Book Review: Vampire Royals (Books 1-3) by Leigh Walker

About the Books:

Book 1: The Pageant

The Pageant (Vampire Royals #1)

Who’s the fairest of them all?
Young women from every settlement in the land are being handpicked to enter The Pageant, a beauty contest reminiscent of Miss Universe from the old days. Gwyneth West’s social-climbing mother wants her to compete, by Gwyn isn’t so sure…
The Pageant is government-sponsored. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, participation is mandatory. Aggressive competition is allowed, even encouraged.

And then there’s the prize…
The winner of The Pageant gets a marriage proposal from Dallas Black, otherwise known as The Dark Prince. Dallas is the son of King Black, who won the last world war and now governs the new settlements. The Royal Family is mysterious. Rumor has it they don’t sleep. Rumor has it they eschew the sun.
Rumor has it they’re immortal.
When Gwyn is thrust into The Pageant, she fights to survive the competitive nature of the other contestants.
But even if wins…can she survive a vampire fiancé?

 

Book 2: The Gala

The Gala (Vampire Royals #2)

 

FOUR WEEKS. TWENTY CONTESTANTS. ONE PRINCE.

The Pageant is almost over, and Gwyneth West knows she can win—except the prince is a vampire, and some of the other contestants are turning out to be quite beastly.

What do you do when the person you love…might want to eat you alive?

Struggling to hold onto her position in the palace, Gwyn knows her vampire prince could slip through her fingers in an instant. And when human rebels threaten to storm the vampire royals once more, Gwyn finds herself caught between two worlds: her people, and the vampire she loves.

Leigh Walker writes action packed futuristic sci-fi, sweet romantic vampire novels, and stories that capture your heart and then make it race.

 

Book 3: The Finale

The Finale (Vampire Royals #3)

A ROYAL WEDDING IS COMING…BUT WHICH CONTESTANT WILL BE THE BRIDE?

Gwyneth West’s a finalist in The Pageant, the dating competition that’s gripping the settlements. Down to the final week, the dashing Prince Dallas Black will choose one young woman as his fiancé.
One small issue: Gwyneth’s a human and the prince is a vampire. What’s worse? Gwyneth’s family are sworn rebels, out to take back the settlements and overthrow the crown. What’s worse than that? Gwyn’s own rebel brother is a prisoner in the castle dungeons, but the king and queen don’t know his true identity.
Gwyneth and Dallas want to show the settlements that vampires and humans can live together in peace. But as their differences threaten to tear them apart, Gwyneth discovers her love puts the prince at risk.
How do you choose between love and duty?

 

My Thoughts:

This series is very similar to ‘The Selection’ series. However, there are some differences including the fact that the Prince and his family are Vampires. The author starts this off as rumors which are later shown as the truth. The concept of vampires and humans living side by side and co-existing is a strong idea that both the Prince and Gwyn, the heroine of the story, share. The story is indeed fun to read, following the very cliched concept of a competition to find the best suitor for the Prince. However, the idea behind this is to find a way to unite all the settlements and to bring peace while trying to keep the rebel groups at bay.

The synopsis of the story promises aggressive competition, but nothing about the story is aggressive. The story centers on the chemistry between the Prince and Gwyn, giving us only minor glimpses of the interactions with the other contestants. To keep in line with the contest, there are some sections of the story devoted to etiquette training and history of the kingdom and the settlements. However, there is not a lot of character development for the other girls in the story and this takes away from the main theme of the contest.

The story then continues into the two other books, focusing on the Prince’s interaction with the girls, bringing it down to the top four contestants and his relationship with his parents. Each girl is unique in her own way and it is wonderful to read about their rivalries but also about how they come together in the end. We are also provided some insight into Gwyn’s background and her family and her relationship with the King and Queen. The love and understanding that develops between her and the prince is beautiful to read about.

Overall, this series is fun and enjoyable especially for those who love the idea of vampires and human’s together, though there is not a lot of focus on the supernatural aspect of the characters. The books are short and easy to read. They can each be read in one sitting and are a good stress free read!

Book Review: Prism (The Color Alchemist #1) by Nina Walker

About the Book:

Prism (The Color Alchemist, #1)

What if color held the secrets to powerful magic?

Forced to move into the palace, Jessa begins training as a Color Alchemist under the direction of the kingdom’s most eligible bachelor, Prince Lucas. As an alchemist, Jessa must capture and harness the color of living things. Every color has a unique purpose, except red. Red is the untapped magic no one can access—until Jessa.

