Sunday, 18 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - It Looks Like This




It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt




J - age 9

I think this book is about someone who's always trying to show people things and they say, "It looks like this." It's a novel, and the person says, "It looks like this."

I - age 5

Like somebody who is like walking down the street and then like they go to school and there's loads of loads of floating candy in the air. They try to get it and the teacher says, "That's not how you try to get candy floating, it goes like this."

(There may be some wish fulfilment going on there)


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Someone I Wanted to Be


This is a new feature where kids tell me what they think a book is about, based on the cover.


Someone I Wanted to Be by Aurelia Wills




J - age 9

This book is about someone who wanted to be someone really famous and then, like, they had to teach them how to be it, and people are, like, "You can't be them, you have to be yourself," and the person they wanted to be taught them how to be that person and then when they left, the person who wanted to be them got used to being unique and started to be anyone they wanted to be.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Review - The Price of Magic by KJ Taylor

Title: The Price of Magic
Author: KJ Taylor
Publisher: Black Phoenix Publishing Collective
Date of Publication: December 3rd 2016
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Summary:


“You are here because you were born different. Born with a gift ... and a curse.”

Heroes come in all shapes. Upright, manly, sword-wielding…. Or small and weedy with walking sticks. Unless you look hard enough, you might miss these ones. Pip’s on a journey to find out just what he can do—in magic and in life. Big things are expected of him. . And he’s about to be tested Can he deliver?

This new Young Adult work by acclaimed Australian author KJ Taylor is a stand-alone novella about confronting our challenges and celebrating our differences. Meet Pip and Seress, Ana and Clemence, Jinx and Hex, and follow their quest to find and stop the mad mage who is threatening magic's very existence. KJ Taylor asks us to think about the choices we make, and the price that we pay for them. For anyone who’s ever been intimidated by those around them, here's a heart-warming story of one boy who isn’t content to be defined by others.

Review:

Pip, short for Pipsqueak, has been small and weak his whole life, but in his world, a child born with a disability can be a source for celebration. Pip is a mage, and as with all mages, he has both a Gift, and a Price. When Pip leaves his small village and heads for the Mage's Institute at age 15, he is excited about the possibilities before him. When he and his Master are sent on a quest to bring in a rogue Mage, he faces the possibility of living without his Price, but without his disability, would he be himself at all?

This novella looks at disability in a completely different light. While it is undoubtedly a burden for those who are affected in Pip's world, it is simply the cost paid for power, and it is not possible to have magic without having a price. For some, like Pip, it's physical limitations, for some, mental illness or neurological disorders, for others, chronic and potentially terminal illness. But rather than focusing on characters' difficulties, it focuses on their strengths and the way they overcome their limitations to save the world.

I liked the magic system and the idea that power is not just granted on its own, but comes with a price. It makes it all the more valuable that it's not freely given.

This charming novella is worth reading and would perhaps appeal to a younger YA audience, but some readers may be offended by some of the terms used in the book (specific terms that I noticed - dwarf, cripple, nuts - your mileage may vary here).

And I totally want a furniture tree.


Monday, 5 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Phantom Limbs


This is a new feature where kids look at the covers of books and tell me what they think it's about.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner






J - age 9

It's about a person who has magical limbs and they take risks. They're very exquisite. In the story I think this person gets magical limbs, but only in her sleep, and everyone she's loved that doesn't love her anymore gets spooked by the limbs.

Guest Post - KJ Taylor - The Price of Magic

The Price of Magic is a special book. It's being published exclusively by students at the University of Southern Queensland. Written by KJ Taylor it explores the idea that magic comes at a cost. It was published on December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with a Disability.

Below is a guest post written by KJ Taylor on a topic that is very relevant to me personally. I hope you enjoy it. Check back later in the week for my review.



When we’re young, we want to believe that life is easy. We choose to believe that those around us are ‘normal’, and that we are too.

But eventually the day comes when we ourselves begin to realise that we are not normal. That we have problems. Some of us are born knowing it. Some of us don’t realise until we’re much older. An unfortunate few never realise it at all – unfortunate because a problem that goes unnoticed will never be dealt with as it should.

Some of us find ourselves confronted with the fact that we are ‘abnormal’, ‘weak’ or ‘broken’. But it is not until later that we realise that this is how everyone feels.

Some of us are depressed. Some of us are anxious. Some of us are mentally or physically handicapped. But just about everyone feels in some way inadequate, whether there’s a label for it or not.

When I was a child I believed I was stupid. This was something ground into me day after day. I couldn’t seem to understand other people properly. I said and did inappropriate things. I had no friends, and was bullied on a regular basis – on at least one occasion by a teacher who felt it was appropriate to publicly humiliate the ‘weird kid’. I hated myself.

Then, at the age of sixteen, I was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Now it all made sense. Now I had a label.

Now I could find half of my personality traits listed in medical books under the heading ‘Symptoms’. It made me feel like less of a person.

As I entered adulthood I developed severe issues with anxiety, sometimes to the point where I was unable to function. I finally did the sensible thing and went to see a series of counsellors who I hoped could help me learn how to cope better with the life I’d found myself living.

While I was sitting in the waiting room, feeling absolutely miserable, I found myself wondering ‘why do I have to be so much of a screw-up? Why are so many creative people so damaged?’

The truth was that my Asperger’s had done me plenty of favours creatively. Having the ‘disorder’ gives me unusual levels of focus and concentration, and because I had to learn through trial and error how other people work I became pretty insightful about how people think (a friend in all seriousness told me she thought I wasn’t really an Aspie because ‘you write characters so well’. I laughed.).
But it also came with downsides, and I felt resentful not to have been given a choice in the matter. I was sick of being ‘abnormal’.

Right there, in the counsellor’s waiting room, The Price of Magic was born. I found myself picturing a world where illness, disability and mental disorders came with the gift of magic. The mages in this novel are, essentially, artists. Unable to function properly in the real world, they seclude themselves and create things for the benefit of others. To make the world a better place.

And the truth of it is, as I later learned, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Normal is a construct which does nothing but make people feel abnormal. To blazes with ‘normal’. Everyone is weird in their own special way, and all of us have something to give. You are not a disability. You are not an illness. You are you. You are a person. Never be defined by what you cannot do, but instead embrace what you can do. And never, ever, give up on yourself.

Finally, as the character of Ingar is intended to be gender neutral, rather than use the clunky ‘they’, I refer to this character as ‘xe’, which is a gender neutral pronoun. Writing a character without specifically referring to their gender is a lot harder than it sounds, unfortunately.


The Price of Magic has been published by the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective and will be available this coming December. Follow the progress of this inspiring fantasy work on Facebook