Tag Archives: Books

Review: 01-01-00

01-01-00
01-01-00 by R.J. Pineiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, although written for the millennium, still is a good book. Since we have a newly calculated doomsday theory ready for us this winter, I thought it would be fun to drag this one out of the box and read it. It was sparked by a 01.01.00 marketing campaign, but the author is good, and keeps it to strictly a computer/SF/Mayan thriller. As the millennium approaches, a computer virus starts attacking virtually all computers across the wold, shutting them down at the same time each night, starting about 20 days before the millennium, for 20 seconds, and each succeeding day one second less – a countdown. Meanwhile, astronomers in Chile have found a signal coming from a planet in a nearby system that appears to be real – a SETI-type signal. And someone wants to learn what is at the ned of the computer virus, and or how to control or stop it, thus making themselves extremely rich and powerful, so they follow the FBI computer analyst who is trying to figure out what it means.. So begins the frantic search for clues, locations, and eventually tying together all the loose threads in the middle of the Yucatan. A bit touchy feely at the end, but then it is a millennium book. I enjoyed it, and found the chase to be good, some interesting characters, with some gruesome scenes of death.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres

This is a unique look at various authors and their contributors to what amounts to their own individual genres.  See esp. Joss Whedon, Hiyao Miyazaki and Frank Miller among others.  You may disagree with the idea of being their own sub-genre, but it makes for a great debate.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres

Some people don’t just create new worlds and super-memorable characters — they give life to their own genres. There are some creators of fantastical stories whose work is so distinctive, you have a pretty good sense what’s going to happen when you pick up their work — and you’re excited, because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

There are some creators who don’t just influence the genres they work in, they actually become a genre unto themselves. Here are 15 writers and directors who’ve spawned their own separate genres. Note: We’re not including people who are really well known for doing one thing, and one thing only — this is a list of creators who’ve done a number of projects, each of them with a unifying set of distinctive characteristics.

Top image: Cover of “Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens,” written by Grant Morrison.

Grant Morrison

Morrison’s work in comics straddles genres, from widescreen superhero titles like New X-Men and Batman to weird Vertigo projects like Invisibles and We3 and Seaguy. But as Marc Singer writes in the book Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, “most Morrison comics are unmistakably Morrison’s comics, displaying the hallmarks that have made him one of the most distinctive writers in the field.” Morrison, writes Singer, is known for a mode of writing that “combines metafiction, surrealism, the absurd, and above all a strategy of physical embodiment.”

Charlie Kaufman

Kaufman wrote a string of movies that combined surrealism, broken characters and bitter humor, including Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And then he started directing his own screenplays, with Synecdoche, New York and the forthcoming Frank or Francis. (And he’s got a novel in the pipeline, about which nobody knows anything.) It’s hard to pigeonhole Kaufman’s work into a single genre (maybe Slipstream?) but everything he writes is instantly recognizable, from the depressed heroes to the strange plot devices to the habit of inserting a love story where you least expect it.

Stanislaw Lem

The author of The Cyberiad, The Futurological Congress and all the other Ijon Tichy stories is known for his mordant wit and his somewhat nihilistic exploration of philosophical questions in deep space. He often creates worlds that feel somewhere between thought experiments and fables, with a huge dose of the absurd. Like a lot of the people on this list, Lem is hard to pigeonhole — his stuff is somewhere between Italo Calvino, Jonathan Swift and A.E. Van Vogt. But Lem’s writing, as a rule, leaves you with a sense that the world is much more bizarre and illogical than anybody’s ever willing to acknowledge. Image via Google.

Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is frequently classified as a postmodern author, maybe because of the elements of metafiction in his work. But the thing that seems to unite Vonnegut’s work — and to drive his inclusion of sometimes outlandish science fictional elements — is a concern with the essential futility of the human condition. As Brian Stableford writes in Outside The Aquarium: Masters of Science Fiction, irony “became the most remarkable feature of Vonnegut’s writing… His work often tends towards the blackest of black comedy, but rarely employs wit for its own sake or for more amusement.” In pretty much any Vonnegut novel, you can expect a great deal of sarcasm, combined with a wistfulness about the failure of humans to treat each other decently.

Douglas Adams

He’s best known for writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in all its myriad forms. But he also created Dirk Gently, currently starring in a BBC TV series. And he wrote a few of the most famous Doctor Who stories, as well as various odd projects like The Meaning of Liff. When he first started making an impression on the public consciousness, Adams was often compared to Vonnegut, and indeed his dark humor often feels sort of reminiscent of Vonnegut’s — but he goes much, much further into silliness and absurdism. And as with other authors on this list, when you pick up a Douglas Adams story, you know you’re getting certain things, including hapless heroes, ingenious plot twists, narrative digressions and an irreverent refusal to commit to any kind of comforting sense of reality. Plus a sense that the universe has a meaning that we will never, ever, crack — and which is often indistinguishable from meaninglessness.

Anne Rice

In recent years, Rice’s work has been a bit more varied. But prior to about ten years ago, she was known for a very particular type of gothic fiction, in which, as she puts it, “The vampire is the poet and the writer of the monster world.” From her famous Vampire Chronicles books to her Mayfair Witches books to her various standalone novels, her work frequently deals with characters who are outsiders but have a rich existence that the mundane world can never appreciate. She frequently explores the notion of lived experience being better than abstract ideas and “truth being in the flesh.” And New Orleans is frequently a major setting in her work. From 1976 to 2003, she carved out a unique place in gothic fiction, which is why people like John Barrowman (see video) are still so obsessed with her.

Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein’s influence on science fiction is so far-reaching that it’s hard to separate his defining characteristics from those of the genre he wrote in. But Heinlein’s work also stands apart, partly thanks to his amazing penchant for presenting facts and opinions that go along with the narrative and prop it up. Also, much of Heinlein’s work has a few key preoccupations, as Alexei Panshin writes, including liberty and the “unreality of the world,” and the recurrence of an ever-changing protagonist whom Panshin calls “The Heinlein Individual.” Add in a fair amount of sexual nonconformity and a preoccupation with how social mores will change when we’re out in space, and you’ve got a set of traits that pop up in much of Heinlein’s writing, especially his later works.

Hiyao Miyazaki

Some of Miyazaki’s animated films are adaptations of classic novels, like Howl’s Moving Castle, whereas others are original stories. But not only is the style of Miyazaki’s movies ultra-distinct and painterly, but his films have come to constitute their own genre of anime, especially his works with Studio Ghibli. Frequently, he explores themes such as ecology and the damage the industrial society does to the world, and his protagonists are often children caught between the “real” world and a fantasy one. His work combines raw sentimentality with an often brutal edge, underscored by the inclusion of cute creatures and terrifying apparitions.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres

Roger Corman

Among B-movie producers and directors, Corman’s name became synonymous with a kind of low-budget gusto, as he created an endless string of demented films for almost no money. From his earliest works like 1957’s Not of This Earth to his recent creations like Dinoshark and Sharktopus, a certain determined cheesiness and cheerful illogic shines through — you pretty much know what you’re getting when someone refers to a “Roger Corman film.” His body of work transcends trash cinema to become an emblematic celebration of cheapness and lurid weirdness.

John Carpenter

Especially prior to 1990, Carpenter was known for a particular kind of approach to horror or action movies: a minimalism that stripped away all of the extraneous elements to reveal something more fundamental. He frequently features claustrophobic settings or paranoia-inducing cityscapes, and a lone protagonist who faces off against a massive threat. Carpenter favored ultra-widescreen visuals (using 2.35:1 instead of 1.85:1) and synthesizer scores, for a suspenseful, jarring style. Even when Carpenter talks about his off-the-wall projects that never got made — such as “a musical about a nuclear power plant accident,” with men dancing in rat suits — you can sort of imagine how that would be a John Carpenter film along the lines of The Thing or Escape from New York.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres

Terry Gilliam

To some exent, this is a list of auteurs — although it’s also a list of people whose work is so distinctive, they’ve become synonymous with a certain type of storytelling. And Gilliam is definitely both. He emerged from the comedy supergroup Monty Python as a distinctive creator in his own right, taking Python’s anarchic sketch comedy approach and deploying it in a series of dark, comic fables. From Jabberwocky to The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, his works share a certain grim, satirical beauty that seems to grow out of the weird animations he created for Python. Even moving to Hollywood didn’t seem to dilute Gilliam’s particular brand of weirdness, and the darkly silly fairy tales of Time Bandits, Brazil and Baron Munchausen feel as though they’re clearly part of the same odd genre.

Guillermo del Toro

Maybe when we see del Toro’s upcoming kaiju-and-robots movie Pacific Rim, we’ll have to revamp our assessment of him completely — but for now, there seems to be a clear genre uniting his comic-book movies, like Blade II and the Hellboy films, with his more personal projects like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. There’s a certain fascination with monsters and grotesques, and what they might mean in a world that’s not entirely unlike our own. There’s a juxtaposition of real-life military technology with fantasy battles. There’s also the persistence of Doug Jones in various key roles. And there’s a kind of “dark fairy tale” style that unites his work, no matter what. As del Toro says, “I have a sort of a fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things.”

Frank Miller

Miller is another creator whose work spans corporate-owned properties like Batman and Daredevil, as well as his own creations like Sin City, 300 and Martha Washington. And no matter whether he’s a hired gun or creating from scratch, Miller’s work has a certain noir sensibility, as well as a preoccupation with the reality of violence and the corruption of social institutions. From his early Daredevil run right up to his most recent Holy Terror comics, Miller has always excelled at creating a world of unbearable compromise in which one individual is willing to do what’s necessary. The pulp traditions of noir and superheroes have always shared a lot of inspirations and preoccupations, but few creators have fused them in quite the same way that Miller has. Over time, he’s distilled his style until it’s almost become a caricature — but that’s only made it clearer how much Miller’s work is a thing unto itself.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Who Became Their Own Genres

Philip K. Dick

When you mention Philip K. Dick’s writings, chances are anyone you’re talking to will have a pretty strong sense of what you’re talking about — even if the characteristics of Dick’s work are hard to pin down. The word most often brought up is “paranoid,” although Rudy Rucker also describes Dick’s work as “transrealist.” Frequently, a Dick story will contain several startling reversals, and the suggestion that reality is malleable or an illusion of some sort. To read much of Dick’s best work is to feel your certainties about the world melting away, replaced by a nagging, terrible unease. Perhaps the biggest tribute to Dick’s unique niche as a creator is the fact that Hollywood has turned his work into everything from ultra-generic thrillers to special-effects spectacles, and yet everybody still feels like they know what a Philip K. Dick novel or story is like.

