T.E.J.Johnson

Fantasy Author of Cataindar: The Discovery

Book review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Cinder is a futuristic mechanic living her tough life, hanging out with her robot and generally having a hard time selling wares and fixing stuff.  But! She gets an unexpected visitor, the Prince…

You immediately like the protagonist; a human with cyborg parts and interface.  Cinder is a very special one-of-a-kind cyborg with a mysterious maker. It works. It keeps the reader engaged as we discover, together with Cinder, of what else her cyborg system is capable of. I loved reading about the info-feed updating the bottom of her vision. The lie-detector is a fantastic added feature. It is fun, well done and very, very cool.

The novel has a terrific pace.  It cracks on and is a really fun read. I read it in a few days and I really appreciate this kind of page-turning crafting.

It is very visual; you get a great sense of all the scenes, where they are going and what is happening.

The Sci-fi is strong in this one.  I really enjoyed the merging of the fairy tale with this sci-fi world. You feel the influences of Star Wars and the Terminator – and that is cool.  This is a world fits together well, New Beijing makes sense, and the Lunars are fascinating.

The novel has really great ending!  That is important – I love a novel with an awesome ending.  It sets up the world well for the sequel, which is out, as is the sequel to that – all right here.

All round a wonderful young adult read that I would certainly recommend and look forward to continuing.

Book review: MASKS by E. C. Blake

 

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E.C.Blake’s MASKS pulls readers into the masked land of Aygrima.

Wait what? I hear you say.

Yes. The masked land of Aygrima. The ruler of the land the Autarch masks his citizens once they are fifteen. The Masks denote people’s status and profession and the masking serves a secondary purpose; it weeds out those that carry evil in their heart. If you fail a masking your fancy mask cracks and worse – smashes your face in. I mean literally smashes your face in. You do not want to fail a masking.

The unmasked get sent to work in a brutal concentration camp mining the precious magic that powers the land.

Meet Mara Holdfast. She is our protagonist and her father is the most gifted mask-maker in the land. She is sure to have a bright future following in his footsteps until… Mara fails her masking.

“The mask squirmed and wriggled like a basket full of snakes, faster and faster, harder and harder. Mara gasped, then screamed, as she felt the skin above her cheekbones rip, the skin of her forehead split, her nose break. She fell to her knees, eyes squeezed shut, scrabbling at the Mask, tearing at it with her fingernails, but it wouldn’t come off, it was going to kill her – ”

And so the adventure begins.

There was a lot I really enjoyed reading MASKS. The lands of Aygrima are a cohesive well-developed world. There are some neat historical hooks for the series, such as the tales of the Lady of Blood and Fire, and how the Aygrima used to have trade-relations with another, sea-faring nation, until the boats just stopped coming.

I absolutely loved how Blake described the Masked citizens of Aygrima, you can totally *see* their amazing masks, and how it would change people’s communication as you read.

Mara holds an incredible power, a shocking, violent power – and I think this is the most exciting aspect of Masks. Seeing Mara develop her use of magic.  Like precious metal, magic is mined for the gifted to use, and Mara is very, very gifted.

The kind of gifted that she could accidentally blow your head clean off.

The novel is fast paced and Mara gets herself in and out of a million-tangles as she falls from a high-born Aygriman citizen, to concentration-camp prisoner to unmasked rebel.

MASKS is a great read – best of all the sequel, SHADOWS has just been released too – with the third FACES in the works.

I would thoroughly recommend this novel; it is a great page-turner and a fantastic start to an exciting new series.

I’ve already bought SHADOWS, and am just about to turn over Page 1. (Remember that sea-faring nation that just stopped showing up? Check out this cover! ) So there shall be a review to follow with that soon!

Happy reading my friends.

Words in the Park

I had the great pleasure of listening to some fabulous authors speak this lunch time.

There is always a magic in spoken word, a tone that you may miss if reading, a timing in live word that adds emotion, a personal connection that you may have not understood.

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Today we listened to (L-R) Sheilia Bautz, Keith Foster, Beth Goobie emceed by Annette Bower. So we had a ton of Sasky talent up on the mic.

A wonderful initiative by the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild.

Shiela Bautz:

Shelia read from her novel; Walking the cutline, When Companies Kill, A Memoir. It deals with the death of her husband  while seismic drilling in northern Alberta and subsequent investigation. You could absolutely feel the passion and the warm memories, and Shiela’s determination through the read.  She is alsp working on a Fantasy novel, which, given how good her read was- I am sure will be awesome. More info about Shiela is here.

Keith Foster:

Keith Foster has won several awards for historical writing. His narrative poems, stories, and non-fiction have been published in more than two dozen anthologies and numerous magazines.

