James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra

by Colm McElwain



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780880693
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Publication date: 12/28/2011

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James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra tells the story of the young James, an unassuming orphaned boy who lives in foster care following the death of his parents. Shortly before his yearly trip to see grandfather Wilmore for Christmas, James meets a woman claiming to be a psychic who tells James that he is destined for greatness.  When Christmas holiday arrives, James and his friends Ben and Mary go to stay with grandfather Wilmore, who tells them of the land of Orchestra, where he claims to have lived most of his life. Wilmore is in possession of a mysterious diamond that, he says, will grant the possessor immortality, if it is rejoined with two other enchanted diamonds in Orchestra. Wilmore's story is validated when a mysterious stranger brings tragedy down on his house. James learns that he is the true heir of Orchestra, and journeys with the other children through a secret door into a realm of monsters called Dakotas and other fantastic creatures to take over the realm from the evil Queen Abigail and her servant Gilbert.  James Clyde is a good fantasy tale for young readers. The chapters are short and the action is brisk. The characters face real peril, but the danger is never too dark or scary. James and his friends acquire magical powers that enable them to conquer the opposition when they cooperate. There is violent content involving swordplay and battle scenarios, but the author never dwells very long on gory details.  This book will appeal to children who would enjoy stories like Harry Potter and Little Nemo, but is appropriate for readers too young for these books. The narrative is simple and fast-paced, making it perfect for young readers who want to tackle a longer book than normal. The chapters are very short, helping the reader make quick and steady progress through the medium-length novel. For readers hoping for a series, the novel ends on a cliff-hanger that is a clear setup for more books to follow. I would recommend this book to mature 8-11 year olds who enjoy a complex mixture of fantasy, mystery, and adventure. 
Ronnie293 More than 1 year ago
James and his friends,Ben and Mary,are living in foster care and spend their Christmas holidays at James' grandfathers mansion. James finds out he is the son of a king and was sent away as a baby with his grandfather to protect him from evil. However, he must now return and save his people from these evil forces. This is a great first introduction to Fantasy for younger readers. I would recommend for ages 11 - 14 as there is some violence and bloodshed involved. Well written for the target age with suspense and laugh out loud moments. I'm looking forward to the next instalment in the James Clyde series. Lots of questions still left unanswered. Will Queen Abigail obtain Eternal Life? What was Ben's wish? Will Simon go to Zara?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde is an orphan with a mysterious grandfather and a more mysterious past. When a strange man in black arrives in James’ life, he embarks, with his friends Ben and Mary, on an adventure that will see him face wizards, knights, magic, betrayal, danger, and the truth of his own past. This is a young adult novel that does not fall short on adventure and excitement. It caters well to its target young adult audience, especially those young readers who enjoy edge of your seat suspense and otherworldly fantasy. The writing is basic to poor at times, with some cliché moments but nothing that would hinder the enjoyment of young readers. Adults that enjoy the young adult fiction genre may find the writing leaves something to be desired but should keep in mind the intended audience. The characters are likeable though very one dimensional, even the protagonist, though some seem thrown in the story almost as an afterthought. The setting transitions from earth to a mystical realm which seems designed to the young adult comprehension level: not too big or overly complicated. Minor issues aside, the story itself is marvelous and written in a way that builds suspense for most of the novel. The chapters are short (also a bonus for young readers) and often switch perspectives and end with cliffhangers to draw out the drama. This could easily be read by those on the younger end of the young adult age group. James is the oldest character at 11, and readers at the same age would have no problem reading the novel. There is some violence and bloodshed, so a prior read through by an adult (which could be done in under 2 days) would be recommended to ensure it suits the maturity level of the young reader. However, the violence is comparable to that found in the Harry Potter series. The novel could easily be developed into a series and the writer shows promise if his skills are developed. While this may not be a young adult novel that will win the accolades of older readers, it is well tailored to the intended age group and would be well loved by many.