Joss Whedon

And finally, there’s the co-writer and producer of Cabin in the Woods and the writer/director of The Avengers — who’s furnished us with plenty of reminders recently that he has a style, and a set of preoccupations, that carry over into all his work, no matter what genre or subject matter he’s ostensibly working in. Whether it’s a teen horror comedy like Buffy or a dystopian corporate nightmare like Dollhouse or a goofy space Western like Firefly, Whedon’s work always retains the same quippy style and the same themes of individualism, choice and self-discovery. And he often seems to include the same few characters — Xander is Wash is Topher, to some extent — and a lot of his works seem to be facets of the same apocalyptic story, either before or after or during the apocalypse. Whedon has a voice and a storytelling sensibility all his own — and like the other people on this list, he’s created his own type of story which transcends whatever other labels you might slap on it.

Thanks to Meredith, Annalee, Alasdair and Cyriaque for input!

Contact Charlie Jane Anders:

Review: Gideon’s Corpse

Gideon's Corpse
Gideon’s Corpse by Douglas Preston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gideon’s Corpse, the second in the Gideon Crew series is from the fabulous writing team of Preston/Child, home to the Pendergast books, as well as thrillers written by themselves individually. Gideon Crew was a good, but somewhat small-time art thief, who stole because he liked the thrill, he hated to see paintings wasted, tucked away from the public eye, and because he liked a piece. He left that life, and went on to become a physicist at Los Alamos, from where he was recruited by a somewhat elusive group known as EES – Effective Engineering Solutions – they go around to disasters and figure out what went wrong. They also take on selected jobs for clients, including the government, to help stop problems from arising, such as terrorists.

The book starts out just like the first book closed – with a fellow Los Alamos scientist holding a family hostage and raving about conspiracies. They think Gideon is the right man for the job of talking him down as he knows him and is there, in DC. So Gideon tries and is somewhat successful. After that, they ask him to take on another small matter of a terrorist plot they stumbled on from clues on the mad scientist hostage taker. Gideon, as usual, is on his own, although this time he is partnered up with an FBI liaison. NEST, the nuclear response team, is taking lead, but they are creating a logistical tangle, and some think that Crew could do what others can’t, since he thinks outside the box. The book follows his attempts to unravel the clues, follow up on leads, and fighting for his life. An exciting chase through New Mexico, with a clock ticking over his head – not just from the deadline for the plot, but from a medical diagnosis he’s been told he has that is terminal. All in all, a fun thriller with twists and turns and backstabbing galore. The only problem I have with this series, is that at times it is hard to root for Gideon – first of all – he is date-stamped with an expiration. Second, he is brash, rude at times, and doesn’t take other people’s feelings into account. He does what he thinks is the thing that will accomplish his goal, regardless of the consequences.

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Review: Supervolcano: Eruption

Supervolcano: Eruption
Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, the first of at least three in the series, is by the famed SF author Harry Turtledoeve, who is known for his alt history on such areas as WWII – the Nazis win, the Civil War – the South wins, etc. This is the first I have read by him but it won’t be the last. It starts out slow as he introduces the characters from an extended family, including an ex boyfriend of the daughter, and is about 1 and 1/2 to 2 years out from the end of the book.  We meet our protagonist, Colin, an LA detective, who is divorced, and coming off a big long bender from that.  His three children include Vanessa, the one who dumped her boyfriend, and started an affair with a Middle Eastern rug merchant and followed him to Denver when he moved there for “business opportunities. Vanessa is a tad self-centered, angry, and stubborn as a mule.  Marshall is the perennial doped-up college boy in UCSB who has been in college years beyond his normal graduation date, as he likes the life, doesn’t have to work (Dad is still paying), and so he keeps switching majors.  Rob, the eldest, with a major in engineering, is also a weed smoker, but is working hard with his band, Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles, playing gigs up and down the country.  And then there is Colin’s ex-wife, Louise, who walked out on him for a yoga instructor named Teo, as well as the Hellenistic poet studies grad student, Bryce, whom Vanessa had been dating.  He likes Colin and so still comes over, plays chess, etc. Colin is like a Dad to him.

In the opening of the book, Colin has taken some much needed rest, and is in Jackson, Wyoming, going to visit Yellowstone for the first time.  On his second day there, after he hit the major tourist spots the day before, he goes a little further into the vast park, and sees a young woman, off the marked path (complete with hazard signs about not doing so since the earth’s crust is thin there), and tells her to get back on the path – the cop in him.  She explains that she is a geologist, studying Yellowstone’s volcanic history, and has a permit to do what she is doing.  They hit it off, start talking, exchange emails, and leave with promises to get in touch if they are still interested. What follows next is the dance of their lives as they move, have upheavals, and everybody lands in different places on the day that the super volcano under Yellowstone, which really is about due to blow, goes off, the biggest seen in millions of years.  The book ends a mere few weeks, if that, after the volcano, and I presume the other books will follow the family as they try and deal with the evolving changes in the world and in how you live your lives after something wipes out a whole section of the continent, throws ash into the atmosphere, and also blankets the ground for many states around, effectively killing America’s breadbasket. They are just beginning to feel the pinch of high gas prices, and not much of it, no fresh produce, and supermarket shelves that are emptying, as well as electricity and oil being gone in some areas, which means no heat.  And the temperature drops, snow comes early and to places it never does.

His writing is spare, filled with pop culture references including diverse ones like the Hunger Games’ Katness Evergreen and Warren Zevon.  Anyone who can put those two people in one book is my hero.  His prose is strong , with only a few sentences that don’t seem to be “right.” – i.e. I can’t figure out exactly what he is trying to say – don’t know if that’s his style or an editor’s mistake.  All in all, I will be waiting for the next one, probably next year!, and looking for his others, including the series called Atlantis about a section of Florida and around it that breaks away from the continent eons ago and forms it’s own ecosystem, like New Zealand.  And the one on WWII and aliens. Plus American Civl War, Iron Age, and many others.  Luckily, he is a prolific writer, and I hope the others stack up well against this one, which just happens to be my personal preoccupation and paranoid disaster scenario, since I live in Idaho. The one I fear. Although it isn’t truly post-apocalyptic, since the disaster doesn’t happens until well into the book, it fits best under that category.

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Review: Ice Claw

Ice Claw
Ice Claw by David Gilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the series – I couldn’t find the first at the library. The author is the writer of the series on BBC called A Touch of Frost. He understands fairly tight plotting and continuous adventure. Avalanches, chases, parkour, wind sailing, paragliding, bears, wolves and tigers, oh, my! are just part of the rollicking adventure this 15 yr old kid goes on. Hs father is in a convalescent home, where he is trying to get his memory back after being tortured and beaten up for his environmentalist activities. So his son and best friend whom this Dad is raising are sent to a boarding school in the alps, and where our hero participates in Xtreme sports. Kayaking, snowboarding, cycling, etc. He loses the race trying to help someone, decides to go for a snow run to clear his head, and the adventure begins. The character development is thin – the boy is tough, adventurous and fearless (which is explained in part),while his friend is bookish, but the other characters for the most part are cardboard. Good fun reading, and I’ll read the sequel I have in my pile, but just not great reading, at least for an adult, who wonders about how a 15 yr old kid can freely travel from country to country, even when wanted by police, and how a young girl, age not specified, but she seems to like our hero, can rent a car – maybe it’s a younger age in Europe? Small niggling details an adult would pick up on, but then it wasn’t meant for my age group. For a young boy, or girl!, this would be a great book to get them into reading. Big enough that they can keep the story going, not too hard to read, and has strong male and female roles, and more books in the series.

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Review: Envy

Envy
Envy by Gregg Olsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an odd book for me – I usually read in the fantasy/SF grouping of teen books, and this was more along the lines of paranormal/teen angst. Done by an award winning true crime journalist, it’s his first book for teens, and although he comes with the credentials of having two daughters, I’m not sure all the book meshed with what teens are thinking, saying and texting. Based on a story ripped from the headlines of a young girl who commits suicide, a pair of twins, with some paranormal abilities to reach out and “see” what the dead and the living are thinking, decide to investigate why their friend, who had drifted away in HS, was now dead. Their father was a crime writer, and so they had been surrounded with death and investigations since birth, which make the idea more plausible – plus the pull they feel from the visions. The book is done in a heavy modern teen style, with interspersions of faux newspaper articles, notes, and texts – it’s the texts that bother me. While I have no idea of how and what my daughter texts, the texting language he used jarred on me – it’s not what she uses when she texts me. She usually uses fairly complete sentences and words. Some of them were obvious texting changes that even I make, others not so much, and some were just hard to figure out – you have to sound then out in your head, and in context, and that slows me, the reader, down. Teens may have no problem – I’m guessing he ran it through his daughters, but without knowing their ages, I can’t guess at it’s accuracy. One word in particular stumped me for a long while “boud” – I finally figured it was meant to be “about,” but why change the last letter? It probably means something else all together .-)

All in all, a decent “chiller” read, with another book in this series coming. I’d read it, in the hopes that I feel a little more depth from the teen characters (the adults were drawn a little deeper to me), and to see what the rest of the mystery surrounding this interesting locale, a old logging historic place town near Port Orchard and Bremerton has in store. Since this is such a topical book, and makes many references to brands, styles, and other teen things, it might date itself quickly.

