Misty Hayes, author of The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1, is handing readers a unique take on the vampire stories of late. Her main character and narrator, Larna Collins, relates a tale deeply woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. Larna, quite the social outcast in her high school, graduates and embarks immediately on a mission to find her estranged father in England. Using her father’s journals and her own burning desire to find answers to her endless string of questions about his sudden disappearance, she leaves Texas just as her lifelong friend, Corinth, reveals his desire to be more than a tried-and-true confidante.
The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 is written to appeal to young adult readers, but is so exceptionally written and full of wit and wisdom it easily resonates with a much larger audience. The idea of the socially downtrodden heroine is not a new one, but Hayes manages, quite successfully, to fashion Larna Collins into character unlike any readers will encounter within other books in the same genre. Larna is thoughtful, and the reader is privy to all of her emotions, anxiety, and, ultimately, her pride and power.
Character development appears to be Hayes’s forte. Dropping little hints throughout the plot, the author draws robust images of each character from Paul the Volkswagen/taxicab-driving vampiric sidekick to Gabriel–the devil incarnate. Each of Hayes’s characters adds a rich element to the story, and she masters the plot twist with the best of the action/adventure writers out there.
Hayes provides a captivating mixture of budding romance and action sequences. In addition, she takes literary risks with her characters’ fates. She, by no means, sticks with what the reader expects. At every turn, Hayes delivers something new and unexpected, but more than appreciated. The tension between Corinth and Larna and the ever-present question of romance between Larna and Alastair keep the reader guessing from beginning to end.
Hayes offers an originality with her presentation of the vampire tale. She successfully juxtaposes the deteriorating architecture of old England with present-day Texas and tosses in a healthy amount of technology and modern references–all easily within the schema of the young adult audience. Those expecting to find the vampires of the Twilight series will be pleasantly surprised to find a quite different vamp sketched before them as Hayes offers up a down-to-earth creature with far-reaching abilities and deep-rooted emotions.
I am giving The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Hayes offers a well-written, smooth read which mesmerizes readers from the first paragraphs. The relatable struggles of its main character, Larna, take an unexpected turn early on and pull readers in for a ride like no other. Hayes will soon find herself with a growing fan base yearning for more from Larna and her crew. By giving her audience the story they want with a cast of characters far-removed from those of the typical vampire tales, Hayes has succeeded in paving the way for her band of outcasts.
Pages: 356 | ASIN: B077XL9WHH
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Karly is a medium hired to get rid of a ghost haunting an Inn but is caught between her job, the sexy innkeeper, and her painful past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The hero, Thayne Harper, heir to one of the largest hotel chains in the country comes from a world of wealth and privilege. His inn is a reflection of his upbringing. Karly, on the other hand, has had to work and struggle her whole life. When she has no choice but to move into the inn to banish the ghost, she becomes a fish out of water, which leaves her feeling vulnerable and brings up past insecurities and doubts. I think everyone can relate to being in such an uncomfortable position on some level. From there, I try to add in as much conflict as possible by using the ‘what if’ factor. What if someone that didn’t believe in ghosts found himself living in a haunted inn? What if there was this intense chemistry pulsing between him and the medium he was forced to hire to banish said ghost? The more ‘what if’s’ I add to the mix, the more dimensions it lends to the characters. The goal is torture them through this journey before they reach that HEA. Hopefully, it’s what makes readers turn the pages long into the night.
The relationship between Karly and Thayne is visceral and sultry. How did you develop their relationship and what themes did you want to capture?
I do a lot or prewriting beforehand but the relationship really took shape as I wrote the story. The physical attraction between the two polar opposites was undeniable and so fun to write! Granted, it was not love at first sight, but it was incredible lust at first sight, which I do believe in, the kind of chemistry with another person that literally knocks you on your ass. In terms of a theme, I wanted to really drive home the concept of letting go of the past before you can move forward. Both characters are holding onto past wounds that prevent them from ever fully committing to another person. Only when both have worked through their issues are they able to finally come together and open themselves up to love.
