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review 2017-03-18 15:00
Stone Cold Bastards Review
Stone Cold Bastards - Jake Bible

Forget clawed mutants and moody men of steel. Jake Bible’s Grotesques are the heroes this world needs. Stone Cold Bastards is outright bloody fun. I love zombies, and I’m a fan of the author’s Z-Burbia series, but I think this was much better. It is a gust of fresh air blowing away some of the rancid post-apocalyptic rot pervading the genre.

 

Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. If you cannot watch it burn, then you at least want to see geysers of blood and rib-cage battering rams. If none of those are available, chocolate will suffice. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to resort to chocolate. Jake Bible’s Stone Cold Bastards gave me all the head-bursting violence my blackened heart could want.

 

It also appealed to the teen in me. The one who discovered the show Gargoyles and sat in front of the TV for hours on end, watching the protectors of New York kick evil guy butt. Though you daren’t call the Stone Cold Bastards anything other than Grotesques, it’s clear there is a resemblance. Living stone attached to a sanctuary are moved halfway across the world to America and take up their positions as guardians.  These herculean heroes of various proportions are a bit cruder and less puppy-doggish than the Gargoyles I knew and loved, but they have an undeniable appeal. Especially the shotgun toting fairies with mouths that would make a sailor blush.

Though Stone Cold Bastards doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ve forgotten the real world exists. A literary treat that will have you on the edge of your seat, always ready to do a fist pump and cheer the Grotesques on. Morty and company burst to life in your mind’s eye. As tension builds and the violence becomes almost non-stop, it’s impossible to put down.

 

And Bible’s world in Stone Cold Bastards is a scary one. There are no zombies, but instead, there are demons. In this new post-apocalyptic world, the gates of Hell have opened and demons are queuing up to take their turns in the meat bags there were inheriting the earth. But human bodies can’t contain the festering rot of evil for long, and as the book opens, there’s only one Sanctuary of uncorrupted humanity left.  What makes this so scary, though, is that in this world all it takes is eye contact to become possessed. Bible takes something that we take for granted and twists it effortlessly into something with terrifying consequences.

 

By the time I was 30 pages from the end of Stone Cold Bastards, I was grinning like a loon. After it had finished, I went full on fangirl squealing and bugging my book-reviewing compadres to put it on their To-Read list immediately. I haven’t shown so much geekish excitement over a book since I read Andy Weir’s The Martian a few years ago.

 

Even a few days later, I still grin every time I think about the awesomeness that is Stone Cold Bastards. It’s an unashamedly campy, no-holds-barred post-apocalyptic thrill ride that will make you cheer. And maybe do a little Snoopy dance. (Or maybe that’s just me. What can I say? Some gals go gaga for romance, some go nuts for butt-kicking.)

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/stone-cold-bastards-review
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review 2016-08-22 19:30
THE ROAD Review
The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Synopsis: The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

 

*****

 

I really didn't know what to expect when going into The Road. I knew it had inspired countless recent apocalyptic novels, and was deemed one of the greatest works of literature of the past few decades. Hell, it was even an Oprah's Book Club selection. I never actively searched out Cormac McCarthy's novels, but upon seeing a hardcover edition of this particular book in my local thrift store, I decided to give it a shot.

 

The most immediately noticeable thing about this novel is its stark minimalism. This is a story that takes place entirely in a ruined Earth, and it's all about an unnamed man and son's long walk south to warmer weather and . . . perhaps, people. McCarthy writes like an heir to Ernest Hemingway; his prose is striking, subdued, and nominal. There are no quotation marks or apostrophes to be found here, which bothered me until I fell into the rhythm of the story the author was trying to tell. I know that bothers many readers — especially the lack of quotation marks thing — but I think it's fitting. It is not always clear who is speaking, which fits perfectly with the style of this somber tale. This is a cold, dead, uninviting world; it's only necessary for the prose to be uninviting as well.

 

The Road is an icy, unforgettable journey — and I'm glad I took it. While it isn't perfect (I felt the first half was pretty slow going, and some of the overly minimal dialogue made things a little confusing at times), it's a book I will probably reread in the years to come. I'm not sure it's totally worthy of all the acclaim it has gotten since its release a decade ago, but I really dug McCarthy's writing style overall and will certainly look into more of his works. It was a totally solid read. Four stars.

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review 2016-07-25 12:34
Very Good Read
The Night Parade - Ronald Malfi

This book first caught my interest primarily because of the ominous cover. I saw that it was a horror story and just had to try it out. This book was super creepy, addictive, and certainly had me gripped. Throughout the story you are given clues as to what is going on but the author has you constantly asking questions as you try to work out the madness of what is happening.

 

Without spoiling anything, I will just say that this story is about David Arlen who is Ellie’s father and together they are trying to escape the madness that involves a fatal, incurable disease that affects the brain and is quite terrifying to say the least. There is something biologically special about Ellie that you will find out as you read.

 

The Night Parade isn’t just a “scary” story. It explores the bond between parent and child in such trying situations and illustrates the lengths that a parent will go to in order to keep their child safe. I’d highly recommend The Night Parade to anyone who is looking for an adventurous and emotional read.

