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Review: The Z Word by Bella Street

Title: The Z word
Author: Bella Street
Series: Apocalypse Babes # 1
Genre:  Science Fiction
Format: E-book
Source:  Giveaway
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ Smashwords
I won this book in a giveaway that was hosted by the author.

Blurb from Amazon:

The Z Word follows Seffy Carter and her longtime friends Gareth, Addison and Lani. The four besties share a past dysfunctional and dark enough to keep them bound together under do-over identities. But rends develop in their relationships from the flesh-eating pressures of ending up in 1980, in a Montana desert, surrounded by zombies wearing dated disco duds.

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Odd thoughts: No questions will be answered in this novel. Plus, it has weird slang.  Apparently, saying someone is “soup” is code for “crazy” or maybe it’s 80’s slang.

Another different take on the zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t really deal with the zombies. It focuses on shallow relationships and emphasizing secrets that are not going to be reveal right away. One reviewer on Amazon called the characters the Scooby-Doo gang. While I agree on some level with that reviewer, I feel the gang is more Victorious style. It was a decent book though.

Let’s talk characters. Seffy Carter, what a self-centered person to have for a main character. She was a hard person to like because she is only concerned with only herself and her attraction to Gareth. She barely cares for her friends, Addy (the redheaded bitch) and Lani (scatterbrained). She has no interest in being intelligent because she rejects anything nerdy or anything that hurts her image as Hollywood/ The Hills girl. It’s sort of disappointing because I’m all about female empowerment; Seffy does not have my vote. Addy may come of as a bitch (her reasoning for hating Seffy is not explained like Jade and Tori) but she can handle a gun. Something bad happened between them, can’t wait to find out what though. Lani is the Kat from Victorious or Luna from Harry Potter; random as hell and her logic doesn’t make sense most of the time. Even though Seffy is careless, there is something about her that I find intriguing and I can’t hate her for who she is. The reason is that on some level she is beginning to gain a consciousness about who she is and is slowly unwrapping her character. There is good potential in her character development.

Moving on to the guys in the book. Gareth is the one Seffy is interested. He has a nerdy side that Seffy tries very hard to suppress. Not sure what to make of him because he appears bi-polar when it comes to Seffy. He is willing to comfort her then pushes her away (without explanation) and finally, gets jealous when someone else is near her. Street likes bi-polar men because he reminds of a previous character she wrote. Gareth has potential as a lead male character but he is not that attractive. It’s like there is a shield around him. Trent is a survivor from another group and he is a jerk (so I liked him immediately, kidding). He has a very rough side but later comes out of his shell and is on friendlier terms with Seffy. The fact that Seffy distrusts Trent makes him character that much more appealing. Another appealing man is Fenn the Doctor who might be married but definitely is in a relationship with Fiona the Preppy Bitch Nurse. She is funny but this is the men’s section. There is this weird moment of flirtation between Seffy and Fenn that I just loved.

World-building wise, it is a closed book. There is no rational explanation behind the existence of the zombies. As readers, we end knowing how the zombies are being created but not why. It’s even weirder to have Russian mercenaries in Montana. It is true the Cold War is still going on in the book so that could be it. It looks like a dystopian setting but it doesn’t come out and spells it for the reader. I’m unsure if the United States has been conquered by zombies or not because Montana has reception for the television. I don’t think television rates that high in a post-apocalyptic world. For now, I’m saying dystopian because zombies are around.

This book is seriously closed lipped about everything. It doesn’t explain the time travel at all. It looks like Montana might be the only one affected by the zombies but I could be wrong. The gang shares a past but there is no in depth details as to how they know each other or what prompted them to make a pact to never speak of their past. Seffy and Addy have a love-mostly hate relationship but it is never explained why. Having read a previous book by Street, this is really surprising because she answered most of the questions that can arise from a reader. I realize this is the start of the series but not one bone was tossed to the reader.

Overall, it’s a zombie book but not Resident Evil style. Surprising but it is a little more mellow. There is an inexplicable glue binding the gang together and I’m looking forward to seeing what that it.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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68th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for Dystopia, Zombie, Science Fiction, First in a Series, E-book, Self-Published, Where are you reading?-Montana

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Review: Waiting For Daybreak by Amanda McNeil

Title: Waiting For Daybreak
Author: Amanda McNeil
Series: Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz
I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

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Random: If you are looking for a fast-paced zombie book, this isn’t it.

For a zombie book, it is very different in the genre. It stands out in the genre because it is not typical “Let’s run away from zombies” and that might be its downfall. It is atypical and so much of the book happens inside of the mind that even the zombies can’t bring an excitement to it. It is a psychological zombie book and this is the type of book where nothing happens for about 60% of the book (at least in my opinion), 60%-90% is somewhat interesting, and the final 10% is fantastic.  At the same time, I really enjoyed the book.