J_Oliver More than 1 year ago
The story of James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a world-bouncing adventure along the lines of Percy Jackson and the Olympians or the Chronicles of Narnia. James Clyde is a spunky 11-year-old orphan who thinks he’s going to visit his eccentric grandfather for Christmas, and instead finds himself and his adopted siblings Ben and Mary flying, falling and fighting their way through the parallel world of Orchestra.  Dropped on the Children’s Home stairs as an infant and raised in a hopeless string of foster-homes, James was nearly picked up for shoplifting before discovering the truth of his mysterious heritage one December night when the fantastical bedtime stories from his Grandfather come alive before his eyes. Transported to the golden palace of his birth, trained by the fabled 12 Knights of Zara, and thirsting to revenge the betrayal that killed both his parents, James must face down the wicked schemes of Queen Abigail of Darken and the evil sorcerer Imorex to claim his royal heritage.  James Clyde and the Diamonds of the Orchestra contains all the imaginative elements that make fantasy fun, including magic, sword-fights, fantastical creatures, and noble causes. While most fantasy fans will likely find the overall plot feeling familiar, the abiding ethical questions of stand and fight, or live to fight another day are timeless. And what really moves the book forward is hope. While not yet a master swordsman, sorcerer, or warrior-king, 11-year-old James is the great hope for the kingdom of Zara. And somewhere beyond the petty disobediences, elementary sarcasm, and sibling bickering, James finds the courage to become the living hope his homeland needs. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the diamonds of orchestra by Colm McElwain is a story about young James Clyde, who has little more than a baby was dropped at a children's home by his grandfather who was wounded and blood-soaked. It is 11 years later and James discovers the story of his strange past and he decides he must uncover the truth and that is when his grandfather gives him the diamond of orchestra a magical and mysterious item. James is not alone in his journey to protect the diamond from the evil that will come after it, he has his friend been, Mary, and Forrester. I personally have found in today's literary market it can be hard to find an entertaining and well written children's book, especially in the realm of fantasy. With so many stories taking on similar plot lines, they all seem to blend together. That however was not the case with James Clyde and the diamonds of orchestra. I found this to be both a unique and fantastic story that is engaging, well-written and just overall entertaining. While it is aimed for young children I think adults can enjoy the story as well it has a depth to it that keeps you engaged no matter what your age. If you are a reader like me who likes to branch out and find new books, new authors, and overall stories that have not been overdone to death this is a book for you. You can tell that the author put a lot of work into this book and it shows in every page that you turn. While there is danger written into its pages none of it is too scary or would be too much for the young audience it targets. James Clyde truly seems to have the right amount of everything within it and it is one of the best books I have read this year. I will look forward to seeing more done by this author in the future.
vdud88 More than 1 year ago
Colm McElwain delivers an action packed, young adult fantasy in his latest book called James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra, where the Chronicles of Narnia meet Superman and Peter Pan. In this delightful book, we start off in an ominous setting where an unknown character is killed in the forest running from mysterious creatures with red glowing eyes. From there we are taken to the present day where the main characters Mary, Ben, and James are all orphans and will be spending the Christmas holiday with James' grandfather Wilmore Clyde at his mansion. After their arrival at the mansion, the book takes off into a likeness of the Chronicles of Narnia but instead of an armoire, we have a treasure chest. We are taken to another world, where we discover the background story behind James and why he became an orphan. We also see his transition from the head of his orphan gang of three to having the responsibility of an entire kingdom on his shoulders.  This book is perfect for young and older adults alike. There is a huge fantasy piece, some mystery, flying kids, evil creatures, knights, and a mystical world with different species throughout. I highly recommend this book due to the level penmanship that it took to write this on top of the vivid imagery and flow of the book.  For example, as James is seeing his kingdom for the first time, the author makes you feel as though you are standing in the mountaintop with James seeing it for the first time as well as he says "Directly opposite him was a large mountain, much like the one he was standing on, covered with an abundance of red roses. On his left was another, this one with a giant cascading waterfall thundering powerfully into a body of water below. Peering down, he saw the foam of the waves crashing against the rocks. He could feel the spray of the water on his cheeks." The author doesn't give too much away in the beginning which definitely keeps you turning the pages. Although there is an opening for the next book, there isn't a ridiculous cliffhanger that makes you frustrated. The end was a great conclusion to the first part of the journey and is a great shoe-in to the next book in the series. I'll definitely follow this author throughout the series and I look forward to seeing James, Mary, and Ben grow as I read. 
Minotcp More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a great YA book about a young orphan boy currently living with his foster mother. The hero of our story is James Clyde, as the book's title suggests, and here we read about his adventure to protect a diamond from falling into the wrong hands. But this isn't just any diamond, oh no, this is a wish-granting diamond. James is a fun, realistic and relatable character for any reader, participating in every day boyish activities. This character makes for a great lead and really gets you to feel the emotions he feels during his journey. James, of course, had with him his two trusty friends, Mary and Ben, to join him on his journey, all making for great dialogue and conversational writing that made you believe these ones were truly friends. ‘Where are we, then?’ asked Mary.  ‘Dunno,’ said Ben. Mary groaned. ‘I’m starving.’ Ben let out a sigh. ‘Seriously, Mary, even for a girl, you talk too much.’ For any parent who likes to check out their child’s book before passing it along, this one will put you at ease, as it had all the great makings of a great "novel”, bringing up the subjects of evil, loyalty, monsters, murder and destiny all while keeping the age of its reader respectfully in mind. The book really follows James' choice on whether or not he can accept and fulfill his destiny, a struggle that most of us, regardless of age, can relate to on one level or another. The cover of this book is one of my favorite things about it. While some may find the artwork amateur, it reminds me of books I would find at the library as a girl and go nuts about, running my hand over the hand-drawn artwork especially made for that story. Back before "movie poster-like" covers would quickly replace the beautiful illustration. The narration was fun and quick-witted and many chapters ended on a cliffhanger, intense moment, or witty line that made you want to keep reading. This book is absolutely perfect for young ones, as short chapters and great titles make this YA book an easy read and a real page turner perfect really for any age so long as you have a little imagination. 
oatmealcookie19 More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is about an orphan boy named James, who is actually the young king of the fantastical kingdom, Orchestra. He has two close friends, the siblings Ben and Mary, who has been with him ever since. The book can be compared to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Both books are similar in plot. You have the young heroes (James, Ben, and Mary); an unimaginable, magical world of witches, ogres, etc; and the villainess who wishes to control the world. This is a book the young and the young at heart will absolutely love. Unfortunately, I’m neither young (elementary school age to high school) nor young at heart. I neither love nor hate James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra. What I Do Like About It: 1) James, Mary, Ben – Although the plot is a little expected and flat, I still did enjoy these three characters. The way they interact with one another; how they think; and how they react tell me these three are smart children, who’ll definitely grow into mature, witty adults someday.  2) Pacing – The story moves fast without flowery, nonsensical paragraphs to delay it. It’s a no-nonsense, straightforward book. Maybe it’s just me, but I really do appreciate books that just go straight to the point or the heart of the matter.  What I Don’t Like (so much) About It: 1) World-building – I’m a girl who lives in Southeast Asia (SEA), so picturing places outside SEA is a little hard for me to imagine—unless I’ve seen what the author is describing on TV or the computer. When I read books, I demand and expect for the author to flesh everything out for me—from the setting to what the characters are wearing. And since James Clyde and the Diamond of Orchestra is set somewhere outside SEA and planet earth, I was hoping for a thorough description of Orchestra. Unfortunately, the descriptions were a little lacking, and I ended up seeing forests only.  2) Missing parts/information/story jump – I was around 15% of the book when Ben and Mary started mentioning Orchestra and Wilmore, James’ granddad, and Wilmore’s adventures in Orchestra. This was just out of the blue! I had to reread this part of the book twice and skim over the previous chapters I read. I needed to make sure I didn’t miss or misread a word. But I wasn’t mistaken.  There was no information or mention of Ben and Mary knowing of Orchestra or Wilmore’s adventures until I read 15%! If you’ll read the entire book, you’ll notice a lot of this “story jump” to happen.  3) Unexplained actions/reactions – Just a little spoiler and this is just an example. The book starts with James shoplifting coats in a mall. I wondered why. The book says James took the coats for Mary (or I think they were for Mary) and because they were poor. But later, as you read further into the story, you’ll realize that the mall scene isn’t even necessary to the story; and the book doesn’t mention Mary’s coldness again after the mall scene. If the author deleted the scenes and chapters before the chapter where Wilmore took the children to his house, there wouldn’t have been a difference in the story. The story didn’t start moving until Wilmore brought the kids to his house.
Karsun More than 1 year ago
As someone who loves Young Adult books and devoured the Harry Potter series, I was pleased to read James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is about a young boy who was left at a children's home as an infant by his grandfather. He's now 11 years old and ready to solve the mystery of what happened when his grandfather gives him what is known as the Diamond of Orchestra, which he must protect from evil forces. What I liked is that James is a normal boy who does normal things like take something from the mall that isn't his or stay up late to watch television. The chapters are short, which I love. Even though I'm far from a young adult, I love that I can read a chapter and get left with a cliffhanger like: “Don’t struggle,’ said Belinda calmly. ‘It will only make it worse.’ ‘Make what worse?’ ‘This might hurt a little.’ And then she flicked the knife.” Or this: “But every so often throughout the night, he would wake for a moment, and when he did one question still nagged above any other – what if it was true?” And then move on to the next chapter to see what is going to happen. I found everything engaging and I was excited to read on to the next chapter and the next until I finished the entire book in a day. From children ages 12-15 to adults such as myself, everyone will enjoy this fantasy young adult book by Colm McElwain. It's exciting, adventurous, and best of all, even though it's a fantasy book – the star, James Clyde, is realistic and never a one-dimensional character. I highly recommend this book and let's hope there are more adventures to come from Colm McElwain.
