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
Albert Morris was turned into a Vampire by the one and only Jack the Ripper. follow him as he hunts for food amongst the criminals of Victorian London, all while hunting for true love. read as he finds love and loss, throughout the years, finally, he ends up in new york, and has to once again fight for his life and love.
The Dream Defenders follows Nolan as he navigates dreams that are becoming increasingly more real and deadly. What was the inspiration for the setup to this unique novel?
I have always enjoyed stories where the main character discovers the world around him is not what it seems, whether that’s by finding out he’s a wizard, learning of the existence of Gods and Goddesses, or discovering a portal to a different world in a closet. Secret organizations fall perfectly into this sort of magical realism, and I thought dreams would be a fascinating topic to explore and have a group that governs them. Once I got the ball rolling with that idea, I had to make sure that actions in the dream world had real life consequences otherwise the stakes were too low. And that’s how deadly nightmares came to fruition.
Nolan is an interesting and well developed character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to his character development?
Nolan is a pretty headstrong kid, and I thought it was important for him to learn that his actions have consequences, both good and bad. And not only do those consequences affect him, but those around him as well. When his family and new friends are placed in danger because of things he’s done, he understands this and works hard to rectify the situation. Because of this he goes from wanting nothing to do with his new baby brother, to stepping up to protect him when no one else will.
The dreamscapes were my favorite part of the novel and were wildly imaginative. What was your process like for bringing these worlds to life?
This is a fun process for me because I’m not bound by any sort of limitations. I can create any dreamscape I want, and there’s nothing that says it even needs to make sense. That said, most do make sense and are have some realistic elements woven into them, but often times I’ll insert an odd character to a regular situation, or change one or two things in a dreamscape to make it discernably different from real life. I may have missed the chance to thematically link them to the overarching theme of the novel, but above all else I just wanted most of them to be fun and provide an interesting backdrop to the story.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am currently working on the sequel to the Dream Defenders. I’ll send it to my editor in less than a month (yikes!) and I’m shooting for publication in early December
When fourteen-year-old Nolan Erling wakes up with a headache for the fourth straight day, he suspects the likely culprit to be any number of things—from his annoying baby brother, to vehicular crashes with his elderly neighbor, or even his questionable late-night food choices—not his dreams.
Aeryn Sandman knows the true cause, though. She is a junior agent with the DREAM Institute, a secret organization tasked with protecting the world’s population while they sleep, and she’s on her first assignment.
Her mission: infiltrate Nolan’s life—and his dreams—and keep him safe, all while persuading him to join their protective force.
But recruitment missions are no walk in the park, and Aeryn’s goes horribly wrong when Nolan’s powers unwittingly unleash two dream creatures locked away in a restricted area of the dream world. While Aeryn and Nolan search for ways to contain the escaped beings, they uncover a much greater conspiracy.
For these dreams can kill, and someone is orchestrating their actions in the dream world. If Aeryn and Nolan can’t figure out who is behind it, no dreamer will be safe, and neither will the organization that defends them.
Blooodfest follows an elite squad of soldiers investigating an island when the dead come to life and they must battle death itself. What were some sources of inspiration that helped you write this book?
Bloodfest started as a home made stop motion film, and we – as a team of budding film makers – were definitely inspired by horror movies and video games. As far as writing inspiration goes, I was a fan of Roald Dahl as a child. Then it was Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as I got older. A lot of these authors often combined dark subjects and comedy, which I really influenced by twisted sense of humour. Bloodfest certainly isn’t shy about being concurrently disgusting and funny.
What was the collaboration like with author James Maddison on this book?
This is a collaboration about twenty two years in the making! I met James at high school. We developed Bloodfest as a stop motion film, using modelling clay to build the characters and my parent’s video camera to film it. I still have fond memories of those characters and events, and I decided to revive Bloodfest as a book series starting with Call of the Conjurer, released in 2014. After I novelised Bloodfest, I gave a first draft to James before doing anything else. He gave his blessing and was equally delighted by the memories.
You write a lot of paranormal fantasy novels. What did you want to do in this book that was different from your other books?
Call of the Conjurer and Typhoon of Fire were both set up as prequels to the inevitable release of Bloodfest, at least in my mind. I wrote them as a means of naturally establishing the characters and their world, with an end goal in mind. While Call of the Conjurer and Typhoon of Fire are subdued, Bloodfest is completely unfettered. The book treads a thin line between fantasy ridiculouness and genuine drama. The characters often react with a sense of tongue-in-cheek self awareness to the nonsense happening all around them. They readily accept it, because it’s the world they live in. The story and the situations are allowed to be convoluted in a way that fantasy / sci fi can get away with.
