Book Review Friday: Undead LA 1 by Devan Sagliani

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.

Book Review Friday: Brew by Bill Braddock

  Brew, by Bill Braddock, is a fast paced romp that combines the craziness of a college football weekend with a crowd of sex crazed, flesh-eating drunks. Though they are not identified as zombies, they do consider brains a delicacy. But in Brew these creatures, primarily college students, are avid consumers of all things flesh. Whether it’s snacking on the nearest bystander or having noisy, eventually mutilating public sex, flesh drives this story.

This is not a tale for the young or the squeamish.

The premise, the local microbew, affectionately known as Cougar piss, is spiked by eco-terrorists. Since the activists don’t have the know how to carry out their plan, they outsource the job to chemistry student Herbert Weston, a villain reminiscent of Harold Lauder in The Stand. This group of self-righteous zealots finds out that not everyone is as honorable as they are and Herbert’s glee at the turn of events almost makes him likeable.

Though Brew manages to show the worst in people, it also reveals the people who band together, help one another, and perform heroic acts under the shadow of imminent death. Steve and Cat, local drug dealer and sexy female, try to ethically survive the chaos. For all of her tight clothes and sex appeal, Cat comes across a strong female who is not afraid to make hard decisions. Steve, her companion in arms, takes a little longer to make the right decision, but eventually he always does the right thing. It’s a refreshing and welcome change to spend time in a world where the good guys outnumber the bad.

Overall Brew muscled along at a breakneck pace with vivid descriptions and interesting characters. It might even make you a little more cautious the next time you visit a college on a football weekend. Available at Amazon.

Free Stuff Sunday: Miss Burton’s Class

Starting with the plaintive plea “Is anyone out there?” Miss Burton’s Class is an ongoing journal by Miss Burton, a 5th grade teacher who finds herself trapped with a class full of students during the zombie apocalypse.

Miss Burton’s Class is imaginative, fun, and best of all free. Despite the student-centered storyline, this blog is squarely in the PG-13 category – emphasis on the gory. From the bathroom situation in the media room to the description of the undead, particularly the zombie nurse, Ms. Burton is not afraid to tell all the nasty details of what’s going on during the zombpoc.

Miss Burton has been cataloguing her experiences for over a year now. There’s a huge backlog of adventures to catch up on. If you want a hair-raising and scary zombie story, head over to Miss Burton’s Class for our Free Stuff Sunday pick of the week.

A Little Help from our Friends

English: An image of a zombie from the CDC's blog.

English: An image of a zombie from the CDC’s blog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we’d like to answer some reader questions as well as show the depth of knowledge available in the community. We’ve dug through the mailbag and found some questions we can only answer with a little help from our friends.

How do zombies tell the difference between living people and other, perhaps freshly turned, zombies?   The answer comes from our friends at the Necropology homepageZombies have infrared vision which allows them to identify the heat signature of humans. Since a zombie’s body temperature cools off to the temperature of their environment, it’s easy for the zombies to tell the difference between a human and their own kind. Newly dead (those in the process of being attacked) take a while to cool off, which explains why zombies will pile on a human who is being attacked, even after the person is dead.

I haven’t purchased any weapons to prepare for the zombie apocalypse and can’t afford any. Are there any reliable, effective weapons I can make myself?
The answer comes from Zombease – The Pummel Pipe Melee Weapon. Made of steel pipes, the directions are clear and the components are items one can easily find. The finished project looks like a croquet mallet of death. Intimidating.

My fifth grader is scared that we might be separated in the event of a zombie apocalypse. How do I reassure him?  Talk to his teacher about CDC resources for educators. Their Zombie Pandemic Preparedness Ideas includes an emergency checklist to ensure your child gathers the essentials to survive and a disease detectives scenario to help your child identify how the zombie virus is being spread. Knowledge is power.

How do I talk to my children about a zombie apocalypse? Once again, leave it to the professionals at the CDC. Their graphic novel, Zombie Pandemic: Preparedness 101, is informative and worthwhile for all ages.

How do you find a decent place to hole up, if necessary? Gracious Living in a Zombie World: A Ladie’s Handbook provide a short list of the necessities they look for when seeking a new home. Musts on their list include fertile soil, a water source, and nearby woodlands or water for  hunting and/or fishing.

