Book Review Friday: Blood Soaked and Contagious

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Soaked-Contagious-James-Crawford-ebook/dp/B005NF3SGK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396569762&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+soaked+and+contagious

Blood Soaked and Contagious by James Crawford manages to entertain, educate, and horrify as it follows the adventures of Frank and his Man Scythe. Did I mention I love Frank? A great sense of humor, moves honed by numerous zombie death matches, and the desire to be a better man combine to make Frank a wonderful, yet deeply flawed, hero.

In Frank’s words: “I’ve been doing this gig, ‘Freelance Zombie Extermination,’ for just over a year and a half. My claim to fame is simple: Hey, I’m still alive! Better, I’m sure, than the other options.”

He’s sort of the American Juan of the Dead.

But Frank isn’t fighting brain-dead, sluggish zombies who travel in herds and eat anything in their path. These zombies are smart, organized, fast, and only attracted to people infected with the zombie virus. No infection with the virus means you can roam with impunity. Infection with the virus is akin to blood in shark infested waters, it’s only a matter of time before you end up as a zombie snack.

Sure, there’s plenty of zombie brain bashing, crushing, and skewering, but the real meat of this story lies in the bond between the inhabitants of Frank’s small, close-knit neighborhood.  When Frank’s good friend is asked to work for a zombie warlord and develop technology to allow the zombies to keep humans as cattle to feed upon, the friend must either submit to the request or endanger the lives of everyone in their community. If only it was as easy as putting up fences and stopping swarming zombies. Instead Frank and his compatriots must strategize against zombies with weapons, military tactics and discipline, and a rather casual attitude toward using their least gifted members as cannon fodder.

As if Frank’s life isn’t complicated enough, sibling rivalry and a hot female zombie killer, who admires Frank’s Man Scythe as much as he does, keeps the heat turned up on this page turner.  Blood Soaked and Contagious is a winner of a novel. Buy it at Amazon. If you can’t get enough of Frank, there’s a second book available called  Blood Soaked and Invaded.

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Soaked-Contagious-James-Crawford-ebook/dp/B005NF3SGK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396569762&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+soaked+and+contagious

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Soaked-Invaded-Blood-Soaked-Crawford-ebook/dp/B0079N8J04/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396709790&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+soaked+and+invaded

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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

For All the Zombie Authors Out There

Today’s post is a plea to zombie authors everywhere.

Please consider writing about the good side of the zombie apocalypse.

Signs of the zombie apocalypse

Signs of the zombie apocalypse

I know that a world covered with hordes of shuffling, brain-eating, slobbering, mindless idiots makes us think about purchasing firearms, stockpiling food and water, and, if we are lucky, shooting our way to the top of a new world order. Thinking that the police and our armed services will totally fall apart in a battle of these proportions and that only the heavily fortified and amoral will live is a tempting thought.

In a zombie apocalypse, anyone could be the next President.

But ponder the shift that has taken place around the idea of being overrun by intelligent beings from other planets. Movies like “Independence Day” and “Men in Black” show that we aren’t totally outmatched in a battle against superior beings, so why would be outclassed by zombies? Stupid, slobbering, brain-eating zombies. It doesn’t make any sense.

There have been a few zombie novels that have attempted to show an alternate vision of the zombie virus. Brains by Robin Becker, Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion all find the humanity in zombies. They look deep into the abyss and return with a message that mankind will be okay if we just stop trying to kill that which we don’t understand.

Perhaps we spend too much time focusing on the downside of the zombie apocalypse, and not enough time imagining all the good that might come of it. There will be bravery. There will be sacrifice. And, at the end, I believe there will a kinder, gentler society.

I’m probably in the minority on this one.

Still, I challenge zombie authors out there to show us a different side of the apocalypse. Stop relying on blood and  gore and sex and if you must show us the worst in people, show us the best too.

If this idea intrigues you, and you’re not sure it will work, I invite you to watch this short (7 minutes) film that hauntingly portrays all we are capable of.  Warning, kleenex may be necessary.

 

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Our mailbox overflows with questions from people curious about specific aspects of the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. Today, we will answer some of those questions.

Question Mark Graffiti
Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

From George in Idaho: Why do you feed the children cow brains and how many brains do you go through on a yearly basis?

Dennis,  please refer to this link: http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/30/i-feed-zombies-so-you-dont-have-to/ for the full story on how we came to our decision to use cow brains. As far as how many we go through on an annual basis, each full-grown cow brain is a little shy of 1 pound. Our nutritionists have carefully calculated that zombie children need approximately 1/2 pound of brain per day to keep them active and healthy. Therefore the amount of brains depends on how many children we have on-site. With 200 zombie kids, we need approximately 36,500 pounds annually or 16 1/2 metric tons.