Keith read some wonderful entertaining narrative poems, including Red Shoes; about his wife’s concerns about being mistaken for a hooker in Mexico, and about the time when he came home naked from the waist-down.  He was ‘exploring a cave’ and that is where we shall end that! Keith’s warm wit came through every sentence, and he had the audience all smiling and laughing.

Beth Goobie:

Beth Goobie has thrice won the Saskatchewan Children’s Literature Award. She also won the 2001 Canadian Library Young Adult Book Award, and has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. Her many YA novels focus on issues such as bullying, physical and sexual assault, substance abuse, gangs, first love, sexual orientation and the process of learning the balance between rights and responsibilities as a young person comes into her/his own.

Today Beth Goobie read from her poems, each one had a wonderful, mesmerizing quality. A fun poem that drew some laughs was dedicated to  Chris Haynes, a weather reporter of CBC with a great love of adverbs!

In a conversation after Beth asked if I might track down this weather reporter gentlemen – and gave me the poem. I said yes of course.

Though in retrospect I should have also asked her to sign it first!

 

 

Book review: Johannes Cabal The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard

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Book review of Johannes Cabal the Detective 

 

I picked this book up, saw a reference to Broken Sword and immediately bought it.
I didn’t read the previous Cabal book, but Howard has crafted this one to bring you up to speed pretty quick. Johannes Cabal is the dark anti-hero that seems to have recently got a heart. However, right now he is a very unpopular necromancer in need of a swift exit and he blags his way onto a luxury airship… and so the story REALLY begins.

 

There are some great diagrams in the book, efforts like these don’t go unnoticed and as a just make you feel special. Bravo Random House, bravo. Check it out,

 

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Cabal is a great protagonist to root for; OCD, rude, weird but a total bad-ass; he makes you laugh, cheer and read on and on through his adventure.

Imagine Murder on the Orient Express except featuring a skinny Poirot loves guns, isn’t scared to kill people and can do back-flips…oh yes… and is able to bring recently murdered people back to life.

Now I think that sounds pretty sweet.

 

Want me to review your YA sci-fi or fantasy? Shoot me a note.

 

Wattpad Spotlight: Jay Victor (Vic James)

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Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Jay Victor. Jay (the name is pseudonym for British TV producer Vic James) is a wattpad legend, a well-loved and admired writer with a legion of fans.

Victor’s book SLAVEDAYS is a wonderful read that has taken wattpad by storm.  Flowing with a beautiful narrative and a twisting dark plot that has kept its readers asking for more.

Dark, comic, intelligent – SLAVEDAYS has it all.

The novel is currently being serialised on Wattpad and in a few days time, will be a featured wattpad novel.

SLAVEDAYS

Luke Hadley’s summer holidays – scratch that: his life – are ruined when his parents announce that the family is starting its Slavedays. As Luke struggles to adjust to the slave town of Milton, his parents and sisters are summoned to work on the estate of the Jardines – foremost among the Equals. Luke knows he should follow his family, but a new group of friends gives him an unexpected – and dangerous – mission to stay in Milton.

Silyen Jardine, youngest son of the elite family, is the most Skilful magical practitioner of his generation. So when Silyen schemes to make the Parliament of Equals vote on abolishing the Slavedays, no-one can understand what he’s really after. And as confusion spreads, others begin to lay their own plans.

Magic, politics and rebellion swirl around Luke and Silyen, as both unleash forces that may change their world – or prove to be beyond their control.

Think ‘Downton Abbey’ meets ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘House of Cards’ – in a world where Voldemort won.

Who is Jay Victor?

‘Jay Victor’ is an extremely unimaginative pseudonym based off my real name Vic James.  I’m a TV producer/director living and working in London making current affairs documentaries. I also spent 8 years making short investigative reports for a UK national news programme. Before that, I worked as a print journalist in Japan for 5 years, and before *that* I did a PhD in 17th-century literature.

What are you currently working on?

I’m trying to produce a clean final version of SLAVEDAYS, the first book in a trilogy about magic, politics and revolution in a very divided modern Britain. And I’m checking that the story arc still makes sense for volume 2, SLAVELIFE and volume 3 (named, but I’m keeping that a secret for now as it’s also a bit of a spoiler!)

What was the inspiration for your novel?

Obviously my daily work, which saw me covering many stories on inequality in the UK: food banks, child poverty, failed regeneration, and government politics and policy. My PhD was about the period immediately preceding the English Civil War – and the Civil War itself becomes the divergence-point for my alternate history.

