Review of Schooled in Magic by Christopher Nuttall

By Christopher Nuttall
Star Rating: 

Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 310


Synopsis:(From Amazon)
Emily is a teenage girl pulled from our world into a world of magic and mystery by a necromancer who intends to sacrifice her to the dark gods. Rescued in the nick of time by an enigmatic sorcerer, she discovers that she possesses magical powers and must go to Whitehall School to learn how to master them. There, she learns the locals believe that she is a “Child of Destiny,” someone whose choices might save or damn their world … a title that earns her both friends and enemies. A stranger in a very strange land, she may never fit into her new world …

…and the necromancer is still hunting her. If Emily can’t stop him, he might bring about the end of days.


I will rarely ever say this about a book, but I finished this book only so that I could write an honest review of it.  This novel is completely horrid; it is unoriginal, redundant, and unpleasant to read.  Emily, the protagonist, seems to hate life and has no reason for living, which makes it pretty hard to like her or empathize with her in any way.  Even when something crazy starts happening to Emily, she merely thinks that she didn’t have much of a future anyway.

Constantly the new world Emily is drawn into is likened to computer and computer programming (binary).  In order to explain all of the random bits that Emily seems to know, and to connect her and the computer analogies, we are told, not shown, that Emily is a “nerd” and that she sometimes plays Dungeons and Dragons, a cliche.  The entire novel seems to have been written as a way for the author to complain about everything he dislikes, stating more than once how stupid cheerleaders are, and how there are bullies everywhere.

Emily, when brought to a new world, both wants to copyright her “inventions” but also intends to introduce things as if they were created by her, such as bras and typewriters.  The school Nuttall “invented” is very similar to Hogwarts, having moving staircases and classrooms, the same general classes, and a headmaster who lets Emily (think Emily= female Harry Potter for this novel) get away with nearly killing a princess.  The book had some original notions, such as the school being set on top of a ley line, but overall there was too much borrowed from other stories to make this one stand alone.

If you want to read a book about going to a magical school, I highly recommend you can this and go find a copy of Harry Potter.


Christopher NuttallAuthor Bio:
Christopher Nuttall has been planning sci-fi books since he learned to read. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Chris created an alternate history website and eventually graduated to writing full-sized novels. Studying history independently allowed him to develop worlds that hung together and provided a base for storytelling. After graduating from university, Chris started writing full-time. As an indie author, he has published eighteen novels and one novella (so far) through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Professionally, he has published The Royal Sorceress, Bookworm, A Life Less Ordinary, Sufficiently Advanced Technology, The Royal Sorceress II: The Great Game and Bookworm II: The Very Ugly Duckling with Elsewhen Press, and Schooled in Magic through Twilight Times Books.

As a matter of principle, all of Chris’s self-published Kindle books are DRM-free.

Chris has a blog where he published updates, snippets and world-building notes at and a website at

Chris is currently living in Malaysia with his partner, muse, and critic Aisha.

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Thank you! 

Review of Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose
By Jane Yolen

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 224

Time Started: 9/12/2015 10 pm
Time Finished: 9/13/2015 11 pm

Synopsis:(From Amazon)
Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.


The last book that gripped me like this was The Book Thief.  I was drawn in and couldn’t wait to know more as the story unfolded.  I, like many others, love fairy tales.  The title “Briar Rose” was what caused me to pull this down off the bookstore shelf.  The synopsis sounded quite interesting, and really gave me no indication of what I was in for.  If you’re looking for a book that makes history relatable, and showcases how trauma can manifest itself, look no further.

Briar Rose is a hybrid retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which manages to entwine the past of a woman into the fairy tale.  The constant showcase of bits and pieces of Becca’s grandmother Gemma’s version of the story works to seamlessly mix the past with a warning for the future.

Although the story is original and compelling, there are places where the writing leaves something to be desired.  The repetition and disconnect between Becca and her two sisters is a bit jarring, and their lack of depth and characterization at times makes the story seem forced.  While Becca is our protagonist, we learn little of her besides her love for her grandmother.  Several times, as if thrown in haphazardly, Becca says that she is good at something or capable of something, explaining why, instead of showing us, and often about unimportant things, such as the ability to read a map and give directions.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and intend to keep it around for years to come, hoping that someday friends or family members will get the enjoyment out of it that I did.  I found it quite gripping and hard to put down.  Due to some content that younger children simply wouldn’t understand I would recommend reading ages 6th grade and up.

