Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book Review: Mutation Z, the Ebola Zombies

Marilyn

Book: Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies

Author: Marilyn Peake

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Anyone who reads my blog enough knows that I like horror, dystopic, and disaster books. I actually had Ms. Peake on my blog a while back for an author interview, and she offered me a copy of her book to read and review. First I want to say that I’m incredibly picky about books that I’ll consider for review. Every book I read goes through the “sample” test. I read the first few chapters and see if it pulls me in. If it does, I keep reading. If not, I don’t. I can’t tell you how many samples haven’t pulled me in.

This one did. So that’s a credit to Peake’s writing ability.

I wish this book had gone a bit further than it did–the biggest thrill of an apocalypse novel is watching society break down and the terror of fighting the zombies, which this book never gets to. It’s really set up more as a short story with just a snappy ending. But I still enjoyed it.

I see this story appealing more to the YA crowd, because that’s the style of writing. The narrator is a young and inexperienced nurse and sees danger in every little thing. I found it amusing, but I an see where others might find it annoying.

So all in all, this was a bit of light-hearted fun peeking into the dark side of current events.

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Author Interview: Edward M. Grant

edward

Things always get crazy before a holiday, and today is no exception. But sit back and enjoy–I have an interview today with Edward M. Grant, science fiction writer who has also worked on indie films. You can find out more about Edward at the links below:

Website: http://www.edwardmgrant.com

Blog: http://blog.edwardmgrant.com

Twitter: edwardmgrant

1.  So what first inspired you to write a book?

I’ve been writing for as long as I remember. Even as a kid in primary school, the teacher would ask us to write a story, and I’d come back the next week with a novel. I’m sure they were dire, but I clearly had determination, if not talent. In the 90s, I became fed up with rejections from publishers and switched to writing movie scripts instead while I worked on indie movies in the UK. It was only when Amazon made self-publishing viable that I began writing novels and short stories again.

2.  I see you like science fiction. Why?  What about this genre appeals to you?

When I was a kid, the Apollo program was coming to an end with American and Soviet astronauts meeting in space, Concorde was just starting to fly, and we all knew we’d be travelling around the world at five times the speed of sound and living on the Moon by the time I grew up. The present of 1970s England might have been perpetual strikes and power cuts, but SF told us the future was going to be much better. Well, it didn’t work out that way, but SF remained one of the most interesting and optimistic genres, and one which often made today’s Big Issues seem quite laughable when compared with issues humanity will have to face in the future. I suspect many of us are writing it so we can imagine the future we’d like to have been living in, had things turned out differently.

3.  I understand you have a series of short pieces, the “Dirk Beretta” series. Tell me about that.

Dirk Beretta is a tough but dumb retired Space Marine, who quit the service after most of his friends were killed by Space Weasels at the Battle of Din Bin Foo, which is now a high-class tourist resort. So far, as he searches for another line of work that suits his destructive skills, he’s rescued a damsel in distress, saved an alien planet from the perils of democracy, and another from an environmentally unsound mining company. The next story, which will hopefully be out by Christmas, takes him back in time to ancient Egypt, in a desperate attempt to save the bagel. I wrote them for fun, after inventing the character for a writing exercise on a web forum, and never really expected to sell many copies. I was surprised when ‘Space Weasels’ sold more ebooks than all my other stories.

4.  What do you have coming out next?

I’ve just finished ‘Smiling Is Contagious’, my attempt at a hard SF zombie short story, and plan to release it for Halloween. I wrote it a couple of years ago for an SF anthology, but the story I ended up with wasn’t quite what they were looking for. The new version is about three times as long, and I’m going to expand it into a novel for NaNoWriMo this year. I have a horror short story in the upcoming charity anthology, ‘For Whom The Bell Trolls’, and will have an SF story in the Kboards flash fiction anthology. After that… well, I was just looking through the unfinished novels on my computer, and I have about a dozen that I need to finish off and publish!

5.  Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve sung karaoke–badly–on British TV.

6.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

If I had to pick one, it would be Arthur C Clarke. I have many of his books on my book shelves, and re-read some now and again. His non-fiction was always insightful and thought-provoking, even when later events proved his predictions wrong. His fiction, while often dated and weak on characterization, generally tried to build realistic stories based on the scientific understanding of the time.

7.  I think a common perception is that science fiction writers have to be scientists. What’s your background, and how has it helped or not helped in your writing?

