via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1n7CZ7B
Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
Editor Stacy Whitman answers questions about world building in speculative fiction.
Risen is the third book in Michael Phillip Cash’s dramatic sci-fi trilogy, the Darracia Saga.Add a Comment
|slow and steady|
©the enchanted easel 2014
Please welcome Lara Morgan, author of Betrayal, to the virtual offices this morning! I asked Lara to share a list of her essential items to have a really productive day. I really wish I could try #3 here!
Top 5 items for a productive day…. by Lara Morgan
1. Tea. Lots of it.
3. Tim tams
4. Twitter free
5. Toddler absent
As you can see the above list is quite wishful. Tea yes I always have but time?! Perhaps I should have added Tardis so I could regain some and as a stay home mum Twitter is often what keeps me sane – as in there are other adults out there! So generally at the moment productivity is not high. And there are NEVER enough tim tams.
About the book:
From fantasy writer Lara Morgan comes the second in her engrossing, enchanting, exciting Twins of Saranthium trilogy, perfect for curbing Game of Thrones withdrawals.
Shaan and Tallis have escaped from the fallen god, Azoth, but his dark shadow stretches over the enslaved people of the Wild Lands and the terrifying army of human-serpent warriors. War is coming, but the Council of Nine turn from the twins and their tales of Azoth’s menace, focusing instead on a war on the Free Lands.
Meanwhile, the Four Lost Gods have awoken, ready to reclaim the Birthstone currently in Azoth’s possession. But rather than the saviours Shaan and Tallis needed, the Four begin to exert terrible control over the people of Saranthium. With Tallis struggling to control the growing power within, and Shaan attempting to resist the pull of Azoth, the twins are under assault from all sides. Victory may still be possible, but only through a devastating act of betrayal.Add a Comment
Imagine packing up your home, leaving Earth and setting out to travel across space to colonise a new planet.
The journey will take so long you’ll be put into a cryptobiotic state. But there is absolutely nothing to fear: You’re on sleek new spaceship, looked after by a team of well-programmed robots, and everything has been carefully thought through. When you finally arrive at Nova Mundi (it only takes 199 years to get there), you’ll be woken up to a delicious breakfast and the start of a whole new and wonderful life.
It sounds great, doesn’t it?
And so it is in Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Astra and her family are on their way to their new home but – you’ve guessed it – something goes wrong. Astra wakes from her suspended sleep, and feeling peckish goes off in search of a chocolate biscuit.
The Nom-O-Tron (a highly developed version of Star Trek’s Replicator) satisfies Astra’s request, but when she’s tempted to ask for something a little more outlandish (how many times have you seen the word “Ultimate” used to describe a dish?) something goes awry. Soon Astra is hurtling through space surrounded by cakes which have learned to evolve. Cakes which are fed up of being eaten themselves. Cakes which have developed a killer instinct.
Will Astra be able to save her family from the Ravenous Crispy Slices and Ferocious Fruit Cakes stalking the spaceship’s corridors? How much more complicated will things get when a second front opens up and her spaceship is raided by alien life forms known as Poglites, desperately searching for their holy grail, that technology which they haven’t been able to master: SPOONS.
Yes, this is a totally surreal and deliciously outrageous story of friendship, ingenuity and hundreds and thousands.
It’s fast-moving, exciting, just ever so slightly scary in that enjoyably adrenalin pumping way and above all it’s FUNNY! Add into the mix some genuinely beautiful writing (sometimes young fiction is all about the plot and the language – especially for an adult reading it aloud – can be somewhat unremarkable, but Reeve at times writes sentences which I found myself wanting to copy out), a plot which will enthral both boys and girls of a wide age range, and the subtle inclusion of some philosophically meatier issues (the consequences of greedy desire, the demonisation of that which we don’t know and can’t name) and you’ve got yourself a remarkable book.
McIntyre’s illustrations are a crazy but perfect mix of 1950s brave new world sleekness and outrageous sponge-and-icing based fantasy. I’m delighted that Astra’s family are mixed race (this isn’t mentioned in the text at all, but how great to see some diversity just as-is, without it being an issue in the book).
