Category Archives: fantasy_books

So much Discworld news!

Okay, so I’m a few days behind the curve, but that does not diminish my excitement!

Discworld Pratchett Gives Thumbs Up to Discworld Cop Show! From March 11th here:

The main focus of the series will be set in the bustling, highly mercantile, largely untrustworthy and always vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork and will follow the day-to-day activities of the men, women, trolls, dwarves, vampires and several other species who daily pound its ancient cobbles (and, of course, Igor in the forensics department). Terry commonly refers to the City Watch police force series as “the jewels in the Discworld Crown.” These richly developed and highly compelling characters will feature in a ‘crime of the week’ episodic storyline. As each weekly adventure unfolds, viewers will be taken on a ride through Pratchett’s genius imagination, with the author overseeing the creation of the series, where wild and exciting encounters with werewolves, dragons, dwarfs, trolls and golems and the classic heroes and villains, are an everyday occurrence… and where many of these characters even make outstanding crime fighters!

ALSO, scroll down to March 1st for:

There has been one hell of a lot of rumours regarding a Good Omens adaptation over the past few weeks, mostly started by me at the SFX Weekender. So, ladies and gentleman, I can hereby exclusively reveal that – YES – Neil and myself have shaken hands and received groats from Rod Brown sealing a TV deal. An official announcement from Prime Focus will follow in a couple of weeks time. However, I can reveal right now that Terry Jones (yes, the Python) and Gavin Scott (not a Python, but he gets it) are already on the job. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s looking good.

AND, there’s a new Discworld book coming out this fall!

The new Discworld novel from the master sees Sam Vimes investigating a countryhouse murder, and is Terry Pratchett’s fiftieth book.

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all…

Now I need to finish rereading the first three Tiffany Aching books so I can get to I Shall Wear Midnight

The Secret of Grim Hill by Linda DeMeulemeester

Time for something on the spooky side of things…

Cat Peters hates her new school. She’s in trouble from the first day at Darkmount High, for everything from not knowing the dress code and wearing the wrong sort of jeans to the total lack of any sports teams for her to join. She desperately wants to go to the private girls’ academy on Grim Hill, Grimoire School where her mom is working as the school secretary, but there’s no way her recently-divorced mom can afford the tuition. So when she hears that the prize for the winning team at the Halloween soccer tournament is a full scholarship, she jumps at the chance. And when she makes the team, she becomes a local celebrity.

However, her next door neighbour Jasper and her little sister Sookie are sure there’s something strange going on at Grimoire, but Cat doesn’t want to listen—not even when bad things start happening to anything that would stop the soccer team from practicing. Her teammate Amarjeet has Punjabi school Saturday mornings… until the school burns down. Mia needs to attend rehearsals for her sister’s wedding, until the engagement is called off. Emily spends the weekends with her dad, until he gets transferred out of town. But the only thing that would keep Cat from practice is babysitting Sookie… Cat needs to figure out what forces are at work behind the mysterious school and how it all ties into a diary from seventy years ago, before she loses everything.

This is a great mid to upper elementary series for budding fans of mysterious-type fantasy stories. The build-up is nicely ominous and creepy, and I am such a sucker for folklore elements!

You can read the first chapter on the publisher’s website, and check out the whole series. Other reviews in various places: Wands and Worlds, a blog for fantasy and science fiction for children and teens, the Montreal Review of Books

It’s also been a nominee for various reader’s choice book awards like Red Cedar, Diamond Willow, Hackmatack, and was the winner of the 2008 Silver Birch.

New Things I Want to Read

Lots of good stuff on the horizon…

Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments series will continue with a third book Empire of Ruins, in January 2011. Click for the cover art!

It would not not surprise me to learn that Jill Maclean’s third book, Home Truths, follows The Nine Lives of Travis Keating and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy. I’ll find out once we start reading for next year’s RMBA shortlist, I suspect…

As much as I like Nancy Werlin’s psychological thrillers like The Killer’s Cousin and Rules of Survival, I am thrilled that her latest book, Extraordinary is along the lines of her last book, Impossible, a modern spin on the traditional ballad “Scarborough Fair.”

