Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

Title: Broken Branches

Author: M. Jonathan Lee

Genre: horror/paranormal

Setting: English countryside

Publisher: Hideaway Falls

Source: from the publisher

Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

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A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

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The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo (blog tour)

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I know I already reviewed The Reluctant Godfather, but I’m reviewing it again. This one is a full-length review as part of Allison Tebo’s blog tour for her new novella. You can enter the giveaway here.

Before you read the review, a little about the author …

Allison Tebo is a Christian homeschool graduate in her mid-twenties, who works part time as a sales associate for a major transportation company.  A graduate of London Art College, Allison pursues avenues in cartooning and illustrating as well as singing and voice acting. In her spare time she writes and blogs at www.allisonswell.com.

It is her goal to write fiction that appeals to many different kind of people, by writing clean, classic fun. Her faith in Christ directly influences all she writes about – or does not write about.  Whether the story possesses a strong message or is simply fun and imaginative fiction – her desire is to bring honor to God – and to provide quality stories for everyone to enjoy.

And the review …

Title: The Reluctant Godfather

Author: Allison Tebo

Series: Tales of Ambia, 1

Genre: fairytale retelling (light fantasy)

Publisher: Allison Tebo

Source: bought

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo

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A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective.

Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather, who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care…a cinder girl and a charming prince.

A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.

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I got this book on a free day, and I was so excited! I’d really been looking forward to reading it. A retelling of Cinderella from the perspective of the Fairy Godfather? Sign me up! Then I skim-read it again (although it was hard; I really wanted to just settle in and enjoy it!) so I could rewrite this review. I’m going to have to read it again sometime sooner or later … it’s really that good!

The Reluctant Godfather is a fantastic story. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. It was hilarious, causing me to laugh aloud several times. Allison’s writing style is unique and engaging. It’s light and just a bit silly, but completely self-aware and quite clever.

The characters were amazing. Burndee was especially awesome with Ella running a close second. Colin … I am a little irritated with him. Mostly because I think all Colins should be amazing. *shrugs* It’s a weird quirk …

Though, in hindsight, I guess Colin wasn’t terrible. He was irritating, though. Sometimes I was like, “Colin … I’m going to strangle you … and I don’t think anyone’s going to try to stop me …”

I can’t tell you all the amazing twists and turns of the plot without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say that this retelling leaves no cliché unaddressed. Sometimes I thought, “Oh, well, that’s gonna be a little cliché …” and it turned out so creative! It’s truly a work of genius. And it’s really funny. What’s not to love? I honestly can’t stop raving about it.

I’m not going to rant on about the amazingness of this book forever, but you must read it! Really. Get yourself a copy.

In closing, I just want to say: Allison. I MUST READ THE SEQUEL AAAAH!!! More Ella and Burndee and maybe even Colin … *squeals*

~Kellyn Roth~

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p.s.

Have you read this book? Are you going to? Did you check out the giveaway and other blog posts? What are your thoughts on fairytale retellings?

The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero (blog tour)

Title: The Secret Slipper

Author: Amanda Tero

Series: Tales of Faith, #2 (can function as stand-alone)

Genre: Christian Fairytale Retelling

Setting: non-magical fantasy world

Publisher: Amanda Tero

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

The Secret Slipper by Kellyn Roth

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Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose was to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?

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Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis by H.L. Burke

Title: Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis

Series: Nyssa Glass, #0.5

Author: H.L. Burke

Genre: steampunk (science fiction)

Age Range: upper middle grade/young adult

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis by H.L. Burke

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Orphaned cat burglar Nyssa Glass intends to outwit her rotten fate.

“Adopted” by her incarcerated uncle’s gang of thieves, she breaks into homes and picks pockets to repay her family debt and one day buy her freedom from their dark enterprise. Mechanically adept and determined, Nyssa longs to attend Miss Pratchett’s School for Mechanically Minded Maids and make an honest life she can take pride in.

She wasn’t made to steal things. She was made to create and fix them.

However, before she can make her escape, the head of the gang taps her for a new assignment, one her conscience cannot bear. Nyssa is faced with a heartrending decision: sacrifice everything or become the very thing she’s desperate to escape.

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The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah

Author: Fred Holmes

Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States and the Middle East

Publisher: Fred Holmes

Source: from the author (in exchange for an honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

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Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.

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I honestly don’t know how to rate and review this book. I thought I’d wait a while after reading it to see if my thoughts organized themselves, but they haven’t, and so I guess I’ll just do my best to give my honest opinion.

Honestly, it’s an emotional journey, and emotions boggle me a little. I laughed and cried and was both disturbed and happy.

