Cephrael’s Hand Book Review

Title: Cephrael’s Hand

Author: Melissa McPhail

Series: A Pattern of Shadow and Light (Book 1)

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Five Strands Publishing

Release Date: September 2010

Format: Kindle/Hardcover/Paperback

Pages: 654 pages

About the Book:

“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin…three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him…

In the kingdom of Dannym…the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord…

In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.

My Review:

Cephrael’s Hand is an epic fantasy of the highest order.  I can’t even imagine how long it took for Melissa McPhail to invent a language, a world and multiple races of people.  She does it all masterfully, with description so vivid I could imagine myself in the opulent tents of the sun-drenched desert, or having high tea with the royal women at Calgaryn Palace.

The story lines of the three main characters interweave seamlessly as the story turns from kidnapping to dark magic to amnesia, betrayal and more!! Cephrael’s Hand has the scope of a Tolkien work with a more mature feel.  I can’t wait to read Book 2!!

I give Cephrael’s Hand five patterns of light!!  A must read!!

Buy it on Amazon/Kindle

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review as a part of Innovative Online Book Tours.  All opinions are 100% my own.

About the Author:

Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations.

Ms. McPhail lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Cephrael’s Hand is the multiple award-winning first novel in her series A Pattern of Shadow and Light

Follow her on website/blog/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads

Chris Mann #Roads Review

Title: Roads

Author: Chris Mann

Genre: Pop

Label: Republic

Release Date: November 2012

Format: CD/Digital

About the CD:

Roads boasts a wildly eclectic assortment of songs, ranging from Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” to “Ave Maria” and Damien Rice’s “The Blowers’ Daughter,” with the latter featuring a special guest appearance from Christina Aguilera.

My Review:

I had never heard of Chris Mann before I was asked if I wanted to review his CD.  He was a contestant on the show “The Voice” last season, and was picked for Christian Aguilera’s team.  As soon as I listened to his version of “Ave Maria” on Youtube I was hooked.

Once I popped the CD into the computer I was immediately taken with the lyrics to the first track, “Roads”.  Chris Mann’s voice reminds me of a tenor Josh Groban or Celine Dion – smooth and comforting, but passionate.  Here is the lyric video of “Roads”:

The sound on the album is a fun blend of classical (Mann is operatically trained) and pop.  Mann co-wrote two songs on the album, “Falling”: and my favorite, “Cuore.”  Cuore means “heart” in Italian, and the music is based on Bach’s Air on a G String.  

Other highlights include  “The Blower’s Daughter”, featuring Christina Aguilera and “My Way” which songwriter Paul Anka retooled to be forward-looking, rather than the backward glance of the original Frank Sinatra version.  Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, “Unless You Mean It”, by singer-songwriter Bleu, Dave Barnes’ “On a Night Like This”, and of course, “Ave Maria.”

“Ave Maria” is one of my favorite songs, and Mann sings it to perfection.  His voice is at once both soothing and heartbreaking and the choir backing him up sounds exactly like my vision of a heavenly chorus.

A couple of the songs were a little too “poppy” for me, but overall this was a charismatic album that I will enjoy listening to over and over again.

My rating:

I give Chris Mann’s “Roads” four microphones.

You can purchase “Roads” on Itunes or Amazon.

Follow Chris Mann at ChrisMannmusic.com


This is a review post from One2One Network. I was provided with a copy of the album and I am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated are my own.