May 092013
 

The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) Zoe Norris is a successful guide book writer/editor who lost her job due to a dalliance with her boss.  Unfortunately the boss turned out to be married, a fact he’d neglected to tell Zoe until his wife, also the town’s Chief of Police found out and became very unhappy. Conveniently made redundant and strongly encouraged to leave town for her safety, she heads back to her home city of New York.  A job advert pinned up in a very odd old bookshop seemed tailor made for Zoe except that she keeps being told that she wouldn’t be suitable… Being human had never had a downside before.

This is the first book I’ve read by Mur Lafferty and I really enjoyed it.  A travel guide for the non-human visitors and denizens of New York City was a brilliant premise and the author built up a great cast of characters centred around Zoe.

Each chapter is separated with an excerpt from the guide and they make great little informational snippets that helped flesh out the ‘world’ Zoe never knew existed before applying for the job.  Often they relate to a place you’ve recently discovered in the story and it was a really nice touch.

Zoe herself is a really well written character, and I loved her a lot; her sense of humour is very appealing and matched well with my own.  She also has a huge amount of determination and balls of steel to enter into a world where she is at the bottom of the food chain… literally.  Her co-workers and new boss are brought to life (so to speak!) with equal care and attention and made this an extremely well rounded book.

The pace of the book was well measured; slow at the start while Zoe was still trying to come to terms with the massive change in her life and figuring out what her new direction would be.  As she discovered this supernatural half to the city she never knew about, it started to pick up.  As she got to grips with it and the story progressed, it sped up until it was running full tilt at the end.  I was quite breathless!

The plot was equally as measured, and we discovered the new ‘world’ at the same time as Zoe and went through it all with her.  From co-workers who would love to have her for dinner to weird and wonderful establishments catering to the weird and wonderful, it was a great read.  What really made it good though, was the threat hanging over her that someone was out to get her and would stop at nothing to mess with her life.  Who that was, was very well concealed, and I was kept guessing right to the end.  The action scenes were entertaining, sometimes funny and it was a refreshing change to have a heroine who wasn’t suddenly a kick ass fighter with unimaginable power.  She was however organised enough to keep working on the book as her new found life threatened to come crashing down around her!

In summary, this is a great book and highly recommended to fans of Urban Fantasy.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mur Lafferty
  • Series: The Shambling Guides (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 182012
 

Blackout: The Newsflesh Trilogy: Book 3 I have to apologise for the spoiler contained in the review of Deadline.  It can be incredibly difficult to review a book when an event that is so integral to the story happens. It’s almost impossible to allude to, rather than be able to mention it.  That being said, I try very hard not to use spoilers and didn’t think to put a warning (there is one now).  Lesson learned!

The sneak peak at the end of Deadline had my jaw dropping and luckily I had Blackout to dive straight into.  If I’d had to wait, I think I might have imploded.  This book was the perfect closing to the trilogy for many reasons.  We got to see just how deep the conspiracy ran, the reasoning behind it all… in short, the Truth that Georgia and Shaun Mason had been searching for.  It cost a lot to get there, some might say too much, but Shaun’s tenacity is like an unstoppable force.

The pace of the story of all three books were perfectly measured to me. In Feed it started slowly and gained speed, in Deadline it increased to a nail-biting run, and finally, in Blackout it was an edge of your seat, can’t-put-it-down-until-I’ve-finished-it full sprint.  It suited the story really well and there was no wasted time.

There was more ground covered in this book than the previous two, the characters often being separated because of need and it was interesting having the point of view switching around quite a bit.  It was never confusing, however, as to who was ‘speaking’.  The little snippets of blog entries also let you know how other characters were feeling, be that happy, angry or sad.

There are so many emotional punches just waiting to pounce on you throughout the story.  The biggest one, I won’t mention, but you will instantly know what I mean when you start reading.  It floored me and made me both happy and sad.  Along with that the characters accompanying Shaun were brilliant and well written, as important to the story as Shaun himself.  There was one moment that made me shout ‘I knew it!’ after having suspicions formed from the previous novels. It also made me very happy!

As each revelation came, I got more and more shocked at just what was going on and how people were both capable and felt justified in their actions.  It harks back to other atrocities in our history, where people in a position of power thought they were right in doing what they did.  But this is so much more.  Shaun wanted the truth… and the truth is more terrifying than I could have imagined.

This is an amazing series and if you even remotely like a conspiracy thriller with a dose of zombies, then this is for you.  You do need to read them in order though, so start with Book 1, Feed.

Rise up… and read it!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mira Grant
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Sep 172011
 

This book is utterly amazing,  I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a touch of romance to give it an emotional punch.  It has zombies, heroic sacrifice, interplanetary war, and some truly great action.

On paper that might seem like a book by the numbers but it really isn’t.  The writing is clever but eminently readable and the story just blew me away.  With such a heady mix of so many elements the plot could have been really confusing, yet I had no trouble following it.

The characters are believable, realistic and they quickly get into your mind, even those that are only present for a short time.  I loved Captain Jim Holden and his somewhat naive and altruistic view of life. He’s written so well that the odd mix of both admirable and foolhardy decision making is believable. The authors have given us a hero that acts like one despite the consequences.  The rest of the survivors were also well realised and added a lot to the depth and flavour of the story.  As an aside I did laugh when Naomi figuratively had to smack Jim into sense, one of a number of comic moments that help break up the considerable tension.

Detective Miller is a bit of an enigma.  A very strong character but obviously fundamentally damaged, and the complete opposite of Jim.  He sees things from a much more realistic perspective and can look at the bigger picture.  I thought the debates with Holden about his decisions, and them both being at opposite ends of the spectrum were very well written and thought out.  Neither were right or wrong but I found my own feelings on the matter coloured how I looked at it.  Miller’s involvement was excellent yet sad and the emotional writing of this character had me in tears towards the end of the book.

