Friday, 20 December 2019

#BookReview — Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower by Angelina Kalahari #Singing #performers

Breathing for Confidence:
Your Voice, Your Superpower
By Angelina Kalahari

Start breathing optimally today for better health, great voice production and amazing confidence.
With over 35 years teaching, singing, acting, and directing experience and having been recognised by Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to music, Angelina Kalahari is proud to present the first book in her fabulous new series — Your Voice, Your Superpower.
In Angelina's vast experience, she has found that stories are the best ways to learn and more importantly remember what we have learned. Angelina has chosen to use the story of an imaginary voice student, Jake Tyler, to illustrate how important breathing is to improve your health, voice production and self-esteem.
So, what are you waiting for? Let Angelina show you how to breathe optimally in a way that supports not only your voice for speaking or singing but also your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

“Our lives begin and end with the breath.”

But do we breathe correctly? Are we using our lungs the way they were meant to be used? And how does the way we breathe affect our voice, our confidence and our overall health? All these questions and more are answered in Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower by Angelina Kalahari.
With over 35 years of experience in teaching, singing, acting, and directing, and having been recognised by the Queen for her contribution to music, Angelina Kalahari is widely respected within the industry. Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower is Kalahar’s first book in what promises to be a very informative and practical series about the voice.
Kalahar has taken a novel approach to this course. Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower does not read like the average self-help book. Instead, it reads like a story. We glimpse into the life of the fictional character, Jake Tyler. Jake is an understudy for the West End award-winning show, Wicked, but his dream is to make it big as an international singer. But when an opportunity comes to audition for the hit television show, The Singer, which could launch Jake’s career, his nerves and his voice failed him. In desperation, Jake reaches out to a close friend who advises him to make an appointment with the experienced voice teacher, Ann. We then follow Jake’s journey as he learns from Ann and implements her teachings. I thought this was a very unusual approach for a book such as this, but it was one that worked very well indeed.
In detail, but through the narrative of the story, Kalahar describes practical ways of controlling your breathing as well as breathing the way nature intended us to. Kalahar starts by explaining how to achieve the correct posture and then goes onto diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is something I am familiar with, but I have to admit, it is something I have always found very difficult to grasp — habits once learned, it seems, can be tough to break. I thought Kalahar’s approach to this subject was not only unique in the telling but also one that was very easy to understand. This is no dry textbook. Kalahar’s protagonist, Jake, asks the questions that I would have asked if this were a face to face lesson, and his understanding and his recognition of the difference that these techniques made, not only to his voice but also to his confidence, gave me the courage to have a go myself. Thanks to Kalahar, I found myself standing in front of a mirror trying to correct my posture, and then trying some of the very straightforward exercises to help with achieving that essential diaphragmatic breathing technique.
After each chapter, Kalahar goes over the key points and breaks down the lessons in easy-to-follow bullet points, which reiterated what she had already said in the story. This repetition really helped me to grasp the exercises. It is also useful for a quick recap when needed.
With simple exercises that the fictional singing teacher, Ann, teaches Jake, the reader can gain an intimate knowledge of the right and wrong way to breathe for the optimal capacity of the lungs. This book is the next best thing to having a private lesson with Ms Kalahar. Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower is a book that should be on the shelf of anyone serious about wanting to enhance their voice through training, and it is an absolute must for those interested in pursuing a singing or acting career. 
I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Breathing for Confidence:
Your Voice, Your Superpower
Amazon • Kobo

Angelina Kalahari

Angelina Kalahari has worked for over thirty-five years as a professional actress, stage director and operatic soprano, performing around the world. She appeared on many diverse platforms, such as opening the busking scheme on London Underground to a recital at the Royal Opera House and everything in between.
She holds degrees in drama and opera and in 2005 she received recognition for her contribution to the music, culture and economy of the UK from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Angelina has always regarded herself as a storyteller, either through music or through acting and directing. She honed her storytelling skills from a young age, writing and telling stories to her siblings at bedtime. It became a habit through the years and a solace while travelling for singing.
Born in Namibia, and having lived all over the world, she currently lives in London, UK, with her husband, her fur cat daughter, a rapidly diminishing population of house spiders and a smallish herd of dust bunnies.
She writes non-fiction books on the voice, her specialism and obsession for over thirty-five years, contemporary romance to explore love, women's fiction to understand love and middle-grade novels to give love. What more is there than love?
Connect with Angelina: Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Pinterest • Linkedin • Goodreads • Amazon Author Page.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

#BookReview — Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall #YoungAdult #Fantasy

Knightmare Arcanist
(Frith Chronicles #1)
By Shami Stovall

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

"No one could stop me from proving myself to a phoenix. No one..."

