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Points of Departure, pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

How do you find somewhere that is figuratively in the middle of nowhere? Even worse, what if the place in question is also literally nowhere, except in the pages of the book?

MontanaAs Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Charlotte Perkins is a comically disastrous travelogue. The journey kicks off in the town of New Pêche, where 16 year old Ry - on his way to summer camp- arrives after mistakenly getting off the train in the middle of the Montana wilderness, setting off an escalating series of travel misadventures.

I scoured the map, but couldn’t see any town in Montana by that name. Perkins' observation that Pêche is French for Peach is a red herring, as further sleuthing revealed that it’s also French for fishing. And there IS a town called Whitefish in Montana….

Henry River Mill VillageSearching for places gets a bit trickier in speculative fiction. Place names, and sometimes even the geography, can change, but these locations can still be teased out.

District 12 of The Hunger Games is located somewhere in the Appalachian region of what is currently the United States. In the film versions, a full-scale version of the district was created in Henry River Mill Creek, North Carolina. Like Harry Potter, this has resulted in an adjunct tourism industry, complete with tours and camps (I don’t know that this would be my idea of a relaxing vacation). If you’re really keen you can even buy it!

Ship breaking

The New Orleans described in Ship Breaker is, to date, a far cry from the city as it exists now. The hulking shells of freighters that fill the shoreline can be found in other locales, however. A landscape that author Paolo Bacigalupi may have envisioned currently exists in Chittagong, Bangladesh and was documented in a stunning series by photographer Edward Burtynsky.

MoonThe precise terrestrial location of Zone Seven in the tyrannical 'Mother Land' is left vague in Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon. The lunar landscape, on the other hand, is described in vivid detail as the regime celebrates the imminent moon landing. The fate of this landing and those of Standish and his friend Hector become increasingly intertwined in this tense and heartbreaking book.

As easy as falling off the face of the earthCatching FireShip BreakerMaggot Moon

Cram Your Summer Reading In Now

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/35063991/books-printI love books. I love ALL books. I love ancient books and new books and bad books and blue books. I love classics, adaptations, translations, blatant rip-offs, movie novelizations, and sometimes even pure, awful, fan-fic-y drivel.

There is nothing I love more than getting my hands on a book I've never read before...

But no, wait... that's a lie. Because there IS something I love more than a new book.

An OLD book. A book that I've already loved. A lot. And I don't mean like... "I read that book ages ago and can't remember the plot, I should read it again". I mean like "I-have-read-this-book-so-many-times-the-words-come-easier-to-me-than-breathing". Like "I-am-reading-the-words-in-my-minds-eye-before-my-real-eye-even-gets-to-them-on-the-page". Like "Move over, J.K. Rowling, I've got this ish on lock!"

And yes, as you can imagine, there are some pretty touchy-feely reasons for doing it. Every July 1st (since 1998) I have sat down to the comforting words “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” and this wave of pure nostalgic happiness washes over me… like getting a massive bear hug from an old friend (the twirly kind where your legs dangle in the air) and it’s just… bliss. And it’s true, I DO find something new that I’ve never noticed before each time I read an old favourite. For example, this past July when I read that “the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban”, what I realized for the first time ever was that Fred and George WERE THROWING SNOWBALLS AT VOLDEMORT’S FACE and it’s a miracle that they weren’t Avada Kedavra’d on the spot.



So yes, I have a set list of favourites that I re-read EVERY summer (all 7 HP’s, The Hobbit, The LOTR Trilogy, and 3 different Tamora Pierce Quartets; Allana, Daine and Kel), and have since I was about 11 years old, and I don’t even feel a little bit weird or guilty or childish about it. Here’s why:

It’s good for your Brain. Your brain needs the chance to relax after a whole year of cramming during school. You need a certain amount of vegging-out so that you can start… vegging-IN, come September. But you also can’t just do NOTHING all summer… you’ll get Brain Drain, and start using double negatives in your sentences or something outrageous like that! Best thing to do? Exercise those synaptic connections by picking up a book you know you love: it might not be challenging, per se, but it's working out all the right muscles and keeping the cogs turning. And then you won't have to worry about regressing a grade level or anything horrifying like that.

It's good for your Body. Re-reading comes with some surprising health benefits that are linked to our emotional releases and sense of well-being. It's theraputic. And before anyone asks, no, that is not a picture of me in that first article... EVERYONE loves HP.

It's good for your Soul. Hot on the heels of me saying how much I love ALL books, I also have to speak to the utter power of curriculum-required, school-assigned readings to crush your soul. It's summer! Read what you want! Read WHATEVER you want. If that means forgoing "Ender's Game" (and just waiting for the movie) or postponing the latest George R.R. Martin in favour of picking up Percy Jackson one more time, just do it! Life is too short to read bad books. Enjoy your free time will while you have it!

