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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,824
1. Fairy Sewing Project

About a month ago I started a project, a sewing project. I decided to create my own costume for the World of Faeries Festival, something I've always wanted to do, but never felt I had the know how or guts to do.

I decided it was time to just "do it".

Although each step took several deep breaths, I am very happy to say I know how to use my machine well enough to sew without a manual, and I am way more confident in using the foot and speed. :) The costume is coming along too. It'll be interesting to see it all come together in the end.

When designing, and as I continue to create this costume, I keep asking myself "What would one of my fairies wear?". I want to personify one of my own creations. When do we ever get that opportunity!? It's way fun!!

Here are some progress shots. :)

Pockets!


Took apart a beautiful skirt to make my own "artist" apron. It will also allow for no cashbox.


A crown of course!


My parents bought me a beautiful costume for the ren faires this past Christmas. I decided to modify the chemise to make it longer and more like my fairies' design.


Apron on the chemise. The idea is to have a half bodice in the future, but for now this will do.
Also, HUGE shout out to my mom, who did all of the hemming and sewing for the apron!! 


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2. The Trap by Steve Arnston, 245 pp, RL 4

I am so excited to read and review The Trap, Steve Arnston's third book! I loved his debut, the creepily marvelous post-apocalyptic tale, The Wikkeling, with amazing illustrations by the superb Daniela J. Terrazzini. His second book, The Wrap-Up List, is a YA novel in which a sixteen-year-old chooses the things she wants to do in the week before her scheduled "departure" from a world

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3. Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day At School, by Adam Auerbach | Book Review

This book, wonderfully written and illustrated by Adam Auerbach, provides a fun and imaginative tale, with a uniquely voiced female character at its center.

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4. The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson, 258 pp, RL 4

The Abominables is a posthumous publication from Eva Ibbotson with illustrations by the wonderful Fiona Robinson. Ibbotson is best known for the magical creature filled books she herself called "romps." While her works always have a rich vein of loving kindness running throughout, Ibbotson had a gift for creating kooky characters with bad ideas and and bad intentions as well as those with

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5. COURT OF FIVES by Kate Elliott \\ Flawed but Engaging

Review by Kaitlin COURT OF FIVESby Kate ElliottAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upSeries: Court of Fives (Book 1)Hardcover: 448 pagesPublisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 18, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to

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6. Sleepy San Francisco Squirrel

Greetings, I want to share a recent illustration that completed for my MFA program. The program has us traveling around the country for different contact periods twice a year, spring and fall. We always return to home base which is the Hartford Univeristy in Connecticut in the summer time. Last fall we traveled to New York […]

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1CJMmb4

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7. Listen. I Know It's Too Early To Post This BUT . . . #SixofCrows

Gushing by Andye SIX OF CROWS*Six of Crows #1by Leigh BardugoAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsSeries: Six of CrowsHardcover: 480 pagesPublisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (September 29, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price--and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a

0 Comments on Listen. I Know It's Too Early To Post This BUT . . . #SixofCrows as of 7/16/2015 2:44:00 AM
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8. New Publisher!

I am delighted to say I have been taken on by a new publisher for my latest children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’

”Finn is a bored young leprechaun who lives a quiet life with his family and friends in the sleepy village of Duntappin. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy he soon gets far more than he bargained for. When he least expects his adventure to begin, Finn finds himself a long way from home in dire circumstances. Home begins to seem very appealing all of a sudden. Has he any hope of getting back? This is no fairy tale…

This funny and fast moving story filled by weird and wonderful characters will turn all your expectations on their head, but that’s a good thing, because it makes them all the more amusing’

 

My new publisher is the American based ‘Crimson Cloak Publishing’ The following extract is taken from their website.

‘Crimson Cloak Publishing was created by people who care about our authors, editors, artists, and customers. For without them, we could not exist.

Crimson Cloak Publishing is a new and exciting voice in the publishing industry. Our main goal is to provide quality literature to our audience at a fair price. We publish soft-covers and e-books, currently.  Audiobooks and hard cover will come later.’

Click on the link below to check out the great books for sale!

http://www.crimsoncloakpublishing.com/main_page.html

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9. Music and metaphysics: HowTheLightGetsIn 2015

How The Light Gets In (named, aptly, in honour of a Leonard Cohen song) has taken the festival world by storm with its yearly celebration of philosophy and music. We spoke to founder and festival organiser Hilary Lawson, who is a full-time philosopher, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, and someone with lots to say about keepings things equal and organising a great party.

