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Book Review: Valley of Death, Zombie Trailer Park by William Bebb

November 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Red tinted image of a desert valley.Summary:
When Josey arrives a secluded trailer park near Albuquerque to empty their septic tank, it soon becomes apparent that not all is right in the park.  In fact, most of the residents have turned to zombies.  As Josey’s fight for survival goes on, we meet a quirky cast of survivors, bystanders, perpetrators–and zombies: illegal immigrants who call the valley home, their exploitative factory boss, a WWII veteran and grandpa, his young grandson, a paraplegic Vietnam Vet, a boa constrictor, bicycling missionaries, and many more. Will anyone survive the valley of death?

Review:
I have finally found the exception to my don’t-take-book-recommendations-from-other-people rule: my daddy.  My dad texted me and told me he was reading a book about a zombie trailer park and asked if I’d like to borrow it when he was done.  I couldn’t turn that down, so he sent his kindle loan to me as soon as he was finished reading it.  I knew within the first few pages that my dad had picked a winner.  That really shouldn’t surprise me, because, well, it’s my dad, and we’re very similar, but I had been burned a few times with book recommendations recently. Anyway. On to the review!

Bebb’s book is a fresh, engaging take on a zombie outbreak.  The origin is a factory error, which is decidedly different from the more usual government experimentation or voodoo approach.  It’s great commentary on the exploitative practices of factories, not to mention the exploitation of illegal immigrants, without ever being too heavy-handed or preachy.  The zombies are a mix of the rage virus and traditional undead. Before dying they are inexplicably full of rage and will eat almost anything but also when they die they reanimate. It’s a cool mix, and I enjoyed it.

The cast of characters is incredibly imaginative, diverse, and even-handed.  People are truly just people (or zombies) regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.  And, really, how many books can say they have a WWII vet, a sewer truck worker, a mechanically talented Latina, a wheelchair-bound obese meth chef, a loyal dog, bicycling missionaries, and a pot-growing paraplegic Vietnam Vet. I mean, really. And none of them are two-dimensional caricatures either. They are all well-rounded and presented with thought and humanity. I also never had that problem I sometimes have in books where you can’t tell the different characters apart. Everyone was entirely unique and easy to remember.

The plot is complex. I honestly did not know how it was going to end, and it maintains a fast pace throughout.  I was never bored and was never entirely certain what was going to happen next.  That’s coming from a big zombie fan, so I do think that’s saying something significant about the uniqueness of the engaging plot.

What really makes the book, though, is the sprinkling of humor throughout.  This type of humor won’t match everyone, but it certainly works for me.  I described it to my dad as “Patrick F. McManus with zombies,” but if you don’t get that reference, it’s hard to describe the humor.  So, here are a couple of quotes from the book to demonstrate it.

Your average one armed pot growing hermit who just murdered two men might be thinking about a variety of things. (location 2592)

Crazy cop fuckers done bit off my titty! (location 5423)

That second one….oh man. I laugh every time I see it.

So with all this love, why not five stars?  Well, much to Bebb’s chagrin, I’m sure, there aren’t enough commas.  (His author’s intro states that previous reviews said there were too many and now people will probably think there are too few. Sorry to confirm that suspicion, Bebb!)  Compound sentences tend to run on and on with no commas or semi-colons, which can be a bit frustrating to read.  Also, the book isn’t quite properly formatted for the kindle. Its display varies from section to section.  Similarly, while some sections are clearly divided by a dividing line (such as with tildes “~~~~”), others just have a big gap, which is not what one should use for ebooks.  With the variety of ereaders, it’s important to use something besides space as a signal that the reader has entered a new section, since the space can display drastically differently on different readers.  It’s best to use something like the tildes between sections.  Using empty space is a holdover from print that doesn’t work.  Bebb did use the tilde line in some sections, but not all, so there’s also a bit of a consistency problem.

Overall, though, the formatting and comma issues did not distract me from the wonderfully unique and humorous zombie trailer park story.  I’m so glad my dad discovered this indie author and passed his work on to me, and I look forward to reading more of it in the future. Highly recommended to all zombie fans, provided you like the type of humor outlined above.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Borrowed

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Note: It’s currently listed for free!

ETA: Had a delightful email convo with the author, and we determined that I read an older version of the book. The current one available should have mostly cleared up editing/layout concerns.

Friday Fun! (Get Your Geek On)

Hello my lovely readers!

