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Susan Mallery, the Tolkien of romance, shines in Fool’s Gold worldbuilding

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Fool’s Gold, California, was officially established in 1849. There’s a town festival every April called the Easter Egg Drop. If you’re looking for a drink, try the Fox and Hound, with 25 beers on tap. Or maybe step into Jo’s Bar, where every night is ladies’ night. No, I’m not actually describing a real town. Fool’s Gold is the brainchild of popular romance writer Susan Mallery, and she has created an entire world within this quaint small town. Visit her website and you can find maps, a complete history, a who’s who guide, and even ads for various businesses. This level of worldbuilding is something we usually only see in fantasy and paranormal novels. But there’s no denying the attention…

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Remembering Terry Pratchett: Literature’s most famous best-kept secret

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As the author of more than 70 books that sold 85 million copies to countless fans worldwide, Sir Terry Pratchett was probably the most famous author that mainstream readers have never heard of. His Discworld series spanned 40 books, a saga of wizards, witches, trolls, dwarves, gnomes, golems, monks, orangutan librarians and Death himself, who always spoke without quotes and in SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Pratchett was one of the best-selling adult novelists of the 1990s, and his books used humor and alternate realities to comment on the world in which his readers lived. Still, Pratchett himself, a striking figure with his long beard and black fedora, a man beloved by his legion of devoted fans and knighted by Queen Elizabeth,…

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There is more to Cinderella than Disney’s blue gowns

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Glass slippers, sparkly dresses, a pumpkin turned into a carriage—who doesn’t love the story of Cinderella? Luckily for all of us, Disney’s live action version of the classic tale is coming to theaters this Friday. And, based on the trailer, it seems to capture all the magical moments of the 1950’s cartoon: While Disney’s version is the most recognizable (think mice and blue gowns), there have been countless retellings of the famous tale. To prepare you for the newest film, here are four classic Cinderella adaptations you don’t want to miss: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997) As a child of the ‘90s, I remember watching this 1997 live Brandy remake of the beloved 1965 television movie musical when it first…

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3 Erotic novels far hotter (and better written) than 50 Shades of Grey

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It was last year when I first tried to read 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t get very far. And no, it wasn’t the content—I can appreciate good erotica as much as the next girl. But see how I used the word good there? As much as I wanted to like it, 50 Shades just wasn’t doing it for me. Does that mean I won’t be watching the movie when it comes out this weekend? Um, certainly not. While the book feels a bit like published fanfiction (which, incidentally, it is), the movie looks like a crazy hot magical romp with shirtless Jamie Dornan:   I mean, I’m only human. While I may not be drawn to the writing style…

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The man whose Wicked tale inspired Once Upon a Time returns in a house with chicken legs

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Are you a fan of Once Upon a Time and Maleficent? Then thank Gregory Maguire. His bestselling novels, like Wicked: the Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, helped usher in our current cultural obsession with the realistic fairytale. His latest book, Egg and Spoon, (Candlewick Press, September 9)  finds Maguire tackling Russian fairytales, like the Firebird and Baba Yaga and her moving house with the legs of a chicken. Set around 1907, it examines poverty under the Tsar, family ties, and the courage that children need when their lives are turned upside-down. It may be aimed at a younger audience, but you won’t want to miss this exciting spin on…

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Lev Grossman discusses weaving the power of literary fiction into fantasy

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Lev Grossman’s latest novel, The Magician’s Land, hits shelves this week, marking the triumphant close of his New York Times bestselling fantasy trilogy. The trilogy is no doubt a beacon on the current rising tide in fantasy readership and writership, a genre which Grossman says is evolving quickly. It’s a suprise to some that Grossman’s novels didn’t follow in his parents’ well-tread literary footsteps (he’s the son of poet Allen Grossman and novelist Judith Grossman), as well as the trajectory of his own academic background. A graduate of both Yale and Harvard, Grossman was surprised by this himself, noting the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke as one that fueled the start of his trilogy. “[That book] was a fantasy…

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Move over hobbits and wizards — here come the Dragonriders of Pern

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Harpers strike a stirring chord and beat a triumphant cadence – the original dragons are finally coming to life! Warner Brothers has announced its next movie franchise: it is bringing Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Anne McCaffrey’s beloved Dragonriders of Pern series to the big screen. Now that Harry Potter is out of school and the hobbits back in the Shire, it’s time for the next big multi-part fantasy series. Besides, dragons have never been hotter. And, whether or not you know it, most of those beloved dragons are intentional (or unintentional) homages to the noble beasts on Pern.  In Dragonriders, McCaffrey transformed the dragon from villain to hero, and helped create the science fiction/fantasy sub-genre. The medieval-like fantasy world…

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Jonesin’ for a Fix: Books for TV Addicts — Game of Thrones edition

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“Winter is coming.” “You win or you die.”  “The North remembers.” “Valar morghulis: All men must die.” These life-changing utterances will have to hold us until Game of Thrones returns in 2015. It has been a mere week since the good folks at HBO cut off our supply of lecherous dwarves, murderously manipulative public servants and black garbed men standing atop an icy wall, but full blown withdrawal has set in. This season has been satisfying in some ways (Yes, Purple Wedding, we are talking about you.) and cringe-worthy in others (Cersei. Jaime. Joffrey’s corpse.). Nonetheless, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss dragged us through the seven hells in a way that would make George R.R. Martin proud. Tradition says that…

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What I learned from being dead: Amy Talkington’s LIV, FOREVER

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Young adult fiction is always looking for the “next big thing.” Whether it’s vampires inspired by Twilight, or Hunger Games-style dystopian novels, teen readers often seem to take to specific genres in flocks. At times, this can make the shelves in bookstores look strangely identical, with dark fonts splashed across covers or anonymous hands holding flowers. Liv, Forever, screenwriter and director Amy Talkington’s debut tale of the supernatural, falls into some of these familiar tropes: ghosts and novels set in boarding schools are not necessarily new territory. But at its heart, Talkington’s novel isn’t just a ghost story; it’s a mystery. And right now mystery seems perfectly poised to be that “next big thing” in young adult literature. Liv, Forever…

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