Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Zombies: The End

Alas, this is the end of September Zombies. I hope you all have enjoyed all the types of zombies we've seen: ravenous zombies, amorous zombies, sentient zombies, passive zombies, and intellectual zombies. We even saw a couple of unicorns, but they were soon devoured and turned into zombicorns. I had a blast with all of you and I loved being the Team Zombie captain. The horror doesn't stop here: I'll be posting all sorts of different horror reviews all through October for Misty's Helluva Halloween Challenge II, Velvet's October Trix-N-Treatz, Book Chick City's All Hallow's Eve, plus whatever other Halloween challenges come my way.

Just a couple of reminders:

* This is the last day for my Brain-Noming Giveaway.

AND Velvet reward the other zombiettes and me with the This Blog Has Braaaains! award. Yay!

See you all in October!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brains: A Zombie Memoir

Jack Barnes was a mild mannered, elitist English professor one minute and a salivating, brain loving zombie the next. Even though he has been zombified and can no longer speak, he has somehow retained his brain function and ability to reason. He decides to seek out the scientist responsible for the virus to prove his self awareness and end the conflict between zombie and man. Along the way, he encounters other zombies with unique abilities: Joan can repair zombies injuries, making their undeaths longer; Ros (a nickname given by Jack after Rosencrantz of Hamlet fame) can speak as well as he did in life; Guts can run faster than any other zombie; Annie is a sharpshooter with killer aim; and Eve is a pregnant zombie who will hopefully give birth to a bouncing zombie baby. Can Jack and his troupe of talented zombies tell the authorities of their sentience before they are killed? Is there any possible resolution between man and zombie?

This short book is an interesting read. It’s the first book I’ve read from the point of view of a zombie during a zombie apocalypse situation. Usually with a narrative of this style, zombies are integrated in society and trying to cope. In this novel, zombies mostly have the upper hand with sheer numbers while society has fallen apart. Another unique aspect of the novel is how it’s practically drowning in different allusions and references to pop culture. Everything is referenced from Shakespeare to zombie films to philosophy and everything in between. The number and breadth of these references impressed me and made the narrative a little schizophrenic in a postmodern way.

Zombies are used to highlight the wrongs in our society, as they do in many other films and novels. Before he was a zombie, Jack was a pretty terrible person. He was a sexist that viewed women as simply the sum of her parts. The most despicable thing he said about his mentality before zombification was how he loved anorexic girls best because of their low self esteem and self discipline. He was an elitist and scorned anything remotely associated with lower social classes. When he became a zombie, none of these things mattered anymore. It was only when he was separated from society and humanity that he experienced happiness and love in his odd zombie family unit. (It’s like the end of Zombieland, but with zombies instead of humans.) Race also doesn’t matter to zombies. They are all shades of grey and they all want brains and more brains. Being a zombie is preferable to being human, according to this novel, because of the equality and unity it provides.

Brains is a really fast, enjoyable read. The only thing I would have liked to see is the perspective of the other sentient zombies. I think they could have added more to the story. It kind of feels funny to root for the flesh eating zombies for once, but this novel is a welcome addition to the zombie genre.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves

Gabry is a shy, timid girl who would rather follow the rules to the letter than live a little. Her mother, Mary, is the opposite, throwing away her overly secure life at the Sisterhood (in The Forest of Hands and Teeth) in favor of discovering things for herself. The mudo (or undead) are successfully kept out of their city by the Militiamen and the Recruiters, but at a price: the inhabitants much follow their rules or venture out on their own, braving the Mudo (or undead). Gabry breaks the rules just once by going over the wall into the ruins and all hell breaks loose: Catcher, the boy she loves, is infected and her other friends are either dead or in jail. She only escaped their fate because she fled. Now, Gabry wants to return to the insulated, safe life she had, but everything is irrevocably changed. Will she tolerate the controlling, suffocating society she's part of now or go into the forest her mother escaped from to seek a new life?

I really enjoyed The Dead Tossed Waves, but it wasn’t nearly as good as its predecessor. The very beginning of the novel throws the reader right into the dark and violent world populated by flesh eating zombies. They are a very present threat that works as a backdrop because of their constant presence. The people that populate this world are all unique in their own ways and develop as the novel progresses. Mary started out as practically afraid of her own shadow. Even after all of her family friends had gone, she still tried to cultivate a sense of security in the city, but failed since she was alone. Later in the novel, she becomes brave and willing to go to great lengths for the people she loves. She is engaged in life at the end instead of simply surviving. The zombies in this novel lend to this concept. They represent the suffocation and lack of freedom that Gabry and the other inhabitants feel under the current bordering-on-totalitarian regime. In a more general sense, they are the obstacles that anyone has to go through to lead the life they want to: the judgment of others, the constraints of society, and the hardships that life throws our way. Everyone, including the characters in the book, have to decide if their freedom is worth traversing these obstacles (or zombies).

There were some problems with the novel, especially with the pacing. After the initial action, Gabry oscillates from staying in the city to sneaking into the ruins and back and forth without any real forward momentum. I think the few times she did sneak over could have been consolidated so it wouldn’t feel as stagnant. I also felt that many of the plot devices and concepts were recycled from the first novel, like the love triangle, the motivation to flee, the forest setting, and the oppressive society. The love triangle particularly didn’t work too well for me because she fell in love with Elias very quickly after she met him. That relationship really didn’t have enough time to progress that far, especially with her strong feelings for Catcher getting in the way. It just didn’t resonate with me.