But the Island of Ruma was founded on tradition. Only those deemed worthy by Schoolmaster Tyms could participate in the Trial of Worth. This year Tyms had deemed Zaxis and Atty deserving of such an honour. There was no one else, or so Tyms thought.

Volke Savan was a gravedigger. His parents were criminals. He was a nobody. He was nothing. Who was he to think he had the skills or the knowledge to become an arcanist?

Growing up with tales of the illustrious arcanist, Gregory Ruma, Volke had dared to dream that his life could be so much more than what it was. He had to bond with a magical creature, his soul demanded it, and then and only then would the Island of Ruma see him for who he really was. He was not his parents. He was not a gravedigger. He would be an arcanist, and he would be a great one.

However, Volke was not fated to bond with a phoenix. A act of extraordinary courage meant that Volke piqued the curiosity of a Knightmare — a mythical knight, who hid in the shadow world and was feared by many. To bond with such a creature was not a decision to be taken lightly. But these were no ordinary times, and the decision was taken out of Volke's hands — if he did not bond with the Knightmare he would surely die.

From the graveyard on the Island of Ruma to a desperate battle in the Cathedral on the Isle of Luma, Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall is in all ways a fantasy triumph. 

With a riotous sense of colour and adventure, Knightmare Arcanist is the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who refuses to accept the way his life has panned out. Volke longs for magic and adventure, but above all, he wants to be respected and revered. He will do anything to achieve his dreams — even if that means breaking with the tradition of his island. He is so desperate to break free that his actions are reckless. If he cannot bond with a phoenix, then another mythical creature will do — even if that creature is a Knightmare. Volke is a fantastic protagonist. He is wholly committed to becoming an arcanist despite the odds that are stacked against him. He cannot afford to be a pupil at Schoolmaster Tyms school, so with the helpful advice from a centuries-old staircase, Volke teaches himself what he needs to know to qualify to be considered. Volke's absolute commitment to his dreams made him not only a very likeable character but also a very courageous one. By breaking with tradition, he risks estranging himself from the rest of his community, but he does it anyway, for he knows the reward is so much greater than anything he could ever lose. Volke is a wonderful hero for young adults to get behind. He is very ambitious, but his ambition does not blind him. Volke knows right from wrong, and he can recognise corruption when he sees it. He learns some painful truths during this book — not all heroes are as heroic as they seem to be, was probably the hardest one for him to come to terms with. He is, however, a natural leader, and even Zaxis, who Volke initially sees as his rival, his enemy, becomes the very reason that he survives the battle in the Cathedral. I thought Volke was wonderfully portrayed and I am really looking forward to reading more about him in the upcoming books.

There is a wonderfully small friendship group in this book between the young arcanists of The Frith Guild. Initially, there is a lot of rivalry between them. But as this book progresses, the reader realises that they want the same thing — a place to belong. And this they find with each other. 

There are many fantastic beasts in this book, but my favourite has to be Nicholin, a very rare ferret-like creature called a rizzel. Nocholin may be small, but provided a great deal of the humour in this book. His witty one-liners and his playful attitude was incredibly entertaining! Likewise, Luthair, Volke's Knightmare, was an interesting creature. He is the stuff of nightmares, hence the name, and his appearance is sinister, but he is pure of heart, and he will defend Volki with every fibre of his being. I thought Luthair was very vivid in the telling. 

The threat in this story is the terrible plague that is ravishing the mythical creatures. Once infected, the creatures transform into a corrupted version of themselves, and it also renders them insane. This disease ravishes these beautiful creatures, and the arcanists are desperate to find a cure for it, as well as discover what has caused it. The plague, along with the pirate attacks makes this a turbulent time in which to be a young arcanist. Volke has, by the end of this book, several encounters with plague-ridden creatures, which gave this book a sense of dark menace. And as with all good light and dark books the illustrious hero, the man Volke looks up to, is ever so slightly tarnished upon closer inspection. Volke learns a valuable lesson that a person's facade is not necessarily an accurate reflection.

