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Hotel Pennsylvania

Hotel Pennsylvania (The DreamCatchers Book One) by M.G. Pappas is a children’s fantasy fiction book about a group of young teenagers who go on a vacation with their families to a hotel in Pennsylvania. It seems like a normal trip until they are looking at pictures at the end of the weekend and notice an unknown boy in one of the images. Who is he? Why didn’t they see him when they were taking the picture? The group returns to the same hotel the next weekend to try to discover the boy’s identity. But the truth about Keanu is almost impossible to believe.

The book was a quick read, and it had an interesting premise. I enjoyed the supernatural element in the story with several of the kids having various abilities. The story didn’t go the way I was anticipating. After the mention of the hotel’s age and Nicole thinking that it might be haunted when they first arrived, I thought that Keanu would turn out to be a ghost. It was surprising to learn the truth, and I liked that the author took the story in an unexpected direction. I also liked how the kids worked together to solve the mystery of Keanu’s identity.

The crossword puzzle at the end of the book was fun to complete, with answers that were learned by reading the story.

I enjoyed this book immensely but I felt that there was room for improvement.  There was a big focus on social media in the beginning, which was realistic, but not interesting to read about. The narrative sometimes jumped between past and present tense, the story felt rushed in places I would have like more detail, and the kids dialogue seemed a bit stilted at times.

This book is a good example of how interesting characters can really make a story. Put them in interesting situations and you have my undivided attention.

In Book One, Keanu can teleport to other places anywhere in the world, and this is different from the other books in the Dreamcatchers series. Book Two, Cruise to the Past, has the kids traveling back in time, and Book Three, A Chase Through Time, is a story featuring time travel to the future. I like that each book in the series has a unique element to it.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B078MPTLQY

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Heart Of A Warrior

Heart of a Warrior (Immortal Warriors Book 4) by [Holm, Denna]

Heart of a Warrior is an extraordinary vampire romance and epic fantasy book. We are introduced to Elena Murphy at the start of the book. Elena is distressed as her fated mated was not for their union which she so much looked forward to. One could feel her frustration and irritation as she stood on the deck of her house watching the dark clouds, thinking about Gabriel and where he could be. Elena is half-human. Gabriel was an old hunter from planet Laizahlia. He was, among other things, a patient and resilient character when he wanted to be. Gabriel had looked for his mate for years. He spent time and resources just to find his fated mate, his eillelé. His mate carried half his soul wrapped within Elena.

Gabriel is in a dilemma. He wants to claim Elena but he is conflicted as his council will make him do things he is not comfortable doing. To be safe, Gabriel has to convert Elena to a full vampire so as to be accepted by the council. This move is risky as Elena is happy being a half human. The conversion may tamper with her mind and even jeopardize her sanity.

Heart of a Warrior is a gripping and thrilling fantasy book. The vampire theme and twist in the story are exciting and held my interest. The author is able to engineer some creative scenes that make the unique character both charming and scary at the same time. Following the part about the missing children was scary and fascinating given they had potential threats like the Council and Slavers. Gabriel is a great character whom every reader will, eventually, empathize with. Heart of a Warrior is action-packed, with events that are unbelievable, but you don’t care, and characters who were perfect for their roles.

Every character had some sort of superpower which felt balanced and not overused. They were able to face their obstacles and even confuse the enemies for a while. I appreciated the odd, but well constructed, love story in this book. This novel combines a bittersweet love, a vampire story, and some fantastic characters that really carry this story. This is the fourth book in the ‘Immortal Warriors’ series but I didn’t feel lost and I think anyone can jump into the series from here. You will love the conversations between characters as they are witty and humorous. The plot was epic and the entire story entertaining.

Pages: 347 | ASIN:  B07X5TRQRF

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Becoming My Best Self: My Shero Attributes

I have heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. That is true for all the parents and teachers, coaches, friends, families and anyone who have the pleasure and responsibilities of inspiring our children. This book came as an inspiration and reflection of the important attributes that helps to shape our children. It is about all of our SHEROES and HEROES.  Studies have shown that the happiest, most successful children are those who can appreciate the differences and the opportunities and learnings that is experienced everyday.  I have taught my two daughters that it is important to start from a place of gratitude.  My hope is that this book will be a discussion for parents and teachers and anyone who wants to inspire important life attributes in a child’s life.  There is an opportunity to choose one the attributes each month and celebrate it, discuss, reflect and have a conversation without any judgement to build understanding and awareness.

