The Tale of Hill Top Farm is the first book of the series and The Tale of Oat Cake Crag is the last one chronologically, 1905-1912. More books in the series are still being written. The series covers the time period between the death of her fiancée and publisher of her books, Norman Warne (who died a month after their engagement), and her eventual marriage to William Heelis in 1913. The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter is a magical blend of biography (of Beatrix Potter), talking village and farm animals and their lives (natural science), fairies and dragons (fantasy), all wrapped up in mysteries to solve. The animals usually know “who-did-it” before the villagers do and usually try to communicate the complete story to the villagers who only hear barks, meows, squeaks, moos or quacks. For a fun entertaining multi-faceted read, rush to the mystery fiction book shelf for The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert.
Robert Balmanno’s, September Snow, is first in a series of four books that are either published or in the process of being written. It is a post-apocalyptic view of a dystopian society not dissimilar to George Orwell’s literary style in his acclaimed, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Global warming and climate change have been inescapable for decades. Gaia, a new religion, over time becomes corrupted. Action packed from the very beginning, Tom, the protagonist, is attempting to rectify some of the long-term damage the government has invoked on the planet. Like two stars colliding, he eventually stumbles upon September, or, rather she “stumbles” upon him. There is even a glimpse of the nascent romance about half way into the novel!
The author asks several socio-political, environmental, and philosophical questions that leave the reader with a greater appreciation for our responsibility in respecting and caring for our planet. On a deeper level the author raises the question many well-known philosophers over time have asked: “what is truth?”
The most recent book in The Blessings of Gaia series, Runes of Iona, was published and released to Gaia fans only a few months ago. Each book in Balmanno’s quartet stands on its own and can be read in reverse order or independently of the other.
At this time of the year we often think about New Year's Resolutions, makeovers or the youthful term "do-overs" without ever contemplating the unintended consequences these new behaviors might cause in our lives and those around us. Popular young adult fiction writer Sarah Mlynowski creates a warm and witty second chance scenario in Gimme a Call.
Seventeen year old, Devi Banks realizes that she wasted three years of her life going out exclusively with her dreamboat boyfriend Bryan when he breaks up with her the night before their senior prom. She had also let her friendships fade, didn't join any clubs, blew off studying and now she has nothing left. Not even a working cell phone-- she dropped hers in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number...her number, at age fourteen, three years ago. Once Devi gets over the shock and convinces her younger self that she isn't some wacko, she realizes that she's been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do or so she thinks until some of those unintended consequences start popping up. Mlynowski creates a plot jammed with twists, humor and a likeable role model-no two role models in one.
Sara Mlynowski is also the author of the Magic in Manhattan series, coauthor of How to Be Bad and has written several novels for adults. You can find out more about this hilarious author at www.sarahm.com or if you enjoyed this book and would like more light-hearted stories with a dash of fantasy, be sure to check out Mlynowski’s Bras & Broomsticks series, Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt, Gorgeous by Rachel Vail, or How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier.
So the next time you wonder what the result will be between eating one more hot fudge sundae and doing an extra 50 sit-ups it may be different than you think or you could just read a chapter or two from Gimme a Call and you'll have a lot more fun. Enjoy.
Steampunk. What is it? It is a subgenre of Science Fiction, a place where the past and the future come together. Imagine the technology that powered the Nautilus in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In 1987, in a letter to Locus Magazine, the author J.K. Heter coined the term Steampunk to describe the "gonzo-historical" fiction that he and several other authors had been writing. But Steampunk has grown in the 20+ years since then to encompass so much more. It is a fashion style, an aesthetic, even musical groups have formed based on this idea of the future that never was. This is a rabbit hole, make no mistake, but if you wish to investigate further, strap on your goggles and top hat and jump in with me!
Music: Abney Park is *the* name when it comes to Steampunk music. They've been playing as a steampunk band since 2006 and I am told put on quite a show. They all created steampunk personas which they portray in their concerts and this video of Airship Pirates gives you a look/feel for the group.
