I enjoyed Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde. The characters were varied and well developed. The action was fast paced. The adversaries were diverse in this universe. Yes, there were zombies. But the human monsters had a larger collection of motivations than usual. Besides survival and greed, there were a few that I had not expected and worked very well in the story. At some point, I will pick up the next in the series because I am interested to see what happens to the characters next. The book ended with not just a cliffhanger but a mystery too. If you love zombies, check this one out. You will not be disappointed.
Sherry and I participated in Goodreads 2016 TBR Twins Challenge. We chose to read Feed (Newsflesh Book 1) by Mira Grant. It was a very good choice.
When Sherry was about one third of the way through the book, she shared with me, “it's an interesting concept of how the whole thing came to be and about blogging. I kind of like the blogging aspect as now in 2016 you don't see much bloggers. It is like they say, mostly teenagers blogging about their depress/antsy life. I used to do that all during high school.
I thought the blogging aspect was cool. It is a more rounded view of what is happening. Not just one person or one organization. What I really like is that it is a zombie apocalypse where civilization has not totally fallen. There is still a government. Still communication. Still the trappings of a normality. Yet there is this constant threat. If you replace "zombie" with "terrorist", it lends itself to a very good conversation. I grew up during the cold war. While we lived everyday normal lives, there was a threat constantly hanging over our heads but not visible. This book reminds me of that type of threat that is there but not there. I
When Sherry finished the book, her summary was, “I LOVE IT!!!!! I can't wait for book #2. I don't want to spoil it for you but sad ending. I also think it's awesome that society did not fall. In movies you always see humanity fallen, people just savage and live off the grid. I like that it is still organized and civilized.
Once I finished I decided I would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Again the main selling point for me was the uniqueness of a not completely fallen civilization. The ending was sad but left room for so much more to happen. I liked seeing Shawn grow from idiot brother to a fully realized character.
As you can tell both Sherry and I were captivated by a semi-apocalypse. Most post apocalypse books I have encountered are somewhat of a scorched earth, nothing left, no civilization, no infrastructure, no communications. It was so refreshing to read a book that still has government and lights and communication. It sets a totally different feel for the book. As I referenced above, the concept of safe areas where no one is truly safe is probably the most horribly aspect of the book. Sherry and I would both highly recommend it.
I also picked up the Audible version of Feed and found it to be wonderful. The narrators, Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein did a fantastic job. The production values were perfect. 5 of 5 stars.
I recently reviewed Audible version of The Scattered and the Dead, Book 0.5. As I said in my review of it, I totally got lost in a new universe.
The Scattered and the Dead 0.5 follows only one person Decker. His story begins twenty-one days before and continues until 57 days after. I think, but am not positive that the before/after dividing line is the night Decker sees “brightest light flashed in the window. It was like a gigantic flashbulb went off in the sky, so brief that I almost thought I might have imagine it somehow.”
The Scattered and the Dead Book 1 is a much larger cast and time period. The easiest way to illustrate this is to list the character’s names and where their stories start in Book 1:
Rex 68 days before
Baghead 9 yrs, 126 days after
Mitch 43 days before
Travis 44 days after
Erin 29 days after
Teddy 69 days after
Ray 3 days before
Lorraine 3 days before
As you can tell by the listing above, the book is not linear. It tells different people's stories with very different starting points. For example, Baghead’s story begins over 9 years after the event while Mitch’s story begins 43 days before. This was the hardest part of the book for me, the chronology. I think in the final version it might not be a bad idea, at least for readers like me, to include a straight timeline with a notation for where each person’s start begins. It would make it easier to visualize what part of the universe they are existing in. If I had any artistic ability (I cannot even draw stick figures), I would make an example.
My inability to keep the chronology straight was a very minor downside for me. The story was wonderful. There were characters like Erin and Mitch that I connected with. And then there were characters like Teddy that made me want to jump into the book and warn the other characters to avoid him at all costs. The ages of the characters vary also from children to middle age.
The situations that characters exist in are not static. Some characters are perpetually moving, either for foraging or for reasons that hopefully Book 2 will explain. Some are hunkered down and just trying to survive for as long as they can. The undead are not the worst monsters in this book. I think the authors do a great job of painting the human monsters in vivid colors. In fact, I can readily visualize some of those human monsters living here in the United States, now, without the apocalypse to create them.
As I said in my review of the first book, the authors have created a post apocalyptic universe that feels different than many of the other I have read (and I have read many). I was hoping to be able to pinpoint this difference after reading Book 1. Unfortunately I cannot. I think it will take Book2 and however many the authors want to write before I can say definitively what makes this universe different. If you like the post apocalyptic genre, this is a great series. Even if you are not a zombie fan, you will still like this series. The zombies are only one part of what drives this book. The Audible version of Book 0.5 was fabulous and I am eagerly awaiting the Audible release of Book 1, hopefully with the same narrator. Looking forward to the next book, as soon as possible (hint to authors). 5 of 5 stars.