Although there are some flaws, The Dead Tossed Waves is another great addition to the teen zombie genre. The last fifty pages are full of fast paced action and really had me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, the novel ends on a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to read the next book!

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

** This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Feed: Brain Cupcakes!!!

While browsing on the Orbit book site a couple months ago, I stumbled upon this post featuring Mira Grant's recipe on how to make brain cupcakes. If you always wanted to eat brains, but think it would actually be pretty icky and you don't want to risk getting mad cow disease, this is the perfect solution!! I decided to make these cupcakes and feed them to my friends. Here's a nice video explaining how to get the frosting to look like brains.

My cupcakes didn't look exactly like that, but they tasted really good. Here are some pictures we took of the process:

I made the cupcakes while Brett and my father were hypnotized by the movie Up.

This is my cat "helping" AKA getting underfood and trying to trip my minion and me.

I made the cupcakes, so my minion Brett iced them and did a wonderful job!

Don't these just look brain-nomingly good? You just can't resist them!

My minion seems to think so too! I think that glint in his eye is a little creepy. I hope he doesn't get any ideas about eating human brains...

The one thing I would recommend if you're going to make these cupcakes is to add more blue food coloring then red coloring (because our brains still look Hello Kitty pink) and let them cool after baking and refrigerate them after icing. It was a really hot day and unfortunately the icing mostly melted off.

These cupcakes were really fun (and messy) to make and a nice tasty treat perfect for a Halloween or zombie themed party. Let me know if you try them out for yourself!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In 2014, the cure for cancer and the cure for the common cold were developed separately. Well meaning protesters stole the cure for cancer and used a crop duster to release it to the general public before it was fully finished. Unfortunately, when the two cures mingled and mutated, the devastating Kellis-Amberlee virus was born. When infected with it, the virus kills its host and reanimates it as a zombie that is only concerned with spreading the infection as far as possible. It has spread so far and wide that every person born after the outbreak is born with a dormant version inside them that will awaken when introduced with the live virus. This is the world that bloggers Georgia and Shaun live in. Blogging has elevated in the world because of the nonchalant way the “serious” news treated the zombie outbreak. Bloggers posted the truth and ways that people could survive while the media was still in denial and dismissing it as a prank. They (along with their tech genius Buffy) have been chosen to follow Senator Ryman on his road to becoming the Republican presidential candidate of 2040. As he gains momentum and followers, mishaps follow the group everywhere and it is discovered that they aren’t accidents, but acts of terrorism using the virus as a weapon. Why are they being targeted and can they (and the senator) stay alive long enough to finish the campaign?

I absolutely love Feed. The back cover description is pretty misleading because, as you can see, the book is complex and kind of hard to explain in such a small amount of space. When I started the book, I didn’t really know what to expect, except for some form of zombie being in it. This book is more about the new formation of society afflicted with zombies and the politics of the time. Some people may be annoyed that the universe is so well established and may complain that there is too much detail, but I didn’t consider it a problem at all. I was completely fascinated by the world and I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into the story. There is still zombie action, but it’s not the main focus of the novel. Although it’s over 500 pages, none of it dragged at all. The pacing at the beginning was a bit slow, but necessary to fully show the reader the type of world that Georgia and her brother live in. After they follow the campaign trail, the pacing is relentless, forcing me give up sleep because I needed to finish the book.

Georgia is a wonderful strong woman and my favorite character. She is one of the most capable people in the novel, knowing when to make hard decisions like destroying an infected friend. Even while people are trying to kill her, she stays calm, cool, and collected, the opposite of the stereotypical horror film heroine who runs around in hysterics. Georgia is also afflicted with retinal KA, which makes her functionally blind in any sort of light and makes her unable to produce tears. Although she seems hard and unfeeling, she has a close relationship with her brother. They trust each other with their lives and depend on each other unconditionally. Their parents adopted them pretty much just for ratings and publicity after their biological son was killed. Georgia and Shaun’s only real connection that they’ve had is with each other. All of the characters are incredibly detailed, complete with their own sets of beliefs and viewpoints.

Feed is an amazing zombie novel that a diverse group of people would love. If you like political intrigue, zombies, dangerous viruses, or blogging, this is the book for you. I would recommend it to just about everyone I know.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

You can enter to win this book in my Zombie Brain Noming Giveaway!

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Walking Dead: TV Show

Did you know the epic comic book series, The Walking Dead, is being turned into a TV show? I am so incredibly excited! I think a television series is so much better to express the whole series because removing vital scenes due to time really wouldn't be necessary. Here's the wonderful trailer:

The zombies in the show look way better than even zombies in movies. I don't know if they had a lot of money or just really talented make up Plus they look extra super creepy. Here's a video about making the "bicycle girl" (the zombie pictured below). The transformation is really amazing.

I can't wait for October 31st!! It looks like it's going to be pretty close to the graphic novel. I'll leave you with some cool screenshots.

** This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Infinite Days

Lenah Beaudonte remembers her life of 592 years as a bloodsucking, remorseless, savage vampire in great detail. She wakes up in a new century in a new place and in a very mortal, human state. Her soul mate and best friend Rhode sacrificed his life so that she could become human as she had always wanted after she tired of her unsatisfying existence. Her vampire coven is compiled of four vampires she made herself because of their utter ruthlessness, unparalleled skill, and detachment from humanity. To become completely human, Lenah must immerse herself in human life and grow new attachments with her fellow classmates at her new high school. Can a centuries old vampire bring herself to care about the trivialities of teenage life? How long will it take her vampire coven to find her? Will she be able to protect her human friends in her weak, human state?

