The Broken Blade by Anna Thayer

I received this book from the author/publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

The Synopsis: 

Eamon Goodman is now the Master’s Right Hand. But despite being the second-in-command to the ruler of the River Realm, Eamon becomes the victim of vengeful plots engineered by the other Quarter Hands. Eamon finds himself powerless to stop them and the people he cares for are under threat. Eamon then discovers that the Nightholt – the book he long ago delivered to the Master’s Hands – holds the key to the Master’s power, which will become absolute upon the death of the King. Thus the stage for the final battle is set. Eamon rides out at the head of the Master’s army and must finally decide where his true allegiance lies. His choice will determine the fate of the River Realm…

My Review: 

Before I begin, hats off to the cover designer; just wow!

Despite this book being number 3 in The Knight of Eldaran series, I was able to follow relatively well with the story and the characters were easy to engage with. Though I’m sure that the first 2 books would have helped explain much of the story.

The plot was really well thought-out and I was pleased with the number of twists that were scattered throughout this gripping story. However, I did find the writing to be kind of choppy and the scenes were too short for my liking; but it wasn’t bad enough for me to dislike the book.

Overall, I rate The Broken Blade 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to beginning the story with books 1 and 2 as soon as I get them!

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Rated:

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Coffee Confessions: Choosing to Express Like Espresso -A Guest Post by Author Caroline George

Writers tend to be different. Maybe our abnormality is accredited to the excessive amounts of time we spend with our own thoughts. Maybe we see and understand more than non-writers. Maybe our creativity has fried our brains.

I was and am different.

As a determined, overly imaginative teenager, I decided to spend my seventeenth birthday with my mom at Counter Culture Coffee in Atlanta, Georgia. There were two things I wanted for my birthday—a handmade vintage sundress and barista lessons. If the requests don’t convey my weirdness, let me preface by saying I had already published two books and launched my author career by the time I first used a tamp and steam wand. Different described every aspect of my life.

The first thing I learned about working an espresso machine:

Coffee is an art form.

Baristas at Counter Culture are required to complete various courses and training before receiving certification. These classes teach basic espresso machine usage, the chemistry of milk, and much more. All of this information is needed when working in authentic coffeehouses.

How does coffee relate to creative writing?

Writing requires the same amount of knowledge, practice, and skill as pouring the perfect latte. Professional baristas must be so familiar with the coffee-making process, they know when milk reaches the desired temperature, when the espresso is pulled to its prime consistency. Professional writers must also be so well-versed with their craft, they’re able to develop plots and characters with ease, build concise and effective sentences.

I tasted my first espresso shot at barista training—I was required to take multiple shots of espresso pulled at different draw times. My body was buzzed on caffeine as I made lattes, attempted a tulip and art design with steamed milk. The drinks were proof—I was not knowledgeable, practiced, nor skilled.

There are three writing tips I learned from Counter Culture classes.

Knowledge: Acquiring know-how takes effort.

Writing is a constant education, same as working as a barista. To be successful as a writer and author, one must do research, learn about the publishing industry and current market.

Practice: Knowledge is useless without implementation.

Like knowing how to pull an espresso doesn’t mean a barista can work an espresso machine, someone who knows how to write isn’t always a good writer. Once knowledge is gained, it needs to be applied and practiced.

Skill: Time determines talent.

Although some people are gifted with natural writing ability, the best writers gain their skills from utilization and diligence.

We have to make lattes with disfigured latte art before we can pour intricate floral designs. We have to be willing to write not-so-great stories before we can build masterpieces.

I left Counter Culture over-caffeinated, covered in grinds, and more appreciative of baristas. The experience was so inspiring, I made my main character in The Vestige (coming June 30 from Evernight Teen Publishing) a barista—shameless self-plug.

Overall, as writers, we need to express like espresso.

We need to be knowledgeable, practiced, and skilled.

 

About Caroline:

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Caroline George, author of THE PRIME WAY TRILOGY and THE VESTIGE, resides in Nashville where she spends the majority of her time in hipster coffeehouses, sipping lavender mochas and undertaking over-the-top projects. She is a two-time Georgia Author of the Year nominee, speaker, blogger and writer for teen magazine PURSUE. Caroline studies publishing and public relations at Belmont University and works as a publicist for local artists.

Instagram @authorcarolinegeorge

Facebook/AuthorCarolineGeorge

Twitter @CarolineGeorge_

Website: authorcarolinegeorge.com

 

About The Vestige:

Choose to see the unseen . . .

Julie Stryker has spent her life in the scenic streets of Charleston, South Carolina, bicycling to the local college, working at a coffeehouse, watching her family fall apart and back together. She has plans, dreams—all of which seem out of reach. Then she meets a handsome stranger at work, and she believes her life is on the brink of a much needed change. But after a tragic accident, Julie is whisked away from the only home she’s ever known and confronted with a life-altering secret: The end of the world has already occurred and a portion of humankind has been kept oblivious.

Tossed into a hidden world of deception, Julie must confront the truth within herself and reveal the government’s layers before the end of the world becomes a permanent reality.

1st Layer: What you can see.

2nd Layer: What you know is real.

3rd Layer: What you can neither see nor know is real.

