A review of “Are Zombies Real?” by Perrin Briar

A nice little compilation of history and facts

Having written quite a few novels in the ZA genre, Perrin Briar has offered up a bit of non fiction in the form of some of the research he has compiled regarding zombies and infections. Not a long book, it was still very intriguing and well researched. Written very much like a bit of formal research, once you get past the introduction, the book is split into separate sections dealing with specific topics:

  1. The History of Zombies details some widely known myths and beliefs of zombies from the past including a few real life examples.
  2. Zombies in Nature discusses possible pathogens and their similarity to a traditional zombie virus. (I must admit that the information provided regarding Toxoplasmosis will have me looking at “crazy cat ladies” in a whole new light from now on!)
  3. Zombie Apocalypse – Could it Happen? Posits that we may already be survivors of many prior cataclysmic events including specific event in history as well as genetic support for why certain areas or people are more vulnerable to certain diseases than others.
  4. Apocalypse Survival: What you might not already know provides suggestions for what you do and do not want to do if you find hell breaking loose and no order or control. Not quite a prepping section, this area does offer up some tidbits of information that even the most avid prepper may not have considered.

While I know a book of this type is not for everyone, if you have an hour or so and are up for a well thought out, informative read that will even have you chuckling at points if you’re anything like me, then this book is for you.

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A review of “Guilty Spark (Dark Magic Enforcer Book 4)” by Al K. Line

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of his “A-Team” in exchange for an honest review.

Three long days

Guilty Spark, the fourth installment in the Dark Magic Enforcer series, resumes the tale of Faz Pound approximately one year after the close of New Spark. Having spent the last year in a Hidden jail accused of murder, Faz has been released pending sentencing to “get his affairs in order.” He has three days to unravel the mystery of a dead Faery and clear his name; but it seems that everything is conspiring against him to fail. From a marauding giant intent on killing Mage Rikka to a strangely familiar shifter dead set on murder, Faz has a lot on his plate with no signs of rest. The more he searches for evidence to clear his name, the more confusing things become. With time ticking down and a giant on his heels, can Faz unravel the web of mystery and save his life?

Guilty Spark is probably my favorite in the series so far. We see a stronger Spark emerge from the Hidden jail and immediately trouble ensues. The usual suspects are present, and throughout the story Spark begins to realize who he can and cannot trust. The pace of this book can only be described as “breakneck” – like a snowball slowly forming and rolling down the proverbial hill gathering speed and momentum to come crashing down in a frantic “hail Mary” of a conclusion.  The mystery behind his parent’s death also begins to unravel, as does the web of deceit surrounding this dark event in his life.

Guilty Spark is a definite must read and a brilliant set up to the fifth book yet to come: “Neon Spark!”

A review of “Social Engineer(Brody Taylor Thrillers Book 1)” by Ian Sutherland

Not all hacking involves computers

Meet Brody Taylor. By day he’s an unassuming IT independent contractor. By night, he is Fingal, elite white hat hacker. Brody performs “penetration testing” for clients who independently contract him and then report his results upon completion so the company can take action to close any vulnerable gaps in their security. Recently hired by a pharmaceutical company, Brody finds himself in an ethical dilemma he hasn’t previously faced. In an effort to woo his activist girlfriend, Brody will do almost anything… and that may be the problem.

This book was not at all what I had expected but I was pleasantly surprised. I really loved how the story skipped back in time and then forward to the present to give the reader more of a feel of everything that was going on in Brody’s life at this particular moment in time. I helped to reveal some of possible motives for his actions.

Also, it never occurred to me that sometimes a company’s weakest point isn’t the computer system, but the very people who work for them. Social Engineer beautifully illustrates what can happen when companies who deal in sensitive data aren’t vigilant in their personal interactions. On the flip side of that coin for our white hat hacker, we also see a prime example of the setbacks of leading a double life.

