Writer of Horror Fiction

Posts tagged “kindle

Review of Steven Pajak’s “Mad Swine: Dead Winter”

Mad Swine: Dead Winter does not pick up where Mad Swine: The Beginning left off.  In fact, this sequel provides a review of the events that happen directly after the abrupt ending of the first book with a relatively quick synopsis by the main character more than a couple of months later.  I stated in my review of the first book that it cut off abruptly with a cliff hanger ending that left me very curious as to what would happen next.  Unfortunately, the focal point on this story does not start out with, or even focus on, the war between the neighborhoods, only its aftermath, which makes me puzzle over whether the author wrote about the battles that occurred and either he or someone in his circle of advisors suggested he cut it and focus on the long term survival of the community that the main character, Matt Danzig, is leading through the apocalypse.  I would have liked to have read the story of the actual battle for Randall Oaks.

This criticism does not mean that the actual story that the author wrote here doesn’t have its own positive qualities.  In and of itself, the tale told here is solid, and in fact some elements of this book work better than the first.  The lack of ammunition and the desire to stay quiet and not draw the attention of the infected leave the survivors with more challenges and less ability to utilize the arsenal that the main character and narrator had at his disposal in MS:TB.  This makes for a more pure and raw survival story of average suburban folks vs. more of an armed military camp scenario that there was a taste of in book one.  Matt’s personal relationships are explored with more depth and there is a bit of romance thrown in as well for him after the trauma of losing his wife and children in the first book.  He is, understandably, reluctant, but the sense that everything could fall apart at any minutes does pervade his and everyone else’s reality in Randall Oaks.  The struggles with the bitter cold of winter and diminishing supplies are the main nemesis for the citizens of the community, with the infected playing a close second.  The competing neighborhoods are no longer a factor in this tale, but the urgency to figure out how to make it to spring without freezing or starving is crucial.  The infected, which were explained to not be the undead in the first book, continue to have all the traits of the undead in this one.  Where they slept in the first book like regular humans, they seemed to have moved past that stage here, where the virus or plague has further transformed them.  Another interesting and threatening aspect of their existence is revealed that seemed quite creative.  The theory that the undead will freeze in bitter cold comes somewhat into play, with the undead going dormant in the cold, but even more interestingly, when they get buried under snow they will still become alert when a living human presence is nearby, which makes for some very interesting ambush scenarios.

Overall, I think the author’s story telling skills have grown with this sequel, though I can’t deny my disappointment that I was not treated to the battle of the neighborhoods that the first book appeared to promise was on the horizon.  As a standalone, this tale definitely has its merits, and its focus on Matt more as a man struggling to lead people against nature and inhuman monsters is compelling, though it serves, like so many second books in a trilogy, as a transition between the sudden and abrupt actions of the first book and the potential threats that promise to inhabit the third book.  The hope is that both the personal struggles that Matt suffers through in the second book and the heated action and excitement of the first book will join forces in book three for a very compelling conclusion.

Mad Swine: Dead Winter can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Swine-Dead-Winter-Volume/dp/1618680463/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1399223763&sr=8-1-fkmr0


Review of Timothy Long’s “At the Behest of the Dead”

Phineas Cavanaugh is a hack Necromancer living near Seattle who scrapes by tracking down lost souls or by occasionally helping the police out with a murder investigation.  He left his guild pretty much in shame a few years back and has had a hard knock life ever since.  Things start to get interesting when he is hired to seek out the lost soul of an elderly woman’s dead husband and a demon tries to devour him in a park while on the job.  At the same time the police call upon his services to track down a vicious shape shifter who seems to know Phineas and might just be hunting him as well.

Things get worse from there as Phineas’s old mentor is attacked and brutally murdered at his guild and he is called upon to return to his old stomping grounds to figure out what has happened by attempting to speak to his departed friend’s soul.  That is when all hell breaks loose, literally.  Phineas is thrust into a mystery where old enemies and friends are drawn into the fray with him smack dab in the middle.  He has to figure out what is going on and what part he is supposed to play before demons and the dead alike tear their way into our plane of existence and destroy everything that Phineas cares about.

At The Behest Of The Dead is told in first person and one can’t help but be reminded of noir detective potboilers with its urban sensibilities and snarky attitude.  Phineas is a self-effacing schlub with a good heart even if he does work with the dead and rubs elbows with demons and other questionable sorts.  It has a bit of Simon Green’s Nightside going for it, as well as Glenn Cook’s Garrett Files.  Urban fantasy with as much irreverence as mystery, with a bit of romance tossed in for good measure.  And Phineas, like other hard luck P.I-types, seems to attract the attention of the ladies despite perhaps looking and acting like he has been ridden hard and put away wet most of the time.  Even though he has rough edges (or maybe because he does), Phineas is a likable sort, making his tale easy to read and entertaining.

Tim Long stretches himself beyond the zombie apocalyptic genre he normally haunts with this one, although he gives a winking nod to his roots with a few zombies showing up, though they are not anywhere near being a critical part of the telling of this tale.  He has crafted an interesting world with the magical elements fantasy fans will appreciate while putting his own slant on things, making this world his and his alone.  The characters are interesting and diverse enough to make them stand out and I can imagine some pretty intriguing adventures in their future.  A fun read that has excellent potential as the start of an enjoyable series of books.

At The Behest Of The Dead can be found here:   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZCXA9M/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Permuted Press Kindle E-Book Sale!

Well it is Friday the 13th and while many folks consider that bad luck, I think it is a great day…and the start of a great weekend.  Especially for fans of great apocalyptic fiction.  Permuted Press, my publisher, has decided that this would be a great weekend to promote the heck out of virtually every one of the books they offer on Kindle by having a sale that runs through Sunday.  So go on over to Amazon to check things out.  Just click on the picture below and you’ll be sent to the list of books for sale, including all three books in my trilogy: Comes The DarkInto The Dark, and Beyond The Dark.  Plenty of other fantastic books can be found on sale, including plenty of ones that I’ve reviewed here.  So here is your chance to pick them up for either 99 cents or $2.99 when they’re regularly around $7.99.  So check it out, and as they say over at Permuted, Enjoy the Apocalypse!

Friday the 13th Book Sale

 

 

 

 

 


Review of Rachel Aukes’ “100 Days in Deadland”

100 Days in Deadland introduces the reader to a young woman living in Des Moines, Iowa who is thrust into the start of the zombie apocalypse within the very first paragraph.  The story starts out with a bang, with Cash (a nickname she is given early on in the story) getting attacked by a woman who has gotten infected in her office.  She narrowly escapes the assault and flees with another co-worker as everyone around them goes mad-either with infection or panic.  While the duo race from the office they realize that the entire world is rapidly being consumed by the living dead and there is little hope that they will find anyplace safe.  Narrowly escaping from another harrowing assault on the highway, Cash manages to hook up with an over-the-road truck driver nicknamed Clutch, who reluctantly takes her out of the city to the farm in the Iowa countryside where he lives.