The first half of the book is spent with Frieda just talking about her disorder, the day before the world descended into chaos and the new world with the Afflicted (Zombies). Nothing happens and I couldn’t help but wonder if the rest of the book was going to be about her ramblings. The only good thing in the first section of the book is that Frieda is a unique character. She claims to feel too much and ends up hurting herself in order to stop feeling. She paints herself as the psycho girlfriend because of her disorder (bipolar, I would say) but she is not too crazy, just depressed and a little crazy. It is interesting to see a zombie apocalypse from the mind of a mentally ill person. In a way there is certain disassociation with what is happening around her, she doesn’t care about the what is going on and her life didn’t change dramatically from before and after the apocalypse. She is still isolated emotionally and physically. Besides the threat of zombie of eating her, she is surprisingly well adjusted to her new world.

It is a zombie book because it has zombies but the zombies are really tame. Maybe that’s not the right way to describe it. There isn’t enough interactions with zombies to qualify the novel as an exciting, fast paced zombie book. There are some fast-paced actions scene but the zombies are secondary to the plot. The zombies play the role of questioning what normalcy means. They contribute to the mental instability of Frieda who has never considered herself normal before the infection. The zombies while dangerous to Frieda (because they want to eat her) are much more dangerous in terms of what they represent. It becomes apparent   when Frieda meets another survivor who has a rather bleak view of humanity. It’s an interesting perspective that I enjoyed reading about. I still would have prefer her wondering about zombies to be broken up by intense zombie fighting. I’m just glad that the cat got sick (which is a horrible thing to say coming from a cat lover) because the action started with him.

At the end of the day, it’s much more about Frieda trying to find out what normal means in a world gone wrong instead of a zombie book. I believe that it is a fresh take on zombies in the fiction genre.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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61st in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Self-Published, Zombie, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Where are you reading?-Massachusetts

Wishlist Wednesday # 22

Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.

On My Wishlist is: Solstice by Donna Burgess

Blurb from Amazon:
On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers.

In Sweden, a group of uneasy travelers hears a broken broadcast. There is hope.
Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.

Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary.

That is an amazing cover. I love how blue and wintery it is. Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I think her shoulder is at a weird angle though.

Review: Dead Tropics by Sue Edge

Title: Dead Tropics
Author: Sue Edge
Series: Standalone
Genre: Horror
Format: E-book
Source:  Innovative Online Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I received this novel free of charge from the Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
IN THE MIDST OF A CATASTROPHE LIKE THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN, ONE WOMAN WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO PROTECT HER FAMILY.

Lori Nelson has always seen herself as an ordinary woman, doing the best she can to juggle family and her work as a nurse. But the most dangerous creature in nature is the mother whose offspring is threatened?

When miners release an ancient virus Lori is at ground zero of the deadly battle for survival. With the help of a laconic ex-soldier, can Lori find the strength to fight the spreading threat and save her family?

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Random: It is as entertaining as a zombie movie.

BEST ZOMBIE BOOK that I have read so far. It is fantastic and it kept me intrigued the entire length of the novel. In terms of zombie books with a high level of action, it is going to hard for other zombie books to surpass this book.

Lori is a great protagonist. She is fiercely independent and a willing fighter. She takes on the zombies in order to rescue children from the children’s ward in the hospital and in order to save her sister’s neighbors. Lori is really courageous but Edge allows the readers to know that Lori has a vulnerable side. Lori is afraid of what is going on around her but she has a need to try to help others that tends to over-ride her fear.

One of the great things about this novel is the inclusion of children as survivors. Most books and movies only have adult as survivors. Edge has included about five small children and two teenagers in the book. It shows a different perspective of what a zombie apocalypse would  be like if the adults had to worry about their children. It adds to the story because finding and protecting the children are added as obstacles that need to be overcome but also make the adults vulnerable and human. It is the children that bring down Lori’s survival character to realistic level. She is mother trying to protect her children and that is why she is willing to fight zombies.

The action is non-stop which might be the best feature of the novel. Lori is swimming with crocodiles to evade the zombies, crawling under cars, running over cars, and stealing cars. It is really exciting to read the action scenes because they have enough to details to create a movie in your head. The supporting cast also have their action scenes. The action never really stops and certain event will surprise the reader. I wasn’t expecting the final boat scene but it is one of the best one in the books. It’s not due to the action but the suspense surrounding it.

The only negative thing I could say is that I’m not entirely sure how the virus originated. Did the miners released something or did they not? I have to be honest, I really do not care because the book was highly entertaining that it made me forget to question the origin of the virus. In fact, I’m going to let it slide and not deduct a half butterfly (which is what I should do but won’t) because Lori’s journey is fascinating and heartbreaking at times.

Dead Tropics is a five butterfly. Non-stop action, a compelling heroine and children as survivors make it a fantastic book.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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47th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Zombies, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Men in Uniform, Where Are You Reading?-Australia

Book Review: Dead Man Walking by Marty Shaw

Title: Dead Man Walking
Author: Marty Shaw
Series: The Infected # 1
Genre: Horror
Format: E-Book
Source: Author
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amazon
I receive this novella free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Zombies in prison

Griffin knew watching an inmate being put to death wouldn’t be fun, but he never expected Callahan to return as something less than human. Now Griffin, along with a handful of officers and inmates, are trapped within the walls of a prison as a legion of the walking dead stalk them for food.

The choice is simple – fight back or die.

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It was a well-written novella that makes me questions how a zombie can exist. Shaw instead of making a zombie virus, he sticks to the traditional roots of zombies from Haiti. In Haiti, zombies are created through a special powder and I think Shaw combines this along with spells to create his zombie.

Callahan is an unstoppable zombie. He gets maimed, burned, shot and he still gets back up. He is not a normal zombie since the other prisoners zombies do die like regular zombies. Callahan has this air of supernaturalism that doesn’t feel supernatural but there is no other way to explain why normal methods of killing zombies do not bring him down.

Griffin was an effective leader. He control himself when his boss really couldn’t. He pursued Callahan when he could have let others go after him.

It was a good novella. It was bloody and gory, everything that is expected of a zombie tale. I can’t wait to read the second story in the series.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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34th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Self-published, E-book, Science Fiction, Zombie, Men in Uniform

Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Title: Deadtown
Author: Nancy Holzner
Series: Deadtown # 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Pub. Year: 2009
Purchase:
Amazon/ B & N

Blurb from Goodreads:
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human

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Thoughts to ponder on: I can eat anything I want if I become a zombie but I have to avoid the sun. So tempting…..

I’m not entirely impressed with Deadtown. It was a good book but it didn’t wow me away. More than likely, I’ll end up picking the second book in the series since I own the third book. Scratch that out, it turns out that I have the third book in a different series. My bad. I will still pick up the second book, Hellforged.

Vicky Vaughn was a strong protagonist throughout the book. She kicks ass, isn’t afraid to break a few laws, and has pretty cool shifting abilities. She doesn’t appear to be as damage as some leading protagonist; she is more scarred from life but not irrevocably damage. She has a complex relationship with her past and her family. A Hellion, a demon called the Destroyer, murdered her father and in some way, she is connected to him. Her sister, Gwen, is playing the Suburban Housewife in order to deny that she is a shifter or that she has any relations to a shifter. Gwen has deep issues with what her bloodline can produce; she self-loathes which is really sad. No one should hate themselves for things out of their control and genetics is one of them. To be a shifter or to not be a shifter is something that drives a wedge between the sisters but for the sake of a family, Vicky and Gwen do try to overcome it.

The love interests, Alex Kane (werewolf lawyer) and Detective Daniel Costello, I suppose, were likable enough. Not sure who to root for but I didn’t really care for them. Both relationship felt tame and not passionate enough.

I loved the setting of Boston and the intricacies of the city. We have vampires, vampire junkies, zombies, shifters, werewolves, and regular humans all in one city. Paranormal Americans don’t have rights in the USA so they are actively fighting for the same rights that normal Americans have. I believe Holzner did a good job in showing the discrimination and the standards of living that Paranormal Americans have. If the series explores the political dimensions of this new world, I may just fall in love with it. Holzner did a fantastic job in letting the world create itself though passing information and dialogue.

OMG, I hated Tina the Zombie. What an annoying character that only served to irritate Vicky and the reader. She pull idiotic stunts that nearly killed Vicky and wasn’t that charming as a character. At least Holzner had an interesting explanation for the existence of zombies which I won’t spoil. Why zombies require large amount of food (since they cannot process it) is still a mystery to me. The sun-avoidance, I totally understand. Zombies are dead so prolong exposure to the sun makes their skin blotchy and rots their body faster. Not the best time to be around a rotting zombie.

Deadtown earns 3.5 black butterflies. Vicky Vaughn is a fantastic protagonist, the setting has great potential to discuss social issues, and there is an eclectic mix of paranormal creatures. The use of Welsh mythology is also interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the “oomph” or that particular excitement that I’m looking for. Its good storytelling but there needs to be more passion. It was very close to 4 butterflies.

3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

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7th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in a Series, Where are you reading? Boston, Massachusetts

Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

HollowlandTitle: Hollowland
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: Hollows # 1
Genre:  Zombies, Apocalypse
Source:  Smashwords
Format: E-book
Pub. Year: Dec. 7, 2010
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/Smashwords
I receive this book free of charge of Smashwords. in exchange for an honest review. It is still available free of charge. Just click on any of the purchase links.