The top-notch content of Cakes in Space is matched by a stunningly produced physical book. Like last year’s Reeve and McIntyre production, Oliver and the Seawigs, this is first being published as a small hardback in pleasingly chunky, strokingly hand-holdable format. Everything about the book is appealing.
After indulging in a solo read, I read this book aloud to both girls over a couple of days last week. Before we’d even finished the books my girls were off to raid the cutlery draw in the kitchen for highly prized spoons to create a collection of which any Poglite would be proud.
Carefully curated, they labelled every spoon with where it had been found in the galaxy, its rarity and its monetary value (I can see how this could develop into a Top Trumps game…)
Spoons are one thing, but cake is another, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to host our own mini Cakes in Space party. We baked a host of fairy cakes and then turned them into KILLER CAKES…
Lollies made great eyes on stalks…
… as did Maltesers and Aero balls.
We had fun making teeth out of snapped white chocolate buttons, tictacs and rice paper snipped to look like rows of sharp teeth.
We also had some Ferocious Florentines and Sinister Swiss Rolls (helped along with edible eyes).
Other characters from the book were also present: The Nameless Horror was a big bowl of wobbly jelly dyed black with food colouring and with licorice shoelaces reaching out across the table, and jars of purple gloop (thinned down Angel Delight, again dyed to give a good purple colour) with gummy snakes in them made perfect Poglite snacks. Alas these were guzzled before I got to take a photo!
Preparing for the party was at least as much fun as the party itself…
Great music for a Cakes in Space party includes:
Other activities which would make for a great Cakes in Space party include:
We’ve all heard of Death by Chocolate, but what’s the nearest you’ve come to being killed by a cake?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Cakes in Space from the publishers.
A Creature of Moonlight
by Rebecca Hahn
Middle School, High School Houghton 314 pp.
5/14 978-0-544-10935-3 $17.99
e-book ed. 978-0-544-11009-0 $17.99
Marni is the daughter of a princess and the powerful dragon who presides over the kingdom’s magicked woods. When she was a baby, her grandfather surrendered his throne to his son to save her life. Marni has grown up in relative obscurity with Gramps in a hut on the kingdom’s outskirts. Now she is almost seventeen, and the woods are encroaching on the kingdom — her dragon father’s attempt to call her to him. After tragedy strikes, Marni (the king’s only heir) leaves home to make a life for herself at court — and to seek vengeance on her uncle for her mother’s murder. But the king’s increased fear and hatred eventually drives Marni to seek out her father. While in the woods, she finally chooses who she will be and where home truly lies. Full of court intrigue, family secrets, marriage proposals (several by a beguiling and bewildering lord), fantastical creatures, legends, and magic, Hahn’s debut novel is first and foremost a journey of self-discovery. Marni, like Katsa in Graceling (rev. 11/08) and the eponymous Seraphina (rev. 7/12), is a strong, plainspoken protagonist who learns to embrace her uniqueness and power with newfound confidence and fierce independence. Hahn’s poetic style gives the narrative depth and beauty with vividly rendered settings and sophisticatedly complex characters. It’s an eloquent story about free will, the meaning of home, and love’s varied forms.
From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.Add a Comment
|©the enchanted easel 2014|
Napoli, Donna Jo. 2014. Storm. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Storm, told in first person, present tense prose, presents the story of the biblical flood through the eyes of 16-year-old Sebah, an unlikely stowaway aboard Noah's massive ark.
The story unfolds in chapters that correspond with the biblical timeline - 40 days of rain, 150 days for the waters to recede, 10 months until the mountains become visible, 40 days until the release of a bird, etc.
(All can be found in the 7th and 8th chapters of Genesis.)
After chronicling Sebah's three week struggle to survive the deluge with her companion Aban, the chapter titled, "Day 22," ends,
It's another creature. Like the first, but larger. And obviously male. He perches in a round hole high in the side of the ship. There is a line of such holes. And I passed another line below as I climbed.
A whole ship of these creatures.
I think of letting go, disappearing into the sea. I let loose one hand and look down. The sea is far below. I feel the energy seep from me. It would be so easy to just give up.
