Author Interview with Alessia Giacomi

  • 24703416How long have you been writing?

Since I was a teenager, so about 100 years…just kidding I’m not a wizard (I wish). It’s been a good fifteen years. I started off with journal writing but soon got bored with reality and began filling my journal with fiction.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

I write mainly horror. I love to write scary stories because that’s what I loved to read growing up. I adore classic monsters like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches and of course zombies! I like to look at them in a different light when I write. To me they’re just misunderstood.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I have never really tried sci-fi. I think it could be really fun but creating intricate worlds that don’t exist is a big job, so if I’m going to do it, it better be AMAZING!

  • Please tell us about your book.

Zombie Girl is the first book in a four part saga about Eve, a small town girl who contracts an ancient virus that is both dangerous as it is intriguing. She’s never known adventure and unfortunately she gets a bit more than she ever really wanted. The story follows her and her friends as she attempts to control the deadly virus and find a cure.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

I love Eve, she’s loyal and funny and brave. She’s a character I will miss dearly when the series is over because she felt so real to me. When she struggled, I struggled with her, she has this ability to pull you in. The character I disliked the most is Eve’s nemesis Agent Williams, things are complicated with him, and although he’s an important character and I created him, he’s also someone I would wholeheartedly slap if he were to exist in the real world. He’s too cocky and lets his ambition rule his heart.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

I think sometimes real life bleeds into the writing and some scenes were hard to write. There is a lot of loss in the book, as you would expect from any zombie story, but it hits home when loved ones are torn apart. I had to take a few “ugly cry” breaks while writing.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I always listen to some music before I get started, it helps me clear my brain and get ready for writing. I also drink lots and lots of coffee, I am surrounded by mugs when I write. If I have a groove going, there is no time for coffee breaks.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

Nearly three months. Zombie Girl was a story that had been dying to come out of me since high school! It started flowing and didn’t really stop until it was complete. It felt good to finally get the story down. I was shocked it didn’t take me longer, but I guess waiting ten years to write it gave me enough time to think about how I wanted the story to go.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

I usually write the story down and edit absolutely nothing as I go. After the words have flown onto the page I go back and read it, really read it and take it all in, checking for plot holes or anything that sounds out of place. Lastly I check for tiny errors and fix them. I always have a few close friends read it and check for tiny errors too before sending it off to my editor. It helps to have a lot of eyes on your writing.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

Yes, Zombie Girl is the first book in The Zombie Girl Saga, a four part series that will conclude January 2017. It’s been a lot of fun to write and I hope everyone will check it out.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep going. I know I needed to hear that a lot. It’s hard when you’re a new author, you have a lot to learn and much rejection comes with the territory. Take tiny steps, make connections with other authors and learn about promotion, I know this is something I’m still learning about!

  • Why should everyone read your book?

I think everyone should read The Zombie Girl Saga because it’s a mash-up of genres with a great message of love amongst all the action and terror. I know there is something in it for every reader and genre fan. I wrote something I wanted to read, and honestly, I’d read these books a million times and never tire of them J

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Jane Austen for sure, I’m a total Janeite! Anne Rice because she just seems like an awesome person and I would like to pick her brain (no zombie pun intended) and The King, not Elvis, but the one and only Stephen King! I must know the secret, how does he write so many books so fast!!!

  • What inspired you to write your book?

The series started as a dream I had back in high school about an undead girl who’s somewhat of a superhero. At first I drew her as a comic, just for fun, and it took me years to really explore writing it. Many of my stories come from dreams. I still have notepads and pens by my bedside; you never know when inspiration will strike!

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I just finished a short story for an 80’s throwback horror anthology. The story is all about a slumber party gone wrong. The best part about the anthology is that it’s for charity and out October 1st, just in time for Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The anthology is called Man Behind the Mask so be sure to look out for it 😉

About the Book

Eve used to be an ordinary girl, from an ordinary town, with ordinary dreams, but her dreams rapidly turn into nightmares when one grave mistake leaves her a little less than human and a lot less average.
Eve’s not quite the same girl she used to be. She desperately clings to her humanity as new desires, new abilities, and new urges take over with each passing day.
Eve Brenner: Zombie Girl is a tale that takes you on an emotional and terrifying journey as Eve struggles to cope with her new life and find a cure for her strange illness before time runs out. She desperately clings to her humanity as she tries to control the monster she knows is lurking inside her.
Turns out living was the easy part.

