Posts Tagged ‘James D. Maxon’

I am pleased to announce Book For Youth’s first official book release. From the author of The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again comes a new and magical journey.

Story overview:
As the son of a great wizard, Traphis doesn’t understand why his mother and father have forbidden him from learning magic. Raised to tend fields, he often dreams of a bigger life–one in which he performs in front of an awe-stricken crowd.

A year after the death of his father, Traphis, now fifteen years old, spies his mother tossing a collection of magic books into a nearby creek. Unbeknownst to her, he is able to rescue them and read their contents hidden within his secret cave.

Opening himself up to the world of magic, a dark presence surfaces–one which has been seeking to track him down for years. Hidden secrets of the past unfold as Traphis joins with other trainees in hopes of learning the skills necessary to survive. The more answers he uncovers the more mysteries arise, sending him down the path of a true wizard, which is far more dangerous than he ever imagined.

My thoughts:
Ever since I can remember, I have loved the Narnia series, which was read to me at a young age. As I grew older, I was surprised at how little Christian Fantasies there were out there; the Christian bookstores had little to nothing of them. It was disappointing to say the least. Traphis, with a subtle/non-preachy Christian angle, targets fans of series like Narnia as well as secular ones like Harry Potter and Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle). It is not meant to compete with them, but to provide a new fantastical world in which youths can follow and come back holding onto messages of faith, hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

Things to consider:
Since this was written to appeal to teens and young adults, there are a few places that may be considered disturbing to younger children. No foul language or sexual situations, but there is action violence–done to enhance the story rather than shock the reader with sensationalism. Nothing inappropriate for the right ages (preteen and older). This should appeal to boys and girls; there are strong characters representing both genders–though the protagonist is a boy.

Opportunities for discussion:
Forgiveness is one of the leading elements in this story. Traphis’ need to forgive God for taking his father away, and his need to forgive his own failures. Skinny Jack learns he needs to forgive his abusive father, and Falin offers grace to his brother who rebelled many years ago. One thing this story also shows is the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Forgiveness is about releasing the power for vengeance and setting it into the hands of God, but one should not forget the past; we can learn from it and grow stronger as a result. Christians are not blind, they just learn to see with different eyes.

Availability:
Traphis: A Wizard’s Tale is currently available on the Kindle and Nook for $2.99 (which is a good price for a 155k word novel). If you don’t have either a Kindle or Nook eReader, don’t worry, you can download the story and read it on your computer, smartphone, or tablet using the free Kindle software.

Purchase the eBook at:
Amazon (Kindle – $2.99)
Barnes & Noble (Nook – $2.99)

What is an eBook? It’s an electronic book format that can be read on digital devices, removing the need for paper. Learn more about the story at: http://awizardstale.com.

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,800 times in 2010. That’s about 21 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 19 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 78 posts. There were 22 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 615kb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 6th with 89 views. The most popular post that day was Inkheart (Book 1), by Cornelia Funke.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were booksforyouth.com, en.wordpress.com, facebook.com, mangablog.net, and search.aol.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for inkheart, inkheart book, books for youth, youth book reviews, and star wars the force unleashed novel.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Inkheart (Book 1), by Cornelia Funke January 2009
7 comments

2

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 1), by Kathryn Lasky August 2009
1 comment

3

Mirror in the Mirror, by Michael Ende September 2009

4

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 1), by Michael Scott January 2010
1 comment

5

The White Mountains (The Tripods, Book 1), by John Christopher March 2009
2 comments

After a year of reading and reviewing lots of interesting books, I’ve come to some conclusions as to which are my favorite reads of 2009.

Favorite Trilogy of the year

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud is clearly a gem. Great writing, superb characters, intriguing story line, wonderfully dry humor, and a page turner no matter which of the three books you are on. Who knew a boy wizard and his djinni could be so much fun?