I have super-exciting news!  This weekend I’m attending my first ever work conference, specifically the Medical Library Association’s 2012 conference in Seattle.  This is going to be so many firsts for me!  My first business traveling, first stay at a 5 star hotel, first time outside of the airport in Seattle (or on the west coast period), and first time where I will be completely surrounded by other medical librarians. In other words, no one will be saying, “I’ve never heard of a medical librarian” or asking, “So what do you do all day?” I alas doubt I’ll have much time to see very much of Seattle, although I fully intend to hit up at least one, maybe two, of their famous veg-friendly restaurants.  I also will be flying a grand total of approximately twelve hours, so definitely expect to see an upswing in reviews around here when I get back. 😉  Thank goodness I invested in that kindle last year!

And yes I am sitting here getting excited about tons of things people outside of my field have never even heard of being discussed at the poster sessions and plenary sessions and sunrise meetings.  I mean, I did pick a career I *enjoy*, people.

Also, the hotel has a rocking gym I plan on utilizing, not to mention a bathtub which is always a luxury for me, the lady whose apartment only has a shower stall.  Plus the awesome host librarians organized a sunrise yoga session. Yes.

So it’s a big, exciting weekend with lots of air time (yes, it takes 6 hours to fly nonstop from Boston to Seattle), so I will be getting lots of reading done.

I hope you all have lovely weekends and cross your fingers for me that I won’t get lost in my smart-phoneless state!

Book Review: Cursed by S. A. Archer (Series, #1)

January 9, 2012 1 comment

Woman with short hair in a red shirt in profile.Summary:
London works for hire doing investigations mostly for parahumans, and her best friend is a vampire who keeps hoping she’ll consent to being turned.  Her life isn’t run-of-the-mill, but it isn’t too bad either, until one day she gets Touched by a Sidhe and finds herself sucked into the Fey world bubbling just beneath the surface of the regular one.

Review:
This is a fast-paced urban fantasy novella, ideal for fans of the genre who can catch onto tropes without needing everything explained to them in detail.

London is a typical kick-ass heroine.  Her problem of having been Touched is achieved quickly, though, lending her the uniqueness of aching for a Fey.  Anybody who’s been a while without getting laid can relate to that. 😉

The paranormal world Archer has created uses the urban fantasy tropes but is still unique.  The shapeshifters are Changelings.  The Fey can look grotesque or beautiful (similar to a demon).  The vampires are what we have all come to expect from vampires.  Silver is still a force against the paranormals.

What bumped this novella up from average to highly enjoyable for me was the use of the paranormal world to comment on the relationship between Ireland the UK.  The UK consists of Wizards, and Ireland contains the Fey.  The Fey have been persecuted by the Wizards for generations, and it is this battle that London finds herself in the middle of.  This whole concept could really go places, and I like the freedom that urban fantasy gives Archer to comment on a touchy area of international relations.

My two quips with the novella are relatively minor.  I can’t stand the main heroine’s name.  It’s rather confusing to read about a London in the setting of the UK and Ireland.  I also was a bit disappointed to find no sex scene, but I suppose that’s what makes this urban fantasy and not paranormal romance.

Overall, I recommend this fast-paced novella to urban fantasy fans with an hour or so to kill and a kindle or other ereader handy.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from the author in exchange for my honest review

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Friday Fun! (People Who Have Fevers Probably Shouldn’t Blog But I’m Going To Anyway)

August 26, 2011 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Goodness, it’s a good thing I had posts queued up and scheduled as I seem to have dropped off the face of the planet the last couple of days with a random high fever and sore throat.  Not sure what that’s all about.  Planning to apply whiskey and soup to it tonight.

Also this seems to be weird weather week here in Boston what with the tremors from the DC earthquake shaking our high rises and Hurricane Irene supposedly arriving Sunday.  I get slightly irrationally excited over storms.  This is quite possibly because they were one of the more exciting events around when I was growing up in Vermont.  In any case, when the weathermen and the media are all “SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL” and then it doesn’t, I get majorly disappointed.

*shakes fist at sky* You promised me loss of electricity and storms and rain slamming into my window and comforting my kitten and hiding under a blanket with my kindle and secretly laughing at my new-found right to eat everything in my fridge before it goes bad!

Yeah.  Girlfriend has a tendency to get irritated when instead of that everything is sunny and normal.  Although I suppose I still could hide under the blanket with my kindle and kitty.

In any case, my preparation for  Irene is going to consist entirely of acquiring alcohol and a flashlight since I don’t own one.

Side-note: if anyone knows any sore throat cures I would massively appreciate it.  It hurts to talk.

I think it is still obvious I have a fever.

