'Writing for me is not about speeling, grammar or punctuation – that’s why we have editors.... No, writing for me is the ability to capture a story and put it in words.' - Fantasy Muse

Saturday 24 May 2014

Vampire Council: Hunted

Vampire Council by Patrick Kampman.

Front Cover


A road trip with a killer is not how Carmen wanted to travel to the opening ceremonies of the Convocation. But someone has been murdering her kind, and her traveling companion might be the only chance Carmen has to make it to the annual meeting of vampire society in one piece.  
Assuming he doesn’t simply take Carmen out himself.  
Only a week remains before the Convocation, where the vampires will gather to witness their mysterious Council, the strongest of their kind, make new laws and pass judgment on transgressors.  
Carmen has no choice but to attend. The only question is which threat is more deadly: those that pursue her, those that wait for her, or the one traveling beside her….

My Review

Patrick Kampman is an author that I'm well aware of after having read his excellent Chance Lee series but it'd been a while since he's released any new books, and so it came as a pleasant surprise to see that he'd just recently published a novel called Vampire Council. It goes without saying that it didn't take me long to buy the book.

The book follows two main characters; Carmen, a beautiful spanish woman who finds herself on the run whilst dodging attempts on her life. She also happens to be a vampire.
The other is Ryan, a vampire hunter, who has been asked by his closest friend and many ways his only friend, to protect a woman whose life is in danger. The woman of course just happens to be Carmen. And so as you can imagine a vampire hunter tasked with protecting a vampire, one who he happens to be instantly attracted to was alway going to be bumpy ride. And what a ride it was.

The book was fantastic and had the right blend of humour, action, romance and mystery to make a cocktail that would get you intoxicated from just the fumes. The opening chapters had me laughing at the witty inner monologues going on between Carmen and Ryan as they first met. Definitely one of the most enjoyable beginnings I've read, that I could recall.

The pace of the story was perfect, never lingering in any one spot for too long or rushing into another too abruptly. The action scenes were well written and had my eyes glued to the pages, riveted at what was going to happen next. 
However, where Patrick Kampman truly excelled at was the chemistry he created between Carmen and Ryan. Both were head strong and independent in their own ways and it was really enjoyable seeing how their perceptions changed over time, particularly Ryan who before meeting Carmen, believed all vampires were monsters and needed killing.

I've always enjoyed romance being interlinked with a story, as long as it's done right, which was the case with Vampire Council. You can of course see it coming, from just reading the blurb it was pretty evident the main characters would head in that direction, but I was curious to read how that journey would unfold.  The author didn't have them as soul-mates, destined to be together for all eternity within the first chapter, instead he slowly developed the couple into something believable.

The writing as expected was crisp and flowed seamlessly. The dialogue was witty and the story kept me hooked. Although one minor problem I had was that I would've liked the author to have expanded more in the descriptive department. Nothing too major as I hate overly descriptive passages, but just maybe added few more sentences here or there when describing an introduced character/settings.


I was 99% sure this was going to be an excellent book and my expectations were proven right. I finished the book more or less in one day and now I can't wait for the sequel. My anticipation only marred slightly at knowing how slow the author is in releasing new material.

One last note, I've just realised I should have written a review of the Chance Lee series, but this review would basically be replicated - different story and characters but equally superb.

Out of Ten Stars:


Buy it here:

Saturday 17 May 2014

Flight (The Last Paladin)

Flight (The Last Paladin Series) by Jason Cheek

Front Cover


Flight, The Last Paladin Series is an Urban Fantasy story set in two worlds, present day Florida and an alternate world named Irlendria.  
Sentenced to death for his Bloodright, Startüm Ironwolf has fought for life since the time of his birth. Born a half-breed and a Paladin of Ukko, he is the first of his kind. 
When his Father’s people, the Klavikians, are destroyed in an overwhelming surprise attack by invading Toenellian Demonic Hordes, Startüm is spirited away to Earth by his Grandsire, Leader of the Shadowfang Pack.  
Hiding among Humans, Startüm lives in the shadows as he grows and learns to control his powers. On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, the fates of both worlds become irrevocably entwined when the Tuonellians discover Startüm on Earth. Suddenly, Mankind is swept into the middle of a millennium long conflict spanning two worlds and Startüm must find a way to fight his people’s ancient enemy. If not, Humanity will suffer the same fate as the Klavikians.

My Review

This is an urban fantasy book based on Startüm Ironwolf (what a name!), who is a special type of supernatural being - a half werewolf/half Klavikian.

At this point of my review I'd briefly write about the story and just explain the general gist of what happens but having just finished the book I'm still scratching my head wondering what actually happened.

