Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

After the ShockOK, I’ll start by saying this isn’t exactly zombie book. This is about ‘zapheads’. They are sort of zombie-like so I’m going with the flow on this.

It was on my Amazon Prime list and I’ve read a couple of books by the author so I thought I’d give it a go. I found the other books I read by the author, Liquid Fear and Chromic Fear, to be pretty fast-paced stories. I bought them as holiday reads and they worked perfectly for that.

Anyway, onto the story. I’ll try to keep it a bit vague and not to give too many spoilers. It starts a little while after an event which has affected the large majority of the population. There has been some sort of sun flash which seems to have zapped people’s brains, hence the name zapheads. These zapheads are roaming the streets and attacking and killing people. They seem to be full of hate and anger. It’s a similar type of idea to Haters by David Moody (now that’s a good series).

The story focuses around a couple of small groups and how they are surviving and how their paths cross. Rachel is one of the key characters and she’s on here own trying to get out of the city. We don’t know much about her but there are plenty of internal flashbacks to build her story. She meets up with another guy and the soon find a 10 year old boy in a hotel room. Their paths cross with a bunch of slightly insane military bods who seem to be doing just as much damage as the zapheads.

There’s also a couple of university lads trying to keep it together who meet up with another small group, who are having their own power struggles. Eventually all their paths cross.

There’s also a third storyline with and older survivalist kind of guy who takes in a mexican family.

Towards the end of the book it also starts to become apparent that the zapheads seem to be evolving and starting to sort of work together.

It’s a fast-paced book and some of the characters work really well. Everyone is dealing with the situation in their own ways. There’s not really anything new in this book, but it all fits together well and keeps you gripped.

It didn’t take too long to read. That’s the kind of annoying bit. The book ends, just as it’s starting to get going. The groups have met up, the zapheads are evolving and then that’s it. But, do you want to know the most annoying piece? I was reading it on my Kindle and the story ended while my Kindle was only on 89%. That drives me mad! The remaining 11%, yes 11%, was padded with info about other books by the author.

Clearly there’s a second book, called ‘After:the Echo’, but I feel like I’ve only read half a book anyway. I feel a little bit cheated as I think this is just half a book. I enjoyed it, but they might as well have joined both books together and charged one price…

C’mon authors, when a does a book get split into smaller books and become a series? I like a good series, but I also like to feel like I’ve read a whole book!

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Rot and Ruin  This is another book that I picked up to read as part of the Zombie Book of the Month Club on Facebook. Everything that have selected as the book of the month has been great so I knew it would be a goodie.

It’s a YA (Young Adult) book but don’t let that put you off. If you’re into your post-apocalyptic fiction you’ll have no doubt read other YA books and really loved them. Think of His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, Chaos Walking (The Ask and the Answer), Warm Bodies,  or even Delirium. Fantastic books that are written for a younger audience, but still pack a punch that an adult will enjoy.

Well, the first book, Rot and Ruin, was the book of the month, but as soon as I read it I had to download the next book, and then the next book, and so on. you know what I mean! Once I start a series, I have to finish it.

Here’s the list of the books:

  • Rot and Ruin
  • Dust and Decay
  • Dead and Gone (a shorter story, introducing a new character)
  • Flesh and Bone

Flesh and BoneNow, onto the story. It’s 14 years after the zombie apocalypse and Benny is just about to finish school and needs to find a career. He was a baby when the  first zombies started to rise (First Night) and was saved by his brother, Tom, but he resents his brother for leaving his parents. Tom is a bounty hunter and wants Benny to join the family business. The story introduces the world outside their town, the Rot and Ruin, and allows the poor relationship between Benny and Tom to blossom and grow as Benny understand more about what his brother does and what really happened on First Night.

The path is pretty rocky though and they encounter zombies and other bounty hunters, who run the Zombie Gameland. No, it’s not a nice place to visit. Also there’s the introduction of the Lost Girl, Lilah

The second book continues the story and has Tom, Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong trying to find the jet that they saw fly over in the first book. The group end up getting split and find that Gameland has been rebuilt and things are worse than ever. There’s a pretty sad ending to this book, so be warned!

Dust and DecayDead and Gone is a shorter book and introduces Riot to the group of characters. It also brings in the Night Church and the Reapers.

Riot, the Night Church and the Reapers feature heavily on the 4th book. This one is a real page turner and expands the Rot and Ruin into other groups and cultures. Of course it ends with even more of a cliffhanger than the other books!

Now, the first book I really enjoyed. Benny was a bit annoying at the start as he was just so angry with Tom but had never discussed First Night with him in 14 years… By the end of the book I’d grown to like him more and loved the relationship with him and Tom. The second book for me was a not as strong, but still a great book. But this is often the case with a series of books. There was a good building of characters and Chong and Benny bounced off one another really well. Nix is quite annoying and the ‘anger’ seems to be firmly in her court in this book. The 3rd book (Flesh and Bone) is fantastic though. The addition of the Night Church and the Reapers pulls in a group that are more scary and dangerous than any zombie. By this book you know the main characters pretty well, but the introduction of new characters really adds to the book. This book also brings in the idea that the is a Sanctuary out there.

