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A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones

A Cup of Light by Nicole MonesBlurb

As an American appraiser of fine Chinese porcelain, Lia Frank holds fragile beauty in her hands, examines priceless treasure with a magnifying lens. But when Lia looks in the mirror, she sees the flaws in herself, a woman wary of love, cut off from the world around her. Still, when she is sent to Beijing to authenticate a collection of rare pieces, Lia will find herself changing in surprising ways…coming alive in the shadow of an astounding mystery…

As Lia evaluates each fragile pot, she must answer questions that will reverberate through dozens of lives: Where did these works of art come from? Are they truly authentic? Or are they impossibly beautiful forgeries–part of the perilous underworld of Chinese art? As Lia examines her treasure, a breathtaking mystery unravels around her. And with political intrigue intruding on her world of provenance and beauty, Lia is drawn into another, more personal drama–a love affair that could alter the course of her life…

My Perspective

This book was lent to me by my mother-in-law.

A Cup of Light follows Lia as she flies to Beijing to examine a set of valuable porcelain pots. As an appraiser, she is one of the best, however what she arrives to is greater than she imagined.

This is a book that i would not normally read however I’m glad that i did. It’s always good to broaden your horizons.

The story was fairly slow to start off with and didn’t really pick up the pace until at least a third of the way through. Even then, it was still quite a gentle pace.

The descriptions in the book intrigued me. I felt like the author was trying to write in a way that tapped into your senses however i don’t think it quite hit the mark so instead felt a little forced.

I couldn’t figure out whether i liked Lia or not. It wasn’t that she annoyed or frustrated me, there was just something about her that prevented me from connecting with her. I didn’t really like Michael, however considering what he’d just been through, he was a little messed up. I actually liked all of the other characters, which thinking back on, were all Chinese! Not sure what that’s about.

The suspense in this book is good. It slowly builds and builds without you ever realising it until you’re actually holding your breath. What i loved is that from the style and the writing, you couldn’t figure out whether the author was going to have a happy ending or not. Even though it sucks if everything falls apart, it’s a lot more interesting wondering whether everything will actually work out in the end or not. A lot of books have the suspense but you always know it will be fine…this book, it kept me guessing.

I’ve never really thought about porcelain pots in depth before however from reading this story i want to find out all about them. It was really fascinating and when i visit China next, i really want to visit The Porcelain Trail!

There was some slight sex in this book and one scene was actually quite in your face, albeit very short. I don’t like reading content like that, however the fact that i know my mother in law read it makes it even more awkward!

Although the blurb hints at it, i didn’t realise this was a romance novel. Yes, it has a lot of other aspects to it, however underlying, it’s just a romance novel. I was kind of disappointed as i didn’t actually like that part of it. I would have happily enjoyed it without any of the romance.

I was fascinated with the way in which Lia used the Greek/Roman mnemonic system to memorise every pot she’d ever beheld plus any information she’d ever read. At first i found it unbelievable however i researched it and found out that it is actually a real thing. It may have been taken slightly further in the book than is actually possible however it was still very cool.

Overall it was as interesting and unique story. I would recommend it to those who like art and/or cultural fiction.

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The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

The Violets of March by Sarah JioBlurb

In a mystical place where violets bloom out of season and the air is salt drenched, a heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Nearly a decade later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

My Perspective

This is the seventh book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about The Violets of March by Sarah Jio from Gina at GG’s World. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

The Violets of March is about Emily, a successful New York author who has been suffering from writer’s block for a number of years and is currently going through a divorce. Taking a break from life, she visits her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island, where growing up she spent her summers. However once there, hidden family secrets start to come to the surface and Emily starts to learn who her family really are.

I’m in two minds about this book. I really enjoyed the mystery and the family history. I felt the romance was actually quite tacky and unbelievable.

The story flowed well and the actual writing of the book was sound. It was a great premise and the two stories, Emily and Esther’s, interwoven throughout was really well done. You were constantly kept on your toes and the author did a good job in keeping you guessing – not until the very end though. I had an ‘AHA’ moment and realised I’d been barking up the wrong tree however I quickly figured it out and that was only two thirds to three quarters through the book so I read the rest without anymore mystery. There was a twist at the end however I suspected it due to the nature of the novel, and I was actually slightly disappointed in its predictability in that sense.

The characters were all likeable however I found them all a bit unrealistic and so I was unable to actually connect with them. And they were all so predictable.

I don’t want to give a spoiler so I won’t expand too much on my thoughts to do with the romance however if you read it you might understand what I mean. It’s not that Emily started dating straight away after her divorce or any of that…it was more just how it eventuated. Like I said, tacky and unbelievable.

Overall I did enjoy reading the story and I wanted to keep reading due to the mystery however I felt that the romance side of it really let it down. I would probably recommend it however not for the romance (unless that’s what you like!).

