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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

It’s rare that a book comes along that we consider so good we are willing to dedicate an entire blog post to it. Usually we talk about books within a genre, like dystopian or horror, and list our favourites from the collection for you to check out! It’s even rarer that we would feature a book from the high-fantasy realm, as those kind of books tend to be niche-reads… not everyone can get behind goblins and orcs and princesses and evil kings…

But what about dragons?

There is just something about dragons that really sparks our imaginations and gets people fired up (har har). Maybe it’s the fact that there are dragon mythologies in just about every part of the world, seriously pre-dating any form of world travel – most legends of magical creatures are fairly geographically isolated… Ever heard of a Canadian Kappa or an African Leprechaun? But there are stories of dragons from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America… even way down in Australia and New Zealand!

Or what about the fact that we know dinosaurs once walked the earth… is it so hard to believe in some straggling survivors? We see lizards and komodos, birds and beasts all over the planet that really get us thinking…

Dragons are a staple of fantasy stories, and their popularity in kids and teen fiction is nothing new… (see Harry Potter, Eragon, How to Train Your Dragon, anything by Mercedes Lackey, loads of stuff from Chris d’Lacey, Emily Rodda, Jane Yolen… this list is too massive to even begin here), but as we said previously, not everyone can get through all the other high-fantasy stuff just to get to the dragons. If YOU can’t, check this out:


Seraphina is a young musician working in the palace courts (okay, so there are Royals too, but that’s the ONLY other fantasy-y thing, I promise), trying to keep her head down and just play her instruments. She is very, very talented, but promised her father she would not draw unnecessary attention to herself – you can’t be too careful when you’re an adolescent lady alone in the palace. You ESPECIALLY can’t be too careful when this particular castle is rocked by the suspected assassination of a beloved prince, the heir to their throne. Cause of death? Beheading by dragon-bite. Motive behind death? To destroy the already weak peace established between humans and dragons. You see, in this world, Dragons and Humans live side-by-side, though far from in harmony (it’s hard to do when one half of society is constantly eating the other half…). A tenuous peace was established by the previously-mentioned (and currently dead) prince’s mother and the Ardmagar, the leader of dragons. For the last 40 years, dragons have been perfecting the ability to take human form, to walk about in human company and to live and learn in human society. The only problem is, they are not human. And everyone knows it. They are cold, calculating, scientifically-inclined, unemotional (think Vulcans, but with the ability to shed their skin and pop scales and fangs in an instant) – they are hard to befriend and no one really wants to anyways. Except for Seraphina, who has a secret that could very well save the kingdom from a brutal, interspecies-war and imminent destruction…

Readers and critics alike do not have enough good things to say about this book, and its sequel Drachomachia is due out in the new year. You’ll want to get into this series as soon as possible, even if you’re NOT usually into fantasy. It is WELL WORTH the read! And (drumroll please) we here at CPL have a copy of this fantastic book to give away - just leave your name & contact info in the comments to be entered in the draw.

Other dragons in the news? Well... we just left the Zodiac's year of the dragon, but Benedict Cumberbatch is up for an Oscar for Voicing SMAUG in the Hobbit Series... he studied Komodo Dragons at the London Zoo to prepare for the role... There are also these great titles:

    

Finding My Way Eyre

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

I admit that when I first saw Jane it was the cover that initially caught my attention, and that this was the first "Jane Eyre" book I ever read. Not that my friends had not been recommending the book ever since, oh - Grade 9! They did, I just... never got around to it. So when this beautiful moody cover caught my eye, I decided to make a go of it. This retelling by April Lindner, is set in NY with an art school dropout who becomes a nanny and falls for... a famous rock star. I was not disappointed. The book is great! Emma the BookAngel has even made a soundtrack for the book! Hot on its heels, I was putting holds on Catherine, Lindner's remake of Wuthering Heights. Also set in modern NY, this time with the daughter of the owner of a very famous night club as ‘Catherine’!

