Sunday, June 29, 2008

Z. A. Recht - Thunder And Ashes (The Morningstar Strain, Book 2)

A lot can change in three months:
wars can be decided, nations can be forged... or entire species can be brought to the brink of annihilation.
The Morningstar Virus, an incredibly virulent disease, has swept the face of the planet, infecting billions.
Its hosts rampage, attacking anything that remains uninfected. Even death can't stop the virus - it's victims as cannibalistic shamblers.

Scattered across the world, embattled groups have preserved. For some, surviving is the pinnacle of achievement. Others hoard goods and weapons. And still others leverage power over the remnants of humanity in the form of a mysterious cure for Morningstar.

Francis Sherman and Anna Demilio want only a vaccine, but to find it, they must cross a countryside in ruins, dodging not only the infected, but also lawless living.

The bulk of the storm has passed over the world, leaving echoing thunder and softly drifting ashes. But for the survivors, the peril remains, and the search for a cure is just beginning...


I so wish I'd had the time to read this book in a few days as it is meant to not put it down as soon as you've picked it up. However, even though I rarely had the time to read in the past days, I enjoyed it whenever I had the time.

The story almost continues where we where Plague of the Dead left us:
Lt. Colonel Anna Demilio of USAMRIID (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease) and Major General Francis Sherman have an appointment in Omaha to meet at an mostly unknown research facility. Their last hope is a vaccine and Anna's the only person which might be able to develop one. One their journey both groups face their obstacles:
While Anna's trying to hide from Sawyer and his assignment to catch and bring her back to work for what remains of the government.

Sherman and his small group of soldiers and civilians face similar obstacles while losing longtime members of their groups to the undead. On their way they have to not only fight against the fast running carriers and slow shamblers but also against a group of raiders threatening a small, enclosed town of survivors.

Until they meet in Omaha the book very much focuses on survival in a dead world, food, gasoline and a little rebuilding.

The reader also meets with Captain Prescott Franklin and Commander Harris of the U. S. S. Ramage, the ship Sherman and his group left to meet with Anna. Franklin decided to set his men free at the command of Harris. He decides to try to get to Omaha, too, and on his way they discover humanities only possible hope: immune blood. Their goal is to protect it by all means until they arrive in Omaha.

It is too bad the book ends at this point. I almost felt sorry for myself because I know it took the writer quite some time to publish the continuation of the first novel.
In the end the book has everything and a bit more of what the reader expects. I can only recommend it !

More about the Morningstar Saga.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Permuted Press (April 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934861014
ISBN-13: 978-1934861011

Friday, June 27, 2008

Darwin E. Coon - Alcatraz: The True End of the Line

I sort of stumbled over this book through my last visit of Alcatraz. Mr. Coon was signing his book and I thought it might be a nice addition to my other books.
First of all, it's a very thin book of 144 pages and it doesn't tell much about Coon's experiences on Alcatraz. It's focus is more on why he got there and how easy it was back then to rob a bank.
144 pages are read in no time so when I got a signed copy I read it in two hours. The book isn't boring but it isn't written well either. People looking for new information's about the life on Alcatraz won't find much except maybe a few pages about the inmates pets.

Coon himself doesn't seem to be a likeable person to me. Throughout the book he always tried to sort of justify his crimes through blaming his childhood which in the end wasn't too bad. When I gave him my book for a signature he didn't say anything except that he wrote in his name, his Alcatraz number and when and how long he's been an inmate. So either he isn't the person he says he's become after he was set free or he's just sick of people asking questions about his former life. Whatever it is, I'm not really interested to know that.

The writing style is an easy one without much fuss. Interesting and a nice addition to an Alcatraz book collection as long as you don't expect too much info's about the island itself. It's just a repetition of already known occurrences and facts. Coon's experiences on Alcatraz seem to be limited as he covers maybe 30 pages about his imprisonment.


Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: New Desmas Press (2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0967959225
ISBN-13: 978-0967959221

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Barry Hoffman - Hungry Eyes

The eyes were always watching. Probing. Hungry.
She could feel then as she huddled there, naked, vulnerable, in an iron cage in a twisted man's basement.

But now she's free. She isn't vulnerable anymore. She's the one with the power, the need to close the eyes. And she'll close them all.

When she's done the will be no more hungry eyes...


