Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Vampire Outlaw: A Historical Vampire Novel

Vampire Outlaw: A Historical Vampire Novel
Vampire Outlaw: A Historical Vampire Novel by Dan Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dan Davis has built upon the first in his Immortal Knight series by delivering another cracking historical action-adventure. Set amongst the time of King John, the Sheriff of Nottingham and a certain band of outlaws, Davis has produced an excellent twist on a well known legend that he’s mixed in with his ongoing Vampire saga.

As ever the action is brutal and visceral, with medieval war being shown as the gritty, tiring, bloody mess it is, not as the movie-fu style swordplay you sometimes read about or see in the movies. The vampires are typically brutal, with our hero fighting not only them but his own internal struggles.

The knowledge the author has of the period is clear for all to see and you get a real sense of “place” when reading it. The characters are well written, each with their own distinct personas, including historical figures who have been brought to life so well in this story.

If I was going to compare this to current works I’d liken it to the Conn Iggulden War of the Roses series. The era is different, but the sense of place and the authentic feel of the era are just as well captured.

A worthy follow up to Vampire Crusader, and can’t wait for book 3.

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Message Bearer Reviews

We’re approaching 3 months since Message Bearer was let loose amongst the world and I’m pleased to say it’s managed to obtain some decent reviews as well. In the interests of sharing the love, it only seems fair that I share this good feedback now, before anyone sneaks a one star review on to Amazon 🙂

Review from Paranormal Bookworms Unite (5 Stars)

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Yep that’s right! This is a five star book easily!

Seb is introduced into a world he never thought existed when he is drawn to a place. He seems to be drawn to many places. The most recent place he was drawn to changed his life forever. He never thought that he would find this much out about the world, let alone himself. He doesn’t know how to handle it at first, but then things take a huge change when he learns to control an unexpected power that he can channel.

I was caught up in this book. This book has so much action, that I found myself fighting sleep night after night as I read on. When I gave in to going to bed I found myself thinking about the book, and wondering what would happen next. I fell asleep thinking about the book, and woke up thinking that I couldn’t wait till the time came when I could pick up the book again, after other life issues were taken care of course. It is not often that this happens with a book. Only a book that I am so thrilled to read could cause this reaction out of me. I also found myself talking to my boyfriend about the book. He is not a reader, but still humored me, because he knows that reading makes me happy. I happy to declare this book as a favorite of mine.

If you are looking for an action packed book that is high fantasy, and has a good load of paranormal excitement thrown in then give this book a shot, because chances are you will not regret reading this one. That is how thrilling this book is. Do not miss out!

Review from Ingenius Cat (4 Stars)

Boy meets girl, girl is killed by demon, boy discovers he’s a wizard and is trained by secret demon hunters.

The protagonist, Seb, is nearly killed when he tries to save a woman from a demonic creature from another dimension. She dies but inserts what could be a highly important message in his brain. Naturally, the bad guys now want to capture Seb. Luckily for him, he’s picked up by the other side instead, and they decide to train him in magic so they can retrieve the message.

What could be a thoroughly cliche plot is lifted by a good dose of skulduggery: the bad guys are bad, but there aren’t any straightforwardly ‘good’ guys. From an engaging opening, the story romps along with plenty of action. Possibly too much action, because I was getting a bit bored of fight scenes and was glad of the break when magic training started. Indeed, I would have been happy to have more of that, since the magic system is quite original and interesting.

What others are saying about Message Bearer:

“It was immediately obvious that the author had a fully realized mythology for the reader to uncover through the plot. The real-world setting is northern England, which is wonderful because most UK-set urban fantasy takes place in London and this was a refreshing change. But there is an entire universe behind this one, and in fact there are multiple universes with a rich history and the vast scope and ambition is pretty astonishing. The impressive thing is that everything fits together perfectly.”  (Amazon.com)

“What a fabulous read. The first chapter draws you in with action and mystery, and its a wild ride from there. Great world building, look forward to reading more!

