Category Archives: JK Rowling

News, release dates and information on J.K. Rowling.

News round-up, July 2013

A quick round-up of the fantasy-related news items that have been published over the last thirty days.

George RR Martin defends decision to cast Pedro Pascal as the Red Viper in Game of Thrones series
Pedro Pascal, who will play the Red Viper in the Game of Thrones series.Writer Martin said he wasn’t at the Chilean actor’s audition, but that he thought Pascal would be ‘wonderful’ as Oberyn Martell. Responding to fans’ complaints that Pascal does not have the right colouring to play the Red Viper, Martin wrote on his blog: ‘I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. ‘And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.’ he writer also discussed the ‘racially and ethnically diverse’ cast of the TV adaptation of Game Of Thrones. It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels. But to balance that, characters like Salladhor Saan (Lucian Msamati) and Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) – both white in the books – have been played by black actors.’
Source: Metro

Change of Eastern Regional Director of SFWA
Catherynne M. Valente has announced her resignation as the Eastern Regional Director for SFWA. She said, “It was a rewarding and challenging experience to work with a group of dedicated, tireless advocates, but personal circumstances have brought me to the realization that I cannot serve out the remainder of my term effectively. I thank the Board for their service and support, and will continue to be an active member of the organization.” The president, with the confirmation of the board, has appointed E.C. “Eugene” Myers to serve out the remaining year of the Ms. Valente’s term.
Source: SFWA

J.K. Rowling Renews Call for U.K. Press Regulation
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is among the signatories of a letter urging Britain’s culture secretary to push through press regulation reforms that have been delayed following last year’s recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into U.K. media standards and ethics. Rowling, Jude Law’s former publicist and 24 other victims of press abuse signed a letter about the topic from activist group Hacked Off, whose supporters include Hugh Grant. It was addressed to culture secretary Maria Miller. "It is more than three months since all parties in parliament gave their backing to the cross-party royal charter closely based on the Leveson recommendations," the open letter said. "We urge you to recall that the March 18 charter has the backing of parliament, is founded on the recommendations of a duly constituted public inquiry that painstakingly took account of the views of all stakeholders, and is supported by the great majority of victims of press abuses." It added: "Standing in opposition to this are representatives of parts of the press, and in particular of a part that was found by the public inquiry to have ‘wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people.’ In short, a tiny if powerful vested interest with a record of causing harm to the public is challenging the democratic will of parliament." The letter concluded that "it would be appalling if such people, in defiance of the will of the rest of society, were allowed to delay the implementation of a government policy" that has the support of parliament.
Source: Hollywood Reporter

Humble Ebook Bundle II: name your price for Last Unicorn, Wil Wheaton, Lois McMaster Bujold and more
Cory Doctrow: It’s time for another Humble Ebook Bundle! Once again, I was honoured to serve as volunteer curator of the Humble Ebook Bundle, a project from the Humble Indie Bundle people who’ve made Internet history by bundling together awesome, DRM-free media and letting you name your price for it. We did the first Humble Ebook Bundle last fall (with my novel Pirate Cinema) and made over $1.25 million in two weeks (!). The new Ebook Bundle is even cooler. Here’s the line-up:

  • The Last Unicorn (deluxe edition), by Peter Beagle
  • Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton
  • Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
  • Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
  • Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold

As with all the bundles, there is a secret stash of releases in the wings for week two; if your payment is higher than the average at the time you make it, you get them for free (and they are sweet!). Otherwise, you can always get them by topping up your payment. And as always, there’s charities involved — you can earmark some or all of your payment for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child’s Play, and the Science Fiction Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund.
Source: Cory Doctrow on Boing Boing

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman returns for prequel
A quarter-century after his ground-breaking Sandman comic was launched, Neil Gaiman is returning to the character that made him famous with a six-issue prequel about Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Gaiman – currently basking in the glory of phenomenal reviews and booming sales for his first adult novel in eight years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane – has penned a limited series that tells a new story about the much-loved character he created for DC comics in 1988 and which ran for 75 issues. Sandman was initially published as part of the main DC comics line but in 1993 was incorporated into the publisher’s new Vertigo imprint which offered edgier, more adult comics. The first issue introduced Morpheus, or Dream, one of the immortal siblings known as the Endless. The ruler of a kingdom known as the Dreaming, the character was an instant hit, and when Gaiman introduced Dream’s sister Death as a cocksure goth girl he won over a legion of fans seemingly for ever. This October sees the first issue of the new comic, Sandman: Overture, produced with artist JH Williams III, 25 years since the first issue of Sandman (it had a January 1989 cover date but was published in October 1988).
Source: The Guardian

Michael Morpurgo reveals he’s writing a new book set in Scilly
St Helens, as seen from Bryher.He wasn’t giving too much away about the story, which is about the uninhabited island of St Helens, only to say it’s set during the First World War and is connected to the sea and America. He said it was an extraordinary story to come across and he’s returning to the islands in September to continue with the book. Michael says he works better when he’s close to the landscape he’s writing about. Mr Morpurgo, a regular visitor to Bryher, made a special appearance at the new Porthcressa Library yesterday. He read extracts from his book ‘The Wreck of the Zanzibar’ set in Scilly, to a specially invited audience of youngsters.

Margaret Atwood and Mohsin Hamid in new season of BBC World News ‘Talking Books’
BBC World News has launched a new season of Talking Books, the in-depth interview programme featuring international bestselling authors from around the globe. From Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood to Children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, American historical novelist Tracy Chevalier to Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, the 12-part series explores the best of 21st century fiction writing. The first episode has kicked off with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), was awarded the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Chimamanda’s latest novel, Americanah (2013) focuses on romance, race and identity following a young woman’s journey from Nigeria to America. Presenters Razia Iqbal and Gavin Esler uncover the themes that run through each writer’s work, the characters they have invented and the development of their writing style. It airs weekly on BBC World News every Saturday at 1.00pm and Sunday at 6.00pm.
Source: BBC World

