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A Wizard Abroad New Millennium Edition cover
Teenage wizards Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez have been working the New York suburbs for nearly thirty years now, through nine novels' worth of adventures. As the dawn of their fourth decade in print draws near, the long-planned updating of the Young Wizards series continues with the Ebooks Direct release of the fourth novel in the series: A Wizard Abroad. Abroad, like So You Want to Be a Wizard (book 1 of the Young Wizards series), Deep Wizardry (book 2), and High Wizardry (book 3), now appears in a New Millennium Edition that's been extensively edited and updated for the present century. You can find out more about the update project as a whole here. All nine books will be updated by the end of 1Q of 2013, and all brought into alignment with the new (2008-2011-based) timeline. If you've already picked up copies of the first two New Millennium Editions, you can grab A Wizard Abroad here. Alternately, if you haven't yet acquired any of the new editions, we're offering a four-volume "box set" of the first New Millennium Editions at a slightly lower price than buying all four separately.
New Millennium Edition Four-book set
(For those interested: book 5 of the series, The Wizard's Dilemma, is now in edit and will be available around mid-February of 2013.) A little about the story:
There's magic across the Atlantic... NitaCallahan's mom and dad are beginning to get the idea that she and her fellow wizard Kit are "spending a little too much time together". So -- explaining that they want to give their daughter a little vacation from wizardry -- they pack Nita off for a month-long stay with her eccentric aunt at her farm in Ireland. But this turns out to have been a bad move on Nita's parents' part, since Ireland is even more steeped in magical doings than the United States.
Nita, initially certain that she's going to be bored out of her mind, soon finds that the serene beauty of the Irish landscape is deceptive. The ghosts of men and beasts and other beings -- including what seem to be heroes, ancient gods, and even the Powers that Be -- confront her at every turn. And her attention to strictly wizardly business during this crisis is somewhat distracted by the dark and edgy Ronan Nolan, a local teen wizard with uncomfortable secrets... and an agenda that might possibly include Nita.
 
Along with a group of Irish wizards both young and old, Nita and Kit (who joins her in Ireland) are drafted into an increasingly desperate battle with the Lone Power in yet another of Its many forms. The fight is a personal one, as always -- but this time there's more at stake than usual, as the ancient Enemy of life attempts to submerge the everyday Ireland in an older, more dangerous one: a place where human beings are fairy tales, and the legends and monsters of Celtic myth are a deadly reality....
Reviewers say:
"Duane seamlessly interweaves encounters with creatures from legend with glimpses of modern Irish life and teen culture... So clever and well reasoned that readers will have no trouble suspending disbelief." (School Library Journal)
"An engaging fantastical tale... Definitely worth reading." (Book Trust)
"Suitable for a wide range of readers. The colourful descriptions and imaginative characters create an exciting read... found it difficult to put the book down." (Platform)

To sign up for our shop's mailing list and be informed of new releases in the New Millennnium series (and other offerings), click here.
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The eyes in the peacocks tail

Once upon a time, the King of the Greek gods, Zeus, was getting ready for yet another episode of cheating on his wife. His latest target was a beautiful mortal girl named Io, whose resistance he had been wearing down by sending her a series of racy dreams of which he was the star. Having finally arrived on her doorstep to make his case in person, Zeus wrapped the two of them and that whole region of the world in a thick black cloud to hide the incipient goings-on.

This was a tactical error. Zeus’s wife Queen Hera noticed the peculiar change in the weather, checked Olympus to see if her husband the Cloudgatherer was on site, and – not finding him there – immediately put two and two together and headed for the area of sudden overcast. She dispersed the clouds and found herself looking at her husband and an extremely lovely (and one must assume, confused-looking) white cow, which Zeus explained had sprung from Mother Earth just that minute.  Not even slightly fooled, Hera promptly confiscated the cow, and assigned to guard her – or rather, to make sure her husband didn’t get anywhere near her – one of her security staff, a creature by the name of Argus. Argus was completely covered with eyes that stared in every direction and saw everything for miles around. The eyes even slept in shifts, so that the watcher’s pitiless regard was inescapable by night or day. Hera went off confident that her husband’s case was well handled.

Myths being what they are, of course, such a situation can’t last. Zeus quickly has words with Olympus’s resident thief, trickster and inside-job man, Hermes, who disguises himself as a handsome shepherd boy and  shows up in the flowery meadow where Argus is guarding Io. There he proceeds to bore all Argus’s eyes to sleep by telling him serial tales of mortal romance.* Then, when the last of Argus’s eyes fall asleep, Hermes pulls out his sword and kills him, signaling, if not the end of Io’s troubles, at least the beginning of the end. Later on the frustrated Hera winds up putting all of Argus’s eyes in the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock — probably as a reminder to Zeus that at least this once she caught him in near-flagrante — and over the subsequent centuries Argus’s name becomes a metaphor for unsleeping watchfulness.

The world is full of people who appoint themselves to roles like Argus’s, as would-be watchers and guardians. Sometimes they’re even useful in those roles. Their motives aren’t always suspect: sometimes they genuinely mean well. But good intentions aren’t always enough. And sometimes these can lead the would-be guardians into serious mistakes, especially when their intelligence (in the informational sense) is incomplete or poor.

It looks like we’ve just seen an example of this in a recent Wall Street Journal article, which spends a while purporting to analyze the “fitness for purpose” of some modern-day young adult fiction, the kind that deals openly with difficult topics like self-harm. The reactions to the article’s assertions have been widespread and passionate. Readers and writers alike have responded at length, and lots more opinions and links to them, short and long, are to be found on Twitter filed under the #YASaves hashtag. Having read the article, though, I found myself reacting most strongly to two specific passages that jumped out at me: and the reactions came on two different levels. The first passage really annoys me as a former psychiatric professional:


Read more... )

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