Despite her efforts to appeal to his sympathetic side, Clutch isn’t too interested in lending long term shelter to Cash, who he believes, like many city dwellers, has very few real survival skills.  She is just another mouth he will have to feed and protect when his main focus should be doing his best to survive on his own.  But Cash is determined to prove to Clutch that she can stand on her own two feet and deal with both the undead and every other hardship that comes her way.

100 Days in Deadland tells the story of Cash’s journey through the nine circles of hell and her efforts to keep her mind and her body intact, no matter how many nightmares this new world throws at her.  The author makes it clear that this tale is her translation of the first poem in Dante’s Divine comedy, as seen through the eyes of a zombie apocalypse survivor.  Though she details the story’s comparable elements in the forward and afterward, and entitles each section of the book with a new circle of hell, the story requires no experience of having read any of Dante’s works to appreciate what is happening to Cash on the book’s pages.

This is not the first zompoc tale that has referenced Dante’s Inferno.  Kim Paffenroth wrote an even more closely aligned tale with the main character being Dante himself in “Valley of the Dead.”  That story tells the tale of how Dante survived a zombie apocalypse in a remote area of Europe which in turn influenced his writing of his master work.  Rachel Aukes takes very different approach, giving the reader a modern bent on her main character’s journey through hell.

This is a fast paced, fly by the seat of your pants type story, with plenty of action to go around for the avid zombie fan.  Cash is a solid main character, and since this story is told in first person, we get to see the world through her eyes as it transforms around her and how it transforms her as well-from someone who has lived a sheltered life to someone bound and determined to build the much needed callouses on her body and soul that will allow her to survive while at the same time doing her best not forgetting what it means to be human.

The zombies here are fairly traditional, with the increasingly popular slant of having them faster the more recent their infection and dependent on the level of damage they’ve absorbed.  The older undead are the more well-known slow and slouching variety.  Despite the tie-in to Dante, the story here is fairly traditional zombie apocalypse centered stuff, with the human menace being more fearsome and terrifying than the undead.  There were some intriguing and devious combat techniques used by the villains that I will not spoil by sharing, but thought was quite creative.

Cash is an underdog character who is admittedly weak and timid at first but comes to accept that the only way she won’t be a burden and will be able to survive and thrive in this new world is to adapt and grow tougher and wiser at the same time.  She learns how to fight and defend herself from Clutch, who is ex-military, and improvises given the fact that she isn’t a burly warrior with a great deal of combat experience.  She also teaches Clutch to have a reason to care for someone else after having resigned himself to a solitary existence filled with nothing more than staving off the living dead.

Overall, this is a solid and entertaining zombie apocalypse book.  Though the author has written this as a variation of Dante’s Inferno, it is not dramatically different than many other zombie apocalypse tales in its delivery or overall storyline.  Still, the characters are accessible and appealing, the action smooth, and the journey of Cash is worth taking with her, even if the ending is a bit abrupt.  I am not one to complain about cliff hanger endings, or endings that sew everything else up nicely, but this ending left me a bit frustrated, puzzled over whether the author has plans on writing her versions of Dante’s Purgatory and Paradise next or if Cash’s story is finished.  Regardless of this minor criticism, this is an entertaining zombie apocalypse read worth checking out.

100 Days in Deadland can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1470188058/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of “Cthulhu Unbound 3” by Permuted Press

Cthulhu Unbound 3 consists of four novellas, each with their own slant on Lovecraft’s mythos.  Overall, the writing and storytelling is solid and the stories are what you both desire and expect of tales told about the realm of dark gods and menacing monsters.

Unseen Empire by Cody Goodfellow is a western that takes place primarily on and beneath an abandoned Indian reservation in Oklahoma, where a half-Indian tracker must go beneath the earth to find out what happened to the people who suddenly disappeared from the reservation.  As he and the detachment of U.S. soldiers go deeper into the underground lair where they suspect the Indians have fled to, the reader is treated to several flashbacks of the main character’s past life and it slowly becomes clear what dark forces he is being compelled to face within the dark depths.

Mirrorrorrim by D.L. Snell focuses on an odd therapy group and its even odder therapist.  The main character has blank spots in his memory and another member of the group, a woman who he is drawn to, shares a very strange connection with him.  They fit with one another like pieces of a puzzle, or like the title suggests, mirror image parallels.

Nemesis Theory by Tim Curran introduces the reader to a maximum security prison and a select group of inmates who are beginning to realize that they are on a crash course with a gruesome nightmare that none of them will be able to avoid.  Death and far worse is creeping closer and closer to them all every night, from far out in the galaxy.  If you are familiar with Tim Curran’s work, you know he is a maestro when it comes to describing gore in loving detail and this story is no exception.

The R’lyeh Singularity by David Conyers & Brian M. Sammons is a tale of espionage and the efforts of two spies to stop greedy governments and corporations from tampering with inter-dimensional ‘goodies’ they have discovered on earth, as well as preventing the end of all humanity when darkness tears through a rift at the bottom of the pacific ocean where a mega-corporation is drilling…not for oil, but for something far more menacing and alien.

I enjoyed each story for their unique spin on the Cthulhu mythos, with my favorite being the last member of the quartet.  The story was high energy spy thriller that integrates the horror of the Cthulhu mythos effortlessly.  My one critique of this story is that there were a noticeable amount of typos that weren’t as prevalent in the other three stories.  It was a minor distraction but worth mentioning.  The other three stories were equally entertaining, for different reasons.  Tim Curran does an excellent job in his tale building the dread levels to an almost unbearable level for the inmates in his doomed prison, with both mysterious events and visions riddling them with newfound terrors on a daily basis.  D.L. Snell has created an intimate tale of technology gone amuck and strange interpersonal relationships, while Cody Goodfellow’s plunge into the old west and an underground city of the damned felt like a diabolical quest that I was cursed to complete alongside the main character.

For fans of Cthulhu and Lovecraft, this is a solid contribution to the mythology and one worth checking out.

Cthulhu Unbound 3 can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009O3XFBA/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of Gregory Solis’ “Rise and Walk: Pathogen”

Rise and Walk: Pathogen is Gregory Solis’s sequel to his 2007 debut novel, Rise and Walk.  The sequel has been a long time coming and I would be lying if I said I remembered all of the details from the original novel Mr. Solis put out six and a half years ago.  Thankfully, a refresher of my review of the first book and jumping right into this new tale brought me up to speed.  In Rise and Walk we are introduced to Tony and Mason, two members of a paint ball team who have arrived in the mountains for a tournament.  Not so far away, parts of a strange meteor have landed, causing a pathogen to infect the living, turning them into the undead.  As things go south and the dead begin devouring the living wholesale, the two men join up with two young women who work at the local general store at the lake where the tournament is supposed to take place.  Together, they flee into the mountains and must cope with the onslaught of the undead while also dealing with the even more dangerous living.

