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Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block(1962- )
Francesca Lia Block was born, and still lives, in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go-Go Boots. The daughter of a poet and a painter, Francesca Lia Block’s work has been influenced by the visual arts, by her love of Greek myths and fairytales, as well as by music and dance. While at the University of California at Berkeley, her influences expanded to include the magic-realist fiction of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende, as well as the modernist poetry of Hilda Doolittle. She writes magic-realist novels for young adults. For more information, visit Francesca Lia Block’s website.

Weetzie Bat: Dangerous Angels: Kaleidoscopes, pink cotton candy, psychedelic music

Weetzie Bat: Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block writes strange but intoxicating tales; stories that are surreal and yet oddly comforting. To classify her books are nearly impossible. The format is that of fairytales, in which her protagonists face a series of challenges, and learn a valuable life lesson by book’s end. Yet her genre is that of magic realism, in which she fills the city of Los Angeles (and in one case, New York) with all sorts of weird and wonderful occurrences, such as wishes granted by genies, conversations with ghosts, and spiritual power derived from Native American artifacts, plot threads that are interwoven with more “mundane” issues such as burgeoning sexuality, substance abuse and dysfunctional families. Her style is something else altogether, and it’s really not something I can even begin to describe. It has to speak for itself…but I gu... Read More

The Rose and the Beast: Nine Fairy Tales: Dark stunning collection

The Rose and the Beast: Nine Fairy Tales by Francesca Lia Block

The Rose and the Beast: Nine Fairy Tales was my first look into the writing of Francesca Lia Block, and I was immediately captivated by both her style and tone and her unsurpassable use of imagery, and her ability to make old fairytales into new, darker and profound creations. It is gradually becoming clear in the general world of literature that fairytales in their original form were not at all intended for children, and the advent of sweet little fairytales, beginning with the Brothers Grimm and accumulating in the works of Enid Blyton, are gradually heading back to what they were originally used for: deep insights into the minds and souls of human beings as a whole. With that in mind, Francesca Lia Block perfectly captures their essence and meaning.
The cover art also captures this regard for fairytales — the fr... Read More

Primavera: A fascinating story

Primavera by Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block's novel Primavera is the sequel to an earlier novel Ecstasia, which should probably be read before continuing with this one. I hadn't read Ecstasia, and though this didn't prevent me from grasping what was going on here, I couldn't help but feel that some of the action that takes place would have been better understood and more poignant had I previously read Ecstasia.

From what I gathered here, Ecstasia concerned a four-person band (Calliope, Dionisio, Paul, and Rafe) who lived in the beautiful city of Elysia which revered the youthful and cast out the old — much like Hollywood. Their band Ecstasia was a huge success, but eventually they tired of the city and escaped to the desert, where their music created a paradise for them to dwell in. Calliope ... Read More

Echo: Teenage angst in a fairytale setting

Echo by Francesca Lia Block

For anyone who's ever read Francesca Lia Block before, you'll know what to expect here. Riddled with teenage angst, fairytale settings and dense, poetic language, Echo provides another glimpse into the mind of tortured, restless adolescence. As always, Block's novel stands outside any particular genre; is it fantasy or drama? Poetry or prose? Magic realism or something else entirely? As always, her trademark style is the use of her intoxicating language, which again defies description, but is best compared to fantasist Patricia McKillip. Like McKillip, reading Block for the first time is always a little confusing, for the language is layered so thickly over narrative and character that it's difficult to keep track of what's happening and who it's happening to.

This is especially true i... Read More

The Urban Fantasy Anthology: Not what I expected it to be

The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of most urban fantasy. I tend to find problems with almost every urban fantasy book I’ve tried to read. When I got this book in the mail, I kind of rolled my eyes and shot it to the top of my “to be read” pile so I could get it over with fast. I didn’t expect to actually enjoy this book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d open this anthology and think, “hot damn, this is good stuff…” but I did. I cracked open this book, started reading, and shocked myself by enjoying it.

As with every anthology, not every story will be a hit. Where The Urban Fantasy Anthology seems to differ from many other anthologies was the fact that the stories all appealed to me differently due to their plots, not due to their quality, which is the case with many other anthologies. This book is fil... Read More

The Elementals: Belongs up there with my favorites

The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

"Add in the way college isolated you, left you feeling as if the rest of the world, including your past and your family, was just a dream compared to what you read in your books and on the faces of the other students, and anything could happen."

