Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking for something fresh and new?

Two weeks ago, I got my hands on Braineater Jones, by Stephen Kozeniewski. I loaded it into my iPad, opened it in Kindle, and then went straight to to read the book description. Based on the description, I Braineater-Jones-800-Cover-Reveal-and-Promotionalwasn't sure what I would think of the book. I love zombies and horror, I love books set in historical periods other than my own, but for the most part I'm not fond of mysteries. I blew up the cover image and studied it. It reminded me of the pulps, and the tagline, "No memory, no pulse, no clue" hooked me instantly.

It's October 31, 1934. Braineater Jones, the titular character, wakes up face down in a swimming pool with a bullet hole in his chest. He has no memory of his previous life, no idea how he wound up dead, or what he's going to do about his situation. Not to mention, he doesn't even know the rules of being undead. He heads to the seediest part of town, The Welcome Mat, and begins his search for identity. Before he knows it, he has become a private investigator, specializing in helping his fellow undead community members. Each case brings him simultaneously closer and further from his list of questions about himself and his past. When Jones unwittingly stumbles on what he believes to be a community-wide conspiracy, shit gets real. And fast! Armed with only one ally, Jones will go up against powerful members of the community as he unravels the greatest mystery of all.

Along the way, Jones runs afoul of some of the craziest zombies one could imagine! There's a head without a body, a closet full of dismembered hookers, a talking fetus, and all other kinds of crazy characters. If you asked me, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you my favorite. Kozeniewski gives each one just enough backstory to be interesting and relevant, without waterlogging the book with nonsense.

I can't sing Stephen Kozeniewski's praises enough! He deftly wove history and 30's vernacular to create a world that was believable, but not to the point of being cartoonish. At the back of Braineater Jones, Kozeniewski gives the reader a glossary, where all of the terms used are clearly (and humourously) defined, but more often than not the reader can figure out the meaning based on the rest of the sentence. Rather than being a hindrance, the vernacular adds atmosphere.

I highly recommend Braineater Jones, but especially if, like me, you're not sold on mysteries. The plot is gripping, the mystery is hard to solve, and all of the characters are interesting. The twist ending was a strong finish, leaving me feeling satisfied, but wishing for more of Jones' exploits. I hope I haven't seen the last of Braineater Jones, P.I.!

Friday, February 14, 2014


I've written this review over and over for the past few hours, trying to do justice to multi-talented author Eloise J. Knapp and her newest novel, PULSE. When she offered me an advanced reader copy, I knew I was in for something special. I've been a fan of hers ever since my husband gifted me The Undead Situation. It was her debut novel, and I was immediately floored by her realism. She wrote like she knew the weapons and tactics intimately. Anyone who has casually perused her Facebook page or her official website will see that the realism comes from experience. Eloise believes in being prepared, and that sincerity makes her stories and characters all the more interesting. In addition to writing, Eloise makes her own costumes for cosplay, creates videos on YouTube, and makes some of the most mouth-watering foods you could hope to see show up on your Facebook feed! To top it all off, she's also extremely humble and friendly. 

The Undead Situation gave rise to Cyrus V. Sinclair, a sociopath with an all-consuming sweet tooth. He and his ferret companion are fine riding out the apocalypse in their apartment, until a few unexpected human guests spoil the party. Once outside of the cozy apartment, Cyrus finds that all the fun has gone out of the apocalypse. The Undead Haze continues, and Cyrus gains a conscience as he attempts to deal with the events of the first book. As per fan request, Eloise teamed up with Timothy Long, writing the free Internet serial Dead Haze. Dead Haze sees Cyrus team up with Kate, Timothy's own sociopathic survivor.

About a month ago, Eloise sent me an advanced reader copy of her new novel, PULSE. I read it in three days. Instead of mindless shambling horrors, Eloise gives us something that hits closer to home. Once infected, her pulsezombies are cunning, violent, and absolutely no-holds-barred crazy. The infection makes the dead clumsy, but it also intensifies their baser instincts and desires, and that is where the true horror is born. Eloise shows the reader a funhouse mirror, where humanity's reflection shines back dark and perverse. The infection takes everything good about humanity and twists it - doctors, the bastions of salvation - become architects of pain and misery. The laughter of a child falls cold and hollow on a terrified mother's ears. Each page brings fresh new obstacles for already beleaguered characters.