The original novel, as I had described it in my review, was entertaining zombie fare, though the author’s writing was a bit rough, as is often the case with a debut novel.  There was a lot of enthusiasm for the material and the story was fun, if perhaps lacking in emotional depth.  This was a simple adventure novel for the zombie enthusiast to enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The book was fun-a quick and easy read.  I say all this not to disparage this original story, but more as a way to point out the differences between it and this new book.  Rise and Walk: Pathogen is a distinctly different novel from the first.  Not the story itself.  It starts off where the last book ended, and follows our four survivors on day two of their efforts to avoid getting devoured.  Mason wants to return to Berkley, where he and Tony are from, to make sure his family is safe, while Tony is more inclined to help Nikki and her quest to find her own parents in the small town of Whisper where this story takes place.  Where things differ between the two books, by my estimation, is in the character development and the polish the author shows in his writing.  The tension and dialog between the characters feels more real, this story has a broader scope (with a villain that is both far more menacing and yet far more subtle than in the first book), and the author caused me to care about what happens to these people.  Even his secondary characters are far more intriguing, especially Margaret, whose story is quite touching.  There are a few typos here and there, but nothing too noticeable.  Overall, this is a far more well-crafted effort.

It has been a long time coming since Mr. Solis wrote his debut novel, but the sequel was worth the wait and was a very pleasant surprise.  My hope is that the third book in the saga takes a few years less than the six to get published, because I am definitely looking forward to what I presume is the climax of this zombie saga.

Rise and Walk: Pathogen can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D1WXA2O/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of Bryon Morrigan’s “The Desert”

The Desert is author Bryon Morrigan’s debut novel and tells the tale of a mysterious abandoned village buried deep in the Iraqi Desert found not once, but twice by the U.S. military.  The main story takes place in 2009 and introduces the reader to Specialist Densler and the Captain he is carting around in a Humvee on the hunt to find WMD’s.  They stumble onto an area where GPS doesn’t work and come across the body of a soldier and his journal.  It becomes immediately clear that the solider went missing six years earlier along with the rest of “Eight Up Platoon” near the beginning of the invasion of Iraq.  The Captain is excited to find the journal and possible clues as to what happened to the rest of the men, but when reading the journal it becomes clear that something strange is at work in the small village.  Green mist flows out from the ground at night and there are hints of shadowy creatures wandering about.  Plus they can’t find anyone else’s body.

This is a fast moving horror story that reads easy and keeps the energy up throughout.  Short chapters give the story a sense of urgency, and flashbacks to the old journal entries sparked my curiosity about what was really going on.  Densler’s thoughts about his Captain get a little bit repetitive-the Captain is an incompetent coward in Densler’s eyes and nothing that happens in the story disputes that belief.  This served as a bit of a distraction for me, but I enjoyed this story despite this minor irritation.  The author comes up with a creative batch of monsters rising up from the bowels of the earth through a dark pit in the ground, and even some pretty interesting theories about where they came from, which kept me tuned in the whole way.

I previously read the author’s follow up novel, Archeron, so I sort of got things backward.  While it would have been best to read this book first, Archeron does a solid job of standing on its own, as does The Desert.  I have to admit I enjoyed this, the author’s first effort, more than his second.  My review of Archeron details my issues with that story, which definitely has its merits and was a fun read in its own right.  The Desert was a more intriguing and provides more of an introduction to this strange new world that intrigued me.  I am gathering there will be a sequel to Archeron.  It is clear there is more story to tell.

Much like I stated in my other review, I give high praise to the author for crafting an intriguing mythology that give his book a unique flavor.  He has an excellent knowledge of the military and that shows in his work as well, though his disdain for commissioned officers is hard to miss and is somewhat distracting.  The Desert is a fun read, and while Archeron is, in my view, not quite as good, it is still an entertaining continuation of this saga, and gives me plenty of reason to want to check out the author’s third act when it comes out.

The Desert can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004XJKYKU/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of “Tales of the Undead: Hell Whore”

Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is the first in a series of anthologies, with this one specifically having as its theme devilish women.  The overall title “Tales of the Undead” is perhaps a bit inaccurate, since many of these stories have nothing to do with the undead, but the subtitle is certainly more of a description of what is included within its pages.  In some stories, this association is obvious, while in others that association to evil women is a lot more subtle.

It is often difficult to provide a review of an anthology because almost without fail, they are a mixed bag.  A consistent theme often allows for a more comprehensive overview-each author provides a story to the mix that sticks to a sometimes loose, but understood guideline.  TotU-HW does have a theme, but it runs the gambit with stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, Satan, human-animal hybrids, werewolves, ancient gods, sexually voracious women, and even more of a mix of swirling horrors.  And that isn’t even mentioning the poems, which are as diverse a lot as the short stories.

There were some gems in this book from my perspective, including “Entre of the Damned” and “Girls are Icky”, both appreciated for entirely different reasons, and of course some stories that did not click, which I will admit is more due to personal preference rather than the quality of the work, at least in most cases.  The writing styles here are quite diverse, with everything from the delicately subtle to in your face.  I enjoyed “Who F&*ked Up Kelly Yesterday?” because I have a taste for bizarro horror, while I know that there will be plenty of folks who would be repulsed by this story’s audacity.  There were a few stories that I felt that the writing was a bit rough, with both the story itself and the way the author telling it making it feel forced and hard to get through, but there those were only a select few out of this bunch.  There were some sagas that felt incomplete to me-either telling instead of showing and letting the tale reveal itself, or in one case where the writing style seemed a bit forced and awkward- like the author was providing a summary rather than providing the reader with the story itself.

Anthologies are journeys where the road is both smooth and bumpy at different times.  Rarely do you find a short story compendium where every story hits the mark.  But finding a short story or poem you really enjoy and that will stick with you makes the journey through the good, the great, and the bad worthwhile.   Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is such an anthology.

Tales of the Undead: Hello Whore can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLR40A2/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Zombie Fest Free eBook Bonanza over on Facebook today!

For all you zombie book fans out there-and if you are looking at my page, chances you are, there is a free eBook giveaway going on with a very large swath of authors today on Facebook.  Thanks to Gary Mumford and Catt Dahman, who are coordinating this effort.  I will be giving away three eBook copies of my Dark trilogy and one paper version of the trilogy as well-they will be coordinating this.  There will be tons of other giveaways, some being held by authors on their pages.  But to get the full scoop at their Facebook page, here:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/547936065257273/


Beyond the Dark now available in ebook format!

Permuted Press has released the final chapter in the Dark trilogy, Beyond The Dark, in ebook format.  Soon to be followed by audio book and paper formats, this completes the updated and revised version of the trilogy, with Dark Stories included-two of which even those folks who read all the Dark Stories I had to share in the previous electronic version have missed out on.  One of which is a story told in first person, called “A Soldier’s Lament” which is tied into the world of Jeff and company-with a couple of characters from the books showing up.  This particular story, which also appears in “Eyewitness Zombie” from May December Publications, an anthology of first person accounts of the apocalypse, is a bit different, and is definitely one I’m proud to have in this tome.  The other story was written specifically for this book, and tells the back story of Lydia, one of the key secondary characters introduced in Into The Dark.  In many ways, it is my favorite, because Lydia is a character who has grown to mean more to me in the past couple of years-she has elements of my late mother and sister in her, and she is a strong character who I love dearly.

