Friday, July 30, 2010

Author Zetta Elliott on Blog Talk Radio

I received the following information about an interview with Zetta Elliott, author of A Wish After Midnight, and thought some of you might be interested in tuning in:

Young adult author, playwright and poet, Zetta Elliott will discuss her latest book A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT during a live interview on Rhymes, Views & News Talk Radio hosted by DuEwa Frazier on Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 5pm EST.

Zetta Elliott will discuss the themes within A Wish, her writing life and outreach to young readers. Tune in to listen LIVE and CALL IN with your questions for Zetta at (646)716-9474.


for more information on this and other author interviews!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

57 great sci-fi and fantasy-themed album covers

SyFy's blastr blog has a great showcase of album art featuring fantasy & science fiction themes. The list includes Boston, ELO, Queen, Styx, Journey, Meat Loaf, and a whole lotta other greats in the music as well as album art department (along with a few I don't recognize).

via @JohnAnealio (via @torbooks @largeheartedboy)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid
The Kane Chronicles, Book 1
by Rick Riordan

Carter Kane and his sister Sadie live very different lives. Since their mother died six years earlier, Carter has traveled the world with their Egyptologist father, while Sadie lives in London with their mother's parents, who got custody in a bitter fight. Carter and Sadie's maternal grandparents blame their father for their mother's death. Sadie's father is only allowed to visit twice a year, and it's on one of these visits that things blow up — literally. A trip to the British Museum leads to an explosion, destruction of the Rosetta Stone, the disappearance of Carter and Sadie's father, and a lot of trouble for Carter and Sadie, who soon discover that not all is as it seems and that the Egyptian gods are real. Readers of the Percy Jackson books will not be surprised to learn that Carter and Sadie's destinies are intimately tied in with that of the gods, although in a very different way than in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

The Red Pyramid is a solid middle-grade novel, very much in the mode of Percy Jackson, but different enough to be unique. There's plenty of action and excitement, mixed in with interesting information about the Egyptian pantheon, to hold the interest of most middle-grade readers. Carter and Sadie take turns narrating the story; unfortunately this creates some imbalance because Sadie is a stronger and more interesting character than Carter.

One disappointment was that the book isn't as funny as the Percy Jackson books, although it tries to be. There are some amusing scenes, but it's not overflowing with humor like the earlier series. I think that one reason is that it lacks the unique voice of Percy. While Carter and Sadie are strong enough characters to carry the series, they don't have Percy's sardonic voice.

I found the information about Egyptian mythology fascinating. I know a lot less about Egyptian mythology than the Greek & Roman mythology used in the Percy Jackson books, and I learned a lot. Riordan has obviously done a lot of research. Egyptian mythology is apparently very different than the more familiar Greek & Roman; it's not just a matter of different gods, but a different worldview.

Fans of the Percy Jackson series should enjoy this book, although they may find the humor strained. Other middle-grade readers may actually enjoy the series more, going into it without expectations. Overall, though, it's a good start to a series and one that many young readers will enjoy.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy obtained at Book Expo America for the purpose of writing a review. The links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Which Dystopian Future Is Right For You?

As a long-time fan of Dystopian fiction, I found this quiz amusing. I wish it was interactive, but then, the point isn't really to answer the questions, it's to be entertained by the answers, and maybe to learn about some new Dystopian fiction in the process.

Which Dystopian Future Is Right For You?

Found via GalleyCat

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: Curse of the Wolf Girl

Curse of the Wolf Girl
by Martin Millar

Curse of the Wolf Girl is the sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl. Kalix, the depressed and laudanum addicted werewolf girl is now attending a remedial college, along with the unbearably perky young fire elemental, Vex. Both Kalix and Vex are living with the humans Daniel and Moonglow. Daniel still pines with unrequited love for Moonglow, who can't reciprocate (and isn't even sure she would if she could) because of the curse placed on them by fire elemental Queen Malveria, in payment for saving Kalix's life. Malveria has her own problems, which include pressure by her ministers to produce an heir, and a desperate need for a pair of limited edition, exclusive designer shoes.

The book is a little slow at first; it takes about 50 pages to really get rolling. Then a murder, an obsessed werewolf hunter, and a plot for revenge by Princess Kabechetka kick the book into high gear. There's a lot at stake here: the imperial succession of two fire elemental kingdoms, the success of an opera event, the love lives of the MacRinnalch werewolves, and the secret of long-lasting lip color.

Curse of the Wolf Girl is just as outrageously enjoyable as Lonely Werewolf Girl. In his trademark style, Millar sets a dizzying array of characters and situations into play like a deranged game-master, then proceeds to bring them together through a series of outrageous coincidences and unlikely connections. It's quite a ride, and great fun. The book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it also has its serious side, too. Kalix's anxiety and panic attacks are portrayed with sensitivity and realism, and there are several heart-wrenching scenes.

Curse of the Wolf Girl will be published on August 15, 2010.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review: For the Win

For the Win
by Cory Doctorow

Multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft aren't just fun and games anymore; they're also serious business. There are enough people who are willing to pay for help in advancing in the games that an underground economy has developed around buying and selling game gold, items, and even characters, using real-world money. Some of this gold farming is done in sweatshops employing cheap labor in Asia and third-world countries around the world.

For the Win is a compelling story about some of these workers, young people lured by the promise of playing games for money, but who find themselves toiling long hours in poor working conditions. Matthew Fong is a talented gamer in China; when he tries to go independent, his boss sends goons to beat him. Mala leads an army in the slums of Mumbai, India. A talented strategist, she comes to be known as General Robotwalla. The money she earns allows her to bring her family out of poverty, and at first her situation seems like paradise, but Mala soon learns that everything comes with a price. In Singapore, Big Sister Nor works to organize the gold farming workers around the world into a union to protect their rights. But the bosses will do anything to stop her, and Big Sister Nor and her lieutenants are in grave danger.

As these and other young people work both online and offline to organize the workers and bring them together, the forces of big business work to stop them, and all of them are in real, physical danger. People are beaten, tortured, and even killed. But they have an advantage that no other union has ever had; they have the power of the Internet to bring people together, and they know better than anyone else how to use it.

Like Doctorow's Little Brother, For the Win is set in a near future, close enough to the present to be frighteningly real. And like Little Brother, it breaks some of the "rules" of good writing. There are multiple protagonists and multiple stories; some of the characters who are important early on become secondary characters later, and other main characters are introduced late in the book. There are expository digressions from the story, explaining various economic principles.

These things could be a detriment to the novel. But Cory Doctorow knows how to write a good story, and For the Win is a damn good read. Even the lessons on economics are fascinating, and I learned more about economics from this book than I did in college. With interesting young characters, a global perspective, a look at other cultures, and a battle against injustice, For the Win is a book that oozes teen appeal.

My only real complaint about the book is the cover. I personally don't think that the U.S. cover is very appealing. If I hadn't already wanted to read this book, I don't think that the cover would have done anything to interest me. I think that the cover will especially be a turnoff to girls, which is a shame, because I think that many girls would enjoy the book as well as boys, especially since it includes several strong female protagonists among its main characters. Yet how many girls will look at the picture of police in riot gear, and decide that the book isn't for them?

FTC required disclosure: Review copy obtained at Book Expo America for the purpose of writing a review. The links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.