Tag Archives: young adult

The Glass Demon: Review by Club Fantasci

Club Fantasci held its April Hangout on Friday to discuss the Glass Demon by Helen Grant. You can watch the discussion by hosts Dionne Lister, David Lowry, Kriss Morton and myself below.

Reviews by each of the hosts will be available on the Club Fantasci website. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads

May’s Book of the Month is Waylander by David Gemmell and you can join us for the discussion on Friday May 31 7:30pm CST.

Review of ‘The Accidental Sorcerer’ by K.E. Mills

Welcome to Ottosland, a country with a vague British flavour, in a world that more or less resembles ours, except that alongside the telephone sits the crystal ball. This is a world of both magic and technology.

Gerald Dunwoody is a Third Grade wizard, graduate of a mere correspondence course in wizardry, and reduced to the level of inspector for a government department. When the blame for the destruction of Ottosland’s most prestigious staff factory falls on Gerald, he finds himself virtually unemployable.

At the enthusiastic insistence of his genius friend, Monk Markham, Gerald takes a job as advisor to the King of New Ottosland. Monk reasons that Gerald needs to get away from the debacle that is the destruction of Stuttley’s, and when he returns, not only will the uproar have died down, but Gerald will have ‘advisor to a king’ on his resume.

Reg, Gerald’s apparently sentient bird, is less enthusiastic. Potential employers need to be vetted, she says. Royalty can be dangerous. And what does a king want with a Third Grade wizard?

Against Reg’s objections, Gerald takes the job and they travel to New Ottosland, where they are greeted by Princess Melissande, the Prime Minister of New Ottosland. It quickly becomes clear things are not at all what they seem. The Privy Council has been sacked. Melissande, under-staffed and over-worked, is trying to do the work of the Council, the Prime Minister, and negotiate with a delegation from neighbouring Kallarap about tariffs the king refuses to pay. The kingdom is verging on bankruptcy.

And King Lional himself demands that Gerald impress him, or be sent on his way.

Sweating under pressure, Gerald somehow manages to turn Lional’s cat into a lion. A level 12 transmogrification spell? Impossible! Such a feat is beyond the skills of a mere Third Grade wizard. But what if Gerald isn’t a Third Grade Wizard anymore? What if the events at Stuttley’s have… changed him?

Completing the royal ensemble is Prince Rupert, more interested in his butterfly house than the running of a nearly bankrupt kingdom or royal politics. He is quite obviously mad, and yet Gerald has the sinking feeling that Rupert might be the saner of the two brothers when Lional announces that Gerald will be his secret weapon in the negotiations against Kallarap.

Adding a sinister feel to proceedings, it soon comes to light that Gerald’s five predecessors in the position of advisor to King Lional, all First Grade wizards, have not been seen since they supposedly left New Ottosland…

Why is Lional determined to provoke war against his neighbours? What happened to the missing wizards? And what does he want with Gerald?

The book is engaging and fast-paced, as well as humorous, though perhaps written more in a young adult style. If that bothers you, give the book a miss, but I found the story compelling and well-written. Though hardly the most competent wizard, Gerald draws you in with his personality, his well-meaning dedication, and his genuine attempts to make the best of a bad situation. When things turn really pear-shaped, he is really tested, and the decisions he makes will shape the man he will become.

A mostly fun, light-hearted read interspersed with darker moments, the book is a solid, well-written effort and definitely worth your time. 

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Epic Fantasy Saga, Shadows of the Realm by Dionne Lister, on Sale Jan 8-22!

Shadows of the Realm

Shadows of the Realm is an epic fantasy for teens and adults. Join Bronwyn and Blayke, two young realmists, and their animal companions, as they are forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known to undertake a dangerous journey towards Vellonia, city of the dragons.

The gormons are invading, slipping through the corridors between realms, and they want blood, lots of Talian blood. Will the young realmists learn enough of the Second Realm magic to prevail, or will everything they love be destroyed?

The first book in The Circle of Taliaseries is on sale from the 8th to the 22nd of January for the bargain price of $1.99 on Smashwords and Amazon. Grab it and escape into an original and enchanting world filled with mystery, danger, dragons and adventure; you won’t be sorry!

Dionne Lister is a Sydneysider (for our overseas readers, Sydney, Australia) and she is currently studying an associate degree in creative writing.  When she’s not writing, she’s trying to keep fit or she’s on Twitter. Dionne co-hosts a hilarious podcast called Tweep Nation, which can be found free on iTunes, and Club Fantasci, a speculative fiction online book club. 

You can download Shadows of the Realm free at Amazon and Smashwords

The Writer’s Tool Belt by Brad Cameron

Today I’m welcoming Brad Cameron to guest on my blog.  

