Book Review: Zomburbia by Adam J. Gallardo

19083252Synopsis:

“Scary, freaky, and original. Get this book!” -Nancy Holder Lifeless. Slow-moving. Brain-dead.
“Welcome To Zomburbia.”

My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.

I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing. . .

“Gallardo’s world-building is innovative and fascinating, sick and twisted and unexpectedly touching. You’ll want to check that your zombie apocalypse closet is well stocked.” -Molly Harper White

“Readers are guaranteed plenty of mayhem and romance, laughter and heartbreak.” -James Patrick Kelly

My Review:

Looking at the front cover, this looks like an amazing zombie book.  However, instead of it being the full on horror it promises, its more of a teen angst set against an undead back-drop.  If you like those types of books, you’ll love this – it lends itself very much to a teen readership, but as an adult I really expected more, so I was kind of disappointment.

From a writer’s perspective, it was written very well and was well thought-out, but (here’s that big ‘but’ again!) the very start of the book is kind of boring and introduces our protagonist as a whiny teenager, drama-cising her way through the shuffling zombie outbreak. I would have much rather had a Katniss style character that you can get behind that kicks butt and take things seriously – one you actually want to survive.

Also, there’s not much promotion from the author online. I usually include a bio and photo from Goodreads on my reviews, but alas the author is currently an absent blank on there.  that really needs to change. Authors live and die by social media these days and, as the book is available for review now, he should really include his details on Goodreads and Amazon – at the very least.

The front cover is amazing, so two undead thumbs up to whoever put it together – it’ll no doubt get some attention on the virtual book shelf.

Overall, I’d give Zomburbia 2 out 5 stars for adult readers, 3.5 out of 5 for teens – it’s kind of ‘Clueless’ with zombies.

Book Review: The Confessions of Sylva Slasher by Ace Antonio Hall

Confessions-of-Sylva-SlasherSynopsis:

SPRING BREAK GETS WILD ON THE LIVELIEST CRUISE IN THE PACIFIC UNTIL THE UNDEAD CRASH THE PARTY.

Eighteen-year-old Sylva Fleischer and her friends raise the dead for a living for police investigations and mourning families. Two years after her high school crush, a hot guy named Brandon, is assumed dead, Sylva’s friends convince her to go on a spring break cruise in an effort to suppress her depression over him. But when passengers mysteriously die and reanimate into flesheating zombies like she’s never seen before, Sylva plunges into a horrifying struggle between a ship infested with the undead and the scariest thing of all: a second chance with Brandon after she discovers he’s still alive. This is a zombie story that eats right to the core and leaves you licking your chops for more.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

About the Author: Ace-Antonio-Hall

Ace Antonio-Hall was first published in 1998 in an Adelphi University publication called Luna, with a short story titled “1936.” After earning his BFA degree from Long Island University, he taught middle-school English for over ten years.

He now lives in southern California, and was the Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and still holds an executive position in the organization which gives him a huge platform to market, sell, and promote his work through the many conferences, meetings and book fairs that GLAWS holds each month. He is also a member of LASFS and the International Thriller Writers.

His first novel, a coming-of-age YA zombie story, The Confessions of Sylva Slasher, was released April 2013 by Montag Press. It is part of a series with the next book Skateboard Xombies, expected for release early next year.

About the writing life, he says: “I harmlessly dream in Technicolor nightmares, watch a ton of horror flicks, eat more donuts than I should, and refuse to stop reading Spider-Man. All of those combined give me a sweet tooth to write about the suite life of zombies.”

Ace’s true labor of love is writing fast-paced fiction with character-driven plots featuring female protagonists. He continues to write short stories and build on the world of teen necromancer Sylva Slasher as she reigns as Princess of the Undead.

You can find out more about Ace, including his music and screen acting credits, and his involvement with the Hollywood Actors Academy as part-owner, Acting Coach and Creative Director, at the IMDb Biography web site. For skateboard, zombie and teen tees, including swag and other cool stuff, visit his store HERE.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Website | Blog

My Review:

This book posed a quandary for me. It’s a YA and it’s written first person from a teen girl’s point of view – however the language used is very ‘teen’ which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as its meant for that age group, however to me personally, a YA read should tread a fine line and span over teenagers into adults. YA gives the opportunity to write a book that is open to both teen and adult audiences alike – and from an evil commercial point of view, this is where the money is.

