Imagine yourself standing on top of the Paris Opera House steps. You look left. You look right. You see the streets that make up the City of Light all around you. It would be any ordinary day, except for the fact that a cyborg is racing towards you while you are leaning over a half wolf man trying to stop him from killing you, but also protecting him from the cyborg at the same time. Not exactly the way you pictured seeing Paris, but maybe you should.
Fiction novels always take place somewhere. Many times it is a fictitious land, but sometimes it is an actual place or at least a hybrid of places. The Lunar Chronicles takes you to Paris, Africa, through Asia and into outer space. Harry Potter showed us the beauty of London and the country side, which we later saw in the movies as they shot many scenes in Scotland. Whether J.K. Rowling meant to have us picture Scotland or not, we do and did in our minds long before the movies were released.
Not every kids (or adult for that matter) may want to travel, but books can inspire them to see the world in a whole different way. I was obsessed with seeing the Paris Opera House after reading the second book in the Lunar Chronicles. I just wanted to see where some of the scenes in the book took place, even though those characters were never there. This architectural monument inspired the author though. For the same reason hundreds of teens and tweens (and their moms) headed to Forks, WA thanks to Twilight. I bet you can get your kids to head to even more magical lands with these five fantasy series (OK, so there are actually eight thanks to one author’s obsession with mythology that I couldn’t resist).
LOCATIONS: England and Scotland
If you and your child haven’t read Harry Potter yet, you must have been living under a rock, really love non-fiction or have issues with witches and wizards. To each their own I say, but one thing I do know is that I am counting down the days until I can read these books with my boys and that day is coming soon. J.K. Rowling built a magical world every muggle wanted to step into and become a part of. Through seven books we laughed, we cried and we got really, really mad at Ron and how stupid he was sometimes (maybe that was just me). The books take place in and around London, as well as the English countryside where fictional Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and other locales take place. The movies show us scenes from Scotland, but really, you can let your mind wander anywhere as long as there is a bit of rain.
- Harry Potter Boxset: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Rick Riordan’s Mythology Series
Riordan has so many books that cover a large part of the globe, not to mention mythological beings that I had to give him his own section. If you have kids in grade school and you haven’t heard of these books you need to pick them up. Riordan jumps from Greek to Roman history and even shows them intertwining. He also dives into Egyptian history (and again intertwines them with characters from the Greek stories) and is about to tackle Thor and his Asgardian brethren.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Greek)
LOCATIONS: New York City, Long Island, Hades and more
Riordian’s first series starts off a little slow and child-like, although by the fourth book he has realized that he can write for his young audience with a little more detail and maturity. It’s not hard to keep up with his plot line. Apparently Riordan didn’t get the message from Rowling’s writing style that kids are smart and will read complex books as long as they are really good, so he had to take a little time (and the first few books) to catch up. I grabbed this series because I love mythology, especially Greek mythology, and the plot line was intriguing and easy to digest.
What happens when a Greek God forgets about his half-god son? You may not want to find out. Follow Percy Jackson down a road that finds him discovering he is a demigod while living in New York. Oh and he has to save the world. Not exactly the way you want to spend junior high and high school is it?
- Buy the 5 book box set: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook
- Kindle: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian
Heroes of Olympus (Roman)
LOCATIONS: California, Alaska, New York, the Mediterranean, the underworld, worse than the underworld, and so much more.
The Greeks weren’t the only ones with gods. The Romans took them when they conquered Greece and they have been breeding with humans ever since, except these kids have a bit more blood lust, and oh yeah, they have to save the world from an ancient power too. This is a sequel series to the Percy Jackson series. Expect to see a lot of favorite characters to return, a bunch of new heroes added into the mix and a complicated journey that seems like it can never be resolved. The writing in this book is also at a higher level. Riordan has found his groove and isn’t talking down to readers anymore. These kids want a story and it has to be an action packed one with a smidgen of romance thrown in.
- The Lost Hero (Book 1): Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- The Son of Neptune (Book 2): Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- The Mark of Athena (Book 3): Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- The House of Hades (Book 4): Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- The Blood of Olympus (Book 5): Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
The Kane Chronicles (Egyption)
LOCATIONS: Egypt, London, Brooklyn and a hop around the world
London, Egypt and who knows where else. When you are Carter and Sadie Kane you pray for a quiet day. First they lose their mom and then their dad. The Egyptian Gods have an interesting sense of humor. With help from a few friends they may be able to figure out their quest, keep the albino crocodile in the pool happy and even find a little romance along the way. First, Sadie and Carter need to learn to wield the magic they have been given, take down the evil dudes, control the gods within and restore the world back into a relative balance, because let’s get real, the world is already messed up enough as it is. You can’t fix everything, even if you have a little power up your sleeves. Riordan tackles the Egyptian myths with the same zeal as he does his Greek series. The Roman series was being written simultaneously, but not until the Kane’s save the world will you find a couple short stories that show the characters crossing paths with a few Greeks as they combine forces to save the world from a few more big bad dudes. I mean really, how many gods can take down the planet at once? Apparently a whole lot of them!
What’s next for Riordan?
Magnus and the Gods of Asgard (Norse)
Publisher’s Preview: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
LOCATION: Prague, and what we can only imagine is an alternate reality when it comes to heaven and hell.
The author of the Lunar Chronicles recommended this series to me. It starts off in Prague, although you will see a bit of the African desert and other spots throughout the series. Prague is definitely the dominant location, especially in the first book. The characters on the other hand, well they aren’t exactly from this planet, or should I say this plane of existence. Our leading lady Karou has no idea where she comes from or how she can grow blue hair, but she is seeing black hand prints all around town and she draws monsters in her sketchbook that people think she made up. The trouble is she didn’t. And now someone is out to silence them all.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Days of Blood and Starlight: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
The Lunar Chronicles
LOCATIONS: Asia, Paris, Africa and Outer space… so far.
Fairytale lovers rejoice, author Marissa Meyer completes her four books series (plus one prequel and a few short stories to add some extra fun details about the characters into the mix) in late 2015. In this dystopian series that weaves together the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White, you meet a very evil queen living on the moon who wants to take over earth, and a group of heroines and heroes (or shall we just call them misfits?) that you will definitely want to meet. Cinder, our main heroine (and our Cinderella figure) is a cyborg who needs to save the prince, but first, she will have to figure out how to save herself. As she tries, she finds out a bigger secret than anyone on earth or the moon could ever think possible. If they don’t make a movie out of this series I’d be surprised. Steam punk fans will rejoice, Anime queens will catch recognizable ideas and romance lovers will not be left wanting more.
- Cinder: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Scarlett: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Cress: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Winter: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- Fairest: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
The Hunger Games
LOCATION: a bit more obscure, but think North Carolina and Oahu, as that is where a lot of it was shot.
Another series to pick up if you haven’t already is the Hunger Games. Yes, this is definitely a fantasy land. There is no real life version of the Capital. You can imagine it all takes place somewhere in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, but also think the beaches of the North Shore of Oahu, where parts of the movie were filmed. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is a brutal society and thus a bloody story. But come on, who doesn’t love to see kids killing each other and then defying their government? Love triangles form, friends die and murders are celebrated. Sounds like a great time to be a member of District 12 to me.