Chasing The Red Queen
Chasing the Red Queen opens with the recently turned 18-year-old Donja, a self-proclaimed goth who is uprooted from the normalcy of teenage life. Her mother remarries, giving Donja a new home, a new father and a new stepsister. What starts out as an angsty teens tribulations quickly shifts to darker elements as violent murders begin to hit close to home. New characters emerge, friendships are made, and lovers unite exposing a history of supernatural elements and family secrets Donja never expected.
Karen Glista offers an urban fantasy with a dash of crime, horror and steamy romance all set to the backdrop of vampire lore. A perfect weekend read for those favoring the genre. The author also provides new components to these otherwise over told stories with well researched historical content and fleshed out explanations for the mystical aspects. The mix of first nation cultural and detailed locational history give a fresh twist to this vampire romance which kept me intrigued to the very end.
I found Donja to be likable as the main character. Although the constant reminder of her gothic reputation is repeated one too many times, otherwise her emotional response and reactions are believable throughout the story. I adored the character development between Donja and her stepsister Makayla, from beginning to end they share a bond that unites them through a roller-coaster of emotional events.
Unlike Donja, where she shines in the first half of the book, her counterpart Torin unfolds as the main player towards the end of the book. Once Torin takes center stage I found myself more invested in his story and the account of his mysterious past as well as that of his kind.
I felt that the timeline was a little vague; how much time did everything take, was it days, hours, weeks? I also felt that their were quick leaps in character changes (ie. Frankie, I didn’t know what was happening to him until it was already over). These are the only minor things holding the book back.
However, the story surprised me with well thought out action scenes and gritty dialog. While some secondary characters faded into the background a few shown through and had my full attention. Chasing the Red Queen is a quick read with an equally fast-paced plot, yet will still give the reader enough time to establish a connection to the story, characters and paranormal features.
Pages: 277 | ASIN: B079KJFJW8
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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An Undying Need to Find Truth
The Taking of Peggy Martin follows an enigmatic young nurse working at an institution for the criminally insane. What was the inspiration for Peggy’s character background?
Peggy Martins character came to me one rainy day. I grew up in the deep south. I am a Registered Nurse and like Peggy, I have worked with psychiatric patients. As I began to wander in memory of patients I had encountered, Peggy all but appeared to me. I suddenly felt her devotion. We shared that commonality, but it didn’t stop there. There were so much more and suddenly our lives intertwined. I adopted her persona and added fragments of my own life, an overly religious Grandmother, and the pieces to the story just fell into place. Add in the painful loss of my father when I was quite young which resulted in a childhood haunted by aberrations and ‘The Taking of Peggy Martin’ was born.
Peggy Martin is a pious woman that has had some horrible things happen around her. What were something that you felt were important for Peggy’s character development?
Loss. Painful loss and an undying need to find truth. Survival.
This is an engaging and mysterious thriller that touches on deep emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Although fragments of real life events are woven into this novel, it is fantasy. If there was one thing to take away from this story it is, that it doesn’t take guts to quit. Even in the face of evil, one can persevere.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next novel is Chasing the Red Queen. The setting is Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and her sister city by the same name in Ontario.
Fact; It is written in the ancient birch parchments of the Ojibwe (Indigenous people) that Seven Miigis (spirits) known as (Radiant Iridescents) presented themselves (over a thousand years ago) to the people in the Waabanakiing (Land of the Dawn, i.e., Eastern land) to teach the Mide (culture) way of life. One spirit known as the Seventh was too powerful and killed those in his presence. The other Six spirits took to the river and swam back to the ocean from whence they came.
Chasing the Red Queen is a beautiful, modern day love story with relentless action, elite battles, steamy passion and the ghastly realization that just because one chooses not to believe in the paranormal, doesn’t make it a given.
Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook
The setting is East Texas, where Peggy, a young nurse, works at an institution for the criminally insane. After her husband Danny is mysteriously killed in a car accident, she convinces herself that it was murder… and she knows the murderer by name… Jasper Johnson. When she gets notice from Marbelle Johnson, Jasper’s mother, requesting an impromptu meeting, she discovers that the filthy rich oil baroness believes Danny to have been the bastard child of her deceased husband, Charles Johnson.
Peggy, irreparably damaged from childhood by religious fanaticism, reluctantly agrees to exhume Danny’s body. Reeling with doubt, all the while fearing betrayal by the Johnsons, she finds herself bordering on insanity.
Shackled in darkness, Peggy throws herself into her work only to find herself face to face with a blonde haired, blue eyed schizophrenic in a straitjacket. Quite by circumstance she discovers that this patient, Morgan Dubois, who as a child was found burrowed in the ground in the Piney Wood Thicket, has a link not only to her late husband, but also to the aberrations of her mind.