I thought the future technology side was well crafted and believable, taking into account physics and the forces at play when ships are moving.  I felt it all was very smooth, understandable and very creative.

The plot and pace are very much tied together as each chapter unfolds and both increase in intensity nicely.  I’ve seen some people say the ending employs deus ex machina, however I totally disagree because the groundwork had been building right from the start.  To me it was just another example of the clever writing in Leviathan Wakes.

I didn’t find out until after I’d finished, that James S. A. Corey is actually the pen name for two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  I have to say I think they blended perfectly; sometimes you can get a feel of two voices in these situations but I was unaware and very surprised when I did realise.

An amazingly exciting space opera, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Aug 222011
 

Flip this Zombie follows directly on from the events in Married With Zombies.

Sarah and David have lived through the initial outbreak and not only survived but saved their marriage too.  They have even become rather good at the survival game, so much so, they set up as Zombiebusters Extermination Inc. and travel to different survivor camps, looking for jobs (no zombie too squishy!) and any news of the mythical MidWest wall.

David and Sarah are still brilliant characters, solid and realistic and I absolutely love their sense of humour.  With their world gone to hell, they still manage to hang on to their sanity although David struggles more in this book.  They still have their arguments and react like anyone would, but also realise extreme reactions could get them killed.  I have to point out as well that I mentioned the first book was told from the perspective of both of the main characters but it’s actually from Sarah’s point of view, and she is wonderfully snarky.

There are a couple of additional characters in this book who stood out;  ‘The Kid’ is obnoxious but smart as hell and provides a great counterpoint to David and Sarah,  Jimmy No-Toes who has them collecting Zombie heads and finally Barnes, the not-mad scientist who gives them their biggest and most dangerous job to date. There are others but those three stood out the most for me.

The pace and story are very similar to the first book and since I read Flip this Zombie straight after, it felt like I was just reading a much larger book.  This one does have a slight twist at the end that almost had me in tears and I thought both twist and the repercussions were very well done.

I meant to mention book length in the first review – Although the books are short and a reasonably quick read, you still have time to get invested in the characters. I think they are both the perfect length for a light fast read.  With teeth and squishy bits.

As entertaining, funny and macabre as the first book and a worthy sequel!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jesse Petersen
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Aug 212011
 

Married with Zombies is a fresh, fun, and very gory look at the Zombie apocalypse!

It’s told from the perspective of David and Sarah, a normal Seattle couple, and how the arguments and annoyances of everyday life have left them on the brink of divorce. When they turn up for their next marriage counselling session, they find their therapist literally eating her favourite clients.

What follows is an often funny, and extremely squishy tale of how they survive. Surviving the outbreak, and neighbours arriving to snack on them, leads them to work together for the first time in a long time.  Killing zombies might just save what six months of counselling hadn’t; their marriage.

The tone of the book flips back and forward between very funny and very macabre in very few words, and that is a huge part of the charm.   In amongst that are moments that made me want to cry and their timing had maximum impact (no pun intended).

The characters are so realistic and well written, you instantly like them, even when they are bickering about all the usual things that couples do.  When they finally realise what is going on, I felt the shock, the surreality, and the laugh or you-will-go-stark-raving-mad situations right along with them and they didn’t let go of me until the end of the book.

The zombies themselves were unsurprisingly a major part of the book and some of the descriptions were very entertaining;  messy with quite a major ick factor.  I liked that Petersen used the ‘accepted’ rules for them and also didn’t attempt to explain ‘how and why’ other than the inital ‘where’.

The plot is actually very simple and follows what I think a lot of people would do in this scenario.  First and foremost, survive the initial outbreak, then attempt to contact or find relatives.  Try to remember everything you can from zombie movies you’ve watched,  you never know when it comes in handy and finally, everything can be a weapon if used creatively enough!

A very entertaining zombie rom-com, that I think a lot of fans of different genres will enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jesse Petersen
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Nov 242010
 

The Rising was a time of horror, a realisation that in mankind’s arrogance  to assert control over nature’s most basic forms, it almost annihilated them.  Those that died didn’t stay dead, they rose and the deadly and infectious virus urged them on, an insatiable need to feed.  Twenty years on, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are offered the chance of a lifetime, to follow a political campaign and report the truth as they see it.  Some truths hide behind dark conspiracy and sometimes it’s worth killing for.

Having literally just finished reading Feed, I’m still in a bit of a state of shock.  The book itself shows an amazing in-depth look at how the world would be if there really was a zombie outbreak and the ramifications for everyone.  What caught me though is how well written and emotional the main story was.  The characters of Georgia and Shaun especially; I felt like I knew them and perhaps some of that is because we already live in a blogging world where people post their innermost thoughts.  It’s not written from the point of view of a blog – but it is the background from where the story comes from.  Bloggers are the ‘modern’ world’s news givers and the pieces you do get are almost familiar.

Georgia and Shaun were wonderfully real, practical and determined, and their bond as siblings was very touching.  I loved how the sense of danger the world lives with every day was portrayed, with the virus inactive in everyone until they die, or are encouraged into converting.  Then they come back as something else, something highly infectious, deadly and with only one mandate: Feed.

The book itself is so much more than just another zombie apocalypse story.  The apocalypse has already happened, not because of any supernatural or mystical means but due to human error and a combination of events.  It’s set after the ‘Rising’ for one thing and while it starts off being a survival story it then adds in crime, horror, intrigue, heroism and sacrifice.  A heady mix and a wonderful story.  Highly recommended if you like to read any of those things.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mira Grant
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)