PULSE showcases Eloise's continued growth as a writer. Her earlier works concentrate on a few characters, and she writes them very well. However, in PULSE, Eloise stretches her writing muscles and gives us a greater range. The reader experiences the story from the point of view of patient zero, the scientists racing the clock to fix the infection, a group of friends watching society fall apart, and asylum inmates who become newly rejuvenized by the chaos. Each character has their own unique voice and mannerisms, which make them all the more realistic. The plot races along gathering momentum until the end, which is abrupt and deeply disturbing. I am sooo hoping that she writes a sequel!

What impressed me most of all, is the sense that no character is truly safe in PULSE. I don't like books that I can predict, because I quickly stop caring. If I know who is going to survive, and who isn't, there's really no point in reading, is there? Eloise infects and saves with reckless and random abandon. Characters that I thought would surely last to the end of the book were turned into the violent hordes within pages, while others that I was sure were no more than fodder hung on stubbornly.

With every page PULSE is sure to frighten, delight, and keep the reader guessing! You need to add it to your collection IMMEDIATELY - and when you're done, be sure to drop by and give it a review!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

On Losing Weight

It's rant time people! If you haven't picked up in some of my posts yet, I'm fighting the Battle of the Bulge. In a nutshell, when I was younger I ate well and was active, and maintained a healthy waistline and suffered no asthma. Fast forward to college - making my own money, eating at fast food joints in between work and school, or on the way to both. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about - breakfast: sausage, egg, and cheese on a biscuit with a plain toasted bagel and sausage with a hashbrown with a chocolate chip muffin with a XL hot chocolate. Lunch: 2 Rodeo cheeseburgers (at Burger King - they're awesome!) with a small onion ring with a slice of cheesecake with a large diet soda (ha ha - I know! As if that was gonna help!) Dinner was either Mighty Taco or some other similar fast-food joint, or I would just repeat lunch with a few changes. Now, at this point you might be wondering why my parents never cooked meals and I never ate at home. At the risk of making excuses, going to college and working is a bitch, and if you haven't got the mindset going into it that you're going to be healthy, it's hard.  All of this led to a rapidly increasing waistline and lifestyle-induced asthma. I ignored it for awhile, then hopped on MyFitnessPal, thinking I would count calories. I jacked around with that for a few years, and then convinced my best friend to join me so we could be "diet partners". He lost 63 pounds. Now, before anyone starts the asinine "he's a guy, it takes less" argument...shut it. He got stubborn, made the necessary changes, and lost the weight. I didn't. I kept playing games - "if I over eat tonight, I can just workout more tomorrow!"

Recently, I bugged said best friend for how he lost weight. (Or, if I'm going to continue to be honest, I've been asking small questions here and there the whole time.) As close as I can remember, here is how he did it:

fatass1. Suck it up. Slathering your pizza in blue cheese? Stop it. Supersize the food? Never. Fast food? Not on your life.

2. No soda for you! Seriously. Soda is bad for you because it's not water or tea. The closer you are to natural, the better it is for you.

3. Haul ass. During his transformation, he did a shit-ton of cardio and is now incorporating weights. Why? Your body needs to burn off the fat.

4. Get to know protein. Your body needs it to make muscle tissue. You need muscle tissue to increase your fat-burning potential.

5. Hydrate. Apparently your body doesn't differentiate between hunger and thirst most of the time. Hungry? Chug water or tea and see where it takes you. Still hungry? You might want to eat.

6. One _____ at a time. This one changes based on what I'm bitching about. Exercise? One minute/mile/machine/muscle group at a time. Botched my last meal? One plate at a time. Botched my whole day? One day at a time.

7. Changes and habits. Not shortcuts. Said friend always says that I can't just do the stuff mentioned above until it works, and then go back to the way I was. He always tells me that I've gotta be in it for the long haul.

8. Stop hating yourself. If you workout/eat right because you hate yourself, it's not going to make a permanent change. (He also says that the time I spend bitching about myself or my situation could be energy used to make good choices. See, J, I do listen!)

9. Stop comparing myself to other people. My fitness journey won't be the same as anyone else. In other words, put my head down and horse blinders on, and concentrate on what I need to do for myself. If I look up, do it for inspiration, advice, and guidance. Not to hate on myself for not doing better.

With all of this great advice, you wouldn't think that I'd still be fighting the weight. But I am. And I think it comes down to the fact that I'm just not committing. I give up easily because it's too hard, or I want my shit-ton of M&Ms, or whatever the reason is at the time. Anyways, this post is me starting over (again). But this time for the last time.


(And just as a side note - typing in "fatass" on google was TERRIFYING. The things that came up that I had to sift through while looking for the picture I used...I may never sleep again.)