I studied Physics at Oxford, so I’m definitely in that category. I’m not entirely sure it does help, as I’m constantly wondering whether the things I’m writing could actually work, and then going into hours of research to see whether I’m right. Other writers would probably just pick something that seems plausible and leave it at that.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

No matter how much you think you’ve learned about writing, in a year or two, you’ll look back on today’s stories and realize how little you knew.

Review: Name of the Wind

Book: Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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I kept hearing about this book, and despite its daunting length, I decided to give the book a try. I’m very glad I did.

I won’t kid you. The book takes a while to get going. Rothfuss has a detail-rich style of writing, very much in the style of Tolkien or even Frank Herbert. If you’re looking for fast-paced action and a quick read, this isn’t it. But there’s a beauty in all the details that is worth the time spent to read this book. There’s also the storytelling aspect that I really like. Rothfuss weaves an epic tale with classic themes and motifs.

The bulk of the book is in fact a tale, as told by Kvothe, a famous or possibly infamous hero now hiding in a tiny village as an innkeeper. The book doesn’t even touch on how or why he’s there, instead focusing on his childhood and first years at the university where he learned sympathy, this world’s version of magic. There are secrets and things that are not what they appear, including demons that are fae, and a fire-breathing dragon which is really just more of a lizard. There’s also an epic love tale and a coming of age. More, there are hints of things to come, including the elusive Chandrian who seek out and destroy any who even mention them, including Kvothe’s parents and entire caravan. I like the idea that there’s an unseen world hiding behind the world everyone knows, and Kvothe is uncovering it one secret at a time.

Dedicated fantasy readers will love this book. I wouldn’t recommend it to those new to the genre. This is a five course meal, make no mistake. But I enjoyed every bite.

Book Review: The Alloy of Law

brandon

Title: The Alloy of Law (A Mistborn Novel)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Macmillion

Genre: Fantasy (steampunk)

Rating: 5 out of 5

So this probably isn’t the typical first Brandon Sanderson novel that people read. I know he’s famous for his original Mistborn series, as well as helping out with the Wheel of Time series and some other stuff. But the steampunk side to this really intrigued me. I’m glad this was my introduction to his unique take on magic with metals and alloys.

Even better, this was a mystery-slash-suspense-slash rescue the kidnapped damsel in distress. All very Victorian, and very wonderfully realized. Those who have read the Mistborn series undoubtedly know all about the system of magic that Sanderson has created–some individuals, known as Allomancers have abilities tied to particular metals, including steel, pewter, gold, etc. They must ingest the metal in order to use their special abilities. There’s a lot more to it that that, but in general I found it fascinating.

In addition, Sanderson has some really great characters. Even the “damsel in distress” is not your typical damsel. She’s a cold and calculating woman who creates process procedures for everything. Including engagements and marriage.

I adored Wayne in particular, and his trials after losing his beloved bowler hat. It’s little idiosyncrasies like that that make the book enjoyable. I also like main character, even if I wanted to shoot him for the length of his first name. (Another point–there’s quite a bit of humor in the book as well.)

The book leaves things very open for a sequel or a series. I have to be honest. I’ve been a little tired of the whole medieval setting fantasy lately.

This book was a welcome change of pace and setting.

Author Interview: W. C. Hoffman

Yep, only one interview this week, but it’s a good one. Meet W. C. Hoffman, survivalist writer of military and mystery fiction. You can find out more about Hoffman here http://www.wchoffman.com/my-book-store.html .

hoffman

1. So what first got you writing?

My Uncle raised me to be an outdoorsman and survivalist in the absence of my birth father. Sadly, my Uncle took his own life and in my grieving process I began to write his story. My first novel Twins of Prey was molded from that first work I call, Uncle’s Story. In it there is a character named Uncle who lives off the grid and teaches his adopted twin sons the same types of things I was taught. The rest of the story is fiction but the character is very real. http://www.wchoffman.com/my-book-store.html

2.  So it looks like your Twins of Prey is a combination of military and mystery. How would you describe the books?

An off the grid action adventure where thrilling events lead to survival being the ultimate and only goal. When changing lives in not an option the twins begin to take them. It really boils down to the battle between nature vs. nurture. What side the reader takes will determine who they see as the protagonist. Either way a flawed hero will come into play.

3.  Do you have a background in the military?  If so, what?

I have no military background but I do have a decade long career in law enforcement.