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Phobos: Mayan Fear by Steve Alten

Third volume in his Mayan doomsday set – there is another book alluded to at the end of this one, so he’s not done.  The first book in the series as I recall was straight doomsday stuff, with some fun SF touches.  The second is a continuation of that, building up the characters that with be needed for a successful conclusion to the Doomsday event on the Mayan Calendar.  This books builds on that, and introduces even more of the Mayan mythology about not only the Popol Vuh, and 2012, but also the ancient beliefs of the Mayan, Aztec and Olmec. This one I found confusing – Alten’s last book before this was not a part of his usual fare – MEG  (the ancient megaladon series) or Domain (the Mayan set) – it was a religious book about his studies of ancient Jewish wisdom, and what it meant for mankind.  I never was able to read more than a small part.  This book brings in some of that mysticism, and combines it with the Mayan prophecies about 2012, and the ancient race, the Nazca drawings, and time-travel – lots of it.  It gets confusing, since one of the characters used a different name through part of the book, channeled an ancient Mayan god, reached out into an inner consciousness higher plane, and spoke with people present and past and also showed up before he was born.  That everyone involved takes all this in stride is hard to swallow esp. as it  leads to a bunch of ET stuff, etc.  Although I enjoyed it, I thought the first book, Domain, was better, and that this one relied way too heavily on time-travel paradoxes and the ancient beliefs and less of his characters, etc. But, if you don’t mind some grand conspiracy theories, and I mean GRAND, and a lot of whisking back and forth without dates at times to anchor which time period you are in, this one’s for you.  As you can see by my rating, yet notes on the book, I was conflicted about it.  It took a while to get through, but some of that may have been a need to stop in the middle for two days, and my short memory span, so that things got confusing for me, as I struggled to remember what was going on and who was who.  You need to be sharp for this one!

Reading list – Some paranormal books

These are some recent paranormal reads – the review are deliberately short, so as to have NO spoilers at all.  Check them out.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Blake, Kendare

4.08

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing
Heard a lot about this book too.  It was a decent story, about a young ghost hunter, who dispatches the bad ghosts to some unknown place (I’d like to find out more about that).  Followed around the country by his kitchen witch mom and their poltergeist sniffing cat, he has few friends his own age, and prefers it that way.  Until he is called to dispatch a blood thirsty ghost in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Nice locale, nice set of secondary characters, and if more in the series, hopefully they will be flushed out more.  Gory and scary for those who like that, and a twist on his usual ghost dispatching as he deals with an extremely powerful ghost, Anna Dressed in Blood as the locals call her.  She is more powerful than any he has seen, and he is also plagued by nightmares and problems, which culminate in a nice battle for good v. evil.  My main complaint with the book, and I think this was done for effect rather than an attempt to help the reader, was that the paper was slightly yellow white in cast and the print in a rusty red color, and not that dark.  It made reading hard, and I had to put my light on a higher setting, which makes my room hotter, and no I don’t like the new lights – the spectrum is just wrong to me.  It may just be my eyesight – It isn’t the greatest, and is also growing old.

read,paranormal,ya-fantasy

Hereafter (Hereafter, #1)

Hereafter (Hereafter, #1)

Hudson, Tara *

3.76

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing
Sort of slow starter but becomes more interesting as we learn more about the heroine, who is dead, and how she fits into the landscape of the dead, and how and why she has a connection to a young man who almost drowns.  And then there is an arch villain to contend with, who is on the bad side of the spirit world.   Somewhat fresh in it’s take on the ghost story.  Looking for a sequel.

read,paranormal,ya-fantasy

The Skin Map

The Skin Map

Lawhead, Stephen R.

3.68

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing
This was a really interesting book, and also one of the strangest.  It jumps about POVs, and is part of a series.  Each book is left with a cliff-hanger, at least this one was.  It’s about a young man, bored with his life, who decided to take an alley to see his girlfriend, after all sorts of mis-haps prevent him from his usual route.  there he meets up with a strange character, his great-grandfather.  It seems his family has the ability to feel and travel across ley lines, not just in space, but also in time, going backwards only.  So they set about to find his missing girlfriend (whom he lost while trying to show her why he was late by taking her back to the “scene of the crime”).  His grandfather is on a quest to find a mysterious skin map – a map tattooed on an early explorer’s body and later preserved, of all the ley lines, and enlists the help of a 1600s intelligentsia, to help our hero find Mina.  But Mina is doing just great.  And where and how is the subject of much enjoyment.  Odd, hard to categorize but enjoyable.

read,paranormal

The Doomsday Box (Shadow Project, #2)

The Doomsday Box (Shadow Project, #2)

Brennan, Herbie

3.82

didn't like it it was ok liked it (my current rating) really liked it it was amazing

Slight book about a shadow agency that deals with psychotronic research – remote viewing, and time travel in this one.  Fairly nicely done with some good twists and turns and unexpected things, but the main four characters were slightly drawn – didn’t get a good feel for any of them, or their motivations, and they were quick to anger and meanness, and then all gone.  Of course some teens are like that.  But without an understanding of the character, it just is annoying.  But the basic premise, if done as an adult novel and fleshed out, could have been fun.

read,paranormal,time-travel, ya-sci-fi

Bump in the Night (includes In Death, #22.5)

Bump in the Night (includes In Death, #22.5)

Robb, J.D.

3.94

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing

This is a short story collection, four of them.  I haven’t read a romantic collection in years, so it was a flashback for me.  The first was part of the Eve Dallas future cop series by JD Robb – hard to get much back story on the characters, and have a mystery, but it was a good read, about an old murder and a new one.  A little ghost activity for fun.  2nd one by Mary Blayney was set in Regency England – a basic romantic story with the addition of a “magic” coin that granted wishes.  Sweet, charming, although a little off century (uses words like sex in conversation which would NOT have been done).  3rd was by Ruth Ryan Langan, about an extreme adventurer and a exotic photographer who are flung together during their respective assignments in the remote Alaskan Wilderness. Plenty of spirits walking, on the water, and in life.  Nice romantic tale, with just the right amount of paranormal.  Last one was a cute one by Mary Kay McComas, about an imaginary friend who reappears after a young woman’s father dies. They had been partners in an accounting business, and she had forgotten how to live her own life, so the friend reappears, wearing clothes she thought were cool back when she was six, and they find a way to get her back on track as her own person.  Fun, very unusual, but lacked much detail when the real love came around.  That was short changed, although it is a short story.  All in all, not a bad apple in the bunch.  One great, but all good.

read,paranormal,romance

Angelology

Angelology

Trussoni, Danielle

3.23

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing (my current rating)

A superlative book on angels and those who study them.  Great setting in New York City and up along the Hudson, including a monastery, with some long forgotten and secret things to help against a growing darkness. Second book is available.

read,paranormal

Childhood’s End – a book review

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but health issues have kept my brain on hold 😉

Here’s my latest review, this time on “Childhood’s End,” the Book of the Month for my SciFi reading group, in honor of Arthur Clarke’s passing.

Childhood's End

I found, after reading it, that I am more fond of his short stories than his novels for the most part. The exceptions being “Rendezvous With Rama,” which remains the penultimate First Encounter book, IMO, and “Ghost From the Grand Banks,” written later in life, about the Titanic. This one was written early in his writing career, and to me it shows.

I came to the book, though as if it were newly written, in order to accurately review the book, without sentimentality or excuses. I wrote this review in the form of “notes” which I jotted down as they came to me. The book on the whole is written in a choppy style, skipping from fifty years to fifty years, to other places, even within a single chapter.

So here goes:

One word of warning to those of you who have older editions. I have both. The editions printed before 1990 have a different first chapter. He has a foreward explaining it all, and some nice background stuff. Because of the way things progressed in real time, he decided to change it up a bit. But only the first short chapter.

The upshot is the same, just the details were changed completely.

Wiki cites this about “Childhood’s End”: “In Clarke’s authorized biography, Neil McAleer writes that: “many readers and critics still consider [Childhood’s End] Arthur C. Clarke’s best novel.” What do YOU think? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Clarke

Earlier I posted on the “new” opening chapter (editions after 1990) and the foreward he wrote, explaining about the changes in it. How he changed it from an incipient Moon flight to a Mars one, since we had already conquered the moon. He also made disclaimers in the foreward about his new attitudes debunked psi phenomena, which he had earlier been quite interested in – supposedly the book deals a lot with that
subject, but at about 1/2 through, so far, there’s been little mention of psi stuff.

It’s tone is slightly dated to me, anachronistic in terms (ice-box, or is that British?), and the use of the “N” word as something that was now accepted. Sort of un-PC from how we tend to view things. “The convenient word “n*&” was no longer taboo in polite society, but was used without embarrassment by everyone. It had no more emotional, content than such labels as republican or Methodist, conservative or liberal.”

Somehow I can’t see a civilization, however changed, making he “n” word acceptable in 50 years, if ever. Some words, with racial slurs behind them, will never, IMO, make it into mainstream acceptance. Methodist is a far cry from “N”. Perhaps “Negro” which he uses, but not the other.

So far, it jumps from character to character – and they are just dropped. Of course 50 years have passed, but it was a very quick, glossed over 50 years. I would have liked to see more emphasis on the changes that happened, rather than just 2 pages explaining all the changes in science, arts, humanity, society, etc. That’s a lot of eggs to swallow in 2 pages.

On pg. 75 in my version he talks about the loss of religion, due to a device that allowed people to see into the past. “Beneath the fierce and passionless light of truth, faiths that had sustained millions for twice a thousand years vanished like morning dew. All the good and all the evil they had wrought were suddenly swept into the past, and could touch the minds of man no more.”

He seems to have a duality about religion – he seems to almost condemn it in those sentences, yet his two most famous short stories, “The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” are both about religion, and
“The Star”, while questioning faith, is powerful enough to touch both believers and non-believers, IMO. And for his funeral he stated: “Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral.” Which indicates a man who abhorred religion. So, looking at “The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” does that reflect some early duality back then, or just a couple of great stories, FICTION?

