Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gryphons & Dragons No More

I'm afraid I have a sad announcement. There just hasn't been enough interest in Gryphons & Dragons lately to support its continued existence. April (Thursday, 4/10, 7:00) will be our last time to gather under this name. We're reading The Hobbit, which is a classic and will be a movie in a few years, so I hope you can make it. Unfortunately, I won't even be able to join you. I'll be out of town, so Rachel, one of our other librarians, will be filling in leading the discussion. I hope to continue to see you at the library and hear about the good books you are reading.

Something to look forward to, though: we'll be having a visit from a teen fantasy author this summer. She lives in Kansas City and has just written her first book to rave reviews. Her name is Elizabeth C. Bunce and the book is A Curse Dark as Gold. She'll be at Lackman Thursday, July 10 at 1:30. Put it on your calendar now.

Keep in contact,

What is a Hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid fold like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Don't Wait to Start The Hobbit

So I have 7 copies of The Hobbit sitting on the Gryphons & Dragons shelf just waiting to be checked out and read. Don't delay coming by to get yourself one and risk running out of time to finish it. This is one of the classics, but it never grows old. It was one of my first fantasy reads in middle school and helped me fall in love with the genre. We'll be gathering to discuss it Thursday, April 10.

The Hobbit, if you don't know, is the story of completely unadventurous and timid Bilbo Baggins, who is unwillingly swept up into an adventure by the wizard Gandalf the Grey. In the company of 13 dwarves, he finds himself traveling over perilous mountains and through dark woods--encountering orcs and giant spiders and all manner of unfriendly creatures along the way--in their attempt to get to the lonely mountain to retrieve their treasure from the dragon who has stolen it. Bilbo discovers he is quite the master thief and may be better in a pinch than he ever imagined.

Tolkien wrote The Hobbit for fun, then spent years developing the world he had created before following it up with the much darker and more serious Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Dragon's Keep

This is by no means an action-adventure book like, say, Eragon, yet neither is it slow or boring. A bit less personal and intimate, perhaps, more proper; it's a fairy tale, and told like a tale. I have to admit I wasn't that into it for the first half of the book, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. The second half, once the dragons really enter it, is much more gripping. By the end, I realized it was really powerful and I'd just enjoyed an excellent book. I recommend giving it a try, just realize you may need to be patient with it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Bit More About River Secrets Author Shannon Hale

Recently I came across this article about the tour that Shannon Hale is currently on to promote the release of her newest book, Book of a Thousand Days. It is a joint tour with author Libba Bray. They sound like a fun pair. A few excerpts from the article:

. . . A defining feature of the tour, by all reports, was the entirely unscripted nature of the authors’ interactive presentations. Both have backgrounds in theater and Hale has done improv, so it stands to reason that booksellers refer to their school and store appearances as “performances.” The two regularly shot questions at each other, ranging from “Why are you so foxy?” to “When did you know you wanted to become a writer?” Hale says she prefers to be spontaneous while addressing young readers and “once I met Libba I suspected that she’d be game for it, which was terrific. We weren’t afraid of making utter fools of ourselves, so that helped. We mixed it up each time. Our goal was to keep each other laughing and that kept everything fresh. . . . ”

Part of their act—another ad lib component—includes singing, or as Bray explains, “a loose interpretation of singing” in which words and notes can easily get lost. The songsters’ debut was at a San Francisco school, when they found themselves with a piano and microphones and, Bray says, “We began fooling around and making complete idiots of ourselves. For some unknown reason, we suddenly began singing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart.’ ” Off-key or not, their rendition was a hit and became their signature signoff at events, sometimes with kids from the audience joining in as backup dancers. . . .

Libba Bray, by the way, has also written some excellent books. I'm currently listening to the audiobook of the third title in her trilogy: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. They're set in a Victorian era boarding school in England, so they're not traditional swords and sorcery fantasy, but I can't put them down. Highly recommended.