Favorite Novel of the year

1) Mimus, by Lilli Thal

From a fairly unknown author comes another gem: Mimus, by Lilli Thal. Built on the idea: “what would happen if a prince had to play a fool?” This medieval tale pulls the reader into the prince’s traumatic situation and keeps one glued to the pages to see how everything turns out.

Favorite Manga series of the year

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1), by Yellow Tanabe
2) Dragon Eye (Volume 1), by Kairi Fujiyama

This is a tough one; I’m actually stuck between these two. Both have great characters, mysterious story lines, and quality artwork. As each volume becomes available in my local US Library, I’m one of the first to reserve a copy.

What lies ahead for 2010?

I hope my readers continue to follow along as excitedly as I when Books For Youth discovers new and exciting adventures. Please feel free to drop a comment of any suggestions for 2010, either for the site, review process, or books you’re interested in getting a perspective on.

ChewieDear readers,

I’m just pausing in my regular postings to mention a short story that I wrote with a StarWars twist. The theme is Halloween, and the competition is for the Ethereal Tales, fantasy fiction zine.

Please take a few moments to vote for this story on the Ethereal Tales Web site (see details below.)

Here is a teaser:

As if in reply the bed shook again, harder this time. Nathaniel grabbed his blanket and held it tight—the image of Luke Skywalker wrinkled under his firm grip. If only he could pull the lightsaber out of the blanket and use it to defend himself. That would be a sight to see. No one would dare threaten him then.

A sharp pain pierced the back of his neck. His heart stopped. Something was behind him. Perhaps it was a creature from another world, a fuzzy furball, similar to the ones from movies such as Critters and Gremlins. It would chew off his fingers and his mother would find his bloody corpse in the morning. Did he dare turn around and look? Another sharp pain jabbed into his neck and then vanished. Nathaniel’s hand instinctively grasped at the wound. At this rate he was going to die, and slowly, so what difference did it make?

He turned his head and gasped. The end of a tiny crossbow was pointed strait at him, and behind it, the face of a small wookie.

“Wrrrrrrooooow,” it growled, as if taken directly from a Star Wars soundtrack.

This wasn’t his imagination anymore. It was for real. Of all the times he pretended the action figure of Chewbacca was alive, never once did he imagine it would actually happen.

Continued . . .

You will need to sign up for an account to vote, but it’s pretty painless and your information will not be shared. Below are the full step-by-step instructions:

  1. Go here to register for an account: http://www.etherealtales.co.uk/forum/ucp.php?mode=register .
  2. When the account is created, an email will be sent to the address you submitted.
  3. Check your email account for an email from “raven@etherealtales.co.uk”; it may be in your SPAM/Junk folder.
  4. In the email, click the link under “your account is currently inactive . . .”
  5. The etherealtales.co.uk web site will open and confirm your account.
  6. Next, either click “login” or go to this link: http://www.etherealtales.co.uk/forum/ucp.php?mode=login .
  7. Enter the username and password you created.
  8. Now, open this link: http://www.etherealtales.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=107 .
  9. Click on the check box for “An Unexpected Invitation by James D. Maxon” and click the “Submit” button.

VoteHelp

Thank you for your support!

kekkaishi_v5When last we were with our favorite ayakashi slayer, Yoshimori, we learned of his older brother and the conflict between them. Yet Yoshimori trusted him enough to share his ultimate goal: to seal off the Karasumori site forever. Why? This he did not share, but as the reader, we know it is mainly to protect Tokine, whom he cares deeply for.

Story overview:

A totoro-like creature shows up at Yoshimori’s school and eats everyone’s food. One of the students—a girl named Yuri—is able to see the creature, as she possesses paranormal abilities. She seeks out Yoshimori (since she knows he seems them too) and the two of them talk. He ensures her that everything is OK, but his investigation is anything but over.

