Love YA Fantasy? Check Out This New Release and Special Excerpt! The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

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The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Meghan Moss

 

Sales Links:

Harmony InkAmazon | Barnes & Noble 

Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

Exclusive Excerpt

The day I became an inhabitor, Mistress Lhamo had carried me into the forest outside the capitol and left me there. I was eight and small, so small that the robes the academy gave me swathed my body and made me look like a slug as I trailed fabric behind. She set me down on a tree stump and kissed my hair. Then she had wandered back through the trees to the city without a second glance. I guessed, then, I had been expendable to her. If I didn’t work out, then Jakar had plenty more poor children and orphans to choose from.

I held a ragged stuffed owl against my chest as I shivered and prayed, repeating the words of the spell I’d been taught. Master Amo thought I might attract a doe or a hare. Something agile, he said, but shy and timid. Something to match me so I wouldn’t feel conflicted within myself. I just hoped nothing would eat me and that Mistress Lhamo would return soon.

Sunlight dwindled, and the forest got darker and colder. I paced around the stump. The terror of being eaten had ebbed, replaced by the more insidious fear that I wouldn’t be chosen at all, that the rest of my friends would go on to be inhabitors and I would become an outcast—a failure with nowhere to go and doomed to a life of begging on the street corners.

I threw the owl on the ground. It had been a present from Master Amo when he selected me two years before. If they were going to reject me now, then I didn’t want the stuffed bird anymore either.

The wind carried a pungent scent into my nostrils. It was sweet yet musky, tinged with something sour. I breathed more deeply and looked around for the source. At the edge of the forest clearing, a deer carcass lay stretched out and mutilated. Her throat had been torn out, and dark brown blood was splashed over her tan hide. Even in death, the doe had a calm, gentle look in her unblinking eyes. I had bitten my lip and struggled not to cry. There was my doe, just like Master Amo had said.

A growl made me turn. A large, lean cat with rose-gold and white fur lowered its belly to the earth. Its yellow eyes bored into me, and its tail flickered back and forth. I sucked in a breath. I’d seen a tiger up close before, rubbing its cheeks against Master Lin’s thigh before it turned and snarled at an apprentice who drew too close. But that tiger had been orange and black, normal. This creature looked like something out of a temple painting, as though her fur had been expertly flecked with tiny pieces of gold leaf by a monk’s skilled hand.

The animal’s haunches had tensed. Her legs had gathered to pounce. But instead of terror, I felt calm. She tackled me, pushing me down with an enormous paw. Her claws were sheathed, and the pad of her foot rested over my heart. My breath stopped as I understood late what it all meant. The tiger rolled me onto my back like a cub, licking my chin with her barbed tongue. My arms, still chubby with baby fat, curled around her neck.

When her weight settled over me, I felt the acceptance in the silky embrace of her fur. And for the first time since I left my real family, I felt something like love. But her message was clear: I would never control her. From that moment, when our souls connected and I became an inhabitor, I knew I was the vulnerable one and she would forever be protecting me.

About the Author

Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.

Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.

Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.

In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.

Media Links:

Website: http://www.julia-ember.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jules_chronicle

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/juliaemberya

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/juliaemberwrites

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13734129.Julia_Ember

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

It’s no secret that I love unusual fantasy stories. And “The Tiger’s Watch” is definitely unusual. We have Tashi, our genderfluid protagonist, who’s magically bonded to a tiger.

Tashi is a very sweet person. The story is told in first person POV and that worked really well here. I liked Tashi, though they did cry a bit much. Almost a little whiney, but still mostly alright.

Then there’s Xian. He’s the cruel enemy commander who Tashi needs to spy on. He was actually a really interesting person. At first I hated him, because he’s the enemy and he killed Tashi’s friends. But then we see another side of him and I slowly started to like and maybe even understand him. Only for him to once again remind me that he’s a cruel military commander. I was really conflicted about what to think about him.

The gender-fluidity was mostly implied. Tashi is in hiding, so they need to lay low and not draw attention. It’s mostly just them on insisting to be adressed as “they” and not “he”. And sometimes they wish they could wear a dress. It’s sort of implied that they faced some difficult times when they were younger, but now everybody is really very accepting.

The world was really interesting. Some chosen humans magically bond with animals. But the animals choose them, not the other way round. The catch: The humans die when their bonded animal dies. Since most animals have relatively short lifespans, their bonded humans tend to die young too.

The world building was sadly a little lacking. There’s a war between Tashi’s people and Xian’s people that’s been going for a long time apparently. But we never learn why these two peoples actually fight each other. The whole bonding process seemed a little odd too. Why would anybody actually choose to lower their life expectation so drastically?

There wasn’t all that much of a romance plot here. Tashi is very attracted to Xian, but love somebody else. I didn’t quite understand Tashi’s attraction, tbh. I mean, the man killed one of Tashi’s best friends in front of his eyes and he’s responsible for the deaths of many other people. It would have made more sense for Tashi to hate him. And I’m not too fond of love triangles on principle.

Overall, the story felt as if it was just getting started when it ended. The world and the plot are so complex, 180 pages just weren’t anywhere near enough to follow up on all those promising ideas. Which is a real shame, because the author seemed to have so many great ideas.

This is the first part in a new series and I definitely want to read the next instalment. I really hope some of the unanswered questions will be covered in the next part.

The cover by Meghan Moss is absolutely gorgeous. I absolutely love it!

