A Free Dreamer Review: The Killing Spell by Shane Ulrrein

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Edward Peach is a fourteen-year-old wizard who receives a letter that he has been accepted into the prestigious Prymoutekhny Wizards Academy for Boys, in the faraway land of Aradia. His parents are overjoyed, but he feels reluctant to leave his family, friends, and his comfy cottage in the English coastal village of Manley. As term begins, Edward adjusts to life in his new school, dealing with bullies, strict teachers, and challenging wizardry classes. He is almost ready to give up when he falls in love with a charismatic, privileged boy-and talented wizard-named Mr. Andreas. Prymoutekhny is a school that has still not opened up to same-sex attraction, so he must keep his feelings secret. Soon, Edward and the impressive boy realize their deep attraction for each other. This causes immediate controversy in the school, as they are the first two boys from feuding houses to come together-especially in a school where house rivalry can end in murder.He is then put to the ultimate test as he must risk being with the boy he loves even at the cost of his own life!

The tagline for “The Killing Spell” mentioned that this was a great book for fans of “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell.  Since I absolutely love “Carry On”, I just had to have “The Killing Spell” and naturally also had extremely high expectations. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed.

The story is told from Edward’s POV. The emphasis being on told. There’s so much telling and essentially no showing. I was bored after only a couple of pages and started skimming after a short while. It all seems very detached. There is next to no dialogue in the entire book. It was mostly Edward telling us what people said and summing up entire conversations, without any direct dialogue.

The language seemed clunky and somehow didn’t fit the setting. The protagonist is a 14-year-old boy who seems to live in the 21st century and yet his way of speaking seemed weirdly old-fashioned.

I didn’t like Edward at all. He is moods gave me whiplash and he’s constantly moody and annoyed. He goes from lusting after Mr. Andreas to being madly in love to suddenly wishing him dead, all in the span of a few weeks. He also seems to be constantly lusting after boys and has to comment on everybody’s appearance.

Mr.  Andreas is an enigma. We don’t learn much about him and Edward doesn’t seem to be all that interested in his boyfriend’s life either. And it’s just plain weird that he calls him “Mr. Andreas”. There’s apparently a curse associated with his first name. Okay, fine, but then why insist on the “Mr.”? Just “Andreas” would have been perfectly fine, or maybe some sort of nickname. No 14-year-old calls his boyfriend “Mister”. It gave me weird pedophile vibes, even though they’re the same age.

The school itself was extremely old-fashioned. There are very strict rules and structures that nobody dares to challenge. First years are literally used as slaves by their seniors. Malicious pranks and death threats seem to be the norm. How is it possible that nobody ever did anything against that? This is the 21st century!

Because there’s so much telling, I felt very detached from the plot. It doesn’t help that there are very few details on anything.

On top of everything else, the editing seemed sloppy. Even though I skimmed large parts of the book, I still noticed quite a few spelling mistakes and the tenses sometimes seemed messed up.

To sum it up, I didn’t like “The Killing Spell”. The blurb is the best part of the entire story. I guess it had potential, so I’m giving this a generous two stars.

The cover, unlike the book, is really cool.

Buy Links

Deep Hearts YA  | Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Barnes and Noble

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 236 pages

Published July 9th 2019 by Deep Hearts YA

Love a Coming of age Story with a Touch of Magic? Check Out the Book Blast for The Killing Spell by Shane Ulrrein (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: The Killing Spell

Author: Shane Ulrrein

Publisher: Deep Hearts YA

Cover Artist: Story Perfect Dreamscape

Genre/s: Fantasy YA M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love, young romance

Themes: Coming of age, magic, self-discovery, same-sex attraction

Heat Rating:  No sexual content       

Length: 57 000 words/236 pages

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

If you’re a huge fan of Harry Potter, if you loved Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On or Ginn Hale’s The Lord of the White Hell, then you MUST read The Killing Spell! An unforgettable tale that takes a magical boarding school and a young adult gay romance to the next level!

Blurb 

The Killing Spell is a new young adult fantasy novel that tells the story of Edward Peach, a fourteen-year-old wizard who gets accepted into a prestigious all-boys boarding school for wizards and falls in love with another boy. Edward and the other boy soon realize their attraction for each other, immediately causing controversy in the academy as the first students from feuding houses to come together, especially in a school where house rivalry can end in murder. Edward’s new relationship puts him to the ultimate test as he must risk being with the boy he loves even at the cost of his own life!

 

Buy Links

Deep Hearts YA  | Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Barnes and Noble

 