Not only a well thought out story, but the prose is careful and endearing.” (Amazon.com)

If anyone is interested in being a reviewer for the Message Bearer in exchange for a free review copy please drop me a mail at mike@msdobing.com

AuranChronicles_CVR_MED

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Review: Vampire Crusader

Vampire Crusader
Vampire Crusader by Dan Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vampire Crusader follows the adventures of young knight Sir Richard of Ashbury who battles the terrifying William de Ferrer throughout history.

The story is vivid and gripping, and you find yourself enthralled in the world the author has created. It is obvious a great deal of research has gone into the historical elements of the book and this only adds to its authenticity. Such characters as King Richard the Lionheart (who until know only existed as Sean Connery in my head!) are brought to life as living, breathing characters rather than names from history. This particular entry in the series follows the Crusades where Richard, through his pursuit for vengeance, finds himself following King Richard to battle in the Holy Land against Saladin and his armies. Whilst the focus is on Richard and his personal story, this is subtly blended in with the wider events as a whole which gives a wider context to the story and its events.

Whilst the novel is about vampires, it is done in a subtle way rather than having any kind of stereotypes (both modern and old) that scream “vampire story”. These creatures are strong, fast and savage, but from the perspective of our hero and those around them they are obviously different, but treated with an air of mystery that I look forward to exploring in future books in the series.

I should also draw attention to the depictions of combat within the novel. It is gritty, brutal but feels so authentic. Rarely have I read battle scenes where I could practically feel the cut of the blade through muscle or the breaking of bone and cartilage. It’s grim, but necessarily so and really adds to the realistic feel of the book.

Richard himself is an interesting character. You feel through his narration the years of hell he’s been through (over 800 years of them!) without him having to explicitly describe them. This is a hero who’s been through hell many times over, and there’s almost a world-weariness about him that layers his perspective. When some of the bad things happen to him (and I mean, bad!) you genuinely feel the rage he feels and I was racing through the pages purely to see if the wrong-doers would get their comeuppance.

As the story progresses more layers are peeled back in both on the vampire mythology itself and Richard’s history. There’s an excellent balance of both that promises good things for book 2.

Really enjoyed Vampire Crusader. Once I’d picked it up I raced through it. Recommend.

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Review: Sing Me To Sleep

Sing Me To Sleep
Sing Me To Sleep by Chris Simms
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t actually finished this yet (90% on kindle) but after reading well into the night yesterday I had to let people know about this little gem.

It’s a fairly standard ghost story in terms of set up (isolated cottage, sinister history, remote village etc) but it’s the deftness that Chris links this altogether that has me enthralled. The tension builds up throughout the story, and as each layer is peeled away it draws you in further, so much so you don’t want to leave!

The characters are vivid, and you really feel for Laura as she battles to save her sanity when those around her don’t share the same faith in her. There’s some history around her that’s subtly intertwined into the text that never feels like an “info dump”, and even the responses of those around her feel genuine and not just horror stereotypes (disbelieving husband, cynical authorities etc).

Can’t wait to finish this tonight!

A brilliant page turner that had me reading on into the small hours. Recommend.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Some Thoughts

DANGER WILL ROBINSON – SPOILERS AHEAD – DANGER!

 

 

I MEAN IT!

 

 

 

DON’T LOOK ANY FURTHER….

 

 

Okay, I’ve seen The Force Awakens (TFA) now, and I’ve had time to sit, think and contemplate…

What did I think?

In short – I liked it. I liked it a lot.

Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t (I’ll come to that), but it laid an excellent foundation from which to build the the rest of the trilogy on.

