I love the movie Ella Enchanted, though I've never read the book on which it's based. But I did buy a book called Ever by Gail Carson Levine, who wrote Ella Enchanted. Its suggested audience (10 and up) skews a bit younger than what I normally read, but the characters are in their mid teens. The heroine, Kezi, lives in a city called Hyte, which Levine modeled on the ancient Mesopotamian city-states. She loves to dance and is an excellent weaver of rugs. Olus, the hero, is the Akkan god of the winds who, despite being a god, is lonely. He's 17, by far the youngest god, and is fascinated by the mortals who worship him and the other Akkan gods.
When Olus leaves his home of Enshi Rock, high above Akka, he wanders through the land of the mortals and goes to the city of Hyte and poses as a simple goat herder. The citizens of Hyte worship an all-knowing, always-everywhere god called Admat. He's never heard of this god and has no idea if he actually exists. Something happens in the story which puts Kezi in mortal danger and makes Olus determined to save her. Because of this decision, both he and Kezi will have to face their worst fears, draw on deep wells of courage even they don't know they have, and pass tests of destiny in order to be together. For Kezi, the results really are a matter of life and death. For Olus, it means an immortality filled with great happiness or never-ending sorrow.
Gail Carson Levine's site: http://www.gailcarsonlevine.com/
The second YA I read this month was Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon. I love the Chinese wuxia movies I've seen (Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers). After reading the Harlequin Historical romance Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin, I was on her website looking around and saw her mention Silver Phoenix. It sounded like it had so many things I like in a read -- YA, fantasy, a touch of at least a potential romance and Chinese culture. I was not disappointed. This is a classic adventure/fantasy/quest novel where the protagonist just happens to be a girl with some powers she doesn't quite understand.
Ai Ling is an average girl who lives in a small Chinese village, but when her father doesn't come home from a trip to the faraway Emperor's city and a man in her village tries to force her to marry him, she runs away, determined to find and bring her father home. Along the way, she is saved by a boy named Chen Yong, who is a year or two older than her. He's on a quest of his own, to find out who his real parents are and if they're still alive. As they travel together and encounter beings they'd always thought were only legends, they realize their journeys are going to take them to the same place. They must constantly work together to ensure their survival and a successful conclusion to their quests, and a close friendship (with the possibility for more in a sequel currently in the works) develops between them.
I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to Fury of the Phoenix, the sequel, due out March 29, 2011.
Cindy Pon's site: http://cindypon.com/
I saw a small tidbit in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly that will make fans of Melissa Marr happy. Her debut novel, Wicked Lovely, which was an RITA winner, is heading to the big screen. I don't have a release date.
Lionsgate is in the process of bringing The Hunger Games to a movie theater near you. According to EW, a draft of the script has been turned in and a director (Gary Ross, who directed Seabiscuit) is in negotiations to direct. The studio has hopes of going into production on the first in Suzanne Collins' trilogy in the spring.
Only 8 days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1!