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.
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5 Winners will receive a Copy of GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Michael F. Haspil
“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”
Ava Michaels used to think she was special.
As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.
Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.
Because Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.
Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she’s not actually normal . . . she’s not even just special.
She’s a little bit more.
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Excerpt From More by T.M. Franklin
“Okay,” Ava said. “Now what?”
Caleb pulled out his phone, tapping away on it.
“Wait a second,” Ava said, stilling his hand. “Is it safe to use a cell phone? Can’t it be traced?”
Caleb shook his head. “Not this one.” He glanced up at her. “Do you have one?”
Ava pulled her phone out of her backpack, and Caleb cursed under his breath.
“It’s not on,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter.” He grabbed the phone. “I could take out the battery, but they’d still know this was our last location.” Caleb thought for a moment then grabbed Ava’s hand, turning to walk quickly down the block.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
Caleb pointed to a Greyhound sign across the street. They walked into the small bus station, coming to a stop in front of the departures board. “Wait here,” he said after a moment, glancing around the station before heading out the back door. Ava paced nervously, her eyes darting around, before she took a seat on one of the hard plastic chairs. Caleb returned a few minutes later, motioning for her to join him as he walked back out the front entrance.
“What was that all about?” Ava asked with an irritated wave of her hand.
“Couldn’t risk leaving it here in town, even if we took the battery out,” Caleb said. “We’ve been monitoring your movements for quite some time. It’s good that you turned it off, but even then, it’s not impossible to track. I put it on a bus to New York, just in case.”
Caleb nodded. “It leaves in a few minutes. With any luck, it’ll throw them off the trail. At least long enough for us to get to the safe house.” He looked back down at his phone and pulled out a small piece of paper from his jacket pocket.
“What are you doing?”
“The location is encoded. I just have to figure out . . .” He looked back and forth between the paper and phone for a moment, and Ava leaned in, scanning the strange combination of symbols, letters, and numbers.
She tried to make sense of it, biting her lip as she leaned in a bit closer. Caleb’s breath ruffled the hair at her temple, and Ava stiffened, suddenly very aware of how close they were standing. She swallowed thickly, fighting the urge to jump back like a frightened kitten.
Then—so slightly that she thought she might have imagined it—Caleb’s breath hitched. A prickle of awareness ran along Ava’s skin, her heart thudding heavily in her chest, and she stepped back purposefully, looking away down the street.
What in the world was that?
– MORE, Chapter 9
About the Author
Connect with T.M. Franklin
Genre: YA Paranormal/
Release Date: April 10, 2013
Publisher: Dauntless Hawk Ink
Pages: 301 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.78
My Rating: 5
My take on the book:
The Great (Pros):
- The world AJMM created so masterfully. I loved the scenery in this book; she literally took me on a literary adventure. I felt as if I was right there experiencing some of the scenes with Freya.
- The Characters. I know I mentioned above that those characters were greatly developed and I meant it. I loved A.J.M. Mousseau’s characters, from the good down to the bad. Sure I wanted to rip the face off said villain, but isn’t that how you know that the author has created a note worthy opponent for your hero? Truthfully, I can’t say that any character’s storyline really irked me. Freya is pretty awesome and Theron is Ah-maze-ing, two of my favorite main characters as of yet. I loved Piper, she was just too cute and Scarlett was oddly reminiscent of my own aunt. I loved Jesse even when he seemed to be that brooding over protective guy you tend to get annoyed with. I can’t get into too much detail involving the characters cause I might give away some of the plot points but just know that I could spend hours discussing this book and those characters.
- The Science and Mythology. Really guys, this author did her homework before penning this masterfully written story. She breaks things down for us readers in a way that’s informative, not condescending. The mythology was woven into the story so well I found myself getting chills at some points.
- The Cover Art. Seriously this cover art is so amazing and fits the story. It was one of the main reasons I found myself drawn to the story and one of the reasons I decided to read it. Even though it’s not a full facial shot it helped me to imagine Freya in my mind.
The not so great (Cons):
- The ending. Don’t get me wrong the ending itself was pretty cool, but a tad anti-climactic. I saw it coming and that really bugged me when I went to turn the page and found I had reached the end. I wasn’t expecting that ending for a book that in my opinion worked so hard and succeeded in proving it was NOT like the rest. But this was a small faux pas that I can overlook. Truthfully only because I know, as a writer, that it is meant to keep readers on the edge of their seats and keep them hooked and tuned in for the next installment in the series. The ending gives the author a plot to work with so like I said bearable.
- Predictability. I know, this might seem to conflict with my earlier statement to the contrary and for the most part this book was a breath of fresh air. But there was one moment in the book other than the aforementioned ending that I can’t delve into because it definitely is a major plot point, that I totally knew without a shadow of a doubt would happen. As the author continued, I pushed the thought to the back of my mind and hoped that it wouldn’t play out that way… but it did.