The Seventh Son Release Date Pushed Back Again
Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes in The Seventh Son.Legendary Pictures’ adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s young adult novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, which has been retitled The Seventh Son for the big screen, has been delayed until 2014. The film was originally slated for a February 15th, 2013 release, but, as you may have noticed, February came and went without The Seventh Son appearing in theatres. In May 2012, the release was set back to October 18th, 2013, and as the first images and details of the film were unveiled online. Variety now reports that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have decide to part ways rather than extend their distribution and co-financing partnership, and it’s believed that this may have contributed to The Seventh Son‘s release being delayed once more, this time to January 17th, 2014.
Source: Screen Rant and Variety

First-ever sketches of Winnie-the-Pooh tipped to fetch at least £600,000 at auction
Ink drawing of Christopher Robin asleep with Pooh lying on his bed is among the collection.The first-ever sketch of children’s favourites Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin by famed illustrator E.H. Shepard has come to light for the first time in 90 years. The ink drawing accompanied Pooh author A.A. Milne’s poem ‘Vespers’ and shows Christopher Robin asleep in bed with a teddy bear lying on his back on the quilt.
It is part of a set of eight original Pooh drawings from private collections around the world tipped to fetch more than £600,000 at auction. One other original Shepard illustration is the iconic 1926 work from Winnie-the-Pooh of Christopher Robin pulling his bear up the stairs by its leg. An almost-identical sketch showing the boy dragging Pooh down the stairs that was owned by the late film director Michael Winner sold last December for £139,250. The Sotheby’s auction is being held on July 10 in London.
Source: Daily Mail

Best-selling authors including Julia Donaldson and Joanne Harris vow to promote independent bookshops
Top-selling authors including The Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, Joanne Harris and Kate Morton are planning on altering their websites to link to independent bookshops following complaints that they only promote Amazon and chain retailers. The changes follow claims by an independent bookshop owner in The Bookseller that best-selling writers support the likes of W H Smith and Waterstones “without giving a fig” for struggling smaller shops. Keith Smith, of Warwick and Kenilworth Books, said Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Alison Weir, Ian Rankin, Tom Holland and Patrick Ness are among those who have ignored independent retailers. “Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop,” he said. “But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.” Julia Donaldson said she had been “feeling guilty” about not having links to independent shops, but added that, “when I first set up my website, this is what was suggested to me would be the easiest thing to do.” Her “online presence” is now under review, according to her publisher.
Source: The Independent

HCB to publish posthumous Diana Wynne Jones tale
HarperCollins Children’s Books fiction publishing director Ruth Alltimes has bought a posthumous novel by fantasy novelist Diana Wynne Jones, The Islands of Chaldea, completed by her sister Ursula Jones. Alltimes acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from agents Laura Cecil and Celia Catchpole and plans to publish a "gorgeous" hardback edition in March 2014. The Islands of Chaldea is about a young girl and her bossy White Witch aunt fighting to free a king’s son held to ransom behind an enchanted forcefield, encountering a giant invisible cat and a fiery lizard along their way. HCB called it a "uniquely humorous picaresque adventure".
Source: The Bookseller

And finally…

27 well-known extracts taken from J. R. R. Tolkien’s life and works: http://www.deseretnews.com/top/1628/2/-27-best-J-R-R-Tolkien-quotes.html

News round-up, June 2013

Amazon licenses fan fiction ebooks
George RR Martin hates fan fiction, Anne Rice has banned it, Ursula K Le Guin calls it "an invasion". But a host of authors have signed up to a new programme from Amazon, which encourages any fan who fancies it to write fiction inspired by their worlds, and sell it to readers through the Kindle store. Amazon announced that it had secured licences for the bestselling Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and for LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries from Alloy Entertainment. The licences will allow fans to publish authorised stories set in the different fictional universes as ebooks for the Kindle, with royalties paid to both the original author and the fan fictioneer. Amazon said the "Kindle Worlds" project was good for writers because it is "an entirely new way to monetise their valuable franchises [and] it allows them to extend their worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans".
Source: The Guardian

Julia Donaldson backs study into malnutrition in kids
A group of top kids’ authors, including Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, says extreme hunger leaves children struggling to read and write. The former children’s laureate backs a global study that suggests children who are badly malnourished are 20% more likely to misread simple sentences. The research was carried out by the University of Oxford for the charity Save the Children and looked at 7,300 eight-year-olds in four countries – Ethiopia, India, Peru and Pakistan. Other top children’s authors backing the campaign are Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and David Walliams. Justin Forsyth from Save the Children says: "poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom". The report says that even if the children have good schooling, the benefits of it get cancelled out if they’re not eating well.
Source: BBC

New cover design for  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets revealed at BEA
At Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City, Scholastic Books unveiled its new cover design for J.K Rowling’s second series installment, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

New Scholastic cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter fans will likely recognize the scene depicted as Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley riding in Ron’s father’s flying car toward the Weasley’s Burrow home. The original cover for Chamber Of Secrets featured Harry in the snake-laden Chamber grasping onto the tail feathers of the red phoenix while wearing a cape and a sword. This is but the second reveal from Kibuishi’s re-imagining of the Harry Potter book covers, all seven of which are expected to hit shelves on Aug. 27 individually and in box set format.
Source: Examiner.com

First look at Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theatres on Dec. 13, there will be a fresh face among the residents of Middle-earth: Tauriel, an elf warrior played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame. “She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill,” says Lilly. She’s also not found anywhere in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fantasy novel, or in any of Tolkien’s other writings for that matter.