4.  How did you come up with your characters?

Well Uncle is, my Uncle. The twins are a mixture of Mogwai for Kippling’s The Jungle Book and Atreyu from The Never Ending Story. Each one of the Sheriff deputies is mixture of various officers I have worked with over the years.

5.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

*EASY ANSWER* Gary Paulsen, The Hatchet series of books are what made me fall in love with reading for the first time. I still read them every other year for inspiration.

6.  What are you working on now?

Twins of Prey II Homecoming is set for release on 10/20/14 so I am currently working on Twins of Prey III. I also have a historical fiction idea that I wrote as a short story in high school burning away in my mind just screaming to be told in full. That will be my next series for sure. I have plans to purposely write a cheesy paranormal romance under a pen name as a gift for my wife. A shape shifting female cop that using her skills to seduce and lock up criminals. If it sells great! If not that is okay too.

7.  What have you learned about self publishing so far?

There is a sense of community in the self pub world and you better use it! Everyone, yes EVERYONE I have had the pleasure to talk with or be interviewed by has always been positive. I think kboards, blogs, and the popular podcasts that are out there are fantastic resources. I may not be a better writer because of them but I am for sure a more successful writer thanks to them.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Read my answer to the question above, join the communities. Become a fan and invest in learning what works.

Book Review: The Dark Tower (7)

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Book:  The Dark Tower

Series: The Dark Tower # 7

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre:  Fantasy? Horror? It’s Stephen King.

Rating: 5 freaking stars, baby!

I can’t really review this book without discussing some of the key details, so readers beware–there may be SPOILERS ahead. The Dark Tower was the seventh and final installment in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and it deserves all the fanfare and hype of being the final book. There are even two endings, depending on whether you like just a nice neat journey or a messy epilogue.  I imagine some readers won’t be happy with the fate of some characters, but be realistic. It was foreshadowed from Book One. This is horror or dark fantasy, depending on your definitions. Not everyone was going to survive to the end.  At least I can say that those who died, died well.

I’ve read The Stand. Up until now, I always considered that to be King’s best work (you can agree or disagree with me on that). Well, I have to revise that. Taken in its entirety, I think the Dark Tower series is King’s masterpiece work.

He takes a few big risks in this one. The fourth wall which he basically shattered in the 6th book is equally nonexistent in this one. He puts himself in as a character, one that has a direct effect on the main characters and the plot. That was a gutsy move. But it fits with the world of the Dark Tower, and the whole notion that there may be thousands of worlds, many of them similar, that we nothing about. (More things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, and all that.) The book also has a really great creepy but also classical villain in the form of Mordred, Susanna and Roland’s son (and also Mia and the Crimson King). Very Arthurian.

There are a lot of classic themes in the book, drawing from classic tales and poetry. But the book also takes a few modern twists as well:  time travel, nudges towards 9/11, and comedic robots, for example.

Readers will either love or hate the series. But those that have gotten this far I think will mostly agree that it’s been a great ride.

 

Author Interview: Marilyn Peake

ebola

Okay, I have a treat for everyone today. The Ebola outbreak is all over the news right now and people are getting nervous. So what better time to grab a book about Ebola zombies?  Lol, I know, there are writers out there trying to capitalize on this news story with cheap little pamplets on how to stay safe.

This isn’t that. Meet Marilyn Peake writer of dark fantasy and now horror. You can find out more about Marilyn through the links at the bottom of this post.

  1. So what first inspired you to write?

I’ve wanted to write since I was a very young child. When I was a teenager in high school, I fell in love with literature, journalism and creative writing. At that time, I received a wonderful opportunity to write columns on teenagers’ interests for three local newspapers with my own byline and to have some of my poetry published in one of those papers. That was very exciting! Over the years, I’ve continued to love the experience of writing.

  1. I know you write in a variety of genres, including young adult, fantasy, and horror. What about these appeal to you?

I love reading almost every genre. So far, I’ve written mostly in the genres you mentioned, along with some science fiction. Writing horror is new for me, although I’ve written a fair amount of dark fantasy. I like writing in all those genres because they allow a writer to take real-world issues and weave imaginary tales around them. Hopefully, that allows a reader to view the real-world situations in a different light. I’m a news junkie who feels things very deeply. I follow a large number of news outlets on Twitter and watch a lot of TV news. Sometimes it’s hard to continue watching painful news stories about the world. Writing fantastical stories based on current events helps me to explore them and deal with them. There’s also something invigorating about the creative process in writing any type of fiction.

