Tag Archives: Zombies

Boneshaker – Cherie Priest (Clockwork Century#1)

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Some books are fun and some are refined works of art.  This is fun.  It is dystopian historical revisionism of the civil war with steampunk airships, zombies, and a mom coming for her son.  I listened to the audio version of the book narrated by Will Wheaton and Kate Reading.  I’m not 100% sure it’s fine lit, but it was performed well and I enjoyed it.  I did not read any portion of it and can not compare the experience. This may have altered my perception of the book for the good – Wheaton and Reading can do a lot for any book.

Briar Wilkes is defined by being the daughter of Maynard – a dead symbol of law, and wife of Leviticus Blue – the man who devastated Seattle.  His invention, the Boneshaker, brought the blight that contaminated a city’s population.  To breathe it in transforms a person into living dead.  This story starts years after Seattle has been sealed off. She lives outside the tainted city, protected by the walls, raising her teenage son Ezekial.  With her reputation she was lucky to get a job at the Industrial Plant.  They barely get by.  She isn’t the mother she wishes she could be, working all the time, and her son runs with a criminal element that respects the Maynard blood in his veins.  Ezekial sneaks into the Seattle. He wants to prove his dad is the victim of slander, but at sixteen the rumors of what lies behind the walls is nothing compared to what he finds.  Briar figures out what he has done.  She regrets not telling him of her past and his origins, but she doesn’t have time for lamentations.  So, she picks up her gun, and enters the city with the help of those who respect Maynard’s law.

More than a coming of age story for Briar’s son, Ezekial, this is a story of Briar.  Who she was and is have been determined by her fathers and husbands decisions.  This is not strange for a woman of civil war times.  She rejected her position as the daughter of a lawman she viewed as a tyrant, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t take the skills he taught her with her.  In reaction she turned to a man of learning, an inventor, but his decisions confined her son, her, and the Northwest to disaster.  She accepted the burden and guilt placed upon her.  This story shows her taking control of her life outside how others see her.  In tracking her son she enters the city.  It is dangerous, close to lawless, and free of societal expectations.  She becomes her own person and her son gets to see his mother as strong and capable.

The world building could be better developed.  I appreciate detail and would have liked more description of the cities warren of tunnels. Being historical revisionism Priest could have delved much further into the war.  It was secondary to the story of Seattle, little more than a backdrop, but there are good bones here.  It is a series and I hope the second book fleshes out the blighted Seattle, and why Priest decided to place it in the U.S civil war.  I understand that adding zombies and steampunk machinery may seem a bit much.   It sounds like it is catering to every current trend, but I believe Priest was able to tie it together.  In a first book you need to establish the story and include enough action to hook an audience.  Priest does that.  There is so much potential.    To really be able to claim this as steampunk or revisionism there will have to be stronger science and historical elements in the second book.  I’m hoping she does it.

I recommend you listen to the audio version of this.  In seeing reviews by others I respect, who read it, I had a better experience.


The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts

I enjoyed this.  It was recommended to me during my hunt for Halloween Books.  I am glad I read it.  This is a new slant on zombie fiction.  There has been some hype surrounding it.  You may have had some spoilers already,  but I am going to try and keep this as spoiler free as I can.

‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is centered on an army base in England surrounded by “Hungry’s.”  Hungry’s are what the zombies are called.  While the plague is not over, communities have been created, protected,and cordoned off from danger. Once they were stabilized the government sent out radio information telling survivors to return to civilization.  Some chose to stay in the wild; unable or unwilling to return after becoming survivalists.  These non-conformists that live where the Hungry’s still roam are called Junkers.  They can be as dangerous as any Hungry.  All communities, including the Army base, must scavenge for canned goods and other necessities the Junkers are in direct competition for.

The function of the army base is to perform research for a cure to the zombie disease.  The mission has been ongoing for three to four years with no real progress.  The mood is frustrated and the people in charge are taking more and more risks in trying to find progress.  This is background to the story of the children on the army base.  They are orphans of the zombie plague.  Melanie is one of these children and the main character of the story.  It is through her eyes we experience the world, learn about the teachers, the living conditions, and the research.  There is a great deal of resentment towards the children from the adults on the base – especially the military personnel.  One day the junkers attack and only a few people survive.  It is at this time the story develops quickly and Melanie, along with the reading audience, learn many truths that had been hidden from the children about the world and their place in it.

