Modern-Day Retellings of Classics

One popular writing trend that never seems to go out of style is the rehashing of familiar stories by making them relevant to today. It is always interesting to see how various authors interpret old classics, because each spin-off or retelling is different. Here is a short list of modern-day retellings of favorite stories that you can check out today:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Spring Sisters by Anna Todd

Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Page

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham-Smith

Splintered series by A.G. Howard

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Wicked series by Gregory Maguire

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

After Alice by Gregory Maguire

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Circe by Madeline Miller

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Beastly by Alex Finn

March by Geraldine Brooks

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

The Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Can you tell what each title is a retelling of? What’s your favorite modern-day retelling of an old classic? Mine would probably have to be Wicked by Gregory Maguire! Let us know in the comments!

Happy Reading!

The Iron Druid Series

Fans of Kevin Hearne are excited and heartbroken (if it is possible to be both) at the announcement of the final installment in the Iron Druid series. Fans of  mythology, talking Irish wolfhounds and great storytelling will love this series. It is set in our world (the first couple of books are set in Tempe, Arizona) where supernatural creatures exist, such as witches, vampires, werewolves, as well as gods and goddesses from various mythologies. The series is told in the first-person point-of-view of Atticus O’Sullivan (aka. Siodhachan O Suileabhain), a Druid who owns and runs an occult bookshop, Third Eye Books and Herbs, as he gets embroiled in the day-to-day struggle of gods and goddesses and other supernatural creatures. I have truly enjoyed this series. I will certainly mourn the loss of Atticus and his dog Oberon. Visit Kevin’s webpage at https://kevinhearne.com/ for more entertaining antics and info written by the dog.

The following open letter is from Kevin to his fans announcing SCOURGED:

Hey there, Spiffy Humans!

It’s a bit bewildering to be writing this letter to you. When I began writing Hounded in 2008, I had no idea that I was beginning a ten-year odyssey that would see the publication of nine Iron Druid novels, five novellas, and myriad short stories. I wrote Hounded to scratch several itches: the desire to present Irish paganism in more depth than a couple of its more popular goddesses, while simultaneously presenting all faiths as equally valid; to geek out about pop culture one moment and Shakespeare the next; speculate about what a long life would do to the psyche of humans and gods; and to indulge my boundless affection for doggies and their infinite appreciation of simple things.

I figure we could all stand to be reminded that simple pleasures are the best, and that’s part of the reason why Oberon the Irish wolfhound has become so popular. What’s not to like about sausage and gravy? Or poodles, for that matter. Belly rubs and naps. And maybe just a dash of conspiracy theory for drama, like the absolute fact that squirrels are most definitely planning to kill us all, and somewhere on the outskirts of Seattle, a scientist in a secret lab has created the Triple Nonfat Double Bacon Five-Cheese Mocha. Living in the present for such pleasures is the key to achieving a hound’s best life, and Oberon reminds Atticus that despite the trials of his past, much remains to be loved today-right now!-and we, too, could use a friend like him to point out that even in the midst of a rather rough world, there is still plenty in this moment to savor and cherish.

I certainly hope you’ll savor the last book of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Scourged, which wraps up many of the series’ long-running conflicts and leaves us with the possibility of revisiting the world later on. I’m currently working on two other series (The Seven Kennings and the Tales of Pell with Delilah S. Dawson), but there is room for further adventures should my schedule (and the Muses) allow. But this particular story arc with Atticus has been building to a head for a long while. Seeds of the final conflict and its resolution can be seen not only in the previous books, but in short stories like “The Chapel Perilous” that I originally wrote for an anthology, novellas like Grimoire of the Lamb, and most especially “Cuddle Dungeon,” a story I wrote for the Besieged collection.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to write these books and I thank you all for reading. May harmony (and sausage) find you.

Peace & whiskey,

Kevin Hearne

Series Starters: The Red Queen

Fantastical, dystopian societies are all the rage with young adult fiction these days, and The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard fits right in.

The world is divided in two, by blood; Red or Silver. People with Red blood are normal humans, but people with Silver blood are elite, with special powers that set them above the Red-blooded. Mare Barrow is a poor Red, just barely scraping by with her family until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Despite her red blood, Mare discovers that she possesses powers of her own that threatens to destroy the careful balance of power. The Silvers who discover her powers hide her in plain sight, claiming Mare is a lost Silver princess who is now engaged to a Silver prince. Carefully walking the razor edge between Mare’s compliance and her death, she decides to aid a Red alliance to overthrow the Silvers from power.

The Aurora Public Library District owns the first three books in the series, with the fourth and final book expected to be published sometime in 2018. The Indiana Digital Download Center also has the first three books as well as two prequels and audio books. Check these out today!

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Waking Land

The Waking Land by Callie Bates was just released in June of 2017, but I’m already sucked into the hype and can’t wait for the second book to be released in May of 2018. This novel would probably be categorized in the genre New Adult, which is the in-between phase of books with characters between the ages of about eighteen and thirty.