With a novelist intuition for what hooks young adults and keeps them reading and a narrative that is as boisterous as it was exciting, Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) has a lot to recommend it. Stovall has not only penned an enthralling book, that is filled to the brim with magic, mythical creatures and heroism, but it is also one that is next to impossible to put down. Knightmare Arcanist had me captivated from start to finish. I have not enjoyed a young adult fantasy so much since J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. Knightmare Arcanist is a book that young adults and adult alike can get very excited about.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Knightmare Arcanist

Shami Stovall

Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrills to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

Connect with Shami: Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

#BookReview — Immortal Defiance (Dulcea’s Rebellion #1) by Laura Maybrooke #HistoricalFantasy #MustRead

Immortal Defiance
(Dulcea’s Rebellion #1)
By Laura Maybrooke

Some things never die. Hope. Heroes. Defiance.

Things take a strange turn for Dulcea, the elven enchantress turned war heroine and Dragonmistress, when a countryman's betrayal lands her in enemy hands.

As she awaits her execution, a stranger with mysterious powers offers her another chance at life. Will she die here or risk what sinister fate he has in store for her?

Can Dulcea reclaim her rightful place and lead her army once more? Or does Krath, the man who travels the Realm of the Dead as one of its own, prove to be the obstacle that fells her rebellion?

… Or will this immortal vampire warrior turn out to be the best chance she has of defying the ancient evil arising in the west?

“Would you like to take your chances with me... or with them?”

Considering Neros, the high priest, wants to sacrifice Dulcea “Lightbringer” Silanquel to Asherac so that she may serve until the end of time as the Dark God’s handmaiden, there did not seem to be that much of a choice. But Dulcea knows nothing about her would-be rescuer. She can only hope that he is the lesser of two evils.

Krath, Lord of Gwyndoorn, has walked this earth for over a thousand years. He has seen kingdoms rise and fall. He has seen loved ones murdered. He has seen too many battlefields — too many wars. He has seen far too much. However, there is something about Dulcea that awakens his curiosity. Dulcea is fighting a war that Krath knows she cannot win. The evil that is rising in the west cannot be vanquished. And yet, Dulcea’s courage and determination draw Krath inexplicably towards her.

Dulcea knows she should fear Krath. He could take her life in an instant, or worse, turn her into a willing slave with his mind-control tricks, but he does neither, and Dulcea does not know what to make of him. Krath’s unfailing honestly with her also makes it incredibly difficult for Dulcea not to like him. Kraft is turning everything she thought she knew of his kind on its head. However, with a traitor in her ranks, Dulcea must keep her friends close, and her enemies closer. Only time will tell which one of those Krath is...

From a terrifying abduction to the discovery of the true identity of the Black Dragonlord, Immortal Defiance (Dulcea’s Rebellion #1) by Laura Maybrooke is a book that is both masterful and enchanting. This is what historical fantasy is all about.

Maybrooke has laid a solid foundation for what promises to be the next great epic historical fantasy series. With elves, dragons, humans, and let’s not forget a dashingly handsome vampire, Immortal Defiance is a fantastic romp through a fantasy world torn asunder by war. This book had all the feels, from the wonderfully depicted magical world to the charismatic protagonists and the evil antagonists.

With a rich narrative, which reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and an almost lyrical quality to the prose, Immortal Defiance has a lot to recommend it. Here is a book that is filled to overflowing with imagination and it has an energy that threatens to mesmerise. This was an enthralling tale that grabbed me from the first sentence and did not let go until that final full stop. It is an irresistible book, so irresistible that I could not put it down. In fact, I read it in one sitting.

There are a lot of flashbacks in this book, which I found endlessly fascinating. They did not interfere with the story in any way, but instead, they enhanced it, giving readers a little more insight into what had happened. It was a bold choice by Maybrooke to do this, as sometimes a lot of flashbacks get in the way of the actual story the author is trying to tell, but in this case, I think Maybrooke pulled it off rather spectacularly. Kudos, Ms Maybrooke.

