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review 2017-10-13 05:57
BONKERS
The Dragon Factory - Jonathan Maberry
Patient Zero - Jonathan Maberry

I kind of can't even handle how ridiculously pulpy this series is so far. Patient Zero pretends to a kind of scientrism, wherein the zombie outbreak our intrepid heroes race to thwart has, like, a modicum of scientific plausibility, I guess. Baltimore cop and chiseled jaw hero Joe Ledger gets tapped by one of those shadowy X filesy governmental organizations to track down a terrorist with a name like The Jackal. The leader of said alphabet soup organization eats cookies as his ominous tic; Joe has to murder a terrorist twice in a week; international pharma phuckers are the absolute worst. Patient Zero is good fun, with lots of kickass and a fullblown zombie outbreak to salve your need for bloodshed. 

 

But it's The Dragon Factory which really swings for the cheap seats. There's literal Nazis, genetically engineered chimera, Neanderthals, evil albino twins with a side of incest, clones, and more, so much more. SO MUCH MORE. I kept cackling through this novel, unable to believe how fucking bonkers everything was, and just when I got a handle on it, it would get MORE BONKERS. Uff da, I haven't had as much fun with something this silly in a long time. I'm going to read the shit out every single Joe Ledger novel as long as they stay this goofy, 

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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 2017-10-09 04:31
The Dark Victorian: Risen by Elizabeth Watasin
The Dark Victorian: Risen Volume One - Elizabeth Watasin

The Dark Victorian: Risen is set in a steampunk London with magic and paranormal aspects. Jim, an agent of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, is given a new partner: Artifice, a Quaker and artificial ghost (meaning that she can turn incorporeal at will). All agents of the Secret Commission were once criminals - they were executed and then brought back to life, bound into service, with no memory of who they once were. They are able to guess some things about their past selves, but that’s about it. It generally isn’t a good idea for them to find and communicate with people they once knew.

Artifice, who chooses to go by the name Art, and Jim begin investigating their first case, the disastrous reanimation of several corpses. The culprit started with animals but appears to have moved on to humans. In each instance, the corpses manage to kill someone before either being destroyed or escaping.

It took me a bit to get my bearings in this story. The Secret Commission wasn’t really a secret. Everyone seemed to know who and what they were, even if they weren’t always comfortable around them or happy about them. I also initially had the impression that Art was supposed to be an unusual sort of agent, but that didn’t seem to be the case either. She had special abilities, just like Jim, although hers were of a different sort, and she had the same limitations. Her primary oddity was that she was a Quaker, someone Jim would have thought would be unlikely to become an agent of the Secret Commission.

The world and setup were pretty interesting. Jim and Art each had their own abilities, and both were technically immortal as long as they consumed enough of whatever their particular bodies needed. Jim, a disembodied skull, could feed off of fire and smoke. Art needed raw seafood.

The story was a fairly simple one and would have worked fine in several urban fantasy and steampunk mystery series I can think of. The problem was that it was a bit buried. I understand that this is the first work in a series and is meant to whet readers’ appetite for more, but there were lots of details that were unnecessary for this particular story and could easily have been left out. As it was, it felt too large for its page count.

The pacing was a bit strange, too. Jim and Art would be chasing after the killer and investigating the murders, only to stop for a bit in order to make sure that Art was properly clothed. Okay, so she needed to be properly dressed for propriety’s sake, but it killed the flow of the story and made it easy to forget what the point of it all was. By the time one particular character made her second appearance, I had already forgotten who she was and why she might be important.

Despite my issues with this work, there's still a chance I'll continue on with this series. The second work is much longer and might therefore give everything more room to breathe - it’s possible that Watasin is one of those writers who does better with longer works than shorter ones. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jim and Art in action a bit more, and Art’s potential romances intrigue me, even as they worry me a bit. At this point she has two potential love interests: Manon, a “sapphic performer,” and Helia, Art’s lover in her past life. Both options are potential minefields for Art, Manon because she isn’t human and I suspect Art could end up wanting more from her than she’s willing and able to give, and Helia because of her curse.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-10-06 23:45
A Fun Rowdy Ride! Curse of the Zombie Omelet by Grivante
The Zee Brothers : Zombie Exterminators - Grivante

This was a fun zombie flick. There’s plenty of humor mixed with a little death and gore. Apparently zombies are a regular issue and there’s specialized exterminator companies out there to see to all your zombie needs. The Zee brothers get a call from an old penny pincher but arrive too late to save him. It quickly becomes clear that they’ll have a much bigger problem soon if they don’t stop the angry dead from rising.