Plot: 3/5

The plot was really one of the cleverest I’ve read in a while. If you’ve read the blurb (^), you probably have a pretty fair idea as to what goes on, but it still surprised me. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate was pausing the adventure to return to V’s life every once and a while, though when the ending came I understood why it was necessary.

The ending was a bit disturbing. I didn’t quite know what to think about it at first … and was a little disappointed, too. However, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it was really a cool twist … and totally unexpected! Still, it was disturbing and, in my opinion, sudden.

Characters: 4/5

There were several characters who held prominent parts besides Hannah, but I always had them kept straight in my mind. A few things did confuse me (for instance, it wasn’t explained until the very end of the book why Griff has the ability to communicate with Hannah telepathically; we were just expected to accept it like all dogs communicate with their masters like that), but overall, I found them all well-developed and interesting.

Hannah was a sweet little girl (well, “little” is a broad term …) looking for her father. Stories with grieving people in them always get me even though I’ve never lost anyone really important to me.

Griff, Hannah’s dog, was a fun character. He can communicate telepathically with Hannah for much of the book, and he has a fun sense of humor.

Hannah’s father … well, something seemed wrong with him from the beginning, and so I was pleased with Hannah’s realization towards the end. Sure, he was a fun dad … but a good one? Eh. Not so much.

Vivian (V), Hannah’s mother, was a great character. I loved her growth and the growth of her and Hannah’s relationship. It was also cool how she’s this steady person who is always there, even if Hannah didn’t think her decisions were always the best.

Gus was my favorite. He was just so hilarious! Every word out of his mouth had me in stitches, and that whole thing with the treasure chest … and his relationship with Hannah’s father was the best. 😛

Ahmed … wow. Insta-crush, huh, Hannah? *glares at Hannah* Okay, okay, I know, you’re fourteen and he’s this awesome exotic gentleman … but still.

Ahmed’s parents I actually liked … until the end. At which point I kinda got frustrated with them. I still don’t know about that little lie to Hannah’s father. What was that about?

The Magician, we all hated. Well, at least I did. He was so cruel and evil and wicked and awful … and other words that are near-synonyms to each other. I hate him! And yet he’s a “good” villain as villains go (as in he is good at being evil).

Setting: 5/5

The description and setting were both very good. I always had a good idea as to where we were. I especially loved the descriptions of the treasure chamber and the Sheik’s house.

As far as settings, we started in a small town in the United States in Hannah’s bedroom and went halfway around the world to Baghdad and then some mountains (I’ve forgotten which) and back to Hannah’s house. All vividly described without too many words.

Writing: 4/5

Excellent! I especially enjoyed the punchy dialogue and, of course, description. The best thing about the writing was the humor. I laughed aloud several times.

However, I did find some sentences to be a little complicated or overthought.

Theme: 3/5

I felt like the theme could have been worked a little better. The ending and resolution were somewhat sudden, as I mentioned before, and the main character was kind of in denial before that point. V’s point of view helped decrease that shield Hannah put up a little … but not much, especially as V had no idea what was going on until the end.

Content: 3/5

Language: “oh my god” several times and then stronger euphemism such as “crap,” etc. 10+.

Violence: lots of this, I’m afraid. Many, many people were killed during Hannah’s adventure. There was lots of blood and death and scary situations. It never got extremely gory, but it was mildly gory in several places. 13+ at least.

Sexual: n/a (although Hannah develops a crush on a boy she’s traveling with)

Other: the world is assumed millions of years old. Hannah is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and delusions. The ending is kinda of disturbing. 10+

I’d say 13+ at least for violence, disturbing themes, and mild language (taking the Lord’s name in vain). Parental guidance suggested for more the more sensitive.

Overall: 3.5/5

A fairly decent young adult novel with a great beginning and middle. The end was a little sudden, but for those who are good at sorting details out, it won’t make any difference. I really enjoyed the humor and the adventure (though it could be a little gory or disturbing at times), and the character were well-developed and interesting.

A great story for any upper middle grade or young adult reader who loves a character-based adventure with magic elements.

~Kellyn Roth

A Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes

Title: A Coronation of Kings

Author: Samuel Stokes

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult)

Setting: medieval fantasy world

Publisher: Samuel Stokes

Source: author (in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Lots of violence, though it’s not extremely gory at any time. Realistic depictions of war. I wasn’t disturbed by it at all (though I’m pretty hard to unnerve). Mentions of men ‘raping and pillaging’ towns and such. A few kisses (no details). A few bad words (d**n a few times, maybe h**l once or twice; completely unnecessary, but what can you expect?).

A Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes

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Tyranny. Desperation. Rebellion.