Yay! New book from Cornelia Funke, Reckless is coming in September: “The story is about Jacob Reckless, who escapes to another world behind a mirror, where witches haunt the forests and fairies and dwarfs roam. It’s also a world locked in a deadly war. Jacob’s secret is safe until one day his younger brother, Will, follows him-with disastrous consequences. The brothers are forced to race against time to find reverse a curse before one of them is lost forever.”

And getting to some of my favourite authors…

Woo-hoo! New Tamora Pierce! A short story collecton this time, Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales.

Also cause for anticipation, new Terry Pratchett in October! I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth Tiffany Aching book.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to hear that there is a new Bordertown anthology coming out! Not convinced? Check out the line-up: “Terri Windling’s groundbreaking urban fantasy shared world is back in an all new Borderlands anthology, WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN, to be edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, featuring new stories from many of the original writers including Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Midori Snyder and Charles de Lint, as well as new work by writers who were inspired by the original series, including Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link and more.”

Over on the adult fiction side of things, a new Newford collection from urban mystic fantasy master, Charles De Lint, Muse and Reverie.

Mmm. New book anticipation.

The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence

giant slayer cover The last place Laurie Valentine’s father would ever want her visiting was the polio ward. It’s 1955, and he’s part of the team trying to find a vaccine for the epidemic, and because of his fear for her safety, Laurie leads a very sheltered life. Her only real friend is her neighbour Dickie. When she sees the ambulance outside Dickie’s house, she is sure the worst has happened—and it has. Dickie has polio, and her outgoing, rambunctious friend has been confined to an iron lung. Laurie’s father forbids her to go anywhere near the polio ward, but Laurie can’t abandon her best friend. She sneaks away while her father’s at work and goes to visit him. She can’t give him a healthy body back, but what she can do for him is tell stories. Before she knows it, Laurie is making regular visits to Dickie and the other iron lung patients. Because Laurie’s life is only half the book. The story she tells, of Jimmy, a boy wished into being small forever by his selfish father, a swamp witch, a giant and a destiny foretold, will have a profound effect on all the children who hear it. And when Laurie is prevented from finishing the story, her listeners take up the threads themselves, determined to find the best ending they can.

This is a fantastic book to lose yourself in on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Iain Lawrence, you rock my socks! On one level, you’ve got a tale of peril, adventure and fantasy, on the other, you’ve got a complex, nuanced coming of age story. It would also make a great read-aloud, at home or in a classroom. It’s on the shortlist for this year’s Rocky Mountain Book Awards, and the question came up, will it appeal to kids who’ve never heard of polio before? I think it will. It also has adult appeal too–one committee member talked about the memories of his school being closed through most of his grade one year because of polio. Laurie and Jimmy are both strong, appealing protagonists and I think the combination of historical fiction and fantasy will broaden the audience for the book.

Further reading: try Peg Kehret’s autobiography, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, In the Clear by Laurel Anne Carter for a sports story take (quintessentially Canadian–it’s a hockey story!), or a new one from Kathryn Lasky,, Chasing Orion.

There’s an interview with Iain Lawrence at Through a Glass Darkly, and you can also visit his own website and blog.

Reviews in the Globe and Mail, from Book Ends (the Booklist blog), and many, many book blogs: Eva’s Book Addiction, kidsread.com, Buxtolicious Blog O’Books, Kiss the Book, YA Books Central, Lindsey’s Library, Classroom Book of the Week, Book Trends…

Bookish links

Man, opening a new library branch is a lot of work! That’s what I’ve been up to lately… less than a month to go!

Here are some things that have been kicking around my zillion open tabs for a while…

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of the children’s lit journal The Horn Book, is awesome. Conference swag that I covet, via his blog, When A Is for Xbox: 26 Ways to Prevent Summer Reading.

An essay from G. K. Chesterton’s book, All Things Considered, on the morality of fairy tales.

Greenwillow’s blog continues to be awesome. Check out Megan and Eugenides Tour Tinseltown and Come Home With their American Express Cards Safe (and as far as we know, Gen didn’t steal one single thing while we were there) to see a couple storyboards for a hypothetical The Thief movie.