The creature behind me nudges my dangling hand.
I reach for the male's hand, and I am half pulled, half shoved up through the hole and into the ship.
"Respect!" Noah claps his hands above his head, and dust flies through the dim light. "And haven't you learned arguing gets us nowhere?" He takes his ax back from Ham. "The bottom deck stinks. I have to breathe shallow to stand going down there. Everyone has to help Japheth and me clean it out. Today! Let our wives feed and water the animals of this deck and the top —while we shovel waste. Noah goes up the ladder with Japheth at his heels.How you will perceive this book will depend greatly upon how you perceive the biblical story of the great flood. Arguments could be made for classification as historical fiction, alternative history, survival fiction, dystopian fiction, or fantasy. However you choose to view the book, it cannot be denied that it is a thought-provoking look at the nature of humans and animals, of loss and love, of despair and hope.
The Unwanteds, the first book in Lisa McMann's Unwanteds series came out in 2011 and the blurb on the cover, "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," didn't grab me, despite the fact that I read and admire both series. I was burned out on dystopian settings and wary of any book that is compared to Harry Potter. But, The Unwanteds won the California Young Reader Medal medal for bestAdd a Comment
In this series, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares advice for aspiring authors, especially those considering submitting to our New Visions Award.
Last week on the blog, I talked about hooking the reader early and ways to write so you have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning. This week, I wanted to go into more detail about the story and plot itself. When teaching at writing conferences, my first question to the audience is this:
What is the most important thing about a multicultural book?
I let the audience respond for a little while, and many people have really good answers: getting the culture right, authenticity, understanding the character… these are all important things in diverse books.
But I think that the most important part of a diverse novel is the same thing that’s the most important thing about any novel: a good story. All of the other components of getting diversity right won’t matter if you don’t have a good story! And getting those details wrong affects how good the story is for me and for many readers.
So as we continue our series discussing things to keep in mind as you polish your New Visions Award manuscripts, let’s move the discussion on to how to write a good story, beyond just following the directions and getting a good hook in your first few pages. This week, we’ll focus on refining plot.
Here are a few of the kinds of comments readers might make if your plot isn’t quite there yet:
We’ll look at pacing issues too, as they’re often related:
Getting your plot and pacing right is a complicated matter. Just being able to see whether something is dragging too long or getting too convoluted can be hard when you’re talking about anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand words, all in one long file. Entire books have been written on how to plot a good science fiction and fantasy book. More books have been written on how to plot a good mystery. If you need more in-depth work on this topic, refer to them (see the list at the end of this post).
So we won’t get too in depth here, but let’s cover a few points.
Know your target audience
When you’re writing for children, especially young children (middle grade, chapter books, and below), your plot should be much more linear than a plot for older readers who can hold several threads in their heads at once.
Teens are developmentally ready for more complications—many of them move up to adult novels during this age, after all—but YA as a category is generally simpler on plot structure than adult novels in the same genre. This is not to say the books are simple-minded. Just not as convoluted… usually. (This varies with the book—and how well the author can pull it off. Can you?)
But the difference between middle grade and YA is there for a reason—kids who are 7 or 8 or 9 years old and newly independent readers need plots that challenge them but don’t confuse them. And even adults get confused if so much is going on at once that we can’t keep things straight. Remember what we talked about last time regarding backstory—sometimes we don’t need to know everything all at once. What is the core of your story?
Note that “too complicated” is one of the main complaints of plot-related comments readers had while reading submissions to the last New Visions Award.
Don’t say, “But Writer Smith wrote The Curly-Eared Bunny’s Revenge for middle graders and it had TEN plot threads going at once!” Writer Smith may have done it successfully, but in general, there shouldn’t be more than one main plot and a small handful of subplots happening in a stand-alone novel for middle-grade readers.