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Just Add Pepper – Trailer

Jade is a sassy, sexy, and steady woman leading a double life. By day, she is a member of high society, basking in the pampering that only wealth can afford while associating with the upper echelons of prosperity. By night, she surrounds herself with unsavory crowds of miscreants, whore-mongers, and infidels. It is in debauchery that she makes her living, participating in deplorable sex acts. Jade must work tirelessly to keep her two worlds from colliding as she continues to run from her past. However, a new development threatens to destroy her picture-perfect life. Enter, multimillionaire bachelors, alluring playboy Christopher, and risqué haughty Malachi. Both seem hopelessly smitten with Jade and seek to know more about her. She has only two options; retain this exhausting facade, or expose everything to her friends and suitors, all of whom know nothing about her past or present. Just Add Pepper is a drama-packed prolific erotic romance with a perfect combination of naughty and nice. It’s the first in “The Pepper” Trilogy. Will Jade be able to overcome the slow but inevitable collision of both her worlds or will the ruin be too much for everyone to bear?

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Phase Rider

Phase Rider: A LightLit® Book by [Levin, David]

Phase Rider, by David Levin, is a science-fiction novel intended for a young adult/teen audience, published by LightLit. That said, the skill of the writer makes it easy for just about anyone to appreciate the story that unfolds.

There are a lot of things to like about David Levin’s Phase Rider. As a science-fiction story, the futuristic technology that is integral to the story is so well developed that one might wonder how much of it was actually based in reality. Levin creates a world in which specialized space craft can travel many times the speed of light and cross vast distances of our universe in no time at all. Of course, capabilities like those open doors for numerous engaging story elements that were a lot of fun to read.

The plot is another positive point for Phase Rider. There are certainly no shortage of sci-fi books out there that deal with the possibility of total destruction of the human race but Levin manages to approach the topic from a unique angle that many will enjoy. Phase Rider is a well-crafted story that is able to easily develop an engaging plot line.

There are a few direct messages and moral life lessons that I always enjoy having embedded in a story; however, there are times where the message seems more important than the continuity of the story line, which creates a disconnect from the story in certain areas. It would have been better to hide the messages a bit more, as doing so would allow readers to ‘discover’ these elements on their own.

Phase Rider is a well-written book that possess its own unique qualities in a fairly saturated genre. The author finds ways to bring life and intrigue into otherwise dry topics. The well crafted characters in this story possess a sense of humanity I rarely see in other novels. Minor quibbles aside I was invested in this story until the very end because of the interesting characters and captivating plot. Levin has certainly created a book that will be enjoyed by many.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B07TX2T9MS

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More Than a Love Story

Crystal Jackson Author Interview

Crystal Jackson Author Interview

Left On Main is an emotional romance novel following Libby and Seth as they grapple with their love and their past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

As a person who has experienced divorce myself, I wanted to tell a story that shows how the experience can become a turning point and an opportunity for change. The challenges that happen in our lives can make us reassess ourselves and our lives— but only if we choose to learn from it. But I wanted to tell more than a love story between two people. Left on Main– and the Heart of Madison series- is equally the story of a town and the people drawn together inside of it.

Libby is an interesting and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

Libby came into my head fully-formed. As positive as she often seems, she’s equally careful and guarded. I wanted to take the readers through her heartache and through her falling in love to show that trusting others and moving on isn’t as simple as it sometimes seems. Her choices throughout the story are reflective of her complexity.

I enjoyed the relationship between Libby and Seth. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with their relationship?

Libby and Seth are like any of us in that their past relationships have shaped how they relate to others in the present. As a former therapist, I know well that many of our coping skills are drawn from our experiences, and how we react to the present is often as much- if not more so- predicated on the past as on what’s actually happening in the moment. Still, how we love and exist within relationships comes down to our choices. Seth and Libby are faced with very relatable choices about life and love.

This is the first book in the Heart of Madison Series. Where will the next book pick up and when will it be available?

The next book drops right into the story of Seth’s sister Lindy and will be out in the Spring of 2020. Expect a faster paced story with plenty of twists ahead, and you’ll also get a chance to follow up with Seth and Libby and the rest of the cast of characters in Madison.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Libby Reynolds is having to reboot her entire life after a sudden divorce and relocation. Seth Carver has let work become his whole life, becoming himself the kind of anachronism he surrounds himself with in the antique store he owns. They’ll fall together, but can their love withstand a visit from the past she’s left behind? Left on Main is the first in the Map of Madison series.