But mainly I was inspired by a wall. there’s an absolutely enormous wall that runs along the A31 road in Dorset. We drove up and down it a lot in my childhood, on our way to the coast. Called the Drax Wall, it always fascinated me – I used to wonder why anyone would need to build such an incredible structure around their stately home and estate! Just how unpopular were the aristocrats who lived behind it, and why? That was the genesis for the world of SLAVEDAYS, with its magically gifted, ruthless aristocrats who use their Skill to oppress the citizens

Who should read this book?

I hope that everyone can find something in SLAVEDAYS to enjoy: Pre-teen/teen readers might relate to the journey of its 16-year-old protagonist, Luke. Those who love political and social realism will find it stuffed with ideas about the world around us. Fantasy lovers get magic; lovers of dark romance get … exactly that! It’s intense, but hopefully with a touch of humour. I commute to work by Tube, and wanted to write something that I could imagine in the hands of every single person in the carriage.

What other works and authors have influenced your writing?

I don’t really have any ‘influences’, as in my time I’ve soaked up all sorts. I’m a deliriously omnivorous reader. Japanese 20th-century fiction; Renaissance poetry and drama; Victoria sensation fiction; science fiction; and classic and contemporary YA fantasy are all genres I adore. The only books I find it hard to get excited about those that duplicate everyday life. That’s what I *live* – when I read, I want to go someplace else!

How has your wattpad experience been?

Awesome!

Oh, you want some more words?
Brilliant! Friendly! Supportive! Fun! Enlightening!

It’s like a little orange tinted utopia for book geeks the world over. SLAVEDAYS is being read by people from Puerto Rico to Japan. Once upon a time that would only have been true for mega-selling international blockbusters. it’s thrilling and humbling.

And I’ve also had the chance to read some fantastic books on here – things that i would never pick up in a bookshop but which have really charmed me. and you can talk to the authors of those, too – ask questions about their books, their characters, and them. I think Wattpad takes you back to the days of storytelling round the campfire: it’s such a collective activity. And that’s more than a little bit magical.

Is this a wattpad exclusive, or do you plan to publish?

Who wouldn’t love a publishing contract? My hope is to submit SLAVEDAYS to agents later this autumn. But I’ve been delighted that SLAVEDAYS has been invited to be a featured Story on Wattpad from August 1st, so it will definitely be up for 6 months from then.

Wow! Featured story – tell us more about that!

I have no idea what to say. I had never heard of Featured Status before I was asked to go on the list. Only since then have I realised what a big deal it is – books can achieve 100,000 reads or more in the fortnight they have on the front of the list. The list seems to work like a quality kite-mark, and a first port of call for many new users. Books that go on it have to be complete -or nearly so. SLAVEDAYS will be a few chapters from the end when it goes up, which I’m hugely excited by as it means a whole new cohort of readers will find it before the Grand Finale!

I’ll also begin posting SLAVELIFE in the fall.

Wattpad has been a fantastic place to be both a reader and writer. I won’t be disappearing from it, whatever happens with SLAVEDAYS!

How can readers find out more?

For now, find me on Wattpad right here.

And there is a Pinterest board featuring some images that inspired the series, including that wall – right here!

 

 


					

YA Blog Hop

Hello everyone! I am really excited to join this blog hop!

Huge thanks to the lovely Alex Karola for this opportunity. She is the writer of  When You Fall and The Fliers of Xylan. Both of these novels are wonderful YA reads, and I highly suggest that you give them a read, right now, for free, on Wattpad.

 

Cataindar: The Discovery

 

1. What am I working on?

I’m pretty close to finishing the final edit of my novel Cataindar: The Discovery.

Fourteen-year old Luisa’s life is falling apart when she falls, literally, into the secret world of Cataindar. The catains have been expecting her.

This dark tale is filled with talking cats, giant rats, twists, turns, fur and intrigue.

I’ve been serialising the novel on wattpad and it has shot up the rankings well, hitting No.1  in Fantasy & Action sections out of the 40 million or so books cruising about on wattpad.

 

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More importantly, I’ve met other incredible writers and friends – like Alex who tagged me in this blog hop and Sarah who I tag below.

2. How is my work different from others of its genre?

I’ve taken a darker gritty spin on the land of talking animals theme.  What I constantly get told, is that it feels realistic; which is what I was striving for. In fantasy it is easy to get swept up in world-building and complex systems. I’ve really tried hard to hold on to strong character motives, regardless of the species, and spin a dark fantasy yarn using their story; with a sprinkling of magic, action and romance.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I just have an insatiable absolute bursting drive to tell this story!

I was on an extended holiday in Krakow, Poland when the story came to me complete in entirety. I was struck by a such rush of inspiration, I couldn’t sleep. I grabbed a notebook and pen and headed out to an all night cafe in Krakow square and plotted out the whole story, in that eve.  The plot-line for five novels, done!

Cataindar: The Discovery is the first of those five novels.

