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review 2018-04-20 13:55
The World Without Crows - Ben Lyle Bedard

The Reviewer’s Preface.

 

“And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Everyone who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust
of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

—Daniel 12:2

 

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed,
rather than having two hands, to go to hell,
into the fire that shall never be quenched—

 

“where

 

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’
—Mark 9:43-44

 

Hereto lies the judgement of the accursed: those who have not fallen asleep in Christ, but in their sins have they fallen asleep.

 

For the recipient of eternal life is only returned unto the Earth in the glory and blessedness of his indestructible resurrection, while even the inheritor of eternal damnation is returned unto the Earth in the Divine ordinance of his destruction: his decomposition and his spoil.

 

For no human soul sown in righteousness can be an heir to otherworldly ruination upon the physical death—which is the first death.


But the human soul sown in unrighteousness is already doomed to the corruption of otherworldly ruination upon the physical death—which is the second death.

 

A human soul, still equipped with its five senses but dwelling within the form of a condemned physical being, would account for the second death. And because such a combined spiritual and physical condemnation is truly beyond the scope of Mankind’s imagination, most tend to refer to such doom by the traditional usage of one ghastly word: Zombie.

 

The Reviewer’s Critique.

 

Athens, Ohio—The world is forever changed, no thanks to a deadly parasite known as the Vaca Beber, or Vaca B, which has somehow found its way into the entire U.S. water supply. Some say that the fault lies with American cattle ranchers who had been cutting into the Amazon where the parasite originated; others agree that the U.S. government is actually to blame after it allowed imports from Brazil at the nation’s borders. Of course, those who argue the strain’s cause are those few who have merely survived it. At least for now.

 

On Saturday, August 12, 1989, our star protagonist, a morbidly obese and miserably unpopular young man named Eric, would celebrate his seventeenth year of life surrounded by his single mother and four of his closest (and only) friends. On Monday, May 14, 1990, Eric’s single mother and his four closest (and only) friends would be dead, succumbed to the Vaca B, leaving the devastated and defenseless Eric to fend for himself and to make his own way in the ultimate struggle for survival.

 

Dear reader,

 

Everything you thought you knew about the Apocalypse, the end of the world, if you will, is to be considered frivolity. Not until you’ve been held—as if in a Zombie-like death grip—by the momentous post-apocalyptic storyline currently under review will you come to a genuine knowledge of what it really means to be rattled to the marrow of your bones . . . with grievous anguish and mind-altering fear. For Ben Lyle Bedard’s The World Without Crows does not suffer the faint-hearted gladly.

 

The Long Journey.

 

After burning down his childhood home containing the infected remains of his mother, Eric sets out to travel on foot to the beautiful coastal state of Maine. Believing that a certain island along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean will be his salvation—and protection—from a cracked Zombie population and murderous gangs formed by snapped survivors, Eric, following a survival guide that he lifted from the now desolate Athens branch library, as well as his trusty map, begins the toilsome 800-mile trek north from Wolf Creek Wilderness through many a state park, national forest, and mountain region on a grueling quest to reach his coveted destination.

 

But our leading man’s passage through God’s great gardens and landscapes—in search of saftey—will be anything but safe as he is to undergo one horrendously inhumane tribulation after another along his route, including a detestable trial in the human form of a blood-coagulating American Patriot named Carl Doyle.

 

The Squadron.

 

For a work of fiction with a pagination of only 216, The World Without Crows incorporates a substantial—and surprisingly gifted—cast whose performances on said pages are nothing short of superior. Guaranteed to emboss an imprint of their memory on the reader’s intellect, these supporting players stream into the scenes of Bedard’s deftly composed script—and Eric’s radically changed life—as follows:

 

• Charlie, a grizzled old man and former librarian with a safe cabin, plenty of preserved books, fresh water, and hot meals to spare Eric. That is, until the venomous Snakes slither in.

 

• Birdie, an orphaned African American girl of six years with whom Eric falls head over heels in a sort of parental love after nearly shooting her to death during a scavenge for food. Immediately taking her under his guardianship, Eric and Birdie form a sturdy, deeply emotional, and unbreakable bond that will propel her to Eric’s right side as his top-billed supporting lead.

