Review: After the Ending by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

After the Ending by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue is the first in The Ending Series. A post-apocalyptic book focusing on two women.

The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.
When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them, but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was wrong. My name is Dani, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another.

This was, sadly, a bit of a disappointment.
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Book review: The Last Donut Shop of the Apocalypse

The Last Donut Shop of the Apocalypse by Nina Post

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Amazon blurb:

As Pothole City races to rebuild, a bounty hunter-turned-building manager must find a missing Cluck Snack executive, settle a bitter dispute between warring donut shops, and foil yet another plot that threatens to eradicate the single-purpose angels.
After narrowly preventing the last apocalypse, Kelly Driscoll finds herself with an unlikely day job. She’s the interim manager of Amenity Tower, one of the few buildings still left standing in the rubble of Pothole City. But after answering a mysterious phone call, she signs up for a new mission that’s a perfect match for her skills: locating the missing president of the famed Cluck Snack brand.
As Kelly quickly learns, the missing executive is only the beginning of Pothole City’s problems. The city’s leading donut shops — run by two very different Gorgon monster siblings — are engaged in a bitter territorial dispute. Plus, the residents of Kelly’s building have hatched a new plot to kill the beloved single-purpose angels and set the stage for another apocalypse.
Teaming up again with her allies from the first book — including Af the Angel of Destruction, Stringfellow the ferret, and Tubiel and the other single-purpose angels — Kelly is up for the challenge. But can she rescue the missing president and restore peace between the donut shops before Pothole City is destroyed yet again?

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Book review: The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams


The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams
Release date: January 30, 2013
Publisher: Living Consciously Publishing
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for this review.
Also note that this review is being posted on both Apocalypse Mama and In Case of Survival.
Blurb:

There are now 1 billion people on Facebook. That’s 1 in every 7 people on the planet. And 34% of all users check their account before brushing their teeth or hair in the mornings!  
Everyone can confess to an addictive Facebook habit, whether it’s stalking an ex, faking bathroom breaks to read news, checking-in wherever they go, or art-directing photo’s for the perfect profile pic.
The Facebook Diet (the first in The Unplug Series) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at this love for social media, featuring 50 hilarious cartoons that pinpoint the more idiotic, embarrassing and cringe-worthy behaviors of this modern approach to communication.   It’s the ideal gift for Facebook junkies everywhere. Helping them find light-relief and the ability to laugh at this tech-takeover, which may inspire them to occasionally unplug with a tech-detox.

 
What I liked:

  • The humorous look at the Facebook addiction
  • The illustrations

What I didn’t like:

  • The length (it was awfully short)
  • While it was funny, I have to admit there were parts I didn’t enjoy as much

The review:
So this is a cute little book. It’s a humorous take on people’s addiction to Facebook (which some people doubtless have). There are illustrations for each of the points the author makes; in my opinion, the illustrations are the best part of the book. And really, this book could be about anyone with a tech addiction, be it online gaming, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever else is out there on the Interwebs.
From my understanding, the point the author is trying to make is not that we’re all addicted and at the mercy of Mark Zuckerberg (that may just be a side effect). Rather, Gemini Adams’ point is that we should all take the time every now and again to just unplug. Turn off the computer. Put the phone down. Go see a movie, watch TV, read a book. Or heck, go talk to that other adult living in your house. You know, the one standing next to you in that picture on your wall — that picture, the big one, the one people say is of you on your wedding day.
I laughed at many of the points because it describes me on a lot of days, albeit with Twitter, not Facebook. (Not gonna lie, Twitter is my mind-crack. Sorry, Mr. Zuckerberg.) However, that being said, some of the humor just didn’t resonate with me. Humor is a very subjective thing, though; while I didn’t find much of the book funny, you might.
In any case, anyone who’s ever used Facebook should give this one a flip-through. The illustrations are great.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Book review: Existence by David Brin

Existence book cover

Existence by David Brin

Release date: June 2012

Publisher: Tor

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Amazon blurb:

Bestselling, award-winning futurist David Brin returns to globe-spanning, high concept SF with Existence. 

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.” 
Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.

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The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

No cover image available at this time

The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

Release date: November 13, 2012

Publisher: Egmont U.S.

Review copy provided by the publisher

(Note: This book was published in the UK as 1.4)

Currently, there is no blurb for the U.S. version of the book, so here is the Amazon blurb for the UK version (but note that some aspects of the book may have changed during editing for the U.S. version):

It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

YOU GUYS. This book. THIS BOOK. I…have no words. But in a good way. Which is shocking for me, since I can’t recall the last time a book rendered me speechless.

I shall preface the inevitable squeeing by saying that I read this book, beginning to end, in one sitting. I very rarely do that anymore, because, well, I have kids. And every now and again, I like to sleep. So I usually read in short chunks, usually about five minutes at a time.