Infinite Days is definitely not what I expected. I figured it was just going to be another vampire romance exactly like Twilight and all its various rip-offs. I was completely wrong and I have never read a book quite like this. I really enjoyed the way the story was slowly revealed. At first, we essentially know very little about Lenah. Significant stories from her past are interwoven throughout the narrative of her present life when she saw or did something that brought that memory to mind. It is an interesting format that reveals a little information at a time that builds up until the reader feels that they really know and relate to Lenah. It also compares what was normal in her vampire life (death, destruction, and laughing all the while) to what is normal in her human life (gossip, classes, and learning to live again).

Lenah is a wholly unique protagonist. She seems rather still and formal at first and has a clinical way of looking at the world. As a human, she still finds herself thinking as a vampire, like how she would have dealt with people that displeased her. She never descends into being emo or the typical brooding vampire stereotype. She accepts her past as just that and doesn’t make apologies for it. She also retains some of her vampiric gifts and slowly loses them as she thoroughly lives her human life. The first two big events that caused some of her gifts to become weaker were solitary experiences. The event that makes them disappear altogether is one of being immersed in the community as a part of a whole and momentarily forgetting her individual identity. This scene is beautifully written and my favorite scene of the novel.

Lenah’s relationship with Justin at first was a little painful for me. He just seemed like a jerk who only wanted things (and people) that he couldn’t have. When he became interested in Lenah, he started ignore his girlfriend and her feelings in his pursuit of another. Then when he opened up to Lenah and he revealed his true self, I was convinced that they belonged together. However, I felt that the way she treated Tony was awful. He seemed to just be a character to acclimate Lenah into society and then he wasn’t needed anymore. He was a good character and I would have liked to see more of him.

I really enjoyed Infinite Days. The writing flowed really well and kept me engaged in the story. I found myself sadly closing the book when I had to go do other things or go to bed. The ending of the novel was absolutely perfect. I especially recommend this to fans of young adult vampire novels that are tired of reading the same sappy story.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

** This isn't a September Zombies post, but still a great book. Posted for the Blog with Bite group review. **

The Walking Dead: Volume 12

*** Spoilers for those who aren’t caught up with the series!! ***

Rick Grimes and his band of survivors are on the move again. In the last book, they encountered cannibals and horrible things had to be done to ensure their safety. Carl, Rick’s son, is dealing with the aftermath of killing Billy, another child who was a great danger to the whole group. The group encounters a lone man on the road named Aaron, who wants them to come with him and live in his safe haven. Rick is immediately suspicious. In the past, another group claimed something similar and it ended very badly. The rest of the group is more enthused to have a stable place to stay and find the newcomer to be trustworthy. They go to this safe haven and find a stable community, headed by an ex-Senator. Everything seems a little too perfect to Rick. Plus they seem to have no safeguards against other human attackers. Is Rick just being paranoid or there really something nefarious going on in this community? Can these survivors who have seen so many horrors integrate back into normal society?

The Walking Dead is an excellent series. This is one in the series that is more a precursor to and setting up of events to come. Action wise, not much happens in this one. However, many important issues are brought up and there is more character development than anything else. The relationship between Rick and his son Carl is especially interesting to me. Carl isn’t a hardened killer, even though he has killed countless zombies. He is still emotionally affected by his first human murder, but he holds it together because it’s needed for the survival of the group. Rick understands Carl’s decision, but wishes he didn’t have to do things like this. He, after all, is still a child.

The other big event of this narrative is the invitation to live in the safe haven. Rick is immediately on his guard and thinks it’s too good to be true. The others start out as accepting, but grow to be more and more suspicious. This situation is the most like life before the zombie apocalypse than anything they have experienced since. Will the survivors ever be able to integrate into a society such as this one? They have been fighting for survival for about two years. Many of their problems have come from humans, such as the cannibals from the last one and the sadistic governor. Events like these take a toll on them and make them into different people.

Although not the most action packed book in the series, I enjoyed the emotional and psychological implications presented. Something big is going to be happening in the next book and I can’t wait to read it!

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Reapers are the Angels

Zombies have been roaming the Earth for twenty five years now. This is the only world that fifteen year old Temple has ever known and she’s learned how to survive in it because it’s either learn fast or die. She travels around looking for safe havens and moves on once those places cease to be safe. On her travels, she encounters a variety of living situations, from groups of people living in skyscrapers to a rich family hiding in their house oblivious of the crumbing world outside. When staying with the people settled in skyscrapers, she is attacked by a man there and is forced to kill him in self defense. His vengeful brother, Moses Todd, vows to kill her and follows her everywhere she goes. As she tries to evade Moses and zombies, can Temple ever find a place she can stay permanently and find peace?

The world that Temple lives in is different than most zombie novels. The initial outbreak is long past and our protagonist has never even seen the world as we know it. Most novels of this sort focus on the start of the zombie apocalypse. The only other book I can think of that is similar is Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but this book is much more brutal than that. The zombies are a constant threat, but there is also a more unpredictable danger from other people resulting from the breakdown of the government and society in general. In addition, the novel takes place primarily in the south, giving it a distinctive flavor.

The writing in the novel is spot on. It’s descriptive enough to give great detail to the world contained in the novel, but not so much that it bogs down the pacing. There are no quotation marks to denote conversation in the entire book, but the writing is such that it’s clear who is talking and it ends up not distracting from the novel at all. It just gives the book a little different feeling to read than most books for me. I read this book so fast and couldn’t put it down. I was so engaged in the story and the characters that I found myself reading in every moment possible throughout my day.