This is new take on Zombie’s or Hungry’s.  I find it an interesting trend that books never refer to Zombies as Zombies any more.  They are walkers, biters, hungry’s etc.  It certainly gives each new book/TVshow/story/comic book its own flavor but I can’t help but find it strange that when the living dead visit no one says, “Hey! That’s a zombie.”  It would be the first word out of my mouth.  I almost thought it was copyrighted, but if that were true all the zombie apocalyspe material  wouldn’t be floating around.  It must just be an author’s perogative.

This does not truly qualify as a Halloween book for me because it does not take place during Halloween.  Actually, the time of year is never defined.  It might qualify by default.  Carey does include zombies, however, and it is frightening.  It is not the scariest book, but I wouldn’t read this around small children.  Teenagers could read it understanding there is some violence and profanity.  It is a smart and compelling book.  The ideas in it are good enough that it would be a shame for them to miss it.  It also is not centered around a romance.  While I don’t mind a little romance sprinkled in my science fiction and fantasy it’s nice to have a book without it.  I like the idea of young adults reading a book where there is more to the world than being defined by your significant other irrespective of whether you are a boy or a girl.

I encourage you to pick this up.  This has some violence but it won’t test your gag reflex.  If you are looking for gore and an inability to sleep this won’t do it.  Keep searching.  This will give you a few chills, some surprises, and make you think. If you like audible books Finty Williams does a fabulous narration.  I highly recommend both the book and the audible version.


“Blackout” – Mira Grant

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This is the final installment in the Newsflesh Series started with “Feed.” “Feed”is a genuinely fantastic book, and “Deadline”the next in the series was good with one hell of a cliffhanger, but “Blackout” was underwhelming.  It makes me sad to say it.

For people new to the series I will try to keep out spoilers. ‘After the End Times’ is a group of young bloggers who report and write about a future America where people have learned to live with the zombie virus.  Parts of the world have been given over to the dead because the areas are either not worth reclaiming or it would be too dangerous to do so.  The virus that causes one to become a zombie is called Kellis-Amberlee.  It is a scientific mistake of two different cures, one to cure cancer and the other to cure the common cold.  They succeeded, no one had cold or cancer.  The combination spelled disaster and once you die you becomes one of the living dead.  Our group never lived before there were zombies and accepts them as part of life.

In the first book ‘After the End Times’ got an amazing opportunity to follow one of the republican parties political campaign but there was great cost that came with this opportunity.  Conspiracies and death riddle the book and it’s fascinating.

The second book processes the loss ‘After the End Time’s’ was dealt.  They have fame but it has left a bitter taste.  Through Deadline our main character, Shaun Mason, is the one who is left the most unstable.   His relationship to his adopted sister, which is extremely close and dependant due to their upbringing, becomes only stranger.  Old conspiracies get reopened.  The initial villains may not be the only people responsible.  Shaun is vengeful and on a mission to deliver retribution at all costs.  We meet CDC characters and rogue mad scientists along the way.  Some pieces felt slow but Grant’s cliffhanger is a doozy and made me acquire “Blackout”immediately, despite the fact I was broke

“Blackout” gave me closure and allowed me to revisit characters I’m attached to.  It did wrap up the story and tie it together, but it lacked action.  For a zombie book the actual zombies took the backseat.  Part of the reason I like the series is it is intellectual and isn’t just zombie attack after another mindless zombie attack,  still, I felt a bit cheated on that front.  There is a lot of character introspection, and discussion of if the media should always tell the truth.  Are there times the damage they will cause mean they should keep quiet?  Who should make those decisions, and does the public still have the right to know?

My biggest complaint is with how the book resolved questions about Georgia, Shaun’s sister, and Shaun and her relationship.  It felt forced and sensationalist.  Some would say it’s sick or disturbing.  I’m not in that camp.  I just felt it could be handled in a more interesting and more likely way.  The conspiracy wrap up takes even a zombie story into realms of impossibility it’s hard for the reader to accept.  I guess I’m saying having read the other two I could never have not read “Blackout,” but I wanted more.  I also truly believe Grant could have done better.  I don’t know if it was editing or the pressure of concluding the series but it was lukewarm.

