Junior Paranormal Investigators: The Haunting of Room 909 by Michael James

Junior Paranormal Investigators: The Haunting of Room 909 by Michael James
Publisher: Hollow Hills
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (85 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Summer is usually a time of fun and games for most children, but Hanna and Ben Littleton are not your average eleven and twelve-year-old. Their father is Percy Littleton, a famous paranormal investigator, and this summer they are traveling to different locations to investigate unexplained phenomena. Things are rather boring until they stop at Castleridge Hotel.

It’s really essential to appreciate that your body needs buy viagra where is genuine Karlovy Vary thermal spring salt. In fact, viagra samples in canada educating their children will prevent those miserable incidents. These medications give erection effect in half an hour unfortunate men unica-web.com buy generic viagra can obtain affluent erections and lead glad sexual copulation once more. The particular traction unit is a device that fits just about any size of male member. levitra pharmacy Though warned by their father not to meddle in his investigation, the brother and sister are convinced they can prove their worth as true investigators. Their eagerness soon turns to terror when Hanna begins having visions about a certain former employee of the hotel, the elevator takes them to the ninth floor on its own, and ghosts interact with them. The building seems to have a mind of its own as Hanna and Ben are forced to figure out what really happened one hundred years ago at Castleridge Hotel, before the spirits trapped inside decide to make them permanent residents.

Some ghosts simply aren’t ready to live this realm yet.

The explanation of why Room 909 had become haunted was thorough and wonderfully scary for its middle grade audience. I appreciated all of the time the author spent in building up the audience’s expectations of what might have happened there while also giving us small pieces of the puzzle in various scenes. It was nice to have so many details about the origins of this haunting.

It would have been nice to know what Ben, Hanna, and their dad looked like. The ghosts were described with a lot of detail, but the same thing wasn’t true for the living characters. Based on the book cover, I assumed they were Caucasian, but even something as simple as their race wasn’t mentioned in the plot itself. I sure would have liked to know if they were tall or short, wore glasses, were covered in freckles, had curly hair, or had any number of other physical characteristics that could help me picture what they looked like, too.

Hanna and Ben were such brave kids. Some of their paranormal experiences would have frightened people who were decades older than them, so I was impressed by how persistent they were during this case. They did a great job piecing the clues together and continuing to try to figure out what happened no matter how unpredictable their ghostly opponents were. The final scene made it sound like this is part of a series, so I’ll be curious to find out what might happen next to Ben and Hanna when they meet their next ghost.

I’d recommend Junior Paranormal Investigators: The Haunting of Room 909 to anyone who enjoys a good haunting.

Still Standing by Marie Krepps, Aurora Styles, David Quesenberry, Garrison Kelly, and Larry Fort

Still Standing by Marie Krepps, Aurora Styles, David Quesenberry, Garrison Kelly, and Larry Fort
Publisher: Hollow Hills
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (178 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Hollow Hills presents Still Standing, an anthology of short stories and poetry about empowerment and healing for victims of bullying and harassment. The royalties from this anthology will go to Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization helping those in crisis.
Strap yourself in for an emotional ride:

Savage Beatings: An elf braves ridicule and abuse as a sacrifice for his homeland and people.
We Called It Azimov: A group of scientists come together to create a machine unlike any other. One scientist uses this modern marvel to satisfy her desire for revenge.

The Brave Blacksmith: The legendary Blacksmith must fight his own demons while confronting real enemies to save a sorceress from a dire situation.

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The Living Tree: An inspirational poem about life itself.

The past doesn’t always dictate what happens in the future.

The pacing of “Savage Beatings” was fast and exciting. I couldn’t wait to find out if the main character, Windham Xavier, would survive all of his violent encounters and find a way to protect his people. There were so many brutal scenes that this tale slipped into the horror genre at times. It wasn’t something I was necessarily expecting to happen, but it did fit the tone of the storyline well.

“We Called It Asimov” grabbed my attention immediately. I was mesmerized by the thought of a scientist using the skills she’d learned in her career to teach other people a lesson. The more I read about why she behaved the way, the more I wanted to know about what would happen to her next. While it did take me a little while to remember who all of the characters were in this story, I enjoyed it quite a bit after that point.

Within the first few sentences of “The Brave Blacksmith,” a princess named Tima lost everyone she loved. I was so surprised by this opening scene that I couldn’t imagine what might happen to this character next. The worldbuilding was handled nicely. Exactly enough time was spent explaining the rules of the society Tima lived in. I felt like i understood her culture well, and that made me want to keep reading until I knew how her adventures would end.

As someone who wasn’t already familiar with the characters in the universe that Aurora Styles’ “Buccaneer’s Beginning” revisited, I was glad to see her taking the time to briefly explain how everyone knew each other before jumping into the plot. It would have been helpful to see more character development in this tale in general. The storyline itself was well done, but I didn’t get a strong sense of the personalities of the people who inhabited that setting or how they were changing as individuals.

One thing I would have liked to see added to David Quesenberry’s “The Living Tree” was a more definite sense of what the tree represented to the speaker. At first I wondered if it was a metaphor for the creative process itself and how all artists and writers are connected by their desires to create beautiful things. The words themselves were beautiful, and I did enjoy reading them quite a bit. I simply needed a little bit stronger of a nudge in the direction of what the author was trying to say about the experience of being alive.

Still Standing should be read by anyone who has ever wished for justice.

Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic by Marie Krepps

Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic by Marie Krepps
Publisher: Hollow Hills
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (130 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sink your teeth into this book of fantastical short stories that will leave you wanting more. This collection mixes fantasy, science fiction, horror, and more into one big boiling pot of tastiness. Stories may include princesses, talking birds, alien species, magical items, terrifying creatures, cyborgs, or assassins. You’ll get your fill of thrills and chills.

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In “The Last Goodbye,” Cam and Merrick had to battle a village filled with trolls in order to win the right to bring home a golden scroll that would make them wealthy. The plot twists in this tale were a lot of fun. I surprisingly didn’t see any of them coming in advance, so I relished the chance to be surprised by what was going on in these characters’ lives before more details were revealed about who they were as individuals.

Most of the stories in this anthology were quite short. While I enjoyed diving into the different worlds for such brief periods of time, there were multiple instances where it would have been helpful to have more information about who the characters were. Something that is only a few pages long simply doesn’t have a lot of room to explore someone’s backstory or conflicts in life. There were times when this was an issue for me as a reader. For example, “Date Night” was about a woman preparing to go on a first date. Her entire story was finished in less than two pages, so there wasn’t time to explore her backstory or explain why she was being so meticulous about making sure she had everything she needed for the evening. I enjoyed the twist at the end, but it would have been nice to know more about who she really was and why she had such an unusual approach to dating.

“Taking It Back” began with a bang when an ordinary stretch of road was suddenly transformed into a lush, green field of grass. As many more manmade structures began to also disappear into thin air and be replaced by living things like trees and vines, I couldn’t help but to wonder what was causing all of this and if it would be permanent. The descriptions of the transformations were so vivid that I felt as though I were watching them happen right in front of me. I was also fascinated by how humans were affected by all of these drastic changes in their lives.

If you like flash fiction and similar short pieces of work, I’d recommend checking out Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic.