Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Live Chat at TODAY!

Hey Bibliophiles!

Quick note here to let y'all know that Simone Elkeles, author of Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction and many other books for teens, is visiting from April 26 to May 10 and participating in a Live Chat with fans today, April 28, at 7pm ET.

I haven't personally read any of her books, but all I hear is great! And there's a chance to win a copy of her book! And y'all know how much we addicts like to win FREE books, right?!

So what are you waiting for? RSVP your intention to join the chat to and have fun!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Emperor Dad

Emperor Dad is a Best Novel Darrell Award winner by the YA sci-fi author, Henry Melton. (The cover is showing up kind of funky on my blog for some reason, to see it as it truly is, instead of this psychedelic one, go to one of the links at the bottom of the post.)

In it, teenage football player James begins to suspect that his dad, recently laid off, has invented something huge – teleportation. When his dad’s new mysterious job begins to take him out of town around the same time a bodiless voice calling himself the “Emperor” begins making an appearance throughout the world (and creating quite a stir as he sets himself above the nations of Earth), James is determined to find out what’s going on…

Emperor Dad is very original in its presentation of the creation and control of teleportation. The way in which James’ father deals with his scientific discovery is very unique and an attention grabbing take. Henry Melton’s novels come across to me as having a broad appeal to readers, but with an extra-special potential fan base in the aficionados of the classic sci-fi genre.

I really liked the concept of Emperor Dad and can see the novel (as well as the recently released Pixie Dust I reviewed a couple weeks ago) translating well on the big screen, if that ever were to happen.

My only problem was that I began to find the technical jargon and nitty-gritty scientific detail to be difficult to grasp, and felt that it began to chop up the narrative flow, which is the part I prefer. This made sections of the book, especially maybe the final third of Emperor Dad, to be a bit more laborious to read, personally.

But, this is only my opinion. There are so many people, particularly – as I mentioned previously – the enthusiasts of traditional science fiction, that I believe would LOVE everything about Emperor Dad. And don't get me wrong - I really did like Emperor Dad a lot! I just think it paled a little in comparison to Pixie Dust.

And because of that, and the ingenious way Henry Melton presented the idea of teleportation in a fresh way, I recommend Emperor Dad to those of you who would like a taste of sci-fi in your bibliophile diet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country is the sequel to Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, by Allan Richard Shickman.

Now, I want to warn any readers’ that haven’t read the first book, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure that this review will have some spoilers in it – so don’t read it!!! J

Averted your eyes yet? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Without giving away too much, I’ll say that Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country is primarily about what happens when Dael’s progress gets side-tracked when something tragic happens… I won’t tell you what, of course.

While Zan-Gah tries desperately to regain the twin brother he once had, but whom seems damaged beyond repair, he also leads the idea to move his people from their harsh land to that of the Beautiful Country he first visited as a slave in Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. But will the journey prove too dangerous?

Well, first of all, the opening sentence is a killer. Having just finished Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure when I began Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, I was truly taken aback. It’s hard to say much without ruining the experience for you, my fellow bibliophile. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the beginning sentence shapes the novel as a whole.

I was again struck by how vividly yet simplistically Allan Richard Shickman tells the story of Dael and Zan – never being afraid to take the sadder, yet perhaps more realistic, route. Dael’s disintegration is painful to read, yet still engaging. I was constantly nervous about what Dael would do next, how he would hurt his brother, or his people, next.

Yet again I did find myself scanning through some of the more historical bits, the descriptions of scenery, etc. It’s certainly not that A. R. Shickman doesn’t write it well – he most definitely does! It just didn’t hold my attention enough to keep me from skimming forward to the next character interaction, among other things.

It’s another short book, but the character development is still superb. And because of my insight and empathy I had for all the characters by the end of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, it was even easier to jump into Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country.

I really appreciate both Zan-Gah novels for their sincerity and amazing storytelling – the characters are well molded and convincingly portrayed.

I suggest reading Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country if you are one of those bibliophiles that like to savor a novel that is both horrifying and poignant.

I wonder if you will have a smile on your face as you close the final page.

I did.

Ways to find out more:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pixie Dust

Pixie Dust is award-winning author Henry Melton’s newest YA sci-fi novel.