Now that I feel I have torn this book and author apart I have to say “Feed” is still a favorite.  I am not giving up on Mira Grant.  I absolutely am going to read “Parasite.”  Grant is talented, and even if I didn’t love this book I got to revisit characters I love and get closure, as I mentioned above.


“Deadline” – Mira Grant

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)

I finished ‘Feed,’ the first of the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant, quickly, and did not wait at all to pick up ‘Deadline.’  Grant is a master of the cliff hanger.  I simply had to know what happened next. ‘Deadline’ picks up right after ‘Feed’ and is narrated primarily by Shaun Mason, everyone’s favorite Irwin.  He is a changed man.  The events that took place after the end of the campaign left him and the staff of ‘After the End Times’ scarred.  The events, however, left Shaun in worse shape than anyone else.  He hears voices in his head and he answers them.  Those closest to him deal with it, but it is unsettling to those outside of his insulated circle.  Shaun is no longer a carefree, devil-may-care Irwin.  He has changed his focus to helping Mahir with the administration of the site despite the general roar from the public wanting him to go back to poking dead things with sticks.  It’s what they love him for.

The plot of this book surrounds the CDC and their involvement, scientific methods, and potential conspiracies with the Kellis-Amberly virus(what causes humanity to become zombies).  One day Doctor Kelly, Doc, shows up at Shaun’s headquarters in Oakland with information that Irwin’s don’t understand and the Newsies only are getting a glimmer of understanding before a full outbreak takes out Oakland, and ‘After the End Times’ headquarter.  The assumption – it could only relate to what Doc knows, the timing of her visit, and knowing who has the power to cause this kind of  incident.

Shaun and his team go completely off grid in towns that have long since been abandoned by civilization and surrendered to the walking dead.  There are several people who live this way, including scientists that work outside the rules of the CDC.  Shaun and his team get to know the mad scientists as they unravel what is really going on.

The tale is more disjointed than ‘Feed.’  It does not flow as well, but it will still suck you in.  It’s an intriguing book, but at times you will feel bored and other times not understand character motivation and involvement.  Shaun is very changed, as I mentioned above, and it can be hard to completely sympathize with his anger, desire to stay crazy, and his lack of compassion for those surrounding him.  A problem I’ve always had with characters is when they start acting like petulant children.  Let me fair, however, Shaun has reason to act out.

Mira Grant is great at providing some exceptional twists.  Ones I refuse to give you and ruin the surprise.  All I will say is George still has a part to play, and there is one deliciously large twist at the end that raised my evaluation of the book.  If you loved ‘Feed’ continue to ‘Deadline’ accepting it will not be quite as good.  If  you were lukewarm on ‘Feed,’ I recommend stopping here.


“Books on Tap for the Month of June”

This is a late edition but necessary.  I have several books that must be reviewed during June and my followers would be treated poorly if I didn’t give you some idea about what you are in for.  In for a penny, in for a pound my friends….

Half a King (Shattered Sea, #1)

 ‘Half a King’ by Joe Abercrombie – Random House Publishing – Del Rey Spectra

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

I haven’t read anything by Joe Abercrombie yet.  I, however, have heard wonderful things about his writing style and his books.  This is a coming of age tale for a young deformed King in a hard country that is frequently at war.   It has my interest piqued.  Not only is this a young king but one whose father and brother are murdered.  It is up to Yarvi to determine who the perpetrators are and to avenge his family.  He has sworn an oath.  Oaths are not taken lightly.  I am a fan of the coming of age tale.  I’m hoping for greatness Mr. Abercrombie!

 

 

‘The Nightingale Girls’ by Donna Douglas – Random House UK – North America

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

‘The Nightingale Girls’ is currently published in England and is coming to the United States.  It is described to be a book that will not disappoint viewers that loved ‘Call the Midwife.’  It is the story of several nurse trainees as they go through their schooling at the prestigious Nightingale Hospital in London.  This is the first of a series and is Donna Douglas’s debut into historical fiction.  It is set in the 1930’s prior to the World War II and is brimming with the economic and cultural changes of the time.  I’m ready to get a very large cup of tea and snuggle up with dogs as I devour this.