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Director Peter Jackson and his co-writers on the Hobbit trilogy, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, invented the character to expand the world of the elves of Mirkwood Forest – and to bring some more female energy to the otherwise male-dominated Hobbit narrative.
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Blackman is new Children’s Laureate
The new Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said she would use her position to be an "advocate" for public libraries and campaign against "short-sighted" closures. Blackman, the author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teen-agers, took over from previous laureate Julia Donaldson, who lives in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, at a ceremony in central London. The 51-year-old, who was a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London. Blackman said: "Each laureate can bring their own passions to it, but one of my passions is the public library service and I wouldn’t have become an author and I certainly wouldn’t have been standing here now as the Children’s Laureate if it had not been for my local library service so that’s definitely something I want to be an advocate for and cherishing our libraries and speaking out against library closures. I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea, which in 2012 initiated a programme to build 180 libraries. Russia is building libraries but we seem to be closing them. I think its very short-sighted." The mother-of-one, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was "a real honour" to be chosen for the role and that children’s books needed a champion.
Source: Herald Scotland

Beanstalk story collection marks charity’s 40th
National literacy charity Beanstalk is publishing a specially commissioned collection of stories as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, with contributions from authors and illustrators including Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. Jack and the Beanstalk and the other Beany Stories, Poems and Jokes will be published by the charity on 12th June and given, free, to every child the organisation has helped this year, as well as to the Beanstalk reading helpers and schools. It will also be available for the general public to download from the Beanstalk website, alongside additional teaching resources. The book includes ten specially commissioned works, including a play, three verse stories and some bean-themed jokes. Each is based on, or inspired by, the original Jack and the Beanstalk fable and is illustrated with original black and white drawings. They are aimed at readers of different levels and are graded. Chief executive of Beanstalk, Sue Porto, said: "We have published this book as a way of celebrating all we have achieved and to thank all the children, schools and reading helpers we have worked with in our 40th anniversary year for their amazing efforts. We hope it will bring them many hours of pleasure and help to inspire more people to support our efforts to reach more children."
Source: The Bookseller

Original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations animated for the first time in iPad app
The original Winnie-the-Pooh children’s stories have been digitised, allowing them to be read on iPad and iPhone using an app.

How the Classic Pooh app looks on the iPad.

Classic Pooh, released by children’s publisher Egmont Press, is free for users to download and comes with one Pooh story, with another available to buy for £1.99. Users can either read the story themselves, or have it read to them by the voice of actor Rufus Jones. The iPad app makes the original stories fully interactive, animating EH Shepard’s 1920s illustrations for the first time. Tim Jones, publisher at Egmont Press, told Metro: "We’ve been working with illustrations that are 85 years old which have a place in British culture, illustrations that are greatly loved. We had to look at it very sensitively and that’s what we’ve tried to do." The app offers audio clips of the sounds of Hundred Acre Wood and the characters move around, and turn from black and white to colour. Milne’s stories have been abridged for the app.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Teaser Poster Revealed
The first teaser poster has been revealed, ahead of a trailer that is set to launch this week. The appropriately atmospheric artwork shows our heroic hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) standing before what looks like the Lonely Mountain. From within a glowing doorway, smoke escapes, suggesting the titular Smaug, a ruthless dragon played in the film via motion-capture wizardry by Khan Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug teaser poster.

And here is the trailer:

SoA warns publishers over e-book loans to libraries
The Society of Authors has warned that authors may be losing out twice over on e-book loans, with president-elect Philip Pullman calling for authors to "be paid fairly" for the digital loans. In its report and briefing paper, the Society of Authors commented that authors may be losing up to two thirds of the income they would have received on the sale and loan of a physical book, since publishers may be underpaying authors on e-book library loans, and the government is not paying authors Public Lending Right on e-book loans. The SoA stated that publishers may be mistakenly underpaying authors on library loans of e-books by treating receipts as sales rather than licences.
Although all e-book sales are technically licenses, since in order for an e-book to be lent the publisher must grant a subsidiary licence to the aggregator, the author is therefore entitled to receive a different loyalty because a subsidiary right has been exercised. This figure is typically 50% of net receipts, according to the SoA.
Source: The Bookseller

Scholastic Celebrates 15 Years of Harry Potter
Fifteen years after J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first graced U.S. bookshelves, Scholastic is touting some impressive numbers. The in-print tally for that book and the subsequent six Harry Potter novels has topped 150 million copies in the U.S. alone. Published in 200 territories in 74 languages, the series boasts worldwide sales of more than 450 million copies. To mark Harry Potter’s 15th U.S. anniversary, Scholastic is staging a contest in which 15 public libraries will win a party pack to help them host a celebration in honor of the bespectacled young wizard.  The winners will be announced on July 31 – Harry’s birthday – and the parties will be held on August 27, the U.S. pub date of new trade paperback editions of all seven books in the series, which feature new cover art by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic will simultaneously release a boxed set of the new paperbacks, which like previous editions will be published under the Arthur A. Levine imprint.
Source: Publisher’s Weekly

Fantasy news round-up: September 10, 2012

A round up of fantasy and bookish news from around the world…

Neil Gaiman to write another Doctor Who episode
While accepting his Hugo Award for The Doctor’s Wife this weekend Neil Gaiman informally announced that he was writing another episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor’s Wife gave the TARDIS a chance to chat with The Doctor and his companions in the female form of Idris. After the awards, Gaiman revealed that the new episode was tentatively scheduled for the second half of the seventh season, but as with The Doctor’s Wife, the episode could be postponed due to Doctor Who’s budget constraints.

Designer creates his very own Game Of Thrones’ house sigils
Nike brand designer Darrin Crescenzi became so obsessed with HBO’s Game Of Thrones series that, after reading the books on which it is based, took up a notebook and started jotting down the details of Westeros’ house sigils, and then designed his own versions.

lannister-baratheon-sigils

His icons are available on a poster from his website here – http://darrincrescenzi.com/work/houses-westeros-poster/

JK Rowling to showcase first adult novel at Lennoxlove Book Festival
JK Rowling will discuss her first book for adults at a festival later this year. Lennoxlove Book Festival near Haddington, East Lothian is the only public event the Harry Potter creator will be doing in Scotland, organisers say. Rowling will talk about The Casual Vacancy on the main stage on the opening night of November 2. The novel, about an idyllic town ripped apart by a parish council election, is published worldwide on September 27. The story begins with the unexpected death of Barry Fairweather, whose demise in his early 40s leaves a space on the parish council. It is Rowling’s first novel since her final Potter book in 2007.

Happy birthday to China Miéville
Happy birthday to author China Miéville, who was born September 6, 1972. His first novel, King Rat, was published in 1998, Perdido Street Station (winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award) followed in 2000, The Scar (winner of the British Fantasy Award) in 2002, Iron Council in 2004 (winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award), and Looking for Jake and Other Stories in 2006.