While Tristan may be the heir to the House of Listar, at heart he’s more a lad than a lord.
Mad with power, the ruthless and scheming Baron of Belnair will stop at nothing to gain the crown. In one swift stroke the House of Listar lies in ruin. Alone, Tristan must fight for his life, and his people.

With everything at stake, Tristan must unite the unlikeliest of allies to block the Baron’s ascent. For the first time in his life he must become the leader he was born to be.

The Baron’s armies grow as an ancient magic stirs in the mountains. If Tristan fails, the throne, his freedom, and the love of his life will be lost forever.

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The Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes is a simply amazing book. I enjoyed it from start to finish. There were a few things, however, that need improvement.

First of all, I would definitely recommend an editor. In every paragraph I was aching to change a thousand little things from word choice to punctuation to grammar to a million little typos. I believe the author could even do a great deal of it himself.

Second, Tristan was a little too … bland. I wish there was more time spent developing his character (and that of his brother as well). He was too perfect, too good at everything, and he had no real character arch. However, I was able to ignore that because, as I said before, this is an amazing book.

At first glance, this is your average story about an heir seeking to reclaim his throne. However, it’s anything but. As mentioned in the summary, Tristan teams up with some unlikely allies. These allies, and their fortress, added something very special and original to this novel. I really want to live in a catacomb now. What? I’m serious! I do! They really had an ideal defense system set up. And I also want a secret army … okay, so maybe I don’t, but it still sounds cool …

From chapter one, this story took off at a fast clip. It rarely seemed rushed, but it was very action-packed. I’m not usually big into those kind of novels (they usually skim on character development, as did this one a bit here and there), but this one was well-done.

Syrion, Tristan’s twin brother, and the stories of the Astarii were fantastic, too. To me, the stories of the Astarii kind of sounded like Christianish … the one about the one Astarii turning away from the gods, the morals, etc. However, I don’t know if this was intended or not. Whether or not some of the tales were supposed to be allegorical, the Astarii and everything about them were an interesting addition to the story. There was a bit of a mystery involved here, and everything came together nicely, just leaving me wondering enough to read on but not confusing me. I especially loved the dragons.

Although Tristian and a few other characters were weak, many characters were not. I found Elaina, Syrion, and Marcus both well-developed, as well as the few ‘thieves’ we did meet and the villains. And the evil creepy lady whose name isn’t coming to mind at the moment.

The setting was really well-done. I felt like I knew the world we were in very well. I enjoyed seeing the different cultures at play on the continent. The description in these cases was fantastic.

Overall, this was an action-packed, breathtaking, twist-filled adventure story that could use just a little tweaking here and there. I can easily see how it could be made a best-seller with a little editing and a little character development.

~Kellyn Roth

An Ordinary Knight by H.L. Burke

Title: An Ordinary Knight

Author: H.L. Burke

Series: An Ordinary Knight, #1

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure/Romance

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult)

Setting: a fantasy world

Publisher: H.L. Burke

Source: bought with birthday money 🙂

Rating: 3/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Mild romance. There’s one guy who’s sort of a lady-chaser, so. There’s that. Pretty mild violence. No language.

An Ordinary Knight by H.L. Burke

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Stuck in a humiliating position as the Royal Kennel Guard, Sir Percy sees little hope for anything other than an obscure fate. After all, in the Kingdom of Ithelia, you need a fairy to guide you to greatness, and fairies just don’t bother with knights like him.

However, when Percy catches the eyes of the sheltered Princess Matilda, his world expands in new and frightening ways.

A victim of an ill-planned Christening, Matty has spent her life in a locked tower, hiding from pixie attacks. Now she’ll do anything to escape. And if that means dragging Percy along for a cross country search for Prince Charming, so be it.

But not all Prince Charmings are what they seem, and as Matty’s plight grows more desperate, Percy finds himself losing his heart. Does a lowly knight have what it takes to uncurse a princess?

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Well … it was still good, but it wasn’t improved too much if at all. You see, H.L. Burke originally published An Ordinary Knight a while back along with another novella. She later removed it from the market and presumably edited it to be re-published … and I see some changes, but not a lot. Or maybe I simply don’t remember the earlier version very well.

First, the info-dumping prologue. Never a good idea. It basically dryly summarizes Sir Percy’s ordinary life up until it stops being ordinary.

Of course, I wouldn’t really call Percy an ordinary knight. He’s very abnormal, in fact. It seems that every knight but him is fairy-gifted. So doesn’t that make him unordinary?

The characters were all right, though at times they seemed a little two-dimensional. The plot was exceptional, and the writing amusing.