Then, it just so happened that the graphic novel remake of Jane Eyre landed in my lap. So I read that next, super curious to compare Jane to its original without delay. From my experiences with Manga Shakespeare I knew that reading the graphic novel is a great way to introduce oneself to a classic right away. No fuss, no problem, no big time commitment and no trouble understanding what's going on. I highly recommend it for all your Shakespeare assignments - plus any other classics you are asked to read for English class. Not because the originals aren't great, but rather because they ARE. It's great to have something on hand that can clarify what is going on, allowing you to focus on appreciating the book rather than struggling through it.

So finally yes, I actually read Jane Eyre after all these years. First off, for all the fashionistas out there I want to mention that the version that I read was a Couture edition by Penguin Classics - with cover and images designed by fashion designer Ruben Toledo = perfectly moody graphics!

Classics are classics for a reason and are generally good ground for expounding upon; they become a post-modernist's delightful playground (think Mash-Ups). I admit however that some classics are so stuffy that it's almost impossible to penetrate through their dense or obscure language and receive their enlightening rays of nectar and fruits of insight. Jane Eyre is, refreshingly, not, especially if read with a poetic eye and a philosopher's heart. There were words I was unfamiliar with but I found this antipathetically refreshing - welcome nectar to a vocabulary that has been thirsting for expansion. One learns to write by reading. One gleans semi-archaic vocabulary by reading semi-archaic tomes. (ha,ha).

Jane Eyre is moody and romantic. It arouses a passion of spirit, a storminess of temperament which, like the novel itself, is quite satisfying in its quietude. Jane herself is like that calm before the storm... Mr. Rochester the storm... Jane again, like the rain that pours down quenching your thirst with the ether of sweet negative electricity that bathes the air after lightning.

Jane Eyre contains phrases such as, "Her soul sat on her lips and language flowed", and thoughts such as "Then, my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards, and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it... to open my inward ear to a tale that never ended - a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence." Jane is a formidable character. At the end of the book I found myself wishing I had read it when I was in Grade 9! Through tumultuous and harrowing experiences she has such a sense of her own self worth, and is so grounded; it would have been welcome food back then. I'll warn you though, that the book is a bit preachy in the last few pages. That said, the rest of the books is so fabulous that's it's worth that little bit at the end. I encourage you to read and enjoy!

Other Eyre remakes to check out include Jane Airhead, A Breath of Eyre, and Wish you Were Eyre. For more advanced adult books, check out Mrs. Rochester, Death of a Schoolgirl, Jane Slayre, and Adele : Jane Eyre's hidden story - a highly interesting remake of Jane Eyre told from Mr. Rochester's ward's perspective.

If you want to find out more about the life of the author (Charlotte Bronte), I recommend the following books as well: Becoming Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre: Portrait of a Life, & Governess: The lives and Times of The Real Jane Eyres. There are also a bunch of renditions of Jane Eyre on DVD to check out. (I've heard the 1986 version is great.) Comments and feedback on your favourite are welcome!

We're Off to See the Wizard

by Jilliane - 1 Comment(s)

Well it looks like audiences will be spending some time in the Emerald City in 2013 because two major Hollywood films are set to be released. The first is Dorothy of Oz, an animated film, which follows the more traditional storyline and is jam packed with famous voices including Lea Michele as Dorothy, Dan Aykroyd as Scarecrow, Kelsey Grammar as Tin Man, and Jim Belushi as the Cowardly Lion. My guess is families and Gleek’s will be flocking to see this one.

The second re-imagining of Frank L. Baum’s classic is Oz: The great and Powerful. This film is intended to be a prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and tells the story of how the wizard (played by James Franco) came to be in Oz. This film also boasts an all-star cast with the likes of Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weiss who are all taking on prominent roles.

If you haven’t watched it already check out the new trailer, which was released at San Diego Comic Con in mid-July. It looks absolutely fantastic!

So I know what you’re thinking, 2013 still feels like it’s ages away. Don’t worry we’ve got more than enough to keep you busy till then.

