Book Review: The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl by Martin Lastrapes

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Title: The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl
Series: The Vampire and the Hunter Trilogy, Book One
Author: Martin Lastrapes
Publisher: Cannibal Press
Publication Date: March 18, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal



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The Vampire, the Hunter, and the GirlThe Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl
The Vampire and the Hunter Trilogy, Book One
Martin Lastrapes
Cannibal Press, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-9857043-2-2
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Adam and Jesus (the vampire and the hunter) have an innate antagonism, which is only heightened once they discover they’re competing for the affections of the same girl. Olivia (the girl) is an aspiring author struggling to write a vampire novel. What none of them yet know is there’s a menacing force looming that will change the course of their lives forever.


If ever a book had me coming and going, this one is it. It’s most certainly not your usual kind of vampire book if there even is such a thing as a usual vampire book. Here we have the dark side, a good bit of romance, more than a dash of humor but, thank heavens, no sparkly. From one moment to the next, I wasn’t sure which of these temperaments I was going to get. Then there’s a multitude of characters which was okay but, as much as I like character development, it was really overdone here. I knew more about the most obscure player than I would ever hope to and I suspect all the backstory could have been pared down by at least 15% of the book. And I could have done without the discussion of bodily functions and the overabundance of sexual activity and descriptions.

The pacing of what could be an exciting plot was almost glacial for much of the book with various chapters harking back to earlier situations but largely because so much of it is Adam telling Olivia how the vampire world works so she can write a book about vampires. Telling is just not as much fun as showing, you know? I also didn’t care much for the frequent re-telling of scenes from various characters’ points of view. I like multiple POV but not when it’s used to repeat scenes over and over.

BUT…I truly enjoyed this book in spite of all that. I mean, how can you not love a vampire who goes bowling? Throw in a bunch of wrestling, some stripping, illegal immigration, a barbershop for vampires, an exceedingly odd love triangle and a mean, nasty vampire named Victus (my favorite kind) and you’ve got a mishmash of fun and ick and horror and all the things that come with a good vampire novel. Dracula makes an appearance and it turns out he’s into superheroes 😉

And then there’s Frank who makes Victus look like a Sunday school teacher. When Adam, Olivia and Jesus find out what has to be done about this very peculiar vampire, life is not so rosy anymore. I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next in The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Witch.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.

About the Author

Martin Lastrapes 2MARTIN LASTRAPES won the GRAND PRIZE at the 2012 PARIS BOOK FESTIVAL for his debut novel INSIDE THE OUTSIDE.

He grew up in the Inland Empire, has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Composition from Cal State San Bernardino, watches his favorite movies over and over again, learned many a lesson from professional wrestling, wonders if he’ll ever be famous enough to be on “Dancing With the Stars,” thinks good stand-up comedy is rare and under appreciated, is scared of Vladimir Putin, wonders if it’s too late to learn how to play the guitar, gets depressed when he hears the theme song from “M*A*S*H,” wonders why Teen Wolf never made it to the NBA, and wants Morgan Freeman to narrate his life.

He is also the host of THE MARTIN LASTRAPES SHOW PODCAST HOUR. Subscribe on iTunes or listen on the official website New episodes every week.


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Book Review: A Man of His Own by Susan Wilson

A Man of His OwnA Man of His Own
Susan Wilson
St. Martin’s Press, September 2013
ISBN 978-1-250-01436-8

From the publisher—

Rick Stanton was a promising professional baseball player with dreams of playing in the major leagues and starting a family with his young wife, Francesca, when World War II changed everything.  Rick returns from the war with his body broken and his dreams shattered.  But it was not just body and spirit he sacrificed for the war. He and Francesca volunteered their beloved dog, Pax, for the Army’s K-9 Corp, not knowing if they’d ever see him again.

Keller Nicholson is the soldier who fought the war with Pax by his side, and the two have the kind of profound bond that can only be forged in war.  Pax is the closest Keller has to a sense of family, and he can’t bear the thought of returning him to the Stantons.  But Rick and Francesca refuse to give him up.  Instead, an arrangement is made: Keller will work as Rick’s live-in aide. And thus an unlikely family is formed, with steadfast Pax at the center.   As they try to build a new life out of the ashes, Keller and Francesca struggle to ignore their growing attraction to each other, and Rick, believing that he can no longer give Francesca what she needs and wants, quietly plans a way out.

All three of them need healing. All three of them are lost. And in Susan Wilson’s A Man of His Own, Pax, with his unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, may be the only one who can guide them home.