Teen vampire writer sinks teeth into book deal
A teenager who uploaded her novel about vampires on an e-book app has been snapped up by publisher HarperCollins. Abigail Gibbs, 18, allegedly struck a six-figure deal for the print and e-book rights to her first book, The Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire, as well as a sequel. Gibbs, who is studying English literature at Oxford University, had been offering excerpts of her book to the world via Wattpad, which lets writers upload their own work online. When she was 15, Gibbs began posting serially under the pseudonym Canse12, and 20 chapters are currently available. The Dark Heroine gained 17 million reads on Wattpad, which was where she was discovered by her agent. The book, described as "the sexiest romance you’ll read this year", tells the story of Violet Lee, a Londoner who is kidnapped by vampires and kept hostage. Violet finds her new world to be a timeless place of vast elegance and immeasurable wealth – of beautiful mansions and lavish parties – where a decadent group of friends live for pleasure alone. But it is also a place from where there is no escape, no matter how hard she tries. Nevertheless, Violet ends up in a love triangle with Kaspar Varn, the vampire prince and heir to the vampire throne, and Fabian, Kaspar’s best friend.

Gruffalo writer warns of nation of illiterates
An open letter from the Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson to the new Secretary of State for Culture

Dear Ms Miller,

Congratulations on your new appointment. I am writing with a plea.

In my role of Children’s Laureate I am about to embark on a six-week tour of UK libraries, acting out stories with visiting schoolchildren. The main aim is to celebrate libraries and all that they have to offer children – the books, the browsing, the author visits, the research facilities, the toddler rhyme sessions and summer reading programmes. But I’m also hoping that the tour will draw attention to the erosion of the library service which is happening in so many local authorities, and to the current government’s utter refusal to intervene or to provide any leadership.

Recent figures from Public Libraries News show that nearly 250 UK libraries are currently either under threat of closure or else have been closed or left council control since April this year. A survey, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, estimates that during this financial year 2,159 library staff posts out of a total of 20,924 will be cut.  This is on top of huge cuts in previous years. These vary disproportionately from authority to authority, so that while in some areas children and families can still have access to a safe space where all are equal and welcome, in other places this is no longer so, with cuts in budget of up to 35 per cent and cuts in book stocks of up to 90 per cent.

Read Julia Donaldson’s letter in full on the Independent’s website – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/an-open-letter-from-the-childrens-laureate-julia-donaldson-to-the-new-secretary-of-state-for-culture-8119989.html

Major Moorcock publishing project from Gollancz
Gollancz is to release the entire science fiction and fantasy back catalogue of Michael Moorcock, plus much of his literary fiction. The two-year publishing project will launch in February 2013, with publication of Moorcock’s last three Elric novels, Daughter of Dreams, Destiny’s Brother and Son of the Wolf. The programme will go on to bring back all of the author’s genre works, including Hawkmoon, Corum, Von Bek and the Eternal Champion books. Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius novels will also be in the mix. The books will be published as Gollancz print editions and as e-books from Gollancz’s online SF&F digital library SF Gateway.

Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver reviewed on The Guardian
In Gods and Warriors, the first of a quintet of novels to be set in the bronze age Mediterranean, Michelle Paver’s familiar strengths and weaknesses are soon apparent. Hylas, a 12-year-old goatherd, is given a superb bronze dagger by a dying slave, though he doesn’t begin to understand what it signifies or how the dreaded Crows – the warrior clan of Koronos, rulers of Mycenae – will move heaven and earth to retrieve it. Soon on the run, Hylas encounters the daughter of the High Priestess, brave 12-year-old Pirra, who has defiantly branded her own cheek and escaped an arranged marriage. After they are stranded on the Island of the Goddess and caught up in bitter rivalries between Lakonians, Mycenaeans and Minoans, their uneasy but growing mutual dependence drives the story.

Paver handles with great aplomb a large cast of horrible humans, angry ghosts, petrified corpses, divine presences and – much the most alluring – a pod of dolphins, but before long one suspects that the predicaments in which Hylas and Pirra find themselves have all been calculated like a dot-to-dot drawing. The plot is so planned and predictable, as are the rousing single-sentence paragraphs with which many of the short chapters end: "In the corner, the dead slave opened his eyes and stared at him"; "A hand shot out of the shelter and grabbed her wrist".

Read Kevin Crossley-Holland’s review in full here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/07/gods-and-warriors-michelle-paver-review?newsfeed=true

Harry Potter ebooks free to borrow from June 19

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone cover imageAmazon.com have recently announced that J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books will soon be available to borrow through the Amazon Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

To take advantage of this offer you must first be a member of the Amazon Prime programme, which UK residents can join for an annual membership fee of £49. Once a member, Kindle owners are able to choose from over 145,000 titles to borrow for free as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. Titles include over 100 current and former New York Times Best Sellers.

So, in short, you need to own an Amazon Kindle and be a member of Amazon Prime programme. So, in reality, the books are not really  but if you are a regular or voracious reader the weekly cost of just 94p should equate to quite a saving. And it should be mentioned that there are other benefits to be an Amazon Prime member besides borrowing ebooks – there is plenty of information on their website.

On June 19 2012, Amazon Prime members will be able to read all seven Harry Potter books (in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish) for free on their Kindle. Amazon have purchased an exclusive license from J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore to make the addition of these titles possible to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com said, "Over a year, borrowing the Harry Potter books, plus a handful of additional titles, can alone be worth more than the $79 cost of Prime or a Kindle. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library also has an innovative feature that’s of great benefit for popular titles like Harry Potter – unlimited supply of each title – you never get put on a waiting list."

Hopefully Amazon and JK Rowling can also work together on making the Harry Potter audiobooks more easily affordable. In the UK the books are read by the wonderful Stephen Fry and provide as enjoyable an experience as does the reading. Audible.co.uk are also an Amazon company and it would be nice to see the titles available on there, where members could purchase each title as part of their subscription.

Fantasy news round-up: October 3, 2011

Here is a round-up of events in the fantasy-related literary world over the past week or so.

JK Rowling honoured by Edinburgh University
The Harry Potter author received the University Benefactor’s Award for her financial contribution to multiple sclerosis research at the Scottish institution. Rowling donated 10 million pounds ($16 million) to establish the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named after her mother, who suffered from MS, The Independent reported.