And while everyone will assume something about the new cover of this third book…as in, the girl on it is a zombie, I will say this: don’t be so sure.  You’ll have to read the story to find out more.  😉

So please, check it out, and stay tuned for further updates for the paperback and audio formats of the book, coming soon.

Here is the press release from Permuted Press:

The 3rd and final book in Patrick D’Orazio‘s Dark Trilogy, BEYOND THE DARK, is out now in eBook!

“Grabs you by the ears and does not let go. We’ve heard the phrase save the best for last … well, that is exactly what happened with this trilogy.”
Heather Headshot Faville, Doubleshot Reviews

Amazon Kindlehttp://www.amzn.com/dp/B00CELKAR6/permutedpress-20

NOOKhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-dark-patrick-dorazio/1100076429?ean=2940016404011

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/307399

Beyond The Dark


Into The Dark now available in all formats!

Things keep moving along quickly with Permuted Press and the Dark Trilogy.  Their latest wonderful move?  Releasing Into The Dark in all formats.  So you can get this re-released version, with all the additional Dark Stories, in ebook, paperback, and audio versions.  Just click on the cover below and you can go to Permuted’s website, where you can pick your poison.  So check it out in all its glory:

Into-the-Dark-cover

Six weeks ago a mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world.

Jeff Blaine did his best to hold his family together and protect them from the horrors scratching at their door. But, in the end, they were ripped away from him like everything else that ever mattered.

Lost and alone, Jeff’s only option is to destroy as many of the monsters as he can. But when he discovers Megan, George, and Jason, three other survivors not interested in giving up just yet, he reluctantly accepts that there might still be a reason to fight and live to see another day.

Traveling through the blasted landscape of their new fallen world, the quartet discovers that the living dead aren’t the only danger with which they must cope. Even other survivors who promise safety and security from the hordes of ghouls roaming the wastelands will test loyalties and their faith in humankind.

Jeff and his small band of newfound friends must forge a semblance of life in the newly blighted world. And they will have only the light of their own humanity by which to navigate as everything around them descends into the dark.


Comes The Dark E-Book Sale!

That is correct, ladies and gents, Permuted Press has put Comes The Dark on sale for a limited time in ebook form.  Pick your poison…or version (whichever makes more sense) and drop on by one of these friendly online establishments to pick up your copy today, on the cheap!

 

Come one, come all!  Less than half the price, but ALL the fun, gore, and excitement!
comes the dark permuted cover

The end came with a whimper, not a bang. The mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world in a matter of days.  Everyone who was infected seemed to die…and then rise again.  Governments collapsed, armies disappeared, and entire civilizations turned to dust as the human race tore itself to pieces.

Jeff Blaine had a good life: a beautiful wife, adorable children, and a nice house in the suburbs.  He liked his job, loved his family, and spent his lazy suburban Sundays out on the deck, barbecuing with the neighbors.  Things were perfect until everything fell apart.  And no matter how hard Jeff tried, he could not spare his family from the horrors scratching at the door.

Now, with his family gone, his life in ruins, the only thing left is raw anger and pain.  As the world continues to sink into darkness, Jeff does as well.  So he ventures out into the desolation with no better plan than to destroy as many of the monsters that stole his life away before they destroy him as well.

But soon Jeff will discover other survivors unwilling to give up.  They will force him to decide whether or not to give in to the venom that gnaws at his soul.  Should he continue to fight to survive, or succumb to the things that come with the dark?


Permuted released “Into The Dark” in ebook format!

Things move quickly around here.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was touting the re-release of Comes The Dark from Permuted Press.  Suddenly, it’s time for the release of the second book, Into The Dark, in ebook format!  As with the first book, the Dark Stories I originally created to be a part of the books are back in each individual release, added to the end of the main story.  So the reader has the opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of the secondary characters introduced in each book in a short story format.  Check it out…and if you don’t mind, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or at Barnes and Noble if you have the time.  Thanks!

Six weeks ago, the mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world.

Jeff Blaine did his best to hold his family together and to protect them from the horrors scratching at their door, but in the end, they were ripped away from him like everything else that ever mattered. 

Lost and alone, Jeff’s only option is to destroy as many of the monsters as he can. But when he discovers Megan, George, and Jason, three other survivors not interested in giving up just yet, he reluctantly accepts that there might still be a reason to fight and live to see another day.

Traveling through the blasted landscape of their new fallen world, the quartet discovers that the living dead aren’t the only danger with which they must cope. Even other survivors who promise safety and security from the hordes of ghouls roaming the wastelands will test loyalties and their faith in humankind. 

Jeff and his small band of newfound friends must forge a semblance of life in the newly blighted world. And they will have only the light of their own humanity by which to navigate as everything around them descends into the dark.

Stay tuned for a full selection of links to all versions of the book, but for now here are the links for both the Kindle and Nook:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BWF8WHU/permutedpress-20

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/into-the-dark-patrick-dorazio/1100075804?ean=2940016358963

Into-the-Dark-cover


Links, links everywhere…for ebook versions of Comes The Dark

Well, I didn’t have to wait too long for this.  I was just sharing the link to the audio version of Comes The Dark and now, already, there are links available for the ebook versions.  Permuted Press just published this over on Facebook:

The long awaited Permuted reissue of Patrick D’Orazio‘s hit novel COMES THE DARK is now available in the Amazon Kindle and NOOK stores. The original edition has received over 50 four and five star reader reviews between Amazon and Goodreads. Permuted’s edition has been completely re-edited and includes bonus “Dark Tales.”

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BDBO28Q/permutedpress-20
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/comes-the-dark-patrick-dorazio/1102526101?ean=2940016251868


So we have it on both the Kindle and the Nook, which is downright spectacular!
comes the dark permuted cover

Comes The Dark…getting ready to rock n’ roll!

Well, it’s been a great ride I’ve been on over the past few years.  The Library of the Living Dead was very good to me when it gave me a shot as a new author.   I think I was pretty good to them by producing a trilogy that sold a few copies here and there.  Good enough that when the time to part ways with the Library was upon me, Jacob, the owner of Permuted Press, was very interested in re-releasing my novels.

It’s been an interesting journey, with a lot of twists and turns.  Of course, many of them occurred before the first book was ever published, but there have been quite a few since then.  Some ups and some downs, including a gaff with the kindle version of Comes The Dark occurred that required some quick thinking.  But all’s well that ends well, and that situation ended well.  But now my books are in someone else’s hands, and I’m pretty excited about what’s to come.  I miss the Library, and I miss Doc, my old publisher, but it has gone by the wayside, and I doubt, sadly enough, that it will ever publish something new again.