One of my favorite things he did was: “Clarke attempted to write a six-word story as part of a Wired Magazine article but wrote ten words instead. (“God said, ‘Cancel Program GENESIS.’ The universe ceased to
exist.”) He refused to lower the word count.” So how does that reflect his attitude towards religion? That small 10-word story seems to infer that God does exist, and has the power to make the world go away, as does “Nine Billion…” in some ways. FICTION again? To me “The Star” shows his questioning of faith and the basis of Christianity.

If anyone knows more about eh evolution back in the ’40s and ’50s of his religious views, I’m be curious to get the links, hear it, etc. Most deal with his later views, which were atheist. But it would be hard, IMHO, to write “The Star” without something behind it, although it is said that: “Near the very end of that same episode [a three-day interview described as “a dialogue on man and his world” with Alan Watts], the last segment of which covered the Star of Bethlehem, he stated that his favourite theory was that it might be a pulsar. Given that pulsars were discovered in the interval between his writing the short story, The Star (1955), and making Mysterious World (1980), and given the more recent discovery of pulsar PSR B1913+16, he said, ‘How romantic, if even now, we can hear the dying voice of a star, which heralded the Christian era.'” So was that all “The Star” was, or was it the dying breath of a crisis of faith for him? Anyone know?

Moving on:

On pg. 79, he has a great line from a wife, upon seeing her husband looking at another, very beautiful woman: “It was such a nuisance that men were fundamentally polygamous. On the other hand, if they weren’t … Yes, perhaps it was better this way, after all.”

I love how he subtly puts down marriage and it’s attendant obligations and martial framework. Nice touch of humor.

Despite his reworking of the first chapter to reflect a Mars mission, rather than the moon, he never changed the rest of it, deliberately he said, so that subtle inconsistencies arise. One in particular I like his old-style turn of phrase, although it’s moon thing sort of detracts from it, because you recall the Mars change, but was a nice piece: “A century before [yes, we seem to have jumped ahead again another 50 years, despite two chapters before starting out with …50 years is ample time…], Man had set foot upon the ladder that could lead him to the stars. At that very moment – could it be coincidence? – the door to the planets had been slammed in his face.” A nice turn of phrase, but he refers to Moon trips, when we’ve already been there, done that, which is why he rewrote the first chapter. Why do that, and not make smaller changes in the rest? pg.92

He has an older, more colorful turn of phrase – more flowery, more full of imagery. Current SF doesn’t read like this. And that is what dates it, to me. I’ve seen it before, in some of my favorite novelists from that time, and it hasn’t bothered me before. Maybe because it’s sciend fiction this time, which is dupposed to be tomorrow’s technology, etc.? It’s the style of writing – the more descriptive, allusitory way, that seems to date, more than technology, etc.

At one point, he talks about the Overlords’ Stardrive. They know nothing about it, and one character is sitting watching a ship leave, and knows that the generally accepted theory of the light he was seeing was merely a gravitational distortion of space caused by the “immense acceleration of the Stardrive.” “What Jan was seeing, he knew, was nothing less than the light of distant stars, collected and focused into his eye whenever conditions were favorable along the track of the ship. It was a visible proof of relativity – the bending of light in the presence of a colossal gravitational field.” pg. 94

One thing that struck me was the, to me, curiously passive attitude of the people. Yes, the Overlords proved their power, etc., and yes, there were splinter groups against them, but all in all, the people just sat back and let it all fall around them – losing their drive, their science, their art, their sense of adventure. Are we so shallow as a species? Do you think this is what would happen in 50 years, in the presence of a vastly, so it seems, superior race? Do we just give up, and enjoy our little Utopia, even though Clarke says that Utopia =
boredom. I know it’s a cautionary tale, but it still seems a flimsy premise. Of course, as Clarke himself would say, it’s a work or FICTION!

And what about what Wiki says about him:
“Clarke’s work is marked by an optimistic view of science empowering mankind’s exploration of the solar system. His early published stories would usually feature the extrapolation of a technological innovation
or scientific breakthrough into the underlying decadence of his own society.” What do you think of that statement? Accurate? or not?

I also like the idea behind his 2nd law, a lesser know one than his 3rd: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” See: http://groups.google.com.au/group/rec.arts.sf.misc/msg/e4185210a85826fc for a nice overview of the history behind the laws.

So, those are just my thoughts so far. Anachronistic in style, tone and certain things, and so far, 1/2 way through, not really “giving” me anything to look forward to – to hang my hat on. Not much in the way of questions, thoughts, etc. for me. For many books, by this time I would have pages of comments, not just these pitiful ones.

Are there others, like me, who have not returned to the classics very much, and when they do, have discovered certain things about them, that perhaps “glare” in the light of today? And I read authors from
the 50s, but for me, it doesn’t fit in SF. Because of my “gap?”

Despite the detractions I listed, I am still enjoying a trip to the past and the Golden Age, one that is 25 years in the past for me, not 50+.

I found my older version of “Childhood’s End” with the orig. publishing date of 1953, 48th printing 1984, before he changed the first chapter and added the foreward. On the cover, with a nice UFO shining over a city, is a review quote from The New York Times:

“A first rate tour de force that is well worth the attention of every thoughtful citizen in this age of anxiety.”

Now, I wonder, given my earlier thoughts, is it really that important a book? I wondered about what we were anxious about (the quote wasn’t dated), so I did some digging and it came from a 1953 review: http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/09/reviews/clarke-childhood.html

So I’m assuming it was the beginning of the Cold War? Or was that later? Before my time, and my 20th century history is very sketchy (a product of 70s liberal/innovative education in Minnesota, the ultra
liberal state). Interestingly, it’s labeled as a “Books of the Times”, and the reviewer stresses it’s relevance to society at that time.

But there is an interesting twist – the reviewer attempts to “pretend” it’s not SF:

“It must be said at the outset that Mr. Clarke’s publishers have offered his novel as science-fiction, a label that too many readers still associate with Captain Video, rocket-ship sagas and invasions of super-gremlins from universes other than our own. It is quite true that “Childhood’s End” contains some of these standard ingredients, but Mr. Clarke has mixed them with a master’s hand.”

And to end this rather self-important, prosy review (an earlier incarnation of me???):

“This review can only hint at the stimulation Mr. Clark’s novel offers. Above all, it must be emphasized that this is not a gloomy book, despite its holocausts. It is true that the invaders from outer space manage to steal the big scenes. But homo sapiens fights back to the end with resourcefulness and wit. What’s more, he rarely allows himself to be upstaged, even when he is faced with his own extinction.”

PART II

I just finished Childhood’s End, before the end of “Clarke Month,” and below are my comments on the last half:

After the seance, when the overloads are discussing Jean’s fainting upon hearing the star notation for their home planet, they make reference to her being a too old to be a prime contact (later explained obliquely), and to “transfer her to Category Purple” which was never explained – what that meant, or the significance of the categories – no other “category” was ever mentioned. pg. 103

He makes his famous statement that “the stars are not for Man,” when the Overlord makes some announcements about why the skies are closed after Jan is discovered as a stowaway. That statement is repeated, but in many ways, as is later shown in the book, the stars ARE for man, just in a new and supposedly improved version. And Clarke’s explanations for this are not satisfactory to me: he talks about how vast the galaxy is (he uses galaxy and universe interchangeably at times, which is annoying to me), but only when he gets to the metaphysical “bridge” thing does he sort of make a case. What is wrong with man colonizing his star system, and growing along the way? I just never got that part. pg. 137.

The island where the Greggson’s move to, New Athens, reminds me in many ways of the concept for Greg Egan’s Distress – it’s almost as if he borrowed the whole thing, lock stock and barrel, except for the
man-made part. pg. 144-45 (see my earlier review of that book).

The way the island was set up reminded me of the TV show “Numb3rs,” in how they used mathematics in so many ways to compute all the various optimal structuring. Pg.140, 146

He did do a nice job of foreshadowing some of society’s and technology’s trends – i.e. he talked about movies/entertainment that would make you feel like you were part of it – and take part – sort of
a VR? Pg. 148.

As I’ve said before, his writing is very prosy, almost poetical at times: “He had no wish to face whatever lurked in the unknown darkness, just beyond the little circle of light cast by the light of Science.” That, more that technology or ideas, to me, dates the book. I don’t recall if all his books were like this, or just the earlier ones – say contrast it with “Ghost from the Grand Banks.” pg. 151

I also don’t really like any of the characters, perhaps except for the first major one – Stormgren, the Secretary-General. The Greggson’s were annoying – he was always talking “plaintively” and she was way
too submissive, and they were flat, one-dimensional – nothing showing their motivations, beyond a brief reference to his artistic side. Nothing to give them flesh and blood, so that later events – the “ascendancy” or mass evolution of their children and others should move them – indeed, they were quite passive, and accepting, and never seemed to really regret or care about anything. And their marriage was described in very dull, unloving terms – he had stopped loving her, etc. Perhaps a reflection on Clarke’s own views on marriage? Anyone know?

The characters shallowness made later events seem anti-climatic and they just stood there and let it flow around them, rather than absorbing their loss, and the loss of the future of man as they knew him. Everyone on the planet seemed to always have this resigned acceptance of whatever happened to them, it was okay, they’d just get along with it – only a few were referenced with mild rebellions, or like New Athens, with such a minor revolt of the arts that it was almost ludicrous that they feared the Overlord’s displeasure. pg. 151

After his son’s “encounter” with the tsunami and his miraculous saving, George went out to the site to investigate, and found fused rock, and “knew” that the Overlords had intervened? How was he so sure? Nothing like that had ever been done for a single human – so why would he think that the Overlords had somehow picked HIS son to save, out of everyone on the planet subject to accidents, etc.? pg. 156

All, in all, I was disappointed – the ending was trite to me – and the notion that man must wait for the stars until he was ‘ready” to join at a much higher level – that he must evolve entirely into a “new” species, goes against the main frames of SF to me – that if we strive hard enough, we’ll make the stars our destiny.