  1. Tell me about your latest book, “Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies.” Considering the recent Ebola outbreak, this seems timely!!

MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES actually came out of my deep concern following news stories on the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Years ago, I read THE HOT ZONE by Richard Preston, a nonfiction book about a monkey strain of Ebola that mutated in a lab in Reston, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., in 1989 to become airborne, sickening monkeys who had no direct contact with other monkeys in the building. That book left a huge impression on me. When I heard about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, I immediately thought about Preston’s detailed information on the disease.

The news coming out of West Africa has been truly horrifying, as the countries affected by Ebola don’t have the infrastructure to deal with it. People are dying on the streets, in their homes and on the floors of makeshift treatment centers. The situation has been described as pure hell by those who have witnessed it. As the epidemic’s worsened, some bizarre stories have come out of the areas affected. Because workers in frightening-looking protective suits arrived around the same time the Ebola epidemic worsened, some people blamed the workers for bringing Ebola into their country. There was a case where locals attacked an Ebola clinic, claiming that Ebola was a myth. They dragged contaminated items out of the clinic, creating an extremely dangerous situation. Others believe that Ebola is a curse for evil behavior. There have been claims by some that the medical workers are using Ebola as an excuse to cover up cannibalistic practices.

Looking at news photos and videos of the horror the Ebola victims are suffering through, it really started getting to me. I combined the myths with the true facts about the Ebola epidemic to create a story that’s a combination of the following genres: Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Zombie Fiction, Horror, and Conspiracy Fiction. I wanted MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES to convey a sense of horror about the situation in West Africa. While the medical workers and military personnel going into West Africa to help out are heroes in real life, there’s an apocalyptic conspiracy happening within the pages of MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES.

  1. Do you think a pandemic is likely in our lifetime? How bad do you think things could be?

I think it’s quite possible. If a worldwide pandemic occurred, it would be disastrous. A large portion of the world’s population would die. On the other hand, we’re living in an age of extraordinary technical advancement with amazing medical breakthroughs. Whereas the Ebola strain in the current epidemic has a 50% to 70% mortality rate with no known cure, medical personnel coming to the United States from West Africa to be treated for the disease have recovered after receiving experimental serum. That’s amazing: a previously incurable disease cured! Bill Gates and a number of organizations have donated large amounts of money to find both a cure and a vaccine for Ebola. If scientists succeed in doing that, another disease will be conquered.

  1. Another of your books, “Shade”, delves into some darker fantasy as well. Tell me about that.

SHADE is a Young Adult Mystery novel with Paranormal elements. Tagline: “Shade: Girl on a hero’s journey, going from smart-ass to badass.”

Here’s the Book Summary for SHADE:

Thanks to her offbeat mother, Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin. Having a name like that while being the new girl in school is pretty much catnip for bullies. The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them once again to a new town.

This time, they move into a dilapidated old house where Shade has an entire attic bedroom to herself—at least until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy named Brandon Yates. When Shade’s best friend goes missing, her life becomes even more complicated. With the help of Brandon who’s struggling with his own issues in the world beyond, Shade faces the question of whether or not she has what it takes to become a true hero.

Although this novel deals with a number of serious issues—drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and disturbing world events—it’s primarily a novel about a teenaged girl finding out who she really is and that she’s capable of so much more than she ever thought possible.

  1. Who is your favorite writer, and why?

That’s a tough question. I have so many favorite writers! One of my most favorite writers is Barbara Kingsolver. Her novel, THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, knocked my socks off. Her description and character development were extraordinary and she tackled some heavy-duty social issues in that book.

  1. What are you working on now?

With Hugh Howey’s blessing, I’m working on a fan fiction story set in his WOOL universe that I plan to publish in the Amazon Kindle Worlds program for fan fiction. Then I plan to write sequels for both SHADE and MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES in order to turn them into two separate series.

  1. What advice do you have for writers?

To read a lot and to just keep on writing!

My website: http://www.marilynpeake.com

My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/387792.Marilyn_Peake

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/marilynpeake

MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Mutation-Ebola-Zombies-Marilyn-Peake-ebook/dp/B00NNWXKQS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411721414&sr=1-1&keywords=mutation+z

SHADE on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Shade-Marilyn-Peake-ebook/dp/B00JC15NSC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412325862&sr=1-1&keywords=shade