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The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles
In book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles, the fate of the land of Crystonia rests in the hands of a girl named Carling.
Carling has been given the silver breastplate, a sign that she is the next destined ruler of the kingdom. However, before she can sit on the throne she must find four stones, The Stone of Mercy, The Stone of Courage, The Stone of Integrity, and The Stone of Wisdom. Carling has already acquired The Stone of Mercy, which she had to battle through an angry group of centaurs from the Heilodius herd to get, but with the help of her friends Higson, Tibbals, and Tandum she made it through unharmed. Unfortunately, her and Higson’s families were killed in a raid by the evil Heilodius herd that will stop at nothing to make sure that Carling is not able to claim her rightful throne. With the support of each other, Carling and Higson pull together and begin to train with different weapons for they know that the fighting is far from over and that they have many more dangers to face in the upcoming months.
Now, the wizard of Crystonia who has been suddenly appearing and disappearing in Carling’s life ever since she received the silver breastplate, informs her that it is time to find the second stone, The Stone of Courage. It was such a dangerous quest finding the first stone that Carling is initially apprehensive about this next adventure but she does know that this is now her destiny and she must be ready to confront whatever challenges come her way. The wizard then tells her that the stone is hidden in the mountains of the Northern Reaches and protected by a creature named Shim. Just the mention of the Northern Reaches sends a chill up Carling’s spine for no one she knows has ever dared to venture into those lands - they are just too treacherous for anyone to travel through. Of course, this is where her journey is taking her so with all the courage she can muster she gathers her friends and they set off for the Northern Reaches, hoping that their combined strength will be enough to find The Stone of Courage and return home safely. Unfortunately, the guardian of the Stone of Courage is not a friendly creature and may give Carling more trouble than she ever thought.
Before this journey is over Carling will face ogres and angry centaurs and also find that a treacherous plan is unfolding to keep her from ever taking her rightful place as ruler of Crystonia. As each new challenge hits her Carling begins to question if she is strong enough for this task, for how could such a small being be chosen to rule all of Crystonia?
When I saw that the second book had come out in this series I could not wait to read it, for the last book left on such a cliffhanger that I was excited to see what would happen next. Through the first book, author M.J. Evans introduces her characters beautifully and that really helped to get me into the story. In book 2, The Stone of Courage, Evans expands on the characters' personalities in such a way that it had me relating to them even more. The camaraderie that is created through these adventures is wonderful and had me hanging on every page.
Quill says: Another wonderful addition to the Centaur Chronicles that I could not put down!
For more information on The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dancinghorsepress.com
A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey
By: Aruna Gurumurthy
Publication Date: May 2017
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: July 21, 2017
Poet Aruna Gurumurthy weaves enlightening and inspiring themes in her latest work, A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey.
A pre-med student turned poet, Gurumurthy has found her calling in rhyme and verse. Speaking from the depth of her soul, Gurumurthy leaves no stone unturned in expressing how she feels about various aspects of life, deftly weaving this common theme over the course of six sections that include forty plus poems.
Each poem, set in first person POV, alternates between “I” and “we.” This subjective shifting creates a sense of unity, of oneness, providing her audience with the opportunity not only to engage in the reading process but also encourage individual contemplation. Two literary tools that Gurumurthy heavily uses to emphasize this sense of unity and oneness are repetition and restatement. Her writing style is lilting—at times, resembling raps. Gurumurthy always speaks from the heart, speaking truth into existence.
In part one titled New Day, New Hope, Gurumurthy opens with a warm and welcoming invitation to readers before delving into her lyrical poetry. The last stanza of “New Book in the Cards” aptly closes with these words: “With soft palms, come life my new book. / With sparkling eyes, a gentle smile, and / Kind fingers, / Come sift through my new book.”
Replete with current political overtones, the six poems in New Day, New Hope reflects Gurumurthy’s choices made after introspection. Certainly, what she embraces—love and well-being for all—are themes that do not stand alone but ring true to all who have chosen to create a new and positive page turn in their lives. In “We Are the Homo sapiens,” Gurumurthy offers a profound statement and word of encouragement to people throughout the world who are fighting for justice and equality: “We are the Homo sapiens / We are the Champions / Don’t tether our voice. / Don’t shackle our vision. / Don’t extinguish our spark.”