As secrets are revealed and it becomes apparent that something or someone wants to silence their tongues, Peggy is forced to seek refuge with the Johnsons. Together, as death finds them, one by one, they set upon a perilous journey in search of truth. Deep in the heart of the Piney Wood Thicket, they stumble upon Cypress Creek and discover an existence older than time itself. Peggy, caught in a maelstrom of emotions, torn between two worlds, finds herself in a desperate battle, not only for her life, but for that of all of mankind.
Posted in Interviews
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The Taking of Peggy Martin
Karen Glista sets the book The Taking of Peggy Martin in the deep south of Texas. The book details the tribulations of a once God-fearing widowed nurse known as Peggy. She suffers from sleeplessness, which she takes advantage of to regale tales of her childhood and traumatizing loss of her husband. We see her struggle in a mental asylum and her contact with a wild young man by the name of Morgan in Piney wood thicket. The author mingles horror with science fiction to illuminate the mystery in the book. The author uses lots of colorful language to conceal the horror of murder, rape, and macabre details witnessed by Peggy.
The author does a great job of keeping the readers interest in the book despite the vile and gory details. Peggy witnesses what we would call horrendous encounters of eviscerations, decapitations, and murder. To those who are not fans of horror, the flowery language of the author encourages one to read on. However, the author uses colloquial expression and slang which would keep the reader unfamiliar with Texan dialect researching on what some of the words mean.
I tried to pin down what genre this book would be in, but then gave up and just enjoyed the blend of mystery, horror and macabre recounts in the Texan thicket.
Within just the first quarter of the book the author has packed so much information character building that sets the rest of the book up nicely to proceed with vigor punctuated by horribly enthralling events. For those who love the quick speeds at which the story unfolds, you would thoroughly enjoy this edge-of-seat thriller.
Peggy comes across as a pious lady who is unfortunately haunted by her past. She is enigmatic and one cannot tell what caused her husband’s death or if she had anything to do with her dark past… “The more we learn about her, the darker she gets”. Peggy is a strong, resilient lady, given her struggle at the mental asylum. We do not have much information about Morgan except that he is mute and wild, having grown into a feral man. The author has employed various styles in the book such as contrast, colloquialism, vivid description, and slang. The main ideas in the story revolve around rape, murder, and mental instability.
The Taking of Peggy Martin has excellent narration and is an engaging and mysterious thriller that touches even the deepest of our emotions. The plot has a nice flow that takes you through Peggy’s emotional roller coaster, and as things unfold, we can unravel some of the issues in the book.
Pages: 382 | ASIN: B07466DS5H
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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Gaming and Death
Embellished is a relentlessly entertaining fantasy novel following a trio of teens as they are catapulted into a video game. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
I truly love online gaming and at one point I was thinking how awesome it would be to visit those antiquated worlds. I am also an R.N. and in my career, I have come face to face with death, more times than I care to admit. I love to write…its who I am, and on one particular day, for no credible reason, my mind which often times reverts to fantasy in lieu of reality, merged gaming and death and thus…Chronicles of Orian was born.
Bekka’s body is crippled by a disease, but in the game, she is whole again, but still has to find her voice and strength. How did you set about creating Bekka’s character?
Bekka created herself. I simply pictured a young patient in my mind and as amazing as it may be, she took a deep breath and exhaled. I saw her, but it was not just a vision…I felt her sorrow. She was commanding of attention and as strange as it may sound, I simply scribbled what was happening, her responses to the environment, her heart, her needs, her pain and above all else, her intense desire to love and be loved. She’s an incredible young woman and unto the end (book 3 in the trilogy) with only faith as her weapon she faces evilness even death, not only to forge her own destiny, but to protect those she loves. I so admire her.
What I enjoyed more than the deeply complex characters is the intricately woven plot with twists that I rarely saw coming. Did you plan the novel ahead of time or did the twists develop organically?
I do not use outlines. I simply sit at my computer…locked away from the world while the scenes play in my mind.
It seems like you had a lot of fun writing this book; did you?
I laughed and I cried but it was an incredible journey. I loved it and to be honest, I fell in love.
This is book one in the Chronicles of Orian series. Where does book 2 take readers?
Extolled, book two in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy is the continuing saga of Randar and Bekka who find themselves front and center as worlds collide, earth is ravaged by war and Orian is beleaguered by a humanoid race intent on world domination. Besieged by hated, lies, betrayal and grotesque horrors, battle lines are drawn and unexpectedly Bekka finds herself once more visited by her past…only this time her antiquated disease has an ugly twist, one that will affect not only her, but the daughter she lost so many years ago.
From the depths of blood and gore in a now seemingly doomed society, a forbidden love takes root. Audra, Bekka’s long lost daughter, now sixteen and incredibly naive, falls prey to a grotesque monster lurking behind the outrageously handsome face of a shape-shifting beast called Mardrid. Ordered to seduce her…or die, Mardrid finds himself helter-skelter for the very nearness of her warm, curvaceous body ignites such a dire and primal need to feed that maintaining his human persona is all but impossible. He quickly realizes he is playing a deadly game…one he may not win.