I’m an adult, I also write and read YA fiction. But I did find Slyva as the main character and narrator a little annoying at times. Her language was spot on, but I struggled to identify with her, and as a reader, that limited my overall enjoyment of the book.

From a writer’s perspective, the plot was great, it reminded me of a teen version of Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. The concept of a zombie filled cruise was pretty scary; confined spaces and monsters is a killer combination. I also liked how it started at a later, more exciting part of the book to draw you in; and to split this with a chapter stopped any storyline confusion.

The front cover is very much like a graphic novel and might cause a little confusion for would-be readers who are simply browsing for a new read. In saying that though, it does set the age well as a teen read.

Overall, I’d give The Confessions of Slyva Slasher 3 out of 5 stars to an adult audience and 5 out 5 stars for teen readers (I don’t normally split star ratings, but felt I’d be doing the book a disservice if I didn’t)

Confessions-of-Sylva-Slasher-Banner

Book Review: Waking Up Dead by Emma Shortt

EmmaShortt_WakingUpDead_coverSynopsis:

You know your life has hit rock bottom when you’re living off cooked rats and showering once every few months—if you’re lucky. But for Jackson Hart things are about to get a whole lot worse. When her best friend, Tye, disappears hunting for food, kick-ass Jackson’s ‘head south to safety’ plan looks like it’s dead before it’s even begun. But then she meets ex-mechanic Luke Granger, who takes her to his bunker, feeds her with non-rat based food, and offers her protection against the zombie hordes—not that she needs it. She knows how to use a machete and isn’t afraid to.

Jackson was tempted to stay in the city with her rescuer. Food, shampoo and the possibility of finally getting laid, what more could she ask for? But the flesh eaters are getting smarter and the bunker is compromised, so Jackson and Luke have no choice but to make the journey south.

Luke and Jackson team up to find other humans in a road-trip romance for the ages. They travel for thousands of miles with zombies shadowing their every move. They must utilize every resource at their disposal…and then some. On the way, they discover that even if flesh eating zombies are knocking down their door, there’s always time for sex and even love.

About the Author: wa

As a kid Emma wanted to be an astronaut, or maybe Captain Janeway. Because she didn’t really think her career choices through very well she ended up in an everyday geek job, crunching numbers and sighing over syntax. It seemed a long way from the stars, and in an effort to escape Emma decided to get serious about her other passion. Writing.

Several years later and Emma has yet to walk on the moon or sit in the Captain’s chair, but she is still writing. She scribbles stories in all sorts of genres, contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, historical, sci-fi…if she hasn’t tried it yet she will before long. The only common theme is the romance. A hopeless romantic, everything Emma writes has a love story in there somewhere.

She lives on the west coast of England with her very Greek husband and teenage kiddos. Apart from all things geek reading is her main hobby and she likes nothing better than getting home from a hard day at work and curling up with a book, though sometimes she gets home and writes one instead.

www.endofdayslove.com

www.facebook.com/AuthorEmmaShortt

www.twitter.com/EmmaShortt

Amazon   BN

My Review:

Zombies are in at the moment, there’s been a horde of undead novels shuffling onto eReaders and book shelves of late – I know I’m guilty of adding to that too! So there really has to be a great story line and some decent characters to really set a zombie book above all the rest – fortunately Emma Shortt really does do that.

Each part is written from the POV of the male and female protagonist, so there’s a clever and clear build up of tension, as most chapters leaves you on a hook – a technique used by Agatha Christie in her who-dun-it novels, as it keeps you reading. That’s how a book becomes something you simply can’t put down.

The zombies in this one were also evolved, and kind of characters in themselves. It reminded me of the game ‘Left for Dead’ which had characters for some of their zombies – the witch’s wails use to scare the living bejeezes out of me.

The romance between Jackson and Luke is sweet and builds slowly too, unlike other paranormal romance novels that simply add in a lusty desire and suddenly they’re together.

From a writer’s perspective, the action was great and the plot moved steadily along. My only criticism was that I didn’t warm to Jackson very quickly. She kicks ass, which is great and necessary considering her predicament, but it takes a while for her to really shine for me and I would have preferred that to come across quicker. Luke comes across much better for me and to be honest this is one of the few books that I’ve read that I’d recommend to both women and men as it really would be a thrilling read for everyone.

The front cover does look a bit like a video game, which could be intentional or not. I must admit that it was more the story than the cover that attracted me to this one. If it hadn’t been part of a tour, I might have passed it by.