Comes The Dark is being re-released with new edits and new content in paperback, ebook, and audible versions by Permuted press this month.  The same will be the case with the two sequels, which are coming in March and April.  Some things I have added that weren’t included in the original Dark Stories-some freshly written, some dug up from the crypt where I keep a lot of old, dusty things that just need a little bit of a cleaning up before they’re ready to go.  Well…not everything should see the light of day from that old crypt, but this stuff I feel deserves to get a good looking over by someone other than me.  

I have to admit, what I’m excited the most about the re-release of this trilogy is that they will be available in audio form.  You see, for those of you who don’t know me personally, you may not understand why this is what gets me so excited.  But if you do know me and my family, and know my son, Zack, you’ll understand why.  I guess that makes me nervous for the book’s release in audio format as well-when your boy tells you that you’re his favorite author, but he hasn’t even read any of your stuff yet…well, that’s a lot to live up to.

I’ve been informed that the ebook version of Comes The Dark will be ready to go in the next few days.  Once I have a link, I’ll be sharing it.  The paper version of the book will hit roughly around 2/26/13, as will the audio version.  The great news is that the link is already up for ordering the audio version of the book, and my guess is it will be the same link for the other versions as well-just click on the option you prefer.  So if you have a desire to check out my first book on tape (heh, I’m old enough to remember when they were on tape!), click the cover art below and pre-order your copy.  I’ll be posting again when the other versions are available as well, so stay tuned!

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Review of Jessica Meig’s “The Becoming: Ground Zero”

The Becoming: Ground Zero is the sequel to The Becoming, which is an apocalyptic zombie novel set in the American south, and introduces us to Ethan, a Memphis cop, Cade, a former sniper for the Israeli military, and Brandt, a marine who was stationed at the CDC, where the initial viral outbreak occurred after an experiment goes wrong, before he managed to escape while the plague is tearing apart the city.

The first novel explores the relationship between these three characters and some other survivors as they cope with the virus, the loss of friends and family members, and the total devastation of the human race.  By the end of that book they have settled into a house with a small group of other survivors and have somewhat accepted this new existence of hiding out and doing their best to stay alive.

The second book reintroduces us to these characters about a year later, living in the same house, when Avi, a girl who had been seeking them out after hearing about their successes in saving survivors in the area, comes to them with a request.  She would like them to go to Atlanta and get to the CDC, where she believes there is information hidden about the Michaluk virus-the plague that has killed the majority of the human race-that may help craft a cure.

The group is resistant to going to ground zero-where the plague originated-especially Ethan and Brandt, who both have their reasons for not wanting to go on what amounts to a suicide mission.  In many ways, making the trip makes little sense-they are safe, alive, and while plagued by zombies, they have been able to make due.  But after some tortured debate, with Remy, one of the minor characters from the first book (who comes into her own in this story), adamant about going, they decide to make the trip, and set out from their hiding place and head east to Georgia.

The Becoming: Ground Zero continues to build up the characters we met in the first book as well as some of the lesser characters who came along toward the end of the first tale-Remy is one and Gray and his brother Theo are the others.  The dynamics of the survivor’s relationships with one another play a major role here, with some of the same frustrations I had with the first book shining through-in particular with Ethan, who is the leader of this band but is the person who seems to let his emotions get the worst of him more than anyone else in the group.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I liked the first novel better, but it is often unfair to judge a sequel harshly because, simply put, it has a lot to live up to-especially when it is the middle book of a trilogy.  The author faces the challenge of crafting the ‘glue’ that makes the first book and third stick together instead of crafting a beginning and an end.  It starts off where the prior chapter concludes and must typically end with a dramatic flourish that promises a much greater reveal in the final chapter.  The audience must be kept interested while they know that the biggest shocks and surprises won’t be occurring in this books pages, more than likely.  The Becoming: Ground Zero has its moments of adrenaline fueled excitement, but it also has its lulls where the character’s interpersonal relationships overshadow the big picture.  Not a particularly major issue, as the author does a solid job of keeping the characters interesting, even if some of them are rather annoying.  With that said, whatever state of complacency the reader may fall into, they will get snapped out of it in the last portion of this book, when some very significant action takes place and some surprising things are revealed.  It definitely gives me ample reason to want to see how the story ends up in the final chapter of the trilogy.

Jessica Meigs has a talent for creating interesting characters.  While I may not be overly fond of how some of her characters act and react all the time, they are definitely human, with human failings (that tend to drive you nuts as you read about them).  The Becoming: Ground Zero does the job in bridging the gap between the first book and the last in this trilogy.  While it lacks the energy and overall excitement of the first book, it left me anxious to find out what is to become of the surviving characters in the third book.

The Becoming: Ground Zero can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680382/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of R. Thomas Riley and John Grover’s “If God Doesn’t Show”

If God Doesn’t Show is a modern take on Cthulhu mythos by H.P. Lovecraft and the efforts of a cult to bring about his return.  We are introduced to Thaddeus Archer, a secret service agent who is dealing with a wife who is struggling with mental illness and a teenage daughter who resents him for having her mother locked away in a mental institution.  Things change when Casey, his daughter, is abducted by the same mysterious cult which desires the Old Ones return.  Time passes and Thaddeus gets close but cannot find his daughter, and his obsession causes him to get demoted after several agents die in a bloody raid on the cult.

Then in an instant, everything changes, and the world shifts as the cult prepares to open the way for Cthulhu to return.  But before he can come, the rift into the void brings with it shadows-dark creatures that makes puppets of the dead and sometimes even the living, with their only goal of destruction of humanity.  But these creatures, or even the doomsday cult who accidentally let them into our dimension, are not the only forces at work trying to destroy humanity.  Thaddeus will have to work not only with the few other survivors at his side who have escaped the initial onslaught of the shadows, but a man who has lived through many lives and has struggled with darkness and evil in every one of them if the former secret service agent wants to save his daughter and prevent the Old Ones from rising up from the mysterious island that now floats in the pacific ocean.

If God Doesn’t Show is an interesting take on the Cthulhu mythos, filled with action from start to finish and topped off with plenty of darkness and intrigue.  What starts out as a personal tale of one man on a hunt to find his daughter abruptly changes into something far more earthshattering in a grand and dramatic fashion.  We are introduced to Blount, the character who has been reincarnated time and time again, about halfway through the book.  He is positioned as a possible savior of humanity, destined to struggle with all forms of evil in each of his lifetimes.  When we are introduced to him, he is on a mission with a group of government operatives heading to the strange island in the pacific that has a dark, impossible city buried within its jungles.