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Book Review: Path Unchosen by Kim Cleary

dfw-kc-pu-cover-medal-ebookTitle: Path Unchosen (Daughter of Ravenswood Book One)
Author: Kim Cleary
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer and sees firsthand the pain her powers can cause the dead, she wants to deny who she is. The zombie plague is long over. She wants to find a more normal life, a challenge when a beautiful, otherworldly man who claims to be her guardian saves her life.

But as Judy tries to set right the harm she inflicted on the spirit she raised, new zombies attack–zombies raised from among the long-time dead. Someone else just like her is out there, and he’s not trying to set anything right.

Now, to save her own life and protect the innocent inhabitants of the nearby town who’ve become her friends, Judy must figure out who’s raising the dead and why. She must also learn to control the darkness inside her–a seductive darkness that promises her power beyond her wildest dreams.

In Path Unchosen, the first book in the Daughter of Ravenswood series, eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer. But her powers can hurt the dead, so she wants to deny who she is, and live a normal life. But when an otherwordly man, claiming to be her guardian, saves her life, she’s forced into makign some choices that will make an ordinary life almost impossible.

Judy is not the only necromancer out there, and when zombies attack her and the inhabitants of a nearby town, she has to figure out who the other necromancer is, and why he or she is raising the dead. She has to learn to control her powers, and to come to terms with who she really is.

I really enjoyed reading about Judy. She was a complex character, not completely to terms with who she was at first, but she changed and grew a lot throughout the book. The author did a good job on setting an atmospheric tone for the book, and describing the setting. With the zombies added, the whole book had a slightly creepy feel, which I loved.

I’m eager to get started on the next book. If you enjoy a good fantasy with zombies and darker themes, I would recommend this book.


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Mini-Review: Ghost Camera, The Betrayed


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Ghost Camera

Tite: Ghost Camera

Author: Darcy Coates

Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

A small number of cameras have the ability to capture ghosts on film. This gift comes at a steep price; the ghosts are resentful and hungry, and the cameras offer them a rare chance to reach their favourite prey… humans.

Jenine didn’t know any of this when she found an abandoned Polaroid camera in a lighthouse. At first she assumes the ghostly shapes in the photos are a glitch or a prank – but then the spirits begin to hunt her down, and she’s forced into a deadly race to free herself from the camera’s curse.

Review: Main character Jenine lacks personality – she’s about as interesting as a cardboard figure. Everything happens to her, and she doesn’tset anything in motion herself. Her best friend Bree is far more interesting and should’ve been the main character. The story is all right but a little predictable.

The Betrayed

Title: The Betrayed

Author: Heather Graham

Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Sleepy Hollow isn’t so sleepy anymore…

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream–an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there.

Maureen–Mo–Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard?or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait: the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected, if they live long enough to enjoy it!

Review: Aiden and Mo make an interesting pair, but unfortunately it takes a long time for the two of them to connect. Aiden struggles with his abilities, and as thus he makes an intriguing character. The murder mysteries are good too, and as usual, Graham crafts an engaging paranormal mystery. Unfortunately I found it difficult to connect with Aiden and Mo – although interesting, they were also somewhat obnoxious and I doubt I’d like them if they were real people.

The Way of All Flesh

Title: The Way of All Flesh

Author: Tim Waggoner

Genre: Horror, Zombies

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

In a world where zombies battle the living, which is more terrifying?

David is trapped in a nightmarish version of his hometown, pursued by crimson-eyed demons and insane cannibals, with no idea how he got there. At every turn he’s taunted by a mysterious youth named Simon who knows far more than he lets on.

David’s sister, Kate, fights for survival in a word decimated by flesh-eating zombies – and her brother’s one of them. She’s determined to put a bullet in David’s brain to set him free.

Nicholas Kemp is a human monster, a born killer. But in a world ruled by the living dead, he’s no longer the most feared predator, and he’ll do whatever it takes to become that again. He plans to start by killing Kate.