And Rowling’s good work does not stopped there and she is also helping in the battle against deforestation. When approached about protecting Canada’s ancient trees from the escalating hungry demand for wood to turn into throw away paper products, Rowling was keen to promote the use of environmentally friendly paper.

“The forest at Hogwarts is home to magical creatures like unicorns and centaurs. Because the Canadian editions are printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper, the Harry Potter books are helping to save magnificent forests in the Muggle world, home of magical animals such as orangutans, wolves and bears. It is a good idea to respect ancient trees, especially if they have a temper like the Whomping Willow.”

Details of Game of Thrones RPG revealed
Cyanide Studio, having just finished their RTS; A Game of Thrones: Genesis, is now hard at work on an RPG set in George RR Martin’s fantasy universe. Drawing inspiration from several BioWare titles. The combat uses what he called an “active pause system,” which he compared to the battle system from BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic.

The Game of Thrones RPG is slated for release in early 2012 on consoles and PC.

Shortlist for children’s fiction prize announced
The shortlist for The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize: has been announced:

  • My Name Is Mina, by David Almond;
  • Return to Ribblestrop, by Andy Mulligan;
  • Moon Pie, by Simon Mason;
  • Twilight Robbery, by Frances Hardinge.

A few days ago we covered this shortlist in greater detail, including extra information on the books and those judging the competition. The post was entitled Shortlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize announced.

Spielberg’s War Horse scheduled for 13 January 2012 UK release
Michael Morpurgo‘s popular 1982 novel tells the story of Joey, a horse who begins life on the Narracott family’s farm in Devon and ends up being sold to the Cavalry for use in the First World War. But farm hand Albert Narracott cannot forget his former partner, and he ends up joining the army to try to find Joey and bring him home.

In the film, Jeremy Irvine stars as Albert while Tom Hiddlestone plays Captain Nicholls, the cavalry officer who rides Joey into combat. The movie was shot on location in Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire, Surrey, Wales and parts of France.

Google to support new festival Word Up!
Google is to support a new family arts and literature festival, which is taking place during autumn half term in London. The internet giant will make 300 tickets to main theatre events at Word Up! available to low-income families referred to organisers through partner organisations such as Kids Company and the National Literary Trust’s London Literacy Champions scheme. The festival will run from 22nd-24th October.

Events will also include family workshops with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and interactive storytelling of Peepo!, The Moomins and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There will also be workshops, stalls and a community stage.

Walden Media’s exclusive ‘Narnia’ film option expires
It has been reported that Walden Media no longer has exclusive rights to the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia books. According to the website NarniaWeb, during the negotiations between Fox, Walden, and the CS Lewis Estate, the film option that Walden Media owned was allowed to expire and Walden Media no longer has exclusive purchasing rights to any further Narnia films. This has been confirmed to us by representatives of the CS Lewis Estate.

Random House Children’s Books buys Fallen tie-in
Random House Children’s Books has bought an original novel by Lauren Kate that is connected to her paranormal romance series Fallen. Fiction publisher Annie Eaton and editorial director Becky Stradwick bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Agency. Fallen in Love will be published on 2nd February 2012 ahead of Rapture, the fourth and final book in the Fallen series, which is lined up for June. Fallen in Love features four intertwined stories featuring characters from the series.

Donaldson joins fight for Surrey’s libraries
A group campaigning to save Surrey libraries has received support from an award-winning author. Julia Donaldson, children’s book playwright and the National Children’s Laureate, has added her support to Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Friends of Bagshot Library are against the closure of a host of libraries including Bagshot, Lightwater, Frimley Green and Ash that Surrey County Council propose to force local communities to run, or be closed. Under Surrey’s plans, volunteers would be able to take over the day to day running of the libraries, saving £300,000 a year.

"I am in full support of Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Libraries need trained librarians just as schools need trained teachers and hospitals need trained doctors. Volunteers may have a role to play, but to staff a library exclusively with volunteers is not the way forward,” said the author of The Gruffalo.

Pullman continues to fight for Oxford’s libraries
His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has made an impassioned plea to save libraries in Oxfordshire and has warned that volunteers cannot replace professionals.

Pullman, whose attack on council plans to stop funding 20 of 43 libraries last year launched a mass campaign, admitted County Hall’s new proposals were an improvement.

“The trouble is, people the council are relying on to jump in and volunteer are already doing dozens of other things, volunteering at hospital friends groups or training primary school football teams. You cannot go on relying on volunteers to do professional work. There seems to be a rather disparaging view of librarians that all they do is tidy the shelves and stamp the books. It is far more than that, it requires pretty stringent professional training. It is not something you can just pick up after an hour or two,” said the award-winning author.

The council was forced into a U-turn in May, after thousands of people opposed plans that would have caused many branches to close. County Hall now proposes to keep all 43 libraries open but ask volunteers to make up a third of staff at five branches and two-thirds at 16 others.

The World Book Night top 100 books to read, give and share

An image of the front cover of the Pullitzer Prize winning book, To Kill A MockingbirdThe folks over at World Book Night – www.worldbooknight.org – asked readers to nominate the 10 books they most love to read, give and share. Over 6,000 people nominated more than 8,000 titles and the top 100 are displayed below.

I am pleased to say that I have read 22 of the listed titles and have many others on my shelves ready to read. I was shocked to realise that I still haven’t read Dune, The Lovely Bones and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle despite having owned them for so long – this must be remedied.

I was also pleased to see Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on there. As you can see from the reader reviews on this site not all were as smitten by it as me but I still think it is one of the best books I have read over the past decade (not for the casual reader though).