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“Legends of Windemere: Curse of The Dark Wind by Charles Yallowitz” ON SALE NOW!!!

Dive into the newest adventure of Luke Callindor, Nyx, Fizzle, & all their friends.
LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE: CURSE OF THE DARK WIND
IS LIVE!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

What’s the Story?

After their battles in Gaia and surviving the Island of Pallice, the champions of Windemere are off on their next adventure.

In his quest to be a hero and help others, Luke Callindor has jumped into danger countless times and would do so again without hesitation. So when he is infected by the toxic Dark Wind, it is up to his friends to find a cure and keep his courage alive. With time running out and their enemies in the shadows, one ally will make the decision to share in Luke’s suffering and forge a bond that runs thicker than blood. Such a sacrifice might not be enough when the truth behind this living curse comes to light.

Will Luke find the strength to defeat the Dark Wind? What ghosts from his past will appear during his weakest hour?

You can find this epic fantasy adventure on:

Amazon!
&
Goodreads!

New to Windemere? Then check it Volumes 1-5 of this exciting series by CLICKING ON THEIR COVERS!

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

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COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

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Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

AN EXTRA TREAT!
Check out an interview with Charles E. Yallowitz on N.N. Light’s Blog: Princess of the Light!

AUTHOR BIO:

Charles author photo B&WCharles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

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ENJOY THE ADVENTURE & BEWARE THE DARK WIND CURSE!

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Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve SheinkinBlurb

On October 20, 1875, Secret Service agents raid the Illinois workshop of master counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd and arrest him.  Soon after Boyd is hauled off to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather and devise a plan to get Boyd back: steal Abraham Lincoln’s body from its tomb, stash it in a secret location, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Boyd – and $200,000 in cash.

The action in this true crime thriller alternates among the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail, and the undercover double agent moving back and forth between the two groups.  Along the way, get a glimpse into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service.  The plot moves toward a wild climax as robbers and lawmen converge at Lincoln’s tomb on election night, 1876.

My Perspective

This is the sixth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers is the true recount of the attempt to body snatch President Lincoln’s remains as ransom for $200,000 and the release of talented counterfeiter, Billy Boyd.

When I started reading this, I didn’t actually realise that it was true. Surprisingly it is!

Not knowing much American history, I found it all very fascinating learning not only about the attempted crime however also about what was going on around that era.

The story itself is interesting however the author also presented it very well. I loved the pictures and excerpts throughout – this is a book that you want the hard copy of not the eBook.

The book flowed well and kept my attention throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to not only young adult readers however all ages.

5

Ranger’s Apprentice 8: The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 8: The Kings of Clonmel by John FlanaganBlurb

Will is at the annual Ranger Gathering but Halt is investigating mysterious happenings in the west. When he does finally return, it’s with bad news. Hibernia is in turmoil. A false religious cult calling themselves the Outsiders are sowing confusion and sedition, and five of the six Hibernian kingdoms have been undermined. Now the sixth, Clonmel, is in danger. Halt, Will and Horace set out to restore order. Can the secrets of Halt’s past help them in their mission?

One Ranger can stop a riot, but this time two Rangers may not be enough . . .

My Perspective

The Kings of Clonmel jumps ahead again and is set after the sixth book, The Siege of Macindaw. Will, Halt and Horace are sent to Hibernia to help prevent a cult, the Outsiders, from taking over the country and turning their attention to invading Araluen.

Having just read Erak’s Ransom, I had to get my head around the timelines and remember what had happened in The Siege of Macindaw. The author did a great job helping with this by easing you into the story.

Again the characters were extremely likeable and having been on the journey with them now for eight books, you really feel part of the team.

You learn a bit about Halt’s past in this book, which I found interesting and clever. In a way I saw it coming however from the past books you wouldn’t have had a clue.

The story was interesting and well written however I did find it probably could have even reduced down slightly. Although the book is resolved, it is also a to be continued.

Again I would definitely recommend this book for children, young adults and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.

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Ranger’s Apprentice 7: Erak’s Ransom by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 7: Erak's Ransom by John FlanaganBlurb

When the Skandian Oberjarl is taken hostage during a raid on the desert land of Arrida, his second-in-command, Svengal, asks the Araluans for help. Halt and Will must go with him to deliver the ransom and secure Erak’s freedom, but a royal presence is needed. The Princess Cassandra – or Evanlyn, as Will knows her – persuades her father to let her go with them. Horace and the Ranger Gilan round out the group to make sure that Evanlyn is well protected. But will violent sandstorms, warring tribes and danger at every turn keep them from reaching Erak in time?

The seventh book takes us back to the final year of Will’s apprenticeship, before the events related in Books 5 and 6.

My Perspective

I was excited to get back into The Ranger’s Apprentice series once we’d come home. If you remember from my first post Ranger’s Apprentice 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, a customer was lending the books to me. I obviously didn’t want to take them overseas with me, for both baggage allowance and that I didn’t want to ruin/lose them.

Erak’s Ransom doesn’t lead on from the last book, The Siege of Macindaw, it takes you back to before Will finishes his apprenticeship. Erak, the Oberjarl of Skandia, is captured and held to ransom by the Arridi, while he is on a raid. Svengal, his first mate, seeks the help of the kingdom of Araluen and Will, Halt, Horace, Evanlyn (Princess Cassandra), and Gilan with the rest of the wolf ship crew journey back to Arrida to negotiate the ransom and free Erak. However not everything goes according to plan.

I was really happy that the book went back to before Will graduated. As I mentioned in The Sorcerer in The North, I was a little disappointed that they’d missed the rest of his apprenticeship and graduation.

I was really impressed with the book as the author had to reduce Will’s maturity to before The Sorcerer in The North however after Oakleaf Bearers, and he did a great job at doing so.

Will was again a great character. He obviously wasn’t perfect and he did make some mistakes however he was as loveable and faithful as ever. I was a little surprised at Halt’s character to be honest. I wouldn’t say in a bad way, or that he was unbelievable, it was just a surprise that came out of nowhere. Horace, Gilan, Erak and Svengal were all their usual steadfast and likeable selves. I was a lot more impressed with Evanlyn and she really held her own in this book.

I found that the book as a whole reduced in the maturity that I mentioned in Oakleaf Bearers, which I found surprising as this story was meant to be after that. I’m not sure if this was because the author was trying to make it clear that this book is meant to take place before The Sorcerer in The North. I didn’t mind so much that it was like this, it was a bit more lighthearted.

The book was really enjoyable and interesting. There were many times that my heart was in my mouth and I was holding my breath for quite a few pages. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

I would definitely recommend this book for children, young adults and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.

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Broken Promise (The Broken Ones) by Jen Wylie

Broken Promise by Jen WylieBlurb

A year of turmoil takes its toll on Arowyn Mason and her companions. After delivering the Elven prince to his homeland, they decide to ride out the winter in the city of Westport before starting their quest to heal the Fey. Like most things in Aro’s life, nothing goes according to plan.

As Kei struggles with the prophecy bound within him, his sanity begins to unravel.  A prophecy and a promise are broken, and forgotten threats resurface with dire consequences. The Dragos is watching and the Were king is displeased with the disregard of Were law. Aro scrambles as yet another threat emerges. The Elves, displeased with their prince, exploit his only weakness…her.

Aro is forced to find a new ally, a cold-hearted, ruthless pirate named Roan. He is more than he seems and Aro must learn who she can trust, or it will cost more than just her life. She has grown stronger, but is it enough to save herself, her family, and the Elf she loves?

My Perspective

I’ve been looking forward to reading Broken Promise since June last year, when I finished reading Broken Prince.

Broken Promise follows Aro, Kei, Bo and Garen as they head to Wesport to see out the winter. Having just dropped Prince back to his homeland, Aro is full of conflicting emotions. However she soon has little time to dwell on them as their expected recuperation over winter becomes hijacked and all of those she loves are threatened.

The book started straight on from where it left off in Broken Prince. I probably should have reread the first two to refresh my memory however you are given small tidbits of recaps to help you remember. I liked that the first part of the book didn’t rehash all that had happened in the previous two books. I find that tiresome and only good for someone who doesn’t know what is going on.

I did find the book a little slow in the beginning. A lot happened however I found that I couldn’t quite connect to the story. About a third of the way in it seemed to fall into place and I was able to connect to the story.

Aro is the same old Aro. She is both endearing and frustrating at the same time. I really liked Roan, however I was a little confused by his actions towards Aro.

The story was well written. While reading it, I did wonder at the necessity of the story and whether it should have only been a three book series as even though it was interesting and I enjoyed it, it felt like a lot of filler however the ending wrapped it up into a neat little package and it all made sense. I was very impressed. The ending is quite abrupt though. It definitely leaves you wanting more!

I did find it a little bit unrealistic and to be honest, annoying, how Aro seems to wind up sleeping with a man all the time (and I actually mean sleeping, not having sex). She’s not really the one who initiates it so I’m not really annoyed at her per se, more that for a sixteen/seventeen year old girl, the amount of men she has shared a bed with is a bit ridiculous (when none are in a sexual manner). Also the fact that Roan sleeps naked. I mean, really? I don’t really understand what the point of having that in the book was?

I did really enjoy reading Broken Promise and I’m looking forward to reading the final book in the series, Broken Kei, however unlike the previous two books, Broken Aro and Broken Prince, this one didn’t leave a mark like they did. I’m not sure if it was me or the book.

Anyway it was an interesting story and it kept me turning the pages and I would definitely recommend reading it however only if you’ve read the first two books in the series, which are fantastic so if you haven’t read them then what are you waiting for?!

This review is based on a digital copy provided by the publisher.