The post Music and metaphysics: HowTheLightGetsIn 2015 appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. A History of Glitter and Blood: Review

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Hannah Moskowitz’s new book, A History of Glitter and Blood. It is a really weird book, you all, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was not entirely to my liking and I still can’t stop thinking about it?  Books about fairies are not my thing, and thinking about unreliable narrators reminds me of how much I disliked We Were Liars, but hey, I picked this one up because the cover was pretty and Moskowitz writes queer-centric fiction. If you like weird books and fairies and unreliable narrators and thinking about how history’s written, you’ll probably like this, though. I suspect it’ll be a polarizing read. Why is it weird? Well. There are fairies. Who are covered in glitter. And gnomes who eat fairies, despite disliking the taste of glitter. (And most fairies are missing some body parts as a result.... Read more »

The post A History of Glitter and Blood: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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11. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, 304 pp, RL 4

Art by Diana Sudyka Circus Mirandus is the debut novel by Cassie Beasley and it comes with a lot of advance excitement, a movie deal and praise, all of which are deserved. When I first read the blurb for Circus Mirandus, I was reminded of a book that made an impression on me when I was in junior high, Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, while both books are set at a

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12. The Cabinet of Earths, written by Anne Nesbet, 258 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Earths, debut novel from Anne Nesbet stands out above recent fantasy novels I have read for the creation of main character, twelve year old Maya. For me, Maya can take a place at the table with strong girl characters in fantasy novels alongside Hazel, hero of Anne Ursu's beautiful Breadcrumbs. At the head of this table is Lyra Belacqua, the fearless, complex, heartbreaking

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13. The Silmarillion (1977)

The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]
 There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony. And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.
I loved reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. That doesn't mean I found it easy the first time I attempted it. Or even the second. I do think you have to be in the proper mood to fully enjoy it--to appreciate it. There is a beauty to it, a certain grace to the language. Something that you don't see all that often. Something that brings to my mind--at least--the beauty and grace of the Authorized Version of the Bible (KJV). But with that beauty and grace there is a certain strangeness, a foreignness. Something that puts distance between the book and the reader. It's all about the world-building.

The Silmarillion is divided into several sections:
  • AINULINDALË
  • VALAQUENTA
  • QUENTA SILMARILLION
  • AKALLABÊTH 
  • OF THE RINGS OF POWER AND THE THIRD AGE  
Each section is unique, has its own style or tone. The longest section is Quenta Silmarillion. The section probably with the most reader appeal is Of The Rings of Power and the Third Age.

So is The Silmarillion similar to his other works? Yes and no. There are orcs, dwarves, elves, eagles, dragons, balrogs, wolves, giant spiders, humans, and wizards. And certainly much of The Silmarillion concerns the battle between good and evil. The two main "bad guys" are Melkor (Morgoth) and Sauron. And the book is about greed, ambition, honor, love, and friendship. There's plenty of action, and even some romance. The book features origin or creation stories. So there's a good chance that you can learn more background for putting The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit into context. But it does require some patience perhaps. For example, people rarely have one name--they may have up to a dozen! Turin Turambar comes to mind. I wish I'd known about the family trees at the end of the book while I was actually reading it!

Yes, The Silmarillion is beautifully written. But that isn't its only strength. The world-building is incredibly detailed. Its also packed with stories and interesting characters.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Witches Protection Program, by Michael Phillip Cash | Dedicated Review

If you’re looking for a good fantasy book to transition from the young adult genre into the new adult genre, Michael Phillip Cash’s Witches Protection Program is your next read.

