Review of Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Castle in the Air
A Companion to Howl’s Moving Castle
By Diana Wynne Jones


Star Rating: 
Genre: Young People
Number of Pages: 400

Season Read: Late Spring/Early Summer

Synopsis:(From Amazon)castle-in-the-air-by-diana-wynne-jones
Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare—and disagreeable—magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Waking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah’s eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn’t all the djinn has stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn’s mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princesses?

Howl’s Moving Castle was sheer perfection.  While this novel is set in the same world, and many of the previous enchanting characters resurface, it seems removed from the amazing setting we came to love.  Abdullah may be easy to relate to, given that he is always lost in a daydream, but he seems otherwise boring.  His family is horrid, and although Abdullah does find a quest, it is half by luck that he does.  While the adventure was interesting it took quite a while before the characters from Howl’s Moving Castle became prevalent.

Nevertheless, looking forward to see what the third book connected to these two is like!

Author Bio:
Diana Wynne Jones has had a career spanning four decades, and for more information about her, please visit her Amazon page.


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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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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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