I don't mean that in a totally critical way but the pace of the book was....wow. It was like sitting in a roller coaster. From the first word to the last, the story flew by. Normally I appreciate a fast paced novel but not at the detriment of the story or characterisation - which sadly, was the case with this book on both accounts. 
I would have liked to have some breathing moments, places in the book where I could settle back down and absorb what I've just read and not hurtle down another bend. However, due to the frantic pace of the plot I just couldn't get a feel any of the characters and in the end I was indifferent as to whether any of them died or not. The story also suffered in that I couldn't get a clear picture in my mind of what was happening or where the story was going.

As I mentioned before, this is in a urban fantasy and Jason Cheek does well in creating new supernatural beings and not just writing about the standard stock, but there was a lot of fantasy jargon thrown into such a small amount of pages that it ended up confusing me. From reading the blurb I wanted to learn more about what a Klavikians was, what makes them unique, what are their special traits, but if you asked me now who they are, I'd struggle to form an answer other than they sound vaguely like Klingons.

This is an self-pub book and it does show more clearly than many of the more recent indie novels I've read. There was quite a few typos. Nothing too inimical but it did get a little annoying after the fifth misplaced/misspelt word here or there. A thorough re-editing would catch most if not all of them. 

Okay, I think I've exhausted all the problems I've had with the book, now I'll talk about the positives. The opening chapter was really well written and grabbed my interest immediately. It was one of the better openings I've read this year that I can think of. 

Other than the typos I can't fault Jason Cheek writing. It was crisp, action-packed and fuelled with adrenaline. There's clear evidence illustrating Cheek's talent at writing, it just needs to be refined a bit more.


I can't help but feel that there's an exciting story hidden in this book that just needs the brakes applied to it in order to unearth it.

This is a book that I can see will appeal more to teenagers (minus the blood, gore and violence), more specifically male teenagers who enjoy reading comics. In fact if Flight was made into a comic book then I feel it'd be perfect. Startüm in many ways reminded me of comic book heroes in their unflinching sense of justice and almost omnipotent powers. 

Out of ten stars:


Buy it here:

Sunday 11 May 2014

Gone to Ground

Gone to Ground by Cheryl Taylor.

Front Cover


Following a deadly outbreak of influenza which decimates the population of the planet, the government issues orders that all remaining citizens are to report to designated Authorized Population Zones so that resources may be fairly distributed. 

Journalist Maggie Langton, determined not to let her son, Mark, grow up in the dangerous environment of the APZ, decides to run for the empty ranch land of northwestern Arizona. When she runs into O’Reilly, a fugitive ex-Enforcer, she grudgingly admits she needs help developing those skills needed to live on a small ranch camp. What she doesn’t expect, however, is that with knowledge of how to live rough, O’Reilly also possesses a darker knowledge: knowledge much more dangerous, and knowledge which the government will do anything to suppress. 

Maggie and O’Reilly find themselves in a fight to keep their newly formed family safe and out from under the rule of the controlling new government. At the same time they discover a conspiracy much deeper than anyone had believed possible.

My Review

This is a post-apocalyptic type story set in a desolate America after a deadly outbreak of influenza has decimated the population. The story follows Maggie, a recent widow and a mother to a 11yr old son. She tries to make a new life for herself and her son by living off an abandoned ranch in Arizona. The only problem is that she hasn't the faintest idea on how to live off the land.
The other main character is O'Reily, an Enforcer for the new government who becomes disillusioned by the brutality of the job and decides to run away. He stumbles across Maggie and insinuates himself with the pair. Initially, Maggie is distrustful of O'Reily but that mistrust eventually wears away over time, and friendship blossoms.

For a post-apocalyptic story I rather enjoyed reading this one. It didn't focus heavily on the whole end of the world situation which was refreshingly nice. Sometimes these types of books can invest too much time on the how's and the why's, which is perfectly fine if you're into that but I prefer reading about the story and the characters that have to live their lives in such worlds. And to be honest you could read this book and forget that mankind is on the brink of extinction.

One of the strong points in this novel was the character development. Both, Maggie and O'Reily were well developed and you can see a palpable change in their personality over the course of the book. Their characters were easy to relate to and cheer for.

The writing was good and the plot flowed along nicely. I didn't spot any typos but then again I wasn't look too hard for them. One minor point of criticism I had was that the story suffered with a bit too much description. I understand that the author wanted to paint a vivid picture of the setting and that picture was certainly painted but I did find myself disinterested reading about every brook or rock in the story.

My Conclusion

An enjoyable read and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the sequel. 

If you're looking for an after-the-end type book, but one that focuses more on the characters and their struggle to survive then I highly recommend this one. However, if you're looking for something more hard-core then you won't find it here.

Out of 10 Stars:



Buy it here: