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.
Photo Content from Michael F. Haspil
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“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”
His brand of justice is just what she needs…
A cop who tosses the rulebooks to get his way…
Vampire Ian McCready doesn’t care for Alice Capshaw’s opinions about his version of justice. Her humanity makes her off-limits, but that does nothing to lessen his overwhelming desire for her. To Alice, Ian is just another bad cop as detestable as the one who destroyed her family. She’s attracted to him, yes, but he threatened his way into her agency’s murder case and has too many secrets.
When a new case resurrects ghosts Ian believed long dead and buried, his law-bending ways might result in his execution. The second Alice becomes a target, his cold heart flares into blinding existence. But following the law for her sake may end with devastating results.
My Take On The Book:
I don’t know what it was, maybe my heart just wasn’t into it or my mind a tad too cluttered but the chapters seemed scattered and fast paced. Although in retrospect, scattered might not be the right word to describe it. I found myself struggling to keep up with the narrative (which is odd).
I guess I got accustomed to the longer chapters that some authors prefer, so the shorter to the point chapters in ‘Bad Cop’ threw me off. I caught myself having to reread pages before my brain caught up with the writing style and I was able to continue on. But once I did, the book was a great read that kept me entertained and unable to put it down.
The Great (Pros):
- The Storyline. I loved the concept of this story. The whole concept of a killer, a supernatural killer, that is recreating murders for a time long since passed was unique in its own rights. Sure, it’s been done before but never quite like this, so I really liked that.
- Killian. I really liked this character and not just because he was a hot Irish vampire though that helped. He was pretty damn awesome. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about what I liked about him since it would definitely give away some important plotlines.
- VLO and Legion Trackers. I loved this. They were both awesome and cool and yea ‘nuff said.
- The relationship between Killian and Alice. It was subtle and grew exponentially. But I love the way Angela McCallister worked it into the storyline. So well done on that part. I loved their sizzle!
The Not So Great (Cons):
- Writing. Truthfully there is nothing wrong with the writing per say, just the pace it was written. As I stated before, I had a bit of trouble getting into this novel at the beginning.
- Ian. The name and the character themselves weren’t the problem, just the execution. When it was first introduced, I was left wondering who in the bloody hell that was. I thought the author was just introducing another character POV. It wasn’t until later when Killian’s and Ian’s (Reading that know, I admit I was slow on the uptake and it totally makes sense) POVs connected and he asked Alice to call him Ian that it clicked. So all I really needed to say was for dorks like me, a little clarity early on would have been appreciated. Also I admit to feeling stupid about this since it’s stated on the synopsis, but I will blame it on all the books I’ve been reading as of late.
- Alice. While I genuinely loved this character, she came off as bipolar in her emotions. One second she’s a bad ass and the next she’s all whiny and woe is me, which totally put me off. The deal with her brother is understandable so that doesn’t fall into this bullet.
- Characterization. While I liked each character respectively and their surrounding storylines, I didn’t feel for them. I was missing that emotional attachment to them.
The Story within the story, was well done. I loved the little drop ins of the previous book but what I loved the most is that the reader isn’t let wondering who the hell these other characters are. Without boring the old readers with information they already knew, Ms. McCallister allowed new readers to read this book and not be lost. She has a unique was of weaving the previous storyline into this one making this book a great follow up to her first novel as well as a book that could be read as a standalone.
About The Author
Angela McCallister has always wanted to grow up to be someone who would never grow up, and lucky her, that’s exactly what she’s done. Nothing says adventurous more than being a career US Navy Sailor with an imagination wild enough to create stories and characters with a paranormal bite. A mother of five, she’s gained plenty of story ideas from her family as well as her military experience.
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Realm Walker Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 28, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Word Count: 76,000
Goodreads Rating: 3.75
My Rating: 4/4.5
An estranged mate, a mangled body and a powerful demon who calls her by name…
As a Realm Walker for the Agency, Juliana Norris tracks deadly paranormal quarry using her unique ability to see magical signatures. She excels at her job, but her friends worry about her mysterious habit of dying in the line of duty without staying dead. That’s only the first of her secrets.
Most people don’t know Juliana became the mate of master vampire Thomas Kendrick before he abandoned her seven years ago. Most people don’t know the horrors she endured at the hands of the vampire he left in command. Most people don’t know her true parentage, or why a demon on a world-threatening rampage has taken a personal interest in her…
Even as Juliana pursues the demon, it goes after all she holds dear—including Thomas, who is back to claim her for his own. But if she can’t reconcile her past and learn to trust herself again, she will lose him forever.
My Take On The Book:
What can I say… I’m a sucker for these types of books and this one didn’t disappoint. Realm Walker and author Kathleen Collins take you on a great adventure with a lovable albeit frustrating cast. I initially found myself pulled in by the synopsis which I had to read on my very unreliable phone and email app, so I stared the email and made sure to check it out on my computer when I got home. I did, and boy am I happy I did. Not only does the cover art have the same feel as some of my favorite authors, so does the writing and the setting. I was a tad hesitant, but only slightly cause as of late I’ve read too many vampire stories and truthfully I felt they might be a tad played out… but I’m happy to have been proved wrong. It had a strong plotline, easy to follow and interesting but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Great (Pros):
- Juliana. She’s just so badass, excuse my language. Granted she had her whiny moments, a couple of which just want to make you shake her silly, she pretty much always delivers on the awesomeness.
- Realm Walkers. I gotta say I love the concept of Realm Walkers and they reminded me ‘Shadowblades’ from the Horngate Witches Series. Sure they had some differences but they were equally kick butt.
- Nathaniel. I have a soft spot for the furry werebeast. I’m not sure if it’s just my love for werewolves in general or it was Nathaniel’s smart ass comments and swagger but I absolutely loved his character. The relationship between Juliana and him was just so cozy and cute, you kinda want your own Nathanial, pain in the ass or not.
- Thomas. Ok, so I’ve said it before but I was totally over the vampire fad, but Thomas may have just pulled me outta that mindset. He too had some annoying quirks, mainly from his age which he definitely shows proudly through his vocabulary. ‘His Bride’ was thrown out so much, I kinda wanted to cuff him upside the head and hope I got away with my life. Understandably, regardless of his issues with Juliana he sticks to his guns making him a totally lovable vamp.
- The Demons. Ok, so this is the second book I’ve review with Demons as a foe. And just as much as I loved them in Dark Souls, I love them as much in this one too. Not the Demons themselves, because I really really hated them but more the role they play in the grander scheme of things. I really liked the integration of the demons into the story line and the scariness of not knowing what the hell to do to stop them. My absolute favorite scene in this book stares one pissed of Demon and a swimming pool.
- Jeremiah and family. The fire elemental and his family are way too cute. I love how they dote on Juliana in that very familial way. Jeremiah is a father of sorts to our heroine and he shows how much he cares for her almost immediately. The twins are sexy little turds… the way they mess with Juliana and Thomas is priceless!
The Not So Great (Cons):
- Inconsistency. Unfortunately, for every good there is usually some bad and this story is no exception. There were a couple of moments in this story that kinda contradicted themselves. I wish I could delve into this topic a little more but to do that would ruin the experience for you guys as readers.
- Love Triangle. I am not a huge fan of love triangles; they are played out and washed out. I know they tend to creep into stories you write and once the idea has revealed itself it’s hard to ignore. As authors we tend to feel we are exempt and I know I myself have said “Mine will be different” unfortunately often at times they aren’t and tend to just cause an unnecessary drag in the story. Granted this one is done in a completely different way that will kind of leave you reeling and scratching your head, but a triangle is a triangle and a square is a square. Regardless of the ending, there is always that awkwardness that accompanies the characters when they are all on the same page. Plus as a reader you can’t help but root for one character over the other.
- Catalina. I really really REALLY did not like her, but I kinda feel like that was the point lol. She was a vial witch with a b to Juliana, and well that my friends, is completely unacceptable. So for the sake of pros and cons she’s being filed into this character even if the character itself isn’t a fault in the book.
- Michael. Ok I was really conflicted with putting him here cause I genuinely liked his character through most of the book, but there is this one scene in the book towards the end of the middle… a scene with Juliana, that constantly replays in my mind when I think of his character and it irks me, especially since it falls into the inconsistency I spoke about earlier. It was outta character for the person/vamp the author was making him out to be. It just doesn’t work and once you read it you guys will understand completely.
- Ben. Grr. Nuff said. No I’m kidding, he much like Catalina bugged the ever loving daylight outta me. He started off as a completely likeable character and then at the end he makes a 180 that makes you want to drop kick him in the face with a steal toed boot cover in silver. Seriously what a douche bag.