ThDead and Gonee is a further book scheduled which will hopefully tie up the loose ends. And there were plenty at the end of Flesh and Bone.

This is a fantastic series. Not the same level of gore as a standard ‘adult’ zombie book, but more focus on the character and relationships, and to be honest, the storyline (which can be missing from some blood and gore books).

Oddly enough, the only character I found was lacking in roundness as Lilah. In the first book there is a lot of talk about the ‘Lost Girl’ and all the myths that surround her, but when you meet here, there’s not a lot of depth to the character. Riot was a much more rounded character and only featured in the last couple of books.

It’s really just a minor quibble as the series really romps through. Every book is a real  page-turner, especially the last book, which has the focus on a character or a group for each chapter, so you’re dying to read the the next chapter. Very cleverly written.

This is prabably the first book I’ve read where you actually feel a little sorry for the zombies. The words of Tom echo through the books – ‘they were all once human’. Yeah, OK these are still zombies that will eat you and kill you, but they are pictured as more pathetic creatures who can’t really be blamed for what they are. This isn’t the namby-pamnby returning to humanity that you get in Warm Bodies, just a real sense of they are what they are, don’t kill them or torture them just for the sake of it. There’s more a dignity to them – when they aren’t moaning and trying to eat you!

Surviving the DeadThis book was recommended by Mark Tufo on his Facebook page. I believe that the writer is another self-published author, which always encourages me to try a new author. I’m glad I did.

I’ve read a couple of books in the series and I’m guessing that there are likely to be more. The first 2 in the series are:

  • No Easy Hope
  • This Shattered Land

It’s a really good series. Of course, like most post-apocalyptic books, there is a survivalist or an ex-Marine or someone who was trained and prepared for such an event. The interesting twist with this book is that the main character, particularly in the first book, isn’t the survivalist. He’s a pretty wealthy guy who’s best mate told him that the world was going to end. His best mate is an ex-marine and former mercenary.

Eric, due to some help from his friend Gabriel, is pretty well prepared when the dead start to rise, but after a while his stocks start to run out so he decided to go and join forces with Gabriel. This is mainly his story in getting there. The second book picks up from there and their journey from Gabe’s stronghold. The first book is mainly Eric, but I think the second book benefits from having Gabe headlining in the story too.

Survivng the DeadBoth books are real page turners and I really enjoyed racing through them . here were some pretty good, interesting characters – and of course a liberal sprinkling of bad guys. You really find yourself routing for some of the characters.

Although this is a zombie book, there’s not masses of zombie gore, which is fine and fits with the way the book is written.

I believe that there’s going to be a book 3, which I can’t wait to read. Bring it on Mr Cook!

Last HopeI came across this as it was posted up on a Facebook page I like as being free for a few days. When I read the blurb for it I though it looked OK so I’d give it a shot.

The outcome? I really enjoyed it!

It’s one of those books that are a bit like a juggernaut and they rush you along for the ride. You get a few minuets here and there to catch your breath and then it’s off again. It’s a bit like reading a Simon Kernick book or watching a Die Hard film. You just have to jump on for the ride and hang on tight.

Anyway, on to the story itself. Budd Ashby is an American living in the UK. He’s a pilot, ferrying people and packages around for a big company. He drops off a scientist and as it’s an overnight job he gets to stop in London;s most exclusives and expensive hotel. It’s there he hooks up with a French pop star and they wake up to all the power in the hotel being off, and then realise it looks like the whole of London. When they eventually work their way down the hotel they realise there are a lot of dead bodies too. Finally they meet up with some survivors, a mix of staff and guests, all trying to work out what’s happening. That’s when things really take a turn for the worse. The dead bodies start to rise and attack the living.

It’s typical zombie stuff here. The living try to escape and fight off zombies and pick up other survivors on the way, and of course lose a few of the living to the walking dead.

I really like Budd. He’s an honest character, with plenty of background and flaws, and certainly doesn;t want to be the hero. He’s more than happy to let others take the lead. His relationship with the other character, especially Juliette, the French pop star. Some of the other characters didn’t build too well and I found myself getting them a little mixed up from time to time., but I prefered the fast-moving story to having lots of slowing downs explaining characters in more detail.

It’s pretty much written in the 3rd person, with the odd interjection here and there from Budd with his thoughts at the time. I’ve got to say that I did actually quite like the fact that he would sooner turn tail and run!

The only niggle I had was with the character from Yorkshire. All his dialogue was with the ‘the’ being replaced by ‘t’. Now coming from North Nottinghamshire myself I know that very often ‘the’ is completely missed from a sentence or sounds like it’s been shortened th ‘t’. But not every ‘the’. I found it irritating. I know Juliette was French and she used the title ‘monsieur’ all the time but her words weren’t chopped around to sound French. Likewise with Budd – clearly American from his phrasing and choice of words. Small niggle I know…

The story kept me gripped the whole time and I found myself constantly thinking “I’ll just read to the end of this chapter” and found that I still couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for book 2!