Also... a lot of really successful people do it. A lot of super smart people testify to the importance of re-reading favourite books. That’s how you know it’s a good idea.

So here's my recommendation: Spend some time this summer with well-loved favourites. You'll thank yourself (and ME!) for it.

Teen Book Clubs

by Christine A - 0 Comment(s)

Are you a true book lover and would like to discuss your passion with like-minded teens? Starting Wed. August 21st you can sign up for one of our book clubs. All you need is your library card!

For ages 10-14:

Alexander Calhoun
Saturdays, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16, and Dec. 14
2 - 3 p.m.

Nose Hill
Tuesdays, Oct. 22, Nov. 19, and Dec. 17
7 - 8 p.m.

Village Square
Wednesdays, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20, and Dec. 18
7 - 8 p.m.

Signal Hill
Tuesdays, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 12, and Dec. 10
7 - 8 p.m.

For ages 13-17:

Fish Creek
Sundays, Sept. 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, and Dec. 15
2 - 3 p.m.

Nose Hill
Tuesdays, Sept. 24, Oct. 29, and Nov. 26
7 - 8 p.m.

Roaring Twenties Reads: Vixen and Bright Young Things

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

If it’s the fashion and style of the prohibition era that fascinates you, the juicy gossip whispered beneath jazz music, or romance sparking at a speakeasy, then this week’s books are meant for you. For all those who are fans of Gossip Girl, or The Luxe, I’ve got you covered. Play some Caravan Palace in the background to get a real 20's atmosphere going!

Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things, the first in the Bright Young Things series, follows Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey as they flee from their mundane small-town lives to New York. Letty feels she’s destined to find fame in the big city, while Cordelia believes a gangster living there and sharing her last name may be the father she’s never known. Cordelia soon comes to know and trust Astrid Donal, a wealthy, eccentric flapper, but delving into a world of crime and intrigue brings danger, and perhaps even murder!

Vixen, the first book of Jillian Larkin’s series The Flappers, follows the lives of Gloria Carmody, Clara Knowles, and Lorraine Dyer. Gloria is the daughter of a prestigious family, and her engagement to Sebastian Grey means her future is secure, but the thrill of becoming a flapper is too much to let go of. Her needy best friend Lorraine has become jealous of Clara: to what extreme actions will her jealousy drive her? Clara is Gloria’s cousin, sent to live with them due to a dubious past that she’s determined to erase. The lives of all three become intertwined while the jazz music of the speakeasies howls in the background.

The Fresh Prince of B612

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

The Little PrinceThe new little prince

Recently I found out about a new version of The Little Prince, the classic story by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.The Little Prince: The New Adventures is a graphic novel series which, it is prominently stressed in the promotions, is approved by the Estate of Saint-Exupéry and is in the spirit of the original. A new cartoon has also been produced, currently playing at Calaway Park in their new Cinemagic 3D feature. Both have been developed with the noble goal of bringing this classic character into the 21st Century.

I have to admit, I don't know how I feel about this. No, actually, I DO know that how I feel -strongly- is that this is all kinds of wrong. I've already had part of my childhood ruined by the Star Wars prequels (help me J.J. Abrams, you're my only hope!), and Michael Bay's take on Transformers, so admittedly I'm a little sensitive on the topic... I thought if there was one unassailable territory of my childhood it would be guarded by The Little Prince.

In the new adventures, the Prince and his plucky sidekick, Fox (really?) go from planet to planet, stopping the base villian Snake and his gang of Gloomies (REALLY!?!?) as they hatch all sorts of dastardly plots. I take issue mainly with the complexity of the characters being reduced to simplistic attributes of either 'good' or 'evil'. Snake being cast as a villian fundamentally changes one of the most complicated and pivotal scenes of the original book, and I'm distressed that anyone who reads it after the new adventures will miss out on debating the motivations and the outcomes of the snake's actions.

But maybe I'm just not thinking about this in the right light... After all, it is introducing the character to a new audience, one that then may come across the original. As Moe has written in another blog, classic stories are regularly revisited and brought up to date for new audiences, sometimes quite well. Putting aside the original source material for a moment, the stories of the new series are actually not that bad, although a bit repetitive, and the artwork is delightful.

So what do you think? Should I just calm down and be more open to this attempt at taking this story into an exciting new direction, or do you think this is a poorly considered capitalization on the original story? Let me know about other revisions of classic stories that have or haven't worked for you.

The Little Princenew little prince 2

Last chance to Win Brandon Sanderson's new book!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

still afloatThe RithmatistStill Afloat

Youth Read is still going strong, and we have a winner for our t-shirt design challenge! All proceeds from Nyssa's excellent design (see left) will go to the library's flood relief efforts. You can buy the shirt here, but it is only available until August 5th so don't dawdle!

