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

Book Review Friday: The Burning Z by Clive Riddle

the burning z

When offered a copy of the The Burning Z by Clive Riddle to review, it seemed like a no-brainer. The concept, zombies crashing the Burning Man Festival, seemed intriguing. Not really knowing what the Burning Man festival is, other than a sense it was an ecologically correct Woodstock, the idea that a large group of drug impaired, sleep deprived, crazily dressed, electronics-free strangers might be set upon by zombies had us thinking about the age-old question, would we be able to identify a zombie apocalypse in a timely manner if we saw one? The answer, at least for the Burning Man group, we thought would be a resounding no and that promised all manners of story twists and surprises.

Sadly, it was not to be.

There is no doubt the author knows a lot about Burning Man. He devotes chapters to involved explanations of every facet of the set up, but instead of spicing the story up with insider knowledge, the depth of detail is overpowering.  Though Mr. Riddle’s information would be at home in an academic journal detailing the phenomenon of Burning Man, it didn’t serve to bring the reader into the experience. Instead it left this reader feeling removed from it. The sense of not being part of the story was intensified by the relentless focus on what being a true Burning Man participant meant, which came across like they were the popular kids in a high school clique and everyone else was outsiders.

Prior to the Burning Man, the author introduces characters with an enormous amount of back story, much of it unessential to the story. This contributed to the suffocatingly slow pace of the novel. The characters, even with a majority of their life story revealed, seemed more like props to be placed in and out of scenes than characters I could root for or despise.

My major feeling was indifference to the characters, to the story, and to the zombies.  It is rare that I don’t finish a book I start, but the only way I could finish The Burning Z was by forcing myself to read one chapter a day. Though I kept waiting for the pace or the story to pick up, it never happened. Not a day passed when, after finishing my daily quota, I felt compelled to read on. I only felt relief I was done for the day.

If you’re looking to impress your friends with your knowledge of Burning Man, this might be the book for you. If you’re hoping for a fast-paced, zombie thriller, avoid this one. Instead, check out one of the many great books we’ve reviewed in the past.

 

Book Review Friday: Tankbread by Paul Mannering

Tankbread

Tankbread

I was browsing through my Kindle the other night when I saw the title, Tankbread. Having no recollection of downloading it, and not even sure what it might be about, I clicked on it and was rewarded with a cool, fast-paced zombie tale that should be made into a movie. Not to say reading this book wasn’t enjoyable. It was. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish it in one night and kept thinking about it the next day. Still, a movie version would be cool. You know, for people who don’t like to read.
The narrator of Tankbread is a hero on par with Riddick in the movie “Pitch Black” and Clint Eastwood‘s the Man with No Name. In fact, I don’t think narrator ever reveals his name. He’s called “bad dog,” by the zombie who hires him to pick up a package and the “courier” by the scientists who make synthetic humans as zombie food. This is one twisted post apocalyptic world.

Right off the bat, the reader knows the narrator has been there, done that, and stole the t-shirt. Surviving in a world essentially run by zombies is tough. For once, instead of the humans being the real threat to mankind, semi-intelligent zombies are kicking their ass. Sure, there’s cowardly, craven humans kowtowing to the the zombies, including making their food, but there’s also plenty of humans who are banding together and trying to eke out more than a sustenance lifestyle. The real menace in this tale are zombies who can think and plan. They’re definitely not as swift on the uptake as humans, but with their sheer numbers, they don’t have to be.

Still, there are plenty of feral zombies who exhibit traditional zombie behavior, but the dangerous zombies are capable of thinking of more than eating brains. Luckily scientists have produced human clones, called Tankbread, to feed the zombie hordes. Perhaps we should call them the zombie overlords. If the humans continue to produce Tankbread, the zombies won’t eat them. Appeasement on a grand scale.