The books best attribute might be the passionate introduction by William F. Nolan, a well known author from the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genre. I have to admit I was quite intrigued about his description what the book is about and how he described Barry Hoffman's background. The reader will know by the second chapter who the killer is. At least that's something that really happened.

Unfortunately the book didn't hold up to the rest of what was promised: a taunt and arresting offbeat thriller rich in psychological insight, mind control and manipulation of our human side in an artfully textured book. Oh well.

Instead I found an interesting plot made into something lacking any of the attributes mentioned above.

We meet former reporter Deidre Caffrey, who just found back into life after her son and husband died.
We meet Shara, former Renee Barrow, who took Shara's identity, one of her only friends, after her sudden death. Shara's the killer or so called 'Vigilante', who killed 5 men accused or already sentenced of raping girls.

Deidre and Shara have one connection: When Shara was still Renee, and got kidnapped at age 11, Deidre was the first one to interview her. From there on Renee only talked in her presence, even to the police.

When Deidre visits the fifth crime scene she she's a notice left by Shara: 'No More Hungry Eyes.'
Could that be ? Renee killed herself by jumping from a bridge the same year she got abducted. She knows she's alive and she knows nobody's going to believe the little postcard she received two days after Renee's death. Deidre's forced to investigate and find Renee herself before she will kill again.


That's all there is to say about. The plot feels a bit like long chewed chewing gum. The little highlights I found were tiring and the whole books seems to lack a good writers imagination and research. It's a bit beyond belief that a ten year old is capable to plan the rest of her life in detail and therefore manipulate the people, including psychologist, around her.

Barry Hoffmans books.

Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (November 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843944498
ISBN-13: 978-0843944495

Monday, June 9, 2008

David Wellington - Monster Planet (Book 3 - Monster Trilogy)

Set twelve years after the shambling zombie masses have overrun Manhattan, America, and the world, Monster Planet is the mind-blowing conclusion to what must be the scariest trilogy ever. Oceans of blood, scattered limbs, wanton violence, and general mayhem abound, along with revivified mummies, a Welsh sorcerer, and Wellington's signature brand of cool high-tech weaponry and sly humor — zombies, after all, are the ultimate consumers.
What do the undead want, aside from fresh meat? Do the steadily diminishing number of humans who have somehow managed to survive over a decade of living hell stand a chance on a planet where they've been reduced to the status of prey? It all ends here, on Monster Planet.


The final book in this trilogy brings them all together: Sarah, Ayaan, Dekalb, Marisol, Mael, Nilla and Gary. They all participate in the final chapter of the Apocalypse to come.

12 years after the Dead took over the world the final chapter begins: Ayaan and Sarah, Dekalb's daughter, are both grown up now, still fighting against the undead when they meet the Tsarevich for the first time. In book one Mael mentioned that besides Gary there were two other undead with the capability to finish the human race. We met Nilla in book two so there is one left: the little boy, strapped to oxygen machines after a fatal car accident.

He calls himself the Prince of The dead, people call him the Tsarevich. Cruel and possessed of gaining the power to do whatever he wants to do.

Everything has shifted: Now survivors have to fight against the dead and the living who think their leader is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

When Ayaan is captured, Sarah's only chance to rescue her is to follow the Tsarevich to the source. Little did she know her journey would change humanities future and give her a piece of her past when she meets her father for the first time in 12 years.

It all comes together in a fight of Mael and NIlla against the Tsarevich and Sarah against Mael. Will Nilla once again recognize her human side and help Sarah in a last attempt to give this world a future or will she decide that there is no future for the living or the dead ?


The last piece is the strongest one ! All characters came back to life in this book and it was exciting to read how Wellington managed to give their return a sense and purpose. Embedded with some magic and science-fiction this books carries you away in an instant and it's the strongest book in this trilogy.

I liked the ending which was predictable but absolutely reasonable. To get the full picture you just have to read all three books. I figure it wouldn't make sense to read the last one without the knowledge of the first three. :-)

A little spoiler needs to be left here. :-) The reader finally discovers what happened to Captain Bannerman Clark as Nilla returns together with the Tsarevich's army to the source. I don't say if I like it or not.

The whole book is chapterwise readable.
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Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Running Press (June 21, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1560258675
ISBN-13: 978-1560258674

Thursday, June 5, 2008

David Wellington - Monster Nation (Book 2 - Monster Trilogy)

In the heart of America, in the world’s most secure prison, something horrible is growing in the dark. A wave of cannibalism and fear is sweeping across the heartland, spreading carnage and infection in its wake. Captain Bannerman Clark of the National Guard has been tasked with an impossible mission: discover what is happening — and then stop it before it annihilates Los Angeles.
In California, he discovers a woman trapped in a hospital overrun with violent madmen. She may hold the secret to the Epidemic but she has lost everything — even her name.