Win a signed copy of The Rithmatist!

If you missed last week's interview with bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 for a chance to win a signed copy of his terrific new YA book, The Rithmatist. We'll be drawing the names of our two lucky winners on Friday, August 9th.

Win a signed copy of Brandon Sanderson's new book!

by Carrie - 4 Comment(s)

The RithmatistPart One of this interview was posted last week.

Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author renowned for the intricate and immersive worlds he creates, and for his highly detailed systems of magic. Recently, he has brought those talents to YA with the publication of his first teen novel, The Rithmatist.

Brandon kindly answered our questions AND sent us two signed copies of his book to give away! Leave your name and contact info in the comments to enter the draw (we won’t publish your details). The answers below were transcribed from audio recorded for this interview.

Q: There were some very intriguing loose ends in this book, especially surrounding Joel; I feel as though there is much more to learn about his father and about Rithmatics in general. When can we expect to see the next Rithmatist novel?

A: I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much. I am working on a sequel. I’ve actually started the outline for it, but it’s hard to promise when it will come out. Ideally I like to release books one year apart, which is what I’m shooting for, but I have to write the book first.

I’m going to take us to a new location for the second book and there’s going to be lots of fun involved. Joel and Melody are going to train as a team where they’ll have to learn to work together, and it won’t be easy on either one of them.

Q: OK, as a (non-evil) librarian I have to ask this – what’s with all the nasty librarians in your books? In Rithmatist we have Ms. Torrent, who is your stereotypical disapproving shushing type, and in the Alcatraz books, they’re downright evil! Did these characters come from encounters with real-life awful librarians? I hope not!

A: I actually have quite an affection for librarians. I created the one in The Rithmatist simply because I needed to make that particular scene more interesting. I look for ways to create and enhance conflict as I write, and that scene needed to be harder for the characters.

The librarians in Alcatraz, of course, were all tongue-in-cheek. I wrote those books because I realized that if there really were a secret society that controlled the world, it would be because they controlled all the information. The idea of librarians secretly controlling the world just made me laugh. But there are plenty of good librarians in the Alcatraz books—okay, we’ve only seen one!—but there are more coming.

Q:. Apart from your own work, what books or authors would you recommend to a YA reader?

A: I’ve already mentioned a bunch of my favourites, but I could go on! I’m quite fond of Westerfeld’s work. I think it’s quite marvellous. I’ve read Terry Pratchett’s teen books. If you’ve only read his adult work, you’re really missing out. He is quite good. I’ve also enjoyed James Dashner’s and Eva Ibbotson’s books. I also recommend anything by Diana Wynne Jones.

I got into a lot of the YA classics in the late 90s, well after everyone else had been into them. Things like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen has long been one of my favourite writers. There’s just a lot of exciting things happening in YA, and I feel inspired by a lot of the works by those authors I’ve mentioned.

Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of The Rithmatist!

Win a Signed Copy of The Rithmatist!

by Carrie - 2 Comment(s)

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author renowned for the intricate and immersive worlds he creates, and for his highly detailed systems of magic. Recently, he has brought those talents to YA with the publication of his first teen novel, The Rithmatist.

Brandon kindly answered our questions AND sent us two signed copies of his book to give away! Leave your name and contact info in the comments to enter the draw (we won’t publish your details). The answers below were transcribed from audio recorded for this interview.

Q: This is your first teen novel, although you are well known for your adult science fiction and the Alcatraz series for middle grade readers. What motivated you to write for a YA audience?

A: I do read quite a bit of YA fiction. In fact, during the era when I was trying to break into publishing—the late 90s and early 2000s—a lot of the really exciting things in sci-fi and fantasy were happening in YA and middle grade. Garth Nix, J.K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones and others created some wonderfully imaginative writing during this time.

alcatraz versus the evil librariansI dipped my toes into middle grade with my Alcatraz series soon after I got published. I hadn’t written a YA before, but I wanted to—for the same reason I write epic fantasy: there are awesome things I can do in in epic fantasy that I can’t do in other genres. And there are awesome things I can do in teen fiction that I don’t feel I can get away with in the same way in adult fiction.

Science fiction and fantasy have a very fascinating connection with YA fiction. If you look at some of the series I loved as a youth—the Wheel of Time, Shannara, and the Eddings books, for example—these have enormous teen crossover. In fact, when you get to something like the Eddings books, you’ve got to wonder if they would’ve been shelved in the teen section in a later era.

Back up even further to the juveniles that were written by Heinlein and others, and we see that teen fiction has been an integral part of science fiction and fantasy. Some of the early fantasy writings—things like Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and C.S. Lewis’s works—were foundational in how the fantasy genre came to be.