 I’ve read a number of “life of a dog” books that take you from the pup’s early days to the end of his life (or close to it) but this one is very different. A Man of His Own is the story of a service dog who spends his life in more than one kind of service and it brings together the very diverse worlds of war and baseball.

Rick is at the beginning of what should be a promising professional career in the sport he loves, baseball, as he’s been called up to a AA team, the Hartford Bees. Then, he literally trips over a frightened puppy and we get a first glimpse of what kind of man Rick is, the kind who worries about betraying an animal’s trust. This little German Shepherd now has a name, Pax, and a home.

Seemingly a world away but connected by the lure of baseball, Francesca grows up wanting more for herself than a farming life. Visiting a cousin in Boston, she has her first encounter with her future at a game between her beloved St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Braves. As it turns out, that future will include a very special dog who isn’t at all sure Francesca is worthy of Rick.

And then war comes and life changes dramatically for everyone in this little family. It’s difficult to say whether Rick’s condition after war or Pax’s introduction to the battlefield is more traumatic but, certainly, life will never be the same again for any of them or for Keller, the man who fought by Pax’s side.

This is a tale that could be really depressing and, in some ways, it is, but it’s the love these people and this dog have for each other that rises to the surface and has ingrained itself into my “book memory”. Each character is vividly drawn and captured my heart but it’s Pax who ties it all together and it’s Pax who represents the possibilities that exist in the face of tragedy. I will remember Rick, Francesca, Keller and this wonderful dog for a long time, especially when I see news reports of our contemporary war veterans and their canine partners. Ms. Wilson knows the hearts of people and dogs and the tale she has woven is as comforting and joyful as it is sad and tragic.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

Book Reviews: Forevermore by Cindy Miles and Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith

Cindy Miles
Point, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42622-0
Trade Paperback

Ah, the quintessential love story.  This is the Hershey’s chocolate bar.  It is the song that makes you grin, pump up the volume and dance.  It is, in a word, awesome.

Ripped from her home in sultry South Carolina to start a new life in an ancient Scottish castle, Ivy exhibits courage and strength as she grimly strives to accept her fate.  This reader couldn’t help but fall in love with this spunky, violin-wielding character.  She is pretty much everything I wanted to be as a teen-aged girl.  Her admirable qualities include confidence, a remarkably open mind and a quiet, but unmistakable, resolve as she is forced to face unknown adversaries.  Who doesn’t want to be a tough, cool chick with a huge (hidden) romantic streak?

Speaking of romance, enter Logan Munro.  From the author’s amazing descriptions, I know he is no less than dreamy.  With his rugged good looks, charming Scottish brogue and fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards Ivy, I fell for him immediately.  Of course, life is never so simple.  Despite the obvious attraction and compatibility, Logan and Ivy know that they can never be together, in a conventional sense.  Ivy is alive and well and Logan is…………not.  Being young, they don’t fight their feelings, they simply strive to accept the companionship that they can have… least for as long as Logan’s soul is lingering in limbo.

This unique relationship is not the biggest problem Ivy faces.  The malevolent force that seemed determine to destroy her has shifted its focus to her beloved mother.  Ivy must stop the evil quickly or she will lose her mom forever.   Figuring out how to end the black madness is one thing; knowing that her success may cost her Logan is quite another.

With her enchanting words, Ms. Miles paints a gorgeous picture of Scotland and its magnificent architecture.  Feeling emerged in the scenes, the story seemed to wrap around me….almost like falling into a dream.  This is the only book that I can recall that warmed my heart as is simultaneously chilled me to the bone.

**Sidebar regarding Labeling:  I appreciate that this book falls into the Middle Grade genre, as it is most certainly appropriate for that age group; however, I fear that this limits the potential audience.  I have celebrated my 40th birthday (and then some) and I often dig into very serious and heavy non-fiction, “adult-themed” books.  This does not preclude me from enjoying a great story that is told amazingly well.  Forevermore is such a story.   Please, put the label aside and enjoy.**

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2013.


Summer of the WoodsSummer of the Woods
Steven K. Smith
MyBoys3 Press, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-9893414-1-7
Trade Paperback

If Mr. Smith’s first book is an indication of things to come, he will quickly become one of my son’s favourite authors.  Mine too, actually.  Although The Boy, an 8-year old 3rd grader, loves to read on his own, he still indulges my Mommy Moments and allows me to occasionally read a book with him.  To me, Summer of the Woods is the ideal book for this, because it has something for adults, as well as for children.

