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review 2017-11-13 16:19
Excellent mashup! Legion of the Undead by Michael Whitehead
Legion of the Undead - Michael Whitehead

Legion of the Undead really hit the spot; I need a second helping! First, I love Roman Empire stories and I’ve come to love zombie fiction in the past few years. Now we have the perfect mash-up. Hungry zombie horde, meet the Roman legions! Cue evil laughter!

Often with ancient Roman historical fiction, I don’t see too many female characters and the few that are present are usually only there to act as someone’s love/lust interest. Not so with this book! Yay! The ladies are true to accepted Roman Empire gender roles but they also get plot-relevant stuff done. Even the minor but evil Sevillia did something that affected the plot. And I love Lucia, who is a 16 year old thrown into the midst of this zombie uprising. She’s not a cliched uber-tough zombie stomping heroine but she is practical, saves the day a time or two like the other heroes, and doesn’t fall to pieces when she needs to be rescued.

Of course Vitas Protus is my favorite. He’s an archer that is catapulted up into the ranks as the zombie issue becomes a real problem. He keeps his wits about him, takes advice from those around him, and gets stuff done. I loved how he watched out for Regulus, the 14 year old lad that was forced into the military. Then there’s big Antonius too. He’s also a practical sort, giving the soldiers orders to aim for the heads if they want to take out the zombies.

Starting out on the outskirts of Germania where the Roman legions were pushing back the German tribes, Vitas has to get his little band to safety. First, it’s to the their encampment and then on to the estate of Governor Clemmons. There Vitas gets his orders to head to Rome with a dire note and Lucia, who can speak to her merchant father’s home being overrun with these Risen (as the zombies are called in this book). Not everyone makes it out unscathed. In fact, a character I had gotten a little attached to takes one for the team before the end. There’s also a touch of intrigue and betrayal!

Anyway, it’s just a really good book and since we’re in November, I can safely say it’s one of my favorites of the year. Legion of the Undeadhas set a new bar for zombie Roman Empire historical fiction! 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Terry Self really out did himself with the narration. Just a great performance all around. He has distinct voices for all the characters and his female character voices are feminine. There’s a few accents as well (Spain Spanish, Gaulish, and Chinese) which he pulls off quite well. In fact, Terry Self sounded like he was really into the story, it never being a dull moment. There were no technical issues with this audiobook. 5/5 stars.

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review 2017-10-30 02:43
Review: White Trash Zombie Unchained
White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland

Is this . . . the last book in this series? I honestly can't tell. There's a lot of plot threads that seem to reach an end here, but maybe the series is just headed in a new direction?

 

Anyways.

 

Not quite as funny as some of the previous ones, but with a lot of interesting content. And one annoying habit on the narrator's part. There are three doctors heavily featured in this book, but only the male one is consistent referred to as Dr. The two women with the same credentials are consistently referred to by first name with no title. I know that's a pretty minor complaint, but it really got on my nerves. 

 

Whatever, hopefully the FBI agents will show up more in the future if there are more of these.

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review 2017-10-25 22:02
A vampire dragon zombie? Yes! Attack on the Overworld by Danica Davidson
Attack on the Overworld: An Unofficial Overworld Adventure, Book Two - Danica Davidson

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone story. Also, you don’t have to be a Minecraft fan to enjoy this tale.

Maison and Stevie return for another adventure! Though, admittedly, this isn’t one either signed up for. While Maison is visiting Stevie in the Overworld, she realizes her computer was hacked by some cyberbullies and they are most definitely up to no good! Destiny and her cousin wreak zombie havoc in Stevie’s home village.

This was quite a bit of fun and I liked it a little better than Book 1. The stakes were higher as people Stevie knows and cares about are turned into zombies by the bully TheVampireDragon555, who I will just call Vampire Dragon. It was both funny and a little disturbing for Maison and Stevie that Vampire Dragon was turned into a thinking angry zombie. Yep, you got that right – a Vampire Dragon zombie loose in the Overworld! Cue evil laughter!

I liked that the cyberbullying issue wasn’t a simple thing in this tale. Davidson does a great job of showing multiple facets to this real-life problem. Through the characters of Destiny and Vampire Dragon, she shows us a few reasons why bullies do what they do. Then through Maison and Stevie she shows what those targeted by the bullies can do. Sometimes it takes a few choice kind words and sometimes greater actions, perhaps using a sword, are needed.

While there is an obvious underlying message about bullying, the story works really well in the action and plot department. Maison really shines as a character as she feels very responsible for the bullies making their way into the Overworld and yet she doesn’t give up hope in saving the zombified villagers. She also has to make a leap of trust that could turn the tide one way or another.

Over all, it was a fun listen and makes me want to check out Minecraft and see what adventures I could go on.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Dan Woren is the perfect vampire dragon zombie! His voice for that character was excellent – a bit raspy, a bit evil, and a bit wannabe ruler of the world. I loved it! His character voices were all distinct and his female voices were definitely feminine. He sounds totally engaged in the plot as well, easily pulling off all the emotions the characters go through.

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review 2017-10-10 16:40
Historical anachronism happens fast
This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral ... This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Keith Taylor

This poor novel had the bad sense to be published in August, this year of our Lord 2017, though, presumably, it was written earlier. EVEN SO, at the very moment of publication, it was already woefully historically anachronistic. I'm going to blame this, like so much else, on the Trump administration, and the unbelievable chaos and unprecedented violation of governmental, social, and ethical norms that we've seen in this fine country, the US of A, since then. Writing near future science fiction is an unbelievable bitch.