Oh!  Also, fellow east coasters, what’re your hurricane preps consisting of?  My work has already hid all of our picnic tables somewhere.

Friday Fun! (Kindle Cover, TRX, Karaoke)

August 12, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  There’s not too terribly much to report this week.  Last weekend Boston suffered a torrential downpour that destroyed my ipod.  Sad day.  I’m a bit poor right now, so I ended up bidding for a used one on ebay and winning.  Here’s hoping it actually works when it gets here.  *knocks on wood*

My kindle cover also broke this week.  The doohickey that holds the kindle in place got bent out of shape (no, I have no idea how).  I called Amazon, and they overnight shipped me a new one for free! Awesome. Sauce.  I will say, I think my kindle cover got a lot more use in its six months of life than the designers perhaps anticipated, lol.

Last weekend I tried out a new recipe–walnut-encrusted baked tofu with spinach l’orange.  It was….a bit more time-consuming than I was anticipating, but also delicious and filling.  I got three meals out of it (one dinner and two lunches).  Not too shabby for the relative cheapness of the ingredients.

My trainer had me try out TRX this week.  There are these straps hanging from the ceiling that you use to help you work out your muscles using your own weight and gravity as resistance.  It was super-duper fun to do push-ups and such in the air, I have to say.  I really loved it.  I’m half-tempted to join one of the gym’s TRX teams now.

I also went out to karaoke with my friend Jill this week.  It was tons of fun, as karaoke generally is.  Although this single lady did not see a single guy she was interested in, the crowd was a good karaoke crowd.  Everyone was good-natured, supportive, and well, tipsy.  Plus there were plenty of people buying drinks for us, which is always a plus. 😉

Happy weekends all!

Book Buzz: Orchids and Memories: 3 Stories of Hawaii by Robert Soares, Illustrated and Edited by Erin Soares

July 18, 2011 3 comments

Orchid flowersHello my lovely readers!  Since I’m increasingly becoming good friends with writers and other creative types, I want to be able to let you all know when they release new work.  However, I don’t feel like I could fairly review it, since I’m their friend.  Hence the new feature–buzzes!  I’ll just let you know that the piece is out, what it’s about, and where you can get it.  The rest is up to you. 😉

First up, my friend Erin, who you may remember illustrated my book cover, has edited and assembled a collection of three nonfiction short stories written by her grandfather chronicling his life as a Filipino growing up in Hawaii then coming to the mainland.  The collection calls to light many issues that I know are important to many of you, such as being non-white in America, the problem of higher education for non-traditional students, and environmentalism versus economy.  However, the collection also has universal appeal, as an older person reflects on his life and the successes and mistakes and possible mistakes he’s made.  I think it has wide appeal, and is of course beautifully illustrated by Erin.  It’s available for $2.99 via the Kindle store, and I do hope those of you who find the description appealing will check it out.

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Illustrator/Editor’s Website

Announcement: I Am Published!!

Hello my lovely readers!  So, the super-secret project that I’ve been working on is to finally get my own writing out where people can read it!  I’ve been writing since…..well, since I could put pencil to paper.  I am completely passionate about story-telling, and this is where I truly feel my talent lies.  Since I finished grad school in January, I’ve been cracking down and getting serious about my writing.

Well, I can finally announce that I have published the first entry in a new series to the Amazon Kindle store!  I started with my idea to reclaim the old format of serial books.  Every entry in the series is 99 cents and short enough to read in one sitting, such as on your commute, a plane ride, a bath, etc….  The storyline is complete in and of itself, but it will be continued in another entry in a few months.  Join Tova Gallagher in her paranormal world with the few moments you have to spare in your busy day!  It is ideal for the busy, modern, paranormal romance lover.

The first entry is entitled Ecstatic Evil.

Tova Gallagher isn’t just your average tough as nails, intelligent Bostonian. She also just so happens to be half-demon, and halvesies have an important role to play in the supe world. Whether they choose to go with the instincts of their demon or human half is supposed to predict the outcome of the endtimes, and now Tova has a deadline to choose sides. But all of that is hard to care about when she’s just met a sexy stranger on the edge of the Charles River.

Please do check it out!  I write because I have stories to tell and want to entertain.  At only 99 cents, it’s worth the shot, right?

Also, I started with the novella series so I could practice with the ebook publishing software before my first serious novel, which I plan to release in October for Halloween.  I am very excited about it and can’t wait to let you guys know more details!  In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on my new Publications page on this blog.  ❤

Check Out Ecstatic Evil