Category Archive – Must-Read Fiction

Week of Geek: First impressions of Fantastic Beasts sequel

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Happy March Break Geeklings!  Hope you’re having a ton of fun, but if not I’ve got something fun for you today; our first trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

At barely 2 minutes, there is certainly a lot to unpack here.  But first… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

OK, fangirling over, let’s discuss.

One of my favorite sites, Nerdist, does a great deep dive on this, but there’s a few things I’d like to point out.  First, how awesomely amazing was it to see Hogwarts again?  It’s like coming home!

Second, Newt as a sort of secret agent?  Certainly seems that way, as he’s working with Jude Law’s Dumbledore.  What could they be working on?

Third, a Wizarding World divided.  Again.  Or… before.  This was several decades before the whole mess with Voldemort divided the wizarding community, so this thing with Grindelwald came first.

Fourth, favorite characters are back.  Newt of course, and Tina (love Tina’s new look), Goldie and Jacob (LOVE Jacob <3).  Even Credence is back, and he’s apparently run off with the circus (it was the 1920s, you could do that back then).

Fifth, new characters.  Credence has a friend at the circus named Maledictus.  We got a look at Leta Lestrange, who with that last name and her complicated relationship with both Newt and his brother, you know is probably going to be trouble.  And the final scenes of the trailer feature Newt and his brother Theseus battling side by side (that last shot of them creating the fire wall together… beautiful.)

Sixth, beasts aplenty, including Thestrals and maybe a Hippocampus.

Seventh, two words: WIZARDING CIRCUS!  What is that even?  How amazing is that going to be?  They even have cotton candy!  And I bet it’s somehow magic!

Finally though, we’ve got to address the Erumphant in the room.  Two of them actually.

First, Johnny Depp, who plays our lead villain Gellert Grindelwald.  Many fans are not happy he’s still in this movie, considering how he’s been accused of domestic violence by his ex wife Amber Heard.  Though he hasn’t been officially charged or convicted of a crime there is still quite a bit of discomfort with this.  What makes this such a touchy subject for fans is that many, many people have seen the Wizarding World as a haven from abuse, considering how that was one of the big themes of Harry’s saga; an abused kid who finds his home at Hogwarts.  And the idea that the creators of these films would rally behind a potential abuser is not sitting well with people.  And as Nerdist pointed out, the fact that we only see Grindelwald twice in the first trailer of the film that bears his name, could be telling.  It could mean they’re saving it for later, or it could mean that the studio, though still on board with Depp being there, has heard the outcry and are trying to downplay it.

The other issue is that apparently we are not getting one solitary hint about Dumbledore’s sexuality in this new film, even though the entire story centers around him and Grindelwald, which Rowling has confirmed Dumbledore was in love with.  It’s a huge plot point, but we’re not going to get any mention of it.  This is a common problem for mainstream movies.  They cost so much to make that the studio wants to make a profit on them, and since in many places homosexuality is still very much taboo, a studio runs the risk of scaring off international markets if they show their characters as gay.

The thing is fans are getting tired of not having any representation in their favorite franchises.  They’re tired of everything being ‘implied’ and not outright stated.  One of the big plot points in the first Fantastic Beasts film was how destructive and awful it can be when you have to hide and suppress who you truly are.  The studios are undermining the messages of their own source materials by casting potentially abusive people and making sure a main character stays ambiguous.  Fans are not happy.

Anyway, there’s a lot of time between now and when the film comes out this December.  We’ll see what happens.  But what do you guys think?  Post away in the comments section below or write your thoughts over on WriteIt.

In the meantime, watch the first Fantastic Beasts film, or read the book, or check out the Harry Potter series if you haven’t yet.  Or again.  Have a great rest of the week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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How we doing Geeklings?  Ready for a little whimsy on these (hopefully) last days of winter?

Next winter (yes, I’m already talking about next winter, hear me out) we’ll have a sequel to Disney’s classic live-action animation hybrid film Mary Poppins.  Titled Mary Poppins Returns, we have a new cast, including Emily Blunt taking over from Julie Andrews for the nanny in question, but some familiar characters will be back.  And we got the first trailer this week…

The original Mary Poppins film came out in 1964, so 54 years ago, but it’s still beloved by fans young and old.

It looks like the sequel is set about 20 years after the first film, and Mary returns to siblings Jane and Michael Banks to assist with Michael’s 3 children.  Hamilton fans will be excited to note that Lin-Manuel Miranda also stars as Jack, a lamplighter who also helps with the children, similar to Dick Van Dyke‘s Bert the Chimney Sweep.  And there’s more great actors to round out the cast.