This is a fantastic romance novel, but I also enjoyed the paranormal-horror aspect that really increased the tension. Where did the idea for the ghost come from and how did it change as you wrote?
The idea for the ghost is actually based on two separate ghost stories combined into one. A friend once told me about a custom home that was built by his step father as a present to his mother. He had pieces flown in from a very old estate in England. Apparently, some of those pieces came with a ghost that floated through the walls of the house and left cold spots in his room. The Logan inn in New Hope, which is featured in the first chapter of HAUNTED has been known to have a resident ghost that resides in room number six I incorporated certain nuisances and interesting details about that ghost into the story. The ghost changed as I wrote mainly due to the fact that I had to create a believable backstory for her, so the reader understands what caused her to become this way. Yes, she’s a villain, but she was also a victim in her time as well. I actually wrote a short story from the ghost’s point of view to make sure her motivations were warranted. When you truly understand what she’s been through you can then empathize with her story. I had to add layers to make her a three dimensional character. I’ve been asked by many readers to know more about her and where she came from. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a novella for the ghost of Emily and you will really get to see her story.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a three book series at the moment. It’s a contemporary revolving around three best friends, all who are navigating high-powered careers and love in the Big Apple. I cannot say at this point, but you will be the first to know! Thank you Literary Titan so much for having me!
When medium Karly Matthews agrees to move into a haunted inn, she’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the ghost or the sexy innkeeper she tries to resist. She can’t deny the intense rush of desire she feels every time he’s near. When she agrees to embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, she finds herself thrust into a world of mind-blowing pleasures. Now she must face the aching truths of her past.
Hotel heir Thayne Harper has a laser-like focus on success that doesn’t include the help of his family. He’s always been the black sheep, living in the shadow of his dead brother. His dreams are put to the test when a supernatural entity threatens to ruin everything. The one bright spot is the woman who intrigues his mind and heats his blood. If only he can convince her that, despite his bad-boy ways, he can change for the good. Her love becomes his only salvation. Passion burns white-hot as a dark threat looms. The ghost doesn’t want them to be together and sets her sights on Thayne, luring him to a place that goes beyond death. Will Karly be able to save him before it’s too late?
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The Nightbreaker is a short but welcome sojourn into the world of the Gods and Men Cycle series by Kristopher Jerome. Following a paladin by the name of Daniel, we first are introduced into the conflict between the gods of darkness and gods of light and the conflict that is played out on the Mortal plane. Daniel is part of a mission that goes awry, but learns of a terrible new champion of darkness, Rexin the Blasted. As the story unfolds, Daniel bands together with other brave souls who seek out and stop this terrible menace, otherwise the mortal plane will be swallowed by darkness.
The pacing of Jerome’s novella is spot on, although sword & sorcery novels are often quicker paced. The first battle of the story takes place only a few pages in and I was immediately taken in by the action and everything that Daniel saw as he fought bravely through the demons. The setting is not overly elaborate, especially with the clashing of light and dark. The simplicity of the premise will leave fans of stories like Game of Thrones and others wanting more. But in it’s brevity lie its virtues, The Nightbreaker is a great read for an afternoon of leisure.
The descriptions that Jerome uses is rich and quite cinematic and I enjoyed the writing the most when details were delved into. The main character of Daniel is fun to read about, but begs to be developed further with some character-defining internal dialogue. The narrative is much more “show” rather than “tell” which I happen to enjoy. The story is often punctuated with a bit of action, which saves the stories pace and kept my interest.
With all of this considered, The Nightbreaker is a great introduction to the world of mortals and Gods that Jerome has created. The struggle between paladins, demons, and seraphs is a supernatural backdrop to classic fantasy tropes. This novella will please any reader of classic fantasy or the supernatural, who also enjoys action, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil. At 78 pages, it’s well worth your time.