The Waking Land begins with the kidnapping of Elanna Valtai, a five-year-old girl with incredible powers  who is the daughter of a duke and duchess in the north, where magic is still possible and the very earth is alive. Elanna is raised by King Antoine like a daughter, but is still ostracized by members of his court. Falsely accused of his murder, Alanna must flee with a band of rebels to the north, back home, where her dormant powers begin to awaken. Chock-full of magic and adventures, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat and second-guessing until the very last page.

Elanna’s first-person, present-tense narration keeps the story directly in front of you, so you feel like you’re witnessing the events of the novel right alongside Elanna, Jahan, Sophie, Finn, and the rest of the characters. Your heart will pound when they’re being chased or captured, you will weep when key characters are killed, and you will rejoice when they rejoice. I’m excited to see how the rest of the series will turn out, especially since the second book is told from Jahan’s point of view.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: Me Before You

A couple years ago, the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was one of the most popular books in the country, largely due to the fact of the release of the movie of the same name. What many might not know is that Louisa Clark’s story continued with a second and third book (the third book was just published in January; will there be a fourth?). And while there have been mixed reviews from readers about the continuation of Lou’s life, I believe that it’s important to see how she grows in each book as well as how she’s living her fullest life.

Louisa Clark is nothing special; her life is exceedingly ordinary (read: boring), and she’s content to keep it that way. That is, until she loses her job and is forced to take a new one as the caretaker of wheelchair-bound, paraplegic Will Traynor, who used to have the world at his feet. His life used to be anything but extraordinary, but after his accident, he turned bitter. Lou is different than all his other caretakers, though, and refuses to treat him with the delicacy he hates. When Lou discovers something shocking about Will’s future plans for his life, she decides it’s up to her to prove to Will that any life is a life worth living.

I read Me Before You right around the time all the hype surrounding the upcoming release of the movie started; typically, when it seems like the whole world can’t stop ranting and raving about a particular book, I have to read it to see what all the fuss is about. And I’m so glad I did. Not many books can bring me to tears, but this one did. My favorite part about the first two books is how you can actually watch Lou develop as a character throughout the pages. I’m so excited for the third book in this series because I have to know what happens next!

You can check out this series and other books by Jojo Moyes from the Aurora Public Library District or digitally from the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Happy Reading!

Classic Series Starters: Anne of Green Gables

Wholesome. That’s the best word I can think of to describe the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. This series is easily a classic, with feisty, redheaded, freckle-faced orphan Anne (with an E!) Shirley leading the way. With the popularity of the Netflix series soaring, as well as in the wake of the many television and film adaptations of Anne Shirley, it’s important to remember where she got her start.

Anne of Green Gables was first published by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, and has been considered a children’s novel since the middle of the twentieth century. The first in the series tells about an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who was sent by mistake instead of the boy brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert requested to help out around their farm. The book is filled with Anne’s attempt to win the Cuthberts over so they won’t send her back to the orphanage, but her temper and her mouth always seem to get in the way. Even though she has a heart of gold, Anne can’t seem to keep her opinions to herself when it comes to bullies, teachers, and classmates, alike. Anne grows from age eleven to sixteen in the first book, making and losing friendships, getting herself in and out of scrapes, and relying on her imagination and wits to see her through.

There are eight novels total in the Anne of Green Gables universe that follow Anne into adulthood and beyond. For over one hundred years, these books have been classics in almost everyone’s childhood.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Kane Chronicles

One of Rick Riordan’s lesser-known series is the Kane Chronicles. The first book in the Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid, takes place at the same time frame in the Rick Riordan universe as The Lost Hero, and there are subtle references to Long Island and the Percy Jackson universe throughout that are fun to pick up on.

Brother and sister Carter and Sadie Kane have grown up apart since their mother died. Carter has been traveling the world with their Egyptologist father while Sadie was forced to live with their grandparents in London. On a rare visit to London, Carter and Sadie’s father brings them with him on a research assignment to the British Museum where things go terribly wrong. The Egyptian god Set has been released, forcing the children to flee for their lives as their father is banished to the Underworld. The siblings discover that the gods and goddesses of Egypt are real, alive, and know that the Kanes exist. What happens next is a journey to discover their own family’s history and who they are in the grand scheme of things. Oh, and they also have to save the world from sure destruction.

Told in alternating chapters narrated by both Carter and Sadie, this trilogy is sure to get your heart racing and your blood pumping. The voices of Carter and Sadie are perfect, and the Egyptian culture is a nice change of pace. If you’re looking for your next adventure series, then look no further than the Kane Chronicles.

Reading Challenge for 2018

I know it’s crazy to even write the year 2018, but it will soon be upon us! Are you looking for your next reading challenge? Here are some suggestions that might help you get started!

Read a book recommended to you by a librarian. (This is easy because we LOVE to recommend books to you here at the Aurora Public Library District! Or you can always check the blog to see what books we’ve been writing and raving about.)