Overall I’d give Waking the Dead 4 out of 5 stars – if you love the Walking Dead and want a book that can match it, look no further.

Waking Up Dead Banner 450 x 169

Interview with JT Clay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATell us about your publishing journey…

I’ve been writing unpublished novels for years. I won an Hachette / Queensland Writers Centre manuscript award in 2008, then got serious. I dropped to part-time salaried work and learnt more about my craft. I didn’t get that book published, started two more, and never finished them. They weren’t terribly good.

A previous version of my zombie novel won an Olvar Wood Fellowship award in 2010. I rewrote it and pitched it to Joel Naoum from Momentum and my agent, Alex Adsett, at GenreCon 2012. A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was born.

What do you love about being an author?

I love spending time with the people I make up. It’s a mental illness, but the therapy’s fun.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

Rejection is hard but inevitable if you want to get published. And unlike other industries, you don’t know if rejection means you’re not yet good enough, you’ll never be good enough or you’re unlucky.

If I go for ten interviews in my day job, I expect several offers. If I don’t get them, I know my application isn’t right or they were the wrong jobs to apply for.

But if I pitch a novel ten times and don’t get an offer, I still have no idea whether it’s any good.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Read critically. Learn your craft. If you want to write professionally, take it as seriously as any other career.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

Ford Prefect. He makes good cocktails and egotism is so relaxing. I’d eat salted peanuts, just in case.

Zombies are everywhere! What do you do first?9781760080518_A Single Girl's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse_cover

Activate my Z-Day plan. If I told you what was in it, I’d have to pretend you were infected, then kill you.

My partner and I have scenario-tested this plan. It’s a winner, except domestically. His geek skills and military training combined in a perfect storm of lone survivalism. Apparently, step one isn’t going home to see if the girlfriend’s okay.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

Psmith Journalist’ by PG Wodehouse. He’s a funny author who makes jokes without sex, swearing or unseemly violence. Must be a knack. This gem, written in the early 1900s, paints a sweet portrait of gangland New York and features affectionately racist terms that I won’t repeat, because I don’t want the hate mail. It’s interesting to see how G-ratings change over time.

What’s the one question you’d dread on an interview?

“What is your greatest weakness?” As a narcissist, I don’t have any.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

The 1920s. Hedonism, PG Wodehouse and legal drugs. Not that I do drugs. Drugs are bad.

I’m writing a time-travel farce set in Auckland in the 1920s, so I already have the time machine, at least mentally.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?

I have unusually poor facial recognition skills and I’m unable to distinguish actors from the roles they’re playing, so I can’t name any for you. I’d cast Buffy’s large and awkward cousin as the female hero.

You free a Genie from a lamp, after wishing away all those zombies from the previous question, you have 2 wishes left, what are they?

Clearly, there’s only one response to this. First, I’d wish for an endless supply of wishes. Next, when I saw the effects, I’d wish to reverse all those wishes I made, except maybe the zombie one. Because fairy tales are wise, right?

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

I loved the first few series of Chuck, because we abandoned action comedy romance in the 80s and I miss it. And Game of Thrones, which is a condensed version of the best bits from the books (and no, I didn’t finish the series, so don’t tell me what happens). Also, of course, Buffy.

Where can fans find you online?

Website: http://jtclaywriter.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JTClayWriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JT-Clay/175079716020186

http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/a-single-girls-guide-to-the-zombie-apocalypse/

I’m a digital virgin, so be gentle with me.

Interview with Ruth Browne

Ruth BrowneTell us about your publishing journey.

I saw an ad by Entangled on one of those writers’ sites, Write Jobs maybe, for a fairytale retold in a world full of zombies. A good idea occurred to me, and I wrote it down and submitted it. A while after that, they told me they liked it and wanted to publish it. After that it was a fairly slow process of waiting, editing, re-editing and polishing. It’s not very exciting, publishing.

What part of being a writer do you love most?

I love that it takes no effort at all. You just turn on your computer (or pick up your pencil if that’s your thing) and begin.

Which part do you hate most?

The part after you start when you have to keep going. Working up the motivation to continue can be a real pain.

What life advice have you been given, that you wished someone had given you sooner?

The same thing any writer will tell you: just write. Don’t worry if it’s good. Spawn now, discipline later.

If you could have a magical power, what would it be and why?

