Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spotlight on: DEFENDERS OF THE SCROLL by Shiraz

Well, I didn't see this one coming . . . or perhaps I should say "going."  Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an author of a young adult fantasy book and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his novel. I've never read much fantasy, and it's been many years since I've read any at all. But coincidently, I'd just spent a couple of weeks with two of my teenaged nieces, and one of them really gave me a hard time about my choice of reading material. She was shocked and aghast (I mean, literally!) that I hadn't read the Harry Potter books or the Twilight books or any of the titles she rattled off from a looooong list of more hard-core fantasy.  She was bewildered: "But, Dad said you read a lot."  Clearly, my reputation as a bookivore took a serious hit because my reading diet was lacking a major book group.

So when I received the email from Shiraz in which he described his book as ". . . a YA fantasy, but it has some subtle educational elements in it that could actually teach kids something if they're not paying attention" I jumped at the chance to read it and redeem myself.

When the book arrived, I was a little leary of the cover which is dominatated by images of the dark forces at work in the novel. I figured I'd better keep it out of sight of the niece and nephew with whom I live. They're 6 and 9 and not fond of scary things.

Well, guess who's commandeered my book?!  Let me give you a hint:  He's 9.  And, he's a boy.  O.K., so that's 2 hints, but I'm absolutely floored! This kid, whom I shall refer to from now on as "J-Boy-9" (that is, until he turns 10), cannot be described as a reader. Oh, I tried. I've been reading to him daily since he was an infant. As a toddler he would pretend to read to his toys and his baby sister. But something happened as he transitioned away from early chapter books. I'm thinking he was put off by the increase in text and the decrease in pictures. He still enjoys being read to, and I read to him in the evenings several times a week. But on his own, if there aren't pictures, he's not interested. These days, his books of choice are along the lines of the Wimpy Kid books and Humpty Dumpty, Jr. Hardboiled Detective.

But the other day, as I settled down to read MY new YA fantasy book, J-Boy-9 started asking me questions about it. Then he wanted to look at it. Then he started reading it. (Then I had to explain to him what a prologue is.) Then he went back to reading it. And he kept reading it. He even asked me if he could take it to school for silent reading time. Don't think he's just entralled by the cover -- he took the dust jacket off within 5 minutes because it bugged him.  Then last night when his mother told him it was time to go to bed, he called out: "I just want to finish this chapter." I'm really impressed. He's rather proud of himself, too.

I don't know how far he'll get with this book. It's really aimed at teens, and he's only in the 4th grade. But so far it looks as though I'm not getting it back until he's done! And here I thought it would be years before I was competing with him for my own books! !

In the meantime, I want to spread the word about the award-winning DEFENDERS OF THE SCROLL.  Maybe you know a reluctant reader who will be drawn in by it's magical lure.

by Shiraz
Pub. Date: June 2009
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Format: Hardcover, 264pp
ISBN-13: 9781440144806
ISBN: 144014480X

Description (from the publisher):
A teenage boy.  A dark wizard.  A mystic scroll.  And the fate of a world hangs in the balance...

When Alex "the Axeman" Logan is pulled from his world to help a young princess, named Dara, save her kingdom from the Shadow Lord, he thinks there has been a mistake. He's a teen guitar player close to failing 11th grade, not some defender of the realm. All he has are some school books, his wits, and his love of fantasy movies.

Overnight his life is history. Alex must confront the Shadow Lord and his minions when he is thrust into a land that has changed from a magical paradise to a barren, hopeless, helpless realm invaded by a dark army. But Alex is not alone. He has the help of Dara, a magic scroll, and a band of unlikely companions drawn from his own history books: a hardened Roman Legionnaire, a swift Japanese Samurai, a fearless African Warrior, a fiery Amazon Archer, and a spirited Shaolin Monk.

Can Alex become more than he believes and lead his small band of Defenders to the Hall of Shadows, the birthplace of the Shadow Lord? The fate of the realm and everyone in it rests on him.

Click here to read a generously lengthy excerpt.

Click here to visit the DEFENDERS OF THE SCROLL website.

Click here to read an interview with the author at Author's Den

Click the blog names below to read just a few of the glowing reviews:
Violet Crush
La Femme Readers
All Booked Up
A Bibliophile's Bookshelf
The Bookologist
The Mommy Rambles


2009 National Indie Excellence Awards
Winner: Fantasy and Best Editing Fiction categories
Finalist: Action-Adventure and Young Adult Fiction categories

2009 Next Generation Indie Awards
Finalist: Multicultural Fiction, Best Overall Design Fiction, and eBook Fiction

2009 New York Book Festival
Honorable Mention: Sci-Fi category

2009 Beach Book Festival
Honorable Mention: Sci-Fi and Teenage categories

2009 San Francisco Book Festival
Honorable Mention: Wild Card category


Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Some books work miracles on people and I am happy your aim has been achieved. It took a day and one forced reading to learn, read and write my native language. I was about eleven years old then.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Thanks for the review. I'm always on the lookout for books reluctant readers are drawn to.

Dar said...

lol-That's awesome that the book is enticing him to read. Maybe he'll keep it up. The book sounds quite good.

J smallb said...

I'm concerned that you would present this book to your readers as if you had reviewed it.

Gwendolyn B. said...

Response to J smallb.

This post is clearly labeled as a "Spotlight." On this blog, book reviews are all labeled and numbered in the heading before I even mention the title of the book. I also use a 5-star rating system in my reviews. It is also clear from the nature of the post that I have not yet read the book, and therefore this cannot possibly be a review. There is no reason for anyone to assume that this post is being presented as a review. I'm confident that my Followers and other readers will be able to comprehend the difference between a "spotlight" and a "review."

Thank you for expressing your concern; however, I believe it is unwarranted.

Pam said...

I work in a library and this is just the type of book that would entice a reluctant young male reader. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.

bermudaonion said...

I'm tickled pink that he's commandeered your book! I'm sure you can get other bloggers to recommend some more for him if he enjoys this one.

Zibilee said...

That is so cool, both for you and for him! I love to hear about a child falling in love with books, it totally makes my day! The book sounds pretty interesting as well.