The Zombie Hunters are Back!

Yesterday I finished Lost in Texas: The Living Dead Boy 2 by Rhiannon Frater. I had read her first book in the series recently, and the characters were fresh in my mind. Not to mention, I am preparing for the new book which will be out in a little over a week.

Before I go any further, if you have no idea what I’m referring to, I highly suggest you hop over to my post, Classic Zombie Lit, which reviews the first book in the series. My guess is you’re going to love The Living Dead Boy every bit as much as I did. After checking out my post, I highly recommend you head over to Amazon.com and snag yourself a copy.

“Lost in Texas: The Living Dead Boy 2” starts off right where the first book left off. Josh and his friends, the Zombie Hunters Club, have survived a botched evacuation at their school, spent the night in a treehouse surrounded by zombies, and also faced dissention within their group. Despite all the chaos, they’ve found familiar faces in the convoy in which they’re travelling. The city bus they are travelling on is safe. At first. But with zombies closing in and the adults making one poor decision after another and nobody listening to the kids, who have spent much of their time immersed in zombie lore, Josh and the other members of the Club start to doubt their safety.

I absolutely loved “Lost in Texas”! I could hardly put my Kindle down. I carried it around the house with me, trying to read it while doing laundry, cooking dinner, and even folding laundry. This series is categorized as Young Adult Literature, but it will appeal to every age.  Rhiannon deftly navigates the intricacies of a pre-teen and teenage set of characters. The comments they make and the responses they have to each situation is not only age appropriate, but also shows growth. The Zombie Hunters Club are definitely not the people they used to be before the apocalypse started, and they continue to grow as the series continues.

One of the tropes in zombie literature (and movies), is the inclusion of a dangerous person or people. Rhiannon masterfully takes advantage of this as well. In Chad, she has created a terrifying character. He is both believable and terrifying. He stands in stark contrast to the members of the Zombie Hunters Club, because he is not only selfish, but he is cowardly. The Zombie Hunters Club believe that if they band together they will survive. They chose Josh as their leader because he’s level-headed, and seems to make the most thought-out decisions. Chad is rash, domineering, and downright crazy. I suspect him of being a sociopath because he knows no limit when it comes to lying or trying to take what he wants outright. He gets into a very scary scene with one of the girls in the group, and it hit close to home. I was in an abusive relationship in college, and I recognized the signs that I had failed to notice in real life in this character. Chad is just terrifying enough to be a threat, but he’s not so overdone that his character isn’t believable. He attempts to make full use of the disorder of the zombie apocalypse to make his moves.

Josh and the other characters mature, and as the book goes on, they are forced to make increasingly more difficult decisions. More and more Josh finds himself weighing options and featuring in whether or not it will get people killed. Only, they’re not just people. They’re his friends and family.

“Lost in Texas: The Living Dead Boy 2” is a wonderful book, a perfect follow-up to “The Living Dead Boy”, and sets the stage for the third book in the series. No matter what kind of books you prefer, I recommend this book highly. I also recommend it for adolescents that are wanting to get into literature, but their parents are wary of it being too bloody or having sexual content. In short, Rhiannon Frater’s series is fantastic, and this book is a welcome addition!

 

 

Oz like you’ve never seen it before!

I have a confession to make. One that might make your blood run cold, shatter your childhood, and doubt my sanity.

I hate The Wizard of Oz.

In case I wasn’t clear the first time. I. Hate. The. Wizard. Of. Oz.

There. I said it. It’s always been true for me, even as a little child. Not even the knowledge that Toto was supposed to be a Boston terrier has made me give a damn about this absurd movie. As far as I’m concerned, there are only three good things that have come out of The Wizard of Oz.

  1. Memes. There are a ton, and they’re absolutely hilarious. They range from esoteric to the foul-mouthed. There’s something for everyone. The one to the right is one of my absolute favorites.
  2. Pink Floyd. When I was in high school, I heard a rumor that you could start up Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz together, and the album worked as an alternate soundtrack. My friends and I did it, clean and sober. And it was fantastic! (If you’ve never seen it, check out the link here.)
  3. Bloodstained Oz. Authors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore have created pure, graphic, nightmare-inducing genius.