Blurb from Amazon:
“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

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Thoughts to ponder on: The effective use of combat boots

I love zombies movies, I don’t find zombies sexy like I do vampires but I love watching zombies movies on TV. This is my first reading of zombies in literature and I have to say as good as it was, it definitely reminded me of a SyFy movie with its campiness and predictable nature except for that twist of an ending.

Remy, the main character, is a kick-ass heroine and doesn’t shy away from the goriness of killing zombies. She’s a very hard person because she does leave the infected behind but she’s also willing to come back for them if they are in a danger so that makes a her a great leader. Hocking created a heroine that sticks to who she is all the way through the book, not even a love interest keeps her from completing her goal of finding her brother.

I liked the majority of the cast. Blue as the group’s doctor, Lazlo’s as Remy’s love interest, and Harlow as the friend of Remy. They all seemed one-dimensional at first but eventually (some) become three-dimensional. For example,  Harlow as a 13 year old was immature and wanted the comforts of life in this zombie-infected world. Throughout the book, she gradually realizes that life is not going to be what it was before the infection and gradually adapts to it. I feel that Harlow and Lazlo’s character are the one who grew up the most in one book.

Maybe I watched way too many zombies movies that lead me to predict most of the book. Let me tell you what I did not predict. The Lion (oh, I love that zombie-killing lion)  and the ending (ohh, twisty and I already bought the second book). The lion and  her fascination with eating zombies is something I don’t understand but I can live it. I’m totally not ruining the ending for you but it is good.

What did I predict? The casino in Las Vegas; the cult in Las Vegas, a mercenary band, the military, Remy’s infection and her brother’s immunity (this is not spoiler, it is pretty much given away in the first couple of pages and if it is, I’m so sorry I ruined it for you).  After Remy and her crew are rescued by the military police in Idaho, that’s where  I sort of  lost my mojo in predicting where this book was heading.

This book is getting 4.5 stars because it was a fun read and it was very entertaining. Like a good zombie movie, it has very creative ways of killing zombies and there is always someone with immunity. Remy is a great heroine who is really admirable and I hope to be when zombie apocalypse happens.

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4.5 BB-Ready for capture, Total keeper

3rd  book in the 150+ Challenge
Also qualifies for: Self Published, Dystopia, Science Fiction, 1st in A Series, E-Book, Zombie, Cupcake War, Why Buy The Cow? and Where are you reading?- Las Vegas

Reviews: Dark Shadows by D.J Arneson

Title: Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest Interrupted Voyage
Author: D.J. Arneson
Illustrated by: Joe Carta
Series: Standalone
Genre:  Supernatural, Horror
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: Feb. 15, 2012
Purchase: B&N /Amazon
I received this book free of charge from Netgalley in return for an honest opinion.

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What I will remember: A great mix of supernatural creatures.

I had to get this book from Netgalley, it’s Dark Shadows. It was a gothic drama on daytime TV in the late 60’s -70’s and again in the late-90’s. If that doesn’t captivate someone, Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows film by Tim Burton. My favorite combination, Depp and Burton.

Dark Shadows

Barnabas and Quentin

I absolutely love the artwork that accompanies the book. The art has an old feel to it which I love. It has very dark tones and shades. The best part is that it accompanies the storyline so the pictures capture moments in the story. Plus, all the characters are drawn there so there is no need for a physical description of them. It may have to do with the fact the story was written while Dark Shadows was on TV. I wished I knew what the art style was called so I could better explain it.

Story wise, I love it. It is a gothic tale through and through. We have Annabelle as the ghost, Barnabas as the vampire turned human, Angelique as the evil sister of Annabelle, and Calandra the witch. Oh, and Michael the zombie as well. The setting also contributes to the gothic feeling. It is a shore city where the inhabitants don’t trust strangers and are into burning at the stake. Plus, it is a tragic love story where the lovers (Annabelle and Michael)  are both dead and are trying to reunite with each other in the afterlife. A very lovely story.

The bonus features at the end is something that I really enjoyed. It mainly consists of the photographs of the original Dark Shadows with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas.  Some photos are of the cast posing for pictures and a few screenshots. Most are in black and white but some are in color.

Final thoughts on Dark Shadows, it is awesome. The artwork reminds me of the style use in comic books. It has an eclectic mix of supernatural creatures and somehow it makes sense for a witch to control a zombie. It is a gothic tale. Plus, Johnny Depp is going to be in the film adaptation and so is Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix from Harry Potter and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd) but more important, Tim Burton is directing it. I totally have to see this film. The only thing that would make this film even more exciting would be having Alan Rickman in it. Oh, I love him.  Hmm, getting off topic. Um, this is a five for me because I’m a huge fan of Dark Shadows and the movie has me pretty hype up.

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5 BB- Total Keeper

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows Photo Promo (from Teaser Trailer)