Pages: 78 | ASIN: B071HPDQXN
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Once Upon a Time Slip, written by Lisa Nicell Treanor, is about a nineteen-year-old woman by the name of China Winter. China must escape the rise of the supernatural and the demands of a potential war by travelling with her grandfather to Liverpool to start a new life. But there are new dangers that lurk within the streets of Liverpool with threats of time slips and repercussions from the government on the forefront of every mind. Time wars develop, throwing China’s plans to find her missing brother out the window as she battles a world where being erased from existence is just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
China is an orphan and was raised by her inventor and toy maker grandfather, Clarence Winter. The story is set in 2258 so prepare for a whirlwind of futuristic scenarios- from mechanical hearts to humanoids to rewiring of the human soul. The future is here, and so is the potential for time travel. However, some problems can cause irreversible results. With real-life inventors like Nikola Tesla being incorporated into the plot line, be prepared for a magnitude of exciting inventions, creations and scientific discoveries.
Even though the story is set in the future, there are still elements of present/past issues. For example, with a war looming there are whispers of conscription with continuous pressure being pushed by the government. Some of the characters have mechanical body parts which still leaves them wondering who they are, how do they fit in, and what is the meaning of their life. I enjoyed the aspects of the past intertwined into the future as it gave the novel a sense of realism and was a reminder that our past mistakes tend to be repeated in society.
Lisa Nicell Treanor paints beautiful word pictures that gives readers an easy glimpse into the fantastical world of China Winter. I really enjoyed the level of detail in this story. There were so many suspenseful and even fun moments that were really brought to life by the vivid imagery. All of this lends to an intriguing and magical plot line that is punctuated with wild and creative inventions.
Abductions, soldiers and poltergeists come together to create an action-packed plot, all creating a sense of urgency and suspense throughout the story. Once upon a Time Slip is a unique time travel story that will open your mind to strange possibilities. If you’re looking for an exciting novel with a strong sense of adventure, then look no further.
Pages: 369 | ASIN: B077BRTDF3
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Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?
Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.
Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature. The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.
I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.
The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.
The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?
Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.
The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.
I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?
Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.
It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.
Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.
I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future?
I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.
In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.
In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.
While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.
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“I’m not sure, but judging by our choices in literature, I think this makes us polar opposites.”
Karly Matthews has no idea how much truth there is to her statement after she first encounters Thayne Harper at a networking event: She is a medium, struggling to keep her store open after making enemies with a powerful executive set on destroying her career after Karly helps his wife leave him; Thayne is a skeptic, the descendant of a wealthy family in the hotel industry. Both, however, share a sizzling physical attraction for each other, as well as dark secrets that make it impossible for them to get close to anyone. Will Karly be able to keep her heart safe when she is hired to chase away a spirit haunting the bed and breakfast that Thayne is opening, especially when her job forces her to live under the same roof as him?
The plot of Haunted, written by Shari Nichols, is driven by a few different story lines. There, of course, is the romantic and professional tension between Karly and Thayne, and with that, many heated love scenes unfold that are sure to make one’s toes curl. Then there are the insecurities that Karly faces, having been in a serious relationship that ended so badly that she is quick to react jealously and expect the worst from men, especially Thayne, who is naturally charismatic and has had a reputation for courting many women. As difficult as it is for Karly to trust Thayne, he also cannot open up to her, having suffered the loss of someone close to him. He is under a lot of pressure to prove himself to his father, with whom he is estranged, by ensuring that his first hotel opening is successful. Unfortunately, a ghost seems set on sabotaging his plans.
While the story focuses mostly on Karly, as well as Thayne, there’s a lot happening in the novel, and details that are relevant to understanding their history are vague or not revealed until much later. This makes it difficult to fully empathize with Karly in her hesitation to start a relationship with Thayne. Karly’s fears of falling for Thayne would be more believable if she and Thayne would explain why they have such strong feelings for each other, besides the physical attraction they feel.