I really like Temple and her blunt honesty. She may be young, but she can certainly take care of herself. She can’t read because she never had a formal education, but she is one of the smartest protagonists I’ve ever read. In her short life, she has seen a ridiculous amount of violence and it takes a strong person to not just break. Although Temple is tough, her humanity remains intact, as shown with her tolerance and treatment of Maury, a mentally disabled man she meets and takes care of. Her character has many dimensions that are revealed throughout her travels in the novel.

The Reapers Are the Angels is now one of my favorite zombie novels. I like and dislike the ending at the same time. It’s realistic and fits the tone of the book, but I wish it didn’t have to happen. I would recommend this to any zombie lover.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Handling the Undead + Giveaway!

In the summer, there are strange happenings in Sweden that are hard to ignore. First, people have headaches and electrical items refuse to turn off. They can’t even be unplugged and if this is attempted, the person gets an electric shock. When things suddenly return to normal, the unthinkable happens: the dead rise. These zombies seem to just walk around with no capacity to understand or speak or even harm the living. This is only happening in Stockholm which leads the world to ask: what caused this? Why such a small area? While the rest of the world is trying to make sense of the event, the inhabitants of Stockholm are dealing with their dead loved ones with interesting results. David’s wife had died minutes before the uprising, making his wife the only zombie that can speak. Elvy and her granddaughter Flora are both psychic and don’t know what to make of Elvy’s dead husband showing up at their door. Journalist Gustav Mahler and his daughter have been in a stasis since his grandson died and now see new hope in the dead rising. They just have to dig him out of his grave.

This is an entirely unexpected zombie novel. John Ajvide Lindqvist has done for zombies what he did for vampires in his previous novel Let the Right One In; he practically reinvented the genre. The novel is like a slow burn. It moves slowly, but succeeds in being extremely suspenseful and an altogether different kind of horror than is common in the genre. The focus of the novel isn’t the gore or the zombies or the reasons for these strange happenings, but the living people that have close family members returning as zombies. The people focused on are about as different as can be, but they all share in this bizarre experience. Each character is described eloquently, complete with histories that directly influence how they deal with the zombies. Their reactions are realistic and believable, ranging from religious fanaticism to hysteria to anger to disgust to delusions of normalcy. Each chapter focuses on a different group of characters. Lindqvist is skilled at capturing different individuals’ voices, getting into the hearts and minds of each character, and making it all ring true. The most chilling situation is with Gustav Mahler, his daughter, and her young, undead son.

One thing that I really enjoyed is the presence of the rest of the world in the novel. Many other zombie books and movies are just focused on one country with no reactions or events from other countries. Newspaper articles, television interviews, and radio broadcasts from all over the world are placed in between chapters through most of the book. It lets the reader know that this is an isolated incident and what other countries think about it, as well as giving the story a sense of realism.

There are only a few things in the novel that are flawed. The cause of the uprising is never revealed. I don’t find this a flaw, but I think other fans of the genre would. This isn’t the focus of the story, so it essentially doesn’t really matter what caused it. The ending of the novel is pretty much unresolved. I feel like it could have been tied together a little better. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote a follow up novel to continue the story.

Although it has a few flaws, Handling the Undead really blew me away with its originality and eloquence. I can’t wait to see what John Ajvide Lindqvist will do next.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

I have one ARC copy to give away! Just leave a comment with your e-mail address and you're entered to win! If you'd like 5 additional entries, you can post your very own pro-Team Zombie post and enter Velvet's super awesome Zombies vs. Unicorns Challenge. Show your Team Zombie pride! Open internationally. Contest ends 10/15.

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Monday, September 20, 2010

Passing Strange

Karen DeSonne passed as a normal, happy teenager when she was alive. In actuality, she was suffering from depression and ended up committing suicide. After she reanimated and became differently biotic, she is still passing, but this time, as a regular living, breathing teenager. She works at a store in the mall and no one suspects that she is anything but normal. The reason why she is passing is because of all the anti-zombie regulations passed in Oakvale making it illegal for zombies to be in public without a parent or guardian. They aren’t considered citizens or even people under the law and it’s completely legal to reterminate them on sight. This legislation was passed because some of her friends who are also zombies were framed for a murder, causing everyone to assume that all the differently biotic are violent and dangerous. As she passes as human, Karen is approached by Pete Martinsburg, the boy who killed Adam Layman and got away with it, and pretends to date him to uncover the plot to frame the zombies for a murder that may have not even been committed. After a while, Pete starts to trust her and reveals that he wants to kill Phoebe and frame Adam to create more and more fear and hatred towards zombies. Can Karen keep her cover and gather enough proof to allow the zombies to live freely or will she be caught and reterminated?

I have read all of the Generation Dead series and I have to say that this is the best in the series so far. The first two mostly focused on Phoebe Kendall and her relationship with two differently biotic boys. Now we get to see what it’s like on the other side, from the point of view of the zombies. Karen was my favorite of the minor zombie characters in the last books and I’m so glad that there’s a whole book almost exclusively in her point of view. Karen is an undeniably unique and compelling character, being the only zombie known to come back after suicide and have the ability to heal. Her motivations and thought processes are equally as compelling as her physical abilities. When she died, she killed herself out of depression that still plagues her in her present condition. It stems from denying a part of herself that I won’t divulge, but it was definitely a surprise. She’s also not afraid to take risks and put herself in harm’s way to help the people she loves. She dates Pete Martinsburg, a truly unhinged individual with a hatred for the differently biotic, in order to gather enough evidence to prove her friends’ innocence. At the beginning of the book, I felt that she was wary to reveal too much information about herself, but warmed and revealed more and more about herself along the way. I grew to like Karen more and more through her honest, unfiltered narrative.