I’ve long had a thing for college stories. I loved being in college and I always enjoy getting to vicariously revisit it in the pages of a novel. And it’s such a liminal time, which makes it a great setting for a story. I remember being giddy with the knowledge that I could now go anywhere I wanted and do anything I wanted and no one could stop me, but at the same time still so unsure of myself that I wasn’t quite sure who I was or what I actually wanted to do with that newfound freedom. College campuses, too, often have a rich vein of folklore that lends itself well to fantasy.

There’s another reason, too, that Francesca Lia Block... Read More

The Secret History of Fantasy: Stories that redefine the genre

The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle

The basic premise of the SECRET HISTORY anthologies (there's also a science fiction one, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which I haven't read) is that there's a type of writing that got missed or buried because other things were more popular, more commercial, or dodged the spec-fic labeling. Certainly that's the thrust of Peter S. Beagle's introduction, and the two other non-fiction pieces by Ursula K. Le Guin and editor David G. Hartwell.

In the case of fantasy, this type of wri... Read More

Other novels by Francesca Lia Block

Love in the Time of Global Warming — (2013-2014) Young adult. Publisher: Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything – her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Francesca Lia Block Ecstasia, Primavera, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Ruby, Psyche in a Dress

Ecstasia — (1993) Young adult. Publisher: Siblings Calliope and Rafe, along with Dionisio and Paul, are Ecstasia — the most popular band in Elysia, a city of jewels and feathers, of magic and music, where the only crime is growing old. Then Calliope’s visions take her to Under, where the Old Ones go to die, and where her parents had vanished long ago. Rafe joins her there, in search of the Doctor, who can bring back the dead to ease their loved ones’ broken hearts. And that is when rapture turns to nightmare.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsGirl Goddess 9 — (1996) Young adult. Publisher: Meet Tweetie Sweet Pea and Peachy Pie, Jacaranda and Rave and Desiree… Meet Lady Ivory and Alabaster Dutchess, who interview their favorite rock star, Nick Agate, only to discover the magic and power in themselves. Meet Tuck Budd, who is happy living in Manhattan with her two moms, Izzy and Anastasia, until she begins to wonder who her father is. Meet La, who faces the loss of her mother with an imaginary androgynous blue friend who lives in her closet. Zingingly bright and dreamily dark, full of wonder and gritty reality, these stories by acclaimed author Francesca Lia Block show the reader that in every girl there truly is a goddess. The cutting-edge author of Weetzie Bat once again breaks new ground with Girl Goddess #9, nine stories about girl goddesses of every age and shape and color and size, wearing combat boots and spiky hair or dressed all in white.One girl has two moms, another has no mother at all but a strange blue skinned creature that lives in her closet. One is a rock star groupie, another loves dancing and reading poetry and having picnics in the backyard when the moon is full. These are stories about girls discovering that the world is not a simple place and that there is more than one way to live’all in Ms. Block’s rich, lyrical language that fans have come to adore and that Sassy magazine called ‘a dream.’

Francesca Lia Block Ecstasia, Primavera, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Ruby, Psyche in a DressI Was a Teenage Fairy — (1998) Young adult. Publisher: Maybe Mab was real. Maybe not. Maybe Mab was the fury. Maybe she was the courage. Maybe later on she was the sex… A tiny fairy winging her way through the jasmine-scented L.A. night. A little girl caught in a grown-up glitz-and-glitter world of superstars and supermodels. A too beautiful boy with a secret he can never share… From the author of Weetzie Bat comes a magical, mesmerizing tale of transformation. This is the story of Barbie Marks, who dreams of being the one behind the Cyclops eye of the camera, not the voiceless one in front of it; who longs to run away to New York City where she can be herself, not some barley flesh-and-blood version of the plastic doll she was named after. It is the story of Griffin Tyler, whose androgynous beauty hides the dark pain he holds inside. And finally it is the story of Mab, a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy, who may or may not be real but who helps Barbie and Griffin uncover the strength beneath the pain, and who teaches that love — like a sparkling web of light spinning around our bodies and our souls — is what can heal even the deepest scars.

Francesca Lia Block 1. Weetzie Bat 2. Witch Baby 3. Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys 4. Missing Angel Juan 5. Baby Be-Bop Dangerous Angels Beautiful Boys Goat Girls Necklace of Kisses Necklace of Kisses — (2005) Publisher: Where are the kisses? Weetzie Bat wondered. When her relationship with Secret Agent Lover Man turns cold, the forty-year-old post-punk pixie packs up, jumps into her mint-green ’65 Thunderbird, and leaves to take refuge in L.A.’s enchanted Pink Hotel — with its blue-skinned receptionist, invisible cleaning lady, seductive faun, and sushi-eating mermaid who gives Weetzie the first kiss that sets the wheel of self-discovery spinning madly in motion. Though she faces some very adult problems, anything is still possible in Weetzie’s world — angels, magic… even true love.