If you intend your book to be the first in a series of seven or ten or a hundred books, you might have seeds in mind you’d like to plant for book seventy-two. Unless you’re contracted to write a hundred books, though, the phrase here to remember is stand-alone with series potential. Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was pretty straightforward in its plotting—hinting at backstory, but not dumping backstory on readers in book one; setting the stage for potential conflicts down the road but not introducing them beforetime. Book 1 of Harry Potter really could have just stood on its own and never gone on to book 2. It wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying as having the full 7-book arc, but note how seamlessly details were woven in, not calling attention to themselves even though they’re setting the stage for something later. Everything serves the linear plot of the main arc of book 1’s story. We only realize later that those details were doing double duty.
Thus, when you’re writing for children and young adults, remember that a linear main plot is your priority, and that anything in the story that is not serving the main plot is up on the chopping block, only to be saved if it proves its service to the main plot is true.Plotting affects pace
In genre fiction for young readers, pacing is always an issue. Pacing can get bogged down by too many subplots—the reader gets annoyed or bored when it takes forever to get back to the main thrust of the story when you’re wandering in the byways of the world you created.
Fantasy readers love worldbuilding (to be covered in another post), but when writing for young readers, make sure that worldbuilding serves as much to move the plot forward as to simply show off some cool worldbuilding. Keep it moving along.
Character affects plot
This was not a complaint from the last New Visions Award, but another thing to keep in mind when plotting is that as your rising action brings your character into new complications, the character’s personality will affect his or her choices—which will affect which direction the plot moves. We’ll discuss characterization more another day, but just keep in mind that the plot is dependent upon the choices of your characters and the people around them (whether antagonists or otherwise). Even in a plot that revolves around a force of nature (tornado stories, for example), who the character is (or is becoming) will determine whether the plot goes in one direction or another.
Find an organizational method that works for you
This is not a craft recommendation so much as a tool. Plotting a novel can get overwhelming. You need a method of keeping track of who is going where when, and why. There are multiple methods for doing this.
Scrivener doesn’t work for all writers, so it might not be your thing, but I recommend trying out its corkboard feature, which allows you to connect summaries of plot points on a virtual corkboard to chapters in your book. If you need to move a plot point, the chapter travels along for the ride.
An old-fashioned corkboard where you can note plot points and move them around might be just as easy as entering them in Scrivener, if you like the more tactile approach.
Another handy tool is Cheryl Klein’s Plot Checklist, which has a similar purpose: it makes the writer think about the reason each plot point is in the story, and whether those points serve the greater story.
Whether you use a physical corkboard, a white board, Scrivener, or a form of outlining, getting the plot points into a form where you can see everything happening at once can help you to see where things are getting gummed up.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plotting a book. Here are some books and essays that will be of use to the writer seeking to fix his or her plot problems. (Note that some of these resources will be more useful to some writers than others, and vice versa. Find what works for you.)
I have a couple cover reveals this morning. First up: I read about The Elementalists last week, and the plot sounds intriguing. Besides, anything with dragons gets a second look from me. What do you think of the cover?
It is the hottest year on record for the fifth year in a row, and famine riots spread across much of Africa. Along the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season is one of the worst in memory. The latest in a string of 9.0 strength earthquakes has claimed two-hundred thousand lives in central China. Far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless…
All seems normal in small town Virginia, where fifteen year old Chloe McClellan dreads the start of her sophomore year. Whip-smart, athletic and genuine, she’s also a bit of an angry loner who is totally unaware of her charms. Despite her plans to stay under the radar, Chloe becomes a target for the fiery queen of the It-girls in fifth period gym. She then draws instant notoriety when she’s struck by lightning after her first disastrous day of school. As if that weren’t bad enough, she soon comes to believe, that either she’s going insane, or her accident has unleashed a powerful and terrifying creature from the mythological world—triggering the final countdown to the world’s sixth great extinction level event.
Chloe finds some solace as she inexplicably wins the affections of an unlikely trio of male classmates: the earthy and gregarious captain of the football team, the flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while she struggles with the growing realization that “Dragons” exist, and she may be the only one who can stop them.
The Elementalists, book one of the Tipping Point Prophecy, follows Chloe and her group of friends, and enemies, as they struggle to save humanity by harnessing the power of the elements.
