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
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
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.
Having been homeschooled until now, Maeleigh is nervous about starting at her new high school. She knew things would be different, but there was no way to prepare her for Gearden. Nor was she prepared to hear his voice in her head. Born deaf, she hasn’t heard anyone’s voice clearly before so why now? And how?!
That’s not the only weird thing going on in town. There’s a whole other society living amongst the norm. And she’s not just thrust into it, he tells her she’s a part of it, too. If that wasn’t enough, she now has to deal with someone out to harm the people she’s come to call family. Only, there are still too many secrets for her to navigate all that’s happening and know who to trust.
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.
Darrell Henshaw is the keeper of many secrets–most of which are not entirely his own. When he decides to make a change and accept a job in a new school, he fully expects to leave all of his ghosts behind–literally. Entering this new school and beginning the season as the coach of Wilshire, Maryland’s high school football team, should be an exciting time for Darrell, but his past and present are now blurring together. He finds himself in the throes of researching the decades old story of a suicide that took place at the school. In addition, Darrell finds himself dredging up memories that might better be left alone.
Randy Overbeck’s Blood on the Chesapeake follows main character, Darrell Henshaw, on an epic journey of historic proportions as he tackles racial injustice and attempts to correctly label a suicide as a murder. With pertinent mentions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, Overbeck has crafted a murder mystery for the ages that encourages readers to investigate their own feelings regarding social injustices.
Overbeck could not have taken a more perfect route than the diary he opted to have Darrell find and peruse. Kelly’s diary is not only the most telling sign that Hank was murdered, it is also an amazing glimpse into life in the 60s and a sure sign that desegregation was, in many areas of the US, as violently protested as it ever was decades prior. The readings of the diary by Darrell and Erin, his love interest, make the book. I could almost smell the mildewed pages, and I felt the characters’ frustration as they battled through the diary’s pages to piece together the mystery that is Kelly and Hank’s fates.
Overbeck’s pace is spot on and makes for a thoroughly engaging and quick read. With no excessive filler material, the author moves seamlessly from one tragic event and clue to the next. Overbeck makes readers yearn for closure.
One of the most amazing aspects of Overbeck’s work is the way in which he conveys the characters’ feelings toward racism. Blood on the Chesapeake is not a book to be enjoyed; it is a book to appreciate for the reminders it provides readers. With mentions of lynchings and the KKK leading up to the setting of this book, and Overbeck gives readers a clear look at the way racism and bigotry continued to leak far beyond the bounds of the deep South even after desegregation began to make its way across the US.
Though the book is clearly focused on events from the 60s via Kelly’s diary, the plot is timely considering the state of today’s world. Readers will find themselves quickly caught up in Darrell’s descriptions of his ghostly encounters and eagerly awaiting each and every clue.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B07N3BZBPR
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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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Bound Darkly is an exciting paranormal fantasy novel. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the story?
After I finished writing Enchanted Darkly, the question of Hueil’s backstory wouldn’t leave me alone. Why was he exiled by King Melwas and how was he going to step back into a life and a world he’d been forced away from after so many years? I knew his exile and Jennifer had changed him on a fundamental level and I wanted to explore that dilemma. Sinnie’s character and the close connection to Jennifer was a secret that I also wanted to explain. Why did Jennifer, a light court halfling, make such an impression on Hueil? And how was Hueil’s courtship of Sinnie, a seelie, going to play out? All these characters were so well defined for me that Bound Darkly was one of the easiest books for me to write. For the most part, all I had to do was stand back and let the characters tell me what happened next.
What was one of the hardest parts in Bound Darkly for you to write?
The hardest parts of Bound Darkly to write were the scenes where Hueil’s self-destructive nature gets in the way of his and Sinnie’s budding romance. His doubts and inability to trust all things seelie were reoccurring obstacles for him. There were times I, like Sinnie, just wanted to slap him when his stubborn nature kicked in. But next to Crank, whose story is told in the fifth book, Hueil is my favorite Darkly Series character. His story arc is the longest in the series. He goes from being the villain in Enchanted to redeemed hero in Bound. And then in Kept Darkly, he rises to become the Unseelie king.
