September Audiobook Review: Speakeasy Dead

September Audiobook Review: Speakeasy Dead

Run time: 7hrs and 35 minutes, narrated by Nick Podehl & Emily Beresford
In Vicky Loebel’s Speakeasy Dead we find ourselves in a most unexpected version of the 1920’s. Zombies, witches, warlocks, gangsters, ritzy movie stars and a dance competition? Yep, a dance competition. Oh and I forgot to mention ghosts, a djinn, a demon and probably more that I cannot remember. It was a crazy mix of characters in the familiar setting of prohibition era America. I didn’t know what I would think of this story, but I was actually quite delighted by it.

The two main characters, Clara & Bernie, who we follow in alternating narratives, reminded me a lot of characters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Bernie, reminded me of Xander and Clara a cross between Willow and maybe a little bit of Buffy herself.

The book is billed as a roaring twenties paranormal romantic comedy and it definitely fits that description. There’s love brewing as well as potions, booze and trouble!

What did I like about this story?
I loved the way the story flowed back and forth between Clara’s point of view and Bernie’s, each with its own opening quote from either the “Girl’s Guide to Demons” or the “Boy’s Guide to Boggarts”. The characters are constantly in worsening peril right from the beginning and the heat just keeps getting turned up as the story goes on.

At times the differing points of view tell you parts of the same scene from their unique perspectives and at others, they are jumping off into a new direction for the story. This kept each chapter fresh, interesting and unexpected.

The world the author created around the prohibition era, filled with witches, warlocks and demons is also filled with possibilities for future stories, while I doubt they will be filled with more zombies, I hope more books are written because these characters were a lot of fun to listen to.

What didn’t I like about this story?
Ultimately, it’s very sparse on zombies, which is ok, but if you are reading this because you really like zombie books, especially apocalypse level books, you might not care for it. If you like fun stories with action and drama, with characters you can laugh at and root for, then you’ll enjoy this book.

Narration:
The narration on this book was done quite well, with each of the two main characters having their own narrator. It made it fun to listen to and also really helped with what can be one of the challenges of an audiobook, knowing which character is doing something.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
Yes, I would. I really enjoyed this story. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that when I set out to listen to it, I wasn’t too sure I’d like it at all because it was so vastly different to everything else I’ve been listening to. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so much, it was fresh and interesting.

I give this 10 out of 10 stars, which is the second month in a row I have given that rating and on two vastly different books!

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Book Review: Midnight Me & Bob Macabre

Book Review: Midnight Me & Bob Macabre

Midnight Me & Bob Macabre by Crash LaResh & Tricia Martin

In this illustrated book designed to help young one’s that struggle with night terrors we are introduced to the young tormented Vex. Vex is plagued not only by the creepy crawlies in his head at night but also the not so friendly character of Twink, his sister.

It’s clear right from the beginning that young Vex’s life is a mess. Enter the mysterious Bob Macabre to help him not only battle his demon’s but also find power over them.

It read like a sophisticated mash-up where The Cat in the Hat meets The Nightmare Before Christmas.

What did I like about this story?
This nighty-nite tale of torture and torment is a noble endeavor by the author. Inspired by his son’s night terrors, he set out to write a story that would help not only his own son to see his demon’s differently, but hopefully others as well.

The story is rich with lyrical imagery, rhyming prose and detailed depictions of Vex’s nightmare reality and his climb through them during the long night in his dreams.

I absolutely loved the art that accompanies Crash LaResh’s prose. Artist Tricia Martin has a style that blends the visuals of a Tim Burton movie with the like’s of Jhonen Vasquez(Johnny The Homicidal Maniac/Invader Zim) or Roman Dirge(Lenore). These are artists that I already enjoy and her art made moments in the story come alive in a completely unique and engaging way, capturing both Vex’s fear and the sometimes crazy hilarity of the moment.

One of my favorite things about the artwork was looking behind Vex at the assorted details Tricia included in the background that added to the content of the story. Well done!

What didn’t I like about this story?
The only challenging aspect to this book is that in most cases, it will need to be read by an adult to a child. I would say they’d need to be at least 12-13 and have a dictionary handy to read it on their own. The prose at times is very thick in terms of the vocabulary used and I found I couldn’t read the book straight through, I had to take breaks and then dive back in again.