Francesca Lia Block Ecstasia, Primavera, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Ruby, Psyche in a DressRuby — (2006) With Carmen Staton. Young adult. Publisher: Ruby is a Midwestern girl named for the jewel that is believed to ward off evil spirits. Ruby’s special gift is a sixth sense that makes her at one with nature and gives her the ability to know her own destiny. After growing up in an abusive family, Ruby escapes to Los Angeles and learns of her soulmate — Orion — a British actor. She travels to England, where she works at a potions and herbs shop, and through a series of coincidental circumstances, ends up nursing Orion back to health without confessing that she has been on a quest to find him all along. But just when she thinks her dream is becoming a reality, Ruby is stopped in her tracks by the violent demons of her past. Only by facing the darkness together can she and Orion finally fulfill their destiny.

Francesca Lia Block Ecstasia, Primavera, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Ruby, Psyche in a DressPsyche in a Dress — (2006) Publisher: But this is what I could not give up: I could not give up myself. Psyche has known Love — scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.

Francesca Lia Block The Waters & The WildThe Waters and the Wild — (2009) Young adult. Publisher: When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. “You are me,” the girl said. Then she was gone. I am a thirteen-year-old double Gemini. I get bad grades, write poetry with my left hand, dance in my room, surf the net. I Google images of the tattoos my mom won’t let me get… But my world belongs to someone else. Someone who lives below the concrete of Los Angeles, someone with wild eyes and twigs in her hair. And I think she wants her life back.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsEvidence of Angels — (2009) With Suza Scalora. Young adult. Publisher: Suza Scalora has been fascinated by fairy lore for as long as she can remember. She began her research while working in New York City as a commercial photographer. When the opportunity presented itself, Ms. Scalora set out to discover and capture images of the fairy world. In what became a yearlong expedition of epic — and at times perilous — proportions, she was finally able to prove something that she has known all along: Fairies are real.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsPretty Dead — (2009) Young Adult. Publisher: People pity me, but mostly they feel envy. I have all the luxury and freedom a girl my age could want. Something is happening to Charlotte Emerson. Like the fires that are ravaging the hills of Los Angeles, it consumes her from the inside out. But whether it is her eternal loneliness, the memory of her brother, the return of her first love, or the brooding, magnetic Jared — she cannot say. What if it’s something more… Something to do with the sudden tear in her perfect nails. The heat she feels when she’s with Jared. The blood rushing once again to her cheeks and throughout her veins. For Charlotte is a vampire, witness to almost a century’s worth of death and destruction. But not since she was a human girl has mortality touched her. In what way will you be transformed? Until now.

Francesca Lia Block The Frenzy YA paranormal book reviewThe Frenzy — (2010) Publisher: Love is a werewolf, influenced by the moon and terror, and always about to change. Liv has a secret. Something happened to her when she was thirteen. Something that changed everything. Liv knows she doesn’t belong anymore — not in her own skin, not in her family… not anywhere. The only time she truly feels like herself is when she’s with her boyfriend, Corey, and in the woods that surround her town. But in the woods, a mysterious woman watches Liv. In the woods, a pack of wild boys lurks. In the woods, Liv learns about the curse that will haunt her forever. The curse that caused the frenzy four years ago. And that may cause it again, all too soon. While Corey and Liv’s love binds them together, Liv’s dark secret threatens to tear them apart as she struggles to understand who — or what — she really is. And by the light of the full moon, the most dangerous secrets bare their claws…

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsPink Smog — (2012) Related to WEETZIE BAT. Young adult. Publisher: The girl in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be, and her life wasn’t the one I wanted to have. Despite how much Louise insists, no one will call her Weetzie. It’s her dad’s nickname for her, but it won’t stay put. Neither will her dad. Charlie left Louise and her mom and he took everything with him: her family, her home – and her understanding of who she’s meant to be. But Los Angeles is a city full of strange angels, and Louise embarks on a journey to sift through the smog of her heartbreak, to grow her own wings, to become Weetzie.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsLay Me Out Softly — (2013) Publisher: In her renowned style, Francesca Lia Block creates postmodern worlds that are as magical as they are familiar, as haunting as they are beautiful, and in which love reigns supreme. LAY ME OUT SOFTLY includes both previously published and original work.

Teen Spirit

Teen Spirit — (2014) Publisher: Julie wanted nothing more than to feel connected to her deceased grandmother, but when she actually makes contact with the other side it’s not her grandmother that responds, but a spirit that has its own sinister agenda.