Review: A cool concept with a vivid, refreshing take on zombies. David is a zombie, and most of the book is told from his POV. Then there’s also Kate, his sister, who is still a human. I liked the zombie perspective, which was original and interesting at the same time. The book ranges from hilarious to gross to all-out horrifying.

Book Review: Revel’s Ending by Vic Kerry

24617832Title: Revel’s Ending
Author: Vic Kerry
Genre: Horror
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Let the bad times roll…

Ashe had everything going for him. He had a successful career, a stable life, and a beautiful fiancée, until she died…and was resurrected.

Now everything is falling apart.

In addition to Mardi Gras floats, the streets of Mobile are filled with walking corpses. Somehow Ashe knows it’s all connected back to him. Can he and his friends stop the sinister forces at work, or are their revels ending—along with their lives?

Revel’s Ending offers an interesting take on zombies. Ashe used to have it all – a successful career, a beautiful fiancée…But then she passed away, and hours later, got up in the morgue and started walking away. He hasn’t heard anything from her since. Is she still alive? If she dead? How can the dead walk around? Ashe finds himself growing more depressed and worried with each passing day. Luckily he gets some help from his assistant, who tries to cheer him up, and brings him to the Mardi Gras floats in Mobile.

Then Ashe is summoned to another case of a corpse getting up and walking about. The woman in question is the same woman Ashe met before, at the Mardi Gras parade. What the heck is going on? And how is it all connected to him? Ashe must find out what is happening, and soon, because he, his assistant, and a friendly priest who offered to help, are in grave danger. And maybe the rest of the world too, if they don’t stop this terror in time.

With a slow start, the story takes a while to get going. But once it does, it turns into an interesting, thought-provoking story. Ashe is a well-rounded character, with believable emotions and easy to relate to. The secondary characters are each unique in their own way, and they’re certainly not stereotypes. The story is intense, and whenever you think you know something, another secret is revealed. Although I figured out who was in league with the bad guys early on, it was still surprising to see how it all played out.

Now, the ending. Well…it didn’t do it for me. All this build up, all this tension, and then the climax never really seemed to happen. The big bad seemed too one-dimensional too, almost like he got added as an afterthought. While he did show personality now and then, he remained a stereotype. I liked the premise of the book, and the whole buid up, but the ending was a bit of a letdown.

Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining read, and if you love horror, you shouldn’t skip past this one.


Mini-Review: The Dead Kid’s Detective Agency, Ashes, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

The Dead Kid Detective Agency

Title: The Dead Kid Detective Agency

Author: Evan Munday

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Children’s Books

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and it isn’t long before she befriends the ghosts of five dead teenagers, each from a different era of the past. They form the Dead Kid Detective Agency, a group committed to solving Sticksville’s most mysterious mysteries.

Review: The plot idea was solid, but unfortunately that was just about the only thing solid about this book. It started out slow, the pacing was way off, the characters were difficult to connect to, and the main character was just dull. The mystery was predictable, and the writing didn’t flow particularly well.


Title: Ashes (Ashes Trilogy #1)

Author: Ilsa J. Bick

Genre: Young Adult, Zombies, Dystopian

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

Review: God, I loved this book. Everything about t is awesome – from the post-apocalyptic setting, to the characters, to their struggles to survive. The writing is sublime. While called a zombie book though, there are no actual zombies – what happens to the kids is just about ten times as terrifying.

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!

Title: Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!

Author: Trisha Speed Shaskan

Genre: Children’s Books, Fairytales

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

OF COURSE you think I did a horrible thing by eating Little Red Riding Hood and her granny. You don’t know the other side of the story. Well, let me tell you… This fractured fairy tale provides a fresh perspective on a well-known tale.

Review: Not my favorite fairytale retelling, but definitely entertaining and humorous. Shows there are two sides of every story, and not afraid to twist well-known tropes.

