Book Review Friday: Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book 1

 

Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book 1Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book 1, by Bobby Adair, follows the unpredictable path of slacker Zed Zane, a man who finds himself in the wrong place (jail) at the wrong time (the zombie apocalypse). Not that his day started with promise. Broke, hung over, and oblivious to anything except the need to ask his mom and step dad to cover his rent, again, Zed arrives at his childhood home to find a gruesome scene of death and destruction. As Zed says, “Sometimes a half-bottle of breakfast tequila just isn’t enough to deal with the day’s reality.”

Clueless and buzzed, Zed attempts to call the police. “I guess some people in that situation would have crumbled, some would have cried, but I’d emotionally disconnected from life a long time ago. For that I had to thank the skeletal bitch on the floor with her greedy rodent soul and her short-tempered ape-mate in the kitchen. If anything, her death was a belated answer to old prayers, with a bit of unexpected mess.”

Okay, maybe Zed’s not so clueless after all.

Arrested for the murder of his parents, Zed’s thrown in jail. Ever the survivor, when the jail erupts in a riot Zed follows over-sized Murphy Smalls and his friend Earl, as they escape. Too bad it’s one of those out of the fire and into the frying pan situations as now the trio must contend with flesh-eating zombies and panicky armed police. Even worse, Zed’s nasty arm wound, inflicted by his dear, dead step dad, needs medical care. A perilous trip to the nearest Emergency Room gets Zed and his friends quarantined. Zed has a sneaking suspicion that quarantine really means rounding up and killing the infected.

As resilient as a cockroach, Zed gets himself and his cohorts out of quarantine and finds refuge in a building with Jerome, a CDC employee caught in the chaos. Sure, Zed thinks things are on the upswing. Unfortunately partner Jerome is more useless and self-centered than Zed. Yep. Things are on a downward spiral here.

Though it sounds grim, Slow Burn is a fun read. If Zed’s to be believed, he truly had a horrific childhood and can’t be blamed for numbing the world with booze and pot. Still he retains a spark of decency that is ignited when Murphy and Earl drag him along on their prison break and look out for him. Like a stray dog responding to a caress while expecting a kick, Zed discovers feelings he didn’t know he had, including the courage to risk his life to save others, rather than putting on his sunglasses and heavy metal and drowning out the world.

Bobby Adair’s Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book 1 is a quick fun read and it’s perma free on Amazon. You have nothing to lose by downloading it to your Kindle and giving it a try. If you like it, show Bobby some love and purchase the rest of the series, available both in paperback and Kindle. Currently Slow Burn boxed set Books 1-3 is only 99 cents.

Friday Book Review: Zombie Attack: Rise of the Horde

After finishing book 1 of Devan Sagliani’s Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde, it was clear why this is listed as both an Amazon best seller and the Goodreads 2012 best zombie/horror e-book of 2012. The narrator, Xander, is a wise beyond his years, katana wielding 16-year-old who is waiting out the zombie apocalypse at Vandenberg AFB. A loner in a small group of mostly military family members who have survived to this point, Xander spends his time practicing martial arts and waiting to be reunited with his soldier brother. When Xander comes across a gang of base bullies tormenting 12-year-old Benji, Xander springs into action with the moves of a young Chuck Norris. In the aftermath, he’s a loner no more and Benji makes a great companion, full of the enthusiasm and excitement which provides a great contrast with Xander’s at times dour and pessimistic view of the world.

When zombie hordes overrun the base, Xander is one of the few that is quick enough and skilled enough to find an escape route. His little shadow, Benji, keeps close and follows along.  Forced to run for their lives, the unlikely duo must outwit fellow survivors, a task made more difficult by Xander’s belligerent teen male posturing and bravado. Much like the sword he carries, Xander is a sharp instrument who doesn’t mind drawing first blood. Benji manages to smooth the rough edges and every time Xander veers toward assholery, Benji pulls him back. It’s a sweet little brother-big brother relationship that left this reader looking forward to meeting Xander’s big brother, Moto, and seeing if that dynamic mirrors this one.

So, there’s relationships, an ineffective government response to zombies, and a rapidly decreasing number of survivors, yet Rise of the Horde doesn’t focus on the blood and gore part of the zombie apocalypse and doesn’t present stereotypical villains. Yes, there are scared townspeople. Yes, there is a crazy cult leader. Yes, there are biker gangs. But the great part of this tale is the care and depth the author uses in describing these so-called villains and their followers. They are individual, memorable, and as capable of evil as they are of redemption. Xander approaches each new encounter with a healthy skepticism of their motives and a tactician’s ability to see past the surface to the moves below.