Bloodstained Oz is an absolutely nasty take on the idea of The Wizard of Oz, but it’s not a retelling by any means. It takes place in Kansas in 1933. As happened in the Dust Bowl, a storm comes in. But this is no ordinary storm by any means. After the tornadoes touch down and wreak their havoc, the main characters are left to try and survive the horrors the storm brings with it.

There’s 9 year old Gayle Franklin and her parents, whose parents are trying to make it as corn farmers even though there is a severe drought. After the storm, Gayle finds little porcelain dolls scattered in the dirt. A dying Scarecrow warns her that they are not what they seem.

Stephan, his wife Elisa, and little baby Jeremiah are traveling Romani who sell elixirs. They encounter horrible winged creatures that shouldn’t be possible. Their only shelter is a wagon and the symbols of faith inside.

After the storm breaks, prisoner Hank finds a beautiful necklace in the irrigation ditch he and the other prisoners are forced to dig. He hides it in his pocket, thinking he can sell it and start his life after his prison sentence ends. All his hopes are shattered when terrifying vampires with emerald eyes attack the prison, searching for something.

Bloodstained Oz clocks in at 114 pages, but don’t let that fool you. Golden and Moore waste no time getting the reader acquainted with both the characters and the horrors they will face. I started this book at work on lunch, and I wish I hadn’t. All I wanted was to snuggle under my comforter at home and read it from beginning to end in one sitting. When I got home, I quickly made and ate dinner, and then climbed into bed to keep reading. I never wanted Bloodstained Oz to end. When I got to the end, I rolled over and snagged my advanced reader copy of Bloodstained Wonderland, which is the as-yet unreleased sequel. I fell asleep with the book hitting my face around page 61. You can bet once I’m done with this review, I’ll be returning to it!

I can’t say enough about how awesome and scary Bloodstained Oz is. It’s a genuine page-turner with solid characters and wonderfully twisted monsters. Golden and Moore borrowed from The Wizard of Oz, but make no mistake. This isn’t a retelling. They took well-loved characters such as The Tin Man and The Scarecrow and warped them into something out of a fever dream. I’m not a fan of porcelain dolls, so I’m going to say those were my favorite, but just barely. Everything in this book is fresh and terrifying.

It pains me not to say more about the plot and the fates of the characters, but the fun of Bloodstained Oz is wondering exactly what is going to happen next. I don’t want to deprive any readers of the scares and chills that come with exploring uncharted territory.

Before I curl up and get to reading Bloodstained Wonderland again, I want to add that you can get the first book for $2.99 on Kindle. At that price, you’re practically stealing from the authors and the publisher. Trust me, Bloodstained Oz and Bloodstained Wonderland are two books you’re not going to want to miss!

 

 

Nightmares Abound!

I’ve been a fan of Adrian Chamberlin‘s work since I first read The Caretakers. He’s a helluva writer, and has a sense of humor to match. After reading The Caretakers, I resolved to pay close attention to any anthology in which his work is featured, as well as to his own books.

I stumbled on Dreaming in Darkness awhile ago and had purchased it for my Kindle. Since I finished a run of books for review, I wanted to read something quick for myself. If nothing else, it would be vastly different than the books I had been reading, and I thought it would work as a palate cleanser until the next round of review books arrived.

Dreaming in Darkness was more than I could have ever hoped for, and just may have spoiled me for Mythos literature forever. There are only four stories in the book, which clocks in at  a massive 356 pages. Each story is by a different author, and I tell you no lies when I say that all of them were fantastic. After having finished it, I’d be pressed to select just one as a favorite. They were all so wildly different, yet united in that they were horrifying on a visceral level. These stories are what primitive fears are made of!

Before I go into each story, please note that I am giving vague descriptions of each. They are all wonderfully complex with solid and engaging characters. But I don’t want to deprive the reader of the surprise and terror by spoiling the stories ahead of time. Therefore, please forgive me for the thin descriptions.

THE ORDER – Aaron J. French

In this tale, retired detective Carl Sanford returns to the field at the behest of a friend. His interest in the occult as well as conspiracy theories makes him a particularly important viewpoint on the latest murder case. As Sanford and the others delve deeper into the case, they find that not only are many of the occult theories actually true, but that there is a cult called the Order of Oriphiel that seeks to overturn the world order and bring the Apocalypse.