Oz314DM More than 1 year ago
James is eleven years old and quite an adventurer. Already busy dodging mall cops for thrills, he gets a rare visit from his grandfather Wilmore Clyde. Wilmore Clyde takes James and his two best friends, Ben and Mary Forester, to a mansion James never knew his grandfather had. As he usually does during these infrequent visits, Wilmore Clyde talks to the young ones about a place called Orchestra, which Ben and Mary enjoy hearing about. James, however, would rather explore the mansion as soon as his grandfather lets them be. The first few forays yielded cookies for midnight snacks and a room with rows of armor that Wilmore said stood for the Knights of Zara. The real find is a room that formed a door with bright golden light shining through when one comes near! All these discoveries were fun and games until James finds his grandfather attacked and bleeding at the entrance of the mansion. Wilmore tells James that Orchestra is real, that his attackers came from the kingdom of Darken and that James needs to escape to the Kingdom of Zara with a magical diamond that the Darken queen needs to rule all of Orchestra. With his friends in tow, James needs to get the diamond, find a way into Orchestra, and somehow defeat the Queen of Darken. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra reminds me of the fast-paced fantasy stories I enjoyed throughout my youth. James Clyde comes across as a risk-taker other kids root for--despite his daredevil demeanor, he's trying to overcome overwhelming odds and do the most good. I enjoyed the story because the author's writing style keeps the action moving along. The children could be looking for the cookie tin in the middle of the night, or confronting creatures called Volen who serve the Darken queen: the author writes as if either incident is a dangerous cliffhanger, and that helps urge readers to keep turning pages and see what happens next. It also helps that James takes every adventure in stride. The story begins with James dodging security in a mall by ducking into a fortune teller's booth. James listens intently to the rather outrageous fortune the seer was telling him, not just because he's trying to evade his pursuers but because he wants to remember the prophecy in case it does take place. Next he discovers his grandfather has this huge mansion - he didn't know his grandfather had a mansion before, but now that he has the run of the place he was going to explore every inch of it! Much later in the story, James and his friends are being accompanied through a forest by hundreds of creatures named orchins. James has never heard of orchins before, and this is the first time he's met their leader Grampian, but he follows the creatures anyway so he can get to the Kingdom of Zara. That curiosity in James's character makes him suspend disbelief in order to see what unfolds. Young readers will be of the same mind and keep reading. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a great book for children already fond of fantasy adventures, as well as for young readers just starting their adventure in fantasy. Likeable characters, fast-paced storytelling, and a solid story--a recommended read!
Sa17 More than 1 year ago
"James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra" by Colm McElwain is a fast-paced fantasy adventure full of secrets and drama in the age-old battle of good versus evil. This exciting story stars a young hero-James Clyde, who has just learned about his past, the truth about his family, and the prophecy he must fulfill as it was foretold before his birth. At the tender age of 11 James has great expectations thrust upon him and he must quickly decide if he has the faith and courage to fulfill his destiny. All of this a far cry from his life as he knows it, living in an orphanage under stern Ann Brown with his adopted brother and sister Ben and Mary. Aside from the occasional mischievous escapade, James' escape from reality is during his yearly Christmas holiday visits with his one known living relative, granddad Wilmore Clyde, whom all three children eagerly visit with every Christmas holiday. James seems like any stereotypical kid of his age who longs for fun and adventure. He greatly enjoys the tales of grandpa Wilmore as he regales stores about knights, evil minion creatures called Dakota's, and a far-away land called Orchestra. Little does James realize that his grandpa might be telling the truth when he arrives at the house one night, covered in blood from a mortal wound and only has minutes to tell James everything. If it is all true, James will have to face battles against evil creatures in a race to capture the three diamonds that will ensure the survival or destruction of Orchestra. The three diamonds are powerful, and joined together they are reputed to give eternal life to the possessor of the diamonds. Though in the wrongs hands, such as that of evil Queen Abigail, that could be the demise of Orchestra, and the uprising of the Darken side. James, Ben, and Mary all are familiar with the stories of Orchestra and now they feel they are at a crossroads in accepting that this just might be real, and in order to survive, they have to believe it, and believe in themselves that they can accomplish what they set their minds to. Colm McElwain composes a vividly entertaining story that promotes the value of friendship, teamwork, and encouragement among peers. It´s action-packed with enough danger to keep it dangerously engaging minus the gory details that fuel nightmares in young readers. There is sword fighting and chase scenes that keep the pages turning quickly in this exciting adventure. It's uplifting to see James, Ben, and Mary interact together as they each offer different forms of support, challenge, and understanding as they venture about Wilmore's estate and learn more about the secrets he´s been hiding for so long. This is a great story geared for a young pre-teen market that capitalizes on the fantasy adventure mindset of this demographic group. The story has no definitive ending and leaves open the possibility of more great adventures.