But this book! Holy godiva, it sucked me in and spat me out on the other side. One minute I was sitting in the rocking chair outside my toddler’s room (part of her bedtime routine), the next it’s three hours later and my Kindle progress bar is saying 100%.

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This is the New Plan by John Xero

This the New Plan cover

This is the New Plan by John Xero (available now)

Review copy provided by the author. 

Amazon blurb:

This is the New Plan. Thirty three genre-blending works of fiction. Thirty one flash fictions book-ended by two short stories.

This is the way the world dies. The way it is born. The way it lives and breathes. Our world, other worlds. The past, the present, the never, the future.
Discover endings and beginnings; hope and damnation; angels and demons; stolen futures… Gods, cowboys, zombies, witches, sci-fi samurai, psychopaths, little red men from Mars, and more…
Let me take you on a journey, let me show you wonders.

You may remember John Xero’s brilliant short story, “Ragestorm Requiem,” which was featured here on ICoS last year. If you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy his new book, This is the New Plan (conveniently available now).

The book is a collection of John Xero’s short stories and flash fiction pieces–33 in all. Which is a few too many for me to review individually, unfortunately–which means, of course, that you’ll have to read the book. (Aw, shucks.)

There is a great variety of stories in the book, and a good chunk of them are post-apocalyptic in nature. All of the stories are well-written, and–in my opinion, anyway–work the way short fiction should: it makes you wonder what happens next, and lets you fill in the blanks.

I’d have to say that my favorite story is still “Ragestorm Requiem,” because it’s so poignant. Maybe it’s because I have kids, and I could empathize with the way the story’s main character does everything possible to let her daughter Molly “fly.” The fact that Molly is actually dead and in an urn makes the story all the more poignant. (While reading the story I kept thinking, “What would I do if the world went to hell and one or both of my daughters died?” And I could see exactly where the character was coming from.)

Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories in this book. I did–I enjoyed all of them. This one just stood out as my favorite.

Not every story is that sad/poignant/melancholy, of course; there are a lot of stories in the book. If poignant isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something in there that is.

This book is great if you’re looking for short reads–these stories are the right length for a bus or train ride, or if you’ve only got five minutes here and there and don’t have time for a  novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly enjoyed it–I don’t give out 5 out of 5 scores lightly, but I’m giving it to this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book link (Amazon)
Xeroverse (author’s blog)

The Sacrifice Game by Brian D'Amato

the sacrifice game cover

The Sacrifice Game by Brian D’Amato

Release date: July 2012

Review copy provided by Penguin/Dutton

Amazon blurb:

The mind-bending, stunningly inventive sequel to Brian D’Amato’s In Courts of the Sun, in which one man holds the key to saving the world from the 2012 apocalypse foretold by the Mayan Prophecy.

In Brian D’Amato’s cult classic, In the Courts of the Sun, a team of scientists sent math prodigy and Mayan descendant Jed DeLanda back in time to the year AD 664 to learn the “Sacrifice Game,” a divination ritual that the ancient Maya used to predict the apocalypse on December 21, 2012. But after arriving in the body of a willing human sacrifice instead of a Mayan king, Jed’s experiences led him to the fateful decision that rather than avert the apocalypse, he must ensure instead that the world ends.

 Using his knowledge of the divination game, Jed sets in motion a series of events that will bring about the destruction of humanity, ending the world’s pain and suffering once and for all. But before the plan can be completed, the organization that sent him into the past discovers his intention and devotes every resource to stop him.
 Taking readers back to the dizzying action of ancient times, The Sacrifice Game is a breathtaking odyssey in which Jed must survive bloody wars, ruthless leaders, shifting alliances, and unspeakable betrayal to learn about the Game, before his time in both the ancient Mayan empire and the present day runs out.

All right. So. To avoid a possible drama-filled timesink like what happened with this book review, I’m just gonna come right out and say it: this book was a DNF for me. And this makes me sad, because I seem to be the only person on the planet who couldn’t get through it.
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Review: War against the Walking Dead – By Sean T Page.

