Sunrise was at 5:11, sunset will be at 9:10. It was still light at 10 last night. It's cold, wet (again), gray. My peas have overtopped the little cage they were climbing, I have poles to put in but it's been too rainy to get out to do it. Dennis' planted some hops (Sam and Dave) and they are going great guns, so far. Everything is very green and thick and, across the street, there is one warm orange light shining through the trees and vines. It looks very cozy and welcoming. It's a day for searching out neon and warm, wooded rooms-watching from the inside out.
I LOVED Lev Grossman's Magicians when it came out in 2009. Such a clever mix of real world and fantasy: Quentin, an unlikeable hero- so whiny -is a huge fan of a series of books that take place in two worlds, ours and Fillory, and, like the Narnia series, you get in and out of Fillory by going through doorways.
Quentin is certain that world is real and he is so unhappy that he would give anything to be able to live there. When he is tapped for a special school of magic, he is sure this is his way in. He and a number of other young magicians work together to find their ways there, battling monsters, death and each other. Very adventurous, very exciting, it was hard to care a lot about Quentin but the other people who are with him on this quest are funny and brave and caring. My favorite character is Julia, Quentin's friend from high school, pre-Brakebills, who wasn't admitted into the school, and wants obsessively to be part of the world of magic.
The sequel, Magician King, is every bit as good as the first, maybe even better in some respects. Quentin isn't nearly as whiny but he needs to feel more important than he thinks he is. He wants to be a hero, he wants to really be king, he wants a quest. Magician King again takes place in both Fillory and on Earth and Fillory is literally winding down. Quentin's quest is to keep it going.
In MK we get to find out what happened to Julia during the years her friends were at Brakebills. Julia is an amazing character filled with obsession and need and drive to be a magician and her journey to Fillory is a dark and dangerous one.
Make sure that you reread or scan Magicians again before reading Magician King. I found that the details were dim after two years and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more had I read it more recently.
If you have an older teen, 16 and older, maybe especially a boy, try these out on them. The humor is right there for that age and the only reason I recommend older readers is that the sex scenes are sometimes graphic and the violence is pretty violent. (I have to say that as unappealing as Quentin is as a main character, it's pretty refreshing to read a book where you don't always want to identify with that character. Although, who among us isn't whiny or feels we aren't getting our due?)
(Viking. Available August 9, 2011. $s6.95.)
These are the bits of color on my front porch. Aren't they pretty?