This is C. Sharp’s debut novel. He studied English Literature and Anthropology at Brown University and Mayan Archaeology at the Harvard Field School in Honduras. He works in film and commercial production. Chris now lives in Concord, MA with his wife and daughter.
$4.99Add a Comment
What would you do if your name decided your destiny? Some might be thrilled with the potential of a powerful name. On the other hand, being named after a cow’s rear end would make me feel rather blue. That is the case for Rump who lives in The Kingdom where names mean everything. Rump is constantly picked on due to his name. Rump knows in his heart that his mother gave him a wonderful name, but she died before she was able to communicate it fully.
On his twelfth birthday, Rump discovers an old spinning wheel in his woodpile. The wheel belonged to his mother and he desperately wants to keep the item since it was once hers. Rump tries spinning the wheel against his Gran’s wishes and learns there is a magical outcome. In this land magic can be dangerous and Rump quickly gets himself into a heap of trouble. Rump has to find a way to make things right while he also attempts to learn his whole name.
Many children know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but Shurtliff has created a marvelous story that will keep readers engaged as they learn Rump’s side of the classic fairy tale. What really makes this story magical is how the author is able to get readers to root for a normally disliked character.
Posted by: Katie
[Anna Kashina] A self-questioning over-committed dreamer.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[Anna Kashina] “The Guild of Assassins” is an adventure fantasy featuring the elite Majat warriors, best described in present day terms as ninjas in a medieval European setting. This is book 2 in the Majat Code series, but I hope it can be read as a stand alone. In addition to fast-paced action, this book also has strong elements of romance.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Anna Kashina] In a way, when I wrote this book, it all came to me on its own. The overall concept that always fascinated me was the idea of extreme power confined by very strict outside circumstances. In the case of the Majat warriors, their deadly fighting skill comes at a price of absolute obedience to the code of their guild. And then, you throw real people into this situation, with passions, desires, and a strong sense of honor, and watch it all go awry.
In my story, the two central characters are Kara and Mai, both of them top-ranked Majat warriors. Kara has acted on her honor and disobeyed her guild, earning a death warrant. Mai had been sent after her, but at the critical moment he chose to spare her life. Now Mai has to pay for what he has done, and Kara is determined to interfere and draw the heat away from him. Of course, all this is bound to trigger some feelings on both sides. I just loved playing it out.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Anna Kashina] I have to shamefully confess that in this book I enjoyed writing the romance, and the ensuing tension between the characters. There is a love triangle between the three main characters, which infuses all their interactions with so much feeling that the air tended to crackle in the room as I wrote. I could not wait to get to writing every day, and finished the first draft in less than a month. To me, the whole book was driven by these feelings. I only hope I managed to convey some of them to the readers.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[Anna Kashina] The fact that some of the relationships were bound to end up badly, as is inevitable for a love triangle. Kara must choose between two men who are very different from each other. I felt very bad for the one who ended up alone.
I went with the characters when I wrote the book, so until very late in the story I kept wondering if things will resolve differently, but in the end I felt everything happened the only way it could possibly have gone. This, in itself, was gratifying.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
[Anna Kashina] I am not good at theme songs. I have to say, however, that even though I don’t normally write to music, a lot of this novel was written to the soundtrack of “Totem” by Cirque du Soleil. A lot of that music combines middle eastern build with ethnic rhythms, and is made for very fast action. It was perfect for the mood of the story.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[Anna Kashina] My purse? OK, that envelops a whole bunch of things. In these days, probably my cell phone would be one, closely followed by my Kindle.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Anna Kashina] A pen, a note pad, and a flash drive. These were first the first three out of many, my desk tends to get messy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Anna Kashina] My all-time favorite fantasy author is Terry Pratchett, so I would love to be in his head for one day and get a glimpse of where all this beautiful writing comes from.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Anna Kashina] One of my favorite recent books is N. K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”. More recently I enjoyed the “Hearts and Thrones” trilogy by Amy Raby and “The Assassin’s Curse” duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Anna Kashina] Reading, when I am not too tired. When I am tired I like watching adventure movies or playing computer games. Sadly, not much time for those.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Anna Kashina] I have a blog at http://www.annakashina.com
I am also on Facebook and Twitter:
Please stop by. I love to hear from readers at all times on any topics!