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Embrace Compassion

Jayajit Dash Author Interview

Jayajit Dash Author Interview

The Conflict of Desires follows an executive trying to convince aboriginals to give up their land for his companies interests. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?

In my years as a business journalist, I have stumbled upon many cases where big corporations with key interests in mining face resistance from the native residents. All those episodes of tussle and murky face-offs between a company and the original tribes form the bulwark of inspiration for my story. When companies foist their agendas on unsuspecting people and trample on their resources and brazenly try to usurp their livelihoods, the backlash is inevitable. My story should serve as a humble call to those transnational corporations to abjure coercion and embrace compassion for the people at whose expense they are expanding their frontiers of growth. Having said that mine is a work of fiction and any resonance with the ‘real’ should be treated as happenstance.

Ramesh is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his development?

As a character, Ramesh arouses intrigue and empathy in equal measure. He’s no different from legions of his real life counterparts who are lumbered with tasks not so pleasant and choices tempting yet fraught with risks. So often it happens that characters in the mould of Ramesh run into a knotty life matrix- they have to solve the Rubik’s cube. For me, fleshing out Ramesh as the lead character who carries the plot narrative draws from people who are perturbed by upsetting dilemmas. Most do cave in to the pressures of the job and dictates of the boss, playing it safe. That’s where Ramesh soars above the clutter- he wins with his conscience.

What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next work on fiction dissects the woes of workplace. I believe it will be an enjoyable read. Hoping to release it next calendar.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Conflict of Desires: A New Rhythm in the Tangle by [DASH, JAYAJIT]

An executive of a top notch company sets foot in a remote hinterland in a poor, eastern state of Odisha in India. Ramesh Sahay, the protagonist of the story is tasked with a mission- to woo the aboriginal tribals for pushing his employer’s interests. But the natives who have guarded the wealth of their hills for over a millennium are no pushovers. And, Ramesh is pitted against forces antagonistic to his mission. Ramesh realises the odds stacked against him. Nonetheless, his visceral urges and the mandate of a big corporation in which he has invested over a decade of his prime impels him to an unequal confrontation. How does he go on to win this tussle? Or a change of emotions tugs at his heartstrings? The story dissects the dilemma of his choices and the conflicts that shroud him. Read on to relate and connect.

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Lasting Photographs

Lasting Photographs by [Barbano, Luigi]

John Ragnar has found himself on the cusp of a discovery that will lead him in a direction he never anticipated. When he comes across a box of photographs, he sets out to identify not only the owner of the photographs, but he wants to put names with the faces in them. One woman in particular catches his eye, and he makes it his mission to identify her as he embarks upon a journey which takes him across the globe in search of someone who might be able to tell him more about this woman who otherwise remains an enigma.

Lasting Photographs, by Luigi Barbano, details the adventure upon which one man sets in order to find the owners of photographs he discovers in a box on the beach. His mission takes him to Italy, and by his side is the woman he has only known for two days and met by pure chance but with whom he has instantly fallen in love.

For as engaging as the plot of Barbano’s story is, the text seems to lack something in the way of relationships. I feel there is a good bit of narrative for a story that could easily have been rich with dialogue between the two main characters, John and Katia. As a reader, I enjoy immersing myself in the conversations of the characters and count on dialogue to contribute to the rising action. Barbano’s descriptions of John’s plight and the lengths to which he goes to retrieve information about the woman pictured in the mysterious photographs are more than adequate for developing the plot. However, I can’t quite get past the fact that more dialogue could have enhanced the entire story line.

In addition to the lack of dialogue, Barbano’s work feels a bit cut and dry for its genre. This blend of realistic and historical fiction consists of, in many cases, brief and straightforward paragraphs. Readers will not find the flowery language they might expect to find describing the scenes in Italy. Readers more interested in mysteries will appreciate the point-blank way in which Barbano addresses the dilemmas at hand and jumps right into the pursuit of the photographs’ origins.

Barbano goes to great lengths to include technical aspects in his writing. As a photographer himself, he does a phenomenal job of incorporating the most finite details of photography into his story. The author is also adept at weaving the complicated language of the mechanics of flight into his plot. Readers who appreciate text more focused on technical language will find this book a delight.