Prince Lucas is running out of time. His mother is deathly ill and healing magic hasn’t worked. When Lucas suspects someone is using alchemy to control her, he sets out to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

PRISM is the first installment of a unique young adult romantic fantasy series where a dystopian world with a Victorian flair meets the dynamic magic of color!

My Thoughts:

Prism by author Nina Walker introduces the reader to an intriguing concept of magic and magical abilities and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The story is well-written and fast paced, keeping the reader hooked until the very end.

We are introduced to Jessa, who accidently discovers that she is a color alchemist and tries to hide the truth from everyone. Once discovered, we come to know that she might be very powerful and is brought to the palace for training. The author introduces us to a dystopian world where the King rules the New Colony and a certain order is established. Anyone who shows an inclination towards Color Alchemy is brought to the Palace at a very young age and then undergoes rigorous training to join the Guardians of Color (GC).

Jessa faces a lot of push back from everyone at the palace including the other alchemists as she is already sixteen. It seems to be quite late for her to be here. There are many interesting characters including Sasha and Reed who are not easy to get a read on. The reader will not know what anyone’s intentions are until the very end. But, one thing is clear, Jessa is special and an asset to the King for whatever plan he has up his sleeve.

In addition, we are introduced to the Prince, who seems to have a different view of things than his father and is trying to find a way to save his mother who is quite ill. Add into the mix some chemistry between the two main characters and the author provides us with the perfect recipe for a book filled with magic, romance and a wonderfully new concept of magic drawn from colors!

The story will draw the reader in until the very end and is not without some well placed twists and turns. With everyone having their own agenda, what happens to the story and all the characters remains to be seen. This book is well worth the read and I am looking forward to finishing the series!

Book Review: The Tech by Mark Ravine

About the Book:

The Tech

Alexandra has just taken charge of her new team, a motley crew of screw-ups at the Arizona Field Office, the latest in a series of forgettable assignments. With a history of rebelling against authority and blunt speaking, she vows to change her ways and make this assignment work.

Within minutes of her taking charge, she is drawn into a bank robbery case. She leads her new team to catch the robbers but discovers that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. The very next day three girls go missing. Before they could be trafficked out of the country, she races against time to rescue them. Soon, she begins to realize that all the cases coming her way are mysteriously connected. As she unravels the threads of a massive conspiracy, she discovers that a secret organization with immense power and authority is behind these horrific crimes. Forces within the FBI thwart her every move to discover the truth. Helping her navigate this maze is the shadowy Michael Patterson. But can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? Soon, witnesses disappear, suspects are killed, with her life and the lives of her team in lethal danger. Will she come out of this alive? Will she uncover and expose this cabal? As time starts running out, Alexandra Cassidy has to evade indictment and defy death in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank Dawn Hill Publications for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Mark Ravine brings to us an action packed thriller that follows an FBI team as they solve cases and try to take down a group of bad guys.  The plot idea is brilliant and quite interesting. I enjoyed the different characters and how they come together to work as a team. There is a lot happening in the story with varying plot lines, each case leading to another.

However, I found the book to be quite long and some parts rather dull. There wasn’t a lot of detail about the cases or the view of how the bad guys pull of what they do. The focus is on the FBI team and their additional technology expert Mike who is an expert with AI. Mike could have been an interesting character, but he just comes off as a know-it-all who seems to push the team in the direction he wants to solve the cases. It does raise a lot of questions in the mind of the reader as to who the actual team leader is.

The twist at the end and the truth about Mike is quite interesting and I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the parts of the story where the team tries to work through the cases and find out who at the FBI might be trying to stop them. With some editing and re-wording, the book can be so much better as the plot is quite strong and interesting. I did enjoy this debut novel by the author, but it was a little too long for me.

I would recommend this book for fans of action-thrillers, but be prepared to spend some time on it.

Book Review: Hinterland by L.M. Brown

I was provided with a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Hinterland

 

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

My Thoughts:

Hinterland is a story of one family’s experience with mental illness as well as the choices they make and the subsequent consequences. The main protagonist Nicholas is a devoted father to his daughter Kate and takes care of her mother Kathleen. Initially we are introduced to these three characters and their neighbor, an elder woman named Tilly. She has known Nicholas since his youth. Nicholas has a strained relationship with Kathleen and we can see how that indirectly affects Kate, a five year old child at the time the story begins. We also follow along as Nicholas maneuvers his job as a taxi driver and taking care of his daughter, shielding her from anything bad as only a loving parent can do.