Although this is a novel that focuses on love and typical young adult themes, it also deals with the very real issue of human rights and the way people treat those not protected under the law. These zombies could be murdered in the street and nothing could be done about it. It reminds me of the way women were treated in Ancient Greece: as property and not as people. The main message of the novel is that everyone, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, or beliefs, is entitled to the same human rights. It’s mind boggling that this message needs to be reinforced in our modern society, but there are still those who want to take rights away from people that have a different lifestyles or belief systems.

I really enjoyed Passing Strange. Karen’s transformation from a cryptic, mysterious girl to a free and honest one made her an engaging and realistic character to read. I love that this book deals with real issues that people of all ages are effected by. I would recommend this to fans of the rest of the Generation Dead series and to those looking for a great, insightful, well written young adult novel.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun and Ed are inseparable best friends that share the same hobbies: playing video games, listening to electro, and frequently drinking at the Winchester Tavern. Shaun’s girlfriend Liz is tired of being held back by Shaun and his slacker ways, so she breaks up with him. When he wakes up after trying to drink his sorrow away, he finds the world populated with the walking dead. After resolving to turn his life around, Shaun takes advantage of the apocalypse to take charge and win Liz back. Armed with a cricket bat and a shovel, he and Ed round up their friends and Shaun’s parents and seek shelter at the only safe, secure place they know: the Winchester. With everyone depending in Shaun, will he prove to be a hero or just a washed up loser?

Shaun of the Dead is the classic story of a slacker turning his life around and becoming a hero during the zombie apocalypse. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time because of its perfect balance of horror and comedy with a little splash of romance. I never would have thought that these elements could work so well together, but Edgar Wright’s masterpiece of a zombie film proved me wrong. The buildup to the zombie outbreak is simply perfect. It starts off as a typical romantic comedy with a look into a normal day in Shaun’s life where no one respects him and he lets his girlfriend down time and time again. The next day, he goes through close to the same routine, except for the people he usually sees on his route to the nearby convenience store are all dead, zombies, or gone. One of the things that makes this film great is the repetition. From the first normal day to the apocalypse day, many of the same things are done and said, but mean wildly different things on the second day than on the first. For example, someone commenting “You’ve got red on you” the first day means a red pen exploded in your pocket, but the second day means your shirt is splattered with blood from bludgeoning zombies to death with a cricket bat. There are quite a few things like this (way too many to write about) that provide many laughs and are also a sign of great writing.

Simon Pegg as Shaun and Nick Frost as Ed are a hilarious comedic duo. Shaun is the meek, kind of quiet slacker who lets others push him around. On Z-day, he turns his entire life around and does all the things he has always wanted to do. Ed is the foul mouthed, obnoxious under achiever who makes pretty much everyone uncomfortable around him. He’s still annoying and kind of a jerk on Z-day, but he really comes through for his best friend when it matters. They are definitely an unlikely duo to become leaders during the zombie apocalypse, but at the same time are realistic characters.

Their friendship is exhibited throughout the film, even when they are in the direst of situations. I know people who would go out of their way to kill zombies as if they were in a video game and pick a random location to hide out that might not work out as well as first thought. Although much of the film is funny, there are a few very emotional and touching scenes that brought me to tears. These moments show that the characters have dimensions deeper than their slacker facades. The ability for such a funny movie to succeed in having heartbreaking, tear inducing scenes is amazing and shows a culmination of writing, acting, and directing.

Many zombie films are used as an allegory for social commentary and this one is no different. The opening credits, surprisingly, is where this is most evident, but only on the second viewing. The scene shows many of the people who turn into zombies later in the movie going through their everyday routing: working at mindless, repetitive jobs and doing the same things day after day. Are these people really any different after they become zombies? It challenges the viewer to look at their own lives and judge if they are just good little mindless zombies themselves.

Shaun of the Dead has it all: zombies, humor, romance, loss, video games, and electro. Everyone could find something they like in this film, but it’s required viewing for all zombie fans.

My rating: 10/10 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Zombie Valentine: Part 2

**Zombiewood Confidential by Marianne Mancusi**

Romeo George’s new zombie film, Isle of the Living Dead, is filming on a desert island, starring action star Mason Mark and high maintenance, demanding Cissy Max. Derek, the makeup artist, just hired Scarlet because he was desperate to fill the position even if she hadn’t quite finished cosmetology school yet. She has had a huge crush on Mason Mark since his days as a singing, dancing child star, but knows that people like that thrive off of fawning peons and try to take advantage of them. Mason really likes Scarlet as well, but is contracted to be in a relationship with the insufferable Cissy by the studio to generate interest for the film. While all this drama is going on, the extras playing the zombies are acting in increasingly strange ways, including biting the stars and repeatedly observing how delicious Mason’s dog smells. When the crew and extras keep disappearing, Scarlet thinks there is something really wrong. With this zombie film come true, can she and Mason stop the zombie apocalypse alone on a desert island?