When the creature shows up at Yoshimori’s house, he realizes that it isn’t an ayakashi, but a deity named Lord Uro. It seems that the deity’s bed needs repairing and only a Kekkaishi can do it. Yoshimori ends up jumping into a lake and is transferred to a dimensional world where he fixes the bed by using his restoration magic on a magical box. Though he repaired the bed, the effects of the dimension start to make him forget who he is. Staying behind to get answers about the Karasumori site, he barely escapes being wiped out of existence. With the help of three things written on his arm (Castle Cake, Seal off the Karasumori site, and Tokine–which was scribbled off,) and his grandfather, he makes it back to his world.

Afterwards we learn a little more about his younger brother, Toshimori who seems to be smart like Tokine, but very new to using the family magic. Not much times passes before Yoshimori and Tokine go up against a new opponent—a really strong three-team ayakashi—who just so happens to be observed from a distance. The two of them appear to defeat the offender, but we learn that this may have just been a test from an unknown group.

My thoughts:

It was fun watching Lord Uro mess with people, and I liked learning about the Restoration Magic. The story mentions how this magic is harder to use outside the Karasumori site and that it is best if used by the Shikigami (the helpers created from magical paper.) I always thought it was a little farfetched to believe it was possible to repair the damage done to the school during the nightly battles, but this explanation helped to clear that up for me.

Things to consider:

For ages 13+ and targeted towards boys. Like the others in this series, this book does not contain any real questionable content for this age group.

Opportunities for discussion:

When Yoshimori was in Lord Uro’s dimension, he started to forget who he was or what his purpose in life was. He wrote down three things that were important to him to help him remember. Ask your teen what three things they would have written down and why.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)

The Cat That Made Nothing Something AgainGenerally, I think it is of poor taste for an author to do a review of his/her own story.  But a recent article was written about my book in the “Minnesota Christian Chronicle,” and as great as that is, they removed the mention of where my book is available for purchase. That and they misspelled my name (James Mason not Maxon) in one instance.

Thankfully they mentioned this blog, booksforyouth.com, therefore, motivations of self grandeur aside, I’m adding this post to make it easier for anyone who is genuinely interested in finding out where to purchase a copy.

It can be purchased on Amazon.com at this link for $6.99 .

Below are some excerpts from the article:

“Since the 1990s, American children have been growing up in a wired world. By the time they enter Kindergarten many kids already know how to use a mouse to navigate through menus on a computer. Not to mention they are proficient at playing videogames, downloading music and even sending text messages.

While these are skills children will eventually need to learn, Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, says parents need to make sure exposure to technology doesn’t replace brain building activities like reading, imaginative play and storytelling during a child’s preschool days.

James Maxon, 31, of Maple Grove, Minn., has witnessed the effects overexposure to technology has on children first hand. While watching his wife’s Godson grow from a child to a teenager he noticed how little imaginative play the boy engaged in.

Realizing that children have so many activities that are easier to do than reading vying for their attention these days, Maxon says he purposely made the book [The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again] easy-to-read with short chapters that are designed to help children stay interested. ‘They need to be able to pick up a book, knowing that if they only read for a few minutes they will be able to easily put it down without feeling like they never got anywhere.'”

Click here for the full article.

Here is a quick synopsis:

The Cat that Made Nothing Something Again, published in Dec. 2008, is a whimsical tale about a nameless cat that is bored in a land of dry everything – people, trees and land. He remembers a time when the landscape was green, flowers bloomed and people cared about him and each other. He wants to experience the joy he remembers so well again, so he sets out on a journey to figure out who sucked the moisture from his world and get it back.

Along the way he meets some colorful characters, including a wise old turtle, a seemingly sinister troll, a smart little bird, an overwhelmed mayor and a simple seed who remind him how important it is for people to do what’s right and take care of each other. Other Christian-themed messages delivered in the book: if you know something is wrong you must do what you can to make it right; don’t worry about that which you cannot change; it is better to serve than to be served; and faith is an important tool for getting through difficult times.