How did you create Sinnie and Hueil’s characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Since Hueil’s character was fully formed by the time I started Bound, it was Sinnie’s character that I spent the most effort in creating. She needed to be as unusual a seelie as Hueil’s unseelie character. She also needed to be a challenge to win, on both a social and personal level. I wanted her strong enough to stand up to Hueil and a proven warrior in her own right. Someone whose skills he could learn to respect. They needed to meet as equals. I knew that a damsel in distress would never appeal to Hueil. I also wanted Sinnie’s backstory to contrast sharply with the struggles of Hueil’s unseelie life. In the end, Hueil has to learn to trust while Sinnie has to find a way to see beyond the crimes of his past, past her right and wrong thinking to a place of understanding and acceptance.
This is book two in the Darkly series. What can readers expect in book three?
Book three, Kept Darkly, is where I explore Sel’s story. From the first two books, readers know that Sel is the Seelie Queen’s captain and Sinnie’s father. But what they will discover is that the captain has secrets and suppressed longings that have been pushed aside in the name of duty to queen and the Seelie Court. I will also take the reader into one of the many god realms in book three, delve deeper into the conflicts of the fey courts, and reveal the final fate of the fabled Absent King.
Sinnie has lived a secure, uniquely privileged life in the Seelie Court of Tir na n-Og. For as long as she can remember, her doting father, Sel, son of Selgi, has been the Captain of the Queen’s Guard. She cannot imagine the dark warrior prophesied for her future by the meddling goddess Blodeuwedd. Nevertheless, Sinnie’s fate is forever sealed the day the goddess whispers the riddle into her child’s ear. He would be a warrior born of the dark, raised by the despised, and tempered by the unlikely – and he would be Sinnie’s only chance at true love.
After spending nearly a thousand years exiled in the world of men, Hueil, son of Caw, has returned to the Dark Court of the unseelie to find much has changed in his homeland. The restoration of his name and his new duties at court should have brought him satisfaction, but the many years of banishment and Jennifer Mackell have changed him. Unable to name the yearning that now plagues him, Hueil travels back to Jen’s cottage to seek answers. What he finds is Sinnie, a seelie warrior who is both fire and flame, and a woman who might very well be the death of him – if he is lucky.
“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
Ena and her father are coping with multiple sudden changes in life as they have known it for centuries. They are giving up Ena’s younger siblings, and they are watching as the age-old practice of the pleasure dens are done away with. Nothing is as it should be in their world. When Ena is approached by Blodeuwedd, the matchmaking goddess, to run what she describes as a simple errand, Ena takes the opportunity. Little does she realize that agreeing to help Blodeuwedd will lead her to some of the most challenging moments of her life while opening her eyes to her true self.
Tarrant Smith jumps right into the action with Resurrected Darkly. From the first pages, the reader is swept into Ena’s world and given a myriad of clues as to her origins. Ena’s willingness to appease the goddess, Blodeuwedd, and venture into a strange castle alone make her an appealing character and one worth calling a favorite. Readers following Smith’s Darkly series will be pleased to see that Ena, in previous books, is the focus of this installment. As intriguing as her character is in the previous books, Ena endears herself to readers with the unique characteristics she possesses as both a dragon and fey.
I was excited to see Crank as the male focus in this book. I tend to gravitate toward secondary characters in novels, and Crank is one who caught my eye in previous books. His gruff demeanor and bluntness add an element of humor to Smith’s books. Crank, however, takes a dark turn in Resurrected Darkly. Readers will hurt for him as he faces a struggle beyond anything he has faced before. The guilt he bears is overwhelming and has grown into a burden that is almost more than he is able to bear.
Smith includes descriptions of “the enchanted” in her work; humans who have been taken into the fey realm to serve the fey. They seem to live simple lives, almost robotic, but their roles are quite complex. Ena, who has more of an affinity for the enchanted than most, shows actual emotion over the enchanted.
I found Resurrected Darkly to be the most engaging of the books in the series. The dynamic between Ena and Crank is simply enchanting. The impact that Ena, a hardened soul herself, has on the tormented Crank is just short of miraculous. I enjoyed watching the growth that took place between the two.
Smith brings together a multitude of characters from the first four books of her Darkly series as she heals one of her most engaging characters from an unspeakable trauma. Readers who enjoyed the first four Darkly books will be more than pleased with Smith’s fifth installment–a fantastic addition to the romantic fantasy series.
Pages:282 | ASIN: B07NMKM7CH