I didn’t like how humanity just bowed down and accepted their fate at the end – that they just let themselves die off, without trying to see if a new generation would also evolve, or if that was the only one, etc. It seems in direct violation of all that mankind holds dear – freewill, independence, stubbornness, etc. They did that throughout the book – just accept it, like sheep.

Of course, I’ve never been a big fan of the super evolution themes – that man will suddenly evolve into a consciousness – it seems boring to me – to just be a mind, without substance, even if you have the
universe at your “mind”, it’s not at your fingertips as you have none!

And the very ending, with Karellen and the Overlords stuck in an evolutionary dead-end, and being “slaves” to the Overmind seemed “off.” What is wrong with what they had accomplished, and what they still might accomplish – why is the Overmind or an evolutionary dead-end the only two forks in the road, as Clarke says on pg. 205? Now it may only be a literary device, but it is unsatisfactory to me.

I wanted SO much more from each and every page – more character dimension, more descriptions, more delving into the whys and wherefores – it seems like it should have been two or three times the length to adequately address the subject. It just seemed way too short. And Clarke’s little disclaimer in the 1990 edition, about how when it was first published, readers were baffled by a statement at the beginning that the opinion expressed in the book were not those of the author, is a little lame, IMO. He states (in the later edition ) that this was put in because he had just published his book “The Exploration of Space” and painted an optimistic picture of our future expansion into the Universe. And now he had written a book that “the
stars were not for Man,” and he didn’t want anyone to think he had recanted his just published views.

He then goes on to state that he would change that to cover 99% of the paranormal, so that the books won’t “contribute to the seduction of the gullible, now cynically exploited by the media.” He goes on to say, that although his views on the paranormal have changed, the book still has relevance as “it’s a work of fiction, for goodness sake!”

In his foreward he also talks about how “V” the miniseries is an “impressive variation” of Chapter 2.

So, bottom line – okay reading, but disappointing – 1. flat and featureless – needs fleshing out, IMHO, and 2. trite ending – a quick, descriptionless ascendancy, without any reason how or why. The paranormal pasts, like the seance, and Rupert’s “books” seemed almost an afterthought.

A fellow member had this to say about my “notes”:

” I enjoyed Kristin’s analysis of Clarke’s classic Childhoods End. I’d like to add some points in defense of this book.

First, it was written in 1953. At that time Clarke was 36 years old and had just started publishing. He had a few novels published and some short stories, but was at the beginning of his career. So, we have to give him some slack in character and plot development. If he had written this in 1983 it would have been embarrassing.

Second, I don’t have a problem with the Overlords and their mission to guide humanity to join the Overmind. Assuming that the Overmind is a vast mind that wants to grow, it might recognize that lesser races need guidance to help them join it and designate the Overlords to guide humanity.

In rereading Childhood… I found this sentence in Karellan’s broadcast to the Earth in Chapter 14, “One of my duties has been to protect you from powers and forces that lie among the stars – forces beyond anything you can imagine.”

I don’t know if it was mentioned in the book (perhaps it was in another Clarke novel). but I recall a phrase about how an advanced intelligence could view lesser races, “…and, sometimes, dispassionately weed…” implying advanced races might have to protect the Galaxy against aggressive humans armed with nuclear weapons and a nuclear space drive.”

And my reply was:

Chris is right on all points – I was merely reacting to it as if it were a story newly minted – coming to it with “fresh” eyes. He does touch on the last point of Chris’s in “Childhood’s End”:

On pg. 136-37 (1990 version), he talks about how a stone age man might react to the Victorian age of electricity and steam, and what might happen if a Victorian man tried to tinker with a television set or a
computer. “How long would he have lived if he started to investigate their workings? The gulf between the two technologies can easily become so great that it is – lethal.”

He went on to talk about how our race, in it’s present stage of evolution, cannot face the stupendous challenge of the immensity of space. Then he says “It is a bitter thought, but you must face it. The planets one day you may possess. But the stars are not for Man.” That was after the announcement of the stowaway.

Then while he’s talking to Jan at the end, he discusses, or “pontificates” on the power of psi – that we had begun to investigate it, and while physicists would only have ruined the earth, the paraphysicists could have “spread havoc to the stars.” He says we might have become a telepathic cancer, a malignant mentality which in it’s inevitable dissolution would have poisoned other and greater minds. So they were sent to interrupt our development, guide us, and be our guardians until we were ready.

So it seems to me that at least in this book, the threat from us was not our bombs and such, nor our war-like mentality, but our inability to comprehend the extraordinary vastness of space and it’s cultures,
and that our untrained psi powers could have done much harm, until we were “ready.”

It’s not a bad book to me, just, as Chris sort of said, an untrained one, from a newbie writer, with grandiose ideas, and not yet the pen ready to commit them all to paper fully. It’s sad, because I think it could have been a great book if he had written it later in his career. But to me he was always a master of the short story, more than the novel, with the exception of “Rama,” which as I recall was fascinating at first, then became boring, so much so that I think I stopped reading it and never finished – only a rereading will tell.

But his short stories, like The Star, and such are phenomenal.

The House AI

Newer Reads for Teens in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

These are books from SimonSays.com, a website from Simon & Schuster. I found them by using the guide on the left, clicking on Teens at the top, and then on Science Fiction and Fantasy under “category.” They are the printers of many of the teen books available, and are a great way to find books for your kids, and they group then not only by teen, but by each grade level and by genre, series, etc. Most of these are published within the past year, or are yet to be published. Check the publication dates listed if you’re not sure, or can’t find it – it may be forthcoming. They are very exact about age grading, far more so than Amazon, although they ARE limited to the books they publish. But it’s a great place to start, since they are so precise in age ratings, and in how to find the exact type of book you’re looking for. So try some and see what you think. I tried to pick a representative selection. They also have a number of books for the younger set, 8-12, which I will cover next time. NOTE: These have NOT been read by either me or my kids, so I can’t vouch for them. But many have won awards, and those are listed. So be adventurous – try some.

Wake
By Lisa McMann
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 04, 2008
Our Price: $15.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)
By Cassandra Clare
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments)
By Cassandra Clare
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 19, 2008
Our Price: $9.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Their hidden world is about to be revealed….

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon.

But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

image

The Past is Gone (The Time Jumpers)

By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 8, 2007

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Begins….

When Theodore Pine Four suddenly appears in the bedroom of Genevieve Corrigan just as her friend Jules Santorini is about to ask her out on a date, the only thing they can all agree on is that it is highly unordinary. Things get even more complicated when we find out that Theo is a teenager from the year Fourteen Billion and Seventy-Three with multicolored hair, a talking coat, and the hottest new time machine on the market: the TimeMaster JumpMan Pro. And little do they know that this chance encounter is going to kick-start an epic adventure — one that will take Jules, Gen, and Theo through history, from the Big Bang all the way up to 14,000,000,073 and everywhere in between. Along the way, our heroes are going to have to figure out how to get Theo and his malfunctioning time machine back home without undoing the fabric of time itself. And, if he’s lucky, Jules might just manage to ask Gen on that date.

The Present Never Happens
The Present Never Happens (The Time Jumpers)
By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
Our Price: $5.99

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Continues….

Rule One of TimeJumping was broken, but luckily disaster has been averted (at least for now), and Jules, Gen, and Theo are back. Their first adventure had them whisking through Time, talking to coats, and just managing to save Theo’s life — but that was just a warm-up. In the second chapter of the mind-bending TimeJumpers series, Jules and Gen (finally) go on a date, Theo turns out to be the biggest celebrity anyone in the year Fourteen Billion and Seventy-Three has ever seen, and we meet a peculiar and very irritating old man who has the strange idea that the entire history of the world is about to be overturned — and somehow Jules and Gen are involved. And that’s just the beginning. There are sinister forces at work, and Rule One is not just going to be broken, it’s going to be smashed apart.

The Future Is Unknown
The Future Is Unknown (The Time Jumpers)
By James Valentine
Cover by Tom White

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Our Price: $5.99

Ages: 8 – 12
Grades: 3 – 7

Description

The Adventure Ends.

In the third millennium, Jules is suddenly very popular, for reasons he doesn’t really understand. He should be happy, but all he can think about is Theo. Are Jules and Gen ever going to see him again? Meanwhile, in the fifteenth billennium, Quincy Carter One has disappeared after the world witnessed his aborted attempt to undermine the entire structure of Time. Not only that, TimeJumping has been all but outlawed on the Two Planets. And Theo can’t stop worrying about Jules and Gen — and what Quincy may be planning, wherever (or whenever) he is. It’s the thrilling conclusion of the TimeJumpers trilogy, and no one knows what’s going to happen next. Or before. But that’s what happens when you start fooling around with time.

Sky Inside
By Clare B. Dunkle
Cover by Sammy Yuen, Jr.
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Martin lives in a perfect world.

Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.

And it’s all about to come crashing down.

Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin’s sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.

Acclaimed author Clare B. Dunkle has crafted a fresh and fast-paced science-fiction thriller, one that challenges her characters — and her readers — to look closer at the world they take for granted.

Pirate Emperor (The Wave Walkers)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Dominic Harman
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 08, 2008
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 10 – 14
Grades: 5 – 9

Description

In the vast Caribbean Sea, pirates Jolly and Griffin are stranded on a tiny island where a peculiar architect is building an enormous bridge — but to where? Another world? Before they can find out, the bridge bursts into flames and the kobalins attack. Jolly and Griffin have nowhere to run until the Ghost Trader mysteriously appears and carries them off to the magical coral city of Aelenium. It is from Aelenium that Jolly and Munk are supposed to descend far, far into the deep to keep out the world-devouring Maelstrom.