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15. Game of Thrones: On Fandoms and Criticism (and crossing the line)

There’s an interesting trend I’ve noticed online, particularly in the last month or so as the show got deeper into its controversial fifth season: people love to hate on Game of Thrones. “Now wait a minute, Kim,” you might be saying. “Are you trying to say I have no right to hate Game of Thrones?” Of course not. You have every right to think Game of Thrones is the vilest piece of misogynist trash you’ve ever had the misfortune to behold. What I’m talking about is the hate-on: the disturbing phenomenon of people who attack media (and its fans) with gleeful relish seemingly for no other reason than: 1. It feels good to put down what other people love and 2. It gives the hate-oner a sense of moral superiority. Let’s get into it. It’s okay to not like something. I feel like this goes without saying, but I really,... Read more »

The post Game of Thrones: On Fandoms and Criticism (and crossing the line) appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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16. Atlantis in Peril (Atlantis Saga #2) \\ A Middle Grade Win

Review by Krista Atlantis in Peril (Atlantis Saga #2) by T.A. Barron Age Range: 10 and up Grade Level: 5 and upSeries: Atlantis Saga (Book 2)Hardcover: 272 pagesPublisher: Philomel Books (May 5, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon The second in the Atlantis trilogy by New York Times bestselling author T. A. Barron In Atlantis Rising, Promi and Atlanta saved their homeland by transforming it into the

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17. A Retelling I Actually Liked? #Shocked

Andye speaks...  I hate retellings.  If there is a retelling written. I basically hate it. Ok, that's going overboard. I don't usually hate them, but they seriously just don't do it for me, and I really have no idea why. I find them boring. Like, name a retelling. Just name one. Nope. Didn't like it. Cinder? Nope. ACOTAR? Nope. Of Metal and Wishes? Cruel Beauty? Dorothy Must Die? The

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18. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

2015, Balzer + Bray

Bone Gap is a small town where everyone knows each other on a first name basis.  It's also a small enough town where your personal life can become community property.  No one knows this better than Sean and Finn.  Living alone without any parents to help (and everyone knows how that happened), Sean works full time and looks after his younger brother who is still in high school.  Dreams were given up as well as the cameraderie brothers had.  Finn knows this only too well, but can do nothing about it.  He misses his older brother even though they're in the same room and when Roza left, the gap became larger in the brothers' relationship.

Roza came to Bone Gap quite unexpectedly.  Born and raised in Poland, she left her home country for the opportunity to be in America, but what she saw and experienced were darker and bleaker than she imagined.  Sean found Roza and gave her time to find herself again.  While others were struck by her beauty, Sean gazed at her beyond the beauty and began to fall in love with the woman.  No one had ever done that before.  In turn, Roza helps Sean and Finn find the bindings that loosened between them and she also became part of the family...until the day she disappeared.  Finn saw it happen, but there are gaps to what he saw.  He couldn't tell you what the man who took her looked like and wouldn't even be able to recognize him in a line-up because Finn is unable to recognize faces.

Petey likes to live in the solitary gaps she finds.  People talk about her, know her story, but do they really?  She's the pretty girl with an ugly face and the honeybees she helps tend with her mother allows her to take cover from what everyone says about her...until one night when Finn arrives at her house on a dark horse.  They go on the most magical ride, falling into the gaps between the world they live in and the other world that exists between.  The more Petey and Finn spend time together, the more their gaps are filled with much-needed love and acceptance.

The man took Roza because she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.  He told her he would never hurt her until she came to love him.  He offers her the finest things in beautiful places, but whatever the facade may be, it is still a prison.  He also knows Finn is searching for Roza and is working to create a gap large enough where Roza will never be found.  Little does he know how resourceful, strong and patient his beautiful prize can be.

Told in alternating stories between Finn (for the most part) and Roza, the reader is immersed into a  beautiful story of reality and fantasy.  Roza's world is fantastical and horrible at the same time while Finn lives in the real world that is becoming more beautiful every day.  Ruby's writing flows with emotion and beauty, taking the reader beyond the pages to the heart of the book - one about the importance of relationships.  It's been awhile since I last cried while reading a book, and this one I couldn't help myself.  It wasn't out of sadness, but out of the beauty and deep strong characters Laura Ruby crafts in this novel.  Magical realism at it's best in this book.  Highly recommended.


Other magical realism book pairs:





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19. Review of the Day: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

UnusualChickensUnusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
By Kelly Jones
Illustrated by Katie Kath
Alfred A. Knopf (an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-385-75552-8
On shelves now

The epistolary novel has a long and storied history. At least when it comes to books written for adults. So too does it exist in novels for children, but in my experience you are far more likely to find epistolary picture books than anything over 32 pages in length. That doesn’t stop teachers, of course. As a children’s librarian I often see the kiddos come in with the assignment to read an epistolary novel and lord love a duck if you can remember one on the spot. I love hard reference questions but if you were to ask me to name five such books in one go I’d be scrambling for my internet double quick time. Of course now that I’ve read Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer I will at long last be able to pull at least one book from my crazy overstuffed attic of a brain instantaneously. Kelly Jones’s book manages with charm and unexpected panache to take the art of chicken farming and turn it into a really compelling narrative. Beware, though. I suspect more than one child will leave this book desirous of a bit of live poultry of their very own. You have been warned.