JohnWalsh More than 1 year ago
Starting off in media res and rushing along at a rapid pace throughout the book, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra unleashes a story of a young boy and his two foster siblings as they are introduced into a magical alternative earth where they are faced with incredible danger but, on the other hand, great adventure. Starting from an unpromising beginning in an unloving foster home, the eponymous hero finds that his early years are rather more unexpected than he had previously realized. In particular, his beloved grandfather, whom he sees only at Christmas, brought him to the orphanage as a baby when both were covered in blood (the grandfather’s, as it transpires). Not only that but a mysterious stranger is apparently asking questions about his whereabouts and his luck must surely run out soon, since the security guards in the shopping centre where he practices his shoplifting are getting closer to catching him. After this, a rapid path of adventure leads James and his two friends Ben and Mary, into the mysterious world of Orchestra, home of the Orchins and the malevolent Volens, together with their various leaders and heroes. Along the way, the children meet the magical diamonds which, since they appear in the title, it will come as no surprise to discover that these are magical and, consequently, the cause for all manner of great and terrible deeds. By the end of the story, it is clear that further adventures in the same world might be possible but the book stands as a complete YA novel in its own right.  The writing is perfectly adequate to the task and is rooted in a European setting – I am assuming that the author is Irish, given his name and the phrasing of certain sentences. The world described is curiously pre-modern in that there are none of the gadgets central to the lives of children in contemporary societies in the developed world: they do not have mobile phones to connect with their guardians or each other, they do not appear to long to play what people in my generations persist in calling video games and do not upload their status (‘in grave danger’) on Facebook or similar social media networks. That is not in itself bad – series such as the Harry Potter books had precious little truck with modern technology, after all, while the ability to make a telephone call as conveniently as it is mostly possible these days would ruin the plots of a huge number of books and films. The naming strategy is a little odd but one which seems to be common in books of this sort – why should the magical alternative earth be called Orchestra? Why are the evil flying monsters called Dakotas and one of the more sympathetic characters called Grampian (do they still have Grampian TV and news in Britain? I have not been back for many years)? Is there a deeper message intended here? Be that is it may, this is a fast-paced book with zest and zip and will give a great deal of pleasure to readers who enjoys adventure stories with a dash of magic and excitement. Let’s hope there are more episodes to come.
Tazsingh More than 1 year ago
A gripping fantasy tale that promises adventure and excitement to younger readers. James Clyde has no idea who he really is, and he certainly doesn't know where he comes from.  At first glance, he is just an 11 year old orphaned boy living in a home with his friends Ben and Mary.  However, when they leave to spend time with his eccentric grandfather in his huge residence, a strange turn of events leads him to the realisation that there is more to his past than meets the eye.  With his grandfather gravely injured by the men who are hunting him, James discovers that his life is in danger and the fairytales he was told as a child are true. He is entrusted with a magical diamond and a key that allows him to enter the land of Orchestra. Launched into the kingdom of Zara, James must fight against the agents of the evil Queen Abigail of Darken. In this kingdom, he will meet the 12 knights of Zara and discover the truth about his identity.  He must use all his wits and strength, and trust in a prophecy that sends him on a path to find his father's killer and restore the land to peace and prosperity.  This tale jumps between earth and the fabled land of Orchestra; with magic, an evil queen, a fearsome race of hunters called Dakotas, and a steady pace that keeps the reader turning pages.  The writing style is simple and easy to follow. The storyline is imaginative and interesting, with great characters and detailed scenery.  The plot and style is suitable for younger readers, but some moderately violent battle scenes mean it may not be appropriate for sensitive children.  A great story with some intense cliffhangers that make the next books in the series eagerly anticipated.
LilyCan More than 1 year ago
While initially slow to start, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra displays charm, wit and fast paced adventure appealing to both reluctant and voracious readers. James Clyde is an orphaned boy who lives with a stern foster mother with his two best friends.  But when they go to visit James’ grandfather, the mysterious but loveable Wilmore Clyde, their world turns upside down. When the terrifying and all too real monsters of Wilmore’s stories attack the house, James is sent on a magical adventure to Orchestra, the land of his birth. When James arrives, he befriends the local creatures, who recognize his birthright as the King of Zara. But Zara’s greatest enemy, Darken is on the rise. The nightmarish creatures that attacked him and his friends were sent there by Queen Abigail of Darken. She needs a magical diamond to give her the power to rule over all of Orchestra, and she believes James has it. James and his friends Ben and Mary race against time and the forces of darkness to save Orchestra from the evil grasp of Queen Abigail and restore peace and prosperity. Overall, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is an enjoyable read for all ages. While a mid level reader might enjoy it most, the classicly innocent charm might remind older readers of C.S. Louis’ the Chronicles of Narnia. The book’s fast pace never takes premise over loveable characters or valuable character development. While initially slow to get started, readers who push past the first fifty pages will find themselves engrossed. The writing balances wonderfully between thrilling page turner, enchanting fairy tale, and monster filled horror.  However, like any story, it isn’t perfect. Readers may find themselves agitated by the almost flawless heroism of James and the off handed way that both James and Ben treat Mary, often making comments about how she talks too much despite her minor role. Despite its shortcomings, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is sure to be a favorite of young fans of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia as well as reluctant readers who need a fast, fun story to hook them in and a clever, twisting plot to keep them there.