Read a book that’s been in your “To Be Read” pile for way too long. Or read a book that you own but you haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Listen to an audiobook. (This is easy for people who love audiobooks, but for those who have a hard time letting go of the words on the page, it can be a real challenge! You can do it!)

Read a book where the main character or the author is different than you; this could be ethnicity, religion, culture, ability, etc. Try to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You could also read a book from a nonhuman perspective.

Read a book written by multiple authors. (See if you can pick out the different writing styles of each author as you go along.)

Read a book written by someone you admire.

Read a classic. Or you could read a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t. (I won’t tell.) You could even read a children’s book you never got to read when you were small.

Read a book by an author who uses a pseudonym.

Read a bestseller from a genre you wouldn’t usually read.

Read the first book in a series you’ve never read before.

Read a book that was published in 2018 or that is becoming a movie that year.

Read a book that was published the year you were born.

Read a book set in more than one time period.

Read a book based on a true story.

Read a book you love so much, it always makes you smile. This could even be a beloved children’s book.

Read a book that someone close to you loves more than any other book that you’ve never read before.

Read a book set somewhere drastic, like during a war, in the wilderness, or the characters are trying to survive, etc. Read something to get your heart pumping.

Read a book solely based on the cover; literally judge a book by its cover without reading the summary of what it’s about.

Read a book that will make you smarter.

Read a book that everyone but you has read. This could be that book everyone was raving about last year that was made into a movie.

Read a book with an unreliable narrator.

Read a book with pictures! (How fun would this be?!)

Read a book that’s a story within a story.

Red a book that’s won a prestigious award.

I know that our lives are busy and that it can be hard to even find time to sit down, let alone read a book. But even if you cross just a few of these off the list, you’ll come out of the challenge as a better, more well-rounded person than you were last year. But who am I to dictate what you should and shouldn’t read? Create your own reading challenge for 2018 and let us know how you do! I’d love to be inspired by you!

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

The final book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy  by Rick Riordan was just released at the beginning of October. Sometimes it’s nice to start a series when you know the final book has already been published, so you don’t have to wait so long in between installments. But this is another one of Riordan’s series that I love so much and am recommending to you if you like action, mythology, humor, and adventure.

The first book, The Sword of Summer, begins with Magnus’s death on his sixteenth birthday. Strange events have always happened in Magnus’s life and were magnified two years ago, when strange wolves attacked his apartment, killing his mother. Magnus has been living on the streets of Boston ever since, when his estranged Uncle Randolph finds him and reveals that his father is actually a Norse god. Now Magnus must claim his birthright, a fabled sword that belonged to his father. After Magnus’s death, a whole world is unlocked to him and now he must figure out how to save it from Ragnarok.

The premise of Riordan’s series for younger people are all very much the same, and yet the adventures and characters are all diverse and distinct. They each stand out to me that makes me want to keep going back to these books to read more. Also, the cross-references to Riordan’s other works is always awesome to see; in this series, you’ll get a lot of references to the Greek gods because Magnus is first cousins with Annabeth Chase, from the Percy Jackson universe.

You can find physical copies of this series on the shelves throughout the Aurora Public Library District, or you can check them out digitally from the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I’m sure you’re familiar with the name Philippa Gregory. As someone who has always been interested in the English Wars of the Roses, her series have been on my to-read list for a long time. But also as someone who is easily confused by names and dates in history, I was never sure where to start with the two series that I was always interested in: the Tudor Court and Cousins’ War series. Luckily, as of August 2016, Gregory combined these series into one giant series (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) and released a list for how they are to be read in chronological order rather than publication order.

Start with The Lady of the Rivers, which is about Jacquetta of Luxemborg, who was married to the Duke of Bedford, the uncle of King Henry V. When her first husband died, she married Richard Woodville, shifting her alliance from the House of Lancaster to the House of York after the Battle of Towton. After Edward IV took the throne, Jacquetta’s daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, married him and became Queen consort to the new King of England. Don’t forget the dashes of witchcraft and magic! The novel is a historical fictionalization of one of the prominent, if often overlooked, figures in England’s civil war, known as the Wars of the Roses. The book opens in 1430, right after Henry VI is crowned King of England at only nine years old after his father, King Henry V, is killed in battle during the Hundred Years’ War.

If you’re interested in reading The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels series in chronological order:

The Lady of the Rivers

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The White Princess

The Constant Princess

The King’s Curse

Three Sisters, Three Queens

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Taming of the Queen

The Queen’s Fool

The Virgin’s Lover

The Last Tudor

The Other Queen

If you’re interested in reading the series in publication order:

The Tudor Court:

The Constant Princess

Three Sisters, Three Queens

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Taming of the Queen

The Queen’s Fool

The Virgin’s Lover

The Other Queen

The Cousins’ War:

The Lady of the Rivers

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The White Princess

The King’s Curse

The Last Tudor

This particular section has always interested me, but I always get so confused trying to keep track of names and dates. Luckily, Gregory provides a link to the family tree of the historical figures of her books on her website, or I would be lost.

Happy Reading!