As if by magic, Mr. Smith presents the perfect combination of nostalgia and modern day.  This exemplifies the summers I remember.  Freely roaming all around, turning over rocks in creeks, exploring woods and caves while our imaginations provided limitless adventures.  Kids being kids.  Good times, good stuff.

On the other hand, there are some pretty cool tools that we, as parents, have today, that I bet my folks would have welcomed.  Google.  Oh, how I love Google, as a mom.  Kids will always be curious, and the “new” advantage of quickly answering their questions with information and pictures at your fingertips allows their little minds to just keep going and going.  Which is why they are so darn smart, as brilliantly demonstrated in this story.

Two young boys move to Richmond, Virginia; into a large, old house, backed by woods and a winding creek.  So, yes, I am a bit biased, but only because Mr. Smith captures the essence of my home so accurately and vividly.  In no time at all, young Sam finds an old wheat penny, which leads them to the discovery of the legendary mystery.  Supposedly, a valuable and rare coin collection was stolen from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts many, many years ago and was never recovered.  As all good boys would do, the brothers make it their mission to solve the crime and recover the treasure.  What follows is a classic adventure that you simply must experience.

I admit that I went into this book with high expectations.  Not only was I not disappointed, but I was quite surprised to find so many things that I love about this book.  The dialogue and teasing among the family is spot-on.  The mystery was fun, interesting, and authentic.  The boys’ emotions and actions are more than credible—these are typical 8 and 10 year old boys.  The story flowed so smoothly that I actually read this in one sitting, although that wasn’t my plan when I picked it up.

**Sidebar:  For the 3rd consecutive year, all of the students in my son’s elementary school (K-5) will be reading the same book, at the same time, with their families.  The first year was E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and last year was George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square.  Both books were fine, but not necessarily captivating.  Neither The Boy nor I had any desire to quickly seek out more books by these authors (because I had already read Charlotte’s Web about 100 times).  Summer of the Woods is this year’s book.  Yes, I cheated.  I read ahead, and on my own.  I am not even sorry.  But, there is one issue that I foresee.  With the other two books it was very easy to read one chapter each day and then put the book down.  I don’t see that being the case with this page-turner; but, as a reader, I honestly can’t see that as a bad thing. 

I can’t wait to see what the kids think of this story, and I’m already very excited about Mr. Smith’s next book: Mystery on Church Hill. **

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2013.

Book Review: Persona Non Grata by Ruth Downie

Persona Non Grata (published in the UK & Australia as Ruso and the Root of All Evils)
Ruth Downie
Bloomsbury Publishing, August 2010
ISBN 9781608190478
Trade Paperback

“Is it true someone’s trying to bankrupt us?”

Lucius leaned back in their father’s chair and folded his arms. “If I were to say no,” he said, “and ask you to go straight back to Deva for the good of the family, would you do it?”

“I can’t,” Ruso pointed out. “I had to wangle months of leave to get here.”

“So you can’t go back to the Legion.” Lucius managed to look even more depressed.

“Arria says somebody’s applied for a seizure order.”

Lucius let out a long breath. “There’s a law somewhere,” he said, “that says you can’t take out a seizure order against someone who’s away from home on public service.”

Ruso began to grasp the nature of the problem. “Does that apply to an ordinary man in the army?”

“The last thing I would have done, brother, was to ask you to come home.”

“So it’s true then? We have a legal problem?”

“We do now,” said Lucius.

In Persona Non Grata, the third in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series set in second-century Roman Britannia, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British companion Tilla (also known as Darlughdacha of the Corionotatae among the Brigantes) travel to southern Gaul, summoned by an ominous letter that says only, “Lucius to Gaius. Come home, brother.” As their father’s heir and effective (if not necessarily effectual) paterfamilias, Ruso has known for some time of his family’s precarious financial situation, legacy of the massive debts their father incurred during his second marriage. Fearing the worst, Ruso arranges leave from his duties as surgeon to the XX Legion and hurries home.

When he arrives on the family estate a few miles outside Nemausus (modern-day Nîmes), Ruso finds the situation is much worse than he imagined, and that they are facing imminent seizure of everything they own. According to Roman law, the seizure order couldn’t go into effect so long as Ruso remained in Britain. Thus his homecoming is greeted not with open arms but consternation.

The threat of foreclosure soon turns out to be the least of Ruso’s problems, however, when the man who had filed the claim—who also happens to be married to Ruso’s former wife—dies by poisoning shortly after arriving to discuss settlement terms with Ruso.

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