Is is ethical to take my neighbor’s fortified house and weapons if I’m not prepared for the zombie apocalypse? Well, Zombie Spirituality provides pointers for some of the ethical decisions one might have to make. “Never feed a stray they won’t go away” sums up their recommendations.

Can you recommend a good zombie movie? The Zombie Mistress Overlord‘s review of Juan of the Dead inspired us to watch the movie and we weren’t disappointed. You can’t help but love a movie where the phone is answered, “Juan of the Dead, we kill your beloved ones.”
We hope you enjoy checking out the zombie blogs mentioned above. If you follow a blog we missed, let us know in the comments.

Happy Wednesday from the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. We feed zombies so you won’t have to.

Free Stuff Sunday: Vampire Eden by Liz Newman

Vampire Eden by Liz Newman answers the question: What happens when a former prostitute and half-vampire falls in love with a zombie and the CIA gets involved? Oh, you never asked that question? Too bad! Liz Newman already turned it into a story.

It’s close to Valentine’s Day and since most the men will be distracted by football tonight, this Free Stuff Sunday is for the ladies. Whether you’re into time-traveling Vikings bodice-rippers or just like a good zombie love story, Vampire Eden has managed to crush every fantasy trope into an action-packed eighty pages.

Eden is an aging prostitute shopping her wares in the dilapidated casinos of Las Vegas. Stuck with a disabled, junkie boyfriend and a client list of untouchables, she’s surprised when a handsome craps dealer named Patrick takes an interest in her. Unfortunately, Patrick is a zombie possessed by a clan of vampires who subsequently turn Eden into a half-vampire and demand she find the King of the Dead or they’ll tear her apart. I’ll stop there because I don’t want to spoil it for you but you can also look forward to an active involvement by the CIA: Paranormal Division, the unlikely appearance of Cupid, and discussion of a Las Vegas zombie union. Yes, all this and more. In eighty pages.

Vampire Eden has a lot going on in a very limited about of time. I found myself torn between wanting more and believing eighty pages is just enough of this insanity. This is an off the wall gem. It’s well-written but a little ridiculous. There were lots going on but very little was fleshed out in a way that made sense. Regardless, it’s fun. Like ThanksKilling and Rubber fun. Dark, gory, and “What the hell am I reading?” fun.

Vampire Eden is a free taste for a longer novel coming out in July based on the adventures of Eden: Vampire Hooker. My name, not Ms. Newman’s. Get it on Kindle for absolutely nothing.

Free Stuff Sunday: Choice of Zombies

Yay, rebranding! We’re changing things up a little and broadening our zombie horizons to reflect our love of all things free zombie, not just short stories. So look forward to free movies, games, stories, and more on Free Stuff Sunday.

Choice of Zombies Art by Jason Wiser

For this week’s Free Stuff Sunday, we’re recommending Choice of Zombies– a choice your own adventure style zombie tale by Heather Albano and Richard Jackson. This online game/story places you smack dab at the start of the zombie apocalypse. From there, it’s your choice. Want to be a plumber? Do it. Want to flee to the prison? Go for it. Want to abandon any survivors you run across? It’s your zombie apocalypse.

This isn’t just a stats and finale story. The story itself is well written and engaging. Forging and breaking relationships plays an important part of the game. Recognizing your companions strengths and weaknesses effects your gameplay and ultimate survival. Wondering “what if” will have you replaying this story over and over.

The replay value on this game is pretty good. There’s some overlap from story to story but that’s true in any choose your own adventure novel. A huge perk over traditional CYOA novels is the stat page. In each game you can access where you’re growing stronger and where you’re weak. The stats are an interesting way to view the game. Play once for kills then again for saving lives. Gaining kill points or compassion or engineering can guide your gameplay into new areas of the story.

Choice of Zombies takes about thirty minutes depending on how fast you read and how fast you die. The replays can take less time if you’re slightly altering your previous plays or just as long if you vastly change your character’s actions. Whether you need a quick time kill or are looking for a well-developed zombie story, check out Choice of Zombies