Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


The Iron Druid Chronicles, by Kevin Hearne

hounded-iron-druid-hearneI love books written in series because they give you a chance to really get to know the characters and to delve deeply into the world they inhabit. I recently ran across Hounded, the first title in Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles, and proceeded to binge-read every title in the series. The series does all I ask for with well-crafted plotlines, good world-building, and memorable characters that you root for, including a magically enhanced Irish wolfhound. Plus, there is mythology—lots of it.

Atticus O’Sullivan (his actual Gaelic name looks terrifying to pronounce, but is included in a handy pronunciation guide) is the last druid alive and is at least 2000 years old. Before the Romans exterminated all the Druids left in Ireland, Britain, and Gaul, he escaped in order to be able to fulfill his destiny, to protect Gaia. He now lives in Tempe, Arizona, and takes care of the lands around there while avoiding the attentions of the gods.

Gods? Yes, gods. Hearne’s world-building is masterful, blending all the pantheons in a multiverse sort of way, with the Irish gods, Norse gods, and Greco-Roman gods featuring prominently in the stories. There are also witches, vampires, and werewolves. As Atticus is Irish, most of his dealings are with the Tuatha de Danann, the Irish pantheon of deities. He is under Morrigan’s protection, and as such, is a pawn in their pantheon’s plots and machinations. As gods do, they act through other, less deific agents on earth, and so the first few books deal with the magical inhabitants of the Tempe area. Later adventures involve many other pantheons, including even Ganesh the elephant-headed Hindu god.

Atticus has friends, especially his Irish wolfhound, Oberon. Oberon is magically enhanced and carries on hilarious telepathic conversations with Atticus from a dog’s worldview. Atticus’ legal affairs are taken care of by, of course, a vampire and werewolf. As the series progresses, he adds an apprentice, Granuaile (pronounced gran ya wail, if you want to know) whose decade-long training is interrupted with adventures through seven books.

The stories are full of humor, adventure, and the occasional throwdown between gods and mortals. The books’ events follow in sequence, so they really need to be read in order. Atticus is both brash and human, despite his advanced age. His good intentions occasionally go awry, but they make him likable.  The mixing of the various pantheons allows for magic, science, and deific powers to coexist seamlessly, and even with some broad humor. I enjoyed the series thoroughly and look forward to more of Atticus and Granuaile’s adventures.

Check the PPLC Catalog for:

Book 1: Hounded
Book 2: Hexed
Book 3: Hammered
Book 4: Tricked
Book 5: Trapped
Book 6: Hunted
Book 7: Shattered
Book 8: Staked

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Illuminae: the Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

illuminae coverI haven’t enjoyed a young adult title so much in a long time. Illuminae is at once a love story, a cyberpunk/hacker story, a corporate war story, and a bioweapon nightmare story. What’s most intriguing, however, is that it is told in the form of hacked files delivered to the director of the corporation that started the war.

The narrative unfolds through transcribed interviews, journals, memos, chat logs, photos and emails sent in a post-mortem dossier between the survivors of a brutal attack on an illegal mining colony by a corporate rival. The two main characters, Kady and Ezra, are boyfriend and girlfriend who break up the morning of the attack, but wind up becoming close again as their world is destroyed and they and the other survivors are forced to flee.

Beitech, in attacking the mining operation, also released a biological weapon that infected some of the survivors. Fleeing the remnants of the Beitech battle fleet, the population of the mining world is spread among three ships – a damaged battlecruiser, a science vessel, and a freighter. There are so many dangers the remaining families and crews face:  they frantically try to repair the damaged ships while dealing with an Artificial Intelligence computer that appears to have gone insane, and the creeping, insidious bioweapon that threatens to destroy them all before they can get away. Tensions mount between the scientific and military crews as they try to do what’s best for the colony. Oh, and did I mention a love story that begins with a breakup?

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The Secret of Kells (2009)

secret of the kells coverSurrounded by an imposing wall, a young monk named Brendan lives in safety with his uncle, Abbot Cellach. The Abbot expects Brendan will want to succeed him as the leader of the Abbey of Kells, but one day Aiden of Iona arrives and teaches Brendan the art of writing illuminated manuscripts. Soon Brendan begins to think his calling lies as a writer. During an errand to collect nuts to make Aiden’s ink, Brendan meets a forest spirit named Aisling. This new friendship will introduce Brendan to a new world full of pagan gods and mystical spirits.

This movie was inspired by the very real Book of Kells, an illuminated gospel housed in the Abbey at Kells in Ireland. The animation of the film was based on the actual Book of Kells, which will make the film incredibly delightful for those who are fans of both children’s movies and illuminated manuscripts. Not only is the film visually beautiful, but the story is thrilling with equal parts action, drama, and wonder. Although the film took inspiration from a Christian gospel book, it is only fleetingly religious. The content of the Book of Kells primarily takes a back seat to the stunning artwork it contains. The film will most likely captivate art lovers of all ages.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Secret of the Kells.

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The Song of the Sea (2014)

song of the sea coverI adore folk tales, which is why this movie appealed to me so much. One of my favorite mythical creatures are selkies: beautiful people who transform into seals. So it stands to reason that I would absolutely love a movie about selkies. Ben’s family used to be a happy one, but on the night that his little sister, Saoirse, was born, Ben’s mother suddenly fled into the ocean and drowned. Ben’s father blamed himself for his wife’s death, and fell into a depressed stupor, while Ben blamed Saoirse and has bullied his little sister for as long as she can remember. As much as Ben hates his sister, he hates his Granny more, especially after she packs both children up and moves them to the city “for their own good”. Just as Ben is scheming a caper to ditch his sister, run away, and live a happy, Saoirse-free life with his father, three earth spirits arrive and claim that Saoirse is the last selkie in existence, and the world will suffer unless Saoirse can sing for them. Ben soon finds himself pulled into an adventure that involves evil witches, weeping giants, ghost hounds, and of course, selkies. Continue reading