As the story progress, we are introduced to Ina, Tilly’s daughter and someone Nicholas has always had feelings for. With her arrival, things are set in motion as tempers run high, jealousy creeps in, doubts arise. This leads to one incident that changes all their lives. The author’s style of writing is unique and something I have not come upon very often. She leaves a lot unsaid and gives space for the reader to read between the lines and come up with their own interpretation. It’s an interesting way of handling the plot.

The characters are intriguing and I enjoyed reading about them. However, Nicholas was quite confusing and at times I did not like him. In addition, we observe as Kate grows up from a shy five year old to a rebellious teenager who does not know the truth about her mother or why she just disappears one day never to be seen again. This forms the crux of the plot leading to strained relationships and the family’s struggle to deal with the absence of Kathleen but the constant reminder that she exists/existed. I enjoyed reading about Ina and the support she provides in a quiet manner.

Though the story is slow in the first half, it picks up pace in the second half leading to an interesting open ended finish. This gives the reader space to imagine the kind of ending they want for the characters. The author has handled the concept of mental illness very well, bringing about an awareness among the readers of it’s effects on the person dealing with it as well as the effect on the people around. Even though I do have some mixed feelings about this book, I did enjoy reading it. It was a roller-coaster of emotions and finally, the truth always comes out! This book is well worth the read!

Book Blitz: In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2) by Aarti V Raman

She Hates Him But She’s In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe

Releasing on 25th October
About the Book:

When the songbird owes the business tycoon…

Former gangster, Devansh Thackeray has finally managed to carve the life he’s always aspired to.
Building a chain of seven-star hotels all over the world, a reputation for being an honest businessman…and all the women he could ask for.
Ansh’s life is perfect. Or so he thinks.
Because he is about to hit by a lightning bolt from the past that’ll make him question everything he’s worked so hard for.
And her name is Kahini Palekar.
Kahini’s life is a nightmare.
She works three jobs to pay off the loan sharks circling her.
But, Kahini doesn’t mind because she also gets to do the only thing she’s always wanted to do.
Sing.
Even if it is at a shady nightclub in the backstreets of Goa, the beach paradise of India.
Kahini’s day of reckoning arrives when Ansh arrives back in her life, right when she’s almost assaulted by the manager of the nightclub.
Ansh offers both salvation from her debt and a chance to sing at the most exclusive wedding of the decade.
But there’s just one catch.
Kahini hates Ansh’s living guts and blames him for the destruction of her life.
Even though he was the boy she once recklessly gave her heart to.
Can Ansh get to the bottom of the problems plaguing Kahini or will this songbird fly away again after repaying her debt to him?
Meet the Millionaire Foes – rising from ruin through ruthless ambition, these self-made tycoons have everything. Except, the heart of the one woman who means everything.

The Millionaire Foe Quartet series contains four steamy romances set around the world, each of which can be read as a standalone.

Read an Excerpt from In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2)

Ansh entered the bar when the lights had dimmed, already in a foul mood from the altercation he’d had outside Grungy’s.
The term “bar” was a loose translation for what the seedy confines really were. It was set in a shady part of Calangute Beach, where the locals lived. It was not the area the posh, firang tourists frequented. The air here smelled of brine and fish and cheap liquor.
The smell of the ocean was everywhere.
It was, after all, Goa the beach paradise of India.
And to everyone who came here, it promised nothing but a good time.
The patrons of Grungy’s, the small-time bar that operated till four in the morning during season, had that look about them. They were local men, embittered and looking for cheap thrills. And some willing victim to provide that for them.
Ansh knew the type. They resented the tourists for showing up and flinging their foreign currency around and expecting their silly demands of room temperature water and late-night cruises to be catered to.
And they really resented needing the silly tourists and their foreign currency too.
A classic catch-22.
But, tonight, these patrons, and that was a loose term too for what the customers of Grungy’s were, were not looking for foreign currency or cheap thrills.
They were all gathered on the rickety tables that the bar owner had graciously provided and murmuring amongst themselves while the poorly-named stage was being set up.
She was the main act tonight.
Ansh frowned and sank deeper into his chair while the bar-back set him up with a glass of the local feni – a local toddy made from fermented coconut water and rum. He frowned deeper when he saw the lipstick mark around the edge of the shot glass and gingerly cleaned the lip with his monogrammed handkerchief.
Places like these reminded Devansh Thackeray of his squalid past.
He couldn’t stand them anymore.
Then, the spotlight hit the stage. The band struck a chord and a woman in black walked up to the mike.
Ansh sat up straighter.
Was she going to start stripping or something? He hadn’t heard the best things about these places on the wharf and this one didn’t have a stellar reputation either.
And, what the hell was she doing here anyway?
He’d sent her plenty of funds seven years ago, deposited in the account her brother had set up for both of them when he had turned eighteen.
Kahini had enough money to keep her in style, because he’d instructed the company’s bankers to always replenish the funds in that account should the need ever arise. The need had never risen, to the best of his knowledge. Even though he knew the money would never bring back her dead brother.
So, was she doing this for kicks?
Some poor little rich kid slumming it thing that all the society madams were doing these days?
He honestly had no idea. And that ate at his insides, like the strength of the feni he’d gingerly taken a sip out of.
Ansh had come here to find out what the hell she’d been up to the last seven years. Since the last time he’d seen her and she’d flung bitter, accusing words at him.

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal. I have been a former journalist, editor, and even a sometime-teacher before I plunged into my dream job. That of being a full-time writer.
In fact, my three favorite words are ‘happily ever after.’
This comes in handy as I primarily write bestselling contemporary romantic women’s fiction, which is all about living happily, after going through some hard times.
My more notable works include the Geeks of Caltech and Royals of Stellangård series, Something Old, Something New, More Than You Want, and The Perfect Fake among others. My chicklit family drama, The Worst Daughter Ever, has been picked up for screen adaptation.
I always love to hang with you, my dear reader friend. I’ve created Writer Gal’s Reader Pals on Facebook for this reason and I hope to see you there.
If not, I’m there on all social media as @aartivraman but I’m most active on Instagram.
Aarti on the Web:
Newsletter * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter * Facebook Group

Book Review: The Pigeon Whisperer by Motaz H Matar

About the Book:

The Pigeon Whisperer

With war ravaging his home in Syria, Dabbour, an introverted, 25-year-old pigeon herder, flees to Berlin with Yasser, his childhood friend. Dabbour is trying to learn the ropes in this new country; while trying to learn German he’s fallen for his German teacher, Zara. One day in a Berlin train station, Dabbour sees a wayward, injured pigeon on the railway tracks; without thinking he jumps to save it, causing chaos and almost getting himself killed. For this, he is arrested by the police – and he realizes how much he misses home and his birds. Yasser asks Dabbour to use his talents as a pigeon whisperer to steal stray pigeons and train them to transport drugs. Dabbour agrees, then realizes it was a big mistake. Dabbour sinks further and further into the world of crime and drug-smuggling, jeopardizing his residency status in Germany. Dabbour is forced to choose between his loyalty to his new family – the drug ring – and doing the right thing. Will love be his ultimate salvation?

My Thoughts:

I was provided with a copy of the book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The pigeon whisperer follows Dabbour’s journey as he flees to Berlin from war-ridden Syria. This book is moving in so many ways, it brings out many emotions and makes the reader pause and think. This is a story of wanting to belong, trying to hold on to an idea of self that a person has, trying to find one’s identity and place in a new country. The author brings about a contrast in view between Dabbour and his friend Yasser. As the story progresses, we see how Dabbour is drawn into a world of crime and drug-smuggling, using his talents as a pigeon whisperer, how he tries to fight against his role in this world and the role Yasser plays in convincing him.

In this story, we meet only a few characters. They are present to give us some perspective on the story and to bring out a diversity. We have Anna, a German police officer and Zara, the German teacher, who represent the people who are native to the country. Correspondingly, we meet Mr. Salim, a fellow Syrian who has been in Germany for over twenty years and who takes an interest in Dabbour and tries to look out for him.

The story is fast paced and well-crafted, raising points that we may have contemplated at different points in our lives: What does it take to belong? How far can one go for the things or people they love? What does it take to do the right thing? and many more. These questions are very pertinent and hit very close to home.

This book is well worth the read and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

Cover Reveal: Love, Scandal, and Second Chances by Shilpa Suraj

~ Cover Reveal ~

Love, Scandal, and Second Chances
by Shilpa Suraj

 

About the Book:

Arav has only ever loved one woman, Disha. But, she broke his heart to further her ambitions.
Years later, she’s achieved everything she set out to but at a steep price. She wants to come home but home doesn’t want her and her work won’t let her.
Arav knows Disha needs his help and the boy he once was can’t walk away.
But while his heart is large enough to forgive, it hasn’t forgotten.
Can they overcome the bitter hurt of their shared past, face the scandalous present and find their way back to each other? Is this their second chance at love or a first chance at redemption?

About the Author:

 

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

Book Review: Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19) by Robyn Carr

I received an ARC of the book through NetGalley. The book was released on 13th October 2020.