But Jolly isn’t ready for that task. She wants to rescue Captain Bannon, the only father she’s ever known, so she steals the ghost ship and sets sail. Griffin follows her, until he is trapped by the man in the whale. Princess Soledad has her own plans — to kill Pirate Emperor Kendrick. But the truly terrifying cannibal king stands in her way. Is Soledad ready to become the new pirate emperor?

Trickery Treat (Charmed)
By Diana G. Gallagher
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 16 and up
Grades: 10 and up

Description

Trickery Treat

A portal opened — as a means for amends,
Leaves a vengeful spirit to roam.
Helping him cross over is the only way,
To restore peace within the home.

It’s Halloween, and Piper is busy decorating the Manor, which has become the neighborhood hot spot on the most bewitching night of the year. Meanwhile, Paige decides to use the party as a chance to honor the dead. She casts a spell that creates a portal for a clan of leprechauns…and other wandering spirits.

The guests are thrilled and impressed with the realistic effects, but Phoebe, Piper, and Paige soon realize that they have a big trick to deal with: one not-so-friendly ghost going out of his way to turn the Manor into a haunted house. The Charmed Ones must stop this evil soul with a vengeance before he takes the life of one experienced ghost hunter who knows his story and has met him before….

The Water Mirror (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

Kansas State Reading Circle Senior High Titles
NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”
SLJ Best Book of the Year

Description

In Venice, magic is not unusual. Merle is apprenticed to a magic mirror maker, and Serafin — a boy who was once a master thief — works for a weaver of magic cloth. Merle and Serafin are used to the mermaids who live in the canals of the city and to the guards who patrol the streets on living stone lions. Merle herself possesses something magical: a mirror whose surface is water. She can reach her whole arm into it and never get wet.

But Venice is under siege by the Egyptian Empire; its terrifying mummy warriors are waiting to strike. All that protects the Venetians is the Flowing Queen. Nobody knows who or what she is — only that her power flows through the canals and keeps the Egyptians at bay.

When Merle and Serafin overhear a plot to capture the Flowing Queen, they are catapulted into desperate danger. They must do everything they can to rescue the Queen and save the city — even if it means getting help from the Ancient Traitor himself.

Stone Light (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)
By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 16, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Evil forces have invaded Venice – the city that Merle and Serafin call home. Luckily, the two friends hold secrets that just might stop the pharaoh from destroying their ancient city.

Merle has within her spirit of the Flowing Queen, a mysterious legendary force who serves as her guide. Indeed, the Queen’s voice has led Merle to Vermithrax, a winged stone lion. And together they are on a mission to Hell to enlist help from Lord Light.

Meanwhile, Serafin remains in Venice. He’s joined a group of rebel boys who are plotting to assassinate the pharaoh. But can a group so small really kill the biggest, most powerful man on earth?

Though they follow separate courses, Merle and Serafin will both encounter unexpected betrayals and startling revelations. And together they learn that evil takes many shapes in the world of Dark Reflections.

Glass Word (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)

By Kai Meyer
Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Cover by Melvyn Grant
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

When they emerge from Hell, Merle, her friend Junipa who has mirrors for eyes, and Vermithrax the flying stone lion find themselves in Egypt. Of course the Flowing Queen is with them as well, since Merle swallowed her back in Venice. There is something very wrong in Egypt–it is freezing cold, and everything is covered in snow. Winter is here, looking for his lost love, Summer. And another creature is here as well–Seth, the highest of the Horus priests. Betrayed by the pharaoh and his sphinx henchmen, Seth is seeking revenge. Together they travel to the Iron Eye, the vast fortress of the sphinxes.But what does the Flowing Queen want Merle to do there?

Meanwhile Serafin, the master thief, the beautiful sphinx Lalapeya, and Eft, the mermaid, are also headed for Egypt. They are traveling underwater, in a submarine piloted by pirates. Serafin is not sure what they can do to the fight the pharaoh, but he knows surrender is not an option. Egypt has captured and enslaved his beloved Venice, and he and the others must fight the empire no matter what the cost. But the final battle will not be one that Serafin has even imagined–and the cost will be high indeed.

Here, There Be Dragons (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica)
By James A. Owen
Illustrated by James A. Owen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Our Price: $9.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee

Description

The Imaginarium Geographica

“What is it?” John asked.

The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow.

“It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose.”

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.

An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.

Search for the Red Dragon (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica)
By James A. Owen
Illustrated by James A. Owen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 01, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

“‘The Crusade has begun’…

“There’s an old myth in the Archipelago,” he went on softly, shaking his head. “A legend, really…I recall it mentioned a Crusade, but those events happened seven centuries ago. We always thought it was only a story.”

It has been nine years since John, Jack, and Charles had their great adventure in the Archipelago of Dreams and became the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica. Now they have been brought together again to solve a mystery: Someone is kidnapping the children of the Archipelago. And their only clue is a mysterious message delivered by a strange girl with artificial wings: “The Crusade has begun.” Worse, they discover that all of the legendary Dragonships have disappeared as well.

The only chance they have to save the world from a centuries-old plot is to seek out the last of the Dragonships — the Red Dragon — in a spectacular journey that takes them from Sir James Barrie’s Kensington Gardens to the Underneath of the Greek Titans of myth. With friends both familiar and new, they will travel through an extraordinary landscape where history, myth, and fable blend together to tell the oldest story in the world. And along the way, the Caretakers of the Geographica will discover that great deeds alone do not make heroes, and that growing up may be unavoidable…but growing old doesn’t have to be.

Quillan Games (Pendragon)
By D. J. MacHale
Cover by Victor Lee
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

Let the Games Begin….
Quillan is a territory on the verge of destruction. The people have lost control of their own future and must struggle simply to survive. The only chance they have of finding a better life is by playing the Quillan Games. Hosted by a strange pair of game masters, Veego and LaBerge, the games are a mix of sport and combat. They use the people of Quillan as pawns for their amusement as they force them to enter competitions that range from physical battles, to impossible obstacle courses, to computer-driven tests of agility. To triumph in the games is to live the life of a king. To lose is to die.

This is the dangerous and deadly situation Bobby Pendragon finds on Quillan. He quickly realizes that the only way to save this troubled territory is to beat Veego and LaBerge at their own games and dismantle their horrible fun house. But there is more at stake for Bobby. The prize for winning the Quillan Games may be discovering the truth of what it really means a Traveler.

Raven Rise (Pendragon)
By D. J. MacHale
Cover by Dawn Austin
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: May 20, 2008
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be.

There’s only one thing missing–Bobby Pendragon.

While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth against the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone.

The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane’s quest to rule Halla is under way.

And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

The Time Thief (The Gideon Trilogy)
By Linda Buckley-Archer
Cover by James Jean
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 5 and up

Description

What happens when a seventeenth-century bad guy has twenty-first-century technology?

An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don’t go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him.Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.

Fall of a Kingdom
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: January 01, 2005
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Who was Sorahb?

Stories are told of a hero who will come to Farsala’s aid when the need is greatest. But for thousands of years the prosperous land of Farsala has felt no such need, as it has enjoyed the peace that comes from being both feared and respected.

Now a new enemy approaches Farsala’s borders, one that neither fears nor respects its name and legend. But the rulers of Farsala still believe that they can beat any opponent.

Three young people are less sure of Farsala’s invincibility. Jiaan, Soraya, and Kavi see Time’s Wheel turning, with Farsala headed toward the Flames of Destruction. What they cannot see is how inextricably their lives are linked to Farsala’s fate — until it’s too late.

In Fall of a Kingdom, the first volume of the Farsala Trilogy, Hilari Bell introduces readers to a world of honor, danger, and magic in this spellbinding tale of self-discovery.

Rise of a Hero (The Farsala Trilogy)
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: June 01, 2006
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The Return of Sorahb?

Legend has it that when Farsala most needs a warrior to lead it, Sorahb will be restored by the god Azura. That time has come. After a devastating loss to the army of the Hrum, Farsala has all but fallen. Only the walled city of Mazad and a few of the more uninhabitable regions remain free of Hrum rule, and they seem destined to fall as well. Farsala needs a champion now.

Three young people are waging battle as best they can. Soraya, Jiaan, and Kavi, their lives decimated by the Hrum, are each in a personal fight against their common enemy. Apart, their chances are slim, as none of them is Sorahb reborn. United, perhaps they can succeed. But only Time’s Wheel can bring them together — if it turns the right way. If it doesn’t, Farsala is surely doomed.

In the sequel to the critically acclaimed Fall of a Kingdom (formerly titled Flame), the first book of the Farsala Trilogy, Hilari Bell draws readers deeper into the mythical land of Farsala and weaves an epic tale of destiny and danger.

Forging the Sword (The Farsala Trilogy)
By Hilari Bell
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The spirit of the ancient champion, Sorahb was reborn into the body of a deghan youth, who raised an army of peasants to resist their Hrum conquerors.

Sorya, Kavi, and Jiann do everything they can to keep control of what little land remains free from Hrum rule. They have most of the peasantry, a small, untrained army, and the Suud helping them, but there is still one important piece missing: a sword that is able to withstand the Hrum’s watersteel. Without it, Farsala will fall.

But what none of these young heroes can foresee is the growing desperation of the Hrum leaders. It will lead them to break some of their own laws and sacred pacts. It will also reveal truths about the nature of war, the nature of human beings, and — most important — themselves.

Sunlight and Shadow: A Retelling of “The Magic Flute” (Once Upon a Time)
By Cameron Dokey
Cover by Kinuko Y. Craft
Designed by Mahlon F. Craft
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: June 17, 2008
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

A new spin on “The Magic Flute” by an acclaimed author!

In a time when the world was young and many things were quite commonplace that are now entirely forgotten, Sarastro, Mage of the Day, wed Pamina, the Queen of the Night. And in this way was the world complete, for light was joined to dark. For all time would they be joined together. Only the ending of the world could tear them apart. In other words, in the days in which my parents married, there was no such thing as divorce….