Amy_J1 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful and exciting adventure! One with all the major emotional connections to keep a reader interested and wanting to read more. A story that screams excitement and thrill with every page. An infant named James was left in the care of the foster system by his grandfather eleven years ago. Struggling through his pre-teen year James’s life takes a significant turn when he and his friends Ben and Mary (also foster children) take their annual trip to James’s grandfather’s house for Christmas. While visiting Wilmer Clyde, James and friends find themselves in awe of the beautiful home Wilmer lives in and they also find a mysterious situation that gives hope to James uncovering his past and who he really is. Quickly James’s life becomes a dangerous game of finding the truth and getting to the safety of the Knights in Zara on a completely different world name Orchestra. With a special diamond given to James by his grandfather, James along with Ben and Mary make the trip to Orchestra and immediately are separated. Fortunately, there is a prophecy about our young James and his destiny is to be the king as his father was before him. However, a very powerful enemy has other ideas on what should happen to our special James and she wants him dead. Thanks to the loyalty of the races in the world of Orchestra, James is safely delivered into the hands of the Knights where he learns the truth of who is really is and what happened during the time of his birth. Now James must make a choice, to accept his destiny and stand tall or flee for the sake of safety. What he decides will begin the transformation between who he was and who he really is. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a wonderful and brilliant book with enough to keep your mind enticed but also left with questions that could surely only be answered in a second book. The story is well written and readable with obvious elements of war, destiny, and sacrifice. This book is by no means graphic to the point of inappropriate for the Young Adult genre and reads in a similar fashion to the great writers of our time such as Clive Staples Lewis and Joanne Kathleen Rowling. Colm McElwain is quickly making a name for himself within the Young Adult genre. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra will become a favorite on the bookshelf of many across the world.
dfwebb14 More than 1 year ago
James Clyde is an ordinary eleven year old boy with an unexplained extraordinary past. It is a past that the people in his life have worked hard to make certain he knows nothing about. James’s story opens with the strange premonitions of a renowned fortune teller. Her work is praised as psychic genius, but in some circles scorned as the ramblings of a psychotic madwoman with a questionable reputation. James’s brief encounter leaves him wondering whether the latter is the more accurate description. Madame Belinda gives him just the slightest peak into where he came from and what he was destined to do. That foreshadowing combined with his unexplainable orphanage appearance and reclusive grandfather cause James to doubt everything he knows to be true. Over the winter holiday, James and his adopted brother and sister Ben and Mary are treated to a two week long stay at Grandfather Clyde’s estate. What starts out as a relaxing vacation turns into one mystery hunt after the other. James joins together with the other children to go on the adventure of a lifetime. They start with a simple mission to explore their grandfather’s expansive mansion, and then their trip takes a turn for the fantastical. The enigmatic Man in Black, who arrives to leave a threatening note, spurs James and his companions to take on a mystical force that threatens all of their lives. They are swept into a world of intrigue and peril, where they must fight an evil force to ward off its attempt at controlling immortality. Mary’s deep insight despite her young age, Ben’s straightforward nature, and James’s go with the flow attitude combine into a trio that attacks problems from all sides. Along their journey, their friendships are tested and they are pushed to the brink of their limits. This fast paced, easy to read book will leave young readers on the edge of their seats, biting their nails after every turn of the page. Colm McElwain has a fantastic way with detail and dialect that lights up his writing and insights a love for the mysterious and scientific. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a classic tale of adventure and heroism, with just enough wit and humor to give a new spin to the entire genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of orchestra is a tale of a young ten year old boy, James Clyde, and his two friends Ben and Mary Forester. However this action filled book takes the reader on a magical journey and serves as a reminder of the power of friendship and trust. While an adventurous tale at its core, this booked geared towards young adults, will have readers of all ages eagerly flipping through its pages, anxious to find out what twist and turns are coming next. As just an infant, James Clyde finds himself abandon on a doorstep of a children’s orphanage, dropped off by his grandfather, Wilmore Clyde, who is unexplainably saturated in blood. James grows up with his close friends, Ben and Mary Forester, and becomes a child curious about the world, as well as where he comes from and his family. One day James crosses paths with a fortune teller who alludes to James being from a mysterious place and not an ordinary boy.  Soon James and his friends are on a journey of a lifetime facing dangers, challenges, and enemies they never expected to encounter. James’ grandfather, Wilmore, tells James the truth about being from a placed called Orchestra and proceeds to reveal to James a magical and mystifying green diamond. It is now up to James, the heir to the throne of Orchestra, to protect his friends and the diamond, with his life in order to save the people of Orchestra.  Throughout their adventure James, and his friends, come face to face with henchmen trying to kill them, the infamous “man in black,” and must transport to an alternate world for a final showdown. The challenges of facing uncertainty, neglect, danger and losing loved ones are all presented in a way in which readers will easily relate to. James’ cryptic past will have readers enthralled and eager to learn more about him. James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a thrilling, easy to read book, which will have readers on the edge of their seats, championing young James to victory. 
Tzelibooks More than 1 year ago
Colm McElwain's James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a fast-paced fantasy action adventure that will hold young readers' attention till the very end. The main characters are very likeable and easy to sympathize with, and some of the villainous creatures are both interesting and pretty scary: that's a good formula for keeping young minds glued to the story. We're just at the beginning though: this book is first of the series, so more adventures in the world of Orchestra is forthcoming! James Clyde is a capable 11 year-old orphan with a mysterious past. This winter however, James Clyde's past is about to change the world as he knows it. Soon the stories his grandfather would tell him and his friends about a land called Orchestra become reality when creatures from that land attack his grandfather's mansion. James learns that he is not only heir to a kingdom called Zara, but that the creatures who attacked his grandfather were sent by the queen of a kingdom called Darken who wants James killed. She also wants a magical diamond that she knows is in James's or his grandfather's possession. Queen Abigail of Darken already has two of the diamonds, and having the third would grant her vast powers and let her rule over all of Orchestra. James, Ben, and Mary need to stop Queen Abigail and save Orchestra from her ambitions of domination, but what can three young children do? Plenty, it turns out, if one of them happens to be James Clyde. Target audience for the book is children at middle school reading level, but the story is an enjoyable action adventure for most readers who like fantasy. James is capable and resourceful for an 11 year-old, and his best friend Ben is smart, cautious, and usually James's Jiminy Cricket. Ben's sweet sister Mary is loved by both boys - she is the one that grounds them when they start getting into too much trouble. All three children's personalities resonate well with young readers and make it easy to invest in their adventures and sympathize with their plights. The short chapters help keep the story moving even if this first book is just establishing the premise: James is still learning about his past and meeting the people and creatures that will help him. The premise-setting is a slow reveal, but it feels like short cliffhangers done in a fast clip. When James learns a small portion of his past, he acts upon it. His actions in turn either helps him discover a little more about his past, or he has acted too soon on too little information and gets him and his friends in trouble. This creates an opportunity for chase or battle scenes that help sustain my attention until more of his past is revealed - pretty nifty onion-peeling by the author. My favorite part of the tale however happens to be the creatures called Voltens and Dakotas - they are henchmen and soldiers of Queen Abigail, and are an excellent mix of children's nightmares and worthy villainous opponents to a good hero. They are strong, relentless, and evil - if the powerful Knights of Zara need to bring their 'A' game to battle such hordes, what can three small children do? That's the question that had me in tenterhooks! James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra captured my attention and had me glued to this first story of the series. James Clyde still has a ways to go, and I am eager to see how he can overcome the odds stacked against him. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walking down the hall in a creaky old mansion, you see a green light emanating from behind a door. It’s locked, but you jiggle the knob until it gives; the room is empty save for a battered chest in the corner. You lift up the lid, step in, and freefall into another dimension. This may be a description of protagonist James Clyde’s experience in James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra, but the reader will certainly feel that he or she has tumbled into another dimension as well.  Colm McElwain’s book will fit snugly into your fantasy collection. The story begins with orphan James Clyde’s annual Christmas stay with his grandfather. When the visit turns both parts grim and fantastical, James is forced into the role of reluctant savior. Through an unfortunate and tragic turn of events, James learns that he must return to his birth place, a dimension known as Orchestra. Unbeknownst to him, its inhabitants have awaited his return for eleven years. Upon his return, a tiny person called Grampian informs him that he is “the owner of every flower, every blade of grass and every drop of rain”—quite the responsibility for a boy not yet a teenager.  Ultimately, McElwain’s story is one of bravery. James rarely asks why, instead springing—or flying—into action when the situation calls for it, which is nearly all of the time. With tinges of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, James Clyde and the Diamond is a page-turner.  McElwain’s story thunders along at a rollercoaster speed, with chapters ending right before the big drop. Just like James, readers are often left in the dark, only finding out major details as they become necessary to the story. While this could potentially be frustrating, it also lends to the riveting nature of the plot. The story does include some gruesome details, so it probably is not suited for younger children. However, James Clyde is a strong protagonist from whom any child could stand to learn a great deal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a young adult adventure novel, probably best aimed at 7-12 year olds. Warning: Some mild spoilers ahead. James Clyde is an eleven-year-old foster child with a streak for the mischievous, and more importantly, a great destiny.  At the beginning of the story James and his surrogate family, Ben and Mary (who are also foster children) leave to spend Christmas holidays with James's "grandfather" Wilmore in his impressive countryside mansion. These Christmas visits are something of a tradition with the strange family, but this year there will be no paper crowns and figgy pudding for James and his crew. A mysterious man in a black coat has been trailing the eleven-year-old boy, and with this man comes death and destruction. His name is Gilbert, and he seems to have a strange connection with James's grandfather Wilmore.  