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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Dream Diaries by Philip Hoy - Book Review, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Evelyn Hernandez showed everyone at school it's better not to mess with her. She might wear pretty dresses and she looks innocent, but she also has some powerful skills that are giving her a reputation. Evelyn has learned from the past, from taking revenge on those who wronged her. People gossip, but she has a nice relationship now and she has good friends. As long as the people who love her are on her side she's content. However, Evelyn's peace doesn't last long. She hasn't experienced her gift to its full extent. This time she's having dreams and to remember them she draws what she's seen in her journal.

Evelyn's dreams are violent and they scare her. She thinks they might be premonitions of future events, suggestions that something awful is bound to happen. Does she have the dreams just to watch and maybe warn those she dreams about or is there something more she can do? What influence does her drawing have on real life experiences this time and can Evelyn discover how the messages she gets truly work before it's too late?

The Dream Diaries is another great story about Evelyn Hernandez. Evelyn is creative, fierce, talented and stubborn. She has a clear view of what's right and wrong and follows her own path. I liked that a lot about her. When she feels she has to go after something she doesn't hesitate and takes the necessary steps, even if her safety is at stake. This means Evelyn soon finds herself in dire situations, but she doesn't give up. She knows her dreams mean something and she's determined to discover what it is exactly. I was intrigued by everything that happens to her and Philip Hoy kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Philip Hoy's writing flows easily and therefore it's possible to completely focus on his story. The Dream Diaries is fast-paced and filled with action. The story has some terrific dark moments and I was surprised by the cleverness and depth of the writing. Philip Hoy combines magic with real life issues and he does that in a fantastic way. Evelyn's skills are intriguing and I loved finding out more about what she can do. I was captivated by this enchanting story and really enjoyed reading it.


If you love stories about strong main characters with interesting magical skills that are being combined with real life issues you should definitely read the Evelyn Hernandez series. I'd advise you to start with the first book, The Revenge Artist, before you read The Dream Diaries.

About Philip Hoy

Philip Hoy is a high school English teacher by day and a short-story author, novelist, and poet by night.

When he is not creating lesson plans or grading essays, he is writing.

He lives in Southern California with his wife Magdalena, also a teacher.


Website // Twitter // Facebook // Amazon


1) Can you tell a bit about yourself?

I guess my desire to write is the result of a life of reading. I have always been surrounded by books. My love of reading led me to become an English teacher and eventually an author myself.

As the fourth of nine children, finding a quiet place to read in my house was challenging, but not impossible. Sometimes I would lock myself in the bathroom or hide in a closet with a flashlight. In our youth, my brothers and sisters and I spent nearly every Saturday morning in the library. We always left with an armful each, probably more books than were normally allowed, but the librarian knew we only lived a few blocks away and that we would return them in a week, ready to borrow more.

As a teen, I kept a fantasy or science fiction paperback in my backpack and snuck it out to read in class whenever I could get away with it. My wife, though, is an even bigger bibliophile. In fact, in high school she used books to flirt with me. Once I loaned her my copy of A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony and when she gave it back it smelled very strongly like her perfume. She apologized, explaining that the bottle must have leaked on it when the book was in her purse. Every day for the next few months, as soon as I got home from school I’d take the book off my shelf, put it to my face and inhale the smell of her. Later, she admitted to purposefully drenching it with her perfume just before returning it to me.

We made sure our daughter, Erin, was surrounded by books as well. As soon as we got home from the bookstore with the latest Harry Potter we would take turns reading it out loud to each other. It turns out Erin is the same age as Harry. They both turned seventeen during the same summer, which was the year Harry went on to defeat the Dark Lord and our daughter left home for college, so, yeah, pretty much the same thing again.

2) Evelyn has a special gift, how did you get the idea to give her special abilities through drawing?

A few years ago, I was able to teach a high school elective class on horror film. As a final project, I decided the students would produce and act in their own short film. I wanted a story that would involve the whole class, and, for practical reasons, one that would take place entirely in my classroom. So, out of necessity, I quickly wrote a three-minute screenplay about a bullied teen who gets revenge on her tormentors when she discovers she can make things happen by drawing them. 

Evelyn’s character, simply named THE ARTIST in the credits, didn’t even have lines. She was either drawing pictures in her notebook or glaring over the edge of it at the boy

across from her. Even though it was only three minutes long, it took three days to film, which explains why in the final edit some students’ clothing and even hair styles will suddenly change from one cut to the next, and then change back again. And then there are other problems such as the sound being either too loud or too low at any given moment, and the fact that the student playing the teacher doesn’t look a day over sixteen; but hey, we learned a lot and had fun making it. When I eventually sat down to write the novel, the first two minutes of the film became the first chapter of the book, and the story just took off from there.

(I think the film still exists on YouTube somewhere; though, I don’t recommend looking for it. The book is almost always better than the film.)

3) You write about teens dealing with difficult emotional situations, how do you prepare to write the tough scenes?

I’m not sure I do prepare for the emotionally difficult scenes, not consciously. I do try to create characters that reflect the lives of my own students: Evelyn, Karen, Denise, Sammy—all of my characters—even Aiden, Spider, and Creeper … are no different than the real-life students I have the privilege of teaching now.