For those Oz purists, or anyone who might want to start right at the beginning, be sure to start with Frank L. Baum’s first book about the land of Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Once you’ve finished that you might want to move on to other books in the series such as the sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz. And of course, one can’t talk about The Wizard of Oz without mentioning the 1939 film starring Judy Garland so be sure to check out the DVD/Blu-ray or The Wizard of Oz soundtrack, all available at CPL!

Wonderful Wizard of Oz Marvelous Land of Oz Wizard of Oz Wizard of Oz Soundtrack

Now if you’re looking for a bit of a twist on the classic tale there is plenty out there for you too. One of the most popular spins on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is undoubtedly Wicked: the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. While most people know her as the Wicked Witch of the West, this book shows her simply as Elphaba, the misunderstood girl who also happens to be green (and it’s not easy being green). If you have yet to read this book be prepared to have all of Oz turned on its head.

If you’re more of a visual person you might also want to check out The Wizard of Oz: The Graphic Novel. Don’t let the name fool you though, this is a completely new interpretation of the classic tale. For one thing Dorothy Gale has been completely updated - she rocks some skinny jeans, a studded belt, wristbands, and a bandana. There is a definite manga influence in this one as well, so if that’s up your alley this may be the version for you.

Another graphic novel which reinvents the magical land of Oz is The Royal Historian of Oz. In this story Ozma (the ruler of Oz) has decided to sever ties with our world and no longer allow stories to be written about Oz. Despite this royal decree Jasper Frizzle is determined to write yet another story about Oz. Needless to say this failed writer has no idea what he’s gotten himself into and he’s about to drag his son Frank with him.

Wizard of Oz the Graphic Novel Royal Historian of Oz

Okay so I couldn’t make this list without adding my personal favorite, Return to Oz (1985). In this film Dorothy (surprise) returns to Oz and finds it is not the same place she left behind. If she is to save Oz she must confront the evil witch Mombi as well as the formidable Nome King. While this film may be found in the kids section, it has more than its fair share of creepy moments. I mean, how many kids’ movies do you know of that start with the protagonist being sent to a sanatorium to be treated by electroshock therapy to forget about the mythical place they claim to have visited?

Another version I really enjoyed was the four hour mini-series Tin Man (2007). This version features a young woman named DG (Zooey Deschanel) who is swept away from her Kansas home and finds herself in the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. as the locals call it. Like the original, DG is desperate to find her way home with the help of some new friends. As the story unfolds, however, it turns out that DG’s new friends have some dark and complicated pasts. If DG is going to get home she will have to find out who she can trust, and survive the attacks made by the evil sorceress Azkadellia and her long coat soldiers. While this version may be a bit too dark for some viewers, if you are interested in seeing what The Wonderful Wizard of Oz would be like with a sci-fi/steampunk edge this one can’t be missed.

One of the newest mini-series to be released is The Witches of Oz (2012). This one falls more into the “family friendly” category and may even be a bit on the cheesy side, but the premise is a spin I have yet to see. In this version little Dorothy Gale is all grown up and has spent her whole life believing that she is the inspiration for the fictional character, when in reality the stories are her childhood memories. Not only does Dorothy have to cope with her newly remembered past, she also has to deal with the residents of Oz who start showing up in New York City…

Wicked Return to Oz Tinman The Witches of Oz

With more than 100 years of lore to draw from, there are countless stories to tell about the land of Oz, so hopefully these will help you get started because 2013 is right around the corner!

~Blog by Kelly~

Popstar Throw-Down! Bieber vs. Psy

by Jilliane - 34 Comment(s)

Bieber Psy

There’s been lots of buzz on the “intra-web” about a certain South Korean rapper who is giving Justin Bieber something to quake about in his Supra sneakers:

Psy’s video, Gangnam Style is skyrocketing on the YouTube counter, heading straight for Viral Celebrity Status! This video was uploaded less than 2 months ago and it already has over 190 MILLION VIEWS!

His dance moves are awesome, the beat is hard and I don’t even care that I can’t sing along with the Korean words. Psy is definitely bringing a good fight.

Will he knock out our beloved Canadian icon in the battle of YouTube’s Most Watched Singer???

PSY vs. THE BIEBES

Psy Bieber
Job K-Pop Rapper Singer/ Heartthrob/Retired Hair-Flipper
# of years since first album dropped 11 4
Age 34 years old 18 years old
Education Boston University, Berklee College of Music St. Michael Catholic Secondary School (Ont.)
Song with the most # of YouTube hits Gangnam Style - 194,231,101 views Baby - 779,584,956 (I still like to watch this for the "Classic Bieber-ness")
Record Manager Scotter Braun Scotter Braun
Dance moves score Definitely a 10! 9... because they lack originality

So what do you think? Who has the best moves? Who will reign supreme? Will Psy push Bieber out as the YouTube popstar king?

If you need a little more info to form your opinion (although what we have on K-Pop & Psy is, admittedly, rather slight):

Bieber’s newest book is dropping soon at CPL: Just Getting Started by Justin Bieber

Bieber’s Mom also just released an autobiography with some juicy stories about her own struggles as a teen mom: Nowehere by Up: the Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom by Pattie Mallette

And lots more Bieber, Bieber, Bieber!

And finally, if you can’t get enough of K-POP, try: Wonder Girls and Rain

~Guest Blog By: Jackie~

UPDATE: On December 21st, the world didn't end, but Gangnam Style did become the first YouTube video ever to hit 1 BILLION views! I think we can call that a win...

~update by: Carrie~

Step Up Revolution Contest

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

If you are anywhere near as jacked for Step Up Revolution as we are, you are gonna FLIP for our latest contest!

All you have to do is head over to TeensCreate and submit a dance-related post! A picture of your dancin' feet, a cool costume from a favourite routine, drawn-out steps for the cha-cha, YOU NAME IT! There are only three rules:

1) You must own the content that you post -- you can't just copy and paste a link from YouTube or someone else's work!

2) You cannot show your face in the picture! For FOIP reasons we cannot publish someone's image or likeness on the website -- so don't put it there in the first place! Crop it out, wear a mask, or slap a happy face on top of it... we're sure you're really, incredibly good-looking, but we JUST DON'T WANT TO SEE IT!

3) You must use your library card number as the title of the submission, so we can contact you if you win!

But really, that's it! Prove you're a dance enthusiast and you'll be entered for the contest!

Here's what you could win:

ONE GRAND PRIZE

  • Cineplex ROE passes (two admissions) for Step Up Revolution
  • StreetDance 2 DVD
  • Step Up Revolution ear buds
  • Step Up Revolution sunglasses

FOUR RUNNER-UP PRIZES

  • Cineplex ROE passes (two admissions) for Step Up Revolution
  • Step Up Revolution sunglasses

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to our winners, who will be contacted shortly to pick up their prizes! Be sure to check back for more contests, prizes and other wicked stuff.

Bleak, Bizarre and Beautiful cont... Genius = Kids Books for Adults

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Okay, in addition to Alex's latest blog Poke a Little Fun, in my time here I have noticed that there are many stellar picture books out there that are almost more suitable for an adult audience, in both their stunning content and maturity. The true genius of these books lies in the fact that they manage to span the ages and appeal to all ages. TRUE genius at heart. Here are 4 offerings in that vein.

Three Ladies Beside The Sea by Rhoda Levine illustrated by Edward Gorey who is famous for his darker art and pictures books for adults is a fun tale of 3 sisters with rhyme and metaphor that younger readers may miss and older ones appreciate. Also not to be missed is his humourous, The Epileptic Bicycle.

Elliott, written and illustrated by Tobin Sprout features bleak and beautiful surrealistic paintings accompanying a cute story about finding your calling... when your old life is over. Sprout is also a musician (best know as a former member of the indie rock band Guided by Voices) in addition to being an an artist and writer!

Where in the World by Marie-Francine Hebert and illustrated by Janice Nadeau, is a heart-string pulling tale of what a young girl decides to do and to take with her when her life is all of a sudden usurped by war. Originally written in French, this book's illustrations won the Governor General’s Award for French language picture books. The dedication aptly reads, "For all of you, little or tall, who are working hard to add more soul into the great jar of life."