The Shattered Crown by J.W. Webb

I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

The Synopsis:

Corin an Fol, Longswordsman and ex mercenary has but one objective: retire early and settle down. Unfortunately the gods have other ideas. When Corin arrives home after many years fighting foreign wars, he finds bad news waiting for him. The High King has been murdered and his crystal crown, the Tekara, destroyed.
The Tekara is no ordinary crown. Wrought of solid crystal it contains a charm of strength that has protected the Four Kingdoms for millennia. But the Tekara is vulnerable to one thing: treachery. So when Caswallon the schemer secretly places the crown on Prince Tarin’s head he knows it will shatter, causing the realms to fall apart. He stands to gain as soon as it breaks.
Though many suspect Caswallon, who is known as a sorcerer, only one dares stand against him: Queen Ariane of Kelwyn. She is visited by her goddess in a dream who warns that Prince Tarin has fled with the shards of the Shattered Crown, and only by finding both Prince and Crown can the Four Kingdoms be saved.
After being promised gold, Corin an Fol reluctantly joins the queen’s desperate quest to salvage the missing shards. But Caswallon is on to them and already watching their every move.

Review:

The Shattered Crown is a gripping story that takes the reader on a journey through enchanted forests, magical lakes, and worlds full of creatures that would give anyone chills!

Though the story of the Tekara, Queen Ariane, and Corin an Fol is a very well desgined and well written story, there is plenty of other content that is unnecessary to the storyline. For example, the cursing is outrageous, saying every word possible numerous, numerous times (the “f” word being used most in all contexts). The sexual content is also very high in regards to both scenes and comments (Corin, the main character of whom we read most of the book’s perspective, seems to only think about sex regardless of what he is doing and makes a lot of comments about it). The blood and gore is not as high as the previously mentioned, but there is also a lot of dark magic and the antagonist is very, very evil, with the sexual scenes being him using a girl against her will.

Because everything just mentioned began to increase as the book wore on, I lost all interest in the storyline and therefore did not finish the book, so I cannot say anything else about the story. However, I will give credit to the author for his writing skills, character development, and story building as I would have probably loved the book had all of the negative content not been present. I give it 2 out of 5 stars and do not recommend it.

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Rated:

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The Time Key by Melanie Bateman

I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

The Synopsis:

As Stanley got closer, he saw two figures beating on a lone man, while four others stood back to watch. “Hey!” Stanley’s voice sounded hoarse in his ears. “Leave him be!”

SHADOWS THAT MOVE ON THEIR own, a mysterious device that looks like a pocket watch, a man on the run from monsters that exist in dreams—all are connected to Stanley because he interrupted a mugging. Now Stanley holds the Time Key, an object that allows him to travel through time. With the extraordinary gift of being able to see both the past and the future, he may be the only one who can save his family.

Review:

The Time Key takes a bit of a twist on the usual time traveling stories, where instead of a time machine, we follow the main character with his ever handy time key.

Though the storyline is enjoyable and well thought out, it progresses so slowly that I felt like I was never getting any further into the story, that with every chapter I had more questions than answers and the ending was, unfortunately, weak in providing those answers.

I did enjoy the action that took place, as well as each and every one of the characters, I just couldn’t get into the story as much as I would have liked to. But when looking at the book’s content, I was pleased that it was clean of any swearing as well as nothing sexual. The action had a tendency to get decently detailed and because the perps are shadows, some readers may be disturbed by how they gruesomely kill their victims. As for morals, there was a good amount of family bonding and understanding that the mistakes of the past don’t define who we are but they do guide the future, also that dwelling on the past often corrupts the future.

So overall, I give The Time Key 3 out of 5 stars and am resolved to say that this book simply wasn’t for me, but some of you who follow Literature Approved will more than likely enjoy it.

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Rated: 

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Five Magic Spindles; The Ghost of Briardale by Grace Mullins

I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

The Synopsis of the Novella Collection:

Awaken the Magic!

Emma, a good-hearted midwife, rushes to warn a neighbor about the hired gunman headed to his ranch but can’t prevent the catastrophe in store for his daughter.

Palli, the prophesied daughter of a king, is fated to rescue her people from the destruction called forth by a vengeful priest.

Roselee, a ghost with a faulty memory, flits through the halls of an insane asylum in search of the mortal boy who can help her save the day.

Arabella, a living spirit trapped in her own comatose body, helplessly watches from the realm of dreams as her usurping cousin plots to destroy her once and for all.

Tanza, a tomb raider on a distant planet, struggles to make a living and doesn’t need a long-lost prince to complicate her difficult life.

One way or another, these beauties have no intention of sleeping away their problems.

TheGhostofBriardale

Synopsis of the featured short story, The Ghost of Briardale:

Roselee, a ghost with a faulty memory, flits through the halls of an insane asylum in search of the mortal boy who can help her save the day.

Review:

Disclaimer: I am not reviewing the entire novella collection at this time because I was only asked to review the short story written by Grace Mullins; The Ghost of Briardale. However reviews of the other 4 stories or an overall review of the collection may come later.

The Ghost of Briardale is indeed an interesting and entertaining twist on the traditional Sleeping Beauty. With characters all too charming, scenes unfolding in a spooky castle, and of course scary villains, what’s not to love as this story unfolds?

The pacing of this short story is so perfect that it is hard to realize that its even “short”! Its so packed with adventures, plots, dialogue, and transitions that it flows just like a “regular” novel and is just as satisfying to read. I fell in love with the characters, followed the plot line easily, and was extremely pleased with the ending.

Grace’s writing style is incredible as she paints the scenes so perfectly before our eyes, almost making it seem as though we are watching a movie. Because of her excellent description, there are a couple of references that lean a bit towards the horror side that might make a few readers uneasy (i.e. the MC is a ghost and is able to disembody herself…to keep spoilers from entering the review that is all I will say), however, it is still a very clean read, no blood, gore, or language.

Overall, The Ghost of Briardale gets a full 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it to an any reader older than 13!

The author’s website

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Rated: * * * * *

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