The two main characters spent most of this tale rushing toward the same objective and the pacing is fast and intense.  While I found myself rooting for Thaddeus, Blount is the far more interesting character, surrounded by the supernatural and flashing back to past lives filled with battles against darkness.  Their separate treks are both filled with mystery and energy, though that energy dissipates somewhat toward the end of the story, with what I could best describe as an extended epilogue.  Giving away more details would be providing spoilers, which I like to avoid, but I felt as if the story lost a bit of its momentum going into the home stretch.

The authors provide excellent details surrounding the mixture of Lovecraft and Christian elements, though there were some questions I had that were left unanswered about the cult and their choices of sacrifice, though those quibbles were fairly minor.  Overall, this was a fun read-a nice spin on the Cthulhu mythos with a few twisty elements tossed in for good measure.  Of the two main characters, Blount was by far the more intriguing and the brief flashbacks to his past lives were intriguing tidbits that I would have liked to have seen more of.  Perhaps this story doesn’t call for a sequel, but it might be interesting visiting some of Blount’s past lives.

If God Doesn’t Show can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680560/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of Tim Long’s “Among the Dead”

Among the Dead is the sequel of Tim Long’s zombie apocalypse novel Among the Living, which takes place in Seattle in the initial hours and days after patient zero is infected with an experimental cancer vaccine.  The first book followed four separate story lines, telling the individual tales of Mike, a reporter, which is in first person, and a trio of other characters told in third person: Lester, a drug dealer, Kate, a budding serial killer who tortures and kills men in hotel rooms, and Grinder, the lead singer of a heavy metal band playing a gig in Seattle.  Much of AtL takes place before and during each character’s realization that the zombie apocalypse is upon them.  It provided the reader with insights into their normal, everyday lives before they kick into survival mode and witness firsthand how both their lives and the city is falling apart all around them.  The zombies in this story are a mixture of fast and slow movers, with those initially infected retaining most of their normal physical abilities and then slowing down as they begin the process of rotting away.

The first book ended with the quartet coming together-their stories intersect as they are rescued and put into the football stadium by the military, along with the rest of the huddled masses who have managed to escape turning into the undead.  Among the Dead, being the second book of a trilogy, serves up a different type of tale, with what amounts to a single day for the quartet-a day that each of them attempts to survive from moment to moment as the undead overwhelm the city around them and threaten to overwhelm the stadium as well.  The characters are once again separate for the most part.  They now know one another, but Kate tags along on a rescue mission with some soldiers while Mike interacts with Nelson, one of the soldiers who helped him survive in the first book.  Lester, coming down off his permabuzz, is trying to cope with the loss of his girlfriend from the first book and perhaps sneak out and find a safe haven in the city so he can keep the party going.  Grinder is MIA for part of the book, but reconnects with one of the other characters more than halfway through.

The author also introduces some side characters that interact at one point or another with the main characters to a certain extent, even if it is as the undead in some cases.  Some, like the bum LeBeau, are more interesting than others and added some good texture to the tale.  The author spends a lot of the time with Kate, who I am guessing was a favorite of many readers of the first novel.  Kate is in her element in the apocalypse, or so it seems, having the excuse to let the “other” out to play.  The “other” is the dark part of her that takes over and craves murder and violence and makes her the serial killer she has become.  The temptation to slaughter not only the undead, but other survivors and even the soldiers Kate is with is a constant reminder of dark nature for the audience.

Among the Dead, being the second book of a planned trilogy, is clearly the second act in a three act play.  We move forward with the story with the presumption that you know what has come to pass for Mike and the others from the prior book.  The author does make a solid attempt to let this book stand on its own in many ways, though we are, of course, left hanging somewhat by the ending, which lures us down the path to its completion when Among the Ashes is published and completes things.  I would, however, not recommend picking this book up without reading AtL first.

This is a solid follow up by the author, though a different type of novel just for the fact that things move here rather quickly, and there is little room for subtlety given the circumstances the characters find themselves in.  Death and mayhem are all around them from start to finish, and the death of the city is well under way.  The reader is granted some new insights and some of the characters are transformed by the events of this book (Kate in particular), but Among the Dead is focused primarily on action more than character development.

Overall, this book does solid duty in keeping the reader aware of what is going on with each character.  Though Grinder wasn’t my favorite of the quartet, I would have liked to have had him share more of the spotlight in the early part of this book.  He felt almost like a secondary character this time around.  As mentioned, Kate steps forward as more of a main character and is allowed to develop in much greater detail than the other three.  Unfortunately, her inner monologue, at certain points, felt a bit repetitive with her thoughts on killing virtually everyone around her overwhelming almost everything else inside her head.  Despite this, Kate remains fascinating, especially with some of the vulnerabilities we discover about her and the new depths that her darkness seems to be taking her as she lets the “other” run amuck.

Again, this is a solid sequel to Among the Living that keeps the adrenaline flowing and gives fans of Kate in particular something to really sink their teeth into.  Tim Long definitely keeps you on the hook with Among the Dead, intrigued to find out how things end up for the survivors in the final book in the trilogy.

Among the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AXOR1HS/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of Derek Goodman’s “The Reanimation of Edward Shuett”

The Reanimation of Edward Shuett is a zombie tale for folks who are looking something that injects something entirely new and different into the genre.  Edward is an average guy from Wisconsin who wakes up one day in an abandoned WalMart dazed, dirty, and confused by the fact that he has maggots crawling out of rotten holes in his arm.  He sees a couple of other people in the store who scare him.  They are clearly not normal-shambling looking dead things that have no reason to still be upright.  Despite his fears of them, they don’t seem very interested in him, and when a truck pulls up outside and a couple of men step out looking for some undead to capture, Edward begins to realize what he is…or at least what he used to be.

There have been, by my reckoning, a handful of novels that are told from the viewpoint of the zombie.  We’re even going to be seeing a movie with this slant in early 2013 with “Warm Bodies”.  Some just dance lightly around the subject of trying to grasp what is going on inside the brain of a zombie, while others plunge in head first, making their whole focus about the life and times of the undead.  I would have to say that TRoES is the first story I’ve read that caused me to not only identify with a particular zombie but caused me to feel sympathy and empathy for their plight.  But of course, Edward Shuett isn’t your average, garden variety zombie.

Edward is definitely a zombie-of that there is no doubt.  While the realization comes as a shock to him, there is another more striking realization for both him and the living, breathing humans that surround him.  Unlike the rest of the undead, he can reason, speak, and is even starting regenerate the fifty years of damage he suffered as a mindless eating machine.  His memories as a full blown flesh eater are vague-stuck within his dreams and nightmares.  Sadly, he has no idea what has happened to his wife and daughter, and to him it seems like time stood still since he was originally bitten and transformed.  But now he is stuck in a world of survivors who have lived with the threat of the undead for half a century.

Like the author even says within the tale, this is sort of a zombie Rip Van Winkle, with a man searching for his past while trying to adjust to the new world around him.  While zombies are still a threat, the human race has conquered them for the most part-at least those who live within the city limits and not out in the wastelands.  In another way, this book and likely any follow-ups the author creates, remind me of the classic Planet of the Apes movies, as strange as that may sound.  A creature different than all the rest of its kind is to be feared for the danger it may or may not represent and there will always be those who want to destroy it for that reason alone.