Excerpt 

Chapter I
Accepted

Accepted.
That’s what the letter said. At that moment, I felt a sudden chill go up my spine. I pretended to smile as Mum and Dad became so overjoyed that their little wizard was being sent thousands of miles away to study magic at an exclusive boarding school.
I swallowed hard. Please don’t make me go, I thought.
I took another look at my letter. “Highly prestigious,” “well-accredited,” and “very sought-after” were the different qualifiers used to describe their piss of an academy. There were portraits in a brochure, mostly in sepia-tone black and white, of their most famous students, yet I didn’t recognize any of them. The more I looked at all the rubbish they’d sent me in that big yellow envelope, the more I wanted to vomit.
Accepted.
Everything had been arranged: the meeting place in the Aradian port-city of Navona, our guide who was to see us at the harbor three days from now and take us to the school, and three free tickets for the next available ship from England to Aradia. The whole lot, including my school uniform, was all-expenses paid.
Seeking to break the jovial mood that’d taken over my parents at the breakfast table, I told them that I wasn’t going to that school.
“Not going?” Mum asked me wide-eyed. “Why? This is the opportunity of a lifetime! A prestigious school, fancy uniforms, and a better life for all of us! Are you going to sit there and tell us that you don’t want what’s best for your family?”
Yes, I was, I told her. I wasn’t going and that was the end of it.
My parents then began to lecture me, whilst I kept buttering my toast, about how they never had an opportunity like this when they were my age and how I’d be letting down several generations of our wizard-family if I didn’t go. Dad was especially determined because both he and Granddad got rejected from that school numerous times.
Despite my pleas, my constant whinging, and even throwing a teary-eyed wobbly like I used to do when I was a tiny tot, I was going to that ugly academy. Mum said my name, middle name and all, and insisted that I get packed.
“We’re leaving tomorrow,” she said. “End of discussion.”
And without another word, I stormed into my room, slamming the door after me, and buried my face into my pillow.
Accepted.
It wasn’t fair! Other kids would be pretty chuffed about going to such a distinguished wizard-school, but not me. This sort of thing should’ve gone to those who needed it or wanted it more. Instead, I was the one who got…accepted.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be part of the “next generation of great sorcerers,” nor follow in my father’s or grandfather’s footsteps like other wizards my age. I just wanted to be me. I didn’t want to leave my mates or live away from home. What’s more, I’d be going to a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone, much less the language they speak.
Things were much simpler and I was a lot happier before I got that stupid letter!
Accepted.
I didn’t want to study in some shite academy, the name of which I couldn’t even pronounce from the brochure and where mobile phones were prohibited. All I really want to do is enjoy life, hang out with my friends, and go to the beach to listen to its lush, serene music. Yet more than anything, I wanted to do nothing. That’s what I desired most. I simply wanted to do nothing, yet my parents, on numerous occasions, would never hear of it.
I began thinking about turning Mum and Dad into frogs or making them both disappear, but I really didn’t want to do any of that. Deep down, I don’t believe in using magic to hurt or endanger the lives of others. To me, magic was a beautiful yet mysterious thing that was all about me and always brought happiness to everyone. I loved magic, bloody lived for it, but hated the idea that someone could use it for evil when it could be used for good. Not to mention, the last time I’d made my parents disappear, they simply found their way back afterward.

 

About the Author 

Shane Ulrrein is a life-long storyteller and first-time LGBT author currently living in Orange County, California, USA, who one day dreams of leaving his home in sunny Southern California for the wet, dreary weather of England.


Mr. Ulrrein has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition in California State University, Fullerton and is a proud member of the LGBT community. In his spare time, Mr. Ulrrein likes to draw, read, and write music that he hopes someday will be heard in all the great concert halls in the world.

 

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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

An Aurora YA Review: The Sun Dragon by Annabelle Jay

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Sun DragonDragons once roamed the skies, as common as our modern-day airplanes but much more beautiful in their gliding, soaring thermal choreography. Until King Roland and his gold-greedy men defeated them.

Years later King Roland reveals that not only did he let the dragons live, but he turned them into humans so that they could enter the population and breed him an army. Allanah, a sophomore in high school, saves her know-it-all friend Victoria from exactly this fate with magical powers she never knew she had. Allanah’s first high school crush, Jason, reveals that he’s been sent by a secret society of wizards to bring Allanah and Victoria to the Council to have their magical abilities tested by The Egg. Everyone, including Allanah, is shocked by what she produces: the world’s first light dragon.

Allanah must save her best friend and all of the rest of the dragons from Roland’s evil plan, but when she meets the beautiful Dena, a member of the native forest-dwelling Igreefee camp, she must wrestle between her feelings for her new wizard crush, Cormac, and her attraction to Dena.

 
There were a lot of things I really liked about this book. The biggest thing that I really loved was the characterization of every single character. While main characters in books, and especially YA books, almost always have full and fleshed out characterization, but sometimes the side characters don’t necessarily get the same treatment. In this book, that is not a problem at all. In fact, I found myself connecting more with Victoria than with Allanah. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Allanah too! But my connection with Victoria just showed me that the author really took the time to develop every single character, and not just the protagonist. In fantasy books, and especially modern fantasies like this one, I find that characterization is what keeps the stories grounded in reality and makes it so the audience can still connect with a story that may be very fantastical. In this book, I think the author did a wonderful job with that.
 
Now, to the actual plot of the book, which overall I really liked. I will say that I had some small problems with the beginning of the book. I found that there was a lot of suspension of disbelief in the first few chapters, and the very first chapter in particular. There were little things that seemed slightly unrealistic to me, and a lot had to be taken on faith.
 
However, by the end of the book, I had pretty much forgotten about the concerns I had at the beginning which, to me, just showed that the story and characters pulled me in and brought it back. I would say that the book had really picked up by about halfway through chapter two at the very latest, and there weren’t really any other lapses after that, so I didn’t have a huge problem with taking some things at the author’s word toward the beginning.
 
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, I found it to be a unique idea with very colorful characters no matter how minor they may have been. The author did an especially good job of grounding everything fictional in the modern reality that the book is set in.
 
Cover art .I really liked the cover for this book. It seems really soft and appealing, in a way that is really nice to me. Obviously we can see the connection to the story, and as you actually read the book you can gather even more information and see some foreshadowing in the cover. The thing I enjoy the most about the cover is the color palette. I think everything works together really well. I really liked this cover and definitely think that its aesthetic would appeal to a lot of people.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | ARe |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Harmony Ink Press (first published January 28th 2016)
ISBN 1634763416 (ISBN13: 9781634763417)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesThe Sun Dragon #1