This book is one I’d definitely recommend to people, especially people with a love for urban fantasy. It was similar to ‘The Anita Blake Series’ by Laurel K. Hamilton, the earlier ‘Southern Vampire Series’ by Charlaine Harris, ‘The Hollows’ by Kim Harrison with writing comparable to Chole Neill author of ‘Chicago Land Vampires’ and Diana Pharaoh Francis author of ‘Horngate Witches’. A definite must have for your virtual or literal bookshelves. I definitely can’t wait for the next installment as I’m sure I will gobble that one up!,
About The Author
Kathleen Collins has been writing since Kindergarten. And while her ability has drastically improved, her stories are still about monsters and the people who play with them.
The rare instances that she actually finds some spare time, she spends it playing with her two boys. Three if you count her husband.
She is currently hard at work on her next book.
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Locked Within Trilogy
Paul Anthony Shortt
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Pages: 200 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.42
My Rating: 4.5
The supernatural realm and the mundane world have existed side by side since the dawn of time. Predators walk the streets, hidden by our own ignorance. Once, the city of New York was protected, but that was another age.
Now a creature emerges from the city’s past to kill again, with no one to hear the screams of its victims. The lost and the weak, crushed under the heels of the city’s supernatural masters, have given up hope.
But one man finds himself drawn to these deaths. Plagued by dreams of past lives, his obsession may cost him friends, loved ones, even his life. To stop this monster, he must unlock the strength he once had. He must remember the warrior he was, to become the hero he was born to be.
His name is Nathan Shepherd, and he remembers.
My Take On The Book:
The Great (Pros):
- Nathan Shepherd. Literally, the coolest HUMAN hero I’ve read to date. I can’t stress how much I enjoyed reading about someone normal for a change. Sure he had some pretty cool odd ball attributes but he was mortal and faulted and that to me was awesome! It’s not every day you get to read about a character that not only kicks ass but gets his ass kicked. He makes mistakes and that’s alright in the end because he doesn’t really mope on them but uses them as a learning experience and tries not to make those same mistakes over and over.
- Libby and Rolland. I loved these two from the moment they stepped foot on the page and each interaction after just made my love for them grow.
- Katherine O’Reilly. Badass chick who kicks ass and isn’t accompanied by your usual bitchy attitude while kicking ass.
- Cadence and Cynthia. Cynthia is hands down my favorite character is this book simply because of her loyalty. She is smart and sweet and loyal to a fault. Cadence on the other hand isn’t someone I would typically like but she was written in a way that made it possible to do so. She makes no real excuses for why she does what she does, she just does it. Sure she’ll explain it to you if she deems you worthy of such but other than that not really. I liked that she wasn’t all whiny and trying to make anybody like her.
- The Vampires. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good vamp romance book but one of the reasons I liked this book so much is because the author takes you back to a time where vampires and bad and they are scary. It was refreshing to say the least. I hated the vampires in this book, they were so evil and mean, but I loved that I hated them.
- The Setting. I’m not really a fan of books that take place in a big city like New York simply because they are usually overrated but once again this book blows that notion outta the water. I loved the vibrant city life and the blending of the supernatural world with this world. But mostly I loved how Mr. Shortt explains it all, in the span of a couple of sentences in one chapter he explains the way humans are oblivious to the world around them and why all without droning on and on and annoying the living day lights outta you.
- Michael Shepherd. Hands down, he’s gotta be the coolest dad around. His character though not prevalent throughout the story, is basically what molds Nathan into the man he is. He’s a strong and caring character and he’s exactly the support the main character needs.
- Lack of romance. It was refreshing to read a book that while it had some sort of couple aspects, the story did not dwell on those parts of the story. Paul Anthony Shortt made sure to focus on the important, the story of Nathan and what makes him who he is.
The Not So Great (Cons):
- Laura. I absolutely abhor Laura. Her character was the equivalent of nails on chalk board. I disliked her from her first appearance on page, not while he wistfully stares at her picture but the real deal, when she first speaks. It did not get better over time, she only served to piss me off more and more.
- Ben. Originally, I liked his character. He seemed like a cool dude and someone Nathan could depend on and for the most part he was. It was only towards the end of the story that his character started to grate on my nerves.
- The mysterious dude in the cloak. I can’t delve too deep into this topic because it would definitely give something away but I wish we could have learned a little more about him and what his role in everything was.
All in all, this was a very entertaining read. Nearly perfect really. Something I would definitely recommend to anybody that likes Urban Fantasy stories. So make sure you’ve gotten your copy because the sequel is sure to please.