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Expected publication: August 22nd 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781635334869
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAshes of Gold #1

A Stella Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

I fell in love with this book since the first time I saw its cover, too cute and well done to be ignored by a cover whore like me. Then I read the blurb and guess what? The first cartoon I remember from my childhood, which videotape I still save, is The Little Mermaid, that’s why I was so curious to see how a new to me author would turn this fairytale into a FF retelling.

I have to say I loved The Seafarer’s Kiss a lot. I took my time at reading it and each time I put my eyes on a new chapter, I was surprised and satisfied. First of all the characters were awesome, each of them, they were beautifully delined and the growth they went throught was clear and always positive. Ersel in particular was beautifully done, she was fierce and brave, as Ragna was too. And that was the reason why they were a match made in heaven.

Nothing in the plot has been left to the chance, how and why our MCs met, why they needed to be parted, how they were together again, and the lovely happy ending. Mixed with these, a lot of things happened, event after event that took me engaged till the end. I got to know some great characters, like Ersel’s mum, who broke my heart with her huge love for the daughter she is ready to let go, and then Havamal, the ex-bestfriend who betrayed Ersel, and the dreams they made together, to join the guards of the evil king.

The story took place in a well craft world and it surprised me, I wasn’t waiting for so many details, I was able to understand and emphatize with not just Ersel but with Vigdis too, the popular girl. I felt the despair they had in their souls, how both of them, differently, were ready to do everything it was possible to fullfill their dreams. The writing was perfect for a book like this, where I so wanted to be able to see in my mind this magic world and its ihnabitants. It’s an evocative writing, I could picture every word I read, every new character I met. And I fell for all of them.

I don’t want to say more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil your reading, but I was deeply conquered, all the little twists the author gave to me, were little steps to the success The Seafarer’s Kiss was to me. In this book you can find a contemporary story, with some young adult elements and a fairytale with some mythology added. All blended together.

I have to say, I would so love to read the same story told by Ragna, it would be a copletely different story. I think following her in her travellings and mis/adventures would be incredible and truly exciting. I have just to try and convince the author.

The cover art by CB Messer is so fitting, the same scene can be easily find in the story, exactly like this. And it’s cute, and the style and the colors just perfect.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 224 pages

Published May 4th 2017 by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press

ASIN B01MUJHWTO

Edition Language English

INTERLUDE PRESS Presents The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
D
uet Books (YA Imprint of Interlude Press)

Purchase Links:

 Interlude Press | Amazon |Barnes & Noble   | Target | iTunes |  Google Books 

Smashwords | Book Depository  | Indiebound

Blurb

Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

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Excerpt

Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I poked my head above the waves. My hair, gone limp and heavy with the air weighing it down, instantly flopped across my face. I pushed it aside and looked at the human through a parted curtain of wet blue locks. Its rippled form came into focus, and, even under the animal furs, I could make out a tapered waist and curves. A female. She stared back at me; her brown eyes widened. Her crystal breath came fast behind her mask. Then, she screamed.

I froze in the water. The high-pitched sound chilled me worse than the cold sea. The human’s gaze drifted skyward, as if she prayed to Odin. Her scream grew louder and louder. I laid a hand on the edge of the ice, ready to hoist myself out and try to calm her, but her harpoon whizzed past my ear. I shrank back. The human still howled, but her eyes had taken on a predatory focus.

I grabbed the weapon by the shaft. The tip of the spear grazed my palm, making a shallow cut. I ignored the pain. Easing back into the water, I stopped kicking my fins to stay afloat. My body sank deeper, and I kept my grip on the weapon.

With nothing to grab, the human couldn’t steady herself on the slick ice. She let the harpoon go, and I dropped it into the ocean; I hissed as salt water lapped against the wound on my palm. As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.

The belugas’ leader swam under me and nudged me up over the ice’s lip. The sudden weight of my body as the whale pushed me into the air made me groan with exhaustion. The human girl scurried backward. Even though her feet slipped clumsily on the ice, she put distance between us as fast as she could.

I wanted to study her, but glorious sunlight coated my scales. I tilted my head back as the heat seeped into me, making me drunk and dizzy with pleasure. The human watched me silently from twenty feet away. My body gleamed from my head to the tips of my fins; each of my scales glistened like gemstones. I should have been concerned about the human, but the blast of heat inside me blocked fear. As soon as I ate, all would be well again.

When my scales reached their absorption capacity, the fog in my mind started to clear. Usually, I might crawl inland and look for foxes to watch. But today, I didn’t dare stray too far from the water. If the human was brave enough to hunt a whale, I didn’t want to leave myself too vulnerable. I lay back on the ice and kept my eyes trained on the girl.

I’d never seen a female among the drowned bodies that littered the northern seafloor. How had she survived the shipwreck? She looked so small and fragile compared to the sailor I’d tried to save. How had she made it back to the surface and through the cold water when he could not?

She continued to scoot backward across the ice. My gaze followed her to a makeshift cave of splintered wood and wet furs. She must have saved some things from the ship, which might explain her survival. Crawling inside the shelter, the human braced another harpoon across her knees and squared her shoulders as if daring me to come closer. But the hostility in her posture didn’t quite hide the look of wonder in her wide brown eyes.

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About the Author

Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.

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Connect with Julia Ember at Julia-ember.com, on Twitter @jules_chronicle, and on Facebook at facebook.com/juliaemberwrites.

Giveaway

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Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Hold // Five winners receive Storm Season eBook.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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