The novel follows the journey of our reluctant hero from the zombie slums to human settlements and back again. His journey fuels this story and kept me glued to the page. The author squeezes in plenty of gore and fighting and death, but he keeps hope alive in this bleak world. At the end, I felt surprisingly good about the outcome. Sure, the zombie apocalypse is going to suck, but imagine if it turned out to be mankind’s finest hour, rather than an excuse for power-hungry psychopaths to fulfill their sickest desires.

If you’re looking for something new in the zombie genre, check out Tankbread. I think you’ll be glad you did.  Click here for Amazon link for kindle book or paperback.

 

Books Gone Bad, Review or Ignore?

The staff at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization loves zombie books, zombie movies and even zombie TV shows. By keeping on the cutting edge of what is out there, we identify untruths and areas of confusion that need to be clarified in order to further our mission of making this a kinder, gentler world for zombie kids.

Unfortunately, some of the books we review are, to be honest, boring, unimaginative, and poorly written. That breaks our hearts. We WANT to give positive reviews. We thrill to the reading of tales that are fast-paced, smart, and keep us up until 4 a.m. to see how things turn out. Reviewing those books makes our Friday book review fun. The authors enjoy hearing some praise (writing a novel is damn hard work), for those with publishers (like our favorite publisher, Permuted Press, who sends free books for review) it is an acknowledgement of their savvy in the field of zombie lore, and it benefits our readers, who hunger for well-written stories that defy genre stereotypes. On a personal note, good book reviews generate shares, likes, and new visitors to our blog. All actions we heartily endorse.

So what happens when we give a bad book review? The author generally doesn’t share, people aren’t eager to read it, and our blog doesn’t benefit. The problem being that we can’t, in good conscience, write the kind of snarky, bad book review that will go viral and generate hits. We respect writers too much.

Our experience so far has identified two kinds of writers: those we call professionals, meaning they can take criticism, process it, and move on, and those we consider amateurs, who only want to validation that they are a great writer and consider criticism a sign of a stupid reader. Amateurs spend so much time defending the sanctity of their writing that they leave no room for discussion or reflection. We wish we could identify these writers prior to reviewing their work, because then we could avoid them.

Now, we’re not looking for sympathy. We appreciate everyone who offers us books to review and suggests books we might enjoy. Our post today is only to gather some feedback as to whether it is worthwhile to post truly bad reviews, or whether you only want us to review books in the zombie genre that possess some redeeming qualities. Answering our poll will allow us to serve you, and the orphaned zombie children, better. Thanks, Your Friends at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization.

The Politics of Zombies

At the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization, we’re not big fans of Congressional hearings. Quite frankly, our country dodged a bullet when the anabolic steroids favored by most professional athletes weren’t acquired from Cratchit Pharmaceuticals, purveyors of the tainted testosterone that turned so many height-challenged youngsters into chronic decomposers. A grandstanding Congressional hearing and hindsight presents disasters, it doesn’t prevent them.

The congressional version of wasting time at the water cooler.

The congressional version of wasting time at the water cooler.

Whether or not Urban Outfitters makes prescription bottles into shot glasses or coffee mugs isn’t as important as rising student loan rates or our failing highway infrastructure, but sound bite wins over significance every time.

Does Congress really need to debate whether these condone drug use?

Does Congress really need to debate whether these condone drug use?

And, really, does Congress need to investigate the ludicrous accusation that sanctuaries, such as ours, are enslaving zombie children and depriving them of their rights? It is amazing the contradictory arguments the anti-zombie zealots will make in an attempt to reach their goal of a zombie-free world.

Last week’s inflammatory viral video (see previous post “At Night, I Dream of Escape”), that claims to interpret the thoughts of a zombie child, gained enough popularity that it was featured on Fox News. Since then, anti-zombie groups have focused on getting out two messages. First, zombie children still retain their humanity because they can reason and second, their state of chronic decomposition renders them terminally ill and eligible for euthanasia.  The Zombie Emergency Relief Organization flatly renounces both of these positions.

As far as zombie children retaining the ability to think, we agree that there is some basic level of cognition going on. Our Wednesday’s Child spotlight posts have provided examples of zombie kids recalling and reenacting their pre-zombie life, including:

Remy and Julia, a love that survived their zombification.

