Category Archives: Book Reviews
I’ve read an underground bunker full of zombie books in my day: some of them good – many of them dreadful. Many of them have blindly followed the path set down by George Romero in “Night of the Living Dead” – slow shambling zombies intent on eating brains – without even attempting to advance the genre. Many of them have been nothing more than poorly written scenes of blood and gore strung together by tenuous plotlines and cardboard thin characters. Nary a one of them has been for young adult readers. I’m happy to say, “The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses” is none of those things.
I challenge you to walk the aisles of your favorite bookstore today without tripping over the mountains of young adult Vampire books that have flooded the market. Good vampires, bad vampires, teenaged vampires, tragically misunderstood vampires – it’s all a bit much. What has been missing is a serious (and seriously good) young adult zombie novel to even the odds a bit. Ty Drago has delivered just that with “The Undertakers”.
I waited a good while to write this review after I finished “alt.punk”. I needed time to process it, to tuck it away and let my subconscious work on it for a while. It was a tough call to make – my inclination is to dive straight in to a review while the experience of reading the book is still fresh in my mind. I take notes as I read; I jot down ideas for the review and highlight passages I want to revisit; things that resonated with me. When I first finished “alt.punk”, I crafted the following to sum up my thoughts:
“The story didn’t so much end as it simply bled out, lying in a pool of it’s own vomit on the cheap linoleum bathroom floor of a mobile home.”
I still like the visceral imagery of that critique – but as I contemplated the book more, I realized it would have been a gross disservice to the story to leave that as my final word. In many ways, I found myself mirroring the comfortable acceptance of first impressions that plagued a few of the characters in the book. So, I took a step back and gave the tale time to marinate.
Sometimes you find books in the most unusual ways – a suggestion from a friend, a good review online, a random search on Amazon. I’ve discovered books in all of those ways, and many more, but “30 Pieces of Silver” is the first book I’ve ever found because of Twitter. It was a good find.
One of my favorite authors is James Rollins. At the end of February, he tweeted a recommendation for a book he had just provided a blurb for. That book was “30 Pieces of Silver” by Carolyn McCray. Having enjoyed Rollins’ work in the past, I decided to head over to Amazon and download the first chapter to see if the book was worth reading. It hooked me right away and I quickly found the full-length book hurtling towards my Kindle through the ether.
Outside of LaHaye and Jenkins, there is perhaps no more successful author of contemporary Christian thrillers than Joel C. Rosenberg. His “Last Jihad” series was a frightening, yet ultimately uplifting addition to the “end-of-days” canon of apocalyptic fiction. Through the skillful balance of bible prophecy and real world events, Rosenberg creates characters and stories that ring with the future echo of a world that could very well be our tomorrow. This masterful blend of reality and speculative fiction has served to transcend the Christian niche and brings a mainstream audience to the table.
In his latest book, “The Twelfth Imam”, Rosenberg departs from the world he created in “The Last Jihad” to ask a different question about how the world might face Armageddon. In the Book of Revelations it’s predicted that an “antichrist” will come into the world before Jesus returns. Made popular in both fiction and film over the years, that antichrist is, more often than not, portrayed as a politician or world leader. The foundation of Rosenberg’s story explores this prophecy from another angle – what if the antichrist appeared in the figure of the fabled 12th Imam found in the Islamic faith? A figure promising a one-world government under the guise of Islamic law. A man who could perform miracles as foretold in the Quran. It’s an interesting and disturbingly plausible path that leads quickly from where we are today to the end of the world.
I love meeting new people who share some of the same passions as I. It’s great to connect with people who love to discuss books, movies, comics, and just plain old cool stuff. It’s even better to then share those connections with all of you.
To that end, I want to ask you all to give Wag The Fox a read. Billed as “A Den for Dark Fiction”, it’s chock full of great book reviews, movie reviews, and discussions. It’s well worth a read, and a great way to find a few hidden gems you may have missed in the bookstore. I know I did.