Of course, we recommend you give the original a view if you haven’t yet, but if you guys want to get really in depth there is an excellent move about the making of Mary Poppins called Saving Mr. Banks.  The original Mary Poppins books were written by author P.L. Travers, and surprisingly she had a reputation for being… difficult.  In fact wholly unpleasant.  And that certainly came to light when Disney, both the man and the company, wanted to adapt her books into film.  Saving Mr. Banks tells that story, gives a bit of Travers’ history and has a great cast, including Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

So get into the spirit, get some color into your life, gear up your singing voice and get excited for December.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

My 2017 YA Books

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For the last three years I have been participating in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge. I’m pretty sure you all know what it is, but if you don’t it’s a self-directed challenge in which you set your reading goal for the year ( for me, last year it was 30 books, this year it’s 40) and then you update your profile when you start a new book and when you finish it. Books that have gone from “currently reading” to “read during the year and automatically logged in your challenge tracker. I like it because I don’t like being told what books or kinds of books I should be reading – I like feeling like I’m making all my own choices, even if most of them are based on recommendations.

Out of the 30 books I read in 2017, 5 were categorized as YA. Some I already talked about here (and I’ll link to those posts so you can see exactly what I thought about them), but I wanted to share all of them with you. So here it goes:

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. By far the best YA novel I read in 2017. Possibly the best YA novel I’ve ever read.  Definitely one of the best novels I’ve read. Definitely the most important novel I’ve read in 2017. This is one of those books that I felt the need to write a post about. I moved me to tears and action. It was tragic and empowering. And Starr reminds me of a friend of mine.

Wintersong, by S. Jea-Jones. OHHHHHH this book was excellent!!! Wintersong is a retelling of Jim Henson’s film Labyrinth. But it also really isn’t. Yes, Jea-Jones’s Goblin King is clearly based off of David Bowie’s Jareth (but really he has to be, Bowie’s performance perfect). Yes, the Goblin King steals the protagonists sibling and she goes to his realm underground to get her back. But there is so much more that is different. There is a subtly to the story and storytelling that is enchanting. Liesl is the kind of protagonist that really speaks to me. She is stronger than she realizes. Resourceful and independent, though she never knew she could be. She loves deeply and will move heaven and earth to help those she loves. She’s selfishly altruistic, which seems like a contradiction in terms but really isn’t. I can’t wait to add the sequel to my 2018 challenge log!

A Thousand Nights and Spindle, by E. K. Johnston. Back at the start of 2017 we had an event (which some of you may have come to with your class) called Vaughan Teens Love Reading. It was a really awesome event and the best part was that authors E.K Johnston and Erin Bow  were there discussing their books, writing and research processes, they told weird/creepy/awesome stories, and so much more. Following the event I picked up A Thousand Nights, a brilliant retelling of Arabian Nights and the story of Shahrazad, and fell completely in love. It’s beautiful and complicated and (I would argue) Better than the original story. If only because she Johnston actually tackles the issue of the kidnapped woman and the monster husband. Spindle, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, was a little different. Though I wasn’t too keen on the story unfolding through the male perspective, it is beautiful and captivating and does have an active, engaging woman at the center.

Ronit & Jamil, by Pamela L. Laskin. If you follow me, you already know what I thought of this book.  So much potential, but kind of disappointing. I think it’s important for the subject matter. And while so much has been written about the conflict in the news (with biases in every direction possible), very little has been written about it in fiction – at least outside of Israel and Palestine. And that’s a shame. By reading about people (fictional or otherwise) on the other side we come to relate to them, we find common ground, and we become true advocates for peace. So yeah, important stuff, but I’m determined to find a more satisfying representation. Stay tuned.

Almost Midnight, by Rainbow Rowell. OHHHHHHHHH RAINBOW!!!!! Second only to Tamora Pierce (don’t get me started), Rainbow Rowell is my favorite author. I will read and recommend anything and everything she writes. If she published a knitting book I will try (once more) to knit so I can own that book with purpose. Now, truthfully, the library doesn’t own Almost Midnight. But you still have access to its content. Almost Midnight is a compilation of Rowell’s short stories. The first, “Midnights,” can be found in the short story anthology My True Love Gave to Me along with 11 other fantastic and adorable short, romantic stories. The second, “Kindred Spirits” was written and published especially for Book Day 2016. They are short so I won’t give you a synopsis, but I will say you should take a look. They are quick, heartwarming stories and I love them.

Here’s to another year of amazing, diverse, engaging, and challenging YA reads.

Week of Geek: Back into the Labyrinth

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Hi again Geeklings!  Did you miss me?  I was off for a few days, hence the web silence, but I’m back so let’s talk about what we should be excited about this week 🙂

I’ve mentioned before on this site my undying love for the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth

(To anyone who clicked on that trailer… it was the 80s, don’t judge us!)