Dr. Steel also puts on a great show and has an evil mastermind sort of persona. He is embarking on a world domination plan involving YOU if you decide to become one of his "Toy Soldiers". Weird and Fun, all in one!
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing produced a collection of music available for download, CD and on a limited edition recorded wax cylinder! If you give them a listen, you'll find they put the emphasis on PUNK in Steampunk!
Rasputina's albums are all available for download on Freegal. I downloaded How We Quit the Forest and Sister Sleep. They feature prominent strings and vocals that reminded me of Kate Bush.
Movies: You have probably seen a few of these titles and if you haven't you can pick them up at the Library. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen brings a collection of famous characters ranging from Dorian Grey to Captain Nemo together to save the world.
The Golden Compass, based on the novel by Philip Pullman, takes on many steampunk themes from airships to an alithiometer - a device which allows you to tell the real truth on any situation.
Books: A really compelling read in the genre is The Glass Books of the Dream-Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist. A young woman stumbles upon a cabal of evil socialites bent on taking over the world using a technology that allows them to steal memories and store them within books made of glass and a mysterious blue clay. From a dissolute prince to an assassin named Cardinal Chang for the red leather great coat he wears, the cast of characters never ceases to amaze and amuse. The intrigue and suspense keep you on the edge of your seat and make it hard to put this book down!
Steampunk is definitely a DIY aesthetic and the library has a couple of titles that might help you get started in creating your own steampunk outfit. Steampunk-style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets and Earrings by Jean Campbell shows several one of a kind pieces and gives you a head-start on how to create your own.
For the past few years, a group of steampunkers have been publishing an online magazine titled, Steampunk Magazine. This magazine is available for download and features fiction, poetry, commentary, DIY instructions and patterns. If you are looking for a place to start, Steampunk magazine is your go-to.
Why would you be creating a costume? To create your own steampunk persona! There are groups of folks who meet-up in costume and in character and have a grand old time together! There are conventions and other events where Steampunk reigns supreme. In the Bay area, look for the big steampunk convention, Wild Wild East on March 25, 26 and 27. The San Jose Steampunk group is the St. Clair Aeronauts whose personas include a crew of an airship that delivers letters.
Who knows? The newest Steampunker could be you!
American Gods is one of Neil Gaiman's finest works--and with Gaiman, it's hard to pick because he's positively brilliant. Shadow has recently been released from prison and on his way home meets Mr. Wednesday, a strangely knowledgeable figure who gives Shadow a job. This job involves a trek across the United States, meeting strange, dangerous, and interesting people (if "people" is even the right word). Unknown to Shadow, he has become involved in a conflict much larger than himself, a destiny he himself did not know he had. An exploration of mythology of many origins, the book is both an exploration of the mind and of our larger culture. Gaiman's writing is always intense, and American Gods is no exception. If you are a fantasy fan or a Gaiman fan, this one's for you. The Library has copies in both hard copy book and eBook form (PDF & MOBI).
When I first read Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris I was hooked! Sookie Stackhouse is a loveable psychic who falls in love with a vampire because she can't read his mind! I couldn't wait to get to the next book, Living Dead in Dallas. Now, all these years later, there have been 10 Sookie Stackhouse novels and a collection of short stories published.
And of course, I can't leave out the HBO series, True Blood. This is the tv series that brought Sookie to the masses. It seems like everybody knows True Blood but not everybody knows the novels that came first.
For those of you who've seen True Blood and find it a little too adult themed and graphic, you will be pleasantly surprised at the way the stories are told in Charlaine Harris' novels. Let's just say that HBO decided to spice things up for the small screen and leave it at that...
Sookie Stackhouse navigates the treacherous world of the supernatural and as each book unfolds, discovers new wonders and dangers. Vampires are only the tip of the iceberg. She meets and fights and falls in love with werewolves, shape-shifters, fae creatures, witches - you name it! And each of these are fully formed characters who are more than just their supernatural abilities - some are sweet and loveable, some are tightly wound and some are just plain evil.
If you're ready to jump in and give Sookie a try - here's your reading list in order and in numerous formats!