In the Heart of the Bottle written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers reminds me of the heart imagery in Christina's Perri's video Jar of Hearts ... but as a children's book. A poignant story of how your heart can get into and out of ... a bottle.

Enjoy!

We're so OLD!

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

If you haven't been into the library lately you might have missed the fact that we are celebrating our CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY this year. It's a big deal. Between Calgary Parks, Calgary Recreation, the Calgary Stampede and us, this is one helluva year to be Calgarian!

This Saturday all 18 of our branches are having MASSIVE Birthday Parties -- each with a different theme.

Here at Central we're having a 5-floor... wait for it... Circus! There's going to be cake, popcorn, a building-wide Scavenger Hunt (you could win a Kobo and other prizes if you enter) a comedy festival, tons of bands playing, and loads of other fun stuff -- all for free. We DARE you come and not have a good time!

I made you a Mix

by Alexandra - 1 Comment(s)

I saw a tweet the other day from Penguin Books about "Literary Mixed Tapes" -- and I thought it was such a great idea. You make a playlist for a literary character... either as a character (What would I listen to if I was ______?) or for a literary character (If I was friends with/in love with/ had a hate-on for...) and then share it.

mixtape for edwardSo I'm going to make one. It's really a lot of fun. But before I do, I need to preface this with a little bit of information. You see, back in the day, getting a mixed tape from someone (yeah, a tape... like a cassette... like an 8-track... you need to look it up, cuz that technology was craaaazy), meant that they cared enough about you to spend a really long time making one. This was before drag-and-drop burn folders. You had to sit in front of a tape player with the song you wanted on one deck and the blank cassette in the other deck, and listen to the whole song the whole way through as it recorded. And if you messed up, you had to rewind both cassettes (which was a process in itself! Sometimes the tape would get tangled and you'd have to fix it by sticking a pencil eraser into the gear... it was a pain for sure) and then start all over again. And the ORDER of the songs was important too, because it was really annoying to try to skip from one song to another... you'd have to rewind and fast forward and you'd end up halfway through a song, and then go too far back, and then too far forward again... You'd also never know how much space you had left on the tape, so you'd keep checking and be like "ONE MORE SONG! I CAN FIT ONE MORE SO---" and then get completely cut off, and either have to deal with half a song or record a bunch of white noise over the end of the cassette... Let's just say CD's were a godsend.

At any rate. There really WAS an art to making mixed tapes. If you want to learn more about it, and read a really touching book in the process, check out "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"... which is being made into a movie later this year starring Percy Jackson and Hermione Granger and Elena from VD... well... you know what I mean.

I couldn't decide which YA Lit character to make a mix for, so I just picked a super popular one. Edward Cullen. This mix is toungue-in-cheek, with a little bit of humour, and a little bit of seriously-wake-up-and-smell-the-pancakes, Vamp... your life isn't that bad. Except for the last song... because ouch. It's too true.

So here we go. My Mix for Edward:

1) Sucks to be You -- Prozzak

2) If you want Blood -- AC/DC

3) My Bloody Valentine -- Good Charlotte

4) Bring me to Life -- Evanescence

5) Dying to live again -- Hedley

6) Addicted -- Simple Plan

7) The First Cut is the Deepest -- Cat Stevens

8) Somebody's Watching Me -- Rockwell

9) Children of the Grave -- Black Sabbath

10) Dude looks like a Lady -- Aerosmith


Feel like joining in? Post a song we missed for Edward in the comments section, or make your own and send it to: cplteenservices@gmail.com for a chance to have your guest mix posted!

gLeek out

by Alexandra - 3 Comment(s)

Alright... It's time for me to come clean about something... I'm a not-so-closeted gleek, and I feel like it's high-time I shared it with you guys.

I love Glee. I love the music, the over-the-top drama, the comedic timing, the great talent, the fast-paced narratives, the sets, the pretty faces, the 3D concert movie. I follow all of the stars on twitter. I have a shrine to Darren Criss on my bulletin board. I want to be Jane Lynch when I grow up.

