Monday, September 30, 2013

Goodbye to September Zombies + Upcoming Zombies 3

This is the last post for September Zombies! :( Tune in next year for more zombie goodness.

1) Mythbusters

Although Mythbusters is usually all about real science, they are exploring myths about zombies in The Walking Dead: how best to kill them and how do slow zombies manage to catch up to people? Michael Rooker AKA Merle Dixon and executive producer Greg Nicotero will guest star. The episode will air October 17, 2013 at 10pm on the Discovery Channel.

2) The Zombie Autopsies movie

George A. Romero recently finished the script of Steven C. Schlozman's The Zombie Autopsies, a book about a group of doctors performing autopsies on zombies in order to discover where the disease came from and how to cure it. He hopes to work on it soon, but finds difficulty finding funding due to the oversaturation of the zombie genre.

3) Z*Con

Z*Con is a film featuring teen broadcasters trapped at a comic convention during a zombie outbreak. This project is on Indie Gogo and their goal is $90,000. Only $5 gets you a digital download of the film, which is a steal! 100% of the proceeds will go to charity and any pledges are tax deductible within the US. The film sounds awesome and it goes towards a good cause. What's not to like?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blogfest Winner!

I want to thank all the people who entered my Blogfest giveaway. It's awesome that a lot of you like Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, which is also one of my favorite zombie reads. The Blogfest Winner of 2 zombie books is:

Congrats to Abigail Johnson!

There are still some chances to win on Fishmuffins of Doom. I have 2 more zombie giveaways ending in October: a zombie YA giveaway and a zombie romance giveaway

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alice in Zombieland

Alice Bell is sick and tired of her parents. Her dad is crazy and believes in monsters exist to the point that the family is not allowed to leave the house after dark. Her mother stands by and doesn't do anything to stop him. It's Alice's birthday and she wants to see her sister perform in a recital at night. She gets her parents to finally relent and the performance is glorious. On the way home, her dad freaks out and their car spins out of control. Alice wakes up to see that her family is being attacked by horrible creatures that enter their bodies. Later she finds out they died. After she recovers from the accident, she moves in with her grandparents. She tries to forget about the monsters and just get through school along with her new best friend Kat, but distant, brooding, dangerous Cole Holland distracts her. He shows her that the creatures are very real and she is determined to fight them. Will she die avenging her family? Will bad boy Cole end up stabbing her in the back?

I have mixed feelings about Alice in Zombieland. It has a lot of things going for it. Alice is great for the most part. She proves to be assertive and strong, not letting people belittle her or drag her down for the most part. Despite having a lot to be upset about, she isn't the typical self pitying heroine. She deals with her grief in her own way and works through it in stages. I also really liked Kat, her best friend. On the surface, she just seems to be bubbly and airheaded, but she proves to be a good friend with unexpected problems. She added some much needed comic relief and was fun to read about. The second half of the book is my favorite because it's much more action packed and gets away from the petty high school drama. I also enjoyed Gena Showalter's writing. It flowed really well and kept my attention throughout the book even if I had issues with other parts of the book.

I had quite a few problems with the book. From the dedication page, it's abundantly clear that Gena Showalter is religious. Alice is not devoutly religious, but goes to church and generally believes in god. However, there are overtly religious comments and observations in the narrative that don't mesh with her character. They felt out of place and brought me out of the book.l The book also has heavily religious themes. It's good versus evil with absolutely no grey area in between (explicitly stated by a character). I hate this mentality. It's very simplistic and frankly not a good way to see the world. Zombies have been transformed from flesh eating corpses to spirits corrupted by evil that feed on other spirits. I don't like these types of zombies. They have a lot of limitations and they don't bring quite the same horror as conventional zombies do. I am thankful the book wasn't as overtly preachy as I expected it to be, but I tend to avoid Christian fiction because I don't enjoy it.

Cole is a big problem for me. He is the stereotypical bad boy that Alice just can't get enough of. He's controlling, obsessive, and volatile. Alice often completely changes her demeanor and does what he tells her because he's oh so hot. When they see each other every day, they each see a vision of the future, usually of steamy making out. This is never explained and a shoddy way of explaining their instalove and initial obsession with each other. The first half of the book is typical high school drama with a short lived love triangle, typical and way overused in YA.