The tale of a teenage girl making her way on a magical quest and encountering creatures portrayed by the Jim Henson Company’s puppets would’ve appealed to me all on it’s own, but for me one of the biggest draws of the film has always been David Bowie’s Goblin King.  The late Bowie was an icon of music, style and pushing boundaries, but he was also an actor and had some terrific movie roles.  For many fans though, his portrayal of Jareth was sheer perfection.  Bowie was basically a mystical creature already; this just helped confirm everything.

I bring it up again because it’s had a bit of a resurgence the last couple of years.  The film celebrated it’s 30th anniversary in 2016.  David Bowie passed away earlier that same year, and his performance in the film is still a highlight of his career for many fans.  And last year’s YA book Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones had us all unofficially traveling back to the Underground.

This week though, the big news in the Goblin City is that a new comic series is being released today!

Labyrinth: Coronation, published by BOOM! Studios, kicks off with issue one today, and that’s the cover of issue one above.  Unlike other Labyrinth comics over the years, this one does what almost every one that came before it seemed to go out of it’s way not to do… which is finally, FINALLY give us more tales and an official back story for Jareth the Goblin King!  Coronation is set mostly in late 18th century Venice, and features another young woman entering the Labyrinth to find a lost baby, though this time the baby is her own son.  And we’ll meet the previous ruler of the Labyrinth, the Owl King.  So excited!

It’ll likely be a while before Coronation is collected into a print volume we can order for the libraries.  But, one of our main avenues for digital comics, Hoopla, releases comics from BOOM! Studios, so there’s a good chance the individual issues will be available to borrow there before too long.  In the meantime, you can become more familiar with this fantastical world by watching the movie (natch), listening to the soundtrack (here’s a digital copy), and reading the other Labyrinth comic books or the novelization.   Be sure to check out the Henson Company‘s other works and give Wintersong a read, as the sequel is out this year.

Have a good week Geeklings.  Post in the comments or on WriteIt, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Austen in YA

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Wassup Geeklings!

Sorry for the delay in this week’s post but we’ve all been busy as beavers the last few days, and we’re all in a Jane Austen type of mood here at VPL.  This prolific author wrote during the early part of the 19th century, and her work is still popular, highlighting the gentry of the Georgian and Regency eras and their various challenges around society and love.  Many would argue that Austen has a full-fledged fandom around her work.  Many places hold Austen themed balls or events and encourage dressing up in Regency-era dress (cosplay people!).

So in honor of this early fan favorite I thought I’d highlight some YA books (and a couple of movies) inspired by Austen’s work.  You’d be surprised what some writer’s can do with her stories…

For Darkness Shows the Stars For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – A post-apocalyptic Persuasion.  After a genetic experiment decimated humanity and the survivors created a very strict class system (where the elite are very much against technology), our heroine Elliot must choose between her duties as an upper class woman and true love when a boy she fell in love with comes back into her life.


 Clueless – This was one of my all-time favorite movies when I was a teenager, and few realize it’s actually a 1990s Valley Girl version of Emma.  Cher Horrowitz, the it-girl of her school, learns about herself and love when she tries to ‘improve’ everyone around her through makeovers and match making.



Prom &amp; PrejudiceProm and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg – A modern take on Pride and Prejudice, this version features Lizzie Bennett as a student at a prestigious all-girls school who will be hosting a prom with the nearby all-boys school.  Lizzie’s friend Jane is especially excited about seeing Charles Bingley, but Lizzie’s less than  impressed with Charles’ friend, Will Darcy.  Tale as old as time.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – A big screen (14A) adaptation of the hit horror mash-up novel answers the question of what would happen if P&P’s timeless characters had to fight zombies.  Wonder no more!




The Last Best KissThe Last Best Kiss by Claire Scovell LaZebnik – Another take on Persuasion.    Anna is ready to stop caring about what other people think of her after she broke the heart of the only guy she really had feelings for.  When he comes back in her life 3 years later but wants nothing to do with her, can Anna persuade herself that she doesn’t like him either or persuade him that they’re meant to be.  LaZebnik has written a few Austen takes.


Jane Austen Goes to HollywoodJane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald – This one is a modern take on Sense and Sensibility.  Two sisters, who are quite different, approach their move to Beverly Hills in typically different fashion, but can they learn to break out of their own ruts?




The Dark Days ClubThe Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman – Admittedly, this is not based on any particular Austen novel, but it is set in the Regency era and it sounds so cool I had to include it.  In 1812 18-year-old Lady Helen is getting ready for her presentation to the Queen, but when her family’s maid disappears Helen is thrown into something a little more intense.  Meaning a cabal of demons running various levels of society, and a mysterious man who may be able to stop them.  Demon hunting and Regency romance.  What’s not to like?

So there’s a few to get you started, but if you’re looking for the real deal, you can always go the way of Ms. Austen’s work.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.