While I enjoyed the overall story line in which John and Katia make it their sole mission to recover the meaning behind the lost photos, it is my preference to read fiction in which characters’ interactions take precedence over narrative. Lasting Photographs is a short read and one where readers with an avid interest in photography will find to be a worthwhile pick.

Pages: 200 | ASIN: B07VLW1CYS

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Shirley F’N Lyle

Shirley F'N Lyle: VIVA the REVOLUTION by [Lindemuth, Clayton]

Shirley F’N Lyle: Viva the Revolution (Book One in Chick Grit Lit Series) by Clayton Lindemuth is a fiction story about a hooker named Shirley Lyle who is tired of being treated like she doesn’t matter, and she’s not going to take it anymore. She wants to be someone different, someone better. Viva the Revolution. She and her friend Ulyana, a stripper, have decided to make men pay for their actions. But things don’t go as planned, and the two women find themselves running from a drug dealer after they killed his son. The drug dealer isn’t the only person they have to worry about, however. When Ulyana disappears–possibly murdered–will Shirley be next?

There was a lot of action in this book, plus the mystery of Ulyana’s disappearance, which held my interest in the story. The story line was dark, but there was enough humor in the book to lighten it. I liked Dr. Kristanna Rong’s character and the encouragement she gave Shirley to make a change in her life. I was hoping for her to be a larger part of the story, but she only appeared in the beginning. I also liked that there was a slight romantic element with Donal O’Laughlin wanting to date Shirley rather than paying for her services.

I enjoyed reading the back and forth between Shirley and the “voices”  in her head as she argued with herself. Old Shirley versus Viva Shirley. Shirley’s imagination was very amusing, including her superwoman day dreams about making the men who had done her wrong pay for their treatment of her and other women.

But I felt like Shirley walked into a few situations that would have gotten her killed in real life, when her spunky attitude alone wouldn’t have saved her. Some of the descriptions of violence and injuries were a bit graphic and gory. Conversely, there were only minimal descriptions of the setting. I prefer books with vividly described settings that add depth to a story, which I felt it was lacking in this book. The beginning of this book was a bit confusing, switching between various points of view made it hard to figure out how everything was connected.

But overall Shirley F’N Lyle is a fantastically entertaining novel that puts interesting characters in interesting situations. The drama that ensues is enthralling and ultimately uplifting.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B07SMN6H3V

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Sleep State Interrupt

Sleep State Interrupt by [Weber, T.C.]

If most contemporary sci-fi is headed in the direction that Sleep State Interrupt is taking, I will be more than pleased. And a lot more concerned for humanity. Sleep State Interrupt tells the tale of protagonist Waylee who wrestles Big Media’s omnipresent influence. In this dystopian world, the government and people are heavily influenced and practically controlled by the media that surrounds them. Waylee and a couple of her technologically proficient friends plan a simple but brilliant plan to end this problem. They decide to capture and bring to light some incriminating dialogue that will shed light on how truly awful the situation has turned. However, she faces hefty roadblocks along the way, that occupy both her inner and outer world.

The premise of this story is like Mission Impossible meets the Avengers, but smarter in its portrayal of a dystopian world. There’s no question about the role media plays these days. Targeted advertising, subliminal influencing, endless privacy violations- all this is already unsettling. Weber takes this concept and pushes it to a terrifyingly believable level. The story is heavy on politics without naming names, I feel like I could probably point out some similarities in their evil politicians and our own.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book was that it forced me to take a stance on some issues that I would generally avoid thinking about it. There are a lot of moral and philosophical questions that are subtly posed throughout- and it’s a refreshing take for a cyber sci-fi novel.

Weber has clearly put in a lot of effort to nonchalantly feature a diverse set of characters. While all of them were interesting and unique, sometimes the characteristics felt a bit forced. Waylee’s character on the other hand was a masterpiece. From the realistic perspective offered on her disease to her upbringing and environment, her protagonism was undeniable. I could tell where all her actions and motivations were coming from.

I have always enjoyed politically-charged thrillers because it brings to light the fact that humanity is capable of creating its own nightmarish vision. Sleep State Interrupt portrays this with clarity and believability, without compromising all the fun that a government takedown story offers.

Pages: 331 | ASIN: B01KKMA1D8

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