Certainly one of the best YA zombie books I’ve read, it’s reassuring to know that once you’ve reached the end of Rise of the Horde, Sagliani has a second installment, Zombie Attack: Army of the Dead, available. Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde is compelling, authentic, and worthy of the reader’s time. If you’ve already read it, let me know what you thought of it in the comments. If you haven’t read it, go buy a copy and update me after you’re done. This one’s a steal, currently at 99 cents on Amazon.

 

Friday Book Review: The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

Stephen Kozeniewski’s The Ghoul Archipelago is not at all like his previously reviewed Braineater Jones. Where Braineater Jones is a straight shot of adrenaline and action, The Ghoul Archipelago is a sweeping, panoramic view of a world gone mad.

http://www.amazon.com/GHOUL-ARCHIPELAGO-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B00FTP5URO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401116018&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ghoul+archipelago

This seafaring novel, initially reminiscent of Heart of Darkness, branches off into various tributaries, including the Reverend Sonntag who attempts to integrate zombies into religion, billionaire Rand Bergeron who hasn’t found a situation he can’t manipulate himself out of, and Captain Henk “Howling Mad” Martigan who discovers zombies are the least of his worries. Needless to say, there’s enough tension, fighting, and crazed ambition to populate a trilogy.

Kozeniewski’s main characters are well drawn and come alive with great dialogue and descriptions. In the midst of the post zombie apocalyptic world, the testosterone level of his mostly male characters fuels plenty of chest thumping, ominous threats, and deadly double crosses. In this world of scoundrels, it’s hard to find someone to root for, but Howling Mad and his men provide an oasis of dysfunctional sanity in an insane world.  Summing this complex novel up into a few sentences is impossible, but it all comes together at the end and The Ghoul Archipelago delivers an excellent ending which left this reader satisfied.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of graphic sex, violence, and gore for those of you who demand lots of horror in your horror novel. In this case, Kozeniewski has also added plenty of heart. Check it out on Amazon, it is a story well worth reading.

 

http://www.amazon.com/GHOUL-ARCHIPELAGO-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B00FTP5URO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401116018&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ghoul+archipelago

Friday Book Review: The Tilian Virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Virus-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B005QRPRBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397868221&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tilian+virus

Tom Calen’s The Tilian Virus (The Pandemic Sequence Book 1) tells the tale of Mike Allard, former newbie school teacher now leader of a band of survivors of the Tilian virus. The virus, which turns its victims into flesh-eating predators, quickly wipes out the majority of the world’s population and leaves the survivors to fight off the infected as well as other uninfected survivors competing for limited resources. The narrative switches back and forth in time from the early days of the pandemic to seven years later and allows the reader to watch Mike and his former high school students grow up and mature in a world gone bad. Refreshingly, they remain decent people, even when it is to their detriment.

Mike transitions from a twenty-something inexperienced teacher, whose greatest worry is bus duty, to a solid leader who keeps hope alive in a seemingly hopeless world. He is not a man of steel, a ninja, or Jack Reacher. He’s a regular guy making do with what he has. A thoughtful, hard worker, he allows his former students to use their strengths to assist in their shared survival. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but when he makes mistakes he takes responsibility and does the dirty work to correct them. Definitely someone I’d put on my pandemic survival team.

The story moves along at a brisk pace and though there is plenty of bloodshed and killing, there is more relationship building and maturity than found in many books in this genre. I won’t spoil the ending of this most excellent novel, but it is rare I am reduced to a sobbing mess at the end of one as I was when I finished this. The Tilian Virus has one of the strongest, most evocative endings I’ve read recently and though it filled me with deep sadness, it also made me want to continue the journey into Books 2 and 3.  Get yourself a copy of The Tilian Virus and a box of kleenex and email me when you’re done to tell me what you think. I’m dying to talk about it!

Get your copy at Amazon or check out other offerings at Permuted Press because they really do enjoy the apocalypse.