More than 63% of people now believe that there will be a global zombie apocalypse before 2050…
So, you’ve got your survival guide, you’ve lived through the first chaotic months of the crisis, what next?
Employing real science and pioneering field work, War against the Walking Dead provides a complete blueprint for taking back your country from the rotting clutches of the dead after a zombie apocalypse. 
* Arm yourself with the latest scientific insight from the world’s leading zombiologists including startling new analysis on why survivors must fight back within the first years of the crisis or risk being crushed by unstoppable ‘meta-hordes’ of the walking dead.
* A glimpse inside the mind of the zombie using a team of top psychics – what do the walking dead think about? What lessons can we learn to help us defeat this pervading menace?
* Detailed guidelines on how to galvanise a band of scared survivors into a fighting force capable of defeating the zombies and dealing with emerging groups such as end of the world cults, raiders and even cannibals!
* A strategic plan on how to deploy anti-zombie forces including training your new militia, creating fleets of foraging ships and a microlight air force.
* Features insights from real zombie fighting organisations across the world, from America to the Philippines, Australia to China – the experts offer advice in every aspect of fighting the walking dead.
Packed with crucial zombie war information and advice, from how to build a city of the living in a land of the dead to tactics on how to use a survivor army to liberate your country from the zombies – War against the Walking Dead may be humanity’s last chance.
Remember, dying is not an option !
There are a lot of zombie survival guides out there these days. It seems I can’t go into a bookshop without seeing one – so how is the zombie preparer supposed to make a choice? Apart from the classics, where are they to turn, and what makes one zombie manual better than another? What should make you buy War against The Walking Dead? [1. provided for free by Severed Press. The author also attempted blatant bribery and corruption by including some cool rubber bracelets in the package. For future reference, I’ll take cash.]
Well, this one is a bit special, for one main reason.
Instead of covering the immediate aftermath of a zombie assault, as so many guides do, it focusses on the destruction of the zombie plague and the rebuilding of society. With sections on how to organise a community, trap and kill large numbers of the living dead, and how best to rebuild communities after the end it concentrates on an area we at ICoS find sadly under-represented in the survivalist world. Most survival guides concentrate on immediate survival, which is all well and good, but what about long term? What about rebuilding?
This is where War Against the Walking Dead comes in. With in depth coverage of how best to survive zombie assaults both small and large, the pros and cons of various survival compounds, and how to build a fighting force out of scared, hungry refugees, it really is an excellent resource. If this decently-sized tome hasn’t been enough for you, it includes lists of other websites and books to help you with your rebuilding plans (though we’re not on it. I DEMAND AN EDITED REPRINT.). Definitely worth the purchase price, and unlike many books of a similar kind, it is attractive as well.
In terms of the writing, it is very readable and informative, and in places very funny. There are flaws, of course, but the day a book without flaws is written is that day the world of writing and publishing collapses in on itself. In places the sentences can run on, and the writing can be clumsy. There are minor errors in grammar which, while they don’t ruin the book, had the misfortune to include some of my pet hates (the use of commas where – : or ; would be more appropriate), but if you aren’t the sort of person who ignores their own grammatical errors to concentrate on a little known grammar guideline, you’ll probably ignore it just fine – and ultimately, the occasional clunkiness doesn’t detract from the book at all.
Of most interest to ICoS readers – even the non-zombie kind – will be the sections on rebuilding and battle techniques – these were based on real techniques through the ages, and could be useful in any apocalypse – so any serious post-apocalyptic survivalist could do with this on their shelves.
Overall, an excellent zombie survival guide. Minor flaws knock 1 star off.
Rating: 4/5
As well as buying his book, you can talk to Sean on his website, The Ministry of Zombies.

Book review: Dark Magic by James Swain

Dark Magic cover

Book review: Dark Magic by James Swain, published May 2012 by Tor Books

Note: The review copy was provided by the publisher.
Blurb:

Peter Warlock is a magician with a dark secret. Every night, he amazes audiences at his private theater in New York, where he performs feats that boggle the imagination. But his day job is just a cover for his otherworldly pursuits: Peter is a member of an underground group of psychics who gaze into the future to help prevent crimes. No one, not even his live-in girlfriend, knows the truth about Peter—until the séance when he foresees an unspeakable act of violence that will devastate the city. As Peter and his friends rush to prevent tragedy, Peter discovers that a shadowy cult of evil psychics, the Order of Astrum, know all about his abilities. They are hunting him and his fellow psychics down, one by one, determined to silence them forever. Dark Magic is a genre-bending supernatural thriller from national bestselling novelist and real-life magician James Swain.

First off, I’m going to admit that while I love science fiction and fantasy, I no longer read a lot of urban fantasy. Why? Because, quite frankly, I’m tired of reading about vampires, werethings, and ninja heroines with attitude problems.
Second, I’m going to admit that this review has taken such a long time to write because I read the book twice. (Yeah, I really it.)
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Book review: The Unbidden Magic series by Marilee Brothers


 
 
 
 
 
 

The Unbidden Magic Series, by Marilee Brothers (Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun, Shadow Moon). Published by Bell Bridge Books.

Review copies were provided by Bell Bridge Books.
This review covers a series of four books, so I’m not going to write the blurb for each of them. That would just take too long.
Here’s the background: 15 year old Allie Emerson is given a moonstone necklace by her friend and sometime guardian, Kizzy (who is a Romany Gypsy, but everyone calls her a witch). Allie’s mother, Faye, is pretending to have fibromyalgia to get out of working.
So, okay. The moonstone necklace. It’s pretty, it’s a necklace, it has special powers. (I KNOW.)
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