Flight. I love the feeling in dreams. Bound to be just as good in real life, with the right insulation.

Zombies are everywhere…what do you do? cover36130-medium

This scenario is never far from my mind. Ideally, I’d have some early-warning system in place, so that at the first sign of danger I could load up my car with supplies and piss off inland to the Drakensberg Mountains. If I were really worried I’d be taking survival courses right now so I could live up there indefinitely. Failing that, I’d make my way to Parow Industrial and hole up in one of those huge, heavily secured warehouses.

What was your favourite children’s book growing up?

Shadow the Sheepdog.

If you could be a fantasy creature – what would you be and why?

An orc. Maybe a transgender orc. Time to undermine the status quo.

Vampires – romantic leads, or monsters that have lost their literary way?

Whatever you like. They’re about as interesting as Tom Cruise these days.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

Hannibal Lecter, of course. We would eat Martha Stewart. She looks delicious.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Neil Gaiman, because his characters are never safe and his stories are never expected. China Miéville, because no one else can do what he does with urban fantasy while challenging my intellect at every turn. Terry Pratchett, because he still makes me laugh until I cry. Philip Pullman, because beauty and wonder and worlds colliding. Pullman made atheism fabulous.

What are you working on at the moment?

A short Beauty and the Beast erotica based on the Disney version. Belle is a masochist with a taste for the Marquis de Sade.

Where can fans find you online?

Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onethousandandonecorpses?skip_nax_wizard=true

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/23797326-ruth-browne

Twitter: https://twitter.com/browne_rh

Book Review: One Thousand and One Nights By Ruth Browne

cover36130-mediumSynopsis:

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.
When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

My Review:

I loved the idea of Arabian Nights mixed with end of the world zombie uprising. The protagonist, Sheri was a cool character and reminded me of Katniss from the Hunger Games – only with an edge to her that a YA character would be allowed.

I really enjoyed the book and managed to read it within 2 days. My only gripe is that it was over way too quick. I’m just hoping that this is the start of a longer series and that we might get a few more children’s classics tied into the zombie plot line – maybe a Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer zombie hunters sequel?

For a writer’s perspective it was a little jumpy in places, but I’m putting that down to it being a galley rather than the finished manuscript. However overall the pace was good and the writing intriguing. There were no massive info dumps and the past was cleverly weaved into the present to give you a completed story by the end. I would have preferred first person narrative from Sheri’s point of view rather than third person omnipotent, however this is just my opinion and purely based on the fact that Sheri was such a wonderful character that her voice would have given it more emotion and grit.

The front cover is beautiful and really captures the book well – I’m going to continue to say this but book covers are SO important in selling a book. No matter how many Sesame Street episodes or cartoons teaching us not to judge a book by its cover – we really all, deep down, do. Not politically correct I know, but the truth. Looking at the cover, I don’t think this will be a problem for Ruth Browne as I’m a notorious cover whore and it attracted me!

I’d give One Thousand and One Nights 4 out of 5 stars – a great zombie read which, for me, delivered more than Gena Showater’s ‘Alice in Zombieland’. It only lost a star because it felt like it should be a beautifully brilliant cog in a larger machine, so bring on the series!

Buy One Thousand and One Nights:

Release date 30th September 2013.

Book Review – Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

 

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Synopsis:

After suriving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death. Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore. Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough

My Review:

I do love a good zombie book and, with there being so many out there now (Yes, I know I’ve written one too!) you really have to have something different going on with the plot to really stand out. Mortality gives us something different. It’s a story first person from two characters’ points of view: Savannah and Zarah. It was a little dangerous for a book to do this, but with tense chapter conclusions and different timelines, it flows nicely. I must admit though, that I preferred Zarah over Savannah – I found the latter kind of self-centered and two dimensional compared to the sweeter Zarah. Maybe it was because their stories are told at different points of the zombie cycle – maybe not; but I did find myself looking forward to hers over Savannah’s chapters.

From a writer’s perspective, I enjoyed the duel narrative and the world that Kellie Sheridan created. There were 2 waves of zombies in this book, which was a stoke of genius. The plot point I had trouble with was the militia. In zombie books and movies these can be a very scary addition to your cast. In fact, in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later the soldiers were, to me, scarier than the jerky flesh-craving zombies – and I did think that the author could have made more of them – although this is part of a series, so maybe that will happen later on.