In the second book of Wellington's Monster trilogy he gives us a lot to chew on.

Similar to Gary, the thinking zombie from Monster Island, Nilla finds herself waking up in an oxygen bar with the mask still on her face. She doesn't know who or where she is when she discovers she's dead. She chooses her name from a cookie packet someone gave to her when she met Mael, also known from the first book, for the first time. He tries to persuade her to help him to end mankind but Nilla's human consciousness is resisting. During the book she struggles to define herself as what she is and what her cause might be. All the time she is followed by Mael who desperately tries to keep her away from a certain point in the east Mountains. Resisting Mael she finds her way and meets the source to blame for killing the human race and learns there is no stopping.

The difference between Nilla and Gary is, that Nilla feels her hatred against the humans because they are trying to kill her but she also feels for them most of the time.

The book has another "hero" as well. Captain Bannerman Clark who in the end leads the only functioning facility save from the undead. Thanks to Mael this has an end and he has to flea together with his old friend Vikram and Nilla. Unfortunately the helicopter crashes and the author never tells us if Bannerman survived the attack of his now zombie friend Vikram.

The book is supposed to happen shortly before Gray and Mael meet in book one and few readers might think the timeline is a bit off. I like to remind those, that our main character from book one came via ship from Somalia to New York and we don't know how long Gary hit until he decided to become a zombie himself.
The book itself ends with Nilla deciding to walk towards New York.


Overall I enjoyed reading the book but feel a bit sad to not know if Bannerman was able to defend himself from Vikram and with an open ending for Nilla I sure hope I'll meet her again in the third book "Monster Nation". I think the book showed us much more substance than the first one. Enjoyable and more thoughtful, even as a horror novel.

The whole book is chapterwise readable.
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Visit David Wellington.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Running Press; 1 edition (September 27, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1560258667
ISBN-13: 978-1560258667

Sunday, June 1, 2008

David Wellington - Monster Island (Book 1 - Monster Trilogy)

It's one month after a global disaster. The most "developed" nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive — in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia.
In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world — and perhaps the evil genius behind it all.
From the other side of the planet, a small but heavily-armed group of schoolgirls-turned-soldiers has come in search of desperately needed medicine. Dekalb, a former United Nations weapons inspector, leads them as their local guide. Ayaan, a crack shot at the age of sixteen, will stop at nothing to complete her mission. They think they are prepared for anything. On Monster Island they will find that there is something worse even than being undead, as Gary learns the true price of survival.


Imagine witnessing the world falling apart and overrun with dead, smelling bodies carving your flesh. Nowhere to go, disguising your own smell of alive flesh.

Dekalp finds himself in a situation that doesn't leave any possibility for him then to leave his little daugther in the hand of Somali soldiers that promised to keep her if he helps in the search of medications.
He returns to New York with a small group of girl-soldiers. The world he once knew has vanished. The town looks empty as long as the wind blows in the right direction.
How is he going to manage to lead this girls to the only source he can think of where the drugs might be stored ?

At the same time Gary, a former med student is reborn dead. His only advantage is his functional brain and ability to speak. He quickly discovers his powers: healing himself from a headshot, using the braindead undead for his advantage he quickly regains the power of the zombies surrounding him.

In a desperate attempt to find the drugs Dekalp and one soldier find themselves in the shelter of a surviving colony and the chance to finally reach the UN building and it's medical department.

Meanwhile Gary begins to butcher the surviors he can find and plans to ambush the remaining colony.

A war between dead and alive is about to arise and the few survivors taken hostage by Gary who changed his mind and plans to keep them for future food production. A few girl soldiers, Dekalp, and two U. S. soldiers face the ultimate battle.


A fresh remake of the old, common zombie history that sticks to the true culture of zombie novels but like may others it doesn't get boring. Dekalp is a steady character thrown into a nightmare, forced to change his attitude and true to his goals. He never looses his focus on his main goal and manages to save survivor lives just to suffer through his own possibly dark future.

I loved it and appreciated every single moment of reading.

The whole book is chapterwise readable.
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Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Running Press (April 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1560258500
ISBN-13: 978-1560258506