I have a thing for stories that feature old disturbed burial grounds complete with angry ghosts rising to kick someone’s butt for disturbing them. For this tale, that happens to be the burial grounds of a local Native American tribe. It was quite fun to watch the boys scramble around trying to figure out what got these spirits so riled up and how to appease them now.

In steps JJ. For some reason she’s wearing tight shorts and a zipped up leather jacket… in Arizona… and I don’t think it’s winter. She also has a cute little pink gun. Now I’m all for tales that feature both genders going armed but I’ve never been fond of pink guns. On the other hand, JJ obviously knows what to do with said gun so if she wants a pink one, I guess it’s OK. For much of the tale, JJ is a sex object. Sigh… But then she takes down her share of zombies and protects the Zees’s backs a few times. So I’m on the fence about her character. We’ll see if she gets more of a useful role in the future.

Jonah and Judas make a fun pair because Jonah is a bit gruff and likes to be in charge while Judas is a lovable bumbling eager lad that wants to impress Jonah, and later JJ. Though I don’t think Judas will be getting many kisses with his tobacco chew habit – blech! I think I rather kiss a zombie! Jonah is missing some fingers and he doesn’t want to talk about it, grumpy man! While they are constantly jabbing each other, they each protect the other. It’s a good chemistry for this humorous zombie romp.

Let’s talk about Sasha. I really lie Sasha. I know. She’s the truck but she still kicks butt! Sounds like she needs a tune up and her transmission gears have had some teeth knocked out. First no longer works so the guys have to stumble over getting her started in second more than once. Those little touches were realistic and brought back memories of my early standards. Sasha also has a magic eightball gear shifter, so she gets to add her 5 cents to mix on a regular basis. JJ comes to like that eightball quite a bit.

Then there’s Xanadu! To the rescue! With disco music! Yep, you heard me. Complete with disco lighting. I know, it is so ridiculous and so much fun. It’s like the author took a dare on whether or not he could write a zombie flick that involved a burial site, omelets, a pink handgun, an eightball, disco music, and Xanadu. Well, if that’s the case, he did it well. This story was pure fun to listen to. I’m looking forward to future installments.

Narration: Ian McEuen did a pretty good job with this book. There was one or two odd pauses but that was the only technical issue I caught. His voice characterization is spot on. He has distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices are believable. I especially liked the variety of screams and moans he came up with for this tale. There’s also a touch of music worked in at appropriate times which really added to those scenes in the book.

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review 2017-10-04 16:59
Comedic Horror – A Pink Zombie With a Mist by Jada Ryker @JadaRyker
A Pink Zombie, with a Mist: A Shaken, Not Stirred, Mystery/Horror Story (Shaken, Not Stirred, Mystery/Horror Series Book 1) - Jada Ryker

With a title like Pink Zombie With A Mist by Jada Ryker, how could I resist?

 

Cover:  Christina Keats

 

 

A Pink Zombie, with a Mist

Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

I didn’t want to scare you so bad you wouldn’t stop in, so lets have some fun.

 

A ragtag band of characters are thrown together by chance. determined to solve, not one, but two mysteries. Who took EMMA and who killed Steven’s wife?

 

The gang physically resembles the Scooby Doo gang – Molly is Velma, the brainy one and is shot in a school incident, Ashdon is Shaggy, the cowardly and hungry one, Steven is Fred and Olivia is Daphne. Olivia is on a school teacher suspension of sorts.

 

The characters are what I keep coming back to. The neighbor lady is a trip.

 

We have a stalker, a murderer, a missing person, and even a mystery machine.

 

The story is told in a comical and humorous way, but it is not all laughs and giggles.

 

Pink Zombie With a Mist contains some serious and sad issues, yet I found myself laughing at the dialogue and the characters antics. They fumble their way through solving mysteries and become a tight knit group. The zombies…we will find the answer to that too, but it won’t be easy.

 

Jada Ryker kept me on pins and needles, wondering and worrying.

 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

 

Read more here.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/comedic-horror-a-pink-zombie-with-a-mist-by-jada-ryker-jadaryker
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