The Guild of Assassins
Majat Code #2
By: Anna Kashina
Releasing Aug 5th, 2014
Kara, an elite warrior from the Majat Guild, has escaped execution and achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!
But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.
Is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a ploy sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?
Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/06/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for_7.html
The prequel, The Majat Testing, is FREE!
Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors. She is a recent medalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year and Independent Publishers Book Award contests.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print copy of BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE and THE GUILD OF ASSASSINS (US Only))
The post Interview with Anna Kashina, Author of The Guild of Assassins and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.Add a Comment
These titles — all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine — offer a mix of magic, adventure, humor, and suspense that will enchant Harry Potter fans.
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane [Young Wizards series] (Delacorte, 1983; reissued by Harcourt, 2003)
A splendid, unusual fantasy tells of the efforts of two young wizards, Nita and Kit, to keep the world from being overcome by the Prince of Darkness. This twentieth-anniversary edition of the first book in the series contains a new afterword and a short story about Nita and Kit, originally published in Jane Yolen’s anthology Dragons and Dreams.
Charmed Life, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci, Conrad’s Fate, and The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones [The Chrestomanci Chronicles] (reissued by Greenwillow, 2001)
This series is linked by the character Chrestomanci, a magician with nine lives, whose charge is to maintain the balance of magic among parallel universes.
The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, 2003)
The story is narrated in alternating chapters by Roddy (a girl) and Nick. Roddy and a friend summon Nick, an unknown helper, when they discover that the Merlin (in charge of magic) has been murdered. Writing on an epic scale, the author deftly creates a fully realized fantasy universe with a series of worlds that resemble one another and our own but with distinct differences. This is a vastly absorbing story of good battling evil.
Sabriel by Garth Nix (HarperCollins, 1995)
A compelling fantasy has for a heroine Sabriel, the daughter of the necromancer whose duty it is to protect the Old Kingdom: unlike other mages, he has the power to bind the dead as well as bring the dead back to life. The story is remarkable for the level of originality of the fantastic elements and for the subtle presentation, which leaves readers to explore for themselves the complex structure and significance of the magical elements. The story continues in sequels Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr and Abhorsen; a prequel, Clariel, will be published in October 2014.
The Magic Thief written by Sarah Prineas; illus. by Antonio Javier Caparo (HarperCollins, 2008)
Precocious pickpocket Conn becomes an apprentice to Nevery Flinglas, a wizard trying to stem the loss of magic from the city. Readers will find the familiar character types and straightforward plotting of this amiable tale (akin to that of another well-known boy wizard) easy to grasp, while the evolving conflicts and distinctive setting will draw them on.
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski [Kronos Chronicles series] (Farrar, 2008)
Petra Kronos’s father has magical abilities to construct creatures out of tin and to make a wondrous weather-controlling clock. When the prince of Bohemia blinds Kronos, cutting out his eyes and magicking them for his own use, Petra resolves to steal them back from the prince’s Cabinet of Wonders. Rutkoski’s bucolic old-world atmosphere keeps her workmanlike plotting feeling fresh and fortuitous. The story continues in sequels The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash.
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens [Books of Beginning series] (Knopf, 2011)
Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma discover a book that transports them back fifteen years in time. Thus begins their adventure with the Atlas, one of three Books of Beginning–powerful magical volumes whose secrets brought the universe to life. This imaginative and enjoyable series starter explores the bonds of family and magic while setting up an inevitable good-versus-evil showdown. The story continues in The Fire Chronicles.
This month we're featuring a decidedly fantastical themed list of popular kids stories perfect for ages 8-12. Star Wars fans will be stoked to read Jeffrey Brown's Goodnight Darth Vader (an all ages funny read) and Tom Angleberger's latest Origami Yoda book.Add a Comment
Eye to the Telescope call for poetry submissions
Eye to the Telescope (ETTT) is a guest-edited online publication of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. ETTT 14 will be edited by John C. Mannone, who is looking for ekphrastic submissions for the October 2014 issue. Deadline September 15, 2014.