SHADRACH BESIEGED – Adrian Chamberlin

A centuries-long struggle to keep a horrifying idol out of the wrong hands comes to a terrifying climax at an abandoned monastery during the English Civil War. The majority of the soldiers caught up in the mess think they are fighting their Civil War. Little do they know that Shadrach and his old foe have also come together to wage their own war, and everyone around them will get swept into it. Not to mention having to cross a hellish forest with an agenda of it’s own!

THE SERPENT’S EGG – Jonathan Green

A writer goes and stays in a castle, hoping to find inspiration after his marriage and life crumbled in the aftermath of his first successful novel and the dry period that followed. He’s researching the legend of the Lambton Worm, and thinks himself lucky to find his host is none other than Lord Tristam Lambton himself. However, he stumbles onto a pagan ritual and from there everything goes to hell. He soon finds out that not only is the Lambton Worm no legend, but he now must fight this cult for his life.

NEW HEAVENS – John Prescott

Instead of bringing the Old Ones to us, we are brought to the Old Ones. Literally! Monoliths rise from the sea, people wander into the ocean only to be changed into horrifying creatures, and then one day, the Earth itself is transported somewhere else. Our characters are left to battle against the Old Ones in their own environment, among countless other horrors, as they also struggle to get the Earth back in it’s own universe.

Again, these descriptions are thin compared to the wonderful complexity of each story. The descriptions in all of them are guaranteed to give nightmares – I can attest to this personally, from experience. At first I thought I could pick favorites, but by the end, I was positive that every story is unique and terrifying in it’s own right.

All four authors masterfully blend suspense, thrills, scares, and mystery together. Dreaming in Darkness is an absolutely amazing book, and at $4.00 for Kindle, it’s an absolute steal! If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t despair. You can still read it with the free Amazon Kindle app.

How’s your year going?

Last year I was a little late to the party. This year? READY.

Last year I got back on GoodReads.com after a prolonged absence. I started reviewing books again, and tracking my reading progress. It also helps me keep track of books  I want to read, or have read with my brother as part of our two person book club.

In any event, I set myself the lofty goal of reading 79 books by the end of this year. Since I got such a late start last year I only projected 9, but wound up reading 59 since I count graphic novels as well. So far I’m off to a good start. As of right now, I’m at 15/79 books. They range from authors I just discovered to authors that I’ve been reading for years. There are graphic novels as well as regular novels represented. I’m sure that I’ll also be adding in some young adult reads, since Phoebe likes when I read books that she’s read. She’s super into Superhero Girls and Disney’s Descendants, so I know those will be among my titles for this year. (Speaking of which, I need to catch up on Descendants! I think I’m about 2 books and a movie behind.)

Honestly, the young adult books are really good. I read a Descendants book last year (Wicked World Wish Granted). It wasn’t bad – there’s many lessons to be learned about friendship, identity, and the consequences of your decisions. It was in graphic novel format, but there are several tie-in books that are in the series too.

I’d also like to get back to Jonathan Maberry‘s Rot and Ruin series. I’m anxious to see what’s happened with Benny Imura and his longtime crush Nix Riley. I also want to get back to Alessia Giacomi‘s Zombie Girl Saga, because the last Eve Brenner book I read left a really interesting cliffhanger. There are other book series that I want to work on, too many to list, in fact! Not to mention, I am woefully under-read in the world of comics. My plan is to change this up this year. I don’t want to be a superhero fan only based on movies. I’m ready to go full nerd.

If you’re on GoodReads.com too look me up! Let’s be friends! (Feel free to send recommendations my way, either books you’ve liked, or books that you’ve written.)

 

 

 

Cozy Mayhem

Suzanne Robb is back – and she’s gathered together three absurd and macabre tales.  Her latest offering, titled “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” is currently available at amazon.com for a steal of a price!  (Head over there right now and buy it – then come back and keep reading!)

Each tale is progressively more interesting and thought-provoking than the last.  My personal favorite is B.I.T.E.  It’s one of those stories where you never can figure out what’s going to happen next.  It centers around a group of people trying to stop the apocalypse – but they’re not exactly the kind of crew you would originally sign up for the job.  And well, the huge murderous squirrel-nemesis doesn’t hurt either!