Book Review: Diaries of the Damned by Alex Laybourne

Ebook CoverTitle: Diaries of the Damned

Author: Alex Laybourne

Genre: Horror, Zombies

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 out of 5 stars

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

The dead have risen and a desperate struggle for power has begun. The military are evacuating all survivors in passenger planes. With their destination unknown, one group of survivors led by a journalist named Paul Larkin, decide to share their experiences with the hope that when combined, their stories will reveal some answers that the government had not been willing to give themselves.

Nine survivors have banded together, determined to tell their tale of survival. None of them realized that as they stood to tell their tales that they stood on the brink of discovering a conspiracy the likes of which the world has never seen.

Diaries of the Damned tells us the story of the damned, of the survivors narrowly escaping the zombie apocalypse. Paul, a wannabe fiction author who worked as a journalist in a previous life – the life he led before his family turned into zombies – goes aboard an airplane destined to take them to their salvation, away from the devastation of a city that was once Norwich, but is now infected with the undead.  Paul feels numbed, unable to feel anything after losing the ones dear to him. He rescues the plane’s stewardess, Jessica, when she attempts a suicide. The two of them start talking, and Jessica suggests Paul embraces his long-time dream of being an author, and starts by writing down the stories of the survivors on the airplane.

One by one, the survivors start talking, and pieces of the puzzle are revealed. First up is Jessica, the flight attendent, who barely knew about the zombie outbreak until it was almost too late.  Next is Leon, a paramedic who went to search for his daughter when the virus first broke out. Kind of like the Canterbury tales, each of the survivor’s unique stories make up a smaller story within the larger story. The most memorable stories were Roberts, Tracey and Allen’s, and Neil’s. As each story is told, we see a unique aspect of the zombie outbreak, until we find out more about the origin of the virus that started the flu that was the beginning of the end. We also learn about the characters, about what it takes to survive in a world turning against you, about what it means to live while everyone you’ve ever loved, has passed away.

The story is complicated enough that you don’t figure out the origins of the virus, or how the outbreak started, right away. It’s a compelling story about human survival, about how far we’re willing to go to survive. There is plenty of horror too though. Especially Robert’s story was rather horrific. Either way, these zombies aren’t the ones you encounter in the movies. They’re darker, their emotions and actions more human. And that makes them all the more dangerous.

The author isn’t afraid to kill off characters, which is a must in books this dark, and actually made it a more intriguing read for me. He’s not afraid to go into really dark territory either.

The writing was solid, the survivors offer compelling stories, and there are some huge surprises and plot twists throughout the novel that kept me thoroughly entertained. It’s been a long time since zombies entertained me as much as these ones did. If you like zombies and/or horror, Diaries of the Damned needs to be added to your reading pile.


Book Review: Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

18226374Title: Braineater Jones

Author: Stephen Kozeniewski

Genre: Horror, Zombies, Historical Fiction

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.

Are you sick and tired of zombies? I’m willing to bet you won’t be for long. Braineater Jones is one of the most original, at times hilarious, at times depressing, books I’ve read in a long while. It featured zombies in a way you’ve never seen before.

A man wakes up face down in a pool. He has drowned, but somehow he’s still alive. Unaware of his name, who he is, or what transpired, he searched the house he’s in from top to bottom, coming face to face with a bunch of thieves. Once he makes his way outside to the bad part of town, he figures he’s not the only one of the living dead. With his brain swiftly deteriorating, he needs booze to stay alive, and to stay sane. If he doesn’t get any soon, he’ll turn into one of those insane freaks eating up other people, which he doesn’t want at all. He starts calling himself Braineater Jones, and tries to adapt to his new reality. Soon enough, he opens up some sort of private investigation service for the recently-deceased-but-still-alive and helps solve cases. All the while though, the mystery of his own death haunts him, as well as the reason for why he’s still undead.

The book is original, refreshing, and has so many things I didn’t see coming that it’s impossible to figure out where to start. Nobody can be trusted in the world of the undead, one apparently only needs one’s head to be alive, and friends are found in the most unlikely of places. Jones is an intriguing character. He doesn’t fall within a simple category. He’s neither good nor bad. Sometimes he’s a little heavy-handed toward his other clients, then he develops a soft spot for someone else, while the reader never sees it coming.