There is no particular theme for this issue, but the speculative poems (sci-fi, fantasy, surrealism, etc.) must be exactly 100 words (excluding titles and epigraphs/postscripts that cite other sources) and be connected to the visual art linked below (see website). They may contain tones of humor or horror, but most importantly, I am looking for literary quality writing with literary depth. All forms/styles are accepted. Either write a poem directly inspired by one of the images posted on our site or pair up a poem influenced by a current science event (include an online reference) that also complements one of the pictures. Identify which image elicited each poem.
See our website for the links to the pictures and for more submission details.
May Contain Spoilers
I admit it! I wanted to read House of the Four Winds because of the cover. I think it is absolutely breathtaking. We all know the problem with judging a book by its cover, though. Sometimes the story doesn’t live up to that gorgeous cover. In this case, I’m glad I did pick it up. While the pacing was occasionally frustrating, House of the Fours Winds was a gripping read none the less.
I can’t think of the last Mercedes Lackey novel that I’ve read. It’s been years and years, so I was curious to see if I’d like her writing style now. I don’t think I liked it way back when, but after reading this, I’m going to have to give her backlist another look. The storytelling reminded me of Diane Zahler, told to a slightly older audience. While House of the Four Winds is an adult fantasy, I don’t think there is anything objectionable within the pages, making this a great candidate for a motivated younger reader looking for a challenge. Clarice, the heroine, is 18, making her highly relatable to a teen reader, and I thought the writing skewed young.
The set up was a bit difficult to swallow. Princess Clarice is the oldest of twelve daughters, and after her mother finally gives birth to a son, the girls are all informed that they must make their own way in the world. Swansgaard, their tiny kingdom, would be ruined if the treasury had to provide for twelve dowries. Instead, each girl will seek her fortune upon attaining the age of 18. Clarice, gifted with a sword, has decided to become a swordmaster. Unfortunately, she needs some practical experience if she expects to attract any students, so off she goes, seeking adventure.
Disguised as Clarence, she buys passage on a ship bound for the new world. Once aboard the ship, she questions the wisdom of her decision. The captain and the senior officers are cruel men, quick to punish the crew for any infraction. The only solace is her friendship with the young navigator Dominick. He is the opposite of the captain; good and kind, he is outraged by the treatment of the crew, but he is powerless to help them. Until the day the men are pushed too far, and they take up arms against their leaders. Before she knows it, Clarice finds herself caught up in the munity, even taking an active part when Dominick’s life is threatened.
So, yeah! House of the Four Winds has a cross-dressing heroine, mutiny at sea, pirates, and magic. The first 10% of the book dragged for me, and I was tempted to put it down. I have so many books to read that a slow start almost guarantees a quick trip back to the TBR mountain. By 15%, though, I couldn’t put it down. The pacing slowed periodically, but I liked the characters so much that I didn’t mind getting to know them better. Much of the book is character driven, with bursts of action and danger, and while I was expecting more action, I didn’t mind its absence. The treacherous journey under the control of the evil sorceress more than made up for it, and the end of the book was fraught with terrible challenges for the ever shrinking crew to deal with.
Another thing I enjoyed about the book – Clarice is a strong, intelligent heroine. She saves Dominick far more often than he saves her, and I really enjoyed that. Instead of waiting for her prince to find her, Clarice took control of whichever situation presented itself, and became her own prince. That doesn’t happen nearly enough in the books I read. Now I’m curious to see if her sisters are as confident and capable as Clarice, so I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
Review copy provided by publisher
Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Valdemar series and romantic fantasies like Beauty and the Werewolf and The Fairy Godmother. JAMES MALLORY and Lackey have collaborated on six novels. Now. these New York Times and USA Today bestselling collaborators bring romance to the fore with The House of Four Winds.
The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.
Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.