The story definitely keeps you engaged as Vex and later Vex and Bob journey through his tortured world, it just takes time to get through the journey.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I read more by this author?)
Yes, I would, in fact the story ends with a to be continued… so I’ll be awaiting the tale of how Vex beats his curse once and for all along with the rest of you!

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August Audiobook Review: Zombie Road: Convoy of Carnage

Run time  9hrs and 32 minutes, narrated by Eric A. Shelman
In David A. Simpson’s Zombie Road: Convoy of Carnage, we find ourselves introduced to a variety of nick-named truckers hanging out at a truck stop, right before the world ends. Well, not the entire world, that’s one of the fun and interesting elements of this book, but before we dive into that, we’ll tell you a little more about the main characters.

The protagonist of the story is Gunny, an ex-military man, who the book opens up with as he is being interviewed, presumably where the series ends, talking about how he survived. We quickly come to learn that the fall of civilization, to a very fast and ravenous form of zombie, was orchestrated by people with evil intent. The chaos starts almost immediately, with our group of truckers surrounded inside the truckstop learning how the rest of the country has fallen. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, we find Gunny’s wife and son trapped in even direr circumstances.

With the help of his friends and fellow truckers, Gunny prepare’s for the long journey to rescue them.

There’s a lot going on in the background of the story. Shadowy government organizations, an unexpected new president and a foreign power suspected of orchestrating the fall of humanity. Oh, and did I mention nuclear peril? It’s almost as if, even if they do survive the zombies, they can’t possibly survive all the other things that are going to destory them. All of these multiple elements really keep you on the edge of your seat and hungry for the story to continue.

What did I like about this story?
At first, I was getting whiplash from all of the truckers with nicknames. Everyone seemed to have one, but I quickly came to find and delight in the fact that each of those names came with a story of their own. Each made sense and made the characters not only memorable but also loveable.

I loved the fact the story was so action packed, pretty much right from the get go. The author makes light of the fact that zombies were impossible until they weren’t, something any modern zombie story needs to have is a little bit of self-awareness about the genre, and he does that well.

What didn’t I like about this story?
While I’m not generally a fan of fast zombies, they add to the action packed thrills of Zombie Road. Hordes of slow zombies wouldn’t be all that scary if they were getting mowed down by a semi, but fast ones, that don’t stop running, even after you’ve burned rubber down the road, well that’s some scary shit!

Aside from that, it did take awhile for the Convoy of Carnage to begin, but not without reason. You can’t just roll out and drive through this crazy world without a plan.

Narration: 
Eric A. Shelman, an author of Zompoc fiction himself, does a fabulous job of narrating the book, including adding little tidbits like making the radio communications sound like they are actually coming over the radio and giving each of the main characters a unique voice.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
Absolutely. This book has been getting rave reviews for months and I actually moved it up on my listening schedule so I could find out what all the hype was about and it didn’t disappoint. The second book is out now and I’ll be listening to it soon and then I’ll be like the rest of Mr. Simpson’s ravenous fans and chasing his truck down the road screaming for him to finish book 3!

I give this 10 out of 10 stars, the first of the reviews I have done to earn that rating.

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All About The Zee Brothers Vol.2 Zombie School Lockdown!

All About The Zee Brothers Vol.2 Zombie School Lockdown!

The Zee Brothers Vol.2 Zombie School Lockdown Cover Reveal Post

You may have seen glimpses of this popping up on the internet, but we are glad to finally be able to do the full reveal!

Here it is!

Book 2 features the brothers and JJ dealing with an outbreak inside a charter school. They are trapped, with no weapons, toxic zombies, and scared children. It’s going to take a lot more than brute force to get them out of this one!

The Kindle edition is available now! Click here to get it!

Here’s the full paperback cover which will be released August 25th!

And for you audiobook fans, the audiobook is currently under production in the capable hands of narrator and opera tenor, Ian McEuen. Look for release information this fall!

And for those that haven’t yet gotten the new edition paperback of book 1, you can order it here!

 

July Audiobook Review: The Necroville Series Book 1 The Dead Woods

 

 

Run time  1hr and 4 minutes, narrated by Dave Bulmer
In Daniel Parson’s Necroville, A group of friends graduating university go to a zombie themed adventure park, only the zombies aren’t quite as fake as they were expecting them to be.