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Virus-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B005QRPRBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Effect-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B007DZHS4G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-2&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://www.amazon.com/Tilian-Cure-Pandemic-Sequence-Book-ebook/dp/B00HZ4PE9Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1397914561&sr=8-3&keywords=the+tilian+virus

http://permutedpress.com/books/the-tilian-virus-the-pandemic-sequence-book-1#.U1J8nVfkpvA

 

Book Review Friday: The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

 

The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

We asked for zombie stories that showed humanity at its best, and Michelle Miller’s novel The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery sort of fit the bill, but definitely wasn’t a friend of Bill. In Miller’s zombie apocalypse, the zombie virus reaches flash over proportions at the same time worldwide. As the zombies rend flesh and create new zombies, a select group of people are able to avoid zombie detection. Turns out they’re either drug addicts or they have the alcoholic gene. Bill, a PR person for the New York lottery, survives the initial slaughter as does Courtney, a Lotto winner whose dreams are dashed when zombies interrupt the check ceremony. As they fight their way to safety, Bill and Courtney slowly figure out the secret to their survival, and pick up a few other former alcoholics or children of alcoholics to round out their band. Bill, a true AA adherent who believes in meetings and fellowship, is at odds with Courtney, the bitter child of an alcoholic, who despises AA and everything it stands for. Definitely no love relationship about to brew there.

The group grows to include a drug dealer, a zombie aficionado, a middle-aged woman, a former addict now Ivy Leaguer, and an illegal immigrant. Each of these characters must come to terms with the guilt of surviving while their loved ones died, as well as battle their inner demons. Let’s be honest, in a zombie apocalypse who wouldn’t want to drink or drug? When you’re surrounded by 12 Steppers, though, any use of alcohol or drugs becomes a group discussion.

The wanderers do find a sanctuary of sorts, a gated community that runs by the rules of Alcoholics Anonymous. Here, everyone is in recovery and the leaders impose a multitude of rules to keep everyone on track. Up until this point, the AA story line referred to in the title mostly consisted of Bill singing the praises of AA and Courtney suspiciously eyeing everyone as if they were hiding bottles under their coats. Once the survivors arrive at the AA community, the tone shifts and suddenly AA is a cult with a charismatic leader and arranged marriages.  The New York group, uncomfortable with “AA fundamentalism,” decide to leave the community and continue their search for a safe place to live.

For the most part, this was an enjoyable read. The zombies were easily dispatched and posed no real threat to the survivors. Rising radiation levels were another obstacle that seemed easily surmounted and not a true threat. The danger in this story came from other humans and there’s even a reference to Jonestown in an attempt to heighten the danger when the New York group flees the gated community. Even so, this isn’t a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see if our stalwart heroes make it to safety.

The only parts of the book that kept me guessing were whether this was an indictment of AA and other 12 step programs or a very awkward tribute and the ending which was both convenient and unexpected. Still, a happy ending in a zombie novel is what we asked for and The Thirteenth Step delivered. If you’re looking for something short on gore and long on feelings, this might be for you.

Buy it at Amazon

Book Review Friday: Undead LA 1 by Devan Sagliani

http://www.amazon.com/Undead-L-Devan-Sagliani-ebook/dp/B00EW6S546/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1391265543&sr=8-1&keywords=undead+la

Undead LA 1, by Devan Sagliani, uses the landscape of sunny California as the epicenter of a zombie infection deliberately unleashed upon the inhabitants of Skid Row. The infection quickly spreads throughout Los Angeles and points beyond. Rather than focusing on assigning blame or following the narrative through the eyes of government or media, Sagliani employs a diverse range of 6 narrators who find their normal existence interrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Each narrative is a self-contained story, making it easy to read one and ponder the what-ifs before turning to the next. The narrators include a burned out airline pilot reminiscent of Denzel Washington in the movie Flight, a police detective squaring off against a serial killer, and a terminal cancer patient living out her Make a Wish dream at the Emmy’s. Though there is plenty of blood and gore in each story, there’s also a strong thread of introspection and making amends as people face the inevitability of their death, either from the zombie hordes or from the government’s attempt to exterminate everyone rather than let one zombie break free.

The most gruesome story follows Detective Gary Wendell. Bitter and defeated after being outsmarted by a serial killer, Wendell discovers the zombie apocalypse is a perfect time to mete out his own brand of justice. The most hopeful story, Dogtown Locals Union, shows two surfing brothers as they attempt to survive in peace and harmony while still catching some waves. In between are all levels of hope, despair, triumph, and tragedy. Sagliani does an excellent job of showing a few of the millions of stories that lie beneath the surface of any mass disaster.

Undead LA 1 is a fast-paced, unpredictable adventure. Open it up and enjoy the ride.

If you like this, you might also like another book by Sagliani, The Rising Dead. Read our review here

Now, enough reading blogs. Time to buy a book. Undead LA is available at Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Undead-L-Devan-Sagliani-ebook/dp/B00EW6S546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391267976&sr=8-1&keywords=undead+LA