After her dad lost his job, it really just made a lot of sense for Sophie and her family to move out of L.A. to her deceased great-uncle Jim’s farm. Still, it’s tough on her. Not only are none of her old friends writing her back but she’s having a hard time figuring out what she should do with herself. She spends some of her time writing her dead Abuelita, some of her time writing Jim himself (she doesn’t expect answers), and some of her time writing Agnes of the Redwood Farm Supply. You see, Sophie found a chicken in her back yard one day and there’s something kind of strange about it. Turns out, Uncle Jim used to collect chickens that exhibited different kinds of . . . abilities. Now a local poultry farmer wants Jim’s chickens for her very own and it’s up to Sophie to prove that she’s up to the task of raising chickens of unusual talents.

UnusualChickens2There are two different types of children’s fantasy novels, as I see it. The first kind spends inordinate amounts of time world building. They will never let a single thread drop or question remain unanswered. Then there’s the second kind. These are the children’s novels where you may have some questions left at the story’s end, but you really don’t care. That’s Unusual Chickens for me. I simply couldn’t care two bits about the origins of these unusual chickens or why there was an entire company out there providing them in some capacity. What Ms. Jones does so well is wrap you up in the emotions of the characters and the story itself, so that details of this sort feel kind of superfluous by the end. Granted, that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be the occasional kid demanding answers to these questions. You can’t help that.

I have a bit of a thing against books that present you with unnecessary twists at their ends. If some Deus Ex Machina ending solves everything with a cute little bow then I am well and truly peeved. And there is a bit of a twist near the end of Unusual Chickens but it’s more of a funny one than something that makes everything turn out all right. The style of writing the entire book in letters of one sort or another works very well when it comes to revealing one of the book’s central mysteries. Throughout the story Sophie engages the help of Agnes of the Redwood Farm Supply (the company that provided her uncle with the chickens in the first place). When she at last discovers why Agnes’s letters have been so intermittent and peculiar the revelation isn’t too distracting, though I doubt many will see it coming.

Now the book concludes with Sophie overcoming her fear of public speaking in order to do the right thing and save her chickens. She puts it this way: “One thing my parents agree on is this: if people are doing something unfair, it’s part of our job to remind them what’s fair, even if sometimes it still doesn’t turn out the way we want it to.” That’s a fair lesson for any story and a good one to drill home. I did find myself wishing a little that Sophie’s fears had been addressed a little more at the beginning of the book rather that simply solved without too much build up at the end, but that’s a minor point. I like the idea of telling kids that doing the right thing doesn’t always give you the outcome you want, but at least you have to try. Seems to have all sorts of applications in real life.

In an age where publishers are being held increasingly accountable for diverse children’s fare, it’s still fair to say that Unusual Chickens is a rare title. I say this because it’s a book where the main character isn’t white, that’s not the point of the story, but it’s also not a fact that’s completely ignored either. Sophie has dark skin and a Latino mom. Since they’ve moved to the country (Gravenstein, CA if you want to be precise) she feels a bit of an outsider. “I miss L.A. There aren’t any people around here- especially no brown people except Gregory, our mailman.” She makes casual reference to the ICE and her mother’s understanding that “you have to be twice as honest and neighborly when everyone assumes you’re an undocumented immigrant…” And there’s the moment when Sophie mentions that the librarian still feels about assuming that Sophie was a child of the help, rather than the grandniece of the Blackbird Farm’s previous owner. A lot of books containing a character like Sophie would just mention her race casually and then fear mentioning it in any real context. I like that as an author, Jones doesn’t dwell on her character’s ethnicity, but neither does she pretend that it doesn’t exist.