Continue Reading for Silent Oath (Book Two) Review and Excerpt
Dark Souls Series
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: July 19, 2013
Goodreads Rating: 4.43
My Rating: 4.5
Number of pages: 280
Word Count: 103,000
19-year-old Emily desperately wants a name for what she is. For what is consuming and torturing her. For what is changing her.
But she’s not crazy like her mother. She’s not.
Emily may not be as crazy as she thinks, because her body is no longer her own. Something is stirring inside her. It is soft, seductive, and tells her what to do to survive. As Emily learns that her world has been infected by demons that consume human souls and fit seamlessly into the bodies they empty, she must also accept that she is one of them. Yet, she is different from the rest, because her darkness didn’t inhabit her, it was awakened. And it doesn’t just want the humans.
My take on the book:
Dear lord, this book just killed me… in a good way of course. I don’t believe I’ve cried this much since Bambi’s momma died. I should probably admit that I also haven’t done the kinda happy dance done for those extremely sweet moments in a book/movie for a while and there were maybe 3 portions of this book where I did just that so kudos to you Ms. Ketley Allison for accomplishing that.
Ketley Allison is a whiz when it comes creating a great Demon world, the types of demons in particular where very interesting. Look out Jana Oliver, author of The Demon Trappers Series because it looks like you might just have yourself some competition in the literary world of Demons because Ms. Allison sure did give you a run for your money. I absolutely loved this book, no doubt about it and genuinely look forward to reading the next installment.
The Great (Pros):
- Demonology. I loved that Ketley Allison took the time to do some basic research on demonology. Her demons where very well placed and the imagery executed to near perfection.
- The Characters, more specifically Macey. Macey was the bomb, an awesome best friend. The characters were all very likable even those that shouldn’t or normally wouldn’t be, but as you might notice this will also fall into the not so great column.
- The Epilogue. Holy Hell I loved the epilogue, it might just be the best part of the whole book to me. It not only grants you closure but it definitely has the chills hitting you hard.
- The Ending before the Epilogue. I can’t say I was expecting that ending but I will admit that it was a treat. I love when writers have the ability to shake us up as readers and step away for the norm.
- The Cover. Simplistic and yet very to the point. I like that, a lot. Once you’ve read the book it all makes sense.
- The Hunter. I loved everything about the Hunter, the mythology, the creation, the character. This was one of the most thought out portions of the book. While the name itself is a tad anticlimactic it is definitely something you can overlook, all because of how the author goes about creating and writing it.
- The Romance. I’m a sucker for the romantic bits in books and I really liked the chemistry between Emily and her beau. But sadly this to will fall into the not so great as well.
The not so great (Cons):
- The Characters. As you saw above I liked the characters, their back stories and how they interacted. Emily was a strong young woman who is like-able, but to me that also seemed like a problem, every character was like-able. Archer had his moments but his sister was definitely a character I wanted to dislike but I couldn’t. They all seemed a tad too constructed in that sense. Also, I found it hard to picture some of the characters which is why I felt the need to place this in my cons list.
- The Romance. While I liked the chemistry, there weren’t enough scenes or interactions in my opinion for the intensity of their romance. It seemed a bit rushed.
- The Pace. I have to admit that as much as I loved this book, there were a couple of instances where I found myself wanting to skim through a couple of sentences, this was due in part to the way those passages where written and partly because I’m easily distracted. I felt like they seemed a tad on the blah side, which is the complete opposite of the paragraphs before it or following it. It felt as if Ms. Allison, herself was winded and these were her breather passages, causing an awkward pace for me as a reader. Also while some of the writing lacked the imagery I needed, other portions of the book where too descriptive. It’s a fine line to toe but I think all in all Ketley Allison did alright for herself.
*Note: it is used simply as a substitute for the actual passages. The sentence seemed weird to me while re-reading it but I could find any other words to describe what I was trying to portray.
All in all the negatives didn’t seem to affect the story enough for me to drop the rating too much. Ketley Allison is an extremely talented individual with a knack for writing, well at least writing demon stories. This book is a definite must have, comparable to the writing of Jana Oliver ‘Demon Trapper Series’, Kim Harrison ‘The Hollows’ and Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie ‘Wicked Series’. And luckily for you readers, this book is a steal on Amazon for $0.99. Enjoy the Excerpt Below for your first look into “Dark Souls”