Thus begins the tale of Mina, a girl-child born on the longest night of the darkest month of the year. When her father looked at her, all he saw was what he feared: By birth, by name, by nature, she belonged to the Dark. So when Mina turned sixteen, her father took her away from shadow and brought her into sunlight.

In retaliation, her mother lured a handsome prince into a deadly agreement: If he frees Mina, he can claim her as his bride.

Now Mina and her prince must endure deadly trials — of love and fate and family — before they can truly live happily ever after….

Sara’s Face
By Melvin Burgess
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 17, 2008
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

Fame, beauty, and face transplants

Sara wants to be famous, and when legendary rock star Jonathon Heat offers to take her under his wing and pay for her cosmetic surgery, it’s like a dream come true. But beauty comes with a hidden price tag. Is Sara willing to pay?

Unwind
By Neal Shusterman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: November 06, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 13 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books For Young Adults
ALA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Description

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

Clovermead: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: December 01, 2005
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 6 and up

Awards:

NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”
Theodore H. White Lecturer/Joan Shorenstein Center, JFK School of Government/Harvard University (2002)
YALSA Teens Top Ten (TTT) Nominee

Description

Twelve-year-old Clovermead Wickward’s head is filled with stories of adventure. She dreams about the thrill of a sword fight and the excitement of heroic quests. The last thing Clovermead expects is for those dreams to come true. But it seems her father, Waxmelt, is not who she has believed hi to be. As she becomes aware of strange new powers within her, Clovermead realizes that her father is harboring secrest that threaten to tear their small family apart.

At the same time, the good nuns of Lady Moon are waging war again the evil bear-priests of Lord Ursus. Suddenly Clovermead and Waxmelt find themselves thrust into the middle of an epic battle.

Clovermead comes to understand that the clash between good and evil is raging not only on the battlefield but also within herself. Will she succumb to the temptation of evil, in the shadow of the bear, or will she fight for the salvation of good?

Chandlefort: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 26, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

It has been just months since Clovermead Wickward discovered that she is really Demoiselle Cerelune Cindertallow — daughter of Lady Melisande Cindertallow, the sovereign of Chandlefort — and that the man she had called Father all her life was actually an embittered servant who stole her away when she was a baby. Since then, she has learned that she doesn’t wholly care for life inside the walls of Chandlefort, and that she doesn’t much like her mother’s expectations for how a Demoiselle should behave — especially the bit about not changing shape anymore. When you can turn into a bear, being forced to stay human can be deadly dull.

Now Clovermead must confront dangerous secrets from her family’s troubled past when a mysterious stranger appears in Chandlefort. Perhaps he is the old friend of Clovermead’s real father, as he claims to be — or perhaps an old enemy of the Cindertallows who seeks a final revenge. When Clovermead unintentionally puts her mother’s life in mortal peril, her only chance to make amends and save the mother she has just begun to know is to set off on a dangerous journey to a distant abbey. The life of her mother, the salvation of Chandlefort, and the freedom of the bears enslaved by the overwhelming power of Lord Ursus all depend on Clovermead

In this intense and compelling sequel to Clovermead, David Randall explores the strength of love, courage, and forgiveness in the battle of good and evil.

Sorrel: In the Shadow of the Bear
By David Randall
Cover by Steve Stone
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

The fight against the evil Lord Ursus continues, and the fate of the battle lies in the hands of fifteen-year-old Clovermead Wickward. Chandlefort’s army is in need of reinforcements, and Clovermead is charged by her mother, Lady Cindertallow, to seek allies among the nomadic Hordes of the Tansy Steppes. At the same time, Lord Ursus has dispatched Clovermead’s old enemy Lucifer Snuff to contest her. A battle of diplomacy ensues, and it is only one of many struggles that Clovermead must face.

First, Clovermead must choose between her mission to the Hordes and the pleas of her best friend, Sorrel. All the while the survival of Chandlefort is pitted against Clovermead’s promise to free Lord Ursus’s enslaved bears. But the most painful choice of all awaits Clovermead in a face-to-face confrontation with Lucifer Snuff. In the end, Clovermead must decide between the logic of war and her heart’s instinct for mercy, relying on her sacred gifts — the ability to shift into bear-form and to speak the bear-language — to have even the slightest chance at victory.

In an epic tale of honor, love, and redemption, David Randall follows Clovermead and Chandlefort with an adventure determining the fate of nations and human souls.

Questors
By Joan Lennon
Cover by Jon Foster
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 11, 2007
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 10 – 14
Grades: 5 – 9

Description

Three worlds, held in perfect balance. Nothing can change that. Well, nothing except a cataclysmic disruption in the Space-Time Continuum…

Luckily the people in charge have a plan: Create three perfect Heroes, the best of each world, and send them on a quest to find the Objects of Power that will restore the balance. But things go wrong when the Heroes are needed ten years earlier than expected, and three confused kids set off to save the worlds. Madlen, Bryn, and Cam have no idea what they’re looking for or where they’ll find it. What they do know is that to fail would mean unthinkable disaster.

It’s a pity, then, that someone is determined to stop them…

From the icebound city of the dragons to the magical kitchen of The London House, Joan Lennon has crafter a highly inventive story that is fast-paced, fantastical, and funny.

Bloodtide
By Melvin Burgess
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 22, 2007
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

PART I

London is in ruins, a once highly advanced city now a gated wasteland. Within its walls, a bloody war rages between two clans. Hope is sparse, but the people believe the gods have risen from the dead.

Odin himself has come to play a part in the lives of two twins, a brother and sister from the Volson clan. Siggy and Signy must come to grips with their destiny as London’s future teeters on the edge of a knife….

Bloodsong
By Melvin Burgess
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Our Price: $7.99
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books For Young Adults

Description

PART II

Fifteen-year-old Sigurd, son of King Sigmund, is the last surviving member of the Volson clan. His father’s kingdom — the former city of London — is gone. And his father’s knife, a gift from Odin himself, has been shattered to dust.

Now, Odin’s eye is upon him. Armed with a powerful sword forged from the remnants of his father’s knife, Sigurd will face death, fire, and torment. He must travel through Hel and back…to unite his country once again.

She’s a Witch Girl
By Kelly McClymer
Cover by Kirsten Ulve
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 21, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Prudence Stewart is FINALLY getting her witch on at Agatha’s Day School. Sadly, her love life isn’t quite so charmed. Boy trouble is lurking, big-time:

• First, there’s Angelo, Pru’s adorable crush-next-door. When he shows up at Agatha’s, it spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for Pru. Especially when it comes to…

• Samuel, Pru’s best bud and tutor in all things magical. For Angelo and Samuel, it was loathe at first sight.

• And then there’s Daniel, the bad boy with wicked talent — who also happensto be the great-great-great-great-grandson of Pru’s nemesis, Agatha herself.

With all this boy drama, it’s all Pru can do to prep for the national cheerleading competition — the one that will bring her broomstick-to- spirit-stick with her former squad AND her boy-stealing ex-BFF.

A little magic just might come in handy right now….

Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic)
By Kathleen Duey
Cover by David Ho
Illustrated by Sheila Rayyan
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 24, 2007
Our Price: $17.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
National Book Award Finalist

Description

Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A “magician” stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.

Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival.

Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Guide to the Uglies
By Scott Westerfeld
Cover by Carissa Pelleteri and Howard Pyle
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 21, 2008
List Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Not available yet, but keep an eye out!

Z for Zachariah
By Robert C. O’Brien
Cover by Sammy Yuen, Jr.
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Is anyone out there?

Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. For the past year, she has lived in a remote valley with no evidence of any other survivors.

But the smoke from a distant campfire shatters Ann’s solitude. Someone else is still alive and making his way toward the valley. Who is this man? What does he want? Can he be trusted? Both excited and terrified, Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.

Dream of the Stone
By Christina Askounis
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: April 10, 2007
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Someone is following Sarah Lucas. When she peers down from her apartment window late one night, she sees him hovering in the shadows. And what about the other strange things that have been happening to her? The old woman who appears every so often to give Sarah a cryptic piece of advice and then vanishes? The mysterious gleaming stone that turns up in the mail, a universe of tiny stars suspended in its depths?

But there’s no one Sarah can trust with her story. Her journalist parents have been killed in a freak plane crash, and her older brother, Sam, a scientific genius, has disappeared under suspicious circumstances from the top secret institute where he works.

Sarah couldn’t be more alone in the world, until the day she meets Angel Muldoon, a half-Gypsy stable boy who carries a secret of his own. Together they will begin an incredible journey to another world, where they must return the stone to its rightful place and keep the forces of unimaginable evil at bay.

Turnabout
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Our Price: $5.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

In the year 2000 Melly and Anny Beth had reached the peak of old age and were ready to die. But when offered the chance to be young again by participating in a top-secret experiment called Project Turnabout, they agreed. Miraculously, the experiment worked — Melly and Anny Beth were actually growing younger every year. But when they learned that the final treatment would be deadly, they ran for their lives.

Now it is 2085. Melly and Anny Beth are teenagers. They have no idea what will happen when they hit age zero, but they do know they will soon be too young to take care of themselves. They need to find someone to help them before time runs out, once and for all….

Virtual War (The Virtual War Chronologs)

Gloria Skurzynski

Reading level: Young Adult

Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: Simon Pulse (February 1, 1999)

Language: English

Book Description

Imagine a life of virtual reality — a childhood contained in a controlled environment, with no human contact. Corgan has been genetically engineered for quick reflexes, high intelligence, and physical superiority. He is unbeatable in battle. But he lives his life in a lonely module. What is a real sunset like? Or a friend?

When he meets fellow teens Sharla and Brig, Corgan begins to doubt the Federation, whose decisions he has unquestioningly obeyed. Life outside virtual reality may be for him. His fourteen years of training are about to end as the real challenge approaches. But he can’t lose focus now: He must win a virtual war, or the Western Hemisphere will be lost forever.