A night of fun turns horrific when the dead really do start coming back to life.

What did I like about this story?
I loved the banter between the characters, it made me smirk as I listened. There are some good laugh out loud moments and some great descriptions. “Puss and blood dribbled down his chin.”

Ultimately, this is a pretty short story and is just an introduction to what is to come. That taste though is a pretty good one that definitely whets your appetite for more. And even though it’s a pretty brief listen and part of a series, it is a complete story.

What didn’t I like about this story?
It’s an entertaining and complete story, but at just over an hour, it’s hard to really enmesh yourself in the world.

Narration: 
Being American, it took me a little while to sync with the British accent of Mr. Bulmer, but by the end, I was enjoying it.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
I think the premise of this series is a lot like the humor in Shaun of the Dead, which I loved, so I can’t wait to hear more!

I give this 8 out of 10 stars.

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June Audiobook Review: Since The Sirens

Run time 9 hrs and 14 minutes, narrated by Nancy Peterson
A 104-year-old zombie slayer? Well, not quite, but In E.E. Isherwood’s, Since the Sirens, we are introduced to Marty Peters and her grandson Liam. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the book started with this old woman in her house alone, I figured she was going to be the first in a long line of zombie food, but I quickly found myself engaged in her plight and what might happen next and who might possibly come save this woman.At first, I didn’t much care for Liam’s slacker attitude, but then I realized he was being transformed by the situation he found himself in and then I was hooked to see how his character would develop.

Enter her 15yo grandson, Liam. At first, I didn’t much care for his slacker attitude, but then I realized he was being transformed by the situation he found himself in and then I was hooked to see how his character would develop. Through mishaps and observation, he begins his hero’s journey.

This is the first book in a series and covers the early stages of the outbreak.

What did I like about this story?
Marty’s character is an absolute delight to follow along with during the zombie apocalypse. She reminds me of all the grandmothers I’ve ever known. They’re awesome! They kick ass and they generally love their grand and great-grandkids like no one else can.

I also really liked watching Liam’s character arc as he developed from bratty, whiny kid to an accidental hero to an actual hero. It was a great journey and well worth the listen.

What didn’t I like about this story?
There were times I couldn’t quite picture the action that was taking place. I like ti when a story paints pictures in my heads and I can see where the characters are and what is going on. There were a few large action scenes where I just didn’t get where everyone was or what was going on. The story still flowed, I just wasn’t able to envision it as clearly as I would’ve liked.

Narration: 
I enjoyed the narration of Nancy Peterson. She did a good job of capturing the characters ages and attitudes.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
Yes! As soon as I get through my current review commitments I’ll be circling back to listen to book 2 in this series. I might even do a review when the time comes.

I give this 9 out of 10 stars. (My highest rating to date!)

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May Audiobook Review: Aftershock


Run time 7 hrs and 27 minutes, narrated by Daniel Rose

In Kristopher & Valerie Lioudis’ Aftershock Book 1: A Collection of Survivors Tales we follow a series of short stories from different characters perspectives. These stories lead us from where they are at the beginning of the outbreak to how they survive and eventually how they all start to meet up and their stories intertwine.

Being that this was the 3rd book this year that I’ve listened to with a similar short story after short story model, I was concerned that it would leave me unfulfilled, as I was really wanting a deeper listen to immerse myself in. The good news is, it didn’t take long for me to discover that not only was there something very unique happening to some of the characters but also that their stories were going to connect and form a larger overall narrative.

 

The stories start with a survivor who is abandoned by the people he is with. He is bitten but survives… this pulled me right in. Why? What’s going on here? What makes him immune? The conspiracy theorist in me wanted to know more!

What did I like about this story?
As mentioned above, I liked the mystery of the characters who got bit but didn’t turn. This storyline appears to connect many of the characters and reminds me to a degree of Stephen King’s The Stand, where we have 2 different factions of survivors coming together in a post-apocalyptic world. Some for good, some for evil.

There were a number of great lines in the stories, one that made me smile and laugh, was in reference to how to dispose of the piles of the dead. “The most grotesque barbecue in man’s history.” And while that and some other lines made me laugh, the book also has some pretty hard stories where people you are rooting for just don’t make it.