I would happily read every book on this list:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  4. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  6. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  8. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  9. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
  10. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  11. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  13. Harry Potter Adult Hardback Boxed Set, JK Rowling
  14. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  15. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  16. One Day, David Nicholls
  17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  18. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  19. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  21. The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
  22. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  23. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  24. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  25. Little Women, Louisa M. Alcott
  26. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  27. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  28. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  29. Room, Emma Donoghue
  30. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  31. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
  32. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  33. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
  34. The Island, Victoria Hislop
  35. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  36. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  37. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  38. Chocolat, Joanne Harris
  39. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  40. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
  41. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  42. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  43. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  44. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
  45. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  46. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  47. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  48. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  49. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  50. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  51. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  52. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  53. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  54. Small Island, Andrea Levy
  55. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  56. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  57. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  58. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  59. Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
  60. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  61. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  62. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  63. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
  64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  65. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  66. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
  67. The Stand, Stephen King
  68. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  69. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  70. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  71. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  72. Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  73. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
  74. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  75. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  76. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  77. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  78. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  79. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  80. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
  81. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  82. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  83. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  84. Dune, Frank Herbert
  85. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  86. Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  87. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  88. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  89. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
  90. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  91. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  92. Possession: A Romance, A. S. Byatt
  93. Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  94. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
  95. The Magus, John Fowles
  96. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne
  97. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  98. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  99. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  100. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

Fantasy news round-up, June 17, 2011

JK Rowling launches Pottermore.com
JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series has launched a new website, Pottermore.com. A Harry Potter fansite, the Leaky Cauldron, said it got a preview of the new site reporting that “it is one of the most amazing, engaging, and breath-taking additions to this fandom imaginable.” No word on when the seemingly in-the-works site will launch or exactly what it will be about. Right now, it shows the name “Pottermore,” the words “coming soon…” and Rowling’s signature. The site has its own Twitter account, @Pottermore.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Winnie the Pooh: Which character are you?
With the new Winnie the Poof film due out in US theatres next month Disney have put together a personality quiz so that you can find out which character is closest in persona to you! Take the test by clicking here (link removed as it no longer worked).

The Winnie the Pooh personality test

Tor.com publish prologue and chapter one of Brandon Sanderson’s fourth Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law
Tor.com have published excerpts from Brandon Sanderson’s fourth and latest Mistborn novel,The Alloy of Law, out November 8th. Tor.com will be releasing six excerpts in all from The Alloy of Lawas the weeks go on.

Wax crept along the ragged fence in a crouch, his boots scraping the dry ground. He held his Sterrion 36 up by his head, the long, silvery barrel dusted with red clay. The revolver was nothing fancy to look at, though the six-shot cylinder was machined with such care in the steel-alloy frame that there was no play in its movement. There was no gleam to the metal or exotic material on the grip. But it fit his hand like it was meant to be there.

Read the rest of the prologue here.

Stephen King returns to the Dark Tower
Stephen King is set to return to the world of his bestselling fantasy series, the Dark Tower books, in a new novel out next year. Just acquired by UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton, The Wind Through the Keyhole is set between the fourth and fifth books in the Dark Tower series, and addresses the “hole in the narrative progression”, as King himself put it, between “what happened to Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy [when] they leave the Emerald City (the end of Wizard and Glass) and the time we pick them up again, on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the beginning of Wolves of the Calla)”.

An image of Roland Deschain and a horse from Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Enid Blyton charity “to close because of cheque downfall”
A charity established by Enid Blyton’s daughter to maintain the British author’s generosity is to close after nearly three decades of work because of the phasing out of cheques, it has emerged. The Enid Blyton Trust for Children, established 29 years ago in memory of the author of the Famous Five and The Secret Seven, has distributed more than £500,000 to children’s charities across the country. But its 75 year-old founder, Imogen Smallwood, has decided to retire, partly because banks were insisting she use “new technology” rather than pay her bills by cheque.
On Friday Mrs Smallwood, who ran the Midhurst, West Sussex-based Trust with her daughter Sophie, lamented her decision. “Everything is automatic now. It’s all technology,” she said. “The Enid Blyton Trust has been sending out cheques up till now. It could hardly go on like this.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

The top-selling 100 books, 1998-2010

Nielsen Bookscan, the world’s largest book tracking service, recently supplied a leading newspaper with total transaction data, collected directly from the tills and dispatch systems of all major book retailers. This data covers over 90% of all retail book purchases in the UK.

Image: Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Express from the cover of The Philosopher's Stone

This data has enabled the creation of a listing of the 100 top-selling books since the data collection began in 1998 and it makes for very interesting reading.

The word “phenomenal” has often been used when describing JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the figures certainly back up its use. The Gloucestershire-born author has no less than 7 books within the top 10 and only Dan Brown and fellow fantasy writer Stephenie Meyer prevent her total dominance.

So, without any further ado, here is the list of the top-selling 100 book in the UK, 1998-2010. The number of copies sold can be found to the right of each entry.