It is the mystery surrounding this ghost that is most interesting in Haunted. While Karly and Thayne are both dynamic characters who are easy to like, their romance is predictable, though entertaining to witness. The ghost haunting the Molverton Inn is complicated, seeking revenge and, at points, physically harming the people who cross her path. Karly’s job to eradicate such a stubborn spirit is not easy, and Nichols thoroughly explains the different steps a medium must take to protect the property and people, identify the spirit, and guide the spirit onto the next world. The mystery surrounding the identity of the spirit and how she became a ghost makes this book difficult to put down.
Haunted has many elements that make this book an exciting read. It is well-written; Nichols describes the characters and settings in a way that flows naturally with the action, and the way she paces the story builds suspense. She incorporates realistic dialogue, and the conversations between Karly and her sister are particularly witty and entertaining. Nichols creates complex characters with unique personalities, and readers cannot help but cheer on Karly in her quest to rid the Molverton Inn of a stubborn spirit and find happiness with Thayne.
Pages: 329 | ASIN: B077RMGLDM
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Keep the lights on when you read this book! Sour Lake Or, The Beast will transport you back in time to East Texas, 1911. Chapter one is called Pray, and that is your only warning of what is to lie ahead. A brutal and gruesome death of the young school teacher Lenard Dalchau leads you into the world of this small Texas county of Ochiltree. Prejudice and racism run high and the locals want this death solved and forgotten quick. Reeves Duncan, the sheriff however isn’t one to just jump to conclusions and hang the wrong man. Agreeing with the sheriff that this is no ordinary murder case is “Doc” Walter McDivitt that has seen enough brutality for a lifetime. These two take the lead in discovering the truth. Together they discover a truth that no one wants to hear, and no one would believe if they did.
Bruce McCandless III is a talented author that is a cross between Steven King and the voice actor Robert Clotworthy. The historical descriptions and language are offensive to modern society but are accurate for 1911. It is so clear you feel like you are really back in Texas in the early 1900’s and living with this society. I’m not typically a person that enjoys horror novels because my imagination will just keep me up all night with every bump in the dark. McCandless however has written a story so engaging I couldn’t put it down. There are so many surprises in the pages it is hard to reveal much for fear of giving away the next piece of the plot. I can say I fell in love with the character of Sheriff Duncan. A man that lost his wife, became an alcoholic and overcame it. A mild mannered man that wants to be fair and not rock the boat. He does have a conscience and uses that to guide him as the story progresses, that inner instinct and unwillingness to follow a mob mentality. Sheriff Duncan believes in facts, and even when those facts point to things that should not be real he doesn’t discredit it. When all is said and done, he just wants to walk away. But how can you walk away from the nightmares he endured?
This is a novel you just can’t put down, it will draw in readers that like historical fiction, horror, a little sci-fi and a lot of action and gore. All the main characters are given rich back stories so you feel you really know who they are and how they ended up in Ochiltree County. The story line is unique and completely original probably because of when it takes places. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that needs an escape from modern drama, this book will take you away and make you think, as well as surprise you from one chapter to the next.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B06XR9T91W
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Invasion, by Roxanne Bland is a blend of werewolf, vampire, fantasy and sci-fi genres, set in the modern world. We follow Kurt, a vampire, Garrett, a mage, and Parker Berenson, the alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack. They become bound together, despite their struggles and differences in the face of an alien invasion that brings Melera, an old flame of Parker’s, back into the mix. Mag Beloc bursts onto the scene as the real cause of the invasion, who commands a fleet of warships in pursuit of the intergalactic assassin, Melera. And so all the pieces fall into place that make for an interesting narrative as the comrades deal with the magic that binds them and the insurmountable odds of an alien invasion force on Earth.
Roxanne Bland’s novel blends many genres but, overall, follows similar beats that are pretty familiar to science fiction adventure novels. This story stays colorful with it’s interesting use of vampires and werewolves, but at the core of the story, you still have a tale of heroes struggling against one another and the external forces lining up against them.