The front cover is very apt to the feel of the book, but it does reveal a major plot twist, which would have added to the overall interest to the book if it hadn’t been ‘let out of the bag’ from the offset.

I’d give Mortality 4 out of 5 stars, as I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good zombie book.

Buy Mortality 

BAD BLOOD – Coming soon!!!

Evernight-Button-199x300

Oh yes! My first lone author novel ‘Bad Blood’ will be re-released soon through the publishers Evernight Teen

“I am Britannia. I am your protector. I will fend off the hungry hordes of undead hands that reach toward you. I am your steadfast defender. I will stand between you and the zombie masses as they try to taste your flesh. I am strong, unyielding, and dedicated to your survival. All I ask from you… is your blood.”

A five-hundred-year-old bloody game of vengeance will need to be put on hold if vampires are to survive the zombie uprising. Britannia and Nicholas, bitter enemies and the only two surviving vampires left in London, have to work together to save un-infected humans and deliver them safely to a vampire stronghold in the Scottish Highlands. Unable to drink the zombie ‘bad blood’, the remaining vampires need the humans to stay alive. But will the vampires tell the survivors who they are and what they want from them? Will Britannia be able to hold back her vengeance for the greater good? Is survivor Josh the reincarnation of Britannia’s murdered true love? And can she bring herself to deliver him to the ‘safe’ hold? Survival instincts run deep, but bad blood can run deeper.

Updated August 2014

Guest Blog – Something Borrowed…

Reveal.50Shades

Fifty Shades of Decay is an anthology of zombie erotica, yes you read that right. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.  I share this book with 49 other authors  – and one, Armand Rosamilia has kindly let me guest blog on his site. To read how I managed to make zombies sexy and why you should buy this book, click here

To buy Fifty Shades of Decay on Amazon.

The Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your next book?

In the past I’ve mainly submitted manuscripts for joint author anthologies, but right now though I’m just in the final stages of editing my first lone author novella called ‘Bad Blood’ which will be published early next year by Noble Romance’s YA imprint Noble & Young.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I read a lot of horror and love vampires and zombies, so I thought I’d mash them together in a big bloody mess! ‘Bad Blood’ sees two arch enemy vampires, Britannia and Nicholas having to work together to protect humans in the zombie apocalypse. I’ve always liked the idea of having two characters that hate one another, but are forced to work together to maintain their survival.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a YA horror, although could be enjoyed by adults too. I don’t believe in ‘dumbing it down’ for a YA audience or simply ramping up the sex and violence to keep it purely adult. There’s also quite a bit of paranormal romance in there too – I’m a sucker for that genre and just had to mix it in there for my own amusement. I’ve set it in London so it’s very English, although is easily relate-able to all English speaking countries.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oooooo – well it’s a predominately British cast of characters with the exception of two American soldiers; so I’d really like to see Emma Watson as the main character Britannia and perhaps Andrew Garfield as her unwelcome ally Nicholas. For her lost love American solider Josh, I think Liam Hemsworth – although I realise he’s Australian!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Survival instincts run deep, but bad blood runs deeper.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve already taken the book to a main stream publisher so it will be available through all the usual channels as well as promoted through their own website. Noble Romance are lovely and all their staff have been incredibly helpful.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your masterpiece?

It came out pretty quickly, probably in about 4 months. It’s written first person from Britannia’s POV and she’s a really strong willed character – even me as her creator couldn’t bend her to my will – so she kind of led the way.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I guess you could call it an Urban Fantasy / Horror and to be fair, there are lots of both vampire and zombie books out there in the same genre – however not that many that throw both monsters into the mix together. I do play with the vampire mythos quite a bit too to serve the story line, and there’s definitely a patriotic theme running through it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Would it be really narcissistic to say me? I read a lot – and I mean a lot! And I really wanted to read this kind of book. I couldn’t find it out there already, so I thought I’d have at it!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Britannia has a dry sense of humour and really comes up with some funny one liners. Nicholas gives as good as he gets too. The romance aspect is steady, but doesn’t over power the action. It’s also going to be set as a trilogy (if all goes well)

*****

So that’s My Next Big Thing. Thanks for Rebecca Giltrow for tagging me and I’m going to pass the blog baton onto to these gorgeous literary lovelies:

Julie R Kendrick (@Willow573)

Daphne Shadows (@Daphneshadows )

Rayne Hall (@Raynehall)  – who I’ll be hosting here on my blog

Rebecca Besser (@beccabesser)