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I first met Frances Hardinge as part of an intrepid SAS contingent that stormed the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton in October 2013. We had a great time, although there were fewer costumes than I'd hoped, and no centaurs galloping through the plenary session...
|Myself, Teresa Flavin and Katherine Roberts do the costume thing...|
|Waiting for fish and chips|
This morning I have a special giveaway, thanks to Penguin Books! The Magician’s Land, the final installment of Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Trilogy, just hit store shelves and you can win a copy!
The stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND
By Lev Grossman
AN INDIE NEXT PICK FOR AUGUST 2014
“Deeply satisfying finale to the best-selling fantasy trilogy… Grossman captures the magic of fantasy books cherished in youth and repurposes it to decidedly adult ends… The essence of being a magician, as Quentin learns to define it, could easily serve as a thumbnail description of Grossman’s art: ‘the power to enchant the world.’” — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“[THE MAGICIAN’S LAND] is endlessly fascinating and always proceeds apace…This is an absolutely brilliant fantasy filled with memorable characters—old and new—and prodigious feats of imagination. At one point, Quentin muses, ‘Magic and books: there aren’t many things more important than that.’ THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is ineffable proof of that claim.
Fantasy fans will rejoice at its publication.”
— Booklist (Starred Review)
“[T]his series taken as a whole brings new life and energy to the fantasy genre.”
“An elegantly written third act to Quentin’s bildungsroman…Fans of the trilogy will be pleased.”
“Lev Grossman has conjured a rare creature: a trilogy that simply gets better and better as it goes along. THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is sumptuous and surprising yet deliciously familiar…Literary perfection for those of us who grew up testing the structural integrity of the backs of wardrobes.”
—Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus
Viking is thrilled to release THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, the spectacular conclusion to Lev Grossman’s New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy (On-sale: August 5, 2014; 978-0-670-01567-2; $27.95).
The trilogy opened with The Magicians which The New Yorker called “a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself…An unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.” NPR called the sequel The Magician King “a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human.” Legions of fans now await THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, a novel full of the subversive brilliance that has put Grossman at the forefront of modern fantasy, which will bring the Magicians trilogy to a shattering, triumphant conclusion.
Familiar faces return alongside new characters in THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. After being booted unceremoniously from Fillory, Quentin Coldwater returns to his alma mater, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, to make a new life as a teacher—even as Eliot and Janet race to save Fillory itself from a spectacular apocalypse. The demons of Quentin’s past catch up to him and send him on a crooked quest through magic’s seedy underworld, back to old haunts, old friends and old enemies. He discovers a powerful spell that would create a new magical land, but he must face his fears, and fix the errors of his past, before he can find the power to save the future.
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is a tale of love and redemption—the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole. Old readers will devour the rich and riveting final book, and the completed arc will welcome newcomers who can binge-read the series in full.
About the Author
Lev Grossman is the book critic and lead technology writer for Time magazine and a widely published cultural critic. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Magicians and The Magician King. A graduate of Harvard and Yale, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can learn more about Lev Grossman on his website www.levgrossman.com and follow him on Twitter @leverus.
LEV GROSSMAN WILL BE TOURING TO:
Burlington, MA Readercon July 10-13
San Diego, CA Comic Con July 24 – 27
Orlando, FL LeakyCon July 30 – Aug 3
Brooklyn, NY St. Joseph’s College / 7pm August 5
Sponsored by Greenlight Bookstore
New York, NY Barnes & Noble (Upper West Side) / 7pm August 6
Boston, MA Brookline Booksmith / 7pm August 7
Minneapolis, MN Club Book, Roseville Library / 7pm August 11
Houston, TX Murder by the Book / 6:30pm August 12
Los Angeles, CA Vroman’s / 7pm August 13
San Francisco, CA Rakestraw / 7pm August 14
San Francisco, CA Kepler’s / 7:30pm August 15
Chapel Hill, NC Flyleaf Books / 7pm August 28
Atlanta, GA Decatur Book Festival August 29 – 31
Dragon Con August 29 – 31
Winston-Salem, NC Bookmarks Festival September 6
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman
Viking ? $27.95.00 ? On-sale date: August 5, 2014 ? ISBN: 978-0-670-01567-2
Also available as an e-book
US residents only, please
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