So YA feels like a very natural thing for me to be writing because I enjoy it and I respect what it has done for the genres.

way of kingsQ: I imagine this is a bit like asking a parent to pick a favourite child, but your projects have varied from standalone fantasy (Elantris, Warbreaker), to epic series set in intricate worlds (Mistborn), to novellas (Legion), to writing for children and teens (Alcatraz, The Rithmatist), to finishing Robert Jordan’s iconic Wheel of Time series – which of these projects did you find most difficult, and which was most rewarding?

A: When I’m done with one project, I want to do something very different to refresh myself. This is the reason I write such varied things. It keeps me excited as a writer because each project has its own measure of things that interest me and obstacles that challenge me.

The most difficult project was finishing the Wheel of Time. Stepping into someone else’s shoes—particularly someone I respected so much—and taking over a long-running series was a real challenge. Writing those books was the hardest thing I’ve done so far in my career.

The most rewarding project was the release of The Way of Kings. It was my pet project. I’d worked on it in one form or another basically since I was a teen. Finally being able to release that in its finished form was a very fulfilling experience as an artist.

Q: In The Rithmatist, the female protagonist, Melody, has been chosen as a Rithmatist, which is a great honour but also something that she really struggles with. I think that many youth feel this kind of pressure - to be special, or to excel at something that they didn’t necessarily choose - and then feel as though they aren’t measuring up. Was it a conscious decision to have Melody deal with that issue, or a natural extension of her character?

A: This part of Melody’s character was intentional. Being a square peg in a round hole and parental and societal expectations are things I think about a lot. Your teen years are when these things come crashing down around you. Often books have a character who is the chosen one, who is naturally gifted and talented, but what happens if you get chosen and whoever chose you was wrong, and you just aren’t any good at it? That was an interesting conflict that felt very real to life. When I figured out this aspect of Melody, she really came to life as a character.

Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of The Rithmatist, and check back next week for the second part of this interview!

Ready...Set...READ!

by Carrie - 2 Comment(s)

youth read 2013Ready...Set...READ!


It's finally time to read - or draw - or write - or paint - or whatever, and win!

Youth Read is our online summer reading program for teens, ages 13 to 17. Take part this summer and you could win a piece of over $2,000 in prizes.

Here's how it works:

Every week we’ll post a series of challenges — all you have to do is complete one each week to be eligible for the grand prize draw. One will always be a reading challenge; the others will let you show off your creative side. Every challenge you complete gets you another entry in the weekly draws, and entries that are especially creative or amazing will be chosen by our judges for each week's Top Ten.

Prizes:

  • Grand prize: $250, $150, and $75 gift cards to Cadillac Fairview malls (Chinook & Market Mall)
  • Weekly prizes: Ten free books every week, plus $25 gift cards for the Top Ten and for the reading challenge!
  • Bonus prizes: one challenge every week comes with a sweet extra prize attached.
  • Special prize: Tell a friend and you could each win a $100 gift card! Registration continues all summer so keep telling your friends - and remind them to put your name when we ask where they found out about the program.

Ready to read and win?

register here

Roaring Twenties Reads: The Diviners

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

With the latest film version of The Great Gatsby recently out in theatres the glamour of the prohibition era is all the rage in everything from fashion to music, and of course, books! Over the next little while I’ll showcase some teen reads that are guaranteed to have all the roar of the twenties. So blast some Parov Stelar in the background and enjoy!

Lithe diviners book coverbba Bray's The Diviners is a fast-paced, supernatural thriller set in New York in the twenties. We follow sassy Evie O’Neill, who’s been sent to live with her Uncle Will after her unusual powers upset people in her hometown. While Evie is in New York she meets up with her bookish, socially awkward friend Mabel and makes friends with a flapper named Theta, a Ziegfeld girl with a troubled past. We also meet Sam, a fast-talking thief, Jericho, Uncle Will’s quiet, mysterious assistant, and Memphis, a numbers runner.

Evie’s Uncle Will runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, affectionately called The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies by the locals. Known as a specialist in all things occult, Uncle Will gets called in to assist the police with a string of murders that have something strangely supernatural about them. Evie and her new friends get drawn into helping solve the murders, but the investigation will lead them down a dangerous and horrifying path.

Libba Bray does a terrific job of balancing scenes of horror, with lighter, more comedic moments. This book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart: you might want to plug in a nightlight if you plan on reading some of it just before bed! Evie’s witty quips are sure to charm and entertain any reader though, and the descriptions in this book create a rich, at times macabre, setting for the action and believe me, the action in this book hardly ever slows! This book is a guaranteed page turner sure to satisfy those who love everything to do with the prohibition era, or for those who really enjoy all things occult.

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