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)

‘Deadline’ by Mira Grant – Orbit

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

If you’ve read ‘Feed,’ and I highly recommend that you do, you will not be able to stop at book one.  It drags you in.  This is the story of Shaun Mason and the ‘After the End Times’ blog.  To avoid spoilers for the uninitiated I will say it is a story of zombies, bloggers, political intrigue, and global conspiracies.  Primarily set in the United States, we follow this team of journalists after an already devastating blow to the US and their team.  If you like your zombie books with a more developed plot than only running and brain eating, I suggest you give the ‘Newsflesh series’ a try.  I loved the first book and hope to not be disappointed by the 2nd installment, ‘Deadline.’

A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3)

‘A Letter of Mary’ by Laurie King – Harper Collins

WHY AM I INTERESTED?
Laurie King has written a beautiful and intelligent series for Sherlock Holmes fans.  In her books she explores the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and a woman by the name of Mary Russell who he trains in the deductive arts.  Unlike Watson, she is Holmes match.  She is a keen mind and I waited a long time to pick up this series because I’m diligent Doyle fan.  I was worried it would not live up to my expectations but King is clever and explains and is able to develop and strong spin-off of the original.  This is the third book in a long series and brings Holmes and Russell in contact with an ancient letter that appears to be written by Mary Magdalene.  The owner bestowed it on Mary prior to her own suspicious death.  I have high expectations and am excited for this book.

 


“Feed”-Mira Grant

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)

Feed has been on my list to read for a while now.  It was recommended to me after I read ‘World War Z’ and found I like zombie fiction. I have to say I have no idea why I waited so long.  This is a delicious book!  -That might be the wrong word for a book about zombies feeding on human flesh.  For anyone who might be thinking it, no, I have not been bitten by any human like creatures or mammals over forty pounds.

‘Feed’ is about a brother and sister, Georgia and Shawn Mason, who are just barely adults.  They are bloggers in 2040.  They learned this skill set from an opportunistic couple who adopted them as orphans from the zombie war of 2014.  They did this partially to replace their own son they lost, and partially for publicity and ratings.  The most affection they received was in public and from the extremely tight bond they developed with one another.  The Mason siblings grew up in a world that lives with zombies.  Zombies were not completely decimated after the break out because everyone carries the Kellis-Amberlee virus.   Everyone who does die, short of a bullet to the brain, will turn into a zombie.  At any moment an outbreak can occur and people live with that fear everyday.  So, people live very sterile lives inside.  Only the brave go out to grocery shop, go on a date, or drive anywhere.   Bloggers fall in three categories: Newsies, Irwin’s, and Fictional’s. Irwin’s go outside and partake in pre-rising behavior antagonizing the occasional zombie in the process, allowing society to live vicariously while sitting on their couch.  Bloggers and news reporters are a brave breed in a society tightly controlled by fear of the zombie virus.

A nice twist is that our blogging team, Shawn, Georgia, and Buffy, get chosen to follow a senator’s campaign for the presidency.  All sorts of sabotage, hidden agenda’s, and zombie outbreaks make for an exciting read.  I was hard pressed to set ‘Feed’ down and force myself to take care of  terribly annoying, necessary things in my life such as work and eating. Ugh…

This is an enjoyable read, but it is also well written with developed characters you attach to.  If you like audio books, there is a good narration by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein. This is not the goriest of zombie novels.  It is more plot and character driven, but as I have said before, what is a zombie novel without some human flesh being eaten?  The exciting news, if you haven’t read this already, is that its a trilogy.  There is a pretty big twist at the end and I refuse to give you the spoilers. Instead I am going to order you to pick this up and read it if you have any interest in zombies, good dystopian fiction, and political intrigue.  I know I am assuming a lot by believing I can order you to do anything, but I’m doing it anyway.  Happy reading to you.


Definitely a fan, but not a superfan. Reporting from SLC Comic Con Fan Experience today! Yay!