As secrets are revealed and truths are realized the drums of war echo throughout the land. Family turns against family, friends against friends and as the Scaff invasions and their insatiable lust for flesh intensifies, every faction in Orian is pushed to the brink of extinction. Few, if any, will survive and against all odds there will be blood…there will be sorrow…there will be gnashing of teeth.
Randar, who refuses to capitulate, gathers what’s left of the living outside of Uldrame for one last stand. With defeat, imminent and their backs to the wall, Randar gambles his life as well as those he loves on one last hope.
Can the heart of a naive young girl sway the face of death? Can Orian be saved…or is it already too late?
Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook
When hunky, eighteen-year-old Travis Kurth lures his sister Bekka to assist him and his friends in an online game, he has no idea that all their lives are about to change… forever. Ripped from reality by an elemental force of nature, the party of five soon wake in a beautiful, but dangerous, new world called Orian.
Bekka, who is suffering from a genetic disease, the same malady that killed their mother, finds herself in complete remission, but there’s little time to celebrate as one, then another of their party falls prey to this unforgiving land.
Rescued from death by a battalion of human soldiers under the leadership of Vallas Onisquase, Crown Prince of Adosarath, Bekka discovers that in Orian refuge comes at a steep price. The arrogant, dangerously handsome Vallas, beguiled by Bekka’s beauty, sets in motion a plan to make her his own, but the royal entourage falls under attack by a blood-thirsty humanoid faction called Vadarcs.
Abducted, Bekka finds herself deep in Vadarc territory with no chance of rescue. Leashed like an animal, abused, humiliated and placed on an auction block, she is purchased by blood and gold to become the property of Randar Ataurik, a humanoid, tusked, barbarian, Vadarc prince.
Vallas who is obsessed with his newly betrothed, demands her return but Randar, in the long held tradition of Vadarcs, has bound her by blood.
As the winds of war sweep the land, Bekka finds herself in a deadly triangle.
Embellished is the first book in an epic, paranormal romance.
Posted in Interviews
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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside your favorite video game? Karen Glista’s novel, Embellished, the first novel in The Chronicles of Orian trilogy, takes us on a wild ride with a story about teens who find themselves inside the world of the M.M.O.R.P.G. game, The Battle of Orian. While playing the game during a lightning storm, Bekka, Travis, and Matt are suddenly transported into the antiquated world of Orian. Bekka, a teen suffering from a rare genetic disease, finds herself fully healed from her earthly ailments and rises up the royal rankings. Meanwhile, her brother, Travis, and his friend Matt continually search for an escape back to Earth. Their only hope for escaping this world is finding the only other human from Earth, also trapped in the game, before they’re all killed by dangerous creatures.
Embellished is so much more than a fantasy/paranormal romance with a fair amount of compelling, steamy scenes. Embellished transcends genre boundaries through incorporating elements of adventure, suspense, and gruesome battle scenes. What makes it even more exciting to read is the development of its deeply complex characters and intricately woven plot with twists that’ll leave you gasping.
The novel opens with a group of teens playing The Battle of Orian on a stormy night in Texas, when lightning strikes their home and catapults the teens into the world of the game. Little do they know that their real-life bodies on Earth are rapidly deteriorating. Luckily, they know how to defeat evil spiders, bears, and violent Vadarcs, a sub-human species.
While the novel begins by focusing on Travis, who becomes the leader of the group, the perspective shifts to his sister, Bekka. She starts as a somewhat timid, soft-spoken individual, as her body on Earth was ravaged by the rare Marfan’s disease, but once she begins to find her voice, Bekka truly blossoms into a bold, outspoken, and open-minded heroine. I thought that it made the story so much more compelling to give Bekka these strong character traits, since it added suspense to the decisions she had to make.
Glista does a great job of capturing the inner feelings that any person would have when faced with a love triangle. Bekka befriends Atharia and even becomes betrothed to Atharia’s brother, the devastatingly handsome Vallas. But during a harrowing attack, she and Atharia are taken captive by a belligerent Vadarc tribe. After she meets Zandar, a half-Human Vadarc who exudes masculinity and passionate sensuality, Bekka wonders if she can ever go back to her life with Vallas again. She has the chance to choose between Vallas and Zandar – attracted to the different qualities within both men, she is torn between her desire for passionate, romantic love, or for safety and security.
Glista also masterfully incorporates multiple themes that add multiple layers to the novel. For example, Bekka discovers that there are deeply entrenched discriminatory practices between the Humans and Vadarcs, and after learning the history of the Vadarcs, Bekka begins to preach open-mindedness to her Human friends. I thought this was an extremely vital and current theme to have as it relates pretty directly to racial issues within today’s world.
As the first novel in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy, Embellished provides a bit of closure at the end, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens to Bekka, Travis, and Matt in the next installment.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B01M5BZVQ1
Posted in Book Reviews, Three Stars
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