At times, the book is gross, and shows us the darker side of human nature, and of being undead. It’s set in the 1930s, and has a matching noir style and dark humor. If you’re not fond of that style, I wouldn’t recommend that book, but if you like that style or feel neutral about it, then I highly recommend this book. It’s unique, the story is strong, the plot is complicated, the characters are complex and entertaining. It’s not the kind of book where you’ll laugh out loud at times, but the kind of book that’ll make you grin several times during reading. An extraordinary read, and not just for people who love zombies.

Book Review: First Light (The Zombie Prophecies #1) by Adam Sigrist

FirstLight_CVR_LRGTitle: First Light (The Zombie Prophecies #1)

Author: Adam Sigrist

Genre: Horror, Zombie, Apocalypse

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon, B&N

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Worldwide plague? Government conspiracy? Bioweapon disaster? Hell set loose?
You’re not even close…

Struggle alongside Donovan and his friends as they desperately cling to survival in a world ravaged by the undead, monsters and other horrors. After being bitten, Donovan is led towards a flashing light in the distance. Does the beacon offer salvation or merely a new challenge for him?

Zombies, monsters, secrets and lies. All of these things hurt, and kill, indiscriminately; finding you no matter where/who you are. The Zombie Prophecies begins with these horrors and a mysterious light calling survivors to a ruined apartment complex. Familiar, expected causes behind a zombie apocalypse are absent, replaced with a fresh, horrifying view on the end of our world.

At first, I struggled with First Light. The opening chapter was a little odd, and I had trouble getting into the story. The perspective switched so often in the beginning that I almost gave up on it. That is, until Donovan and his friends enter the picture. I figured almost right away that they were the actual focus of the story, and the opening chapters had been just to give us a glimpse of what was happening – but I would’ve perferred one glimpse, not several, before we got into the action. The POV switches are hard to read through, and the writing is also less good as it is in the rest of the story.

Once Donovan and his friends come in, the entire story gets a lot better. There’s more action, the writing is better, the pacing is faster, and we really get to know the characters. I thought, originally, that this would be just another zombie stoyr, and hadn’t really minded because I haven’t read all that many zombie books yet. But there’s a lot more going on here than simpy a zombie apocalypse. For instance, not all people bitten get turned. At first, it appears quite random who turns and who doesn’t, but in time, it becomes obvious there must be some mechanism behind it. There’s also a lot of mythology and background story that really makes this book stand out.

The .pdf copy I got was 140 pages, so I expected it to be a quick read – but it reads more like a 300+ pages book. There’s a lot of stuff on one page. When I looked it up on Amazon, it’s actually 306 pages in paperback format. So there you go. Don’t be fooled by the .pdf size, it’s actually quite a long book, but the pacing is fast, so that definitely helps.

I liked the original elements Adam Sigrist included in his novel, as well as the characters. You really get to identify with Donovan and his friends as they struggle for their lives, and as Donovan tries to hide he’s been bitten.

An excellent book for fans of horror and zombies. I will keep my eye out for more books by this author, especially the second part to this series.

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

3432478Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author: Carrie Ryan

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Post-Apocaliptic

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a mixed bag. There are strokes of brilliances throughout the book, but then there are pages filled with mediocre storytelling as well. Mary is the main character, and she’s always dreamt of the ocean, a magical place told about in her mother’s stories. However, with her Dad fallen victim to the Unconsecreated, and her Mom lingering on depression, her brother alienating himself from her, Mary’s life isn’t like a fairytale or magical story at all. In her life, there are a few simple truths. The Sisterhood knows best. Guardians will protect and serve. Unconsecrated will never relent. And don’t go beyond the Fence.

But when Mary’s mother falls victim to the Unconsecrated as well and her brother doesn’t want her around, she gets sent to the house of the Sisterhood, where she discovers the truth may be hiding a lot of lies. When her friend Travis is brought in seriously injured, she spends more and more time with him, even though he’s bethrothed to her best friend. When she finds out Travis returns her feelings, it’s like a dream come true, but unfortunately there’s little time for things as silly as love in Mary’s world.