As far as the “thriller” label goes, I’m not sure this book can described as such, but it is a good groundwork for the next book in the Brody Taylor series “Invasion of Privacy”, which yes.. I did download and dive into immediately after finishing Social Engineer.

 

 

A review of “Z-Minus 6” by Perrin Briar

Some discoveries should remain buried

At the end of the world lies Palmer Station, a scientific research facility occupied by 8 people. Their mission; to extract and research millennia old ice deposits to unravel the secrets of the planet. Famed scientist, Dr. Scott is heading up this venture when his team discovers a perfectly preserved fossil in the icy depths. The species, unknown to man and unseen on the planet for centuries is not one that should have been found in the Antarctic. When the specimen is retrieved for further research, Dr. Scott uncovers an unknown virus with a secret so terrifying he is compelled to destroy the specimen and himself for the sake of the greater good.

Hamish arrives at Palmer Station shortly after Dr. Scott’s demise, handpicked by his predecessor as successor to his work. Upon his arrival, strange events occur that results in a team member dead and two more in a quarantine situation. With a blizzard raging outside, the survivors are caught in a race against time to uncover the origin of this sickness before the rescue team arrives. With nowhere to hide and nowhere to escape, will Hamish and the surviving team members succeed in containing the virus?

While technically the sixth installment in the Z-Minus series by Perrin Briar this book is the conclusion of the event of books 4 and 5 and describes the origin and inception of the “Zombie virus” of the prior books. For those who haven’t read the prior two episodes, this book can easily be read as the first and then 4 and 5 after, but for those who’ve read Z-Minus in sequence, this story will serve to answer some nagging questions left behind by the earlier stories. It was also interesting to note that for the more astute reader, Perrin left a few “Easter Eggs” in the prior books that come more into play in this final telling.

The concept of having time counting down added to the suspense and urgency of the situation, kind of like 24 with the beeping of the clock, we see the team’s situation become more perilous the closer we get to zero. I also loved the whole “shuttered in during a blizzard in the Antarctic wilderness with no hope of escape or rescue” aspect as well. It definitely gave the whole thing an “Alien”esque feel  with the utter bleakness of the situation. I really liked this series and where zombie novels are concerned, this take is fresher (LOL! I never thought I would ever use the term “fresh” to describe a zombie novel!) than the tried and true formulas that seem to have flooded bookstores and ereaders of late. I would recommend this series for its uniqueness alone and the imagination involved with the stories and characters.

A Review of “Conspiracy: JFK’s Second Shooter” by Lucian

 

It was the crime of the Century. An act of violence so horrible that a country is plunged into mourning with its beloved leader dead. The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is one of those events that everyone remembers where they were when it happened. Probably nobody remembers where they were at this time in history more than John Wilson, a one-time Presidential assassin who has carried the truth of what happened that day with him for the past 50 years. Now finding himself terminally ill, he seeks out Frank Riles, a rookie journalist with the intention of setting the record straight no matter what the cost. His co-conspirators, however, are determined that the past stays buried. As the bodies start to pile up, Frank finds himself caught up in the biggest story of his entire career, but will this story be his swan song?

This fictional account of the Kennedy assassination starts fast and doesn’t let up for a second. As the story unfolds, more and more of the conspiracy unravels, letting the reader see the depth of corruption and calculation that resulted in the death of the leader of the free world. While definitely not a true account, there are still plenty of conspiracy theories abound regarding what truly happened that day to make this read fun and thought provoking. Frank Riles is a very likeable character… a young gun who finds himself in the midst of a shit-storm that can make or break him if he can only survive it. Even knowing John Wilson’s past and his role in the events that transpired roughly 50 years ago, I still found myself rooting for him as the protector of Frank and the person dead set on bringing the truth to light.

Having now read all of Lucian’s books to day I have to say that this has got to be my favorite to date. I am looking forward to more “Conspiracy” series novel from him.