Pub Date: Jul 5 2016
I was intrigued by the description, "The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake." The ancient species referred to are spiders. Personally I do not have acrophobia. I think tarantulas are cool. I prefer not to be bit by a spider or walk through one of their webs but they are not the stuff of my nightmares. I was expecting a horror novels with spiders. What I got was spiders as the horror, which I guess they are if you do not like spiders.
The premise involves a new species (or possibly more than one species) of spiders appearing all over the world within a few days. The first ones are in Peru and hitch a ride to the United States on a private jet. At the same time, they pour out of a mine in China in such quantity that the Chinese government drops a nuclear bomb on the area. Some of the Chinese spiders hitch a ride on a container ship and crash into Los Angeles. Most of these spiders are eating all warm blooded creatures in their path, leaving only bones behind. They are appearing is such quantities that they are described as waves of black masses overtaking everything.
The human characters in this book are less interesting than the spiders. The FBI agent, President, White House Chief of Staff and NIH arachnologist (studying the uses of spider venom in medicine) made no connection to me as the readers. They had few redeeming characteristics. The FBI agent was the most sympathetic but barely. The spiders appear and the main characters try to survive and find a solution to stopping the spider apocalypse. I found myself cheering for the spiders, which I do not think it what the author intended.
I love horror. I love the apocalypse genre. I love original stories, which admittedly this was. But it just really did not do it for me.
The ending of The Hatching leads me to believe it will be the first in a series. I will skip the rest of the series.
I received an advanced review copy of The Hatching from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Wicked Boy
The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer
by Kate Summerscale
PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press
Pub Date 12 Jul 2016
I received The Wicked Boy as an advance review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book will be released in July. Put it on your "to read" list now.
The Wicked Boy is a non-fiction look at what happened on July 8, 1895, in East London. Robert Coombes, age 13, and his brother Nathaniel, age 12, left the house to go watch a cricket game. They also left the body of their mother, dead, in her room. One of the boys killed her. They may have conspired to plan her death. The reason may have been her mistreatment of them or the elder brothers need for money to run away and have adventures. There are many "may" statements in the first half of this book.
The first half of the book deals with the murder, the trial and the attitude of the boys during all of those events. What is so striking and still resonating through my mind, is the boys' attitudes and lives before the end of the trial and after. If, as soon by their later lives, the murder was an aberration, a one time event, what led to the murders? It really is a fascinating book. Ms. Summerscale did an unbelievable amount of research to detail the lives of all involved. The epilogue contains one of those very rare moments of serendipity that researchers rarely have. For Ms. Summerscale and the reader, it was a satisfying conclusion to the question of the wickedness of Robert Coombes.
The Comfort of Black
Written by: Carter Wilson
Narrated by: Rebecca Roberts
Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
Publisher: Cherry Hill Publishing, LLC
The Comfort of Black was a good mystery. It had an unexpected twist that I never saw coming. It is difficult to discuss the story without giving anything away but I give you the no spoiler cliff notes version. Hannah grew up with an extremely abusive father. Although all his abuse was directed at her mother, it none the less damage Hannah and her younger sister, Justine.
Years later her abusive background she discusses in therapy but really does not affect her day to day life. She met and married the man of her dreams. When they first met he had just made his first million. Now after five years of marriage he is worth forty million. It all seems ideal which means it is inevitable that it comes crashing down. Hannah’s husband talking in his sleep one night sets in motion a series of events that puts Hannah’s life in danger, leaves dead bodies in it’s wake and changes her forever.
While the story is good, the real treat is the narration of Rebecca Roberts. She never disappoints. All of the voices male and female were very well done. Each character has a distinct voice and emotions that are carried through that voice. Hannah’s voice betrays her insecurity, fear, and anger as the story moves forward. Billy, Hannah’s abusive father, has to be one of the creepiest male voices I have ever heard. The menace and hatred in the voice Rebecca created made me tense up every time I heard it. Rebecca’s pacing is perfect. Her voice matches the flow of the story. The production values were excellent. The Comfort of Black is a very enjoyable thriller/mystery, especially when narrated by Rebecca Roberts.