This is one of my favorite stories of the anthology. The return to the flesh-eating variety of zombie is refreshing and makes me feel right at home. The writing flows really well, making it an enjoyable, fast read. Humor is infused throughout the story along with the typical romance conventions. It’s kind of like a more romance focused Shaun of the Dead. The romance aspect succeeds well in organically establishing the attraction between Scarlet and Mason, which made me care about the couple. In the first two stories, there really wasn’t any build up to the romance which made the story flat and made me more unwilling to suspend my disbelief. The two stars and the director are obvious parodies of famous zombie film directors, macho action stars, and slutty starlets, but there is a dimension to them that also makes them good, relatable characters. Scarlet serves as the everygirl of the story: just a normal person trying to make a living and pay her rent. Although she is justifiably horrified by the zombies and at having to kill one of her friends, she is no simpering damsel in distress. I really like her and I rooted for her through the whole story. The ending is kind of an implausible romance ending with a twist. Overall, I’d say this story rocked.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

**Every Part of You by Lisa Cach**

Angelica Sequiera is in Dr. Velazquez’s office to just fill in 6 shallow acne scars in her face with fat from her chin. Nothing major. She doesn’t exactly want to advertise this, but a rude surfer dude type guy named Tom Haggerty keeps asking her probing and insulting questions. She gets the procedure done and while she is under anesthetic that makes her loopy, the doctor asks if she wants Phi-Tox, a formula of Botox that he has made himself. She resists, but the doctor skillfully manipulates her and takes advantage of her loopy state and injects her. Later, Tom gets her phone number from her friend that works at the plastic surgeon’s office and she reluctantly goes on a date with him. They don’t mesh well at first, but through conversation, sailing, and picnics, they grow to fall in love. After she comes back from their trip, there are increasing cases of women bingeing on sweets, including herself and her friend. They soon realize that women are turning into zombies that only crave sugar because in a last ditch effort to stave off the paralyzing effects of Phi-Tox. It’s only a matter of time before the effect gets worse in Angelica. Can she and Tom find an antidote and save Dr. Velazquez’s clients from certain death?

This is the other story that I enjoyed the most in this book. Instead of a straight romance story, this one focuses on a larger message about how the expectations of society can become poisonous and make us into zombies that have no will of our own. The women in the story all get plastic surgery based on the mass media’s vision of the ideal woman and how others (like creepy, manipulative Dr. Velazquez) view them. Tom represents what true love should be: a man that will love every part of you as you are. He is my favorite character with his surfer dude demeanor, frank way of talking to people, and hidden layers that people who make assumptions about him would never see. The first things he notices about Angelica are the very things she has been led to think need to change to be beautiful: her nose, her breasts, and her butt. Unlike those trying to push surgery on her, he finds these characteristics of hers sexy and unique compared to the typical vision of what beautiful women should look like. The romance between Tom and Angelica is sweet and steamy. This is easily the hottest story of the book, so if you don’t like sex scenes, you should stay away from this one. I really like how the story starts as a typical romantic comedy and then ends with a crazy zombie epidemic. Overall, this story is fun, sexy, and sends an important message to its readers.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Zombie Valentine: Part 1

My mother bought me this book on one of her trips to Target as a joke. She reads lots of romance novels and I mock her mercilessly because of their practically X-rated covers and the fact that she’s ashamed to read them in public. She thought it was weird and funny that romance stories about zombies where written at all. Anyway, I finally mustered up the will to read this book and I have to say that it wasn’t all bad. Here’s a breakdown of the four short stories and their ratings.

**Bring Out Your Dead by Katie MacAlister**

This story introduces Ysabelle, the counselor for revenants (AKA zombies), part time tutor, and full time owner of two souls, as she runs into a man by chance on her way to her tutoring job and passionately kisses him. Shortly after, she’s attacked by a demon and his minion imps. The random stranger that she kissed saves her and she heads off to her job. Her charge is a very strange boy named Damian who is boarding up and fortifying the upstairs windows in fear of a Dark One (AKA vampire) that will be trying to kill them. The Dark One shows up and it’s the random kissing stranger. His name is Sebastian and he seeks revenge against Damian’s father who sold him out to a powerful demon named Asmodeus. To complicate things, he has decided that Ysabelle is his Beloved that will grant him a soul and be his for eternity. Can Ysabelle avoid Asmodeus while evading Sebastian’s strong overtures?

This is my least favorite of the stories. In just the first chapter, there are so many things introduced and explained rather than shown that it made the story convoluted and confusing. This story would have been better suited as a full length novel. The plot is complex (as seen in the summary) and there is an entirely new world to explain. The premise is interesting, but the follow through isn’t there. I don’t like that the story is about 5/6 typical vampire romance versus the other tiny 1/6 that’s about zombies. This story feels like the odd story out as a result. There are also many typos and spelling errors that really bothered me. In addition, each chapter jumps ahead in time after the end of the last chapter, leading the characters to fill in the blanks by talking about it. I would really rather just see what happened and I prefer not to rely on the characters describing it to me every single chapter.

I found the characters generally unlikeable. Sebastian in particular is insufferable with his forceful attempted seduction of Ysabelle before they know each other at all. Another extremely annoying character is Sally, Ysabelle’s spirit guide. She consistently speaks in the most infuriating mixture of very bad French and English. I don’t know if it is supposed to be funny, but it really made the story hard for me to finish. It seems as if the author didn’t know enough French grammar to make a properly speaking character and this awful character’s mode of speech was the fall back. There is literally no reason why this character needs to be there. The only part I really like is the end with its small surprising twist.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

**Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo by Angie Fox**

Amie Baptiste has no man in her life, but she has a fulfilling life with a successful business. She wants to find love, but also doesn’t want to turn into her mother, who had a great many lovers, all who left her broken and sad. Being a voodoo practitioner, she decides to use a spell to find her soulmate. The spell works in that it brought her an incredibly handsome man named Dante, but she didn’t expect that he would be dead. Amie immediately tries to rid herself of him, but he’s no ordinary zombie. He now has three days to woo her or he will return to his grave forever.