UnusualChickens3You know that game you sometimes play with yourself where you think, “If I absolutely had to have a tattoo, I think I’d have one that looked like [blank]”? Well, for years I’ve only had one figure in mind. A little dancing Suzuki Beane, maybe only as large as a dime, on the inner wrist of my right hand. I’ll never get this tattoo but it makes me happy to think that it’s always an option. I am now going to add a second fictional tattoo to my roster. Accompanying Suzuki on my left wrist would be Henrietta. She’s the perpetually peeved, occasionally telekinetic, and she makes me laugh every single time I see her. Henrietta’s creator, in a sense, is the illustrator of this book, Ms. Katie Kath. I was unfamiliar with her work, prior to reading Unusual Chickens and from everything I can tell this is her children’s book debut. You’d never know it from her style, of course. Kath’s drawing style here has all the loose ease and skill of a Quentin Blake or a Jules Feiffer. When she draws Sophie or her family you instantly relate to them, and when she draws chickens she makes it pretty clear that no other illustrator could have brought these strange little chickies to life in quite the same way. These pages just burst with personality and we have her to thank.

Now there are some fairly long sections in this book that discuss the rudimentary day-to-day realities of raising chickens. Everything from the amount of food (yes, the book contains math problems worked seamlessly into the narrative) to different kinds of housing to why gizzards need small stones inside of them. These sections are sort of like the whaling sections in Moby Dick or the bridge sections in The Cardturner. You can skip right over them and lose nothing. Still, I found them oddly compelling. People love process, particularly when that process is so foreign to their experience. I actually heard someone who had always lived in the city say to me the other day that before they read this book they didn’t know that you needed a rooster to get baby chickens. You see? Learning!

I don’t say that this book is going to turn each and every last one of its readers into chicken enthusiasts. I also know that it paints a rather glowing portrait of chicken ownership that is in direct contrast to the farm situation perpetuated on farmers today. But doggone it, it’s charming to its core. We see plenty of magical animal books churned out every year. Magical zoos and magical veterinarians and magical bestiaries. So what’s wrong with extraordinary chickens as well? Best of all, you don’t have to be a fantasy fan to enjoy this book. Heck, you don’t have to like chickens. The writing is top notch, the pictures consistently funny, and the story rather moving. Everything, in fact, a good chapter book for kids should be. Hand it to someone looking for lighthearted fare but that still wants a story with a bit of bite to it. Great stuff.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Reviews: educating alice

Professional Reviews: A star from Kirkus

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20. Another One Bites the Dust

by andye AN EMBER IN THE ASHESby Sabaa TahirHardcover: 464 pagesPublisher: Razorbill; First Edition edition (April 28, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all

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21. Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for something different, and when I saw Elantris mentioned on a list of zombie books, I decided to give it a shot.  While there aren’t zombies in the traditional sense, Prince Raoden, is technically dead, with no heartbeat, no real need to eat, and wounds that never heal.  When he becomes the victim of a curse that makes him one of the living dead, his father sends him to the deteriorating city of Elantris, which was once the shining beacon of Arelon.  Now its magnificent buildings crumble and its streets are coated in slime.  The other cursed residents of Elantris suffer from an all-consuming hunger, and every little wound causes unending suffering.  Those that have succumbed to the pain lie huddled in the streets, muttering and no longer aware of their surroundings.

At over 500 pages,  Elantris is a bit longer than novels that I usually read.  This isn’t a conscious decision on my part, but most of the books that I read clock in at around 350 pages.  I don’t know if that’s because publishers are so focused on series now and the pressure to produce books on a steady time table has put a dent in page count. Or maybe reader attention span has forced shorter books to prevail.  Regardless, when I see a longer book, I do sometimes think twice about picking it up because they can take so long to read.  A thousand pages can be off putting.  Five hundred pages – that’s doable in a few days for me, so I clicked the Borrow button and settled down with my first Sanderson read.

I really liked the characters, and there are a lot of them. Sarene was my favorite, with Raoden running a close second.  They were engaged to be married, until Raoden’s untimely “death.”  When Princess Sarene arrives from Toed, she’s dismayed to discover that she’s now a widow.  The terms of the marriage contract between Toed and Arelon stipulated that should Raoden die, the marriage instantly becomes binding.  Toed and Arelon are the last two countries holding out against the religious fanatics from Fjordell.  The marriage between Sarene and Raoden was meant to cement their countries together and make them allies against the priests of Shu Dereth.  With a convert or die policy, countries have fallen like dominoes under the might of Fjordell.  Sarene is committed to resisting conversion to Shu Dereth, and she and Hrathen, a high priest who has been sent to convert Arelon, battle to sway the populace of Kae, Arelon’s capital.  Sarene fears that if Arelon falls to Shu Dereth, Teod won’t be far behind.

