Ursula K Raphael (AstraDaemon)
Ursula K Raphael is the real name behind the horror alias AstraDaemon at The Zombiephiles. She had many adventures in various locations before settling near Grand Rapids, MI. When she isn't writing about the undead, this homeschooling mama reviews additional genres at various sites, spends time on several hobbies, and constantly updates her preparations for any possible apocalyptic event.
In September 2011, Ursula released her first post-apocalyptic short story, The Survivor.
Where to find Ursula K Raphael (AstraDaemon) online
Where to buy in print
This member has not published any books.
Smashwords book reviews by Ursula K Raphael (AstraDaemon)
- Zomblog: The Final Entry
on Oct. 14, 2011
The brief introduction by Lisa Conger (author of Death by Dad) sums up what has happened to Meredith, the current journal keeper in the Zomblog series, during the zombie apocalypse.
Zomblog: The Final entry begins January 1st, two years after Sam started his blog in the first novel of the trilogy. The Corridor (Hwy 26) between The Warehouse Complex, The Sunset Fortress and The Mansion is finally complete. It has been keeping the wandering zombies to a minimum.
While Meredith has been regaining her strength, her dog named Sam has been getting trained to detect zombies. This comes in handy when she decides to leave for Vegas. Eric Grayfeather accompanies Meredith. Most of the journal entries in the first half of the novel are brief and straight to the point, making this a quick read.
The two travelers cross paths with several survivor camps, and each one has its own strange qualities. At one point, Meredith mentions the problem with zombie wolves.
I was about 34% through the book when I realized that Meredith would never be able to redeem herself in my eyes, and then my opinion of her dropped even lower after that. I never liked her character to begin with, but I absolutely hated her by the end of Zomblog III. I would rather have The Governor from The Walking Dead as a travel companion than Meredith...Meredith is definitely my favorite female character in a zombie novel to hate on.
Despite my feelings about Meredith, I loved The Final Entry. It was a smooth way to wrap up the Zomblog trilogy. It gives the readers of view of how the US has been handling its post-apocalyptic business.
I especially loved the epilogue.
- Alien Apocalypse - The Hunger
on Nov. 20, 2011
This story is very brief glimpse of what happened before Alien Apocalypse: The Storm. Readers are shown the murder that resulted in Leon's prison sentence, as well as Elliot's personal reaction to the fate of his parents. The most interesting part is the POV of the alien entity, describing the journey to Earth and the way the entity views our planet.
While the alien POV was a nice touch, I prefer the way Leon was written in The Storm. This prequel was somewhat inconsistent with the writing style of the first book.
I still can't wait for the sequel to Th Storm. Giles is an excellent sci-fi author.
- Uncivil Dead
on Dec. 01, 2011
At first, both Union and Confederate soldiers think they are dealing with rabid cannibals, but it doesn’t take them very long to figure out they are dealing with the walking dead; it does, however, take the Union soldiers nearly halfway through the book before they realize it takes a head shot to kill the zombies…the Confederate soldiers weren’t nearly as fortunate. There is a Union doctor who tries to study the infected by tying infected to trees, but he can’t find the cause or a cure.
Eventually the two opposing forces come to the conclusion that they need each other to survive the outbreak, but it’s too little, too late. Coe kept me guessing about who might make it to the end of the book, which was refreshing -- I don’t care for predictable storylines. The virus was just as mysterious; it spread to both humans and animals, but the source was never mentioned or even hinted at. Coe wrote in such stunning historical detail that I did some research to see if there was a real Walnut Woods where troops from both the North and South went missing without explanation, but, apparently, Coe just has a very vivid imagination. SPOILER ALERT: While Coe took some major liberties with the timeline of known American History, the North still wins.
If you enjoy historical fiction and the zombie genre, you might enjoy this mix of the two, but don't expect as much gore as the more modern zombie stories.
- Dead: Fortunes & Failures
on Dec. 20, 2011
In Dead: Ugly Beginning, the first book in this series, the POV switched between various individuals and groups, but the shifts were easy to follow, despite the large cast. The book had ended with a huge cliffhanger.
In the second book, Dead: Revelations, there were fewer main characters to keep track of, due to the zombie hordes, and a nut-job militia group led by a man named Shaw. The survivors also discovered more about the nature of the zombie virus, such as immunity to bites.
In Dead: Fortunes & Failures, Garrett is still torturing his “toy,” the Jennifer-zombie is still wandering around, and the other groups are facing some major changes. Steve’s group has to figure out who is murdering members of their group, and they suspect it’s one of their own. Juan’s group is attempting to fortify their island, but clash with another group that seeks refuge there. The “Geek” group joins forces with Peter’s group of escapees from The Basket, and Shaw decides to hunt them down himself. There are several pregnancies that complicate the living situation in some of the groups, and everyone is questioning how the apocalypse has changed them. Many are worried they are headed down an unredeemable path.
