the manor and village are believable people, firmly in their own time, but no less genuine for it. Kivrin must abandon her ideas of what should the past should be, and deal with what it actually is, with all the emotional entanglements that such an experience entails.

And there is the dangerous element of time travel, that often gets glossed over or shoved to the side--the thought of never getting home again. Here this danger is shown primarily in Kivrin's present, in a parallel story that tells of Dunworthy frantically trying, in a disease stricken city of his own, to save her. This story simultaneously adds the comic relief of chaos that is one of Willis' hallmarks, while exponentially increasing the dramatic tension. Past and present complement and re-enforce each other, both dealing with the effects of crisis on those involved. There's a lot of suffering, a lot of loyalty, and more than a few harrowing moments.

The time-travel part isn't divorced from the larger point of the book--it is the point. In short, I think this is a shinning example of a book in which time travel isn't a plot device, but is instead the story's heart and soul.

The Doomsday Book
won the Hugo and Nebulla Awards. I've just effusively praised its time-travel qualities. And yet, it isn't a favorite book of mine, because is so extraordinarily uncomfortable. 578 pages of disorientation, danger, chaos, and death in both past and present, that gets worse and worse as the book progresses. It didn't have to be so long, and I think could have stood some crisp editing.

So, for a Time Travel book that I love, that is all a time travel book should be--my pick is Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer (my thoughts). Not just because the heroine has such a fine, fine name....

Incidentally, the one aspect of time travel that isn't explored in The Doomsday book is whether changes to the past can effect the present--this doesn't much interest Willis, so she blithely declares that such paradoxes are impossible--the "net" won't open to send people back if things are going to get changed. And indeed, this paradox part of time travel, along with the technical or magical mechanics of how and why it works, are of little interest to me. As long as it sings/works/makes me lose myself in the story, I don't care how it happens!


The books he got for his 10th birthday

My oldest turned ten today--Happy Birthday, Pickled Bananas!

Here are the books he got today:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
The Periodic Table--Elements with Style, and Biology--Life as We Know It! by Simon Basher.
The Basilisk's Lair, by R.L. LaFevers
Tintin and Snowy, Vol. 1 by Guy Harvey and Simon Beecroft

A fine selection of books for the sort of reluctant/kind of picky boy reader, if I say so myself. But he hasn't cracked open any of them yet, let alone posted about them on his blog.

Because he also got a wii.

Swords for Non-Fiction Monday

Swords: An Artist's Devotion by Ben Boos. (Candlewick, 2008, 96 pages). When he was a child, Ben Boos drew sword after sword, fascinated by their variety and detail. This lovely tribute to the weapon shows that delight. (And I'd just like to point out how apt my choice of book is, as I am typing this on the computer in the jury library of the state courthouse, where I am serving the Sword of Justice).

This book is a gallery of swords, beginning with Bronze Age Europe, progressing through the Middle Ages, and then moving east, to the swords of Japan, China, and Korea. A section entitled "War Chiefs" covers swords from diverse cultures of Oceania and Africa (this one is a bit of a hodge-podge, which I found disappointing), and the final section presents the swords of the Sultans.

This is a perfect book for the reader of any age who loves swords...my boys oohed and awed over every page. And indeed, never have I myself seen such a beautiful designed and illustrated collection of weapons! The variety and detail is remarkable, and the accompanying illustrations of places and people add great interest.

I would have liked more of the background to the weapons--how they were made, by whom, and at what cost...that sort of socio-economic thing that us anthropologically minded archaeologists love. The text which accompanies the many wordless full page pictures of swords focuses on the people wielding them, which is probably of greater interest to the target audience.

This is the sort of book that cries out to be given as a gift. It's truly a handsome thing.

The author, Ben Boos, has a forthcoming book that also looks like a great gift for the medievally- minded child--Fantasy, an Artist's Realm, is Boos' imagining of a Dungeons and Dragons type imaginary world, with the coastal fortress of the Paladins, the forests of the elves, and the various lands of darker creatures brought to beautifully illustrated life.