About the Book:

Robyn Carr returns to the beloved town of Virgin River with a brand new story about fresh starts, new friends and the magic of Christmas.Return to Virgin River (Virgin River, #19)
Struggling with grief after the death of her mother, successful author Kaylee Sloan needs a distraction, to come to terms with life and meet her looming deadline.

With Christmas approaching, Kaylee rents a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing and as she drives north through the mountains she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local bar is the heart of the town and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a stranger in need.

Welcomed by those in Virgin River, Kaylee starts to see her life in a new light. And as she becomes more involved in the town and the people in it, especially local artist and dog trainer Landry Moore, Kaylee realises she may have found her peace. As Christmas approaches, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

My Thoughts:

Author Robyn Carr takes us back to Virgin River with Kaylee Sloan. For fans of the book/TV series, it is indeed a welcome trip down memory lane! We meet a hoard of characters, some familiar and some not so familiar, but it feels just about right!

The story follows Kaylee Sloan as she decides to move to Virgin River for a few months for a fresh start and some fresh perspective to help with her writing. Dealing with the loss of her mother, she is not just dealing with the loss of a parent, but also her best friend and confidante. This book takes us on a journey of acceptance and togetherness. The people of Virgin River come together to help Kaylee when bad luck strikes just as she reaches the cabin she was renting. It is wonderful to meet many of the characters again and see where they lives are now. A warm welcome, a few kind words and the right kind of support can do wonders to a person grieving and lonely.

What follows is the usual mix of discovery and romance as Kaylee strives to mend, finish her novel and just feel better. The story is well-written and a simple read. The book can be finished in one sitting depending on the reader’s time. A wonderful heart-felt story, this will tug at the reader’s heartstrings and take us on an emotional rollercoaster. Once again Robyn Carr brings us happiness and nostalgia all in one neat package!

Book Review: Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey

About the Book:

Two Murders Too Many

Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster.

Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth.

 

My Thoughts:

The story follows Charlie Simmons as he investigates the unexpected spree of crime and murder in a small midwest town. The story is very well written with a myriad of characters each with their own quirks. At first, it is a little difficult to understand where the book is going with every chapter focusing on a new character and how they fit into the fabric of the town. However, once the events start to unfold however, the reader is pulled into the investigation, contemplating who could be behind the murders and the cause of unrest.

I enjoyed reading about Charlie: how he handles the investigation, systematically working his way through the evidence and tackling the residents of the town. Some character introductions seemed quite drawn out to me, but on the whole, the plot flows well and the ambience of the town was very well described. A quiet and simple town where every person knows the other and everyone’s business is common knowledge, it is indeed shocking to have to deal with murders and mysteries.

The ending is definitely a little unexpected and it is quite interesting to watch as Charlie works through each clue one by one to reach a conclusion! The book is well worth the read!

Book Review: Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

I am grateful to Arushi Aggarwal for reaching out to me for a review of her new release. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Curii is creative. Pia is passionate. Ina is imaginative. Together, they solve real world problems using their programming skills – developing powerful, disruptive, and cutting-edge ideas along the way. Follow these Supergirls who code on their first journey as they navigate the world of hackathons. Can they crack the code? Persistence brings knowledge.

Aggarwal combines education and adventure in her innovative “Coding Supergirls” series. She hopes to inspire the students in STEM she’s supporting by showing the numerous coding related opportunities available. After many parents and students were confused about her own hackathon, Code 4 Cause, she also aims to clarify the event’s important purpose – empowering students in tech.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Connect with the author:

Unknown16.com/codingsupergirls

http://twitter.com/dounknown16

https://www.facebook.com/dounknown16

My Thoughts:

This is a very short and pleasant read detailing the experience of three girls as they attend their first hackathon. Right from trying to understand what it is, to how to prepare for it and finally attending it, we are given all the steps. Arushi undoubtedly draws from her personal experience as the story progresses. I particularly like how she modelled her characters and gave us their descriptions, drawing on different aspects of interests and curiosity.

The story aims to bring about an awareness of coding and the world of opportunities it opens up. Through the hackathon experience, we observe as creativity, art, design, coding skills and a whole other set of skills come together in and idea for an application.

The illustrations in the book compliment some parts of the story and are very well done. Arushi has done a great job in taking us through the steps involved in the hackathon through which our protagonists make news friends, gain confidence in themselves, venture into new areas and learn to think out of the box.

I strongly recommend this book for everyone but mainly middle school children! This book would serve as a source of inspiration!