 

Since this is the first book of Ronald Malfi’s that I have read, you can imagine I was very excited to see that he has written many other novels that I am looking forward to getting stuck into. If The Night Parade is anything to go by, I have no doubts that I will be in for another sleepless night staying up following the journey of the characters that are so well developed.

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the ARC of The Night Parade in exchange for an honest review*

 

- Maddie

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review 2016-03-31 19:31
Janus: Zombies vs. Dinosaurs
Janus: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs, Book 2 - James Livingood,Randal Schaffer,Paperbackward

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

I really enjoyed Pale Rider so when the author offered me a review copy of the sequel, I jumped at the chance. Sad to say, I didn’t find this installment as interesting. Janus is a zombie leader and he controls his pack of zombies through instinct. He also uses this power, instinct, to control a non-zombiefied deer or elk (I forget which), which he rides upon. The zombies are definitely different than the ones we saw in Book 1, being able to group together like this and be lead by a strong ‘personality’. However, I found the whole instinct power not well flushed out and difficult to believe in. Yep, I can totally believe in zombies and genetically created dinosaur-looking beasties, but I had a hard time with this instinct. Mostly, it was because of the elk. Wild animals have their own agendas – eat, sleep, fornicate, repeat. Elk aren’t big fans of rotting meat smell either. So Janus is using his power, instinct, to keep this elk in line, by negating the elk’s own instincts to run? That’s where Janus’s power gets to squishy and ill-defined for me.

The character, Pale Rider, is a reluctant leader in his town. He settles disputes and folks seek him out for advice on difficult fencing situations. He has a young daughter and he deeply misses his wife. Janus has recognized him as the human leader and if Janus wants to ‘free’ these humans from their boring lives, giving them the gifts of instinct and freedom, he must take out Pale Rider. The story sets up early for a good Western-type showdown and I really enjoyed the building of suspense.

Then we have Heche, who is like a mad scientist. She creates new dinos to sell to the local farmers. They are used in putting up fencing, taking down trees, and farming. I really like the basics of her character – she’s a seeker of knowledge both in books and through her work. However, this is another area that isn’t really clear. Does she have a lab with petri dishes and sterile equipment? Or is more like a wizard’s barn, full of smelly potions and unidentified bits of dried animals? I would have liked a bit more on this front because it ties into other questions I have. How far has civilization fallen? There’s a reference to contact lenses and it’s unlikely someone whipped those up, even if the town has a watchmaker. Is it 6 months since the zombie calamity or 6 years? If it’s 6 months, then contact lenses are still around. If it’s 6 years, then no, not realistic.

Book 1 was pretty sparse on the ladies and Book 2 does better but there are definitely not enough females around to save humanity. Heche has the most lines, but that’s perhaps 10-20 lines, though we get some quality time in her head. Pale Rider’s young daughter also has a role. Then there are 2 female zombies (why so few?) and maybe a few human ladies tossed in here and there. As usual, I like to see more ladies in post-apocalyptic stories. How else will we rebuild?

OK. So, bad to the goodness. We do get a showdown at the end and there were some twists. The author took the story beyond what I expected. These zombies are more like feral beasts than shuffling corpses; they are not so easily beaten. Heche creates a fantastical beast that comes in handy. And then there’s that thing that happened right at the end that has me craving to know where things will go from here. It’s all very dramatic at the end and very satisfying.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost (from the author) in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Narration: Randal Schaffer’s performance was OK. When the characters were talking, he imbued them with emotion. The rest of the story he read in a monologue that made me wonder if he was bored with the book or not.

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review 2015-05-22 02:03
It's the End of the World as We Know It, and...
World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters

The third book in this preapocalypic trilogy finds Hank searching for his estranged sister Nico, so he can make amends before It's Too Late. His pursuit takes him from the Northeast to the Midwest, accompanied by Houdini, his ailing dog, and Cortez, a thief that he liberates from jail. At this point, the end of the world is 6 days away, and coming fast.

Hank and Cortez have taken to labeling towns as Blue, Green, Red, etc., based on the color of the Post-It Notes they have with them. Blue towns seem to be empty; Green towns are still in denial, so it's business as usual, and Red towns are on fire, literally or figuratively. Our heroes pass through all the colors on their road trip to the west, ending up at the police station of a small town in Ohio. There, they find evidence that Nico has been there, and might still be, if they can just crack through some concrete leading to stairs below the basement. At the same time, they find evidence of gruesome violence--bloodied knives and blood trails leading in and out of the police station. Whose blood is it?

Winters outdoes himself with this one: the police procedural/mystery aspects were very satisfying, and the twists made complete sense. The various flavors of human nature were all done well, too. But what packs the most punch is the constant tick-tick-tick of the clock. No do-overs, no second chances--this is it. When you know it's the last time you're going to do something, see something, it means more. Everything means more in World of Trouble.

This is another one of those books that follows the adage: "Science fiction isn't the story; it's the setting." Great ending to a unique trilogy.

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