Tag Archives: seanan mcguire

Imitation and Reinvention: Mad Hatters and March Hares and Kill the Farm Boy

12 Sep

Sometimes an author’s world and the words they wrote resonate so deeply that they live beyond the works themselves; there are many retellings of Alice in Wonderland and there are some especially terrific interpretations in the new collection edited by Ellen Datlow.  At other times authors may be inspired not by what stories in the past contained, but what the story leaves out. This is the case for the thoroughly modern fantasy Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson which seeks to reinvent the genre with a modern sensibility.

Mad Hatters and March Hares: All New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
edited by Ellen Datlow
MadHattersandMarchHares

Mad Hatters and March Hares is a collection of stories based on not only characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it’s sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, but many also involve the book and the real people associated with stories like Alice Lidell since the tale of the writing of the books often seems as intriguing to readers and authors as the story itself. The story “Worrity, Worrity” by Andy Duncan takes a surrealistic look at why John Tenniel might have dissuaded Carroll from featuring a certain illustration.  Like the nonsense rhyme that filled originals, the collection begins and ends with two poems, the first of which “Gentle Alice” by Kris Dikeman is in the shape of a teacup reflecting the concrete poetry Carroll used in his own work.  Two of my favorite fantasy authors Catherynne M. Valente and Seanan McGuire have excellent stories included;  McGuire’s “Sentence Like a Saturday” was my favorite of the collection and looks at what happens when a certain Kitty enters the “real” world.  I found it interesting that on the whole the stories were dark fantasy and some in the horror genre reflecting the menace that can be seen just below the surface in the original with characters like the threatening Red Queen and Jabberwocky.  You can read about more Alice in Wonderland related books and movies in a previous blog post.

Kill The Farm Boy: The Tales Of Pell
by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson
KilltheFarmBoy
This novel, according to an authors’ note, started as a conversation between Hearne and Dawson in an airport about the need to “kill the farm boy” which they feel represents the cliche of the white young male who lives in a rural area and finds out he is the “chosen one” and goes on to be the center of many adventures. White males can be pretty awesome and many deserve hero status, my dad, husband, and son are all examples of that, but there is definitely room especially in the fantasy realm for more diversity.  This novel made me think of many fantasy novels I’ve read especially the Once and Future King with its interpretation of the Arthur legend.  The novel starts out with the typical farm boy, but he meets an unfortunate accident that keeps him unable to continue his quest and instead the main story focuses on a variety of adventurers including a dark skinned female warrior and her newly met romantic interest a bard who is herself under a spell so that she has rabbit like features.  There were some bits where Kill the Farm Boy had me laughing out loud and it was very original with some of the directions that it took the adventurers in while skewing dated cliches of typical fantasy novels of the past as well as our contemporary society.  The novel manages to be more than just a parody and I hope the fun and original characters of Pell have many more adventures in store for readers.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Turn Off Your Smart Phone: Make a Goal to Read More Books

8 Aug

Summer Reading is winding up at the library as I write this and as I logged my reading, I’ve realized I have been reading less lately, which isn’t completely accurate since I’ve been reading tons of news and blogs and such online, but I’ve certainly been reading less books.  This isn’t just true of myself – I’ve realized as I’ve talked to others.  The phones most of us carry now are more like mini tablets than a means of communication. They constantly demand to be checked for the latest social media update or what latest political scandal has occurred in the news. And that paperback book on my bedside table isn’t constantly sending me push notices, instead it sits there patiently as I renew it for another two weeks and think “I’ll read it tomorrow”.  Ruminating on it now I realize I’m missing out – though since there are entertaining and some high quality things online, there is also a lot of shallow click bait that wastes my time and doesn’t add to my enjoyment of life or increase my understanding of the world in a positive way.  So I’ve decided to put my phone away at the end of the day and read more books.  I hope you’ll join me; let’s keep that pushy electronic device waiting for an hour or two and instead get lost in a good book.

Here are two books I read this summer that I enjoyed curling up with while my cell phone was tucked away in a bed side drawer.  Both deal with frequent vacation destinations that are anything but ordinary.

The Last Cruise
by Kate Christensen
LastCruise
I hadn’t read any of Christensen’s writing before, but after reading The Last Cruise, I definitely want to check out more of her fiction and nonfiction. The Last Cruise was beautifully written with the kind of lush language and imagery one would expect to find in poetry. It is set on an old cruise ship making one last trip to Hawaii.  The three main characters: an elderly Israeli musician, an up and coming chef, and a farm wife on a life changing vacation, were all complex and I liked the emotional journey and development that occurred for the three of them over the course of the book. I’m looking forward to taking a cruise next year, so I’m hoping the many disasters that befall the ship and its passengers are not likely to occur in real life. At the very least – not all at once – from the comfort of my own home it was exciting to see how the characters fared through the many challenges they faced.

Tricks For Free
by Seanan McGuire
TricksforFree
I enjoyed this urban fantasy book a lot as I have the other books in the InCryptid series about a family that protects the monsters secretly living among us. Tricks for Free is the second novel focusing on Annie, the youngest of the Price siblings, and though I think I prefer her older sister as a character, I thought this novel was still fast paced and interesting. Tricks for Free is set at a Disney like Amusement Park, which was so well thought out that it felt real. It even had well-detailed associated fictional movies, songs, and characters; I’d love if McGuire crafted the stories that she based these on as they sounded so interesting. I’m looking forward to the next book when it comes out, which also follows Annie and her friends. Tricks for Free included a novella at the end focusing on Annie’s Aeslin Mice (talking mice that worship the Price family) and her boyfriend during the time she is on the run and has to leave them behind.

See the Latest Books Available at HPL
Want to see what is new at HPL?  You can always see what new books we have by browsing the shelves near the first floor circulation desk where they feature the new nonfiction and fiction.  Or you can find lists of new books and other items by going to https://catalog.bccls.org/polaris/custom/whatsnew.aspx?ctx=61

Hoboken Residents Can Have 10 Interlibrary Loan Requests
We appreciated everyone’s patience during the state’s recent interlibrary loan delivery issues, but are thrilled that we can again offer Hoboken Library Residents up to 10 loan requests from other BCCLS libraries at a time so even if something you want is out here, we can request it for you!

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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