 

• Sarah, a twenty-something pretty blonde and fellow survivor with a penchant for fishing and cooking. After meeting and conversing with Eric and Birdie, Sarah quickly decides to join them on their journey to Maine.

 

• Brad, Sarah’s boyfriend and a pistol of a former gang member who, despite his machismo and low blow taunts about Eric’s hefty weight, ultimately concurs to join Eric, Birdie, and Sarah—Maine or bust.

 

• Cecile, Sharif, Katie, Van, David, Mark, Mary, and Sharon all consist of a small set of survivalists who dwell on a large farm in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and call themselves the “Slow Society.” Taking in Eric, Birdie, Sarah, and Brad after the quartet chance upon the Slow Society camp while diligently trying to escape a madman stalker, it is Cecile who offers the hungry and famished youngsters a dwelling place in the camp, so long as they contribute to manual labor around the farm. A generous gesture indeed were it not for Old Scratch.

 

• John Martin, a tall and powerfully built African American man from Cleveland, Ohio who encounters Eric while traveling—on foot—to New York. But John Martin is not making the passage alone. In his warm company are two redoubtable individuals who can do nothing short of adding even more sublime appeal to an already breathtaking prose.

 

• Lucia and Sergio are those two redoubtable individuals. The Hispanic siblings are traveling with their lifesaver John Martin when they, too, meet Eric’s small group, join with them all on their excursion, and skyrocket to stardom status by way of their supreme performances.

 

• Daniel Sullivan, a green-eyed monster of a religious fanatic, and macabre Shepherd of a demented flock.

 

• Carl Doyle, an all-American chauvinist, a repulsive race baiter, a Land Rover driver, and a bearish being who will for a surety grant the reader a nightmare. Carl Doyle, a most harrowing dead man walking.

 

• Kaye Cornplanter and Ms. Good Prince Billy also make cameo appearances: Cornplanter as a Seneca Warrior vowing to take back the Red Man’s land; and Good Prince Billy as a hoary, but tough matron striving to maintain order amongst humanity from the confines of a long ago abandoned Church.

 

The Reviewer’s Postface.

 

Mankind’s greatest fears are those of death and destruction. And we, as humans, never know what we’re truly made of until we are faced with those fears. Speaking of which, here, on the shook up pages of Ben Lyle Bedard’s marvelous post-apocalyptic chiller The World Without Crows, Death gallops in on his pale horse. And Hades follows with him.

 

In the age of many a trendy dystopian narrative, it would perhaps be safe to assume that very few can actually project the world’s end and the total obliteration of nearly all humankind in quite the same way that the consummate Bedard does with The World Without Crows.

 

An intensely poignant effort, no reader—be he or she Jew or Gentile—will be allowed to follow this clenching plot from beginning to end and then separate from it emotionally unaffected. No, not even one. For the tear duct of the human eye will not resist to shed a salted stream; and the human heart—in all of its life-pumping pomp—will not resist the heavy temptaion of an embittered ache.

 

Desperation, dark and poetic, is to be the reader’s guide. For the souls of men are to be required of them—regardless of fleshly hue or societal status. Extraordinary is The World Without Crows.

 

Five . . . let the dead bury their own dead stars.

 

 

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Bedard Publishing, as well as Ben Lyle Bedard himself, for the author-issued copy of The World Without Crows in exchange for my honest review.

 

Analysis of The World Without Crows by Ben Lyle Bedard is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com

 

Date of Review: Thursday, April 19, 2018

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text 2018-04-15 05:30
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition - Margaret Atwood,Claire Danes

I finished this book the other day and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. I have several reviews I need to write. Looks like tomorrow is going to be a review day for me...

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review 2018-04-14 15:22
The Dead Lands Review
The Dead Lands - Dylan J. Morgan

Source: Rosie's Book Review Team

 

Oh, I wanted to love this book. It looked perfect. Mutants, science-fiction, post-apocalyptic setting… I’d seen great reviews, too. Unfortunately, The Dead Lands was a dud for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t feel anything for or towards it. It evoked no emotions. It never aroused my curiosity, never made me think.

It was technically a science fiction novel in part because it was based on a different planet, but it wasn’t really based on a different planet. Apart from the advanced weaponry and cryogenics, the worlds that are featured in this novel (mutants aside) are disturbingly mundane. There’s nothing in them that suggests an exotic location. None of the characters appealed to me. They’re not cardboard characters, exactly, but they’re so typical that with the mundane setting and other issues they were almost irritating.