From Caroline in Seattle: Are there any plans to make your zombie kid restraint devices available to the general public? It seems they would come in handy for people who are keeping their zombie kids at home.

Caroline, handling zombie children is best left to professionals. Our team of zombie happiness engineers work to ensure each restraint is as humane and pain-free as possible. Unfortunately we feel making them available to people without the proper training and support would only result in tragedy. On the advice of our legal team, there are no plans to market our devices.

Restraint Chairs
Restraint Chairs (Photo credit: j_bary)

Rex from the Florida Panhandle: In my area, many people die while waiting for organ transplants. Can’t the zombies be put to use for spare parts?

Rex, ethically we can’t condone using zombies as “spare parts.” Additionally, zombies exist in a chronic state of decomposition. Transplanting a zombie organ into a live human wouldn’t help the human as they’d now have a totally non-working organ which would hasten the death of the recipient.

English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Trans...
English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Transplant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scott from Cincinnati: Are there any plans to open up your zombie preserve for hunting opportunities?

Scott, if you can look at the faces of our kids and want to shoot them, there is too much wrong with you to address in this post. Please contact a mental health professional and get the help you so desperately need.

Delilah from New Hampshire: I’ve heard airlines are planning a rule change to prohibit transport of zombies. Are you opening up additional havens for zombie kids in the Midwest and West Coast?

Deliliah, we’ve been in contact with airline executives about this troubling rule change. Our preferred method of transport is through our underground zombie railroad (read the post at http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/15/the-zombie-underground-railroad/), but in some cases we’ve been forced to rely on air transport. Currently we can fly zombie kids in hardcover golf club cases as checked baggage for a reasonable fee. If this practice is stopped, it will negatively impact our ability to take zombie kids from the West Coast. Though we have no plans to open any additional facilities, we’ve recently added a Washington lobbyist to our staff and hope he can resolve this issue to our satisfaction.

Carousel 4
Carousel 4 (Photo credit: gloom)

Sandra from South Carolina: I’ve heard that zombies eat fire ants. Can I rent a zombie to make my yard a fire ant-free zone?

Sandra, yes, we have discovered that zombie are naturally attracted to fire ant nests. Researchers at our preserve estimate one zombie can clear a half-acre of fire ant nests in one day. Currently we are sponsoring a study to find out why zombies are impervious to the bites and venom of fire ants.  As far as renting a zombie to clean your yard of fire ants, the answer is no. These are children, decomposing children, but children nonetheless. We do not rent them out.

And our last question is from Jacques in Montreal: Since your move to South Carolina, have you noticed the warmer weather hastens the children’s decomposition or retards it?

Excellent question, Jacques. Our patented brining process keeps our zombie children in good shape by preserving, or curing, their skin. Unfortunately proper curing must take place in a narrow temperature range to be effective. Too cold or too warm will result in improperly cured skin and lead to quicker decomposition. We’ve adjusted by creating a curing room which is kept at a steady 38 degrees and holds ten children. Ask for a tour next time you visit our zombie habitat!

Do you have a question? Send it to us at feedthezombiechildren@gmail. com for an answer. Remember, we feed the zombie kids so you won’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Rescue Organization

Book Review: Dead Tide by Stephen North

Dead Tide, by Stephen A. North, provides an up close and personal look at the zombie apocalypse through a varied cast that includes a cab driver, a cop, a stripper, a street thug, a neighborhood activist, and a janitor.  Each character lends a unique point of view to the chaos as it unfolds.  Each struggles to figure out what’s happening, then how to escape it.

As expected, safety is hard to come by and self-preservation at a premium. There is a stark contrast between the good guys and those who seek to profit from a zombie apocalypse. In particular, the police and military are portrayed as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. This perpetuates the popular belief that in times of crisis the authorities will be busier protecting themselves than protecting the populace.

Overall the story was an entertaining take on the zombie apocalypse, but the myriad characters became distracting at times. The short chapters and point of view change in each chapter made it hard to get to know the characters at first and I found myself flipping back and forth, trying to reorient myself. Some of the characters veered into cliché land (bad cop, exotic dancer with a heart of gold) and others left me wanting more (Bronte in particular). The rapidity with which society devolved also came as a shock. The story takes place over several days, but within hours people are already raping, looting, and indiscriminately killing one another. This seemed a little premature to me, but I’m an optimist.

Personally I would have appreciated a smaller cast of characters and longer chapters, call it adult ADD but I struggled to keep up at first. Even so, the writing is good and the story moves along briskly. If you’re not daunted by a large cast and swift and frequent point of view changes, Dead Tide may be just what you’re looking for.  I liked it enough to plan to read Dead Tide Rising, North’s second installment in this series.

You can purchase either Dead Tide at Amazon and Permuted Press.