  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, 4,522,025
  2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, 3,844,316
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling, 3,184,492
  4. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, 3,096,850
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, 3,043,226
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince:Children’s Edition by JK Rowling, 2,947,565
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, 2,842,059
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling, 2,776,314
  9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, 2,105,862
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, 2,057,397
  11. Deception Point by Dan Brown, 2,018,264
  12. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, 1,975,659
  13. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, 1,942,042
  14. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, 1,911,943
  15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, 1,868,969
  16. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, 1,846,171
  17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, 1,697,425
  18. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, 1,551,953
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 1,496,081
  20. The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson, 1,447,188
  21. Atonement by Ian McEwan, 1,396,366
  22. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, 1,370,347
  23. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, 1,334,635
  24. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, 1,315,685
  25. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, 1,297,411
  26. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, 1,283,638
  27. The Girl Who Played With Fire: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg, 1,265,474
  28. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, 1,116,042
  29. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, 1,106,219
  30. You are What You Eat:The Plan That Will Change Your Life by Gillian McKeith, 1,103,619
  31. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons, 1,100,447
  32. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, 1,078,571
  33. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, 1,065,008
  34. The Island by Victoria Hislop, 1,056,432
  35. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 1,050,090
  36. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution: The No-hunger, Luxurious Weight Loss by Robert C Atkins, 1,046,531
  37. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling, 1,039,823
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres, 1,025,66439
  39. Delia’s How to Cook by Delia Smith, 1,014,854
  40. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, 1,007,208
  41. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss, 995,455
  42. Northern Lights: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, 976,435
  43. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, 950,686
  44. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, 942,103
  45. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding, 923,429
  46. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, 904,498
  47. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho, 903,395
  48. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, 898,388
  49. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne 885,450
  50. Stupid White Men… and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation by Michael Moore (877,777)
  51. Jamie’s 30-minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, 874,546
  52. The Broker by John Grisham, 869,077
  53. Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel by Helen Fielding, 858,390
  54. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 855,920
  55. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 855,523
  56. The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay, 853,499
  57. Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver, 833,060
  58. Small Island by Andrea Levy, 831,039
  59. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, 820,877
  60. Billy Connolly by Pamela Stephenson, 801,133
  61. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, 793,338
  62. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, 788,619
  63. Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson, 780,665
  64. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, 766,706
  65. Delia’s How to Cook: Book 2 by Delia Smith, 765,246
  66. The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, 762,717
  67. Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours by Jamie Oliver, 759,900
  68. Guinness World Records 2009, 747,715
  69. Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions, 746,917
  70. Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life by Jamie Oliver, 741,643
  71. White Teeth by Zadie Smith, 731,416
  72. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, 725,210
  73. At My Mother’s Knee… :and Other Low Joints by Paul O’Grady, 723,164
  74. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay, 722,103
  75. The Times Su Doku: The Utterly Addictive Number-placing Puzzle, 719,307
  76. Chocolat by Joanne Harris, 713,299
  77. The Return of the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, 707,570
  78. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood by Frank McCourt, 694,831
  79. Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott, 694,063
  80. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 690,765
  81. The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn  Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, 688,808
  82. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 682,102
  83. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by JK Rowling, 680,886
  84. The Summons by John Grisham, 677,378
  85. The Lost Symbol, 672,950
  86. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, 668,497
  87. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna, 665,923
  88. Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, 659,722
  89. Brick Lane by Monica Ali, 659,023
  90. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes, 658,713
  91. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, 658,598
  92. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 658,524
  93. I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson, 658,274
  94. Sharon Osbourne Extreme: My Autobiography by Sharon Osbourne,  656,431
  95. Guinness World Records 2010, 656,326
  96. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, 653,615
  97. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, 652,78898
  98. Down Under by Bill Bryson, 646,515
  99. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon, 645,453
  100. Dear Fatty by Dawn French, 643,636

Harry Potter is a good Christian claims Yale theologian

Despite being a wizard and living a world of magic, Danielle Tumminio, a former Yale University theologian says Harry Potter is a good Christian.

Image: Harry Potter

"I really, firmly believe that we need to read the books with an eye beyond witchcraft. I don’t have the sense from the books that the witchcraft is designed to make us want to be witches and wizards. I think it’s designed to teach the reader about fighting for one’s values and fighting for love," explains Tumminio, who guest lectured at Yale University and taught a course on Harry Potter, which morphed into a new book to be released next month.

In "God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy in an Ivy League Classroom", she explores how readers often overlook Christianity in JK Rowling‘s work.

When Tumminio, who holds three degrees from Yale and is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, taught Christian Theology and Harry Potter at the Ivy League university during 2008 and 2009, the course drew a religiously diverse group of students, including an Indian Christian, a Kenyan Episcopalian and a Chinese atheist.

The Harry Potter expert says she structured her forthcoming book the way she did her class: by exploring Christianity’s influence on Rowling’s themes of evil, sin and resurrection.

Tumminio’s connection to Harry Potter stretches far beyond the professor’s fondness for the series; the author’s father suffers from the same illness that claimed JK Rowling’s mother: Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), a rare and incurable degenerative neurological disease.

The onset of PLS typically occurs after age 40, and often requires victims to rely on a cane or wheelchair as the disease progresses. Throughout her book, Tumminio draws parallels between faith and fiction as they relate to death.

"Part of why Rowling wrote the series was to process the death of her mother. So I found myself while teaching the class often asking what the books had to say to me about my own father’s very similar demise. I thought a lot about the moment Harry faces death at the end of the seventh book, when he is surrounded by the friends and family who have died. They become a community of saints to him, and that gives him great comfort. I wound up, in turn, thinking of those who were so supportive of me. And I found that image to be greatly comforting," concludes Tumminio.