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I mentioned I am a fan and I am! This experience was so fun.  The Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience took place because the original and first Comic Con that took place in SLC sold out.  The Fire Marshall made people leave, but it showed how many fans were out in the Utah area, and I have to say YAY Utah.  You did this right!  So the fan experience was born and they brought some amazing folks such as Nathan Fillion(Firefly), Patrick Stewart(X-Men, Star Trek,etc.), Karen Gillan(Doctor Who), and and the list goes on…

One complaint, You had to pay to meet them and you had to pay to get a picture with them. To see one it would be about$100.00.  I get it though, this is how you get them to come.  I chose to peep at them from afar.

What is so fun is the experience and the culture of the Con itself.  This is where we geeks get to find our others and it is perfectly normal and wonderful to let your inner nerd/fan/geek run amok.   It’s so much fun (ahem…picture of me with the tardis below)

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SO…LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WONDERFULNESS OF THE CON CULTURE!

There is merchandise such as comics, rare comics, zombie paraphernalia, swords, brass knuckles, steam punk clothing, renaissance clothing, comic costumes, Magic gaming, any gaming, Fantasy and sci fi literature authors and artists, etc, …and the fans!   Aside from a few women who take the opportunity to dress as a ‘Sucker Punch’ character or bar wench solely so they can wear as little as possible there are also the awesome women and men who dress as Boba Fett, The Doctor, Weeping Angels, Optimus Prime, and Zombies that moan as they did in World War Z.  Think of the commitment, the sheer love for the characters/shows/books.   It’s inspiring.  I love the fantasy, enjoyment and escape.  So take off any ‘judgement caps’that might be out there and look at the photos and relish in some vicarious fun

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War – Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z is not your run of the mill zombie novel. Max Brooks takes you into the perspective of a reporter who interviews various military and political leaders, soldiers, regular people, and feral children. This gives you a broad picture of what an impact the zombie plague had on the world population. It takes on a realistic flavor rather than the fantastic. Normally, I am not a fan of short story compilations but the way the stories tie into one another it does not feel disconnected or separate.

The narration of World War Z is nothing short of amazing. Each piece is told by skilled actors. The combination of the strong writing with the masterful narration evokes a powerful emotional response. There is a section that discusses a military unit that has a dog and a soldier partnered. This section caused me to tear up a bit. I am not usually one to cry.

I was wary to purchase this and it sat in my wish list for a long time. I don’t get abridged books but after reading the reviews by those who had read the book and listened to this version I learned the audio problems have been rectified, missing sections have been added, and the parts cut out are minimal and do not affect the story. I will probably still read the book but I wouldn’t miss out on this narration. It truly is amazing.


My Life as a White Trash Zombie – Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie, #1)

I have to be honest, I picked this up in a sale and did not expect much. While I enjoyed the pop culture fun of the cover and the title it didn’t inspire me to rush out and purchase the book. On the surface I thought it would be a recycled romance with zombies to make it so very slightly different from the rash of vampire romance books. Anyway, I did pick it up, and while I will say that it probably will not become a classic, this was a funny and well thought out book. It was enjoyable and I already picked up the next in the series

Is it crass? A bit but not as much as I would have expected with a title of “My Life as a White Trash Zombie” . Is it gross? Somewhat, but it’s not page after page of zombies massacring the masses. It is about zombies, however, if there isn’t some brain eating it would be odd. There is mild swearing and sexual material, but it’s not really a romance. It is a coming of age zombie mystery.

Angel is our protagonist and she is, in her words, a loser. She is a high school drop out with alcohol and pill addictions who lives most of time with her on and off again loser boyfriend. She does this so she doesn’t have to go home to her alcoholic abusive father. She wakes up in the hospital from an overdose to find herself to very changed. This book explores how she learns she is a zombie and what it means for her future. It changes her life and is probably the only thing that could have spurred her to get and keep a job and see possibilities for her future.

The book is a lot of fun. Allison McLemore narrated it. She does a great job with Angel’s character. Her interpretation of male characters is not great but certainly not the worst I’ve heard. It is my preference to listen to the audible version but certainly others have not liked it. My recommendation is to listen to the snippet audible gives you. If you are ok with her interpretation of Angel you will most likely be ok with the narration.


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