Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: July 31st, 2017
Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review of a book… what can I say except life is rough sometimes lol? But man, am I glad that I took the time out to review this book. First, the premise really got me! One of my majors is anthropology so I’ve come across a lot of genie or jinn myths but not many written literary stories that are as intriguing as the myth itself. This book captured that intrigue. I also found the writing style and POV to be unique and executed excellently. It is not a common choice so originally, I was thrown off but as the story progressed it worked well to tell the story and explain much of what was happening. While this is not the first book I’ve read that is written in this way, the number of stories that do it well are low so it was a refreshing experience for me as a long-time reader. In addition to a pretty amazing storyline and writing style, I loved the characters who felt tangible and relatable even in a fantastical setting and story.
While there is romance in this story, it is not the main focal point and it does not distract from the main story and serves as a nice added bonus. I honestly can’t say enough about this book except, read it and decide for yourself!
About the Author
Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.
Michael F. Haspil
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Goodreads Rating: 3.68
My Rating: 4.5
Police procedurals go supernatural in this gritty urban fantasy debut
Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, who was born in ancient Rome, once hunted evil vampires for UMBRA, a super-secret unit of the NSA. That was before the discovery of a blood substitute and a Supreme Court ruling allowed thousands of vampires to integrate into society.
Now, Alex and Marcus are vice cops in a special police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.
When someone starts poisoning the artificial blood, race relations between vampires and humans deteriorate to the brink of anarchy. While the city threatens to tear itself apart, Alex and Marcus must form an unnatural alliance with a vigilante gang and a shape-shifter woman in a desperate battle against an ancient vampire conspiracy.
If they succeed, they’ll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen.
My take on the book:
As a native Miami girl, I was pretty excited that this story took place in my hometown. Cities like Doral, Coral Gables and Wynwood helped add to the character of the story and give the setting a nice visual for me. As for the characters, I normally reach for books with female leads since I can relate to them more but the characters of Alex/Menakaure and Marcus were solid characters with well-developed backstories. I enjoyed the whole mystery aspect of the story even if I did see many of “twists” coming. I honestly found this story to be a breath of fresh air in the vampire genre. Adding a pharaoh turned reanimated mummy into the mix as the lead character as opposed to the vamp was a great move and helped make the story so interesting.
Throughout the story, I caught myself reading too much into Alex’s interactions with other characters and expecting a “romance” as I have come to expect this of many urban fantasy books, especially the ones with vampires in the mix. I was pleasantly surprised, that while there is a slight mention of relations, there is no actual romance in this book. Whether this story is a one off or part of a series I feel like that was a bold move to make and it paid off. Sure, Alex could go on to build romantic relations in future books if the author so chooses to continue these characters’ stories but the fact that it was not introduced in this one makes this story stand out from the others like it in this genre.
My only slight complaint was how Miami itself was portrayed. While I enjoyed the mention of these larger cities and it helped me to envision the setting while reading, I felt like there was too much focus on the bigger, more popular cities and gave the setting a staleness that I wish hadn’t occurred. I felt like facts were being spouted and less imagery was given which made some of the setting come off a dry. Some of it just didn’t read as true. But honestly it was not enough to distract from an otherwise stellar novel.
About The Author
Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he had the opportunities to serve as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch director at Cape Canaveral. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul.
When he isn’t writing, you can find him sharing stories with his role-playing group, cosplaying, computer gaming, or collecting and creating replica movie props. Lately, he devotes the bulk of his hobby time to assembling and painting miniatures for his tabletop wargaming addiction.
Michael is represented by Sara Megibow of the KT Literary Agency and Adrian Garcia of the Paradigm Talent Agency.
He has collected and made replica movie props for over twenty years and enjoys the way a particular collectible lets an individual connect with a meaningful story.
He spends entirely too much time gaming or thinking (some might say ‘scheming’) about strategies and tactics in all kinds of gaming be it board games, computer games, or his passion, tabletop wargaming. He devotes the largest share of the gaming pie to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game. He has collected and played Grey Knights, Space Marines, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Necrons, and Space Wolves. Michael is a regular contributor to “The Long War” a premiere podcast and webcast dedicated to tabletop gaming, but especially to Warhammer 40,000.
Photo Content from Michael F. Haspil
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“I received a free copy of the book from the author/publisher for my honest opinion. I was in no way compensated for this review and all opinions are expressly my own”
The Neverland Wars
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 3.48
My Rating: 4.5
However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.
When it comes to my sister and I, we couldn’t be more different. The same could be said about Rosemary and Gwen, the 2 sisters in this book. My sister is “dead inside” – her words not mine lol – and I am a bleeding heart. But even with our differences,there are some similarities and a connection you can only find with siblings. We annoyingly finish each other’s sentences or blurt out the same sarcastic thoughts. It’s a bond that comes for a lifetime of each other’s influence.
So being the bleeding heart that I am, I am not ashamed to admit that I did my fair share of sniffling in this book. It’s not a sad tale at all. At least not as far as I can tell but there are some inevitable moments where adulthood and reality rush in and damage the beauty and innocence of being a child. To me that was the most profound message in this book. But like many would say… no one in the world reads the same book, so it is likely that no one else will see what I see when I’m taken on this marvelous journey.
It was an extremely well written book and the beginning of what I can only assume is a new and unique series. I loved every minute of this book; and let me be clear, I devoured this book in what felt like minutes. There was strong character development, imagery, scenery.laughter and sadness and even a bit of envy while reading this book… in my opinion all the things that make a book more than just good, but great.
My only real complaint was the open ended final chapter. If this is indeed the beginning of a series, it’s a good way to gather more readers since you are literally left thinking ‘what the heck just happened’.
It’s interesting because other than some internal conflict and the mention of a war and a few moments that reflect that war, there was really no conflict. No clear “villain”and no clear “resolution” and yet I love this book. It’s odd because that’s nothing at all like me. I usually need a clear beginning, middle and end with all the fixings, and while the story itself was easy to follow it almost came off as a steady stream of information. With the book being called the Neverland Wars, I kind of expected a bit more conflict. But regardless it was an enjoyable read that likes to poke at emotions.
Audrey Greathouse is a Seattle-based author of science-fiction and fantasy. Raised in the suburbs, she became a writer after being introduced to NaNoWriMo during her sophomore year of high school. Since then, she has drafted more than a dozen books, 100 sonnets, and 800 other poems, and a handful of short stories and one-act plays.
After dropping out of her university and beginning training as a circus performer on the aerial silks, she returned to school to study at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education to earn her B.A. in English Language and Literature, with a minor in Computer Information Technologies.
Audrey Greathouse is a die-hard punk cabaret fan, and pianist of fourteen years. She’s usually somewhere along the west coast, and she is always writing.
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