The Reanimation of Edward Shuett certainly serves up a unique zombie tale, but one that retains what makes stories in this genre worth reading: solid characters put into tremendously difficult situations that feature monsters both human and inhuman.  As is the case with the best of the genre, it is pretty clear that the human monsters are by far the worst.  This story is heartfelt and touching, but retains that blood-drenched razor sharp edge that should keep most zombie fans satisfied.

The Reanimation of Edward Shuett can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680617/ref=cm_cr_thx_view


Review of “Loose Ends” by Jay Wilburn

Loose Ends by Jay Wilburn is a bit different style zombie apocalypse tale for several reasons, the main being the characters that inhabit this particular world.  We are introduced to our main character, Mutt, a fifteen year old boy who also happens to be mute.  He is hiding from a zombie pounding on the door of the panic room he has been in for a couple of days when the story starts.  The compound he’s lived in for most of the time since the dead rose up (about a decade) appears to be several buildings that have been connected and has been the dwelling place for a decent sized group of people.  Over the years, it has suffered attacks from zombies and humans alike, but the tenants have always persevered.  Not this time.  The only survivors are Mutt and the three men he works with in the kitchens: Chef, Short Order, and Doc.  Naturally, just like with Mutt, these are nicknames, but the reader isn’t provided real names of the characters until we are well into the story.  After cooking a few last meals and competing with one another to see who can outdo the others in taste and extravagance, they decide that it is time to hit the road, and find a new home.

The wide world is a dangerous, depraved place, with not only the biker types that assaulted them (along with the undead) this last time out there, but numerous other tribes of survivors that range from the deadly to the demented.  Mainly what our team of travelers finds at first is the undead.  They set out with their modified truck filled with supplies with the hopes of discovering a new and safe home-but they go in the direction that some of the men know and remember, and might not be their safest bet.  We get to know the characters better on their journey of attempting to one up one another in their cooking of meals they scrounge out in the wild.  Details are revealed about each of them, including their real names and their past.  Mutt too reveals more about himself and the brief childhood he had before it was torn apart by the undead.  Some of what is revealed seems almost better off remaining buried, with tragedies from the past that are hard to deal with, even after ten years of living with the undead.

Loose Ends definitely takes a different approach to introducing and revealing its characters.  These men are tightly bonded to one another, and the fact that Mutt is unable to speak allows their stories to be told with little interference from him, though it all through his eyes, including some very disturbing things.  While these three men are friends who protect and take care of Mutt (Doc especially, who Mutt is apprenticed to) they also have conflicts that stem from the fact that they are out of the safe and neutral environment of the compound and back out on the road traveling through the places where they are given the chance to revisit their pasts.

This book is not just a character study, it is a zombie apocalypse actioner, with plenty of scenes filled with harrowing attacks and attempted assaults of the small crew of survivors.  I am a fan of fully developed characters and human conflict that arises in apocalyptic tales-revealing the truth that is forced to come to the surface because of the harsh realities that surround the people trying to survive-and this tale definitely delivers that.  But I also love action and the horror that comes from the unrelenting nature of the undead, and Loose Ends delivers in that respect as well.

As far as the negatives with this story, as there are with every tale, it was my reaction to the beginning and something that happens not too far in that I had issue with.  I have a pet peeve about perspectives, and committing to the perspective chosen.  The author tells this story in first person, through Mutt’s eyes, and true to that, we never see anything from someone else.  But the author decides to bend the rules a bit and allows Mutt to imagine, in great detail, what is going on somewhere else.  Imagining what is going on isn’t a big deal, unless it reads like a very detailed and factual part of the story.  It felt forced here, but thankfully it is only a brief part of the story.  It does, however, happen very early on, which made me a bit fearful that it would crop up on a regular basis.  Thankfully this is not the case, and after another very minor dip into doing this again, the author leaves this behind and lets Mutts true perspective lead the way.

Overall, the storytelling here is solid.  Mutt lacks a voice but his ability to see what is going on around him and relate it to the reader adds a distinct flavor to the tale.  He both fears and relies on the men he is traveling with, in particular Doc, who he shares several harrowing adventures with and yet distrusts in many ways.  Mutt is not passive-he is an active participant in choosing his own destiny, which makes the story all the more satisfying.

Loose Ends tells the story of three men and a boy who all have issues from their past and have different levels of desire to confront these issues under the guise of searching for a new place to call home.  Some want to lay them to rest while others appear to be more interest in ripping open old wounds and remembering the darkness.  It is an interesting journey that I’m glad I tagged along for.

Loose Ends can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Loose-Ends-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B008ISXOYU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1348935151&sr=8-3&keywords=jay+wilburn


Review of P.A. Douglas’ “The Dark Man”

The Dark Man is a good old fashion bogey man tale, with flavors of teen horror flicks that many of us grew up on sprinkled in for good measure.  A group of teens decide that they’re going to party hearty one night with some illicit drugs while some want to see if a myth about a stranger coming to visit when other groups of teens have done the same thing in the past is real, or will be something that can be used to scare the pants off of the girls in their little group.  And when they all start tripping and the Dark Man does pay them a visit, they’re forced to figure out what is real and what is hallucination as their unending nightmare begins.

This is a simple and effective horror novella that doesn’t try to create new worlds or new beasts for us to try and wrap our minds around.  Instead of crafting outside worlds of doom and unspeakable horror, it reaches inside the mind, where our primitive fears of the dark and unknown lay tucked away but always within easy reach.  The Dark Man is a fun tale in the sense that it doesn’t require the reader to suspend disbelief or accept the implausible.  Instead, it uses what is inside us already to freak us out and send us to bed with nightmares about what is hiding underneath the bed or inside the darkened closet.

The Dark Man can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Dark-Man-ebook/dp/B009DKCGAK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348320489&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dark+man+p.+a.+douglas


Review of Joseph Souza’s “The Reawakening”

The Reawakening begins with the narrator, Thom Swiftley, a famous novelist, taking his seventeen year old daughter, Dar, up from their Boston home to his brother’s farm in northern Maine.  Rick, his brother, was a highly respected geneticist who decided to leave his prestigious career behind to get away from the rat race to grow crops and milk cows, or so it seems.  Dar has suffered from numerous mental issues in her life, and has been suicidal throughout much of her teenage years.  Thom thinks it would be a good idea for her to see her uncle and favorite aunt before she goes off to college.

Almost immediately things start going wrong on the farm.  The cows are acting strange, and so are the birds.  Fearing Mad Cow Disease, Rick puts the cows down with his rifle, only to find them back up and trying to kick their way out of their stalls.  Rick’s dog has gone mad as well, and so have the pigs.  When Rick’s wife gets bitten by one of the cows, she gets a fever, dies, and transforms into some sort of hybrid creature.  But before she does that, right after she dies, she speaks of an afterlife and the goal of finding the chosen ones.