If this is a book you have read and have fallen in love with you absolutely must read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  I will say that this one did not pitch me into the emotional upheaval that The Book Thief did, perhaps because the protagonist is too far removed from the past.  Both of the novels mentioned above will bring you into the world that Becca’s grandmother experienced, and you will be taken for quite a ride.


Author Bio:
As Jane Yolen’s biography listed on amazon is at least triple what the synopsis of the story is, you can instead learn about Jane at her Amazon page here.

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Exciting news!

Not only have I been in talks with an amazing artist for the cover of Pas de Deux, and have a wonderful graphic artist set to design the cover, but I also have it confirmed that my top choice will be the voice of Matthias for the audio book!

And this is only the beginning!

Review of The Subtle Beauty by Ann Hunter

Crowns of Twelve Book 1
By Ann Hunter
Star Rating: 

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 170

Season Read: Summer

Synopsis:(From Amazon)
A cursed prince. A vain beauty. Glory is the seventh daughter of Balthazar, High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. Glory hopes that – of all her sisters – she can escape the fate of a loveless marriage. But on the night she plans to elope with the royal falconer, her world comes crashing down: Her father announces Glory’s betrothal to Eoghan of the Blood Realm – a prince no one has ever seen. The prince is said to be a recluse, cursed and deformed by the gods for the sins of his power-hungry father. Yet when Glory is trapped in Blackthorn Keep she discovers that not everything is what she expected. An insulting gryphon, a persistent ghost, and a secret plan to usurp the prince keep Glory reeling. Can she overcome her vanity to learn that what you want isn’t necessarily what you need—and save the cursed prince?


The very beginning of the novel was hard to grasp, seeming unimportant and hard to get through.  Although the setting is done quite well, it seems that the Celtic vibe Hunter is aiming for is lost the further in one reads.  Once the fairy tale characters begin to appear, it becomes a bit easier to understand, and to empathize with Xander.  I actually really enjoyed our “bad guy”, Sylus, because although warned, Xander does decide to visit him anyway.  Is Sylus really the bad guy, or does he simply let others find the darkness in themselves?

Once deeper into the story, it’s hard not to care for Glory’s attempted suitor, Colin.  Poor Colin leaves his job and ventures to save Glory, so that they can live out a life they had planned, but he shifts and changes throughout the way.  When Glory is brought to Blackthorn Keep she realizes that although she wanted desperately for Colin, in the end, perhaps she is better off there.  Despite Colin’s actions in trying to save Glory, it’s hard to forget just how cruel she had originally been to him when he faces horrible consequences.  The relationship between Colin and Glory is an excellent representation of infatuation, where looks provide the sole basis of love.

I like that Glory isn’t a like-able character, but most will be able to relate to her.  She has personality, and she grows throughout the book, much like many of us do in life.  Glory learns that her father has more of an understanding and reasoning for what he does than she is aware of, and that getting everything you want isn’t the answer to happiness.

There are lots of fun fairy tale retellings hiding throughout this book, and while I don’t want to say exactly what, I will say that oh, Beauty and the Beast, but perhaps reversed.  There are more ways to be a beast than merely appearances.

If you love fairy tales, fantasy, intrigue and surprises, you definitely need to find a copy of this book!


Author Bio: (from Amazon)
Multi-award winning author, Ann Hunter, is the creator of the young adult fantasy series Crowns of the Twelve (including the novels The Subtle Beauty, Moonlight, Fallen, with A Piece of Sky, Ashes, and The Rose In The Briar to follow). She likes cherry so
da with chocolate ice cream, is a mom first and a writer second, has a secret identity, and thinks the Twilight movies are cheesier than cheez whiz (which is why they are her guilty pleasure!)

She lives in a cozy Utah home with her two awesome kids and epic husband.




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