Near the end, there is a great group of scenes where things go very bad for one of the main collection of survivors. Their leaders are at odds about why and how things happened and we are shown each of their perspectives in alternating chapters before they confront each other. The realization that they are both blaming one another gets you on the edge of your seat waiting to learn how it will play out as soon as they come face to face.

What didn’t I like about this story?
There were some moments, possibly because it was in audiobook format and being narrated by a male that I found myself confused about a character’s gender. This resulted in me having to do a double take and reorganize my understanding of events.

The book does have something of an abrupt ending, which leaves you wanting more. This is both good and bad. The book could have continued on, but I suspect it stopped where it did because to continue would have needed a lot more time and space to tell what happens next.

Narration: 
The narration was done by Daniel Rose. In general, Mr. Rose has some great moments and at others, it seemed to lack engagement with the story. It’s a minor detail as overall the stories flow well and he does a good job of giving voice to all of the various characters and storylines taking place.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by these authors?)
Absolutely! The story is engaging and it is really cool to see a husband and wife author team working together like this. I look forward to more by them individually and as a team!

Plus, the book ends in such a way that I find myself awaiting word of the sequel!

 

I give this 8 out of 10 stars.

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April Audio Book Review: Origins of the Outbreak by Brian Parker

 

Run time 6 hrs and 55 mins

In Brian Parker’s Origins of the Outbreak, we are introduced to the moment the outbreak begins and how it spreads in a series of slice of life vignettes that tell a sprawling story, from one infection to thousands.

I’ll admit, I was a bit leery of the format, as I found the use of vignettes that were interjected into another story recently reviewed to be primarily disruptive and not a positive for the story. This time though, it mostly worked and the story had a unique and engaging feel that I enjoyed following along.

The story starts out in a small town which allows for most of the characters to be closely connected as the infection spreads. This keeps the narrative engaging and kept me tuned in, because even if the characters in a vignette died, they’d be back as zombies in another one soon enough.

We start with patient zero, a scientist at a university in a small town doing an experiment. We learn a little bit about him and what he is doing and then, bam, the outbreak begins!

What did I like about this story?
I liked how we got to watch the virus spread from first this person and then to that person and how those peoples stories interconnected, both pre and post-infection.

I liked the person to person spread so much, I was actually disappointed when the infection grew so large that we lost touch with some of the earlier characters, however, that’s just the way a pandemic goes. It gets out of control.

What didn’t I like about this story?
I could have used more of an overall background storyline for the characters that survive. The story keeps you interested throughout, but there could have been greater connection to the story overall with more main character development early in the story.

Narration: 
The narration was done by Veronica Fox who has a great voice for the job. The inflection with which she read kept each vignette both cohesive and unique.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
The book ends with something of a twist that definitely leaves it open for more of this particular story and I’d be curious to see if Brian does continue the series where it goes from here. In general, it was well written with few issues and I could easily find myself enjoying some of his other works of fiction.

I give this 8 out of 10 stars.

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March Audio Book Review : The Undead Pool: A Superhero Origin Story by Derek Ailes

Run time 3 hrs and 43 mins Narrated by Eric Bryan Moore

Derek AilesThe Undead Pool: A Superhero Origin Story, is less a zombie story and more a superhero parody.

The story begins by mirroring the storyline of the Deadpool movie and was my first clue this story may not be what I was expecting. It jumps right into an action scene, introducing us to the main character Mace Murdock and within moments, as the narrative jumps from the story into my face, I recognize the same style that was done in the movie and understand a little better where things are going.

The story is funny and had me laughing right from the get-go, in fact, I felt the kind of nonsense the author was having fun with is the same kind of humor that fans of my own The Zee Brothers series would enjoy. As the story continued though, I found myself wondering about parody laws and just how close one can get to the source material without stepping over the line.

What did I like about this story?

For the most part, the story is fun and funny with constant action. If you like Deadpool or comics in general, you’ll like The UnDead Pool. It is filled with parodies of different characters from all sorts of pop culture. While it starts as and mostly follows the narrative of the Deadpool Movie(along with some other X-Men storylines here and there), it ends having become a mash-up of pop culture references from comics, movies, TV and whatever else the extensive nerd knowledge of Mr. Ailes brought to the table.

Fans of all things geekdom and nerdom will enjoy the frequent nods to their favorite pop culture icons.

What didn’t I like about this story?