The 25 best children’s books, according to The Telegraph

  1. Treasure Island
    The story grew out of a map that led to imaginary treasure, devised during a holiday in Scotland by Stevenson and his nephew. The tale is told by an adventurous boy, Jim Hawkins, who gets hold of a treasure map and sets off with an adult crew in search of the buried treasure. Among the crew, however, is the treacherous Long John Silver who is determined to keep the treasure for himself. Stevenson’s first full-length work of fiction brought him immediate fame and continues to captivate readers of all ages.
  2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
    The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter’s most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden!
  3. The Wind in the Willows
    Far from fading with time, Kenneth Grahame‘s classic tale of fantasy has attracted a growing audience in each generation. Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad, have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall.
    Read our review of The Wind in the Willows
  4. The Railway Children
    When Father goes away with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered. They and their mother have to move from their comfortable London home to go and live in a simple country cottage, where Mother writes books to make ends meet. However, they soon come to love the railway that runs near their cottage, and they make a habit of waving to the Old Gentleman who rides on it. They befriend the porter, Perks, and through him learn railway lore and much else. They have many adventures, and when they save a train from disaster, they are helped by the Old Gentleman to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance.
  5. Peter Pan
    It was Friday night. Mr and Mrs Darling were dining out. Nana had been tied up in the backyard. The poor dog was barking, for she could smell danger. And she was right – this was the night that Peter Pan would take the Darling children on the most breath-taking adventure of their lives, to a place called Neverland, a strange country where the lost boys live and never grow up, a land with mermaids, fairies and pirates – and of course the terrible, evil, Captain Hook. Peter Pan is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved stories for children, an unforgettable, magical fantasy which has been enjoyed by generations.
  6. Winnie-the-Pooh
    AA Milne‘s first stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, the most famous bear in the world, were published eighty years ago. This beautiful anniversary edition of “Winnie-the-Pooh” celebrates the enduring popularity of Pooh and his Forest friends. Discover what happens when Pooh goes visiting and Piglet meets a Heffalump, not forgetting when Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh finds one!
  7. Swallows and Amazons
    Swallows and Amazons is the wholesome story of four young children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, who set out in their boat (the Swallow of the title) to an island of adventure. All seems well until they encounter their enemy. At first they are angry at the invasion of their peaceful haven by these Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy, who claim ownership of the land. But in time a truce is called and the Swallows and Amazons become firm friends. Camping under open skies, swimming in clear water, fishing, exploring and making discoveries is the stuff of dreams which serves to make this so charming a tale. The author manages to capture the innocence of a time when all this was real and possible. Swallows and Amazons will transport children to a fantastical place where they can play safely and roam freely, without an adult in sight.
  8. Babar
    “If you love elephants, you will love Babar and Celeste,” wrote AA Milne. “And if you have never loved elephants, you will love them now.”
  9. The Faraway Tree
    When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? There’ll be adventures waiting for them, whatever happens; funny, magical adventures that will delight children again and again.
  10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular ever published. The best known, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages. Lucy steps into the Professor’s wardrobe – but steps out again into a snowy forest. She’s stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, a land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the county’s creatures are ever going to be free again.
    Read our review of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  11. The Lord of the Rings
    Not just revolutionary because it was groundbreaking, The Lord of the Rings is timeless because it’s the product of a truly top-shelf mind. JRR Tolkien was a distinguished linguist and Oxford scholar of dead languages, with strong ideas about the importance of myth and story and a deep appreciation of nature. His epic, 10 years in the making, recounts the Great War of the Ring and the closing of Middle-Earth’s Third Age, a time when magic begins to fade from the world and men rise to dominance.
    Read our review of The Lord of the Rings
  12. The Cat in the Hat
    Dr. Seuss’s original, classic tale of the coolest, hippest cat in history! When the Cat in the Hat steps in on the mat, Sally and her brother are in for a roller-coaster ride of havoc and mayhem! The Cat can rescue them from a dull rainy day, but it means lots of thrills and spills along the way.
  13. Where the Wild Things Are
    Where the Wild Things Are is one of those truly rare books that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up. If you disagree, then it’s been too long since you’ve attended a wild rumpus. Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rampage to continue unimpaired. Sendak’s colour illustrations (perhaps his finest) are beautiful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.
    Read our review of Where The Wild Things Are
  14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    For the first time in a decade, Willy Wonka, the reclusive and eccentric chocolate maker, is opening his doors to the public–well, five members of the public, actually. The lucky five who find a Golden Ticket in their Wonka bars will receive a private tour of the factory, given by Mr Wonka himself. For young Charlie Bucket, this a dream come true. So when he finds a dollar bill in the street, he can’t help but buy two Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights–even though his impoverished family could certainly use the extra dollar for food. But as Charlie unwraps the second chocolate bar, he sees the glimmer of gold just under the wrapper. The very next day, Charlie, along with his unworthy fellow winners Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Augustus Gloop, steps through the factory gates to discover whether or not the rumours surrounding the Chocolate Factory and its mysterious owner are true. What they find is that the gossip can’t compare to the extraordinary truth, and for Charlie, life will never be the same again.
  15. The Tiger who came to Tea
    This classic story of Sophie and her extraordinary tea-time guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published over 30 years ago. Now a new generation will enjoy this beautiful reformatted edition! The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger!
  16. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    A much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simply, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying book for children.
  17. Mr Men
    The first six Mr Men books were published in 1971, priced 20p. Mr. Tickle was the first Mr. Men character created by Hargreaves after his son, Adam, asked him what a tickle looked like: a round, orange figure with long, bendy arms. Each book in the original Mr. Men and Little Miss series introduced a different title character and their single dominant trait in order to convey a simple moral lesson.
  18. Watership Down
    Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren – he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver’s sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all… Published in 1972 Watership Down is an epic journey, a stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival against the odds.
    Read our review of Watership Down
  19. The BFG
    The BFG is one of Dahl’s most lovable character creations. Whether galloping off with Sophie nestled into the soft skin of his ear to capture dreams as though they were exotic butterflies; speaking his delightful, jumbled, squib-fangled patois; or whizzpopping for the Queen, he leaves an indelible impression of big-heartedness.
  20. Dear Zoo
    I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet . . . This classic lift-the-flap book has been a favourite with toddlers ever since it was first published in 1982. Now reissued as a sturdy casebound board book, perfect for little hands!
  21. We’re going on a Bear Hunt
    Winner of the 1989 Smarties Book Prize and highly commended for the 1989 Kate Greenaway Medal, this picture book tells of a family going in search of a bear in a cave.
  22. The Story of Tracy Beaker
    Shortlisted for the Smarties Prize in 1991, Tracy Beaker’s story, which is told in the first person by the infuriating and loveable 10-year-old Tracy, is a wonderfully funny and thought- provoking slice of life in a children’s home. Tracy, as she herself tells us, has had a hard time. She’s been fostered a number of times but it’s never worked out. Now she dreams of her glamorous mother coming to fetch her and spends her time, when she’s not quarrelling with the other children, writing her life story. And then one day, Cam, a real writer, visits the home and after a rocky start, she and Tracy really hit it off.
  23. His Dark Materials
    Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy astounded the literary world, reaping high praise from adults as well as children. The final book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, was published to great literary acclaim, earning Pullman a place on the long list for the prestigious Booker Prize and pushing the trilogy toward cult fiction status for both children and adults.
    Read our reviews of His Dark Materials
  24. Harry Potter series
    The Harry Potter novels are prize-winning and consistently on the bestseller lists, and have now sold over 250 million copies worldwide. Originally published as an author for children and still primarily so, JK Rowling has generated huge popular appeal for her books in an unprecedented fashion. She was the first children’s author to be voted the BA Author of the Year, and also to win the British Book Awards Author of the Year.
    Read our reviews of Harry Potter
  25. The Gruffalo
    A witty, sly little story that wrings giggles from the belly of the reader, The Gruffalo is both stylish and hilarious, simple in its execution, as it plays skilfully on a child’s fears and then shows that even the most threatening of monsters are not always as scary as they seem. A combination of read-along-rhyme by Julia Donaldson and illustrations by Alex Sheffler which perfectly capture the atmosphere of the story, The Gruffalo is an excellent picture book for 3-5-year-olds to read along with their parents, and is certain to become something of a classic.
    Read our review of The Gruffalo