When a stranger arrives in town and is immediately hidden by the Sisterhood, Mary discovers a lot more than she bargained for. Then the stranger is bitten and turns into one of the Unconsecrated, except she’s impossibly fast and tears down the entire village. Mary and her friends narrowly escape, but they’re left on their own to find their way to safety. With Mary’s love for Travis growing stronger every day, and her desire to reach the ocean outweighing everything else, the journey to safety also becomes a journey of self-discovery. But with the Unconsecrated on their heels, every day is a fight for survival.

The world Carrie Ryan sketches in this novel is a bleak, futureless, post-apocalyptic world that seems to have gone straight back to the middle ages. The village is the main setting, but when it gets overrun by Unconsecrated, Mary and her friends move on to new territory, walking through the fenced-off roads leading to outside the village, hoping to find a new place of refuge. Survival is key in this world, and dead may come knocking on the door every day. Fear is present from page one, and lingers on until the very end. Setting-wise, this book is very powerful.

The plot was strong as well. I liked the idea of the zombies here, and it reminded me very much of the movie “The Village”, with the same claustrophobic atmosphere and creepy vibe, except that here, the Unconsecrated are zombies, and are very real. I also liked Mary’s drive, of wanting to find the ocean, such a supposedly simple dream that could turn out to be so hard. There was plenty of action and tension as well.

What didn’t convince me were the characters. Mary is all right, I suppose. She has a straightforward way of seeing things, which I liked. She sees things for how they truly are, no matter how unsettling the truth may be. But her relationship with Travis was…well, laughable. There’s no tension or emotion between both characters. Travis was as one-sided as a card-board figure, and I never really got a sense of him. That said, I never really got a sense of any of the side characters. Maybe it was because the book was told from Mary’s POV only, but it was like the other characters were props, or personality-less creatures, like they’d already somehow transformed into Unconsecrated even though they were still alive. Whereas Mary’s personality shined through, and she actually went through a lot of personality development, the other characters remained puppets, stage figures for Mary’s great show.

The thing was that I didn’t really mind. The way it was written, with the sharp contrast between Mary, so obviously very alive, and the other characters, already seeming like zombies, was brilliant. For some reason, it worked. It alienated Mary even further from the others, indicating that perhaps by living in fear for their entire lives, they’d already turned into some kind of zombies, void of dreams and hopes and much emotion.

Less brilliant was the repetitiveness of some of the scenes. I’d actually thought I’d already read a scene when I hadn’t, simply because it sounded so similar to another scene chapters before.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth isn’t your typical post-apocalypstic zombie book, and for that, I greatly applaud it. The author made some brave choices along the way, choosing to give her audience a dose of the horrific every now and then, when necessary for the story. I’m looking forward to reading the next part in this series.

Book Review: Undead on Arrival by Justin Robinson

15733320Title: Undead on Arrival
Author: Justin Robinson
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Publication Date: June 21st, 2012
Goodreads | B&N | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

Today is the last day of Glen Novak’s life.
Five years after the end of the world, the few remaining humans are barricaded in a small vacation town on the California coast, beset by hordes of the undead.
A single bite turns a man into a walking corpse. There’s no cure and no hope.
Someone made sure Novak was bitten and now he has one day to put things in order, protect his people and, most importantly, exact revenge.

Undead on Arrival isn’t your typical zombie Apocalypse book. It takes place after the end of the world has happened, and focuses on the remaining survivors. The protagonist, Glen Novak, isn’t a person you’d normally like, or would even talk to. He has a position of power in this new world, but he’s still coping with the guilt he’s carried with him all these years – guilt over his dead wife, guilt over the children he abandoned when the world crumbled apart. He lives in a secluded village, slightly more than a compound, and tries to survive. Unfortunately that may become a hassle when someone lets a zombie head loose in his house, and the zombie manages to bite him. The rule is to kill everyone who’s been bitten. There is no cure to becoming a zombie. There is no hope for those infected. But Glen Novak is determined to find the man or woman who did this to him. And by extracting his revenge, he may end up causing more harm than he initially bargained for…