What Worked:

  1. The new cast as a whole were great. Daisy Ridley I felt was excellent as Rey, as was John Boyega as Finn. Both brought a good balance to their roles that capture both the seriousness and the humor that Star Wars is about. I also liked Poe Dameron as the hot shot X-Wing pilot. Was he a bit too “cool for school”? Damn right he was, perhaps a little too “cool”, but on the whole he served the role of jock pilot perfectly.
  2. Kylo Ren…..Kylo, Kylo, Kylo. Loved this guy. A wannabe  Vader with temper issues. I liked the fact he wasn’t ice cool and totally evil. He was conflicted, and he showed it well. He also wasn’t an unbeatable bad a*s either, as shown when he nearly got his own handed to him by Rey near the end. Although to be fair being shot by a bowcaster AND having lightsabre wounds already will hinder a person, Force-imbued or not.
  3. The effects were suitable enhanced for the modern area, but they didn’t feel too CGI (I’m looking at you, Prequels!) either. They captured the world of Star Wars perfectly, and the action felt real enough without getting too Private Ryan.
  4. A lot “worked” for me overall. Rather than justifying individual points here, let’s just say the cast, the effects, the world – on the whole, they just worked.

What Didn’t Quite Work:

A few things really, although none of them were too bad in my opinion.

  1. The plot beats. Basically this was Star Wars: A New Hope with fancy bells and whistles on. We follow a young person (Rey) stuck on a desert planet (Jaku), who’s plucked from obscurity when she happens upon a droid (BB8) carrying essential data for the Resistance. She then joins up with the Resistance and assists in their mission against the Death Star – Premium edition. If we change Rey for Luke, Jaku for Tantooine and the Resistance for the Rebellion we have A New Hope all over again. Sure, there are also many differences, but the core beats are the same.
  2. A Stormtrooper wielding an anti-lightsabre type weapon. Really? I mean, really? The Jedi, lightsabres etc are considered myth now, so when someone signs up to stormtrooper training school is there really a class called “Light Sabre Defense with a Lightning Stick – 101”? Did you see the size of that weapon? Why would a storm trooper carry that around in a battle, just on the off chance he ran into a lightsabre-carrying opponent? And what are the odds that Finn lost his blaster at that moment? A quick blast on that trooper would’ve ended that scene then and there (think Indiana Jones and that guy with the sword – bang!)! Yeah. I didn’t like that one.
  3. Luke. Not enough of him, although I understand why. If he’d been in more he would’ve stolen the film from the newbies.
  4. Starkiller base. Yes, it’s powerful. Yes it can destroy an entire star system but to design the same thing, again, with the same stupid design flaw allowing it to be blow up from some central power regulator type thing, that’s uncool. Where does the First Order get its architects from? Did they not look at SharePoint for the lessons learned logs from the past 2 death stars? Doh.
  5. The New Republic. Where are they? Why aren’t they fighting the First Order? The Resistance are sort of painted as an extremist faction funded by the NR but with plausible deniability. What’s that about? And who – WHO – leaves their entire fleet round one planet just in case something catastrophic happens? It would appear they do!

Random Thoughts

  • Rey is Luke’s daughter. Kylo saved her from the Jedi massacre and left her for dead. Luke left her on Jaku so that she wouldn’t be exposed to the Force and it’s machinations anymore.
  • Rey will go to the dark side. Did you see her when she was fighting Kylo? There some powerful emotions there. I suspect she might’ve killed Kylo if the world hadn’t split in half!
  • Let’s leave Leia out of it now. With Han, erm, doing what he did, we don’t need them anymore. Let’s move on with the new team. We need Luke, obviously, but hopefully he’ll just be the new Obi Wan and nothing more.
  • Kylo must come to the light at some point. He’s got a great journey to evolve over, I’m sure. Heroic sacrifice beckons at some point, mark my words.
  • Snoke – who the hell is this guy? He’s obviously strong in the Dark Side, but where’s he been all this time? Is he Darth Plaguesis? Someone else? Perhaps he’s a corrupted Luke clone from the hand that vanished in Empire Strikes Back?

Summary

Like I said, I liked this a lot. I think it’s an 8/10. A good start, bridging the old with the new. I can’t wait for the second installment, and am looking forward to the other films in the anthology too.

Right, back to writing. Forgot about that for a time…