Alice in Zombieland has absolutely nothing in common with Alice in Wonderland save for a few images and names. The novel probably would have benefited from the removal of the references, but it was probably a good marketing tool. Although I have mixed feelings about the novel, I would read the next book. I would not recommend this for fans of conventional zombies.

My rating: 2.5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 27, 2013

Blogfest 2013 Giveaway!

Blogfest is my very first blog hop! Since it falls during September Zombies, of course I have to give away some awesome zombie books. One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and a hardcover copy of Fiend by Peter Stenson.

Just leave a comment about your favorite zombie read and your email address. Open internationally. Ends 9/29. Good luck! :)

For the rest of the participants go here. Follow the hop!

Meg Mims
Love is a Many Flavored Thing
The Write Path
Novels on the Run
Hope. Dreams.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone and disgraced. Her brother died; her mother is in a sanitorium; and the Spirit Hunters went to France. Her mother's care is quite costly, so she sells practically anything of value to fund it. Everything changes when Eleanor's phantom hand hurts and she sees yellow eyes and hears the baying of hounds. Marcus is after her and using magic to get these spirit hounds to attack her. Eleanor then flees to France to seek the Spirit Hunters' help. On the way, she meets Oliver, a boy who knew her brother. He has a dark secret that changes everything and forces Eleanor to decide what she how far she will go to survive. They arrive in Paris and find the Spirit Hunters have their own problems. The Dead are attacking all over Paris after being ritualistically mutilated and murdered. They have no clue who is behind it or why it's being done. In order to help them and save Paris, Eleanor may have to do the unthinkable and turn the Spirit Hunters against her.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely starts by dealing with the aftermath of the first book: the death of Eleanor's brother, the loss of her hand, the insanity of her mother and the crippling debt for her treatment, the infamy of the Spirit Hunters, and the fact that Marcus is masquerading as Eleanor's brother in his dead body. All of this takes a toll on Eleanor, especially since she's a social pariah and has to deal with all this alone. She's grown a lot since the first book and proves to be more independent and capable than ever. She's truly an individual who rejects the fashions of the era, speaks her mind, does what she feels is right, and eats what she wants to despite the view of what women should be in that society. That's not say that she doesn't make mistakes because she does. Some of them are extremely frustrating and I want to reach in the book and shake some sense into her. Her hunger for more and more power as she uses necromancy becomes a huge problem that she refuses to address. It'll be interesting to see how it will be addressed in the next novel. She also decides to lie to her friends in order to hide her power and protect a new friend. Despite her mistakes, she is still the same loyal, endearing Eleanor.

After establishing what happened in the last book, the story really takes off. The new main setting is in France and Susan Dennard's descriptive, flowing writing paints a beautiful picture of Paris, from its bustling high society to the beautiful and historical buildings. Everything is drastically different in Paris. The Spirit Hunters spend a lot of time making appearances in society to keep opinion of them high and their very rich patron happy. Their patron keeps them in rich surroundings and it's a much different experience to have everything they need available to them. The Spirit Hunters are much more fashionable, especially Daniel, who has improved his elocution and his manner of dress to appear as a proper gentleman. I love that he reverts back to who he truly is when Eleanor is around.

A Darkness Strange and Deadly does not suffer from second book syndrome. New concepts and characters are introduced and the action just keeps coming with ritual sacrifices and rogue zombies roaming the city. The mystery was nicely resolved while leaving some more overarching plots with loose ends so I can agonize over what might happen. I NEED to know what happens! I can't get enough of these characters and I want the next book now!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Internet Awesomeness : Zombie Edition 2

Awesome zombie stuff! Anything goes: videos, games, anything!

* They Will Eat You!