I adored the characterisation of Dulcea. Dulcea is an elven enchantress, Dragonmistress, and leader of elves. She is determined to bring her people freedom no matter what the cost. But she is also young and idealistic. Dulcea is a strong heroine who knows what she wants and is determined to find a way to achieve it. She is intelligent, canny and yet she is willing to listen to her advisors, even if she does not always like what they have to say. I thought her relationship with Myoden was, at times very sweet, yet it was her growing feelings towards Krath that really drove this story forward. At first, she fears Krath — who wouldn’t be fearful of someone who could use the Netherworld to travel over vast distances within seconds? By the end of this novel, Dulcea’s feelings towards Krath change. He becomes a confidant, a friend, and there are hints that one day their relationship will be of a romantic nature. I hope so, anyway!

Like Dulcea, I was a little unsure of Krath at the beginning of this novel. He is a creature of darkness, but he doesn’t give in to this darker evil side, and he has his emotions firmly under control at all times, which made him sometimes difficult to get a handle on, which I think is what Maybrooke intended. Is he a friend, or is he a foe? Is Dulcea going to survive her encounter with him and come out unscathed, or will she end up like his other devoted servants who are content to live their lives under his mind-control powers? I think this made Krath an endlessly fascinating character and for me, it was Kraths depiction that closed the deal on this book. I thought his characterisation was brilliant and I cannot wait to read more about him in Book #2.

If you are looking for your next great historical fantasy where the romance is tender, and the magical realm is spectacular, then look no further than Immortal Defiance (Dulcea’s Rebellion #1) by Laura Maybrooke. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on book #2.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Immortal Defiance

Laura Maybrooke

"I live in my own little world. But it's ok, they know me here." (Who besides me has this fridge magnet; raise your hand!)

That's sometimes what it feels like. Who says stories aren't real? I live in the land of the Midnight Sun and Polar Nights, together with my husband and daughter, and a cast of fantasy characters running around in my head. It's busy here. Care to stay and chat a while?

Laura Maybrooke is an 80s' child, who works too much and writes too little, but who'll never say no to a thrilling romance, a high fantasy adventure, or a cookbook full of delicious treats she'd like to bake one day.

Connect with Laura: Website • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest.

Monday, 16 December 2019

#BookReview — Amulet’s Rapture (Curse of Clansmen and Kings #3) by Linnea Tanner #HistoricalFantasy #AncientRom

Amulet’s Rapture
(Curse of Clansmen and Kings #3)
By Linnea Tanner

Blood stains her Celtic home and kingdom. The warrior Druid princess will do anything to retake her throne.

Although Catrin is the rightful heir to the Celtic throne in Britannia, she is lucky to be alive. After witnessing the slaughter of her family at the hands of her half-brother, who was aided by the Romans, she is enslaved by a Roman commander. He disguises her as a boy in the Roman Legion with the belief that she is an oracle of Apollo and can foretell his future. The sole bright spot in her miserable new life is her forbidden lover Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman general Mark Antony.

But Marcellus has been wounded and his memories of Catrin and their secret marriage were erased by a dark Druidess. Though Marcellus reunites with Catrin in Gaul and becomes her ally as she struggles to survive the brutality of her Roman master, he questions the legitimacy of their marriage and hesitates to help her escape and retake her kingdom. If their forbidden love and alliance are discovered, her dreams of returning to her Celtic home with Marcellus will be shattered.

“Did Apollo send that raven to curse me? Did a Roman priest train you to be a warrior priestess?”

If that was what Tribune Decimus Flavius, Catrin’s Roman master, believed, then who was she to contradict him? And if it kept her alive, then that can only be a good thing, although sometimes it did not feel like that for her family had been slaughtered, and her Roman husband has no memory of her.

Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman general Mark Antony, left Britannia with no memory of his time there and a stomach wound that continued to fester. He seeks comfort in the arms of a former lover, looking for something familiar, something he can hold on to. But even Eliana’s touch does not settle his troubled mind. Unfortunately, it makes his situation far more precarious, for Eliana is married to another man.