4) What’s the influence of your work as a teacher on your writing?

Writing makes me a better teacher, and teaching makes me a better writer. I can’t see myself doing one without the other. I have always written with my high school students as my audience. I don’t mean that I write to please them, but I do want what I write to be true to them, to be a genuine reflection of the kinds of emotional conflicts they’re dealing with. It doesn’t matter how normal or how dysfunctional, how easy or how utterly broken someone’s life may appear, no one gets through high school unscathed. Not that life gets all that easier as you get older, but it doesn’t come at you all at once the way it seems to when you’re a teenager.

5) You combine daily problems in the lives of teenagers with magic, what’s the inspiration behind this?

My characters, like my students, are just as much discovering as they are inventing themselves, still finding their voices, still realizing their powers, and still exploring their purpose in the world. In my book, the high school dean complains, “You kids live in the extreme, in the moment, and why not when everything is happening to you for the first time?” I feel this is so true of young people; although, unlike the dean, I believe this is what makes teenagers so fascinating and so refreshing to be around—so magical.

Evelyn’s magical powers, then, are really just an extreme version of the same physical, emotional, and intellectual powers in all of us: the power to create or to destroy, to listen or to ignore, to be cruel or to be kind, to hate or to love. Magical powers aside, Evelyn is no different than any other teenage girl: someone still finding her voice, still discovering her powers, and still learning how to use them.

6) What’s your biggest dream when it comes to writing?

Finally, an easy question. My dream would be to have my Evelyn Hernandez stories made into the next original Netflix series.

7) How do you motivate your students when you see they have a gift for writing?

I will always work in some time for creative writing in my lesson plans. And whenever possible, I try to publish my student’s essays, short stories, and poems on one of my blogs or in actual eBook or print format. In fact, here is the link to last year’s student anthology of poetry (I’m still in the process of editing this year’s edition):

8) What are your plans for the future?

I plan to keep on writing and to keep on teaching. Last summer I wrote the first episode of a graphic novel. The protagonist is a young lady named Red Literal, a little like Evelyn in some ways, but with a sword instead of a pencil. The story takes place in a near future where technology has turned against us and books are too dangerous to possess…kind of a Walking Dead meets Fahrenheit 451. It’s in the hands of the artist now, Theresa Ysiano (my sister), with whom I’ve partnered. Currently, I’m about halfway done with third book in the Evelyn Hernandez series.

Check out my blog for short stories and essays on reading, writing, and life as a high school English teacher: For more information on the Evelyn Hernandez series: To friend me: To follow me:


“You look tired.”

“Good morning to you too, Mom,” Evelyn said between sips of her orange juice.

“Did you not get much sleep last night?”

Evelyn avoided answering by taking longer than necessary to finish drinking her breakfast. Then she rinsed the empty glass before setting it in the sink. Her mother stood with her arms crossed in the open doorway until Evelyn hurried past her to the car.

“You know,” her mother said, as soon as they were on their way, “I understand you two wanting to talk on the phone all night, but don’t you think one in the morning is a little late?”

Evelyn pulled down the sun visor to check her eyes in the mirror. “How do you know we were talking on the phone, Mom?” she asked, flipping the visor up with a pronounced thump. “How do you know he wasn’t actually up in my room last night?”

“You think that thought didn’t cross my mind?”

“Why didn’t you come check then?”

“Because, daughter…” Her mother gave her an almost amused, sideways look. “I think your Samuel is a nice boy. I don’t think he would do something like that.”

“Wha—?” Evelyn turned to her with a wounded expression. “But you think I would?”

“That’s not what I meant, Evelyn, and you know it.”

Evelyn tried to remain indignant, but she always softened when her mother referred to her boyfriend by his proper name. “Dad says even the good boys will do bad things if you let them.”

“Your father said that?”

“Well.” She felt as if she had foolishly wandered into a minefield. “Or something like that.”

“Hum.” Her mother was smiling to herself. “I guess he would know, wouldn’t he?”

Evelyn thought it best to change the subject. “Anyway,” she said, “I wasn’t talking to Sammy. It was Karen.”

“Karen? Why, was something wrong?”

“No, not really. She just needed to talk.”

Neither said anything for the next few minutes and Evelyn’s mind wandered, eventually returning to the disturbing events of her dream last night. Drawing had helped. When she thought about it now, she could recall the details as pictures in her journal and not actual experiences in her memory.

“Is that a new skirt?” her mother asked, rescuing Evelyn from her dark thoughts. Spider and Creeper slunk back into the shadows


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  1. The Dream Diaries sounds like a fresh and unapologetic look at what the landscape of bullying, self esteem, peer pressure and having the confidence to be yourself really looks and feels like for today's young adults.

  2. oh sounds really interesting towards the end of the excerpt. Hope evenlyn's not the bully in the story

  3. From the sound of the excerpt this looks fab, can't wait to get my teeth into it x

  4. They sound like really great books, thanks for sharing them.

  5. I will be captivated by this Book. Love the review

  6. I love the story of Magdalena and her perfume!