Tankbread by Paul ManneringThis is an interesting take on the usual zombie tale. It takes place 10 years after humanity has lost the war against the zombie hoards. It also takes place in Australia, which makes it feel different.

What makes it an interesting take is that living people are kind of coexisting with the undead. It’s clearly an uneasy existence as many of the zombies are intelligent and they are ruling the roost. They are called EVOLS, which stands for Extremely Violent Lucid Organisms. In the surviving remnants of humanity are a bunch of geeks and they have stuck a deal with the intelligent zombies to feed them cloned humans – tankbread.

Our main character is a courier and is asked by the local head honcho zombie to go to the Sydney Opera house to pick up something from the geeks holed up in there producing tankbread.  Things start to go wrong when he gets there ans he ends up escaping with Else, who’s a clone.

The Story then follows them across a dystopian Australia, complete with pocket of the living who are worse than the undead.

It’s written int he first person and for me it was a little but like Sam Spade crossed with Mad Max. A mix that sort of worked. The added into the mix is Else, who is basically like a newborn and her growing knowledge is written very well.

The story moved fast, with lots of characters being introduced and lots of issues with the living and the zombie hoards. The first paragraph of the book will completely grab you – ‘The Asian across the table from me is tearing great gobs of warm flesh from his girlfriend’s neck. Tendons and tissue hang from his mouth in bloody spaghetti strands while his jaw works tirelessly to consume. He chews her like gum.’

The only issue with the book is the end. It was a bit of an out of character ‘monster’ end. It was a 5 star start and middle, but a 3 star ending for me.

I will keep a look out for the author though. He’s self-published, and I really enjoyed his writing and his characterisation.

Sanctuary: Surviving the Zombie ApocalypseThis is just the sort of book that you might ignore if you saw it on Amazon as the cover is very dull. Sorry here to the author, but it’s not very appealing. Then again, never judge a book by its cover, you have to read the reviews.

Well I had a look through the reviews and they were very balanced and very good. The reviewers were right – this is a right gem of a story.

Basically, it’s a pretty grim post-apocalyptic story. It starts with an event in the early hours of the morning where 25% of the world’s population drop dead. Bad enough as a start you might think, but then 7 minutes later they reanimate and are hungry. So many of the remaining 75% of the world’s population died, and then reanimated,  leaning over their family, friends and loved ones just as they reanimated. This meant that very quickly,  without warning, and whilst some of the world slept, civilisation crumbled.

By the end of the first day, the streets are filled with shambling corpses, looking to feed. This is the story of Jacob and the ramshackle mix of people he meets and rescues along his quest for safety.

There’s no science and no explanation of what has happened, but that really doesn’t matter in this story. There’s the usual mix of characters for such a zombie book but most of them are really well-written and very believable. It’s written in the first person by Jacob, but there are little interludes in-between the chapters with back stories for other characters. I really liked this approach and it didn’t detract from the storyline at all.

There are also a few twists and turns in the book. I found the banter between the key characters to be excellent. I felt that Jacob and Briana’s relationship built really well, until suddenly marriage was talked about. This little bit just seemed a bit at odds with the characters and the story. It really is only a small niggle in the whole book though…

Definitely worth a read. I didn’t want to put it down once I started reading it. And, do you know what? I only paid £1.02 for this excellent book. What a bargain!

I’ve not been able to find out much about the author, other than he does have a collection of horror stories too.

Does anyone have any further info?

Warm BodiesThis book was on my Kindle wish list for about a year. Why you ask? Well, I liked the blurb for the storyline and though it might be a quirky take on the usual zombie storyline, but it was the bit in the blurb about it being a ‘zombie Twilight’. I don’t like Twilight…

I realised that the film of the book was coming out this year, so I thought I’d better get my skates on. Here’s the trailer for the film –

The world is now overrun with zombies and ‘R’ is one of those zombies. The zombies are a pretty mindless bunch, but ‘R’ knows he was once human and had a name but he can’t remember what it was. He knows it began with an ‘R’. The zombies just mill around all day in the airport hoard, occasionally riding the escalators when they come on or herding off to feed on the remaining humans. They follow a sort of parody of their old living lives, even creating zombie family units with the zombie children.

On one of these raids, ‘R’  eats a male human called Perry and instantly starts to get flashes of his life, including his girlfriend Julie, who us also about to be eaten. Instead of eating her, ‘R’ masks her with zombie blood and saves here, taking her back to the airport.

At the airport their relationship starts to develop, with Julia starting to trust ‘R’ and ‘R’ becoming more human-like with words and thought. It is a sort of black comedy Romeo and Juliet story. I don’t want to go into the storyline anymore in case it creates some spoilers or people.

I’ve got to admit, the thought od reading a book with a zombie as a romantic hero just seemed kind of wrong, but believe me, this story and the characters really work. I even loved the other zombies! Go with the flow and you’ll be pulled into this postapocalyptic world so easily. You won’t want to leave…