4. How does my writing process work?

I think I am called an outliner. So I already have the whole plot of Cataindar in my head, I write the book divided in chapters as an outline in my notebooks, then refine it, making sure the twists and turns work, making sure the continuity works each clue is worth dwelling on as it points to a reveal later. I then start writing from the beginning to the end. 🙂

I’ve literally just finished the detailed plotting of book 2 and you can see what it looks like when I plan right here;

It makes sense to me at least!

If you want to check out Cataindar, it is being serialised on Wattpad here.

More cataindar info and exclusive subscriber-only content, prizes and news sign up at Cataindar.com

That is all from me.  🙂  Thank you for tuning in to my blog hop!

 

Now I encourage you to check out s the blog of my wonderful friend Sarah Benson at www.sarahbensonbooks.com for her part of the Blog Hop in the next few weeks!

Sarah is the author of  Born of Shadow.

Seventeen-year-old Kami is in trouble. She just flew 8,000 miles to Egypt to visit her estranged grandparents, but no one is at the airport to meet her. Alone and in an unfamiliar country, she discovers their disappearance is only part of a greater threat.

Whispers of strange creatures made of a shadowy substance can be heard among the nomads of the desert. A new queen has quietly come to power, given strength by a powerful evil unleashed when she opens an ancient jar. She won’t stop until she finds the remains of Alexander the Great, convinced that his remains hold the secret to her becoming a god. Kami must rely on a band of misfit friends she makes along the way to save her grandparents and stop the queen. But does the handsome boy she just met have the answers, or is he part of the reason for her grandparents’ disappearance?

Born of Shadow is the first book in the Shadow Wars Series.

You can read it, right now on Wattpad, here.

Book review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury How about that for some book reading scenery huh? I love the opportunity to read a book in a day. Got it with this one. Camping in Waterton Park, sun + rockies = amazing. I found this book in a kind of cool way, I was browsing some book trailers were and saw this.   Holy crap. Razorbill you absolute bloody legends – you knocked that one out the park! I reward nice marketing so I bought the book immediately. I was not disappointed. Khoury brings it with this one. Origin was awesome; dark, funny and foreboding. Remember the Dhama Initiative from Lost? Imagine those creeps made a super-human. This book is set in a similar environment. The characters were great and the story cracked a long at a terrific pace. I loved the twists in the tale as we follow Pia through her adventure. What Jessica does is making Pia and her powers feel totally genuine, while a sense of mystery teases through the book. Reach realisation comes bring waves of creepiness and horror; it was a thrilling read. I know Khoury wrote this in 30 days which is incredible. How sick is that? You could really feel that cohesiveness in the story, which was brilliant. Some perfect YA right here people. Khoury has continued the winning streak with Vitro which I look forward to reviewing soon and her most recent novel announcement is that Kalahari will be out in the tail end of 2015.

Book review: INK by Amanda Sun

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Book review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink sweeps you into the world of a new US/Canadian teenager who has moved to Japan to live with her aunt after her mothers tragic death. As a reader you are thrown right into the action, the culture and language of Japan; useful tip – the dictionary is in the back.

Before long it has drawn you in and you want to be living in Japan too, rocking knee high socks and a plaid skirt, taking Kendo and eating bentoe!

(As a man I mostly just wanted to be doing Kendo and make my drawings come to life… well, you know what I mean.)

Ink is a great book, I read it in a few sittings and I’m excited for the sequel.  Sun weaves a story that is dramatic and will make you laugh, cry and cheer. Great characters that I am looking forward to seeing again. I loved the concept of the ink and how the mechanics of the mythology worked. It is a big bad world that the author has cracked open, with a ton to explore and a ton of potential for some crazy plots.

Even the feel of the book is amazing. Harliquin Teen bloody smashed it. The cover and art work is gorgeous, with flip book animation teasing across the pages. So nice to see!

Fancy a teaser? Amanda almost broke WattPad serialising the prequel Shadow.  It’s free, complete and here.

Sounds good? Check it out here….and also… due to the food descriptions you will need to be eating Japanese food while reading. I suggest you order some serious curry upon opening the first page.

Thoroughly recommend.

The sequel RAIN is coming out tomorrow, I pre-ordered that bad boy last month.

You can get it here. 

 

The Writing Process Blog Hop. AKA “My Mission Statement.”

So awesome!! 🙂

Editing through wattpad

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My editing of Cataindar: The Discovery has just gone through the roof!

Editing while on wattpad is just amazing for motivation. Constant and immediate feedback on what is working and what isn’t.

I have found it has really brought out my inner critic, I am now more ruthless than ever whole chapters have been shelved.

How have your experiences been? Do any of you use wattpad?

 

 

 

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