Epiphanic and sagacious moments grace the next set of poems in part two, Love and Whatnots. At the end of “A Writers’ Confluence,” Gurumurthy writes: “Because, as writers, / We are responsible for the humor, drama, and / Awareness in people’s live / We as responsible for people’s lives.”
Parts three and four, Discrimination, Dogma, Dirt and My Inspiration, My Love, give glimpses of the racial profiling and cultural stigmas that Gurumurthy has had to face, as well as her persistence to overcome all those barriers. “There is no doubt in my mind, not even slight / Keep on going-- / You may have lost today, but I promise! Tomorrow looks bright.” (My Inspiration, My Love, “Quit Not!”)
Lastly, Gurumurthy emerges from her painful situations, determined to make a difference in her life and the world in sections five and six, Clarity in the Fog and Abstractions, Precisions, and Solutions. “Freedom in No Fickle” (Abstractions, Precisions, and Solutions says it all: “I am free / I love to be free / There is freedom in no fear / Freedom in no fickle / Freedom in the infinite / Freedom in everlasting... / Freedom in / Never lasting torment / Freedom in the eternal / In eternity.”
Quill says: A Beginning to the End is a “feel good” book, offering encouragement and empowerment to those who desire meaning and purpose in life.
For more information on A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey, please visit the publisher's website at: www.createspace.com
This is Book 4 in the fantastic Coleridge Taylor Mystery series, and for those who have not yet added this particular character to their at-home library, you need to ASAP.
It is the 1970’s. Coleridge Taylor (AKA: “Taylor”) is a die-hard journalist who still has his pride (i.e., does not believe in tabloid magazines), and is still dedicated to real news that everyone else overlooks. The story opens as a serial killer arrives on scene that the news agencies can use to scare everyone living in NYC, while also using the story to climb the ladder of success. Taylor works for the City News Bureau, a much smaller organization than, say...The Post or The Times. He begins by sitting in with a ton of reporters/bottom-feeders at a city conference where they are talking about a killer who is hunting women with a .44. It takes only a short time to grant a title to the killer: “Son of Sam.” But Taylor stumbles over another young woman who was taken out – not with a .44, so it doesn’t rate nationwide news. But he wants to solve the crime and tell the victim’s story. Martha Gibson, a young Black woman, was gunned down in her own apartment building the same night “Son of Sam” struck elsewhere. Therefore, all the reporters go after the "Son of Sam" victim, leaving Taylor with the less visible victim.
But Taylor really has no idea what the heck he’s getting into. As he begins to delve into the crime, he meets the sister of the victim who has given her own surroundings to drugs and a boyfriend who boasts a career as a contract killer. Certainly she and her rotten love could be behind the murder, but...there’s more.
Taylor soon gets into the facts and realizes that Martha was working as a maid for a highly wealthy/in-the-news family named DeVries who live on Park Avenue. This is one of those families who like to fight amongst themselves. But there is also another worker in the house who tells Taylor of a call made from inside the walls that poor Martha heard that preceded her murder. Apparently the call mentioned everything from ‘money being gone’ to someone who ‘had to be stopped.’
Taylor and his detective girlfriend Samantha, end up ingratiating themselves during a family dinner party where all the players of this family are open for review. From a wife who seems to know nothing to a mean young man who seems to hate everyone, the family is ‘rich’ with suspects. Now, add to that a blackout that sends NYC into a 24-hour-long period that’s filled with the vilest of sins being committed, and you are glued to the story as Taylor attempts to track down his own killer before disappearing himself.
Readers will absolutely love Taylor, if they don’t already. This is a character with many layers. A man who has just lost a father who was not exactly a nice, pleasant guy, and missing a loving brother who was listed as MIA in Vietnam, but who Taylor truly believes is gone. Deep down, that’s why he goes after these ‘smaller’ crimes. He wants all victims to have a voice and someone to fight for them, not to be forgotten because some sicko rates more front pages. This author has, quite literally, “Nailed it!” when it comes to creating the perfect visual and suspenseful mystery led by a believable and easy-to-like character.
Quill says: All are standalone books in this series; however, by reading just one, ‘Coleridge Taylor’ and his creator will have you running to buy the rest.