 

This is what got me. So, This is the Way it Ends is avowedly a love letter and a riff on Max Brooks' World War Z, which is also glossed with the subtitle An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. The writer here, Keith Taylor, notes in his introduction how taken he was by the retrospective and documentary feel of World War Z, and how, after expecting a raft of novelists to take up the style, he decided to fill the gap when no one did. This is the Way it Ends is successful in this Brooksian ventriloquism for the most part, and it you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you'll like. (Well, other than a metatextual spin wherein Keith Taylor, current novelist, inserts himself inside this fictional narrative as "Keith Taylor," the documentarian for the novel. His intro dragging on fictional zombie narratives was way too clever-clever. It's the kind of thing that's fun to read to your wife after you write it, but shouldn't make it into the final draft.)

 

Like Brooks' novel, this one takes place a dozen odd years after the initial zombie outbreaks, after humanity has gone through the meat grinder of a full on zombie apocalypse and come out on the other side, shaky, diminished, but still standing. This is the section that got me: a centrist Republican, one who shepherded the US through the zombie wars, tells a story from mid-2019. Apparently, there are outbreaks happening all over Europe, and there's more and more worry about the zombie threat. At a bipartisan meeting, a reporter asks if maybe the US should close its borders. A democrat steps up, and in an act of partisan showboating, begins reciting the Emma Lazarus sonnet that is carved into the statue of liberty. "Give us your tired" etc. At this point everyone goes nuts, freaking that closing the borders is evil, and certainly no sane (or not evil) person would suggest such a thing. The Republican president is rueful: if only those stupid liberals knew better. 

 

So here's the problem with this. First, let me tell a joke: at an intersection with four corners, on each corner stands an individual: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a centrist Republican, and an alt-right nutjob. Someone drops a case of money into the center of the intersection. Which individual gets it? The alt-right nutjob, because the rest of these beings are purely fictional. Second, Trump already tried, and has been moderately successful, in implementing his Muslim ban, just recently adding to the seven Muslim-majority countries he's put on the shit list. Though the courts have put on the brakes a little, public outcry was nowhere near uniform. In fact, I think I was in a minority for thinking that was self-defeating and cruel, in addition to racist. The Trump administration is working hard at curtailing literally all immigration, legal and illegal, and we don't have anything near a zombie fucking outbreak to point at, though you wouldn't know it from some Brietbart articles, boy howdy. No one reads sonnets anymore; those are for effete liberals and they are decidedly not in charge. Third, what is this word, "bipartisan"? I do not understand this strange concept. 

 

In some ways, this anachronism is adorable, and it dovetails into some blindspots Brooks had in WWZ. The farther Brooks gets from his worldview, the less compelling his narratives get -- the American housewife one is a big fucking mess, but then I have a whole thing about the housewife in fiction. Ditto with Taylor. As a native Brit with a Mongolian wife who spends a lot of time in Mongolia and Thailand, his grasp on pan-Asian politics is pretty great. Americans? Yeah, not so much. I'm not picking on him here though. I'm not sure I understood (even as someone who purported to at least a modicum of wokeness) how unbelievably racist and isolationist the United States is until the last election. And that election technically didn't involve zombies! 

 

Except it totally did and we're all going to die. The horror of reading horror fiction for me these days is in how unscary it all is. It's nowhere near as terrifying as considering a malignant narcissist who considers Nazis "fine people" starting World War 3, the one that will kill us all, while tweeting on the shitter one Sunday morning. In the words of Mira Grant, rise up while you can. 

 

 

 

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review 2017-10-07 02:01
A chilling zombie tale! Summer of 68 by Kevin Millikin
Summer Of 68 - Kevin Millikin

This story started with reports coming in to radio stations across the USA reporting the dead rising and eating the living. Of course, few believed it was possible. Since this is set in 1968, zombies and how to combat them wasn’t on too many people’s minds. In California, a small town is hit with this strange occurrence. I was really drawn into the tale at this point especially because I wanted to see how these two kids, Jake and Russell, fared.

First we get a glimpse into their everyday lives. The kids’s dad is off in Vietnam and their mother is trying to take care of everything – all the parenting duties, working, and trying to be both mom and pop to the kids. She was a very realistic character, sneaking smokes when she could. The neighbor offers to take the kids off to the fishing hole. Lucky for them, this gets them out of town for the initial outbreak.

Meanwhile, the town’s sheriff, Sheriff Baker, has been called out to deal with some lazy jerks terrorizing this farmer’s animals in the barn. She tried to scare them off with a few shots but when they started to kill her animals, she called in the police. Baker arrives there and expects drunk and belligerent drifters or farm hands. What he and his deputy find is far, far worse. Wow! It’s totally logical that animals locked in a barn wouldn’t fare well but still, that was tough. Baker was kinda boring at first but he really shined in this scene. This is where I started paying attention to him.

Once the kids get caught up in the zombie apocalypse, they have some choices to make – head for town or head for home. I found this part of the story a bit wonky. I felt it was more logical for them to head home instead of to town and the older brother even weighs out this argument in his head… and then seems to go against his own logic.

This story starts off pretty gender balanced but as things progress, the tale focuses only on the male characters. I would have liked a bit more from the ladies, especially as they are written quite well in the first half of the book. If the world is going down, I want to hear from everyone, not just the guys.

For the entire story, I was hoping but not expecting all my favorite characters to get out alive. This is not a happy conquer all the dead kind of tale. I respect that. As the book blurb strongly hints, this is not a happy ending story. Still, the tale left me wanting a little more. Yet overall, it kept me entertained and I was invested in the main characters.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a decent job with this book. His kid voices for Jake and Russel start off great. He sounds like a kid and keeps the two voices distinct. However as the story progresses, they sound more and more like the adult characters and they aren’t always distinct. That said, the pacing is good and there were no technical issues I noticed. His female voices are believable and I especially loved his voice for the old grumpy neighbor that takes the kids to the fishing hole.

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