How did I not know about the Sunburst Awards? “The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year. Named after the first novel by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926–2009), one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian science fiction, the awards consist of a cash award of Cdn$1,000 and a medallion which incorporates a specially designed “Sunburst” logo. The winners receive their awards in the fall of every year.” My to-read list just got even longer–although to be fair, about half the nominees that I haven’t read are aleady on it.

Wart by Anna Myers

Book nine of the 48-hour Book Challenge binge!

wart_small You could say that it started when Stewar’s cousin declared that he needed to be popular, but would have to ditch his long-time friends Ham and Rachel to do it. But things really started to change when Stewart and Ham’s art teacher showed up hiding in the supply closet, and had to take some time off. Because that’s when Wanda Gibbs, the subsitute came to town. And now she’s a) stuck Stewart with the nickname Wart, b) is dating his dad, and c) is probably a witch who turns her own son Ozgood into a frog periodically to punish him. She’s helped him get a spot on the basketball team, but is brainwashing his little sister. Thanks to her intervention, the most popular girl in the school is interested in him, but now she’s probably going to marry his dad. What’s a guy to do?

It took me a bit to get into this one, but it was a pretty funny, solid middle school read, all things considered. The plot plays off the is-she-or-isn’t-she-a-witch uncertainty quite well right up until the end, Stewart’s geeky friends are awesome in their right–Ham is kind of clueless skinny kid who’s alwasy eating, and Rachel is the sort of girl who collects esoteric bits of trivia and has an elaborate training system worked out to win a local pet show. And his little sister Georgia will throw temper tantrums on demand for Stewart–until Wanda shows up. Then there’s Wanda’s son Ozgood, who plays big band music lous enough to shake the walls, and says things like “I am undone” when he’s upset. An oddball cast and amusing plot–it’s too bad the cover looks like a do-or-die sports story.

Yesterday’s Magic by Pamela F. Service

Book six of the 48-hour Book Challenge binge! I’m going to use up all my blogging capabilities today, and by tomorrow, will be down to three word reviews. “Liked this book.” “This one bad.” “Book of awesome!” “V. boring book.”

yesterdays-magic Okay, I was quite thrilled that this sequel came out! I read Winter of Magic’s Return and Tomorrow’s Magic years ago when they first came out and I was an impressionable barely-teenager. Happily, the first two books are back in print, in a single volume as Tomrrow’s Magic.

The series is uncategorizable as either fantasy or SF, because it’s about Merlin and King Arthur coming back to a post-apocalyptical world. Yes, really!

The first book begins with three misfit students at a post-Devestation boarding school, in a nuclear winter made dangerous by roving mutants. There’s bookish, excitable Heather, solid, short-sighted Welly (short for Wellington), and the loner Earl Bedwas. If you’ve read the first two books, you know that Heather has wild magic and can talk to animals, Welly is on his way to becoming a famous warrior (much to his embarrassment, because he sees his bravery as pure, dumb luck and the growing stories as rampant exaggeration), and Earl is really Merlin. Yes, that Merlin, pulled out of his magical sleep as a toddler on the low end of the spell that preserved him in an endless loop of aging and rebirth.

All should be well. Merlin has his memories back, is on the way to reconciling his ancient magic with the undercurrents of this new world, and is engaged to Heather. King Arthur has returned, and is engaged to Queen Margaret of Scotland. And lo, there was much rejoicing. But Morgan LeFay is also back. And after the events of the previous two books, she definitely has it in for Merlin and his friends. She swoops in with her own nefarious plan, kidnaps Heather, and Merlin and Welly are off (with a dragon!) on a chase around the world.

If you’re sensing any damsel in distress vibes, don’t worry. Heather is a resourceful sort of girl, and does every bit as much work as Merlin and Welly to get herself out of harm’s way. This is a fun romp, and Blanche the persnickety young dragon is a entertaining addition to the cast. There were a couple of coincidences that were a bit too convenient, and there weren’t really any big revelations in this book. The first two were much broader in scope and there was a lot more at stake. Still, it was an enjoyable return to a beloved book-world, and I’m especially glad that this means that the first two books are back in print with a shiny new cover.