(Review) The Door On Half-Bald Hill by Helena Sorensen

Publisher and Publication Date: Rabbit Room Press. 2020.
Genre: Fiction. Fantasy. Allegory. Ancient Irish story.
Pages: 302.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of fantasy fiction. Readers who enjoy a slow, but revealing yarn of a story.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

Link for a helpful pronunciation guide to several of the words in the book.

Review: The Rabbit Room.
Review: Muddy Musings.

Helena Sorensen website.

The Door on Half-Bald Hill is a story of Ireland before Christianity.
The religion is Druid. A Druid is a “teacher, philosopher, and sorcerer.” They are the keeper of the people. They guide, prepare, and minister to the people. The people depend on the Druids to properly guide them with wisdom about life.
Idris is a young man who is the Bard. He is the “Keeper of the Word.” He is a Master Poet. He is apart of the Celtic priesthood. He is a professional story-teller and an oral historian; and, he brings encouragement and comfort to the people through these stories.
They live in Blackthorn, and on the island of Bailelean.
Zinerva is the Ovate. She descends into death during a ceremony to bring back words given to her from the ancients. She is supposed to be a healer. Her words should help the people. Instead, they bring more despair.
This period of time for the people is infertile, gray, dormant, and bitter.
Idris feels compelled to bring the people hope and life. He embarks on journeys through “The Six Hills” and to Half-Bald Hill to find the answer.

My Thoughts:
I love everything about this book.
~I love the front and back cover. It is one of my favorite front covers.
~I love the pen and ink illustrations.
~I love the title.
~I love the map.
~I love the plot, characters, atmosphere, pace, conflicts, narrative, and theme.
~I love the Celtic words.
~I love the answer that’s behind, and yet, encompasses the story. It’s a love story that surpasses romance tales.

The Door on Half-Bald Hill cannot be read from cover to cover like your eating a Big-Mac and biggie fries. It’s a story that is reflective, it has meaning and purpose, it is a story that shows the depth of love for people.

When I began reading the story I was overwhelmed with the sad plight of the people. However, I felt the story held an anticipation of something. The story held back for an unexpected, and, as yet, unknown answer until the end.

I’m amazed at the creativity for the story. Helena Sorensen said while traveling she saw hills from the road side. This gave a prompt in her mind that began the creative juices flowing for this story.

The Door on Half-Bald Hill is intense and emotional. The descriptions of the people, their demeanor and behavior, is both sobering and sad.

I’m going to be sad if this is the only book written about Blackthorn!


(Review) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

The Sorcerer's Stone
Publisher and Publication Date: Kindle edition. Pottermore Publishing. 2015. First published in 1997 by Bloomsbury.
Genre: Fiction. Fantasy.
Pages: 322.
Source: Library copy.
Audience: Readers of the Harry Potter stories. Readers who love fantasy fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

Link at Amazon

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is Book #1 in the series.
The other books in the series:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
•Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 
•Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 
•Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

This is the second time I’ve read this book. I’ve not read all of the series, but only the first few.

My granddaughter, Celeste, has all of the books. I began buying them for her when she was just a baby. She adores them.

Book one introduces the main character and hero of the books, Harry Potter. This first book answers the questions of how Harry Potter came to live with people who are not his parents. Other information given is Potter’s personality and what he looks like. And, who his parents are and about his special gift. This first book is important to read, because it is the starting point for the rest of the series. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a must read if you want to understand any of the other books in the series.
An interesting character enters Harry Potter’s life with a huge revelation. This person’s name is Rubeus Hagrid. He tells Potter that he is a wizard; and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This school is for boys and girls ages 11-18. Students must show a gift for magic. Potter’s parents and what happened to him when he was a baby gives him a place at this school.

My Thoughts: 
Since the restrictions began with the Covid-19 I’ve wanted to read fantasy fiction. I plan to read, for the first time, the trilogy of books by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. In the past, I’ve read two books by Tolkien: The Hobbit and The Children of Húrin.
Which brings me to the Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve just been in the mood for some Harry Potter.

Reasons why I love this story:
•Harry Potter is a kid that’s easy to love. He is imperfect. He lives in a terrible home with people who don’t understand him, they fear him, and they want to change him to something of their creation. He is a kid that I can cheer for. He is a kid that I could be friends with. He is a kid that rises to the obstacles in his life and it doesn’t change his personality but only makes him better.
•He has friends who bring him a better quality of life. They have his back and he has their back. They each bring strengths to the relationship that make them all stronger.
•The good and evil are easy to see. I don’t have to look for them. I don’t have to figure anything out.
•The story is endearing. I love the characters. I love the storyline. I love the closure with the hope and knowledge there will be more books in the series.

(Review) The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived

Publisher and Publication Date: Disney Hyperion. 2013.
Genre: Fiction. Fantasy. Paranormal.
Pages: Kindle edition. 336 pages.
Source: Free e book copy from NetGalley. They offered the book free to me without a request.
Audience: This book is for a young adult audience, but can be read with interest by adults. Also, people who want to read something out of their ordinary (like me). People who enjoy reading paranormal stories.
Rating: Good.


This was actually the first book sent to me when I joined NetGalley. I didn’t request the book and it sat on the virtual shelf for a while. I decided to clean up the unread books on the NetGalley shelf. The Archived is definitely a book out of my norm.

This is the first book in a series titled The Archived #1. Other books in this series:
The Unbound #2. The Returned will be the third book.

The first point about this book is it’s strange. Strange for me period, because I don’t read this type of book. It’s also strange, because isn’t that one of the things needed in a paranormal book is a strange atmosphere?

Mackenzie Bishop is a mid teenage girl. She has parents. Her mom is a bit eccentric. Her dad is in the background. Mackenzie’s younger brother died recently. She had a Da that died a few years ago. Mackenzie will often reflect back on her Da, because he gave her insight and advice. She has one friend. When the story begins they have moved to a new place, the Coronado. It’s an old building. It was a hotel and then became an apartment building. Her mother has a plan to open a coffee shop in the building. So it’s a home for them plus a business.
The Archived is a place of records for people. A whole life data collection on people. Librarians work in the Archive. A History is a person who has died but not moved on. The Narrows is a buffer between our reality and the next. Mackenzie is a Keeper. She locates a History and takes them to the correct door. There is a few other important facts, but if you can understand and keep up with the above terminology you will be further along in understanding than I was at first.
Mackenzie also sees visions-events that happened in the past.
Add to this already interesting mix-a murder mystery.

My Thoughts:
What I like about the story is it kept my attention with imagination and action. Further, I wanted to know what her vision meant earlier in the story? I wanted to know more about what happened to her brother? Who is Da? So, I had several “things” that needed answers.
Another important point is I wondered who are the bad and who are the good? In every story there are those kinds of people. In some stories there are surprises, not in this story. I can’t say I was totally off by who were the bad ones.
I know that I think logically, but why don’t these people (History) want to move on? Why do they want to hang out in a narrow hallway? However, this is apart of the storyline.
Mackenzie is a sympathetic character. She’s a loner. She is not really involved in anything other than the “task” as a Keeper. She is grieving the deaths of Da and her brother. She and her parents don’t connect. She’s alone in her thoughts all of the time. She is a contemplative person. She’s basically kind and wants to do the right thing.
Later in the book Mackenzie is praying. What? Who is she praying to? Nothing alludes to any religious belief but she’s praying. I’m not sure why this was added to the story at all. It felt like something pulled out of a rabbit and just for show.

Am I glad I read The Archived? It’s good to read something out of my ordinary interest in books. It’s like using a different part of my brain. So yes.

(Review) Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor

Beyond the Moon_Blog Tour PosterBeyond the Moon_web


Publisher and Publication Date:
The Cameo Press Ltd. June 25, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Fantasy fiction. Romance. World War I.
Pages: 496.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but I was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War I. Romance. Dual time periods.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link
The kindle copy is free in Kindle Unlimited.

Book tour landing page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

About the author:
Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.
Catherine Taylor website
Catherine Taylor

Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.
*Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.
A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.
Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.
Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art – Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time. An intelligent read, perfect for book clubs.

For fans of Diana Gabaldon, Amy Harmon, Beatriz Williams, Kate Quinn, Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Paullina Simons.

“A poignant and stirring love story… Taylor’s accomplished, genre-bending book succeeds as a WW1 historical novel and a beguiling, time travel romance… The sharply written narrative deftly moves back and forth between the past and present.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A time travel romance, yet so much more than that. It is also an unflinching portrait of the horrors of war, and a look at the torturous extremes a human soul can endure. It is a sonnet to the transformative power of love, even as it is also a criticism of the futility and pointless destructiveness of war.” — Shaylin Gandhi, author of By The Light of Embers

My Thoughts:
This is a first novel for Catherine Taylor!
Beyond The Moon is a busy story. It’s busy because several themes are running through it. Examples of themes: PTSD, war, depression, survival, love, death, prison, art, medical practices, family, friendship, private hospitalization/treatment center practices, pacifist, and addictions. The lengthy list of themes, and the categories the book fits, had to have been a very big challenge for Taylor. I believe she pulled it all together for a great story. I read the book in two days! The story held my attention until the end, because I had to know how the story would wrap up with the two main characters.
Dual time periods has become common in historical fiction books. In other books, the dual time periods go back and forth with the change of each chapter. Beyond The Moon allowed one time period to stay through repeated chapters at times. This gave me a chance to relax.
Solid description writing of the scenery that helped me become apart of the story.
Taylor is wonderful at painting the scenes.
Great dialogue. In one scene, people are having a conversation about the war (World War I.) This conversation gave me an idea of how people on both sides felt about the war.
Fantastic reading about medical practices used during World War I. Some of the practices are primitive, yet they are on the edge of transformation in learning new things.
The ending is not believable, but I consider this story to be fantasy.
A wonderful first novel! Bravo.

Giveaway: (Impressions In Ink is only posting the material for the giveaway.)
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Link for the giveaway: https://gleam.io/lAcVI/beyond-the-moon