Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater is a very unique story. It is Fantasy. It is a Regency Faerie Tale with a bit of satire. I have never read another book quite like it. This book was released on March 29, 2020 and is Olivia Atwater’s debut novel.

The story’s main character is Dora, who has been cursed by a faerie and cannot feel fear, embarrassment, or even happiness. This condition gets her into trouble more often than not until she meets Lord Elias Wilder an outspoken magician, whom most people detest but still invite him to their elegant parties and balls.

This book is very well written. The characters and plot line are well developed and interesting. The story held my interest from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed Dora’s verbal interactions with the other characters, and her interactions with Lord Wilder were unique and delightful.

I fully enjoyed watching Dora discover things about herself that brought her comfort. It was also touching to watch the effect she had upon the other characters throughout the story. The other character’s reactions to Dora evoked many different feelings as I read as well.

The story had some interesting twists and surprises. At times, I found the story reminiscent of a Charles Dickens tale. The story isn’t just an enjoyable, entertaining read. It made me think about people and the way they think, act, react, and treat each other.

After finishing my reading of Half a Soul, I found and read an interview that Ms. Atwater gave to a blogger. In that interview, Ms. Atwater said, “I think a good story either makes you think or else makes you feel. I think a truly fantastic story makes you do both.”

Based on that statement, I have to say that Half a Soul is a truly fantastic story.

This story will be one of my favorites for a long time to come and I look forward to reading more from Olivia Atwater. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, as well as to Fantasy fans, Regency fans, and Dickens’ fans. I rarely take time to reread books because there are always so many new books that keep my To Be Read List always growing, but I think that I should like to revisit this book in the future.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

King’s City by Jessica Marinos


King’s City is the long-awaited and highly anticipated second book of the “Trimont Trilogy” by Jessica Marinos. I first read the first book of this series, Traiven’s Pass, and wrote a review for it in March of 2019. You can read my review of that book here. I reread Traiven’s Pass before reading King’s City.

This is a debut series for Jessica Marinos and, in my opinion, Jessica is destined to become a great writer. The quality of the writing of both Traiven’s Pass and King’s City is outstanding. The descriptions are rich and the character’s very well developed. In addition, she draws you into the story and keeps you there.

King’s City is the continuing story of the Tavish family who live in Traiven’s Pass and the reign of the Steward King, Lord Breemore, who began his rule when King Cordell vanished twenty-six years ago. Lord Breemore resides in King’s City. Lord Breemore appears to rule with kindness and peace, but rumors of war begin to increase throughout the kingdom.

Lydia Tavish’s father was loyal to King Cordell continued to search for King Cordell throughout the first book of this trilogy. He attempted to turn the people in the kingdom back to the Book of Truth.

As King’s City begins, Lydia is a penniless outcast and is sought after as many in the kingdom seek her punishment for her recent choice. However, Lydia is bold and strong and believes what her father taught her. She faces many challenges and dangers but finds her strength in the truth.

Galen, who left his home in Dresden to participate in a tournament in the King’s City becomes renowned in his sword skills. Then a long kept secret is revealed and it turns Galen’s life upside down. He has much to consider in deciding the course of his life.

King’s City, the second book in the “Trimont Trilogy” by Jessica Marinos was just as good, if not better, than Traiven’s Pass. These two books are part of my “Favorites” list and Jessica is at the top of my list of “Favorite New Authors”. I excitedly await the third and final book of the series.

If you’d like to learn more about Jessica — her life and her writing, I had the honor of interviewing her last month. You can read that interview here.

If you enjoy books that grab you from the start and keep you turning pages; books with rich descriptions, well-developed characters, and a story line filled with tension, shocking surprises, and a bit of romance, you will not want to miss the “Trimont Trilogy” by Jessica Marinos. If you haven’t read Traiven’s Pass, I suggest you get your copy today, and if you have read it, don’t miss “King’s City”.

The Spirit of Things by Ben McQueeney

the spriit of things final .jpg

Ben McQueeney’s debut novel will release on Amazon on April 8th. I have had the pleasure of receiving an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.

I have only begun reading more of the Fantasy genre in the past year, but for those of you whose favorite genre is Fantasy, I think you’re going to like “The Spirit of Things”.

“The Spirit of Things” is a unique tale of Fulco, a Hume, living in the Elphen village of Tellusm. He is a young adult who is bullied by the local thug, and who finds it difficult to fit into the Elphen village. He gets into one scrape after another, not all through his own choices.

He feels a bit awkward as he takes an interest in an Elphen girl, but a romance begins to bud between them.

When he attends a sporting event with his brother, an event his mother has tried to keep him from for years, he discovers the power of Sapience. He is fascinated by this power and begins asking questions about it. His brother helps him get a horse and he realizes he has a special way with animals as he makes a special connection with this horse. Could he have Sapience that gives him control over beasts?

Then a stranger comes to town and Fulco’s life begins to change.

Fulco’s story is exciting!

There are also three gods who watch and fight over the land of Tellusm.

Ben McQueeney has created a world that is unusual and fascinating. He has also created some very unique fantastical creatures. His characters are realistic and believable. I found it easy to relate to Fulco, and I believe most readers will find they have something in common with Fulco as well.

“The Spirit of Things” is written for young adults and adults alike. If you enjoy the Fantasy genre or have thought about checking out a Fantasy novel to see why it’s such a popular genre, I recommend you read “The Spirit of Things”. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

“The Spirit of Things” drew me in and kept me turning pages to the very end. The end promises more to come and I eagerly await Ben McQueeney’s next book.


The Treasure Map by Tyler Scott Hess

Book Blurb:

Jack is a 10-year-old boy ready for a joyous Christmas vacation, but as punishment for a poor report card, he is tasked with cleaning out his family’s long-forgotten attic. Inside, he finds a chest with a treasure map and a letter that transports him to another time, place, and existence.

Jack finds himself living the life of a young man named Niko, an enemy of the State of Ariel, a martyr of the Faithful, sentenced to die during the Independence Day celebrations. When an earthquake strikes, Niko finds the opportunity to escape, discovers a guide known only as the Elder, and teams up with a group of the Faithful to change history.

My Review:

I agreed to write this honest objective review and received a complimentary pre-release copy to do so. It is the first Tyler Scott Hess book I have read.

The story changes time and place every few chapters, some chapters revealing 10-year-old Jack’s life working on cleaning up the attic while missing out on some of his family’s Christmas activities and being fascinated by the treasure map and letter. Other chapters take us into the time and place of the treasure map and letter where the Faithful are in trouble, in prison. Then an earthquake strikes and Niko finds the opportunity to escape. He discovers a guide known only as the Elder and finds a small group of the Faithful who also escaped during the earthquake. They concoct a plan to change history.

I enjoyed this story. Jack is a delightful, typical 10-year-old boy, and the story of Niko’s struggle is believabe and a little frightening.

The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept my attention until the end. Jack learned a lesson and learned more about his family. Tyler Scott Hess did a good job of tying Jack and Niko’s stories together as well.

This would be a great story to read aloud to your children. It’s a good story that is suitable for elementary age children through adult, although there is one murder/death near the end, but it is not dwelt upon and it is not graphic.

I recommend this book to families and to those who enjoy stories that include Christmas. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Hess’s books.

Unraveling by Sara Ella

Unraveling (The Unblemished Trilogy Book 2) by [Ella, Sara]

Unraveling by Sara Ella is the second book in her “Unblemished” series. It is a Fantasy story for Young Adults and Adults.

If you want to read my review of the first book, Unblemished, click here.

Unraveling is an amazing adventure filled with danger and unexpected twists and turns. It kept me turning pages. Near the end, it had me sitting on pins and needles, actually afraid to see how it would end.

Sara Ella’s books are incredibly well written with very few, if any, editing errors. Her characters are well developed, relatable, and realistic. I got so caught up in the lives of these characters. They have become friends I look forward to spending time with.

Sara Ella does a great job of world building as well, and I love how her fantasy world is so similar to New York City in physicality and a few other ways as well. And since New York City is where Eliyana’s journey began, it’s cool to see the parallels between the two places.

I loved Unblemished, and Unraveling certainly didn’t disappoint me. However, those pins and needles and that fear I had as I faced the end, made me question whether or not to continue turning pages. I was so afraid I would hate the ending, but I kept going, and I am happy to say that I didn’t hate the ending.

You see, there are two love interests for Eliyana in the story, Joshua and Ky, and I am strongly routing for one particular man (no, I won’t say who). I fear heartbreak when I reach the end of book three, but I cannot wait to dig into it anyway, with high hopes that my man will win.

So if you love great fantasy stories about realistic characters who face danger and struggles, and that have a strong romantic feature, you’ll love Unblemished and Unraveling.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Soulmate Statue


Photo by Discovering Film on Unsplash

Hunter and Emma strolled hand-in-hand through the city of Raeledo. Hunter planned to kill a Catoblepas over the weekend to prove he was capable of protecting and providing for a wife. Hunter pulled Emma closer and wrapped his arm around her lower back. Emma smiled up at him. He lowered his head and kissed her lips, soft and slow. Then his lips traveled down her jawline and neck. When his lips brushed the hollow of her collarbone, she pushed away.

“Hunter, we’re in the middle of the street.”

“So what? You know you like when I kiss that spot.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

She giggled, took his hand in hers once again, and leaned against him. “Come on. I want to see the statue in the middle of the square.”

“You really believe the legend surrounding that old statue?”

She took a deep breath and released it slowly. “I don’t know, but it’s a wonderfully romantic idea.”

“Don’t you think if the legend was real, something would’ve happened by now?”

Emma shrugged and they kept walking.

They entered the square at twilight, the sky alight with brilliant pinks, purples, and a bit of red. Emma’s eyes fell on the statue. “I didn’t know it would be so beautiful. The rose color enfolding it gives her a lifelike blushed skin tone.”

Hunter raised his eyes from Emma to the four hundred year old statue. It was in mint condition. The Harlequin Transdocrocite the artist had sculpted it from was pristine yellow, and the pink light shining on her face certainly made her appear lifelike. His eyes slid over the contour of her jawline to her full lips, then continued down her slender neck and well-rounded body, down her shapely legs to her bare arched feet. The artist had sculpted her dress to look as though it were being blown backward by a strong wind, causing it to cling and reveal the front of her body. The long pin-curls streamed toward the back of her head, and she reached out with her right hand.

“She’s amazing. It’s so sad. She’s been here lonely and waiting all these years. Hunter … Hunter?”

He jerked his head from the statue. He blinked to clear his vision and found it difficult not to return his gaze to the statue. “What is it Em?”

She pulled her phone cam-puter out of her back pocket. “You’ve got to hold her hand and let me take your picture.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Hunter shook his head.

“Why not? Are you afraid you might be her soulmate?”

Hunter emitted a nervous laugh. “Of course not … but what happens to us, if I am?” His eyes locked with Emma’s.

After a minute, Emma slapped him on the arm. “Of all the men that must’ve touched her hand over the past four hundred years, you think you’re the one? Now come                          on, take her hand.”

Hunter looked at the statue again. The pink no longer blushed her cheeks. He slid his sweaty palms down his pants, cleared his throat, and touched his fingertips to the statue’s.

Emma dropped her phone cam-puter and her lower jaw went slack.

Hunter turned to look at the statue. The podium was empty. A shadow fell over him. He looked up just in time to stretch out his arms. Oomph! A woman landed in his arms causing him to bend in half. He managed not to drop her then straighten into an upright position again. He looked into the eyes that had belonged to a statue just moments ago—eyes, confused and startled. Hunter helped her to stand, but she clung to his arm. Her soft touch on his arm caused an electrical current to jolt up his arm and down his back. His heart rate rose. He turned toward the woman and raised his free hand to cup her face.

“The legend is real.” He whispered.

She turned her face into his hand and kissed his palm, then her eyes met his. “I’ve waited such a long time for you.” Her voice fluctuated in pitch and she spoke with a rhythm. It was like a song.

“What’s your name?”

“Donatella. And you are?”

“Hunter … you’re soulmate.” He drew her into a tight embrace, a feeling he’d never known flowing through him; an insatiable craving for this woman and a fierce protectiveness toward her.

The moment was broken by a guttural, ear-splitting sob that came from the depths of the soul. Emma’s soul.

Hunter looked over the shoulder of the woman in his arms. Emma was on her knees, wailing, with tears coursing down her cheeks. He caught her gaze.

He mouthed, “I’m sorry.” Then he lifted Donatella in his arms again and walked away.

Flash Fiction Friday: Esi’s New Home

alexander-andrews-218361-unsplashPhoto by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Esi walked down an unknown road in the gray shadows of twilight. Were was she? How had she gotten here? As soon as she’d put on this soft, comfortable blue dress and soft leather shoes she’d been cast from her previous home.

She hadn’t wanted to leave, but Esi knew the homeowners were tired of finding broken dishes three times a week. She hadn’t broken the dishes on purpose. They just seemed to slip from her fingers.

Where was she? She’d never seen a road like this before. It was hard and dark in color. A rumbling noise caused a knot to form in her stomach. Then the ground vibrated beneath her feet. What was happening?