The Non-Fiction Monday round-up today is at In Need of Chocolate.

Disclaimer--review copy of Swords received from the publisher, along with a partial preview of Fantasy, an Artist's Realm.


This Sunday's Round-up of Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction posts from around the blogs

Another Sunday is here. I'm rather glad last week is over, as it was very stressful at work, and, more distressingly, my poor little one broke his arm. Next week I have jury duty, which will either be a peaceful break, or even more stressful...

But, on the other hand, it was a rather good week for reviews of middle grade science fiction and fantasy!


The Boneshaker, by Kate Milford, at Becky's Book Reviews.

Bran Hambric--The Farfield Curse, by Kaleb Nation, at The Book on the Hill.

Carbonel, the King of Cats, by Barbara Sleigh, at Readatouille

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, by Jo Nesbø, at Biblio File.

Dread Pirate Fleur and the Hangman's Noose, by Sara Starbuck, at Nayu's Reading Corner.

The Eternal Hourglass and The Pyramid of Souls, by Erica Kirov, at A Patchwork of Books.

Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell, at Eva's Book Addiction

The Familiar, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, at Book Aunt.

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman, at Book Aunt.

The Lost Conspiracy, by Frances Hardinge, at One Librarian's Book Reviews.

Mamba Point, by Kurt Scaletta, at Educating Alice.

The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, at Book Nut.

The Owl Keeper, by Christine Brodien-Jones, at Beyond Books.

The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, at One More Page and Boys Rule Boys Read!

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere), by Jacqueline West, at Monsters and Critics and MBW Creates.

The Suburb Beyond the Stars, by M.T. Anderson, at Charlotte's Library.

Thresholds, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, at Fuse #8.

The Time Pirate, by Ted Bell, at Ms. Yingling Reads.

Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World, by Scott Seegert, illustrated by John Martin, at Welcome to My Tweendom.

A Walk in Wolf Wood, by Mary Stewart, at Fantasy Literature.

A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, at Literate Lives.

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams, by Rhonda Hayter, at Teach Mentor Texts.

Wizard at Work, by Vivien Vande Velde at Fantasy Literature.


Rebecca Serle chats with Kathi Appelt (The Underneath and Keeper) about "American Fantasy" at The Huffington Post.

All things Basilisk's Lair--the author, R.L. LaFevers, the illustrator Kelly Murphy, the editor, Kate O'Sullivan, AND the publicist, Jennifer Taber, chat about the second Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist book at The Picnic Basket.

An interview with D.M. Cornish (Monstor Blood Tattoo) at The Enchanted Inkpot.

10 Questions for Wendy Mass (11 Birthdays and Finally) at Book Nut.

A video interview with Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted and many other fine books), at Emily's Reading Room.


Gearing up toward their discussion next week of Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, there's a discussion of the things a book needs to work at The League of Extraordinary Writers.

It is true that the majority of sci fi/fantasy books linked to in these Sunday posts are fantasy; for those looking for the sci fi, Deva Fagan has compiled lovely list of recent science fiction for kids and teens. And here's a list I missed last week-- Stacy Whitman has posted her updated list of multi-cultural sff for kids.

Today's Adventure has announced the return of Once Upon a Week--a celebration of fairy tales that will take place August 1-7--more information here.

That same week is Diana Wynne Jones Week, hosted by Jenny's Books, and here's her most recent post full of DWJ goodness in preperation for it.