This story is really cute. The basic story line is similar to the first story in that two people meet and immediately fall in love, but the woman is in denial and the man has to make her see their love. Angie Fox made the characters much more endearing, thus making the basic plot seem less male chauvinist dominated. Dante is a total sweetheart. He is willing to do anything for Amie, even if it means his permanent death. I like how his tragic past is revealed, giving his character layers as the story progresses. My favorite character of the story is Isoke, a Kagamoto dragon with a three foot wingspan. This mini dragon is the greatest comic relief. It’s just the right amount in the right places.

This story succeeds in that the plot is fairly simple with few characters that can be developed easily, without confusion and unnecessary complexities.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

More to come tomorrow!

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Loving Dead

Kate and Michael are roommates and work at the same Trader Joe’s in the California’s Bay Area. One fateful night, Kate’s friend Jamie from her bellydancing class is attacked by a seemingly crazed homeless person. Kate brings her home and starts to become intimate with her when Jamie suddenly turns a sickly shade of grey and her eyes film over. She has become one of the walking dead. After subduing the zombie, her roommates hope this is an isolated incident, but she is only the first of a great many to come. The disease is discovered to be transmitted through bodily fluids, so Kate is worried about turning into one of the walking dead. The next day, Kate leaves to go on a date with her boyfriend, which turns out to be a huge mistake involving a Zeppelin full of zombies. It’s also a mistake because she leaves Michael alone with a house full of zombies. Can these two reunite, admit their feelings for each other, and survive the zombie apocalypse?

When I first heard about this book, I was so excited. It sounded delightfully disturbing and funny. The actual novel isn’t as good as I expected, but not terrible. I like the new take on zombies. It’s always refreshing when an author is innovative and makes a change to make their novel stand out. These zombies can speak, eat flesh, and exhibit heightened levels of arousal and promiscuity. Basically, these zombies want to eat and have sex with you. Plus, they can be subdued with whips or anything that can make a whipping sound (including iPod apps). Even though it sounds kind of like the plot to a badly written porno, I assure you the writing is excellent. The apocalypse is portrayed very well. Many people had to see the zombies killing people before they believed those who warned them. By then, frequently, it was too late to escape. I think this is how really people would act. In addition, certain individuals would try to exert power over those weaker than them and hold valuables over the other’s head. It’s sad, but true. The ending of the novel is the best part, but I won’t elaborate and spoil it for anyone.

The pacing of the novel was the thing that bothered me the most. There is too much time in between patient zero and the full outbreak with the chaos that comes with it. A lot of the narrative is a weird in between area where there are some zombies, but the majority of people still don’t realize something is amiss. I think if people saw a giant Zeppelin fall from the sky and crash to the ground, they would know that something was wrong. The characters are a little vapid and fake to me. They are supposed to be portraying my age group and all they do is sleep around, party, and work at dead end jobs. Other than these things, I definitely enjoyed The Loving Dead and I would read more books from Amelia Beamer.

The Loving Dead is an undeniably unique zombie novel that, at its core, encourages its readers to embrace real love over meaningless, empty relationships even if it’s in opposition to what is popular.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Zombie Videos

The book trailer for Night of the Living Trekkies is here in all its pseudo-J.J. Abrams glory! It looks like the book would actually translate into a pretty awesome, cheesetastic movie. Check it out!

AND I found this adorable live action version of the video for There's a Zombie on Your Lawn from Plants vs. Zombies. If you are one of the few people who hasn't played it yet, go play the demo and then buy the game to fuel your new addiction.

** This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Happy Hour of the Undead

Amanda Feral is a zombie. No, not a Night of the Living Dead, dressed in ugly tattered clothes type of zombie. She is an alcohol guzzling, sassy, fashionable, executive zombie. Oh, and she eats people too. She and her (almost) equally fabulous friends, vampire Gil and fellow zombie Wendy, are trying to find their incubus friend Liesl, who disappeared after sending a text message simply reading “help.” This coupled with the fact that other supernaturals have been going missing as well makes them worry. Amanda and her friends realize they don’t know very much about Liesl and go on a search for more information. A lead takes Amanda to a very powerful woman named Elizabeth Karkaroff, also known as the Devil, involved with a plot to create zombie outbreaks at local Starbucks. After she follows the lead, someone is definitely trying end her unlife with a car, guns, and an elevator (among others). Can Amanda stay undead long enough to save her friend and stop her food source from being destroyed?

I really like this book. It’s irreverent, witty, and features a very twisted and dark sense of humor. Amanda Feral’s voice is unlike any other. She is selfish, vain, egotistical, and really funny. I normally would hate someone like this, but Mark Henry manages to make her likable and makes the reader care about her. The language used is interesting to say the least. She uses imagery that evokes certain body parts and is unapologetic about the fact that she can’t stomach anything but human flesh and booze (and about what happens to her should she eat or drink anything else). She is also frank about her sexual appetite and the skill (or lack thereof) of the people she has sex with. I have read reviews by those that think her language and frankness are out of place and highlight the fact this it is written by a man, but I completely disagree. Just because she’s not a simpering, shy violet doesn’t mean that she’s not a woman. I also like that she went from someone who died because of her own selfishness to someone who would go through a lot of time and trouble to help her friends.

The format of the novel is also very interesting. There are 132 footnotes throughout the story that do anything from defining an acronym to chastising the reader for thinking dirty thoughts. There are also lists intermittently placed that feature drink recipes and playlists of music appropriate for the setting. I also like that Amanda frequently speaks directly to the reader like a twisted Jane Austen novel.

If you like a sharp wit and dark, twisted humor, this is the book for you. Allow Mark Henry to take you to a world that exists below the human world, rife with zombies, shapeshifters, and other supernatural creatures. If you have are squeamish or have a weak stomach, I would pass on this one.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


In the 1860’s, the Russians look for a way to drill into the ice in the Klondike where there is supposed to be gold because they don’t possess the technology. To generate interest, they create a contest with a cash prize for the person who can create a machine that will access the gold for them. Leviticus Blue from Seattle is the lucky inventor that wins for his Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine. When he tests the machine, he tears through the city’s underground (and pausing at the banks) and returns home. Unbeknownst to him, his path through the city has caved in, leaving countless injured or dead. On top of that, it released a gas called the Blight from the earth that turns normal people into flesh eating zombies. Sixteen years later, after the city has been evacuated and walled up, Briar Wilkes is still dealing with the consequences of her late husband’s folly. Her teenage son, Zeke, convinced of his father’s innocence, goes into the abandoned city to clear his father’s name. Briar tries to follow him into the city, but his way in and out caved in after an earthquake. How can she get in the city to save her son? Is he even still alive?

When I first heard about this book, I was so excited! Steampunk, dirigibles, zombies, mad scientists, and alternate history: what’s not to like? I was not disappointed at all when I finally got to read it. Although the history is altered a bit to suit the story, I didn’t really notice the changes. This is partly due to the fact that I’m not a huge history buff, but part of it is because of Cherie Priest’s superb writing. Her style flows incredibly well, drawing the reader into the book. The details that she includes really bring the characters and setting to life. The Victorian era in post-Boneshaker Seattle isn’t what one would expect, but for good reason. The people who live in the Outskirts (outside of the wall from the Blight filled city) struggle to survive and make a living and feel isolated from the world as a whole. The writing also excels in fleshing out each character so they feel like real people.

Briar Wilkes is my favorite character in the novel. She’s a tough as nails, no nonsense woman who will go through, under, or over any obstacle to get to her boy. Discrimination or condescension from others has no affect on her and she does what needs to be done. Her life is made very difficult because of her involvement with Leviticus, the destroyer of Seattle, and a lesser person would have broken or given up. Briar is admirable and stretches herself to her limits. I enjoyed the chapters that were from her point of view much more than the chapters in Zeke’s. On each chapter header there is either a pair of goggles or a lantern to indicate who is the focus of the chapter (goggles for Briar and the lantern for Zeke). Zeke is a typical teenager, which is the reason for most of my annoyance with him. He’s kind of annoying and thinks it’s such a great idea to go into a city rife with zombies, poisonous gas, and criminals in order to wander around aimlessly and try to find where his parents used to live for some indeterminate evidence to clear his father’s name. With Briar’s narrative, more is known than just Zeke’s view about who to trust and who to be wary of and we see Zeke make wrong decisions about this at least a few times. It’s kind of frustrating, but in general, he’s a smart and industrious character.

Boneshaker is a fast paced, fun read. Even though the zombies aren’t the focus of the book, they still remain a constant danger that the characters always need to be aware of, giving the narrative that little dose of adrenaline and horror. I would recommend this book to fans of steampunk, alternate histories, and science fiction in general.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

** The next book, Dreadnought, comes out on September 28. Pre-order it here!**

** This post is for Velvet's September Zombies!**

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marco Polo and the Zombie

The following excerpt is from Marco Polo’s diary. This passage was meant to be included in Il Milione, the published version of his diary from his travels in Asia, but it was ultimately censored by the Catholic Church. As scholarly and informed as The Zombie Survival Guide has proven to be, the passage found there about Marco Polo is sadly inaccurate. Here is the real story of Marco Polo and the zombie.

I was traveling to Xanadu to meet with the Great Khan with my faithful guide. We had just passed through the city of Kan-Chau and night was descending upon us. We decided to set up our tents and rest the night, for we could not make it to the next town, Etzina. We built a small fire to keep warm and went to sleep. A few hours later, we were awakened by a rustling and moaning in the bushes. I sent my guide to see what sort of animal was in distress. It was a man! He had been injured and was bleeding from wounds on his arms that looked as if he had been mauled by an animal. His clothes were torn and stained red with his blood. The man fell unconscious when my guide helped him over to our fire. We cleaned and bound his wounds while he slept. We waited until morning to see if he would awaken, but he did not. He had expired over night. We said a prayer for him. Then we commenced to dig a shallow grave to save the unfortunate man from eternal damnation. Midway through our digging, we heard a moan. Had we mistaken this man for a corpse? I would have sworn to the Great Khan himself that the man had been dead. My guide bent over the man to check on him. Suddenly, the man took the guide by the shoulders and tore out his neck with his teeth. As I stood horrified, the man continued to devour my guide as the lifeblood poured over his face. In a panic, I looked around for a weapon. I took my sword from my pack and stabbed the man in the chest. He barely looked up from the guide, exhibiting not even discomfort from the mortal wound. I stared in disbelief, not knowing what to do. I freed my blade from the monster and decapitated it with one swift stroke. His body stopped moving, but the head still bit and snarled at me. I buried the corpses and hurriedly left, wanting to get as far away from the horrific scene as possible. I took the monster’s head with me as a gift for the great Khan as a sign of my loyalty. I wrapped it up in many layers of cloth. When I arrived at Etzina, I purchased a glass jar to carry the monster’s still animated head in. After a long and arduous journey, I presented this to the great Khan. He was very pleased with it and left it on display for all to see.

**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**