Disguised as a boy and forced to train with the men, Catrin must hide who she is from everyone, but especially from Decimus. For if he knew what she could really do, the consequences do not bear thinking about. 

From the soft autumn days of Northern Gaul to a Gladiator arena, Amulet’s Rapture (Curse of Clansmen and Kings #3) by Linnea Tanner is a majestic work of scholarship.

Tanner has carefully woven history with fantasy to create a beautifully told tale that is populated with characters that are worth caring about and are deserving of your time. Filled to bursting with romance, magic, love, hate, betrayal and adventure, Amulet’s Rapture is a story that is next to impossible to put down. I read it in one sitting — there was no way I could tear myself away from these characters and this novel.

The heroine of this story is young Catrin. Catrin was a royal princess and heir to the throne of Brittania, but now she finds herself a slave to Tribune Decimus Flavius. Disguised as a boy to keep her safe, Catrin faces one ordeal after another. Yet her strength of character and her unbreakable Celtic spirit sees her through some very dark days indeed. Her ability to love is tempered only by the realisation that she has been abandoned and must face a bleak future where the only escape would be death. I absolutely adored Catrin. Her portrayal was magnificent. She is a very strong young woman, who has seen unimaginable horrors, and yet her heart is full to bursting with love for Marcellus. Her passion for him burns as brightly as she does. But there is another side to Catrin, she is not just an enslaved princess she is also a raven spirit, and she can manipulate the Wall of Lives —a transitional barrier between the mortal world and the Otherworld. Decimus believes her to be an oracle of Apollo, which she isn’t, but she is indeed quite magical and can shapeshift into a beloved raven. I enjoyed reading about Catrin very much, there was a realism to her characterisation that was tangible.

Oh, Marcellus, where do I begin? Marcellus is, as is expected of a male protagonist in a romantic setting, everything he should be. He is driven to distraction by his love for Catrin, and even though he has no memory of her, his soul is incapable of forgetting — how romantic is that? And because of this, he cannot stay away from her. The consequences of his actions not only for himself but also for Catrin, are catastrophic. However, Marcellus is young and passionate, and so full of gentle grace that it is impossible not to like him. He does put Catrin into danger, but not with intention. He isn’t a bad man, and he does try to atone, but his world and Catrin’s don’t belong together, which is heartbreakingly evident throughout this story. Having not read the other books in this series, I can only surmise that their relationship in Britannia was as passionately consuming as it is in Gaul. Marcellus is a character that I cannot wait to read more about. 

There are as several antagonists in this story. The first antagonist is Tribune Decimus Flavius. He may well have saved Catrin's life in Britannia, but his treatment of her is diabolical. He uses her for his own means, and when she has ceased to be useful, he means to destroy her. He is an incredibly manipulative and cold man who I did not take to at all. By the end of the book, I despised him. The other antagonist is Marrock, who is utterly deplorable and incredibly dangerous. His greed for power has seemingly no end — the only one who has any chance of stopping him is Catrin, but because of her situation, there is nothing she can do.

Tanner pens a compelling narrative, and she writes with imagination and a great deal of energy. This is a book that is triumphant in all ways. If you are looking for your next great historical fantasy series set within a realistic Roman backdrop, then look no further than Amulet’s Rapture (Curse of Clansmen and Kings #3) by Linnea Tanner. Fans of Jez Butterworth's Britannia will fall in love with this book.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Amulet’s Rapture

Linnea Tanner

Linnea Tanner weaves Celtic tales of love, magic, adventure, betrayal and intrigue into historical fiction set in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology which held women in higher esteem. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.

Depending on the time of day and season of the year, you will find her exploring and researching ancient and medieval history, mythology and archaeology to support her writing. As the author of the Apollo’s Raven series, she has extensively researched and traveled to sites described within each book.

A native of Colorado, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Windsor with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.

Connect with Linnea: Website  Blog  Twitter  Amazon Author Page  Facebook  Linked-in   Pinterest   Google  Goodreads 

#BookReview — The Potential For Love by Catherine Kullmann #RegencyRomance

The Potential For Love By Catherine Kullmann When Arabella Malvin sees the figure of an officer silhouetted against the sun, for ...