The novels strengths lie with it’s well developed characters and their relationships rather than the premise. Kurt, Garrett, and Parker are all fun and dynamic characters. Whether it’s spicy dialogue or intriguing interactions, the well rounded characters are the most appealing aspect of this novel. Although the plot left me wanting more, these character can be anywhere and still be interesting.
The novel has a lot of telling rather than showing as well as descriptions that tend to weigh the action down, making the overall pacing slow. This is something that many readers revel in, but with a plot that involves vampires and werewolves battling aliens! I thought it would faster. I will say there are some really great action scenes as well as a steamy sex scene, so if you consider yourself mature, then this novel is for you.
All in all, if such a wild blend of genres is your thing then this is the book for you. Science fiction fans may find themselves most at home in this world, but fantasy fans will want in as well. Either way, Invasion is sure to please pulp readers of all stripes.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0774LYZT9
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William Corgel is a clairvoyant medium who is hubris, doubts his faith and a heavy drinker who finds comfort in pills. Believing there is nothing he can’t handle he soon finds himself in a home with a demonic presence and the possession of a teenage girl.The demon continually taunts and attacks him while claiming to know William’s suppressed childhood memory centered on his mother.
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Into the Night, by Jerry J.C. Veit, is a play featuring an unlikely pairing of main characters who have set out on a journey together to battle the barbarians making their own way across the countryside. While on their mission, Samuel and Valencia are simultaneously fighting to save themselves from two ruthless vampires hellbent on destroying them both. Valencia’s past with Isabella, one of the vampires pursuing them, her knowledge of vampires and their habits, and her well-honed fighting skills drive her desire to set out on this dangerous trek across the English countryside. Samuel, unknowingly, has agreed to a trip that will change the course of his life.
This piece by Jerry Veit reads smoothly and much more like a narrative than a play. In fact, I found myself often forgetting that I was indeed reading a drama rather than a fantasy in narrative form. Veit has included a good bit of narrative which helps to set extremely vivid scenes and helps the reader visualize the intensity of the protagonists’ multiple encounters with the vampires and the barbarians.
As for the two different plot lines within the play, I found the vampires’ appearances throughout the story to be somewhat less than I had expected. The bulk of their interactions seem to be at the beginning of the play. I was much more interested in the plot involving our heroes and the vile vampires, Isabella and Cerbera. Though the barbarians involvement in the plot was important, well-drawn out, and wrapped up neatly, I would have preferred to have read less of the main characters’ plight with them.
Regarding the author’s style and chosen genre for this story, I felt it would have read wonderfully as a novel. Veit is adept at writing narrative description of time and place. He also gives his characters memorable lines, both dramatic and comedic. This work could translate easily to stage or to a full-length novel. I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia.
Valencia herself is an enigma, and Veit has written her character amazingly well. His introduction of her in Act I leads the reader down a path of assumptions about both her nature and her abilities. Veit works her expertise with weaponry into the plot in a satisfying fashion leaving no room for doubt about her from that point on in the plot. As the reader, I was as surprised as Samuel to find her so skilled and, later, to discover the reasons behind her competence in battle.
Without giving away too much of the play, I must comment on the conclusion. Being one of the readers wrapped up in the parallel story line involving Samuel and Valencia, I would like to have read more about the search for Samuel in the last act. I won’t say more. (Readers will know what I mean.) It has the makings of a strong act of its own leading to the conclusion.
I give Into the Night, by Jerry J.C. Veit, 5 out of 5 stars. I am not one to enjoy plays, but as I said, this one reads more like a narrative and has all the hallmarks of a vivid, well-thought through, detailed fantasy. Veit has managed to set his story in England in the 1300’s, giving readers who prefer that historical feel to their vampire tales something in which to revel. His characters, both heroes and villains, are memorable and leave the reader wishing for more–always the true sign of great work.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B00Q1P3U2I
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