 

A review of “A Dead Red Cadillac” by R.P. Dahlke

A fun Mystery that’s a little bit Cozy and a little bit Comedy with just a hint of romance

Lalla Baines is pushing 40 and in a rut. With two failed marriages and a modeling career gone awry under her belt, she’s found herself back at home heading up her father’s Aero-Ag business.  After being bested by the town widow in a jam making contest, Lalla becomes the prime suspect when her opponent is discovered “fins up” in the driver’s seat of her prized cherry red Caddy in the middle of a lake. With the help of her best friend, and a little rogue sleuthing of her own, Lalla needs to prove her innocence in hurry. But the true culprits are watching and are dead set on not letting that happen.

I downloaded this title a few years back and finally decided to read it for a change of pace. The beginning was a little slow, but picked up nicely once the body was discovered. Like all good mysteries there was a twist (or three) and the hometown aspect was also pretty neat. But with this being said, we see that even the smallest of small town can old skeletons in their closets. The further the story went, the deeper the mystery, the suspects and the possibilities.  All in all I really don’t have anything negative to say about the book or the story. It’s a nice read that’s a a little bit Cozy and a little bit Comedy with just a hint of romance.

A review of “Dying for Dinner Rolls” (Chubby Chick’s Club book 1) by Lois Lavrisa

 
After Cat Thompson’s father was brutally murdered in their family owned grocery store she finds herself helping her mother and husband run the business. With the murder unsolved, Cat’s only clue is a strangely filled out crossword puzzle found at the scene. When one of her closest friends also turns up dead after finding a similar crossword puzzle, Cat begins to suspect that there may be a killer on the loose in Savannah. With the help her friend, Annie Mae, Cat sets out to hunt down her friend’s and possibly her father’s killer; but will Cat and Annie Mae’s amateur Nancy Drew escapades lead to them being the next victims?
 
I decided to switch over to a Cozy after months of reading post-apocalyptic novels because I just wanted a book that wasn’t so dark. This is the first of the “Chubby Chick’s Club” series, by Lois Lavrisa, and I really enjoyed it. Sure, some of the characters are over the top and kitschy, but it is a Cozy after all and I have yet to read one that isn’t even just a little campy. Overall this was a really fun read that had me laughing out loud at the antics of Cat and Annie Mae, as these are things that I could easily picture my friends and I attempting. While the end wasn’t such a huge surprise or twist, it also wasn’t something that wasn’t telegraphed from the third chapter either. I think tossing in the fact that there were two murders with possibly the same person assisted in keeping to reader guessing. 
 
Yes in the end, Cat’s father’s killer is still a mystery, but there are at least 2 more books in the series. I have a suspicion as to who the culprit may be. I’ll definitely be reading the other Chubby Chick’s Club  books to find out if I am correct.
 

A review of “The Scattered and the Dead” (book 0.5) by Tim McBain and LT Vargus

The  apocalypse from the point of view of a shut in

The Scattered and the Dead book 0.5 is the accounting of the many end of the world events that take place during “The Scattered and the Dead (book 1) from the point of view of a young man who chooses to remain secluded in his apartment.  The book focuses mainly on “Decker” our resident agoraphobic as he pines away to a crush that he is too afraid to approach and talk to directly. Beginning approximately three weeks prior to the ultimate extinction event and continuing approximately a month and a half after what starts as an awkward attempt at social interaction turns into a running diary of adjusting to live and death in this aftermath of society.

Along the way, Decker works up the nerve to venture out further and further into the world, but is it too late to make any real impact?

I really liked how this book flowed, and while written technically before The Scattered and the Dead book 1, the timeline of events places this book running parallel to the main story. Because of this, this book can be read either before or after book 1 with no disruption to the overarching story line. In fact, there is at least one point where the storylines converge for a moment however this encounter isn’t a spoiler for either this book or the next.

 

I am really digging this world of desolation and am looking forward to reading TSATD 1.5 and beyond.