Hale's website

Bray's website

Bring a Date to Gryphons & Dragons

In planning to have our monthly gathering on the second Thursday of each month, I missed that we'll be meeting this month on Valentine's Day. I understand if that's an issue for some of you and we wish you the best in your romantic endeavors. We'll see you in March, I hope. For those of you who can make it, perhaps we'll have some special treats to celebrate our independence from attachments.

We'll be discussing Shannon Hale's River Secrets. A brief description from Hale's website:

Razo--short, funny and not a great soldier--is sure it's out of pity that his captain asks him to join an elite mission--escorting the ambassador into Tira, Bayern's great enemy.

But when the Bayern arrive in the strange southern country, it’s Razo who discovers the first dead body. He’s the only Bayern able to befriend both the high and low born, people who can provide information about the ever-increasing murders. And he’s the one who must embrace his own talents in order to get the Bayern soldiers home again, alive.

This is her third book set in Bayern (and all have gotten excellent reviews). Goose Girl is about princess/queen-to-be Anidori (Isi) and Enna Burning is about her good friend Enna. Razo is another in their circle of friends. I haven't read these others, but just started River Secrets last night and am enjoying it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eragon News

The official announcement has been made. The third book in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series will be called Brisingr, and it will be released September 20. As of right now, we don't have a record for it in the catalog for you to place a hold on, but if you come in or call you can make a new book purchase request. That way you'll be one of the first to get it from the library when it comes out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

If You Enjoyed Revenge of the Witch

You might want to check out the official website: Some interesting things to explore. The books were first published in England under a different name (The Wardstone Chronicles instead of the The Last Apprentice), so you'll notice a few unfamiliar things, too. Have fun.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Authors Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier

We read Peeps by Scott Westerfeld a while back. I've pulled a few exerpts from an article about him and his wife. Follow the link for the rest.

Meet the East Village "It" Couple of Young-Adult Lit

Teen-fiction authors Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier are living the dream. Major industry talents from Holly Black (author of Valiant) to David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy) routinely drink and schmooze in their spacious East Village digs. They cultivate fans and colleagues on their heavily trafficked blogs, enjoy upscale working vacations in Mexico, and migrate yearly between New York and Sydney. They rack up frequent-flier miles visiting libraries and book conventions to promote their latest literary efforts. And, most importantly, they finance this haute-bohemian lifestyle by writing speculative and fantastic adventures for smart adolescents. . . .

Justine's Magic or Madness trilogy (which ended this year with Magic's Child, Razorbill/Penguin) blends Australian Aboriginal folklore (and personal wish fulfillment) with the theoretical physics of a dimensional doorway leading from Australia to the mean streets of lower Manhattan. The reality of magic in this series simply gives its 15-year-old heroine a more cerebral perspective on the difficult choices she's forced to make. . . .

Between his dark-fantasy Midnighters trilogy, his teen-vampire books, and his speculative Uglies quartet, Scott has close to 2 million books in print. Besides his official website (, there are also growing numbers of user-generated message boards and fan sites where fans flock to discuss his characters and plots. "Teenage fans feel a lot of ownership over the books they love," says Scott. "They take me to task over decisions they don't like, they demand sequels, they dress up as characters. A lot of them already comment on my blog, so part of touring is meeting a community in live space that I already knew online. . . . "

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ranger's Apprentice News

Some of you may remember reading The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. Your reviews were mixed; generally you thought it was a good book, but didn't feel it had enough substance. I suggested patience, as it was the first in a series and felt it had laid the groundwork for a good story if you wanted to keep reading.

I've read the second book (but not the third yet) and stand by what I said. I think it's a good series. Apparently I'm not alone. The following blurb was in the weekly email I get from Publisher's Weekly:

Film rights for the Ranger's Apprentice series by Australian author John Flanagan have been optioned by United Artists Films. Director and producer Paul Haggis will adapt and direct a series of movies, in a seven-figure deal.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Saint of Dragons Teaser

The modern Dragon is that person at school or in the workplace who hides his true self, who secretly speaks badly of others, who can't be trusted, who brings misery to those around them, who delights in the failure of friends. The modern Dragon is not content to be rich, but wants others to be poor. Beneath this person't outward appearance, there is very likely Serpent skin. And a vast desire to do harm.