In it, Jenny Quinn, a physicist getting her advanced degree, is involved in an experiment involving vacuum decay (um, what, right?) that goes awry. A huge discovery is made, but then her professor dies in an accident – an accident she finds suspicious. But just as soon as she finishes grieving and begins detecting a bit, she realizes that the incident with the lab experiment left some big changes in her own body. It’s infected her somehow. Now, Jenny has to figure out what is going on and doesn’t know if she’ll even survive long enough to find out the truth about what happened to her professor.

Okay, physics ain’t my thing. I never was very into math – probably my weakest subject. Science was interesting – but physics??? Talk about gibberish! So, I was taken a bit aback at the detail and intelligence that Henry Melton seemed to portray in Jenny Quinn’s character. I have no way of verifying that all of the basic theories brought up in Pixie Dust are correct, but I found myself convinced rather quickly that our main character is a very, very smart gal. It was easy to go with the flow and not stress out too much that I had no idea what they were talking about when it came to physics. It didn’t distract from the story at all.

It wasn’t long before I found myself really connecting with Jenny. She’s a bit of a loner, still grieving past losses, and trying her best to be independent. She’s likable and quite unique as a main character, especially in a sci-fi novel.

The plot is expertly laid out, slowly revealed piece by piece. For the first 50 to 60 pages or so, I was very intrigued and never bored, but not very invested. But quickly thereafter, things really started to pick up speed and the suspense began intensifying. I was turning pages quite eagerly, needing to know what would happen next. There was a slow build almost throughout the entire novel, and the climax did not disappoint.

There’s a cool, updated, understated version of superhero genesis going on in Pixie Dust – though I don’t want to give away too much. Henry Melton keeps it from going too cliché, yet still manages to embrace the inspiration from comic books that Jenny herself has a passion for. The character development is great! By the end you feel like you really know Jenny, as well as various background characters.

Pixie Dust is entertaining and gripping, sometimes dark and disquieting, subtly romantic, delves into family issues and managed to surprise me with the final twist. I enjoyed the way the novel was split up into sections, and took you to places you wouldn’t expect. It wasn’t one of those books that was easy to predict where it was going, or what would happen next.

I really, really enjoyed Pixie Dust and I think it has a lot of crossover appeal from sci-fi fans, YA fans in general, and adults who would just like a good read. There’s a little of everything in Pixie Dust – highly recommended!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure

Zan Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure is an award-winning novel by author Allan Richard Shickman.
Zan-Gah gains both notoriety and respect as a boy reaching manhood by his clan when he kills a lion early on, despite his small stature. But this does not help his recurring nightmares about his twin brother who disappeared a year ago after an argument. Though he is believed to be dead, Zan-Gah’s gut tells him he is still alive – which can only lead to the fear that he has been taken captive.

Despite his parents’ fears, Zan-Gah uses his newfound independence to convince everyone that he can find his brother, Dael, and that he will not return without him. Thus begins the many faceted, dangerous mission of the young, but strong, Zan-Gah.

The situation of Zan-Gah is initially hard to delve into, as it is much more primal and, well, prehistoric than our world. I must admit that it took me about 50 pages or so to really feel invested in the main character, Zan-Gah or to really feel invested in the plot. That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot going on, but I just wasn’t drawn in until that point.

But THAT is the point in which I became very occupied in the story and characters. As you get to know Zan-Gah, you begin to really respect him – his principles, his courage, his strength and determination. So, be patient if you feel as I did.

Allan Richard Shickman put a lot of thought, I believe, in how he structured Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. It is formulated as a middle-grade novel, yet the stark and sometimes disconcerting situations Zan-Gah finds himself in are quite adult – as well as the jarring violence in a particularly affecting scene nearer the end.

There is a poetic, lyrical sense to the novel, despite (or maybe because of) the almost simplistic way he presents the story (it is only 148 pages in length). By the end I had run the gamut on emotions (among them: suspense, shock, heartbreak, revulsion, inspiration) – and felt like I had read a complete story. It almost felt like it was true, it was quite something.

It took me a while to be convinced, I will say truthfully. Some of the language and details of the time period were distracting to me and seemed to disassociate me from the plot. I did find myself skimming some of the longer descriptions at times.

But the overall impression I had once I was done was – wow. It was unusual, refreshing, and so shocking and affective by the last quarter that all the patience really won out and I felt rewarded. In the end I was truly touched and I can see me recommending Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure quite easily.

By no means is it an easy or happy-go-lucky read, but it is a novel that pays off in the end and transports you to a reality so far removed from ours it almost feels like a fantasy.
Ways to find out more: