BOOK REVIEW: The Last of the Atalanteans (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 2) by P. L. Stuart

Book Review

Title: The Last of the Atalanteans (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 2)
Author:  P.L. Stuart
Publisher: FriesenPress
Released: March 31, 2022
Pages: 534
ASIN: B08VS15WTR
Book Reviewer: Christine Bode
Stars:  4.0

Book Two in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, The Last of the Atalanteans by fantasy fiction master, P.L. Stuart, opens with Othrun, Thurol, and Glathan: three Atalanteans in disguise as Lynchun soldiers using assumed names, entering the Lynchun border city of Lionshead, en route to its capitol, Lionfort. Together with the usurped Lynchun King, Centi, Earl of Lynchun, and the rightful King of Lynchun, Wely, this five-men ruse intend to get Wely’s kingdom back from his corrupt brother and wife.

Badan—the ugly Earl of Lionshead—sides with Wely’s usurping brother Orlu, Lynchun’s greatest, undefeated warlord. Badan is a man to be reckoned with and not discounted. Badan’s men are watching the “captured” Wely, for whom he hopes to be rewarded by Orlu while nudging Centi out of the way so he can gain the king’s favour.

Othrun, the narrator and orchestrator of their remarkable play, hopes that their deceptive plan will hold and that within twenty-seven days, their forces will besiege Lionfort. But he has no idea what lies in store for them.

And so, author Stuart sets the stage for another grand and bold chapter in this epic fantasy saga. He writes this brilliant chess match between usurpers, warriors, noblemen and mages with a visceral description of the sights, sounds and odours of the places his heroes occupy. Stuart perfectly sets the tone for the adventure and inevitable battles to follow. Stuart skillfully interweaves the fascinating supernatural tale of Othrun’s beloved, albeit cursed, Atalantean steel sword, Sure-Steel, and the Anchali, an enigmatic angel who claims to be his true father. Othrun has a hard time wrapping his Single God-believing mind around the contradiction of the pagan beliefs he’s surrounded by, creating an absorbing conflict of a non-killing kind.

Stuart also reintroduces the powerful mage, Lysi, Princess of Nyrimia. She is my favourite character and the perfect adversary for the Fab Five of Fantasy—regardless of her sexual attraction to the married Othrun. Fierce, fearless and intelligent, Lysi is the femme fatale warrior who will hold the fate of the Five in her hands. In addition, she adds much-needed humour, magic, and sexual tension to Othrun’s tale as she challenges his spiritual beliefs.

There are spies amongst the band of warriors trying to make their way to Lionfort, making their journey treacherous beyond the inclement weather and inhospitable accommodations. The King of Lynchun’s wife, Syda, also a powerful mage, wants Wely dead. It will take cunningness and hyper-vigilance for Othrun’s men to deliver Wely to King Orlu in one piece. Lord Badan doesn’t view Othrun as the noble hero he believes he is, so the arrogant Othrun will have to hold his cards close to his chest to protect his ruse.

Othrun hates paganism and blames it for the seduction of his brother Erthal by Dira and the downfall of Atalantyx. He believes that there is no room in the realm for other gods. They must eradicate them. 

“It was the God-given task of the virtuous kingdom of Atalantyx, I believed, led by my royal house, to rid the world of those idolaters. I had seen the Anchali’s power, its glory, and its wonder. I knew our Single God to be real. Any other sort of worship was heresy. Yet there I was believing in pagan magic, as wielded by Lysi.”

In Chapter Twenty-Nine, Yedwol the Old tells the story of the Battle of Berefet to Othrun, and the reader learns more about the history of the Altalantean warriors. It is superbly crafted. Describing the tragedy of war from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old warrior with the spirit of a dragon, Yedwol’s tale will make you weep. Beheading women and children for the gold in their land is beyond atrocious. However, the Berefetish people still tried to kill and poison the three hundred warriors left in the Atalantean army after their colossal battle as they resisted their sovereignty. Yedwol and his young men stole everything they could and killed everyone who opposed them while praying to their Single God. And how that sickens me. There is no justification for such behaviour and no way I could cheer for them.

Othrun asks himself if he could kill Eltnish women and children to bring monotheism to the continent of Acremia and secure gold for the prosperity of the Eastrealm, his soon-to-be kingdom. However, he cannot abide rape or violence against women, children and the weak, so he watches the shine of his uncle’s glory tarnish.

As war rages between Russia and Ukraine, it is difficult to read such a passage knowing that millennia later, in the real world, men still kill each other for power, land, and greed and because they think their religion is the truth. War is not only something glorified in fantasy fiction or history books; it is inherent to man’s nature, which saddens this reader deeply. Of course, we should never ennoble war, but for those who enjoy reading about it and want to experience the horror, Stuart is a master narrator. He also manages to capture the humanity behind the carnage.

Othrun’s conflict is authentic and complex. This profoundly flawed man slowly evolves before our eyes in the second volume of this epic seven-book series that author Stuart is planning. In this story, he must be a follower rather than a leader most of the time. Othrun befriends a homosexual warrior named Hani, who enjoys cooking for their party of conspirators against Orlu. Although Hani favours sleeping with men, an abomination to the Single God, Othrun decides he doesn’t care and likes him anyway.

After reading Book One, I wasn’t sure if I would care enough about Othrun to follow him on his journey. But after reading Book Two, I am pleased by his evolving humanity, captivated by the storyline, and cannot wait for what will happen in the next instalment of The Drowned Kingdom saga, Lord and King, to be published next year.

If you missed it, read my review of A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1). Then, buy your copy of The Last of the Atalanteans here.

P.L. Stuart will be a fantasy fiction legend like his heroes Cornwell, Martin, and Jemesin before the last book in this series is published.

BOOK REVIEW: A Fresh Start: 111 Affirmations to Make This the Best Year Ever and Create the Life You Want by Karen Carrington

Book review for A Fresh Start by Karen Carrington

Nonfiction Book Review

Title: A Fresh Start: 111 Affirmations to Make This The Best Year Ever and Create The Life You Want
Author:  Karen Carrington
Publisher: Discovering Diversity Publishing
Released: August 1, 2018
Pages: 141
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1718187733
Book Reviewer: Christine Bode
Stars:  4.0

I met Karen Carrington in an Executive Career Jam Zoom group led by Mich Nadon of Media Intelligence.ca and loved her immediately. She is kind, caring, courageous and oh, so glamorous! After reading her book, I know her much better and can add that she’s resilient, determined, fabulous and fierce.

Karen’s book A Fresh Start: 111 Affirmations to Make This The Best Year Ever and Create The Life You Want is chock full of powerful affirmations for the most meaningful areas of our lives. In it, Karen shares her story, including the many challenges she has faced and how, through faith, support and sheer will, she overcame them and became a success as a talk show host, inspirational public speaker, author, and most importantly, a mother. Her love for her two sons is a beautiful thing. Her role model, Jack Canfield, would be proud of her. I certainly am!

In her book, Karen asks the sort of questions we all need to reflect on and provides us with space to write down our answers. When I finished reading, I wrote out my answers to seven Life Lessons last night. She also gives us a bonus journal of 32 lined pages to write in.

Two of my favourite things about this book (besides a slew of wonderful affirmations) were reading how Karen discovered the TV show Dynasty and realizing that she IS Alexis Carrington. Also, the terrific S.E.L.F. C.A.R.E. acronym she created reminds us of the importance of self-care and self-love.

My favourite affirmations are the first four sentences of #1, and 4, 14, 15, 25, 34, 38, 48, 56, 66, 73, 76, 77, 83, 92, 93, 101, and 104.

“Today, I am open and ready for the prosperity and blessings that are coming my way. I am an amazing person who is loveable and deserves to be loved. I let go of all past hurts and pain. I am focused on shifting my mindset into a positive space. I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful, and I am committed to making this year my best year ever.”

Karen Carrington, a fresh start: 111 Affirmations to make this year the best year ever and create the life you want, affirmation #1

Karen Carrington is much more than a brand; she is a phenomenal woman who deserves to be celebrated not only on International Women’s Day but every day!

Get Karen’s book on Amazon.

POETRY: “Become the Observer,” by Christine Bode

Poetry

Become the Observer

A poem by ©Christine Bode 2021

This seeker is an empath;
a truth seeker,
always striving for more
knowledge and understanding
of a world
she’s been at war with—
in her mind—more lately
than ever before;
searching for something that will
give her faith in God,
hope for the future,
relief from grief.
At 57 years of age,
she finally realizes
that the truth has always
been within. All she
needed to do
was listen closely
and start over again.
Become the observer,
step outside of external dramas,
go inside her heart,
become neutral and
let her higher self show her
the right moment
to stop fighting, and
to help others.
The secret is
there is no absolute truth;
everything in the universe
is permitted as part
of its evolution. When we
become the observer,
we enter the eye of the storm,
connect with our hearts,
and therein we find
love and harmony.
There is well-being in
our shadow selves,
so no need to ignore
as the body operates in tandem
with the subconscious mind.
There is peace in silence,
and when the noise of humanity
invades the quiet,
nature and sound healing
help seal the cracks.
Don’t take life too seriously;
enjoy the journey,
dream big,
love yourself,
follow your interests, and
LET GO of anything else
that doesn’t resonate.
You are all that and
a bag of chips—
you are the observer,
the great I AM.

BOOK RELEASE: Audley Enough: A Portrait of Triumph and Recovery in the Face of Mania and Depression by Lesley Whyte Reford and Patricia Lavoie

Book Release

Audley Enough: A Portrait of Triumph and Recovery in the Face of Mania and Depression

Montreal, Quebec, January 24, 2022 – For Immediate Release – Tellwell Talent has published the release of the second edition of Audley Enough: A Portrait of Triumph and Recovery in the Face of Mania and Depression, penned by Lesley Whyte Reford (in 2013) and updated in this second edition by Patricia Lavoie (in 2021).