Brad is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest. He is a middle school Humanities and Language Arts teacher who has been inspired to write Young Adult Fantasy through his countless hours of teaching and reading to students. He is an avid follower of all things mythological. When not writing, Brad spends his time in the outdoors either on his bicycle or motorcycle touring the stunning countryside near his home. Brad is currently working on book three in The Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Gates of Asgard, due out in the Summer of 2013.


One of my greatest joys as an author of Young Adult Fantasy Fiction is the opportunity to visit with some of my readers: elementary, middle, and high school students who’ve weaved their way through the streets of Alder Cove alongside Zeke Proper, the hero of my fantasy series. During their journey the students have begun to discover Zeke’s unique connection with the Norse gods and in some cases, the renewal of some long forgotten myths. During my visits, I am constantly told that when they read the stories they often feel as if they are “right there” that they can see, feel, hear, and sense what is happening in the story. The comment is often followed with the inevitable question: “How do you make the images so clear?” My response is always the same: I strap on my writer’s tool belt. 

The contents of my tool belt, when finally exposed, reveal no great secrets. The tools are the ones that English teachers have been talking about for years: metaphors, similes, personification, etc. However, like any tool, its proper use is paramount. Descriptive writing is so much more than just smattering many detailed words on paper. Descriptive writing is constructing the proper words with images that are familiar to the reader. 

Imagine that you are in an unfamiliar country, struggling to learn a new language. A stranger among your small group of new friends begins to tell a joke. When he finishes, everyone, including himself, begins to laugh, but you stand there, looking embarrassed and confused. However, the problem isn’t that you didn’t understand the words he used; you’ve been studying hard, so you know what the words mean. The problem is that you didn’t comprehend the context of the words. Perhaps the joke depended upon your need to understand a particular cultures’ idiom or custom with which you are completely unfamiliar. Or perhaps the teller wanted you to rhyme a word with another in order to understand the punch line. In either circumstance, you’re baffled, and a little disappointed, because you missed something that was apparently quite funny. A writer, in order to be successful, can’t afford to baffle or confuse his readers. He has to choose words and context clues with which the reader is familiar, thus pulling him/her into the scene so that they can see, feel, taste, or hear whatever it is he is trying to describe.

As an example, I will use a passage from Book 2 in The Zeke Proper Chronicles: The Serpent’s Ship. In this scene, Zeke is engaged in an early morning run near his home. The story begins to take on an ominous impression. 

“Zeke’s chosen route headed up Pike Street where his own house stood, quiet and sleepy, like its inhabitants. The road stretched for a quarter mile before taking a slight left turn and coming to a dead end. Zeke entered a cul de sac where the houses seemed to circle in a protective arch. Zeke passed through a cleft between the homes, still bent against the force of the wind and rain and found himself on a sodden trail where muck, fallen leaves, and pinecones littered the ground. He tried hard to keep to the edges of the path where the ground was more firm, but instead kept finding himself slipping into the middle of the trail where the rain accumulated, causing his feet to slosh and stick with each step. When he lifted his foot, the earth emitted a disgusting farting sound that, despite the discomfort he felt, made Zeke laugh, a tight smile etched across his strained face.” 

In this example, I try to use images that would be familiar to most students: the long march to school on a blustery, cold day. And the sound of a fart? Well, let’s face it; we all know what that sounds like. Imagining Zeke’s early morning trek, then, should not be difficult. Creating authentic images is imperative to good writing. A reader who has lost his vision of the story stops reading.

You can find Brad and his work at the following links:
Link to Twitter: @camgang817 https://twitter.com/camgang817
Link to Facebook: The Zeke Proper Chronicles http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheZekeProperChronicles?fref=ts
You can find my guest post on Brad’s blog, on researching the fantastical, here.

Sabriel – Ciara Ballintyne Talks Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

I’m not a huge fan of Young Adult fiction – but I don’t mean in a way that looks down on it as somehow inadequate. The whole Young Adult genre almost completely passed me by. It wasn’t all the rage when I was a young adult, and I jumped feet-first into adult fantasy fiction at a very early age. I dabbled in a few books that are now classified as Young Adult, but I don’t think they were called that at the time. Even now I struggle to know if something I’ve read is Young Adult or just adult. 

So when I was invited to do a guest post on Young  Adult books on Lost In Fiction UK, I was lost for words. But, in the end, I concluded that one of my favourite books, Sabriel by Garth Nix, is indeed a part of the Young Adult genres and so I sallied forth to talk about it. 

You can find the full post here.

As an interesting side note, I noticed a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow appeared when Googling ‘Sabriel’. Weird. 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!