If all goes well, next Sunday, July 25, 2-4pm, will see me at the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford NH, listening to a panel discussion on “Writing Fantasy for Children and Teens: Insights from Seven Authors” featuring:

Ellen Booraem (The Unnameables)
Chris Brodien-Jones (The Owl Keeper)
Leah Cypess (Mistwood)
Marissa Doyle (Betraying Season)
Deva Fagan (The Marvellous Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle)
Angie Frazier (Everlasting)
Kate Milford (The Boneshaker)

And finally,

Lucy Knisley is illustrating Lois Lowry's The Giver rather stunningly here at Picture Book Report. From the "About" page: "Picture Book Report is an extended love-song to books. Fifteen illustrators will reach out to their favorite books and create wonderful pieces of art in response to the text that has moved them, shaped them, or excited them. From sci-fi to children’s books to fantasy to serious novels, we’ll cover them all. For three weeks out of every month there will be a new illustration every day from one of us along with our thoughts, process, anything we can come up with. Together we will try to excite readers both new and old and capture some of that magic of storytelling." Cool! (found at io9)

Please let me know if I missed your post, either in a comment, or by emailing me directly at charlotteslibrary at gmail dot com! Thanks!


New releases of science fiction and fantasy for kids and teens--the middle to end of July edition

Here are the new releases of middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy from the middle of July to the end of July (there weren't enough at the end to make it worth while giving them their own slot).

Here's the one I want--Come Fall. I was so close to getting an ARC of it at ALA last month--the publisher had one copy on display, and when the clock struck 12 (or so) on the last Monday, it would up for grabs. But while I was lingering, watching the minutes tick on like the good child I am, the sneaky evil hands of Another Lurker reached out and I watched in horror as it disappeared into the greedy maw of her tote bag. Sigh.

Middle Grade

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY by James Norcliffe.
A young boy lives in an orphanage that is completely surrounded by a thick wall. Every day, he wishes he were free. He wishes he had a new life. And then he meets the loblolly boy, who is strange, mysterious and who promises the young boy that he can teach him how to fly - as he himself can, with his green, feathery wings. In teaching the boy how to fly, however, the loblolly boy has made an Exchange--he switches place with the orphan. Now the young boy is free and the loblolly boy is "real." The young boy rejoices in his freedom until he realizes the price he has paid and soon sets out to make his own Exchange - but at what cost?

COME FALL by A.C.E. Bauer.
Lu Zimmer's best friend moved away last summer. Salman Page is the new kid in school. Blos Pease takes everything literally. Three kids who are on the fringe of the middle school social order find each other and warily begin to bond, but suddenly things start going wrong. Salman becomes the object of the school bully's torment, and Lu's pregnant mother has some unexpected complications. Is something conspiring against them?In fact, through no fault of their own, Salman and Lu have become pawns in a game of jealous one-upmanship between Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of Faery, with the mischievous Puck trying to keep the peace.

DEMONS AND DRUIDS: DANIEL X by James Patterson & Adam Sadler
Daniel X's hunt to eliminate each and every intergalactic criminal on Earth is always relentless, but this time, it's getting personal. Number Three on the List of Alien Outlaws takes the form of raging, soul-possessing fire. And fire transports Daniel back to the most traumatic event of his life-the death of his parents. In the face of his "kryptonite", Daniel struggles with his extraordinary powers like never before, and more than ever is at stake: his best friends are in grave peril. The only way to save them is to travel back-through a hole in time-to the demon's arrival during the Dark Ages. Rip-roaring action and humor sets the pages afire in this gripping time-travel adventure with an Arthurian cast-and countless other surprises!

Hide your wings . . . we’re going undercover!
Elly Knottleweed-Eversprightly has a secret. A big secret. She is a fairy, and she even has the wings to prove it. Every time Elly goes to a new fairy school, it ends in disaster, but this week, Elly is going undercover at her friend Jess’s South Street School. Human school should be a piece of cake. No spells. No flying. Just normal human stuff. But Elly’s fairy blunders make her feel like she’s been living under a toadstool. Plus, there’s something fishy going on. All the girls are into fairies, and Elly smells magic. Is she really the only fairy at South Street School?

Charlie is in big trouble. Dangeroos, Mimics, Netherstalkers, and worse are everywhere, and the danger to our world has never been greater. The Named have succeeded in summoning the Queen of Nightmares, a villain so terrible that only one person can stop her—Charlie Benjamin, armed with the Sword of Sacrifice. But Charlie can't get the fabled sword without the help of his friends Theodore, Violet, and Brooke—and the sacrifice it demands from them is even more horrifying than a roomful of Ravenous Sticky-Spitters. . . .

There''s a new addition to the island of Crampton Rock. His name is MacDowell (yup, just one name) and he claims to have had some amazing pirate adventures with Admiral Swift, the great uncle of Stanley Buggles.Stanley is eager to know more about this MacDowell. Could this man help him uncover the secret of the Smuggler''s map? Can he be trusted? Or once a pirate always a pirate?

VENOM AND SONG: THE BERINFELL PROPHECIES by Wayne Thomas Batson & Christopher Hopper
Now in the strange realm of Allyra, the Seven young lords confront a traitor in their midst, a creature-infested forest, teenage fears and doubts, inexplicable mysteries . . . and the Spider King himself. In a rigorous training program that makes boot camp look like Disneyland, the Seven must quickly learn to harness their own powers, work as one, and elude the Spider King's spies. But as the ancient Berinfell Prophecies are revealed, the Seven soon discover their training might not be enough. To stop the Spider King they must also unravel the secrets of the Rainsong, travel to a creepy, trap-infested fortress to find the legendary keystone, and lead the Berinfell Elves in an attack on the Spider King's own turf. An epic adventure with powerful messages about true strength, forgiveness, and working together as one body that will grab the attention of intermediate readers.

Young Adult

7 SOULS by Barnabas Miller & Jordan Orlando
Mary expected her seventeenth birthday to be a blowout to remember, courtesy of her best friends, fellow New York City prepsters Amy and Joon, and her doting boyfriend, Trick.
Instead, the day starts badly and gets worse. After waking up in a mortifying place with a massive, unexplainable hangover, Mary soon discovers that nobody at school is even aware that it's her birthday. As evening approaches, paranoia sets in. Mary just can't shake the feeling that someone is out to get her—and, as it turns out, she's right. Before the night is over, she's been killed in cold blood.
But murder is just the beginning of Mary's ordeal. Her soul gets trapped in a strange limbo, and she must relive the day of her death through the eyes of seven people—each of whom, she finds, had plenty of reasons to hate her. As Mary explores the mysteries of her world, discovering secrets that were hidden in plain sight while she was alive, she clings desperately to the hope that she can solve her own murder, change the past, and—just maybe—save her own life.

ECHOES by Melinda Metz
Can't believe she did that . . .
. . . at four-thirty I have to . . .
. . . I hate this place . . .
Rae Voight is losing her mind. When she walks down the halls of Sanderson Prep, she hears voices . . . even when no one is talking. Other people's thoughts crowd her head, a confusing tangle of insecurities and dark secrets. Just when Rae reaches her breaking point, one voice comes screaming through the din, loud and clear:
. . . Rae must die . . .
If Rae doesn't figure out who the thought belongs to soon, she could lose more than just her sanity.

Doug Lee is undead quite by accident—attacked by a desperate vampire, he finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night. But it's just not the same.

Then he meets the new Indian exchange student and falls for her—hard. Yeah, he wants to bite her, but he also wants to prove himself to her. But like the laws of life, love, and high school, the laws of vampire existence are complicated—it's not as easy as studying Dracula. Especially when the star of Vampire Hunters is hot on your trail in an attempt to boost ratings. . . .

THE FOOL'S GIRL by Celia Rees
Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.
This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

In this essential guide for the newly undead, readers will learn how to perfect the vacant stare, the shambling gait, and the sense that they're falling apart. Adjusting to "life" as a zombie takes a little getting used to. Illustrations.

It’s a good thing Dru Anderson is fast. Because the sucker chasing her isn’t slowing down—and he won’t rest until he has tasted her blood and silenced her heart . . .
Dru’s best friend, Graves, and her strange and handsome savior, Christophe, are ready to help her take on the ultimate evil. But will their battle for Dru’s heart get in the way of her survival?

LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Before she can rest in peace, Charlotte Usher must return to the tragic site of her death: high school. Once there, her assignment is to help a designated teen solve a personal problem in time for the all-important prom. But no one explained what happens if you fall in love with your class project. Charlotte would die (again) for love but facing the all-too-familiar feeling of invisibility may be too much for her to swallow.

LUCY by Laurence Gonzales
A civil war has exploded and Jenny is trapped in its crosshairs . . . She runs to the camp of a fellow primatologist. The rebels have already been there. Everyone is dead except a young girl, the daughter of Jenny’s brutally murdered fellow scientist—and competitor. Jenny and the child flee, Jenny grabbing the notebooks of the primatologist who’s been killed. She brings the girl to Chicago to await the discovery of her relatives. The girl is fifteen and lovely—her name is Lucy.

Realizing that the child has no living relatives, Jenny begins to care for her as her own. When she reads the notebooks written by Lucy’s father, she discovers that the adorable, lovely, magical Lucy is the result of an experiment. She is part human, part ape—a hybrid human being . . .

LOVE SUCKS! by Melissa Francis
AJ Ashe may have gotten rid of her vampire stalker and her evil ex-teacher, but things are hardly back to normal. For one thing, she still has to maintain a strict look-but-don't-touch policy with Ryan, her hot ex-boyfriend-turned-stepbrother. For another, she has to learn to control her vampire superpowers—which means more than a few dates with Lex, mind-reading professional vampire trainer and too-sexy-for-his-own-good bad boy. And as if that's not enough, she happens to be the key to her father's plans to take over the world . . . and he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants.
All this and she's still got to plan the prom. Being a teenager is tough, but being a teenage vampire just flat out sucks!

THE POISON DIARIES by Maryrose Wood & The Duchess of Northumberland
In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .
Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.
When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .

RISE OF THE POISON MOON: JENNIFER SCALES by MaryJanice Davidson & Anthony Alongi Jennifer Scales is a were-dragon with a fiery temper-but a warm heart. Jennifer's ex-boyfriend, werarachnid Skip Wilson, is out of control. His powers have grown as strong as his hunger for revenge, leaving her little choice but to confront him-hopefully without giving in to her own dark side...

SHADOW HILLS by Anastasia Hopcus
After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died. Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

SIREN by Tricia Rayburn
Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything--the dark, heights, the ocean--but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge. That is until Justine goes cliff diving one night near the family's vacation house in Winter Harbor, Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day. Vanessa's parents want to work through the tragedy by returning to their everyday lives back in Boston, but Vanessa can't help feeling that her sister's death was more than an accident. After discovering that Justine never applied to colleges, and that she was secretly in a relationship with longtime family friend Caleb Carmichael, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor to seek some answers.But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine's death, she and Caleb's older brother, Simon, join forces to try to find him, and in the process, their childhood friendship blossoms into something more. Soon it's not just Vanessa who is afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes home to a string of fatal, water-related accidents . . . in which all the victims are found grinning from ear to ear. As Vanessa and Simon probe further into the connections between Justine's death and the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance, and that will change her life forever.

SLEEPLESS by Cyn Balog
Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest. But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her. . . . Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?
In the satiric and funny sequel to the witty Vampire High, Cody's hopes for a great sophomore year at Vlad Dracul are dashed when his train wreck of a cousin, Turk Stone, moves in and messes with his life. Turk's a brilliant teen artist and goth with a sky-high ego . Her attitude infuriates the vampire (jenti) students, especially the dark, brooding Gregor. But something changes in Turk when she stumbles on the abandoned nineteenth-century mill in the forgotten district of Crossfield and immediately claims it as her new arts center project. Though Cody resents his cousin at first, he has his own reasons for helping make Turk's dream come true. But Crossfield has many secrets, and a mysterious vampire army called the Mercians will do anything to make sure they stay hidden. And when he takes on the Mercians, everything Cody has learned about courage and determination his freshman year at Vampire High will be tested.

X-ISLE by Steve Augarde
Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X-Isle, the island where life is rumored to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys stand a chance of getting in, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place, where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves-the construction of a mighty weapon of defense. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it to secure their freedom?

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