Longtime readers will know that I am a big fan of Brian Keene. Recently, he offered a limited set of signed editions through Maelstrom, his new imprint at Thunderstorm Books. I, of course, ordered them and was excited to receive my shipment earlier this month. As a bonus, the package also included a signed, numbered edition of the Kelli Owen’s debut novel – “Six Days”. Not being familiar with Owen’s work, I had no idea how much of a bonus the book would end up being.
“Six Days” opens with Jenny Schultz opening her eyes to complete darkness. She has no idea where she is, why she is there, or what is happening. Alone in the dark, it takes her a moment to realize that she’s not blind and she’s not still asleep. After a bit of exploration, Jenny finds that she is in some sort of cellar – then comes to an inescapable conclusion; she has been abducted.
This is the year I’m going to turn 40. As I make my way down the path the leads to middle age, it’s only natural that I take time to both take stock of where I’m at and think back to where I’ve been. As I started this year, I happened upon “One Hit Wonder” by Charlie Carillo – a book that takes a look at one man’s “the good old days”, where they led him, and where he should be. It asks questions about how we react to the events in our life and who we allow ourselves to become. Turns out, it was the perfect book to read as I start my 40th trip around the sun.
One of the great things about being an avid reader at Christmas is – your friends and family love to give you books as gifts. One of the bad things about being an avid reader at Christmas is – your friends and family love to give you books as gifts. My “to read pile” has not gotten any smaller over the last few years. It’s grown at a pace only slightly less than that of my two children. It’s a great problem to have, but I’m beginning to think that I will never again see the top of the dresser beside my bed.
I’m going to do my best to make a dent in the pile this year. Still – I have no doubt that for every book I manage to remove from the pile; two more will take its place. Some books have been in the pile for far too long; shuffled to the bottom by something a little more interesting or more current. It’s really not fair to them. Each book on the pile was chosen for a reason, and each represents the promise of a few undiscovered moments of escape. It’s seems wrong to just leave them all languishing there, unheralded and unread, so I have decided to share a good portion of my “to read” pile with you.
There’s a little bit of everything there. Some are new gifts this year, some came last year; some have been with me since the last time the Republicans had a majority in the House. I fully intend to get to them all eventually – and I fully expect that I will fall short of that goal. Still – I would love to know what you think of the list. Anything you would love to see me read and review? Anything you think I should just give up on and donate to the library? Speak up folks; I value your opinion – at least as far as you know…
‘Tis the season for year end top 10 lists. I don’t want to be left out, but also don’t want to just follow the herd. So, with thanks to Nigel Tufnel, I have decided to put together a list of my favorite 11 books from this year. You might call it the 1st Annual Word Zombie Top 11 “Books That Bit Me” List. (Wow – that just rolls off the tongue like honey, doesn’t it?). For the inaugural list we have a little bit of everything – global warming, impending financial collapse, ancient love affairs, unspeakable evil entities, literary sharks, short story super heroes, secret societies, beautiful covert operatives, disappearing industrialists, a telepathic super squirrel, and of course – zombies.
So, without further ado, I give you the 1st Annual Word Zombie Top 11 “Books That Bit Me” List. (It doesn’t roll off the tongue any better the second time. Oh well, I have a whole year to come up with a better name for next year’s list…)
It should come as a surprise to no one that I like zombies. I’m a fan and have found one thing to true – everything goes better with zombies. Everything – even Jane Austen. That’s clear from the first line of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Classic.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a big Jane Austen fan. With apologies to my high school English teacher, Mr. Blackwood, I have to say that I’ve never really had much desire to read Austen. In fact, I can’t remember having ever read “Pride and Prejudice” before. I’ve seen the movie, which I did enjoy in spite of myself (although as an aside, I just don’t get Keira Knightley. What’s the big deal?) So, it was with a somewhat blank slate that I went in to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. But as I said – everything goes better with zombies, so I was optimistic.