More mayhem ensues and when Thom and Dar try to leave the farm, things go even worse for them when she is assaulted at a general store ten minutes from the farm and they have to return.  By now, they realize that people are turning into flesh eating monsters (those that are bitten by animals take on some genetic characteristics of the animals that bit them, while those who die in a ‘normal’ fashion become the more traditional slow moving zombies).  Rick dives into the mystery of how this happens with scientific zeal as they stay tucked away, safe on the barricaded farm.  They are joined by others: one of Rick’s neighbor’s family and a passing biker named Thorn.

The sudden and abrupt changes happening to everything around them transforms Dar dramatically.  In particular, the assault she is forced to endure at the general store is the seeming catalyst to a total mutation in personality.  It almost seemed as if everyone who has been bitten or dies has reawakened into something different, but even though she hasn’t been bitten, she has been altered as well: into a hate machine.  She not only hates the reawakened monsters, but everyone and everything, including her father, who she blames for her life up to this point.

This tale is an intriguing variation on the traditional zombie apocalypse storyline, with the transformed becoming something significantly different than the zombies we have come to know and fear.  I am always up for a different approach to the formula, and this one certainly veers in a different direction than you might expect.  The mystery here is whether this transformation is genetic, which Rick adheres to or if the transformation is more of a supernatural process, given how the undead initially react before becoming ravenous flesh eaters, as Thom suspects.  The brother’s clash on this subject endlessly, as well as on other topics.

Fair warning: this book does not provide the reader with much in the way of characters to identify with or root for.  I found it difficult to have much sympathy for anyone but a couple of secondary characters given how everyone seems to transform into loathsome people as things got worse around them.  This applies in particular to Dar, whose transformation into a kick-butt undead slayer brought with it a lot of hate, spite, and anger.  Essentially, a suicidal teenager unleashes the hatred she had for herself onto the entire world.  Not just on those who have been reawakened, but everyone who is still alive.  And somehow everyone seems to willingly accept her abuse without question and meekly follow her lead.  That her father falls in line with how she acts and Rick, his brother, seems to encourage her ravenous lust for destruction of the undead, are only part of the reasons why I found both of those characters repugnant.  Thom is a wimp and Rick has plenty of even more despicable traits.

While this commentary may seem like harsh criticism of the book, it isn’t.  Loathsome characters are often some of the most interesting ones in literature.  I did feel that Dar’s transformation seemed a bit over the top, thought it becomes more plausible given the environment she resides in throughout the book: with a bunch of people unwilling to say or do anything to stop her-especially her father.  Given how much of a spineless cur he was, it made what she became a bit more believable.  Still, her transformation seemed extreme, especially given the fact that everyone seemed more than willing to follow this eighteen-year-old’s lead into danger.

Overall, this was an intriguing tale, with a wild new slant on the undead apocalypse.  There are some interesting twists and turns and since this is only the first of a planned trilogy, there are naturally quite a few loose ends left unraveled.  It will be interesting to see where things go from here for Thom, Dar, and the survivors.

The Reawakening can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Reawakening-Living-Dead-Trilogy-Book/dp/1475028369/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342290686&sr=1-2&keywords=the+reawakening


Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “The 5000 Fingers of Bob”

The 5000 Fingers of Bob is a strange and creepy tale set in south during the Great Depression and tells the story of five men plotting the death of a local man they’ve dubbed Bob, even though they don’t know his real name.  They call him Bob because that’s what he calls everyone around town.  He is a man-child, a mentally handicapped man who is huge, eerie, but appears to be harmless on the surface.  But when one of the men finds him leaning over his daughter’s bed one night and throws Bob outside, only to find giant back inside, he suggests to his friends that they kill Bob, or do something else to (at the very least) dissuade him from doing any other disturbing things.  There are other rumors of Bob showing up in one place and then disappearing, and of things happening around him that are horrific, like the death of someone’s dog that is graphic and grotesque.

Things go wrong as the men continue to hatch their plot to put a stop to Bob and as they carry it out.  While the truth is somewhat muddled, it is clear that there is more to Bob than meets the eye.  This is a short story, and as such the author leaves out details that might reveal more about the nature of Bob and the supernatural shadowing effect that seems to surround him.  That serves the purpose of keeping things a mystery, even as more is revealed about the man who seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once.

A good, creative short story.  I do wish there were more details laid out there, but the author’s ability to set a scene and pull you into it as a reader gives this little tale a potent punch.

The 5000 Fingers of Bob can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-5000-Fingers-Bob-ebook/dp/B007FYBBQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340113984&sr=8-1&keywords=the+5000+fingers+of+bob


Review of Pat Douglas’s “Epidemic of the Undead”

Chris Commons is a folk rock singer on the way to a gig in Beaumont, Texas with his cousin Mark and friend Steve, who are the other members of his band.  The venue they’re supposed to play in appears to be abandoned when they show up a few short hours before the show and it looks like their concert has been cancelled on them.  But when they head over to a nearby coffee house and see what’s on the television, they discover that the abandoned venue is the least of their worries.  The boys have landed in the middle of the zombie outbreak on the road with nowhere to go as the undead begin showing up in droves outside.  Cut off from their van, they do their best to find safety with the coffee house clerk in tow, but soon discover that there isn’t any place left that’ll protect them from the undead.

Epidemic of the Undead is a bare-bones no nonsense zombie apocalypse thriller with a passion for blood, guts, and a high body count.  The reader is given no explanation of how the plague got started and no explanation is needed as we role through the first few hours and days after the dead have risen.  This is all about the action, gore, and the characters efforts to come to grips with the fact that everyone is turning up dead (and undead) all around them.  The zombies are traditional slow movers with all the regular strengths and weaknesses.  The story sticks to Chris’s perspective throughout and his goals are simple: don’t get bitten, stay alive long enough to get back to see his parents in Tennessee, and perhaps discover if Stephanie, the coffee house clerk, is more interested in him than Steve, the lothario of the band.

The story moves at a fast clip and while I had some issues with some of the dialog being a bit stilted in places and the fact that there were some typos along the way, the action and gore were more than up to snuff, with some of the descriptive details of the trauma the undead had suffered leaving me a bit queasy (which is a good thing for the zombie fan).  I was rooting for Chris and his chances with Stephanie-the author didn’t overdo the romance angle given the type of story this was, but it was a nice touch, and added a bit of normality to the insanity of the world crumbling around him.  Chris isn’t any sort of hero, just another guy trying to survive, which made him someone I could identify with.  Just a regular guy trying to figure out how to use a gun for the first time and make sure all his friends don’t end up dead.  Pick this one up if you’re looking for a fun undead escape with plenty of gruesome action.

Epidemic of the Undead  can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Epidemic-Undead-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B0088KAWN4/ref=la_B006XWFXBU_1_4_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1338856202&sr=1-4&fb_source=message