The Virtual War Chronologs--Book 2 (The Virtual War Chronologs)

Clones (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Barry David Marcus
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 03, 2007
Our Price: $10.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Book Description

Clones are supposed to be identical…aren’t they?

Corgan, hero of the Virtual War, has been living a blissful, if placid, life on the Isles of Hiva, his reward for winning the War with Sharla and Brig. But what he doesn’t know is that Brig died soon after the War, and yet is not truly gone. Sharla had saved some of Brig’s DNA and has created clone-twins with it. Corgan’s world is disrupted when Sharla brings one of the clone-twins, Seabrig, to him to raise on the island, while she keeps the other, Brigand, with her in the Domed City. However, when circumstances force Sharla to bring Brigand to the island, they find that while the boys may look identical, their temperaments are not. Brigand is haughty, willful, power hungry, and despises Corgan because of his relationship with Sharla. And, as a result of the cloning process, both boys are growing at an astonishing rate. In what may or may not have been an accident with his clone-twin, Seabrig is badly injured and must be airlifted from the island to receive medical treatment in the Domed City. This leaves Corgan alone with an increasingly dangerous and unstable Brigand, who is now his size, and looking to get rid of Corgan once and for all.

A gripping sequel to Virtual War that could be ripped straight from the headlines — in eighty years….

Revolt (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Michael Frost
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

What do you do when someone truly hates you?

Corgan is used to being the hero. Leader of the team that won the Virtual War, he chose for his reward to live on the Isles of Hiva, in an idyllic paradise. Idyllic until the clones, Brigand and Cyborg, arrived, that is. Life hasn’t been the same for Corgan since.

Now he’s lucky if his former fans even remember his name. But more worrisome is that he has an enemy, a mortal enemy in the form of Brigand, who has taken over not only Corgan’s mantle as the most well-known person in the Domes, but has taken Corgan’s girlfriend, Sharla, away too. When Brigand tried to kill Corgan back in the Wyo-Dome and failed, Corgan thought he would be free of Brigand at last. But now the power-obsessed Brigand has followed him to Florida, determined to rule the Domes and finish Corgan off for good. Corgan escaped from Brigand once, but can he do it again? And more importantly, does he even want to escape this time?

So now Corgan’s got two choices. He can fight and risk getting killed or, worse, captured by Brigand. Or he can walk away and take Sharla with him…if he can figure out how to use a spacecraft that hasn’t been flown in more than fifty years.

Picking right up from where The Clones left off, this fast-paced sequel will not disappoint Gloria Skurzynski’s eager fans.

Choice (The Virtual War Chronologs)
By Gloria Skurzynski
Cover by Big Sesh Studios
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 10, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 –

Book Description

The Final Battle

Ever since Corgan escaped his mortal enemy, Brigand, by fleeing the Florida domed city, he’s felt haunted. He’s haunted by the fact that Brigand is still in power in Florida, torturing innocent citizens (including Corgan’s friend Thebos), but above all by the bitter memory that he ran away from Brigand rather than staying to fight. Corgan believes he made the right choice at the time, but now he wants to face Brigand in one final battle.

His passengers in the stolen zero-gravity spaceship-Sharla, Ananda, and Cyborg-have different ideas. Tired of arguing, Corgan chooses to land the ship in the only place he has ever been happy. But even there disaster follows him, until Sharla reveals a secret that gives him hope-hope that he can once again become the hero he was meant to be. This time, Corgan intends to stand up to Brigand, win or lose, in a fight to the death.

This thrilling sequel and conclusion to the Virtual War Chronologs has been eagerly awaited for by Gloria Skurzynski’s many fans.

Salem Witch Tryouts
By Kelly McClymer
Cover by Kirsten Ulve
This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $8.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Prudence Stewart had it all at Beverly Hills High: straight A’s, the cutest crush, and a sweet gig as captain of the cheerleading squad. Then poof! Mom and Dad announce they’re moving to Salem, Massachusetts. Turns out, Pru comes from a long line of witches and it’s time for her to learn the craft. Buh-bye, Beverly Hills High — hello, Agatha’s Day School!

But Pru’s not about to trade in her spirit stick for a broomstick! She’s sure she can keep her kewl at her new school — until she discovers it’s all magic, all the time, and she’s failing Witchcraft 101. Worst of all, even the cheerleaders bring a special “spirit” to their routine. As in, triple-back-somersault-with-a-twist kind of spirit.

It’s time for Pru to cast a spell and prove she’s just as enchanting as the next girl — and somehow make cheering tryouts a flying S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

Fallen
By Thomas E. Sniegoski
This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $6.99
Ages: 16 and up
Grades: 10 and up

Description

Aaron Corbet isn’t a bad kid — he’s just a little different.

On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, Aaron dreams of a darkly violent landscape. He can hear the sounds of weapons clanging, the screams of the stricken, and another sound he cannot quite decipher. But gazing upward at the sky, he suddenly understands. It is the sound of great wings, angels’ wings, beating the air unmercifully as hundreds of armored warriors descend on the battlefield.

Orphaned since birth, Aaron is suddenly discovering newfound — and sometimes supernatural — talents. But it’s not until he is approached by two men that he learns the truth about his destiny, and his role as a liaison between angels, mortals, and Powers both good and evil, some of whom are hell-bent on his destruction….

Everlost
By Neal Shusterman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

Description

Nick and Allie don’t survive the car accident…

…but their souls don’t exactly get where they’re supposed to get either. Instead, they’re caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no onger exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he he’s found a home, but allie isn’t satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the “Criminal Art” of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.

In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Rash
By Pete Hautman
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.99
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Awards:

ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
Great Lakes Great Books Master List (MI)
Hal Clement Golden Duck Award
Keystone to Reading Book Award Master List (PA)
Minnesota Book Awards Finalist
New York Times Book Review Notable Books
Texas 2×2 Reading List
Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)

Description

“Of course, without people like us Marstens, there wouldn’t be anybody to do the manual labor that makes this country run. Without penal workers, who would work the production lines, or pick the melons and peaches, or maintain the streets and parks and public lavatories? Our economy depends on prison labor. Without it everybody would have to work — whether they wanted to or not.”

In the late twenty-first century Bo Marsten is unjustly accused of a causing a rash that plagues his entire high school. He loses it, and as a result, he’s sentenced to work in the Canadian tundra, at a pizza factory that’s surrounded by hungry polar bears. Bo finds prison life to be both boring and dangerous, but it’s nothing compared to what happens when he starts playing on the factory’s highly illegal football team. In the meantime, Bork, an artificial intelligence that Bo created for a science project, tracks Bo down in prison. Bork has spun out of control and seems to be operating on his own. He offers to get Bo’s sentence shortened, but can Bo trust him? And now that Bo has been crushing skulls on the field, will he be able to go back to his old, highly regulated life?

Pete Hautman takes a satirical look at an antiseptic future in this darkly comic mystery/adventure.

Sharp North
By Patrick Cave
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: April 01, 2006
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Description

In a futuristic world, will everyone be replaceable?

Mira had always lived quietly until the day a stranger is shot and killed in front of her. The woman’s body is quickly removed, leaving bloodstained snow and a crumpled piece of paper on the ground as the only clues to her murder. Mira discovers that the paper contains a list of names, including her own — but why? Terrified, she begins to view everyone with suspicion, and attempts to follow the clues that the dead woman left behind, unaware of the danger she is stumbling into.

For Mira lives in an environmentally damaged and socially dangerous Great Britain that is ruled by the caste of the Great Families, forming a society where reproduction is strictly limited and where families keep illegal clones — or “spares” — of themselves, just in case a replacement is ever needed….

Fast paced and suspenseful, Sharp North is the story of Mira’s search for the truth about her own identity and her attempts to find goodness in her strange world.

Sign of the Raven
By Julie Hearn
Cover by Marc Yankus
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Mind the gap.

Something odd is going on in the basement of an old house in London. An inexplicable gap has formed, a gap in time that links the present to the past. And twelve-year-old Tom, who discovers the gap while on a visit to his grandmother, is torn between both worlds.

Lured by a mysterious voice, Tom leaps into the early eighteenth century, to a time when circus “freaks” like the Bendy Man and the Gorilla Woman appeared at Bartholomew Fair. The voice he hears belongs to Astra, a tiny changeling child, whose limbs are no bigger than a man’s thumb. She has called him into the past, because she is convinced that Tom is the only one who can help her and her friends from danger. Doctors are paying a high price for unusual bodies to dissect, and Astra and her friends are prime subjects.

But Tom is dealing with difficulties of his own. His mum has cancer and is constantly fighting with his gran. And then he discovers a dark secret in his family’s past…a secret that pulls the strands of time together and might just close the gap forever.

Apocalypse
By Tim Bowler
Cover by Cliff Nielsen
This Edition: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 01, 2005
Our Price: $16.95
Ages: 12 and up
Grades: 7 and up

Description

Kit and his parents are out sailing when things go horribly wrong. Fog rolls in; the compasses won’t work; weird cries come from the sea. Then squalls force their boat against a giant rock. They manage to get to shore, but the dismal, almost barren island they’re on provides no comfort. The only inhabitants are a brutal group of fundamentalists whose ancestors settled there long ago. For some reason they hate Kit the moment they see him.

But Kit has glimpsed someone else, a girl who seems to be wild. He’s also seen a strange man who looks just like him, only older, with the same birthmark on his face. Kit goes in search of the girl, looking for answers to the eerie goings-on. He returns to find his parents gone and their tents torn to shreds. Have the islanders killed them? Kit sets off in a desperate search for them as he struggles for his own survival. Will the girl help him? And will he be able to escape the islanders, who clearly want to kill him?

Journey on a startling voyage into the unknown, where an ordinary teenage boy faces a world filled with malice and a terrifying vision of the future, in this haunting thriller from award winner Tim Bowler.

Well, this is all from SimonSays for teens that is fairly current. Next time it’s on to the Pre-teens, and then on to the next publisher…

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