 

At the same time that the story is funny and humorous, for me, the constant nonsense and parody grew stale. I was familiar with a lot of the storylines that were directly parodied or hinted at and it left me wanting something fresh and new. In part, this could be my expectations, as I was expecting more zombie action and less superhero parody action.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)

 

I would listen to more by this author, but it would have to be original content only, not a parody. The author has a great fun style and I would love to hear what he can do with a creation all of his own, but I unfortunately would not listen to any more in this series. It’s just not for me.

I give this 5 out of 10 stars.

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February Audio Book Review : Dead – The Ugly Beginning by TW Brown

 

Run time 11 hrs and 22 mins

In TW Brown’s The Dead – The Ugly Beginning, we are shown the world at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and introduced to one of the main characters, Steve. Steve finds that what’s happening on his TV is also happening right outside his front door. The book starts out fast, with some humor mixed in as he is forced to venture out into the world to try and survive.

There are some fun references to Zombie Pop Culture icon, George Romero, establishing the author’s love for classic zombies. On a quick side note, fans of Romero in the Pacific Northwest, he will be the guest of honor at this year’s Crypticon Convention in Seattle May 5th – 7th 2017. As will the actors that played Barbara and Johnny in the original Night of the Living Dead. Come out and meet them!

Now back to our review, it doesn’t take long before Steve finds another survivor, a young girl named Theresa, who ends up being a pretty badass character in the story.

While the tale starts out with some humor, about halfway through, as the world and its rules fade into chaos, the story reveals the darker side of humanity. This brings with it some pretty gruesome and potentially disturbing scenes for the listener. Be warned there are quite a few variations on the same theme dealing with violence against women.

Other characters are introduced, including multiple non-connecting storylines through the use of Vignettes. More on this in a bit.

As the story progresses, our main characters meet other survivors and we come to learn that the dead are beginning to form massive hordes that are over-running any human compounds they come across, leaving nowhere safe.

The story ends in such a way as to leave us very uncertain about the future.

What did I like about this story?

The story was well written and showed the decline of civilization in a way you can feel. From people still trying to obey society’s rules during the decline, to the absolute collapse of societal niceties and the lack of trust it creates amongst groups of survivors.

The narration was also well done, with Andrew McFerrin capturing the different voices of the characters nicely, keeping it engaging and the characters unique.

I enjoyed the overall storyline, especially some of the nods to Romero and some of the unique twists such as the zombie’s cry, but I’ll leave that for you to learn more about, it’s pretty evil.

Most of the characters had unique personalities and conflicts which created good stories as well as some real human demons to deal with.

What didn’t I like about this story?

There were a few things I struggled with in this book. First, it is part of a series and as can be the case, there was no resolution to most of the storylines. The story is our introduction to a much larger adventure and we are left with cliffhangers everywhere. Personally, I like books that have at least some sort of resolution to storylines. Setting them up for the future is fine, but leaving us hanging on most counts either means we have to be in for the long haul or left unfulfilled.

There are a series of vignettes in the book where characters are introduced and we are given glimpses into their lives. Some continue through in other vignettes later in the book and some simply end in the character’s death. Each time a new vignette started, I didn’t know if I should care or not. Would this be another character that just died? Or is this someone who is important to the overall story? I didn’t know and for that reason, I found myself groaning whenever another vignette section started.

As mentioned above, one of the other challenges was the number of storylines, that at least in this first book, appeared to have no connection with one another. I was left to assume that at some point in the series they will all connect, but in this book, they were all left unresolved.

There was also a point where I either missed something or the main storyline jumped when they were going to a FEMA center and then the next time we are hearing from those characters they had left the center and made references only to what happened there, leaving me feeling confused and wondering if I had spaced out and missed something important. I didn’t go back and re-listen, so it’s entirely possibly I did.

There is a technical issue at the end of Chapter 7 where there is over a minute long pause in the audio.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)

I’ve met TW personally and it was great to finally get some time to sit down and listen to one of his books. Despite some of the things I had challenges with, it was well written and there are a number of storylines that I want to know how they turn out, so yes, I would and likely will listen to the next book in the series, Dead – Revelations.

I’ve also heard that the sequel and the later books in the series get more coherent in terms of the storyline and that means that the good stuff will be getting even better. I look forward to it.

I give this 6 out of 10 stars.

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