But here's the thing... despite all of that, there is something about Glee that really, really irks me.

It's the cultural stereotypes that they perpetuate -- YES perpetuate, NOT disintegrate. For all of the good that Glee has done for raising arts-awareness in schools across North America, for all the attention it has brought to the difficulties of ostracized kids or hard-done-by educators, Glee STILL perpetuates far too many stereotypes for it to be doing much good at all.

The cheerleaders are stupid, bi#©hy, or knocked-up at 16. The Quarterback is more than a little dim. The Guidance Counsellor has her own undealt-with Mental Health issues. The black chick is a total diva complete with finger-snapping attitude and quips about her weave. The gay guy isn't just flaming, he's completely on fire... I can do this for every single character on the show, because the show does it to itself.

And sometimes, it is absolutely hilarious. I understand that stereotypes are a fast way to make a joke that everyone can laugh at, especially if the person you're laughing at is laughing too (that's how it works, right?). I understand that you need to reduce a cast of dozens into easily-identifiable traits so that viewers can keep track of everyone. In fact, the episode when Sue Sylvester does a roll-call for every minority student in the Glee Club is a self-conscious reference to what the show does every day:

"Wheels! Gay Kid! Asian! Other Asian! Aretha! Shaft!" she calls, inviting each student to join her "Rainbow Tent" of acceptance.

But here's the thing. When Sue does it we know it's funny, because her character is CLEARLY racist, mean, and slightly sociopathic. No one needs to call her out on being those things, because she knows them about herself.

But what about when Mr. Shu does it? Why does Mercedes only get to sing Motown classics or belt out the high notes after one of Rachel's solos? The show makes a joke about it every other episode... but they've been doing that for three seasons and still haven't changed it!

Why does Kurt ALWAYS sing Broadway Showtunes or songs written for women? (One of my Out friends told me the other day that Kurt's character does absolutely NOTHING to help the plight of "his people"...) Why does Santana ONLY sing songs that reflect her struggle with her sexual identity? SURE that's a huge thing she's going through, but there's more to her than that!

And here's the problem... alternating viewpoints mean that characters are continually getting slammed on the backburners. Unless the episode is focusing on their one specific storyline (Kurt's relationship to his dad, Santana and Britney's relationship, Artie's handicap...) and they get the spotlight for half an hour, each character is just left to sway in the background (like props) and are LUCKY to have a joke about their stereotype thrown their way. Oh... today is the Kurt and Blaine show? Well, we'll have Britney say something stupid and have Santana look at her lustily... that'll keep people interested in them! Finn and Rachel episode? Make Puck say something about Lauren being hot and fat, and show Artie's new flashers for his wheelchair!

This week's episode is called "Asian F". Mike (the OTHER Asian), receives an A- on an assignment, which apparently is the equivalent of a Fail for Asian students. His parents want him to quit the Glee club and focus on his schoolwork.

Funny, right? But is that because he's Asian, and all Asian kids have more parental pressure to do well in school than other students? We haven't heard ANYTHING so far about Mike being scholastically-inclined -- he's always been The Dancer. Is this a chance for character-development or just another stereotype to use as comedic fodder before we lose track of Mike again?

And does any of this even matter? Am I thinking WAY too much about a show that doesn't promise anything more than a little bit of fun and music for an hour a week? Are my hopes too high? Am I wrong and these stereotypes ARE doing some good in a twisted, backhanded way? Am I completely losing it and this is the whole POINT of the show???

Weigh in!

And if you're like me, and you just can't get past the LOVE part of your love/hate relationship with Glee, get your fix today from the Calgary Public Library! We've got everything from CD's and Sheet Music (for your OWN budding Show Choir) to full Seasons, guidebooks, and novelizations!

Acoustic Songs & Electric Stories

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Feel like relaxing to some good music this Saturday?

Join Chris Naish for an entertaining hour of songs and stories that tell of travels through India, England, and Mexico.

When: Saturday October 23rd from 2-3pm

Where: 2nd floor of the Central Library (616 Macleod Trail SE)

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