The rumbling noise grew louder and came from behind her. She turned and two lights, bright as the sun, struck her eyes. She shielded her eyes with her arm and screamed as the large rumbling thing with two lights, like eyes, nearly ran over her. Just before reaching her, the thing screamed, louder than she, as it whizzed by her, the force of it knocking her into a ditch.

What was that? Esi obviously wasn’t in Schroomville any longer. She stood, brushed herself off, and continued down the road, trying to find a house that might welcome her. She hoped she’d find a house before the darkness fell like a blanket over the land. She didn’t want to encounter any more monsters like the one that had passed her.

The moon peeked over the horizon and revealed a dirt road on Esi’s right. A wooden fence surrounded a meadow on the right side of the dirt road. Surely, this must lead to a nice house. Esi pulled her shoulders back and marched up the path—the kind of road she was used to. The dirt road was longer than Esi anticipated. Weary from walking, her pace slowed. But there, on her left, stood a little brown house, a stream of smoke billowing from the chimney. A small red barn sat next to it.

Esi stepped onto the wooden porch, careful not to make any noise with her new shoes. She tiptoed to a window and peeked inside. Relief flooded her chest as she saw a woman scooping soup into bowls and placing them on the table before eight small children. The woman brushed a strand of hair from her face with the back of one hand.

A large man with brown hair and beard stepped into the room. Esi shrank from the window, but after a minute or two, she, once again, touched her nose to the windowpane. The man had kind eyes, and he scooped soup into a bowl in front of the woman, who now sat with the children.

Then he scooped soup into one last bowl, kissed the woman on the top of the head, and left the room, returning a moment later to take his own place at the table. The family bowed their heads and the big man’s lips moved. When his lips stopped moving, everyone raised their heads and began to eat.

Delight filled Esi’s heart. These people needed her. The woman needed her.

She sat on the porch floor, her back against the house, and waited for the house to grow still. Then she rose and tested the doorknob—unlocked. Esi opened the door, willing it not to squeak. She tiptoed inside and flinched at a growling sound.

Her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, and she noted the large bed beyond the kitchen. She stifled a giggle. It wasn’t a growl, but a snore she had heard, coming from the large man.

Esi moved through the doorway the man had gone through earlier. Just as she’d expected—the dirty dishes were piled on the counter. Esi found a bucket and stepped out the back door. There she found the pump and pumped water into the bucket.

Back in the house, she heated water on the stove, then washed all the dirty items, dried them, and put them in the cupboards, without breaking a single item. She found a basket of mending next to a rocking chair near the woodstove, along with needles and several colors of threads. She set to work and by sunrise, the mending was complete. Esi folded the items and placed them neatly in the basket, then rose from the rocking chair and hurried out to the barn where she climbed the ladder to the loft and fell asleep in the hay.

The next night she entered the house to look for more chores to do. She found a bowl of cream on the table. Esi smiled and savored the delightful treat. This may not be Schroomville, but she was going to like it here.

Can you guess: what is the monster that almost ran Esi down?
What is Esi?
Leave your guesses in the comments.

The Light Arises by C.S. Wachter

C.S. Wachter isn’t letting any grass grow under her feet (cliche, I know). But it was just a few short months ago on February 16, 2018 that her first book, The Sorcerer’s Bane was published and got rave reviews. The Sorcerer’s Bane introduced us to Prince Rayne, or the slave boy, Wren, and his story wrenched my heart and made me love him and want him to survive. This first book also gave us hope as it introduced the One and his work in Wren’s life.

Now, in Book 2 of “The Seven Words” series, The Light Arises, releases on May 29, 2018, C.S. Wachter does not disappoint. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked The Light Arises even better than The Sorcerer’s Bane. This, to me, seems an unlikely feat from a debut author, but C.S. Wachter has nailed it. She has proven that she can definitely write a story that will hold my interest, make me love the characters and cheer for them; make me laugh with them and cry with or for them. An author who can evoke that much emotion within me while I read his or her words is an author with longevity as far as I’m concerned.

In The Light Arises, Rayne struggles with relationships in his home on the world of Ochen. Though he is the Prince, he has been gone for many years and has recently returned. While he was gone, his parents, King Theodor and and Queen Rowena, have devoted themselves to Rayne’s cousin, Brayden. There have been problems between Brayden and Rayne since they were young boys, but now Brayden is insufferable. He is the cause of a strain between Rayne and his parents, so Rayne feels the need to leave his home.

He is not happy to leave the parents he has just been reunited with, but the One has called him for a higher purpose. He is to be the Light Bringer who is to find the seven words hidden on the seven worlds in order to defeat the darkness. He is to begin by bringing light to Veres, a world one can only enter if involved in the brutal games arranged by the Sorial merchants. Rayne is forced to become slave Wren once again to infiltrate the games to skip to the isolated world.

Still more trouble awaits in the form of a golden-haired girl who has vivid memories of the day an assassin came and destroyed her world and disabled her father. She plans to kidnap the prince in order to get King Theodor to help her people.

As I said, this book doesn’t disappoint. There is still lots of action and battling the forces of evil, as well as a promised hope. The Light Arises kept me turning pages to the very end and I eagerly await Book 3 of “The Seven Words” series by C.S. Wachter.

My only question is: will Book 3 be even better than Book 2?

If you like Christian Fantasy stories, I highly recommend these first two books in “The Seven Words” series by C. S. Wachter. If you’ve already read The Sorcerer’s Bane, you don’t want to miss The Light Arises. If you haven’t read The Sorcerer’s Bane, what are you waiting for? Read it and then grab The Light Arises and keep reading!

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron by Aviya Carmen

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron Book 1 by [Carmen, Aviya]

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron (Book 1) by Aviya Carmen is  a fantasy story that also reminded me of an allegory. The story is simplistic and has an abundance of dialogue and lacks action.

There are a lot of quotes from the Bible, but they are not properly noted, and I felt there were too many quotes, as Ms. Carmen quoted full chapters.

The story is sweet and Ayron has an innocence about him that is endearing. It is easy to care for him and want to see him reach his goal.

However, as an adult, I have to say that I found the pace of the story slow. I felt the descriptions and dialogue slowed the pacing, and the lack of action also helped to slow down the pace of the story.

I believe this story would appeal to elementary age children; that they would find it fun to read, and I believe it would hold their interest.

There is a Christian theme running through the book, and though I suggest this book for elementary aged children, I would also caution parents that there is a sprinkling of profanity in a couple of scenes.

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron (Book 1) by Aviya Carmen is the first book of a series, and Ms. Carmen did something that I do not like in a series’ book, and that is she had no resolution at all at the end of this story. As a matter of fact, the story just seems to drop off in the middle of another conflict for Aryn, the main character. I prefer that even the first book of a series have some resolution at the end of the story, leaving me with some satisfaction as I await the next book because often, the next book is at least a year away.

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C.S. Wachter

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, a debut novel by a debut writer. I have to say that this is one of the few fantasy books I have read since reading the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. I loved the Narnia series, but didn’t really enjoy much of the Lord of the Rings, except for a some of the characters. You see, as a reader, I need an interesting plot that keeps things moving, but more importantly to me are the characters — being able to sympathize or empathize with them, feeling their feelings. I need to care about and identify with the characters, and I need to want to cheer them on and need to know how things will turn out for them.

I was introduced to the fantasy genre later in life — in other words, I was already out of my twenties, and I have always been an avid reader of any genre of story that includes some romance as part of the main story line, so fantasy has never really been my go-to read.

However, I have come to have an appreciation for and understanding of good fantasy books, especially Christian Fantasy books because they have a true good versus evil story line that points to the true hope for a happy ending.

Well, imagine my surprise, when I read The Sorcerer’s Bane and found myself quickly entrenched in the worst kind of evil — the enslavement and abuse of a child. Yet, the child grabbed my attention from the start, and held my attention fast so that I was unable to put the book down, even when it made me cringe and flinch, and it disgusted me sometimes.

So, what was it that kept me reading as I fought past these feelings? It was the characters — the boy who had an incredible resolve for one so young, the teacher who desired to teach the boy more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic, the kind young lady who ministered to the boy’s injuries. Even some of the characters that were part of the evil the boy dealt with held my attention because I had a glimmer of something more than the evil they presented that made me hope they may change.

C. S. Wachter has a way of weaving a tale that drags her character through hell but that always exhibits a glimmer of hope and light for something better to come. Even at the end, the knowledge and hope of more to come whets my appetite for the next book in the series of “The Seven Words” by C. S. Wachter.

So, if you love a good tale of good versus evil, I recommend The Sorcerer’s Bane to you, but only if you are a young adult or adult, as some of the violence and situations in the book may be too upsetting to children.

If you have enjoyed my book review for The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, be sure to stop by tomorrow for a special blog post, where you can read my interview with new author, C. S. Wachter.