However, and here’s the interesting thing, this would make a great movie. The more I read it, the more that occurred to me. All the little bits and bobs , the occasionally gruesome images and odd character tics, etc, are at best mildly interesting in the book. If it was a movie, though? Hah! It’d be freaking awesome! Filled with shoot-em-ups, last stands, and plenty of gore. You’d probably have to pay me to get me to read the second book in this series. But I’d be there on opening night in the theatre, saying “Shut up and take my money” to see this on the big screen.

My favorite part of the book was near the very end. The author killed off a character I was expecting to live. It was completely unexpected, so I’ll happily admit I did a little internal cheer. I love it when authors go against the grain and do something unexpected. Overall, The Dead Lands was an okay read. Morgan knows how to put a story together, but he needs to refine his writing a little bit. I know that lots of people think a lot more favorably of it than I do.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
 

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review 2018-04-07 22:32
Audio/Book Review of The Dragons of Dorcastle (The Pillars of Reality, Book 1) By Jack Campbell
The Dragons of Dorcastle - Jack Campbell

The first book in a thrilling new epic fantasy saga by Jack Campbell, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Fleet series!

 

For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

 

Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls, where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other's Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.

 

As they survive danger after danger, Alain discovers what Mari doesn’t know – that she was long ago prophesized as the only one who can save their world. When Mari reawakens emotions he had been taught to deny, Alain realizes he must sacrifice everything to save her. Mari, fighting her own feelings, discovers that only together can she and Alain hope to stay alive and overcome the Dragons of Dorcastle.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old mechanic... Sorry, Lady Master Mechanic as she loves to correct all her Guild elders who insist on dropping the honorific, even though she has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed. When the caravan/convoy she is travelling in is attacked, she finds herself travelling with a mage who was hired by the caravan to protect it as it travelled to Ringmon where she has a Guild contract to repair a mechanical device. As danger threatens, Mari finds herself torn between doing what is right, and her growing feelings for Mage Alain.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real. When the caravan he's been contracted to protect comes under attack, he finds himself drawn to Mari, feelings long forbidden returning to the surface. As he begins to see through the illusion to the truth that had been kept from them, he realises that Mari is the woman prophesized to unite the people of Dematr. Can he protect her long enough to fulfil it?

 

I purchased this book in audio format in 2015 when it was recommended to me on Audible due to my listening and browsing history. I am kicking myself for not listening to it sooner. I kept putting it off for some reason unknown to me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. Who knows? Anyway, now I'm seriously annoyed with myself for missing out on listening to this story, which is narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.

 

This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I was fascinated by how different the Guilds were, but also struck by how similar they were too. I loved getting to know the two main protagonists and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. I have no idea why, but as I listened to Mage Alain talking and thinking, I had a sudden picture of Richard Dean Anderson as he played Colonel Jack O'Neill in SG1 - with a dry wit and deadpan face. If they ever decide to make this book into a movie or TV series, I would hope they could find someone like that to do Alain justice. Anyway, back to the book. I found myself an emotional wreck near the end. I think my heart broke, it definitely felt heavy at any rate. However, the audiobook version (I can't speak for the book version) has a preview of the second book in the series and I am now looking forward to reading/listening to The Hidden Masters of Marandur as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-04-07 16:30
First Activation
First Activation: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller - D.A. & M.P. Wearmouth

I'm afraid of flying, so whatever drove me to read a horror book with a plane on the cover right before boarding a flight beats me. Luckily for people like me, the flying is certainly the safest mode of transport in First Activation. It's when they reach their destination that things become, slightly weird, as everyone feels the need to murder-suicide themselves. It's here that veteran brothers Jack and Harry are trying to survive.

I liked the first half of the book best, because it was reading really fast and felt like I was watching a movie. It was the right amount of confusing, gross and enthralling, just what I needed at that moment. About half-way, the pace slows down quite drastically and it is much less about survival and much more about the why and who behind the sudden urge to kill. I was still interested in the story, but things started to get really convenient and unlikely, which was a slight let down.

Since I already had a copy of the sequel, I've started it already. Curious where the Second Activation will bring everyone.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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