This is the first time I have listened to a novelization of a movie, and a junior novelization at that. Before I discuss the audiobook I just want to clarify a few points. The junior novel is 5 hours and 22 minutes while the adult novel is 10 hours and 21 minutes. There are two different authors, Michael Kogge for the junior and Alan Dean Foster for the adult. Finally there are different narrators, Jonathan Davis for the junior and Marc Thompson for the adult. Also from the sample on Audible, the adult seems to have background music, which frankly I dislike with a passion so I am very glad I am reviewing the junior novel.I feel it is very important to establish the which age group this audiobook is targeting. I asked a friend in grad school who had already listened to it and it was her opinion it was aimed at high school students. I would say middle school but she is much better educated than I am so we will go with her assessment.
If you have seen the movie, this is not a screenplay converted to prose. It does not contain every line of dialog, every moment of action, nor does it describe every breathtaking scene in detail. For those of a certain age it is like the Reader’s Digest condensed version. But that should in no way scare you away from this title. It has very strong merits of its own.
The story is well told. It includes all the high points and establishes characters well. It does not include sound effects or background music (thank you whoever produced this audiobook). We meet Rey, Poe, Finn and Kylo Ren in the same manner as the movie. This is a spoiler free review so let’s just say there are some familiar faces who also make appearances of varying length.
The production values were very good. There were no extraneous sounds and the volume was a constant level. Mr. Davis did a very good job narration this title. His voice creates the characters well whether they are male, female, homo sapien or other species. I especially appreciated how he did the female voices. Again being a no spoiler review, I can only say that he does almost a spot on imitation of the one male character including the infamous attitude. Mr. Davis’s pace matches the action and emotion he is describing.
I did see the movie but that was about three months ago. The audiobook did a nice job of bringing back the full story to my mind. If you have a child who likes Star Wars, this title is great. If you are an adult who wants a shorter version or a version with speech only, no sound effects, you will enjoy the title, too.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
This audiobook was provided by Audiobook Reviewer at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.
by Melissa Lenhardt
Women's Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
Pub Date 29 Mar 2016
Advanced review copy courtesy of Netgalley
Sawbones was an enjoyable mix of historical fiction, western and romance. Personally I am not a big fan of romance but the romance storyline was in sync with the rest of the story and it worked well. The author states in her afterward that Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove was an inspiration. Her writing has that same feel. Descriptive and lyrical, the story follows a woman physician, Catherine Bennett, in 1871. To say it was rare for a woman to be in that role at that time in history would be an understatement.
Catherine must flee New York City when accused of a crime she did not commit. She and her lifelong servant end up in Texas. Texas in the 1870’s is a very dangerous place. While the majority of the men were off fighting the civil war, the Native Americans reclaimed some of their lost territory. Sherman and Sheridan are dispatched to Texas to solve the “Indian Problem”.
Catherine finds herself right in the middle of Comanche territory, struggling to maintain her alias but unable to resist using her skills as a doctor. The story is very fast past containing fictional characters like Catherine and real people like Sherman and Sheridan.
Sawbones is a quick and enjoyable read. If you would like to read more about this period of history I strongly suggest S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon. It looks like there is a sequel to Sawbones coming. I am looking forward to reading it also. I received an advanced copy of Sawbones from NetGalley in return for a fair review.
The premise behind After the Cure by Deidre Gould is refreshing. It is not the same old same old zombie apocalypse tale. It is very unique in that it presents a society actively and successfully rebuilding. Eight years after the December Plague that cause most people to sudden attack and eat other people, society is slowly pulling itself together again. The reason it can rebuild is because a cure was discovered. It saved people and made them human again. What it did not do was remove the memory of the terrible acts they had committed under the influence of the plague.
The world is divided into Cured (were zombies but were given the cure), Immune (who somehow managed never to be infected) and Zombies that still roam outside the secure areas. The Cured still bear the physical and mental scars of their infection. A high rate of Cured individuals choose to commit suicide rather than live with the memories. There is subtle tension between the Cured and the Immune, not an outright prejudice but the Immune are better off financially.
It is in this time and place that the individuals deemed to be responsible for the outbreak of the plague are being brought to trial. The doctor who is accused of engineering the plague and his assistant are being held for trial. Both must be evaluated for competency to stand trial. The defense lawyer is a Cured individual. The psychologist deciding on the prisoners mental state is an Immune.
There is nothing straight forward or predictable about this book. While it did not have the urgency of attention for me as some other books, I continually come back to it because I wanted to know. What really happened? Who was really responsible? I liked the two main characters. The supporting characters each brought another piece of the world into view. As you met these characters and learned their story, you had a better understanding of the universe they existed in.
I would suggest this book for apocalypse fans. I would especially suggest it for those who want a different perspective such as "what if there was a zombie apocalypse and then it stopped?" After the Cure is the first book in a five book series. I will probably get around to the other four as time and budget allow. I rate After the Cure 4 out of 5 stars with a bonus for being such an original idea.