This is definitely the best of the three Dead books.
- Cameron's Law
on Jan. 10, 2012
I read a short story by Mia Darien in the anthology, Wake Up Dead, and wanted to read more of her work. Cameron's Law didn't disappoint. As a matter of fact, it was refreshing to read a paranormal crime novel with supernatural characters that did not rely on gore and sex to propel the storyline. Darien actually took the time to write quality thriller with an abundance of nail-biting mystery and suspense.
Preternatural Expert Advisor, Sadie Stanton has opened her own agency to provide paranormal services and help supernatural citizens adjust to a more public life. She is also a vampire, and a major proponent of Cameron's Law, which gives rights to vampires, werewolves, and other species. She is assisted by a werewolf, Madison. The interaction between these two characters and others in their office pulled me into the story from the beginning of the novella. I was very eager to learn more about the fascinating world that Darien created; I have a serious appreciation for authors who fashion the settings before the characters, without relying on elaborate set-ups or spending too much time on unnecessary details.
Detective Vance Johnston is a shape-shifter investigating recent attacks on werewolves by vampires. Concerned that the unrest will undo Cameron's Law, Vance and Sadie work with the leaders of the Pack and Coven to find out what has triggered the unsanctioned violence between the species. In the process, Sadie is framed for the murders of a slayer and a shifter, but she finds help in the unlikely form of a Hunter named Dakota.
The story is followed by a Guide to the Preternatural, which includes information on the array of characters within Cameron's Law: vampires, shape-shifters/shifters/were-creatures, humans with paranormal abilities (animators, necromancers, summoners, and psychics), and lesser-known species (theriomorph, fae & daemons).
I can't wait to read more by Darien!
- When Forever Died
on Feb. 16, 2012
This book is part of the Adelheid series, and it takes place chronologically after Cameron’s Law, but it is not necessarily a sequel. This time the POV comes from Dakota, the Hunter who made a few appearances in the previous book. While I felt that the character Dakota lost some of her edge that she projected in CL, I still thought the story was a fantastic mystery-thriller filled with supernatural beings. With all the different species in the world that Darien created, I’m glad she is continuing this series, and I like how each novel can function as a stand-alone.
Darien did a great job tying Dakota’s two separate cases together with her flashbacks of past centuries, and I loved the extra angle with the reincarnated souls. The use of mythology was incredible. I thought this story went deeper with the secondary characters than the first novel in the series. I just wish the ending had been a little longer - it seemed a bit rushed…almost too neat & tidy considering all the obstacles Dakota has to overcome in this story. I would have liked to specifically see more about her reunion with a long lost character from Dakota’s distant past - even if it was an explanation of where that person had been during the centuries they spent apart.
I would love to see the next book center on the werewolf secretary, Madison...I’d like to see her POV after reading about Sadie and Dakota at the Stanton Agency…maybe even Vance too. I’ve enjoyed the main characters being strong women who don’t need a male character to rescue them, but I think it would be interesting to have a Vance’s take on the women who provide the agency’s paranormal services.
on Sep. 29, 2012
I was hoping that the third book would feature the POV of the secretary, Madison, who is a werewolf, but Darien took the series in a surprisingly new direction. Not only is the main character a human is turned into a vampire against his will, but up until now, most of Darien’s plots have revolved around strong female characters.
In Voracious, “D” is a guy who has recently been turned, and due to his new life requirements, seeks employment at the Stanton Agency. This gives readers the chance to see the main characters from the first two books in a completely objective way. However, the ladies of the Stanton Agency play very small roles in this installment. “D” also struggles with the additional problem of having recently created another new vampire himself – completely unplanned, of course.
One of the things I enjoy about Darien’s writing is the spectacular one-liners strewn throughout the book:
“…he came to the club every night looking like he’d been beaten with a glitter stick and enjoyed it.”
Her writing style adds that extra dimension to the characters, making them more realistic, even if they do live in unusual circumstances.
As always, the story is followed by a Guide to the Preternatural, which includes information on the array of characters within Cameron's Law: vampires, shape-shifters/shifters/were-creatures, humans with paranormal abilities (animators, necromancers, summoners, and psychics), and lesser-known species (theriomorph, fae & daemons).
If you haven’t started this series, do so. I also recommend this as a gift for any fan of the fantasy/horror genre – with three books already available in the series, there’s plenty to keep readers busy until the fourth book.