On the negative side, Dusty annoyed me, the fairy’s decision seemed sudden and unrealistic, and Mattie … hmm. Could anybody really be that stupid? Especially if they read as much as Mattie supposedly did? If she read a lot, she should know a lot about the world. Or maybe she just read trash. I don’t know. I did find it to be a lot less cheesy, which is good.

Overall, a reasonably entertaining tale, although it isn’t get better than ‘okay’ in my personal opinion.

~Kellyn Roth

Interview with Amanda Tero

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Welcome to an author interview Amanda Tero agreed to do with me on Reveries Reviews for the blog tour she’s doing to release her novella, Befriending the Beast. You can find it on Goodreads and Amazon now! 🙂

Welcome to Reveries Reviews, Amanda Tero! It’s great to have you today! Could you tell the readers a little bit about Befriending the Beast?

I’m glad to “be” here, Kellyn!

Befriending the Beast is a non-magical, Christian retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It has quite a drastic twist, though: what if, the beast was Belle’s father? She has returned home to gain favor with her father, and only has a few months in which to do it. When her father refuses to see her, she must hope against hope that something will happen to change his heart.

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What is the main character, Belle, like?

Belle is spontaneous, warm, tender-hearted, and lovable (well, for me she’s lovable — guess my other readers will have to decide for themselves).

Definitely spontaneous! She reminded me a bit of myself in that …

Where did the idea for Befriending the Beast come from?

One night I was sitting with my sisters watching a random movie, and the single question came to mind: “What if the beast was Belle’s father?” I seriously wasn’t thinking about rewriting fairy-tales and we weren’t watching anything like it either.

God-inspired, perhaps? 🙂

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At any point during the writing, did you have the soundtrack from the Disney movie running through your head?

Haha! You know, I’m not sure… if I did, it’s because one of my younger sisters loves playing “Beauty and the Beast” (the song) on the piano, and was definitely playing it the weeks that I wrote. 🙂

Tale as old as time …

What is the world Befriending the Beast is set in like?

It is a fictional medieval setting. You actually don’t see much of the outside world, because Belle has chosen to return to the castle — and in a way, has chosen confinement. There is a lot about her castle and garden, though!

Yes, I loved the descriptions of the garden! 🙂

How has Befriending the Beast changed since you started writing it, if at all?

Oh, it has definitely changed! My author friend, A.M. Heath (look her up, she writes amazing Civil War novels!) kept pushing me to “keep the time-bomb ticking.” What started out to be just a sweet story changed to be one that makes readers edgy to find out what happens next. I definitely went from putting Belle into a sad situation to making her downright stressed and uncomfortable (in a good way!).

Yep, there’s nothing more annoying than a sad character who just mopes about! I like to see them pacing! 😉

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What takes up most of your days?

Wow… um… every day is different, so this one is hard to answer! On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I teach piano and violin all day (I have 23 students). On my “off” days, I am either arranging music, working on writing, doing graphics design, doing music with my family, and a collage of other things. Most recently, I’ve done some Louisiana flood relief work.

Wow, lots of work!

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Preferably iced. 😉

Pen or pencil?

Hmm… both! I love using a pencil, but I also like the colored G2 pens.

Handwritten or typed-up?

Typed. My fingers can fly about as fast as my brain on the keyboard… but not so much wrapped around a writing utensil.

I know what you mean; I feel the same way … only my computer is too slow for my fingers … 😛

Fiction or nonfiction?

Another hard one. I prefer a balance of both. 🙂

Is there anything you’d like to go back in time and tell yourself a year ago (writing-related or not-writing-related)?

Well, life-related: be sure that all you do is for the glory of God. It is very easy to let ulterior motives slip in, so stay on the guard!

Well, thanks for being here with us today, Amanda! God bless and happy writing! 🙂


Thanks for reading, everyone! Remember to go to Amanda’s website or blog to find out more!

~Kellyn Roth

Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero

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Title: Befriending the Beast

Author: Amanda Tero

Genre: Non-magical Fantasy (fairytale retelling)/Christian fiction

Age-Range: 10+ (middle grade/young adult)

Era: Medieval-ish

Setting: fantasy world – realistic

Publisher: Amanda Tero

Source: author (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 1/5. Some thematic elements (falling off a horse and sickness, no details). No violence, language, or sexual content.

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The Exiled Seven by Blake Renworth

Title: The Exiled Seven

Author: Blake Renworth

Series: The Exiled Series, #1

Genre: Adventure Fantasy

Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)

Publisher: Inglenook Publishers

Source: publisher (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Younger teens cautioned for violence (nothing too gory) and a little cussing (which seemed a little random to me, by the way … like it was thrown in for no particular reason).

Cover: 5/5. This one is really pretty! I especially like the font of the title.

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