Hell Freezes Over: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Written by: John G. Hartness
Narrated by: James Foster
Length: 3 hrs and 59 mins
Publisher: Falstaff Books
Very few series can keep my attention past a second book. Hell Freezes Over is the fourth Quincy Harker and I cannot wait for number five. Harker continues to be his same nasty self, even in his sleep. His dreams could provide more than ample material for another whole horror series. But we also see a very different side of Harker. His tenderness and caring for children, although he fights it tooth and nail, shows that he is at heart a good person, or whatever it is he is. The mystery is this book is much harder to solve and has a much higher body count. It also has a possible peak at a future revelation about Harker's guardian angel.
Families are being killed by the fathers of the family who then commit suicide. While it is hard to see crime scene itself, Quincy has a much harder time when the ghost of one of the victims shows up in his apartment. She is a little girl, lost, frightened and confused why her father would hurt her. As Quincy and his partner Rebecca try to solve the first crime, it is repeated with other families. More fathers killing their wives and children, than themselves.
Quincy needs information and the only one who may have the information plays for the other team, the one where it is always hot and smells of brimstone. So Quincy and Rebecca walk into the lion’s den. It is here that James Foster’s narration abilities really shine. Women, children, demons, minotaurs and Quincy himself all in one place. Each voice is different and identifiable.
As with the other in the Harker series, Quincy’s guardian angel, Glory is involved. But several questions linger after her. Is she really just a guardian angel? Is her name Glory or something more familiar and well known?
This is a great series and has not shown any sign of slowing down. As long as Mr. Hartness writes them and Mr. Foster narrates them, I am in for the long haul. Looking forward to Quincy Harker # 5.
I received the audiobook from narrator in exchange for honest review.
Bioshock Rapture by John Shirley, Jeffrey Kafer (Narrator)
Published by Tantor Media
I checked the Bioshock Rapture audio book from my library via Hoopla Digital. I do not think I would have read this book as a book (physical or ebook). The audio book interested me more because not being a gamer, I thought the audio book would work better for me. It did.
Jeffrey Kafer did a spectacular job narrating. There are a variety of voices, accents, ages, and classes. All the voices are believable. The women's voices are very good. The only voice that got to me was the splicers but that is what their purpose is so it was actually a good job.
[SPOILER] Having watched my son play Bioshock, I found the story fascinating. It tells the events that preceded the game. How Rapture was conceived and built. How it was originally settled. And how it inevitably destroyed itself.
Having listened to the book, I need to seek out more narrations by Jefrey Kafer. If you have played Bioshock, I suggest you listen to this audio book (or read it). Then play Bioshock again. I think it will give the player a whole new appreciation for the incredible world that was Rapture.
The Scattered and the Dead, Book 0.5
Written by: Tim McBain, L.T. Vargus
Narrated by: Tim McBain
Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
Publisher: Smarmy Press
The Scattered and the Dead, Book 0.5 had been on my Kindle radar for a few days. I liked the description. The prices was right, less than a dollar, but I just had not made that commitment click yet. Earlier today I was offered a free copy of the Audible version in exchange for a fair review. I immediately committed to it. I thought I would start listening to it tonight and finish tomorrow since it is only two and a half hours long. That did not happen. I sat in my chair totally lost in the book. Other than pausing to tell my family to fend for themselves for dinner (all over eighteen so it is not abuse, it is character building), I got lost in a new universe.
The Scattered and the Dead begins twenty-one days before. Before what is something the reader has to discover for themselves. In the dwindling days of “before”, Decker, the main character watches the world slip away. Very important to note, that he watches; other than one event he does not participate. Once the countdown of “before” ends and the count begins to go up for “after”, Decker finds he cannot wait this catastrophe out. When he does venture out and participate, the story was not predictable. I would be neglectful if I did not mention Decker’s reliance on Tang for vitamin C. I feel compelled to share that my plumber advises us to use Tang once a week to keep our sink from clogging. Drink at your own risk. When I finished, I sat for a few minutes wishing it continued. It really is a great story.
The production values are excellent. There are no extraneous noises. No background music or sound effects. Just the clear strong voice of the narrator, who happens to be one of the authors. Tim McBain did a fantastic job narrating the book. Perhaps having helped create it helped. He did not seem to be reading it as much as telling it, as one survivor sharing their story with another. It makes for a very intimate narration.
I truly enjoyed The Scattered and the Dead, Book 0.5. I am looking forward to the sequel coming out in the next month. The authors have created a post apocalyptic universe that feels different than many of the other I have read (and I have read many). I cannot quite put my finger on it yet to say definitively what is different but I look forward to the sequel to discover exactly what it is that makes this universe different.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for a fair review. I purchased the Kindle version myself.