What is so unique about this book that I liked it from the moment I started reading is the author’s fresh take on the zombie apocalypse. Usually when I read a zombie book or watch a zombie movie, I see people running for their lives practically three fourth of the time. Here, not so much. Humanity has settled down. They’ve made make-shift cities, they’ve tried to survive in a world that’s suddenly become hostile. They still have memories of life before, and are trying to place those. Some are overwhelmed by grief. Others by guilt. Everyone has their story and the burden they carry, but they work together, as good or as bad as the circumstances let them, and try to make it through another day. They come across a large number of problems: food shortage, gasoline shortage, no electricity, no internet. And the most difficult thing of all: some of them have lost their family, and have no clue whether or not they’re still alive. Maybe they’re wondering out there somewhere, still human, looking for their loved ones as well. That thought along is chilling, it’s such a strong, thought-provoking idea it lingered in my mind during the entire read.

Undead on Arrival spans little more than twenty-four hours, but a lot can happen in that time. Glen Novak gets to the bottom of the secrets buried at his new home, at The Athena, a mighty and large hotel overlooking the compound, and the people behind it. We see the worst in humanity, as well as the best. All characters Glen meets during his search for vengeance are well-defined, complex human beings. They could walk straight out of the book. Some of them I hated from the start, others I grew to like as the story progressed. Hardly ever have I seen an author put that much care and thought into the side characters, developing them until the point they could become protagonists themselves.

The first half of the book sets the mood. It begins slow, painting for us the circumstances of the afterwar of the apocalypse, the daily life of survivors, and the quest to solve the mystery Glen Novak wants to solve before he dies. But then a zombie attack happens, and we’re thrown in the middle of the action, fighting along with the characters for our lives. It’s a vivid experience for a reader when you can say action scenes are so well described you feel like you’re playing in them – and that’s the case here.

The writing is sublime. It was spot on, every single time. Slow when needing to set the mood, fast and relentless when the action started. Mr. Robinson is obviously a very talented author, and one I hope to read several more novels from. He has described the zombie apocalypse in a way no one else has, and I’m truly amazed at how well he portrayed all characters in this book.

If you want to survive the zombie apocalypse, you better read Undead on Arrival.

Author Interview

I’m delighted I could ask Mr. Robinson some interview questions about his book, Undead on Arrival.

1) When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I don’t know if there was ever an exact moment. I’ve been writing all my life, but there were periods where I stopped. I decided to write novels after working as a script doctor for an animation studio, and working in the comics industry. Writing novels is more rewarding because you’re writing for people who legitimately love to read.

2) What inspired you to write Undead on Arrival?

I love film noir, and am a huge fan of DOA. I wanted to do a riff on that classic story using zombies.

3) Which character did you like to write about the most? Which was your least favorite character?

The first is Pulaski, with Cheeseman a close second. I really liked the concept that the biggest bad ass in town was a transvestite, and his voice was a lot of fun to channel. With Cheeseman, he sort of symbolized the main character’s self-loathing, so I had a good time giving voice to the fact that Novak really isn’t a good guy.

I had trouble with Calomiris and Rippey, the other two town fathers. They’re noir villains so they had to be pretty reprehensible, but I also didn’t want them to be cartoonish monsters. It was a tough line to walk and I’m not sure I succeeded.

4) How long did it take you to write Undead on Arrival from start to finish?

Outlining and the first draft took about three months, and I think I took around three months on subsequent drafts.

5) What was the most challenging part about writing Undead on Arrival?

Writing the main character, Glen Novak. He had to be a bad guy, so that there were enough people who wanted him dead. But I also had to make him sympathetic enough so that the reader wasn’t actively rooting for him to die. I tried to do that by making him a bad person by our standards, but maybe not as much for his time and place. I tried to use Novak’s self-awareness to mitigate some of his worse qualities.

6) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read every day. Write every day. And always use outlines.

7) Are you working on something right now? If so, please tell us more about it!

I just finished a draft of a comedy noir novel that’s sort of like The Big Lebowski if David Huddleston was a giant eyeball.

I’m looking forward to reading more of your books, and thanks for answering my interview questions!


On top of that, Mr. Robinson agreed to give away a paperback copy of Undead on Arrival to one lucky winner. And guess what? The contest is international. If you want to participate, just fill in the Rafflecopter form!

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