Tragic circumstances force James into discovering his true identity: he is the savior of the Orchestra, a magical land described by Wilmore in stories, and the new keeper of one of the diamonds which have the power to grant the holder one wish. If all three diamonds are united, the possessor will have eternal life. James, Ben, and Mary travel to Orchestra where they discover that James is kind of a big deal. The locals, creatures called orchins, accept James as their savior on sight. It's clear they've been waiting a long time for him to return to his birth land. He's taken to a castle where he meets the twelve knights of Zara, powerful warriors sworn to protect him with their lives. All the while the evil Queen Abigail is plotting to rule Orchestra and kill James… While "James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra" has potential, there a few flaws. A lot of things come very easily to James during the course of the story, and it wasn't until the very end that he experienced his first real failure. Despite the amount of action in the story, it never felt like James was ever really in any danger. Also it would have been interesting to expand on Ben's character. He clearly has some trust issues; is there some potential for him to turn to the dark side and betray his best friend?  There's enough here that it will be interesting to see how the author develops the plot in the next book (yes, this is definitely a series). Many questions are unanswered in this first installment, but it lays the groundwork for more interesting things to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don’t generally read books of this age range, but I’m glad I decided to with this one. Reminiscent of Narnia and Peter Pan, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a great fantasy read. Orphaned at a young age, James Clyde, along with his two best friends Ben and Mary, lives with a foster mother. The story takes place around the holidays, when James is invited to spend Christmas with his grandfather Wilmore. Unbeknownst to the children, Wilmore’s hiding the dark secret of how James really came to be an orphan. When tragedy strikes, James and his two friends embark on an unforgettable journey to discover the truth about his past. The book has a few sad scenes but an overall lighthearted feel to it. The author did a fantastic job of bringing a fantasy world to life. It was a world unlike any other I’ve read about and the creativity was off the charts. Since it is a children’s book, I have to mention there were a couple of violent scenes in the book that may frighten children who’re younger than the intended age group. There are mentions of monsters and blood as well as more than one death scene. That being said, kids who read through such books as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets shouldn’t have a problem. The level of peril the kids face in James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is similar and around the same age group. I loved how the author developed every character thoroughly in the book. From James’ grandfather to little Mary, they were all unique. The only character I felt we didn’t see enough of was Queen Abigail of Darken. I would’ve loved to have seen more of her motive for why she chose what she did. The plot was tightly woven together and flowed well, despite frequent scene jumping during the latter part of the book. This is a recommended read for all kids who love fantasy and appreciate a unique story. The book was left a little open-ended so although it could be a stand-alone novel, I hope it’s only the first installment in what is sure to be a great series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra (2012) is the first novel by Colm McElwain. With an 11-year-old protagonist, this fantasy will appeal to readers aged 8-12. The titular hero is a foster child who's recently come to live with a vaguely neglectful woman named Anne Brown. Brown, as James calls her, has also adopted slightly-younger Ben and Mary. When the reader first encounters James, he's in the midst of a petty crime, stealing warm hats and gloves for himself and his brother and sister from a store in the mall. Hiding from the mall security guard, he runs into a psychic who warns him of grave dangers. Her prophecy is fulfilled when Brown packs the trio off to James's (presumably) biological grandfather's mansion for the winter holidays. McElwain lists C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling among his influences, and it's easy to spot the influence in his work. Like Lewis's Professor Digory Kirke in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), James's grandfather, Wilmore Clyde, knows a lot more about a mysterious hidden world -and its connection to his own labyrinthine mansion - then he first lets on. That hidden world is the Orchestra of the title. Orchestra is divided into two kingdoms: fair Zara and foul Darken. The wicked Queen Abigail of Darken, who would get along well with Narnia's white witch Jadis, intends to rule both once she obtains Orchestra's fabled diamonds. The trio of James, Ben, and Mary may remind some of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. Ben, more down-to-earth than idealistic James, serves as the hero's foil. Mary, the youngest at only eight, is often the damsel in distress, although she's capable of delivering wisdom when needed. It rests solidly on the firm foundation of British fantasy novels for young readers, but James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is original enough to delight. Its short chapters, fast pace, and brisk action make it an ideal read for the middle grade age group. Readers who enjoy this novel will have to wait and hope for another installment. Although McElwain has mentioned an idea for a second novel in interviews, he had no definite plans to continue James's story
Writergrl11 More than 1 year ago
James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is a story unlike any other. James has lived his life believing he is nothing more than a 10-year-old orphan boy, destined to live out his life in a series of foster homes, hopefully with his friends Ben and Mary. What he discovers one day at his grandfather’s house however, is definitely only the start of something far more amazing and far more difficult to believe, after all, who could ever dream of being not just a normal boy, but a king destined to save the world? James is like any other 10-year-old boy which makes it so easy to relate to him. He wants a safe place to sleep and he just wants to be happy and have fun. In fact he does have a lot of fun with his friends no matter what happens to him which makes him the perfect main character. Mary and Ben are just like any brother and sister you would expect and it seems that everything in this story will proceed down a normal path of young children living their lives but this story is definitely more interesting than that. I was drawn in by the magic and the mystery that seems to surround every character in this book and I definitely couldn’t help but read more as the adventure of battles and destiny began to show itself. I know that children of all ages will like this book because the characters are just like them except for one thing, the amazing adventures they go on. These kids are more than just orphans, they’re definitely some of the most powerful heroes anyone has ever known and that’s definitely going to attract readers. I can’t wait to read more and find out what’s going to happen next to James, Ben, Mary and all their friends, not to mention the land of Orchestra.