The other two stories are also equally interesting, but I’m afraid that if I go into their plots, I’m going to give away all of the hidden details.  It all boils down to this : everyone should read “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” because it is an all-around fun book to read.  Before you know it, you’ll be at the end of the book searching for a hidden chapter or something to keep you going because you’re feeling withdrawal set in hard and fast.  (Or, like me, you’ll spend ten minutes paging back and forth on your Kindle praying that you really haven’t hit the end of the book so soon.  I wish I could say that I’m a drama queen and that I’m exaggerating.  I really did keep checking just in case.)

Suzanne’s stories are all character-driven.  There are moments when it’s possible to forget that the story is actually a horror story.  It reads like a one-sided conversation.  It’s engrossing and thought-provoking at the same time.  The first of the trio, The Moonlight Killer, features a (for all intents and purposes) mostly milquetoast main character.  He doesn’t really love his girlfriend, but can’t seem to be bothered to give up the free sex by breaking up with her.  It’s interesting to watch his transformation as the story goes on because in many ways it’s believable.  The people we idolize will always be regular people with a few outstanding qualities.  So too, do we see this with our main character.  Despite his heroic qualities, it is still possible to see the real person at the end – at times selfish, and at other times immature.  His flawed humanity ultimately makes him a likeable character.

Beware – if you’re not careful you might just get lost in “Were-wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutation, Oh My!” because the world Suzanne Robb presents is ultimately very much like our own…

 

A New Face, A New Terror…

Prepare for the arival of Suzanne Robb, who brings us a new vision of zombie mayhem with her debut novel, “Z-Boat”.  It doesn’t matter whether your buy the  book in Kindle format or traditional paperback, this is a must-read book.  Especially if you’re tired of the tried-and-true formula that the zombie genre has stuck to for so long.  Robb delivers a fast-paced novel full of government and interpersonal intrigue, a submarine too decrepit for it’s deep sea rescue mission, and a host of strange characters that is sure to delight.

It’s difficult to give a basic summary of such an intricate book, but here goes!  The Betty Loo and her crew have been commissioned to go on a rescue mission deeper than they’ve ever gone before.  Along with the usual captain and crew, a few new people are assigned.  A quick check of the personnel files shows that these people are anything but ordinary – and that all is not what it seems.  As (bad) luck would have it, the second they leave the dock and begin the mission, everything goes awry in the worst way imaginable – from mechanical failures and dueling spies to accidental crew deaths.  The worst is yet to come – the sub they are going to rescue is crewed by…zombies.  Unfortunately they aren’t the shambling Romero variety either.  Robb’s zombies retain a little intelligence, and a nightmarish pack mentality.  Do they make it out alive?  Does the plague reach the surface and the unsuspecting world?  Read Z-Boat and find out!

If you haven’t read any books by Suzanne Robb, now would be the time.  She’s a promising up-and-comer who has already published stories in multiple anthologies.  “Z-Boat” is her first published full-length novel, and there is talk of a sequel.  Her greatest strength as a writer is her ability to weave interesting characters into an even more interesting story line.  She began the book with a Prologue detailing the current state of the world, a first chapter with a not-so-desperate S.O.S. call, and then went straight into the characters and story.  The zombies don’t actually appear in full force until the middle of the book, but by then the reader is so deeply immersed in the political intrigue (and, let’s face it, trying to guess who’s going to make it out alive), they the zombies are an added treat, rather than the main focus.

If you happen to enjoy nitpicking books then I should warn you that there were a few grammatical errors along the way, but nothing worth getting in a tizzy over.  They didn’t impact the ability of the reader to enjoy the story.

On a personal note, I found that once I got through the first few pages, I couldn’t put the book down.  It drove me crazy trying to figure out who was going to die, where the zombies came from, and how the crew thought they were going to make it back to the surface in a busted sub.  And just to warn any prospective readers, I actually cried at the ending.  It was really sad, but really fit the book.  I think I’d have been really aggravated if the book had a different ending.

Now, stop reading this and go buy a copy of the book for yourself!  (And your friend!)