Cara the Caregiver, who continues to make a difference assisting our seamstresses and surgeons.

Brother Jacques, our Canadian import, who sets the bar for helpfulness and cleanliness.

Valentina, who walks the catwalk in our facility, rather than the runways of New York.

Each child shows evidence of remembering traces of the life they used to lead. Though our research, at this time, is confined to observing and recording their behavior, we are in the process of teaming up with a major academic medical center to do in-depth studies on the neurobiology of zombie children. Until we have concrete, reproducible data to either support or refute the notion that these children retain human cognition, we will continue to offer them refuge rather than death. To us they remain children, incapable of informed consent, and certainly not candidates for euthanasia.

We hope you understand and support our position.  Remember, we feed the zombie children so you won’t have to.

Your Friends at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization.

Book Review Friday: The Undead Situation and The Undead Haze by Eloise J Knapp

Opening a second facility and dealing with internet craziness  has resulted in our backing off on our usual posting schedule and concentrating on daily operations. Luckily, the one thing we haven’t stopped doing is reading zombie fiction. Today we not only post Book Review Friday on a Sunday, we also give you a two-fer as we review Eloise J Knapp’s The Undead Situation and The Undead Haze.  Enjoy!

The Undead Situation

The Undead Situation by Eloise J Knapp
Cyrus V Sinclair doesn’t mind the zombie apocalypse. He’s got a crate of Guns and Ammo magazines, a well stocked pantry, and a bird’s-eye view of the chaos from his Seattle apartment. But when the chaos winds down, the magazine articles get repetitive, and Cyrus’ sweet tooth starts acting up, it’s time to enter the fray. Searching for his survivalist pal, Frank, and joined by a motley crew of survivors, Cyrus needs to dodge the zombies and avoid the crazies – survivors who have turned to religious fervor, cannibalism, raping and pillaging – to find safety.
Cyrus isn’t your typical leader. He’s cold, he’s cruel, and he’s a self admitted sociopath. When he isn’t hanging his pals out apartment windows by their feet or abandoning them to a zombie feast, he dispatches the crazies and the zombies with equal glee. The only warmth in his cold, two-sizes-too-small heart belongs to his albino ferret, Pickle and his allegiance to his friend, Frank.
Despite his cruelty, Cyrus is an interesting, almost charming protagonist. He’s like the misogynistic frat boy or arrogant asshole who you can’t stand but still hang out with at a party. Turns out,  there isn’t a lot of room for compassion when undead zombies roam the city and, despite his faults, Cyrus manages to keep himself better off than the Mother Theresa types.
The Undead Situation takes longer to get into than most zombie fare. Cyrus’ personality coupled with a slow start make the first couple of chapters difficult to engage with, but once the action starts, it’s nonstop to the end. In fact, I flew through this novel and went straight onto the second book of Cyrus V Sinclair’s story.
The Undead Haze

The Undead Haze

The Undead Haze by Eloise J Knapp
Cyrus V Sinclair should be in the clear. Sure, he lost his best friend, his protegé, and the only woman he considers his equal but he’s found Frank’s safe house. Pickle and Cyrus would be set if he could just forget the past. Instead his nightmares force him back into the zombie infested towns and cities in search of Blaze, the woman he left for dead.
To say Cyrus has had a change of heart in the sequel to The Undead Situation would be giving him too much credit. Sure, Cyrus is questioning himself: Was he ever truly a sociopath? Does he really want to help the survivors avoid the crazies? Is his search for Blaze something more than missing a friend? Luckily none of his questions undermine his basic self-preservation skills and weaklings be damned if they come between Cyrus and his survival.
If you enjoyed The Undead Situation as I did, The Undead Haze is a fantastic follow-up. The plot is more streamlined in the second novel and a whole new batch of crazies is introduced.  When I was done, I wanted more and am hoping there’s a third novel in the works.
The Undead Situation and The Undead Haze are available at Amazon. Now stop wasting time, go buy them.