This new edition includes Mr. Audley Coley’s continued success with his battle against mental health challenges, including his five-year stint as a friend of Bell Media’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign.

Currently aged sixty-three, Coley was diagnosed with the manic depressive disorder at twenty-seven in 1983. Since then, he has found ways to combat this condition and has made it his life’s mission to educate others with techniques and strategies that can help them cope with their mental health issues or help guide families with a loved one they are concerned about. Coley likes to lead by example and this book, as well as his many speaking engagements, have helped thousands of Montrealers succeed in combatting mental health obstacles.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have this additional opportunity to continue to tell the story of my personal success in managing my mental health challenges and to give examples of how I have been able to help and inspire others,” enthuses Mr. Coley. “I continue to enjoy incredible support from organizations such as Bell Let’s Talk as well as L’Oréal Canada,” he continues.

Co-author of this second edition, Patricia Lavoie, highlights this passage from the new edition as a key moment within Mr. Coley’s new life chapters:

“Contemplating the resilience of the Invictus athletes had been an ‘aha!’ moment for Audley. He was overcome with admiration for athletes who shoot hoops from a wheelchair or strap on prosthetics to compete in a road cycling race or track events among the many other competitive sports. How could he possibly complain? But he realized as well that mental health had to be understood in a new way. Mental issues are an invisible adversity and difficult for people to comprehend. Audley had been trying for years to articulate what went on ‘inside’ someone who is bipolar. There are no amputations or wheelchairs that bear witness to the infirmity. There is just intangible suffering. How to get the message out?… Enter Bell Canada.”

Audley Coley’s book launch was held on November 18, 2021, at The Atwater Club in Montreal. He donated the proceeds from the sales of his book that evening, $3,000.00, to the Douglas Hospital Foundation. “I chose to highlight and support the Douglas Hospital Foundation this evening due to their leading-edge research and programs dedicated to mental health for those on the Island of Montreal and in the entire province at large. As providers of important in-patient and out-patient programs essential to treating those suffering from related diseases, I really wanted to bring attention to their foundation and would encourage others to follow my lead in supporting them,” offers Coley.

About Audley Coley

Mr. Audley Coley is a motivational speaker, fitness instructor, and certified Toastmaster, having won the 2004 Table Topic and Humour Championship Competition, where he represented the Sunlife Group. He later became the subject of the book Audley Enough: You CAN Soar Above Mental Illness by Lesley Whyte Redford. In 2018, Coley was asked to be a Bell Media representative for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign and has been re-invited every year since. In 2019, Coley was honoured with the Community Leadership award from Montreal Cares. Other awards included “Most Promising Dancer” from the Rolland & Romaine School of Dance in Toronto in 1978.

At age nineteen, Coley migrated north, where he started the first dance program in Frobisher Bay (1979), now known as Iqaluit. Afterward, he returned to Montreal to complete his formal training in Jazz and Ballet. Audley graduated from Concordia University with a BA in Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, in 1984.

Coley has dabbled in the entertainment industry, having performed with René Simard in the 1987 CBC TV special Escale à Memphis, with Normand Braithwaite in 1989 in a CBC Christmas Special, and in 1992 in He Shoots He Scores.

Ultimately Coley decided to pursue his interest in the fitness industry. He completed his Certified Fitness Instructor certificate with IDEA World Fitness in 1985. Coley has worked at The Atwater Club for the last twenty years, which has provided him with the routine he needed to cope with his mental illness. His core group of students, the “Yummy Mummies” (a group of fit women over the age of fifty), has been the key to his success.

In 2018, Coley was invited to Iqaluit as a speaker for Suicide Prevention Month. In 2019 he worked with Les Grands Ballet in their dance therapy program. Coley was also a speaker in the Mental Health Program of the Jamaican Association in 2020. Just before COVID impacted our lives, Coley was working regularly with the dance therapy program at the Montreal General Hospital.

During the COVID lockdown, he has given interviews on radio in St. Kitts, with the Jamaican Association, and CBC’s One Full Circle on how to cope with COVID and mental illness. You can also see his interview on CBC’s national TV show, You Can’t Ask That, recorded live on Friday, October 9, 2020. In October 2020, Coley was the first speaker in the L’Oréal Canada Mental Health Program, designed to assist their employees in coping with the challenges of working during the COVID lockdown.

Coley’s abundance of life experiences, including living in several different cultural environments such as Jamaica, Toronto, Iqaluit, and finally Montreal (where he has made his home), has provided him with a wealth of personal experience and cross-cultural skills which he has utilized to reach out and touch various people and communities. Coley’s life story is all documented in Audley Enough: A Portrait of Triumph and Recovery in the Face of Mania and Depression (2021), available on Amazon now.

For your review copy of the book or to contact Audley Coley:

T: 514-451-9077 / audleycoley@gmail.com

Website: https://audleycoley.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/audley_coley
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/audley.coley