Sarene learns that Raoden had gathered together followers to oppose his father, King Iadon.  Iadon is a poor ruler and has weakened the country considerably since he took control ten years ago, just after the collapse of Elantris.  Iadon instituted a policy that rewarded the wealthy, and made virtual slaves of the poor.  The injustice is so great that Raoden and his father constantly butted heads over Iadon’s policies.  Sarene wishes to infiltrate Raoden’s group and persuade them to continue their opposition to Iadon, as well as to fight against Hrathen and his efforts to convert the citizens of Arelon to Shu Dereth.

More than anything, Elantris is about politics.  Arelon is seething with political cesspools, from the threat of forced conversion to Shu Dereth, to the possibility of rebellion from a group of nobles.   With Raoden in the decayed city of Elantris, struggling to understand the power behind the Aons that once created the magic and wonders that held Fjordell at bay, there’s yet another threat that few are even aware of.  Everyone thinks that Raoden is dead, and Iadon hasn’t done anything to enlighten them.  A petty man ill suited to leadership, Iadon believes that wealth is an indicator of the right to rule.  With his repressive laws, the poor suffer and seethe at the injustices shown to them.  It’s a huge powder keg just waiting for a spark to ignite.  Sarene turns out to be that spark, but has she brought greater ruin down on the her new country?

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s a nice blend of political intrigue and mystery, with a light romance thrown into the mix.  I wanted to know what happened to the gods of Elantris, those mighty beings that once ruled Arelon.  Why didn’t the magic work anymore, and why were those taken by the Shaod now cursed, powerless shells instead of the once powerful gods that the transformation turned them into?  While I liked Sarene, I was dying to find out the secrets behind the fall of Elantris.  And what was the deal behind the monasteries of Shu Dereth?  The momentum flagged a bit with the chapters featuring Hrathen, but I found him, at the beginning at least, to be humorless and void of a personality.  No wonder he was having trouble winning over the masses during his quest to convert the citizens to his religion!

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

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22. LSQ Issue 22

The Latest issue of Luna Station Quarterly is live and available to purchase as a digital download or a lovely hardcopy to hold in your hands. Or, you can read it for free at the LSQ site. It’s chock full of exciting, thought provoking, fantastical tales. Enjoy!

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23. Monster to the Max



Exciting news!

Jolly Fish Press has acquired my middle-grade fantasy series Monster or Die and will be publishing the first book, From the Grave, in Fall 2016. Editor TJ da Roza fell in love with my wacky and wonderful monsters with his first read—and who wouldn’t.  

Frightful and fun.
Delightful and deadly.
These creatures bring a whole new meaning to monster.

Be sure to follow along the journey to publication. With monsters in charge, most anything might happen.



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24. 5 Things to look for in Fairy Tale Retellings by YA Author Kaitlin Bevis...


Retellings of fairy tales and myths are all over the place, but some are better than others. Here are five things to look for in a great retelling.

1)                          The author only borrowed elements from the original version, not copied it entirely. Let’s look at Cinderella for this example. Unless you are affiliated with Disney, chances are, you can’t just retell the same story in a different, albeit gorgeous, format. The foundation of the story may have existed before, but the author has taken those roots and twisted them into a story of her own telling. A great example of an original Cinderella retelling is Cinder by Marissa Myer. Cinder took pieces of the original story and wove it into something entirely new story set in a dystopian future, featuring an alien Cyborg missing a foot for the title character. Liz DeJesus also wrote a fantastic retelling of Cinderella set in modern day. When reading multiple retellings, you should be able to identify the elements that were borrowed from the original, but otherwise they should be entirely different stories.

2)                          Something major is different. That something needs to move beyond the surface. We’ve all seen and read retellings that only genderbent the cast or changed the setting but otherwise left everything the same. When a key component is changed that should force the author and the reader to consider the story from an entirely different perspective. A great example of this is Fool by Christopher Moore. He takes the story of King Lear and tells it from the Fool’s perspective. Almost all the original dialogue is there, but the perspective is so different that the plot arc has completely changed. No one could say Fool is the same story as King Lear. It’s something different entirely.

3)                          It uses the changes to highlight some important social issue, but not at the expense of the story. Westside Story changed the setting of Romeo and Juliet to highlight gang violence as well as racial tension. But Westside Story didn’t go overboard. There are no after-school special monologues hitting the viewer on the head with the message. The comparison is quietly made and the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions from it.

4)                          Most of the stories that are retold have had a profound impact on culture. The absence or repetition of that myth needs to be explained in the universe. In my story, Persephone, the myths are still happening in modern day. Persephone, the character or the myth, didn’t exist until she was born. That made changes to the culture. I used the lesser known myth of Boreas and Oreithyia as a stand in for the Persephone myth in their culture. I also had to consider the myths she was involved with later and consider how removing these from the society would change that society. Other versions use reincarnation or have characters allude to the original myth and the similarities in what they’re going through.

5)                          They go deeper. The story, the motivations, the world building, the characters. A shallow version of the fairy tale or myth already exists. If the author built on it, at all, that should automatically make it deeper. The deeper, the better. A great example of this is Wicked. The Wicked Witch of the West was a very flat character in The Wizard of Oz. And it worked because she was an archetype. She didn’t need depth. But a good retelling forces you to reevaluate the story by adding depth. Elphaba has major depth and motivation and a backstory and flaws and great traits. She’s a three dimensional character at its finest. But the original mythology is accounted for in the story. When watching the Broadway, it’s easy to see how Dorothy would have seen her as the wicked witch caricature.  The original story is acknowledged, respected even, but it goes deeper. That’s what makes it an amazing retelling.

There are many retellings out there, but some are better than others. Share your favorites, and what made them great, in the comments below.

Blurb: The Daughters of Zeus, Book One

One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom's flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she's fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of winter, and learning that she's a bonafide goddess--a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until spring.

There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she's automatically married to him. It's the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn't interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Boreas' schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?

Can she escape the grasp of the god of winter's minions? The Underworld is a very nice place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She's going to fight back.

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Connect with Kaitlin: www.kaitlinbevis.com


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25. Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley -- filled with magic, adventure & friendship (ages 9-12)

Right away, I can sense a book is special by noticing my students' reactions. Whenever I've asked my 5th graders who've read Circus Mirandus how they like it, they start smiling and there's a twinkle in their eyes. OK, it sounds corny when I write it down, but you can feel the magic, the friendship, the hope they find in this book.
Circus Mirandus
by Cassie Beasley
Dial / Penguin Random House, 2015
Preview at Google Books
Your local library
Amazon
ages 9-12
Ever since he was a little boy, Micah has heard stories from his grandfather about the magical Circus Mirandus and the Lightbender who promised him a miracle. Now that Grandfather Ephraim is ill, Micah knows that he must do everything he can to find the Lightbender. But how can he find the circus, especially with his strict aunt keeping her eye on him?

"Circus Mirandus is not a story just about adventure," Corina wanted me to know, "it's about a friendship. You see, they're very unlikely friends at first but they become so loyal to each other." When Jenny Mendoza first hears about this quest, she is skeptical -- after all, Jenny is a logical, careful thinker. But Micah and Jenny do find the circus, the Lightbender and all the magic they were looking for.
"Reading this book inspired me because the ultimate goal is not what you think it is -- it isn't just to keep his grandfather alive. There are layers, ways that Micah learns he can make a difference, how magic makes a difference." -- Corina, 5th grade
Corina sparkled as she talked about how much she enjoyed Circus Mirandus. I can imagine her being transported to the circus in her imagination, soaring with Micah over the fence, holding onto the giant gorilla balloon (yes, you'll really have to read it to understand that).

I also like how Tasha Sackler, at Waking Brain Cells, describes the friendship at the heart of this story:
"It feels very organic and the two of them are not natural friends who see the world the same way. Instead it is much more like making a real friend where it is the willingness to be friends that makes a huge difference and a decision to stop arguing when you don’t agree. It is these parts of the book that are so realistic, where the relationships shine, that make the book as strong as it is."
Get a feel for the magic in Circus Mirandus by reading chapter four in the preview below:


For more, check out these very interesting interviews with Cassie Beasley:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Dial / Penguin. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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