At the same time, this is a story about death. I’m one to believe that if you want to make an impact on your audience, entertain them at first; let them enjoy the story with a smile, and then strike with the pathos. It leaves a bigger impression. When characters die in Bloodfest, it is always meaningful.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will you publish it?
After we made the first stop motion film in 1997, we went on to make a Bloodfest 2…
There is definitely a sequel on the way. I’m about 80% through the first draft with a clear intention in mind. The scenario for Bloodfest 2 is very exciting, and oddly prescient with current world events, considering that the source material is over twenty years old. The old gang will be joined by some great new character who I simply cannot leave in the limbo of unfinished novels.
Pacoven, an isolated island chain hidden in the Pacific Ocean. Far from the public eye and carefully monitored by a secretive government order. A place where they can conduct social experiments to influence the rest of mankind.
On Pacoven, unexpected events are usually encouraged for the sake of analysis, but now the dead are coming back to life, and things are getting out of hand.
An elite squad of soldiers armed with extraordinary rare abilities – the gift of magic – head out to investigate the islands. Specially trained for such strange situations, captain Ace Mcdagger and his team must gather survivors and face hordes of zombies, demi-gods, and man-made monsters to discover the cause of the mess before it goes global.
But maybe there is no resolution. Maybe the Grim Reaper – the very nature of Death itself – is their enemy.
The Bloodfest begins.
Son of the Serpent by Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a fantasy novel of vengeance and revenge told from the dual perspective of Dracul, the Son of the serpent, and Lillith, his mother.
Dracul arises in a cave and discovers that he’s encased in a demonic body. He’s filled with agony and confusion as he pieces together his memories to determine how he arrived there. In a painful and shocking epiphany, he realizes that he is the son of Lilith, and that Lilith had tried to kill him. He vows to find out what happened and avenge himself. On this bloodthirsty journey, he faces death, destruction, and betrayal. People, encounters, and events further cement his determination for revenge. The author breathes new life into a host of fantastical characters, often from Biblical settings. Their lives and stories are familiar, yet enshrouded in darkness.
What I found most striking about the book was the depth of its darkness and morbidity. Vivid, gory scenes of slaughter left me uncomfortable, but totally engrossed. Lilith’s sections were almost unbearable. Scenes of Lilith’s cruelty towards others was always accompanied by a fascinating glimpse into her psyche. There’s a lot going on in her and just a surface glimpse was enough to leave me mesmerized. It’s been a while since I encountered such a well-portrayed and dislikable antagonist.
Dracul was just as well-written. His struggle to be good in the face of his own destiny was oddly inspiring. To fight where he came from, to whom he belongs, and the core of his being- his pain and loneliness were palpable. The ending was unexpected, but upon consideration, entirely perfect. Maybe it’s not inherent to him, but it’s clear that Dracul is a good creature.
The Biblical settings and references provided a whole new perspective on the worn-out stories. From angels to Cain and Abel, the otherworldly features heavily in this book- and not always in a favorable light. The Biblical events portrayed from a first-person and real-time perspective were super imaginative. I think it would be difficult to assign a genre to this book. Although it is set primarily in a fantasy world, the dashes of horror, romance, and the occult would make it an interesting read for nearly anyone. The world created by Vashti Quiroz-Vega is totally immersive. I was glad for the escape from reality and I would definitely visit again.
Pages: 303 | ASIN: B07HS4C3B7
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The world is under siege after a thousand-year-old evil awakens threatening the modern-day world. Creatures of old and heroes alike resurface to fight this evil and reclaim the peace that is slowly slipping away. The story follows several unique characters as their lives, both past and present unfold and intertwine, slowly revealing their roles in the grand scheme of good versus evil.
Vincent Bobbe has a writing style perfectly fit for the grimdark fantasy genre. The battle scenes are gritty and realistic. The scenes illustrating magical feats flow perfectly within the context of the story. I thought the use of language and violence was acceptable and never crossed the border of unnecessary. However, at times the character descriptions seemed forced and unnatural, but the author made up for this with rich personality and believable characteristics. I did wonder why this book is lacking in female characters. Of course, there were female characters, but they were only there to serve the men of the story. There is so much rich world building packed into this novel, it is a shame there were no quality female characters to populate it.
Immortals’ Requiem is an epic adventure that would rightfully need the page count it comes with. I expected a slow burn but the first hundred pages are a bitter pill to swallow – time shifts drastically and the point of view switches often. I am a fan of a perspective change among the variety of main characters and Immortals’ Requiem lends itself well to this narration style. It keeps the plot moving and allows the various character plot points to develop simultaneously. But in the end, I felt that the the perspectives change so rapidly that it was difficult to follow along and establish a focal point for each character. I can tell that the author put a lot of thought into every aspect of the individuals, it would have been nice to get more time reading about each character before moving on to another. The quality of the writing is easy to read and there were no major mistakes. And while I appreciated the scenic details, some of the chapters were drawn out with too many specifics clashing together.
Overall the Vincent Bobbe does a fantastic job of blending the modern feel of Manchester to the old-world magic he so eloquently writes about. The two characters Cam and Grimnir personify this juxtaposition perfectly and quickly become my two favorites among the cast. The characters truly drive the plot and develop the story as you learn more about their history and evolving personalities. If you are a fan of urban or dark fantasy I would recommend you give this book a go.
Pages: 554 | ASIN: B07DDDVDR5
“I am Theodore Callington. I have a family. And a home. I belong somewhere.” These longing words are spoken by Teddy, who has lived a tortured life. An orphan taken in by a murderous uncle, regularly beaten to a pulp. An escaped cowboy, loved by an adopted family but trampled in the rodeo. And an unwilling vampire, slowly feeling his way to redemption. What will happen when Teddy attempts to reclaim his humanity from the devilish vampire who made him what he is? Follow Teddy’s twisted and terrifying journey in L. Nightingale’s A Bite of the Past: Undying Love.
A Bite of the Past is an exploration of what it means to be human, and conversely, sub-human. It is a heartbreaking story of cruelty, rejection, and longing for the love and stability of a family. Teddy’s journey is also one of hopefulness, reconnection, and the ascendancy of good over evil.
As our devastatingly handsome and sometimes repugnant main character, Teddy is truly a tortured soul—one dealing with the excruciating pain of his past but also searching for the truth and love that lies between the horror. Through sheer will-power, Teddy salvages the memories that have been suppressed by his malevolent teacher—the ruthless László. Under his tutelage, Teddy is truly a gruesome creature who carries out deeds that are sometimes hard to read.
Nightingale’s prose can be disorderly at times—perhaps intentionally so, as a reflection of the muddled psyche of her main character. He is confused much of the time, piecing together fragments of memories while simultaneously trying to quell his inner demon. This confusion spills over to the reader who, at times, feels lost as the narrative doubles back.
The twists, turns, and major surprises of the book do keep the reader engaged through the final cliffhanging scene. Gruesome descriptions of fights and killings will appeal to fans of macabre action. The throwback scenes to the wild west are charming, and Teddy’s vernacular peppers the book with memorable sayings, such as “the temperature would drop like a naked gunslinger beefed on a Dodge Street.” Overall, the yearning for love will resound with all.
A tale of a wayward cowboy looking for redemption that will strike a chord with its readers.
Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07SGWRTCN
The war the world feared finally came except this was a different kind of war. One fought between the living and the dead. The living lost.
Liam, a former soldier in the war against the dead, had done everything he could to hold back the enemy but in the end he joined the other survivors in the only safe place left— underground.
Now Liam helps keep the last of the living safe in the subway tunnels, scavenging food by day, hiding by night, all the while haunted about how they lost the world above them. He always believed the dead had help but he could never prove it.
He would soon learn he was right all along and that there is no safe place to hide from extinction—underground just might turn out to be everyones tomb after all.
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King Gravynmere of Vanosia has sent some of his best soldiers to investigate strange stories in the nearby border town of Faxon. The men will soon learn there is more truth than fancy to these stories, for something walks in the fields, something with cloven hooves and fire dripping from its hands.
The king rallies his son, Prince Quinn, his entire army and all of the Kingdom of Vanosia to confront the very forces of darkness in an epic tale of adventure, magic and mystery as the veil between their world and Perdition grows thin.
Join the Prince as he battles for his land, his people and his beloved on a mission that will take him to ends of the world and back, through pain and sacrifice, war and horror as what is below claws its way to above.
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
It’s OK to be Different by Sharon Purtill
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