The Big Easy isn't just a lovely place to imagine vampires, witches and the plethora of supernatural creatures, it's also the most romantic place on Earth (which may very well inspire the lot of paranormal beings).
Beautiful streets along the quarter, restaurants with heavenly smells and candlelight and of course, the best part - the music. It alone could make anyone feel love in the air. New Orleans is the setting I chose for parts of my books for a great reason, I adore this place, and yes, the romantic in me has completely fallen in love with it. The Lily Drake books have some romantic elements for sure, but I think it's safe to say that I've fallen head over heels for the setting.
Be on the lookout for my next series... not set in Nola, but another beautiful place that is near and dear to my heart. Western Kentucky. New Orleans may be known for vampires, but West Kentucky is about to meet some zombies, y'all!
I want to make something very clear. I write violence in my books, my main character slays bad vampires, can be brutal and battles with her own homicidal tendencies from time to time. By writing this, I am not attempting to turn the tables and make some statement about women's rights and liberation. Well, maybe in ways I am, but I'm not attempting some ball-busting, turn the tables, man-hating manifesto for the "fairer of the sexes." Which by the way, is a term that is antiquated and disgusts me.
My character comes into her own strength, fights for those she loves including her son and defends her family, her culture and herself. Maybe as a whole, we as a society, have been overrun with violence in the media. Maybe expressing these types of views, producing movies and books with such brutality is too much, but I am confident in saying this is not the cause of the sickness that has spread through our civilization that drives people to go out and hurt others.
Recently, we have all seen the news reports of the young man who took the lives of his peers after being repeatedly rejected by women, professional athletes beating loved ones and crazed people eating body parts.
In times where things like this happen and we look to lay blame, we shouldn't look at parents, law enforcement or anyone else as much as we look at ourselves. In a society where we value the clothes we wear, the car we drive, perfect cheekbones and six pack abs, maybe we should look at ourselves and our own values. Why do these people feel that violence is a justifiable outlet? How can they feel so wronged they hurt others? (With the exception of the obviously crazy people who cannibalize.)
Looks, a European car and influential family ties, social standing, money and athletic contracts don't automatically make you a catch. Women don't always respond to those things when your personality screams out that you are an entitled, spoiled snot. I have no idea what these people are like personally, but I would love to tell them a few things...
#1 - Women, children or anyone of less physical size and strength than yourself aren't punching bags or deserve to be abused in any way.
#2 - Someday you are going to misjudge someone who appears to look like a victim and they will teach you the lesson of your life. I, myself, am not a small gal. I'm 5'9, but next to a large man, I may appear fragile or weak. I am not. I have taken multiple forms of martial arts, was raised to defend myself and can do so with my own body, or if needed, I am a darn good shot. Do not assume anyone is defenseless. Someday you may run into me, or a gal like me who doesn't play that.
#3 - There is nothing more gratifying than walking away from someone who has instigated an argument or wronged you in some way by taking the higher road and making them look like the fool. Back to my days as a teacher (and mother) - Use your words, not your fists. Want to feel good about yourself? Realize that you can verbalize your thoughts and feelings and come out all the smarter instead of a convicted felon.
#4 - Be kind to those you love. If you aren't, they won't love you anymore and eventually they will leave you. If you have a poor attitude and an abusive personality, no one will ever love you.
This lovely place, the Hotel St. Pierre, was my home away from home for seven glorious days. Although I planned on just a relaxing, wonderful birthday celebration - which I definitely had, there was tons of fun too.
I ate. Lord, I ate. I heard some of the best music I've ever heard, so much so it is almost impossible to turn on the radio now and listen to it without wishing it was the amazing jazz that my good friend's band played every evening. And most of all I had a great time with some of the closest people in my life, short of my mother and son.
But a little more about this wonderful hotel. It looks much like all the gorgeous little creole cottages along Burgundy from the outside, but once you walk inside, the lobby is filled with gorgeous antique fixtures and the opulence that few places short of New Orleans can pull off, and the place is expansive. Courtyards wind to different areas and what appears to be a small place from the curb, is very large and has many well-appointed rooms.
The front desk clerk when we checked in, this very professional and friendly fella with the sweetest smile, greeted us and hooked us up immediately, even though it was a few minutes before check-in time. Our room was... wonderful. The jacuzzi alone was almost the size of some hotel rooms I've seen. The housekeeping staff was meticulous, making sure each day that our room was lovely and fresh - and the grounds were breathtaking.
Two pools, in two separate courtyards were kept tidy and refreshing, and along each walkway was a large beverage dispenser with tasty, cold lemon water. The lobby sported a buffet which held very good coffee all times of the day, and nice beach towels were stacked alongside each pool. Little things like these really add up to make for an incredible stay, and were more than impressive as a whole.
I like to visit NOLA as often as I possibly can, and this hotel will definitely be a place I repeatedly stay.
When a psychopathic violinist starts kidnapping other violinists around the world, 16-year old Emma must hunt her down before her own beloved violin teacher is killed!
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…
When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.
But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?
Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.
I began reading this book as a YA, which I typically don't always enjoy, however, this novel is one that is one that is for reader's of any age. I found it very enjoyable and interesting. I had no idea what a luthier even was, although I love music, the violin is not something I've very knowledgable about, yet I found myself engrossed in the pages. It certainly isn't just for those who are interested in music.
Calvani weaves a tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat, dying to find out what is happening and how the events will unfold. I don't want to give anything away, but it is a gripping tale that puts you in the head of Emma, the main character, and leaves you turning pages at a rate I am unaccustomed to!
The cover was the main reason I chose to even review this novel, and as beautiful as it is, the story holds up to the gorgeous image on the front of the book.
Read this. You won't regret it! I'll be watching for more from Mayra Calvani!