They Will Eat You! is a creepy internet zombie game. When chemical waste seeps into the ground of the local cemetery, the dead rise! The simple object is to run from the zombies. You have no weapons and you are dead after 3 bites (which is generous). The music that's used during gameplay is so creepy and enhances the atmosphere. Check out the Zombie Education section which details which parts of the human body zombies find most tasty, zombie evasion methods and their effectiveness, a pie graph on the intention of an approaching zombie, and graph detailing the population growth (or lack thereof) of both zombies and humans during a zombie apocalypse. Scroll to the right to see all the diagrams and graphs. Play it here!

* Zombie Parkour

If you aren't aware, parkour is a training method influenced by military obstacle training. The aim is to overcome obstacles as efficiently as possible using only their own bodies and their surroundings to propel them. The film shows people using parkour to avoid zombies. These zombies are super fast and coordinated! They jump without stumbling, climb things, etc. If these parkour guys can't avoid them, there's really no hope for the rest of us. There isn't really a plot. It's a glimpse into this world without dialog. I would like to see a full length film with a more set story, but this is a great start.

* Breaking Dead

Some awesome person cut together scenes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead to make an awesome show! It sounds like Jesse accidentally makes some sort of zombie meth and infects the world! It's beautifully and almost seamlessly cut to look like one show that I would totally watch! The dialog works incredibly well with the visuals. I love Walter's speech about people surviving.

* The Dead 2: India trailer

I just heard about there being a sequel to The Dead and a trailer was just posted today! It looks really good. A zombie plague is bad news for a country as densely populated as India. It seems to have a higher budget than its predecessor because it looks a little more polished. I hope the story is as good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Zombie Songs 2

More fun zombie tunes!

1) Zombies Are People Too by David Ritter

This song is sung by zombies trying get to people barricaded away. They try to spread propaganda so people won't kill them and allow them to eat their brains. Ingenious! I can't embed the song, but it can be heard and downloaded for free from David Ritter's website.

2) Shoot the Zombies (By Shooting Them in the Head) by Andrew

The people from the first song should listen to this advice. This song is super upbeat and catchy. Perfect music to motivate you if you're being chased or sniping from afar. The song is available for 99 cents on Andrew's site.

3) Zombie Love by Cold Blue Rebels

This poor guy is in love with a zombie. He loves her from her rotting flesh to her unbeating heart. It starts as a 50's ballad and then kicks it up a notch with an energetic swing beat. The video is adorable with the zombie dancers and zombies drinking formaldehyde. So sweet!

What are you favorite zombie tunes?

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Evil Dead (2013)

** spoilers **

Mia is a heroin addict dealing with the aftermath of her mother's death. She goes to an old cabin her family owns with her friends and her brother to get her through withdrawal and get clean, but the place has been broken into and defaced. They clean up as best they can and find a weird book wrapped in a trash bag and barbed wire. Eric decides to disregard every single warning, open it, and read it out loud. Of course it releases demons that possess them to torment and eventually kill them. Can they band together to defeat the evil or will all their souls burn in hell?

I usually hate remakes with the fire of a thousand suns. The filmmakers usually dumb down what made the film great in the first place. I actually enjoyed Evil Dead much more than the original. I understand why the original is so well liked, but it's so boring and badly acted. The remake breathes new life into the story, giving a well fleshed out plot and characters with actual personalities and relationships. The relationships are what kept them there in the cabin even after dead cats and evil books are discovered when any sane person would have left. They all want Mia to get clean and want to stay at any cost because her life is at risk if she stays on drugs. The sibling relationship comes into play when David can easily end the whole thing by simply killing Mia. He opts to kill her and then bring her back, risking and eventually sacrificing his own life so she can live. It also makes it all the more meaningful when the demon chooses to appear as whoever they are possessing, in pain and bewildered at their mutilations, to manipulate their loved ones.

Evil Dead is a fun, scary film. There are a few jump scares at the beginning to set the mood, but the real suspense is built later. One of my favorite scenes is where Olivia is possessed and mutilating herself behind a shower curtain. You know exactly what she's doing, but as Eric draws nearer and nearer, you dread actually seeing it and being confronted by the Deadite. The humor isn't the same as the previous films. It's dark and not as overt, but it still had a me laughing out loud quite a few times. I also love this scene because at the midnight showing I went to, the guy next to me said it was the grossest thing he'd ever seen. I liked that the infamous tree rape scene was kept, but made into something actually horrifying and disgusting. The original scene is downright comical and the new one is extremely uncomfortable to watch. Possession is basically a type of rape where an entity enters the body and controls it against the person's will.

The film is an allegory for addiction. Mia and her friends come together for her to conquer her addiction. At first, they force her to stay when she clearly can't handle the withdrawals. Then she is possessed after being raped by her evil doppelganger and turns unrecognizable. Addiction causes people to turn into monsters and hurt the people around them. The possession in the film is communicable and is passed through bites, vomit, and injuries. It shows how toxic addiction can be to loved ones. After her brother kills and revives her, she is left alone to confront her evil doppelganger. Mia is the only one that can conquer her addiction. Her friends and family can do as much as they can, but it won't do any good if Mia isn't willing to change and really work to get better.

Evil Dead is a blast to watch. I love the mixture of dark humor, gross gore, and suspense. The only scene I thought was too over the top was when it started raining blood. After a while, everything is oversaturated with it and it ceases to mean anything. Other than that, it was an enjoyable, well balanced film.

My rating: 9/10 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Plague Nation

Ashley Parker is a wild card, immune to the zombie plague and forced to join a paramilitary organization to combat the zombies. After an ambush, San Francisco has been completely overtaken by zombies, so her and her fellow wild cards travel to San Diego to find a cure and end the zombie plague. A wrench gets thrown in their plans when a mysterious organization tries to weaponize the zombie virus and then it becomes airborne. No one can control how it spreads any longer and physical contact isn't needed. Ashley and her team are the only people who can really help save the world. Let's hope they can survive long enough to fight against the coming zombie hordes.

Ashley Parker is once again a wonderful heroine. She's strong, but still sympathetic and emotional, and she's grown a lot since the last book. Although still fun, the whole novel takes on a darker tone. There are less references (OMG that Great Race reference!) and jokes than the previous books and some truly sobering and tearjerking events happen. I like that the tone isn't completely lighthearted because it would feel jarring to go from something depressing to silly jokes right after. Ashley has to deal with very harsh truths. Even though she's superhuman, she can't save everyone. Sometimes people are going to die on her watch and she will be powerless to stop it. A lot of the things she goes through is reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I love! She has to deal with all this supernatural stuff and still maintain fairly normal platonic and romantic relationships within that crazy world.

Plague Nation doesn't suffer from second book syndrome. It's just as captivating and action-packed as the first book. The plot twists and turns so I don't know what to expect next. Intermixed with Ashley's story, little vignettes describe how the zombie plague is advancing in different parts of the US and how a Typhoid Mario spreads the disease through sleeping with people. The new creepy organization that wants the zombie plague to spread is very human and terrifying. It makes me wonder how a person could want that for the world, especially when it puts them at great risk as well.

Plague Nation is almost as good as Plague Town. The only negative thing is that the book meanders until the halfway and then picks up momentum. Dana Fredsti takes some risks and reminds us that not every character is safe. I really want to read Plague World now, but it's not out until April 8th, 2014! Ugh, why must I wait so long? Highly recommended!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Battle of the Network Zombies

Amanda Feral is back, but not as triumphant as she would like. Her advertising agency is on the verge of closing down. Her boyfriend leaves her because her celebrity status and material wealth is more important to her than their relationship. Then her car gets repossessed; she loses her condo; and she still owes oodles of money to the Reapers for fixing her up. Sleazebag wood nymph Johnny Birch offers Amanda her last chance for success as a judge on his new reality show American Minions. Although she hates his fairy guts, she takes the offer. The show doesn't go as planned when Johnny Birch is found murdered, but Amanda doesn't let it put an end to the show. In a stroke of genius (or self preservation), she turns it into a reality murder mystery. It could be any of the very colorful cast of characters, including a white trash stripper, a drag queen werewolf, and a very powerful voodoo witch. Let's hope she can catch the killer before she's next on their list.

The Amanda Feral series has been a guilty pleasure for me. It's so sleazy and dirty, but fun at the same time. I like Amanda even though she kind of a horrible person. She has grown over the course of the last 2 books and even humbled a little bit due to her crippling debt. Even though she's still very judgmental and quick to make biting comments, she actually reflects on how it might affect the people she loves and is even known to apologize for hurting them. Everyone else she hurts can die for all she cares. She's the same Amanda from previous books, just with a little more heart. I like that she has no remorse over eating people. It's a necessity to her survival, so why feel guilty? There is no typical paranormal romance angst here, which is refreshing.

I liked how the supernatural world was effected by real world woes. Amanda's company is circling the drain and verging on bankruptcy. Her boss is demanding and practically the only person that makes her feel inferior. She also owes quite a bit of money to the Reapers for specialized health care. Obviously, she can't just waltz into a regular hospital and the Reapers don't seem to take any sort of insurance, so it's all extremely expensive. Many people can relate to her predicament because of the state of the economy and our fucked up health care system.

I had quite a few problems with this book. The colorful cast of characters was really fun. I especially like Tanesha Jones the drag wolf and Maiko the beautiful Japanese smoke ghost. However, the new characters didn't get a lot of time to shine and their potential went untapped. Wendy is annoying and didn't really need to be in the story at all. Parts of the story were frankly hard to follow and needed some editing. I was underwhelmed by the ending and the story in the appendix was just a weird, disturbing way to end. I get that it was a glimpse into the formative years of Amanda Feral, but I just don't think it should be the last thing I ever read about her. Lastly, I hate this cover with a passion.

Battle of the Network Zombies is my least favorite of the series. I still enjoyed it, but it was lacking compared to the previous two books. It had a lot of potential, but didn't manage to deliver. I still very much enjoy Mark Henry's writing and will read whatever he writes next.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 20, 2013

Upcoming Zombies 2

This is a feature for upcoming projects involving zombies!

1) The Walking Dead Spin-off show

AMC has just announced plans for a new Walking Dead series. The release is set for 2015 and Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and David Alpert are the executive producers. No word yet on the subject or characters, but it won't be tied to the comic books in any way, giving the writers more freedom (although they seem to ignore the source material A LOT on the show). I'm looking forward to seeing a different view of that world separate from Rick's group.

2) Plague World by Dana Fredsti

This will be the last book in the Ashley Parker series. I just read Plague Nation and I am dying to see how the series ends. It's been wonderful seeing the characters grow and change over the course of two books and I've grown quite attached to them. It won't be out until April 4, 2014. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now fully engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús, which seeks to weaponize the plague. But that isn't the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, making it transferable without physical contract. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United States - and across the world.

3) Sick by Tom Leveen

Sick is a new YA zombie novel that deals with a zombie outbreak in high school. Surprisingly, there aren;t a whole lot of books that do this. The only one I can really think of is This is Not a Test, but it was more about the main characters internal struggle. I digress. The cover is awesome and the synopsis sounds interesting. I like books about underdog weirdos in high school and zombies with that sounds fun. I will definitely keep an eye out for this one. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.
The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lockdown, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Zombies in Art

* Feast and Famine by Chase Stone

This is an art from a Magic: the Gathering card. I love the style because it looks like you can almost feel the texture of the zombie. The expressions are amazing.

* Optical illusion

I'm not sure what it's called or who make it or where it came from, but this photo is awesome. The more you look at it, the more zombies you see in the fog. It has a spooky atmosphere and I would hate to be there during a zombie apocalypse. View it in it's full-sized glory here.

* Zombie engagement photos

I know that we've seen a lot of these and it's getting a little overdone, but this is the best I've seen. This adorable couple decided to make their engagement photos into a concise zombie story. Their whole wedding party becomes zombies and tries to eat them! Go here to see it in its entirety.

Share your own favorite pieces of zombie art!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zombie YA Giveaway!!!

Some YA zombie books are up for grabs!

* Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (ARC)
* The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (ARC)
* Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Just comment below with your favorite YA zombie read and a way to contact you. That's it! Contest ends 10/21/13 at midnight. Open internationally. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z paints a comprehensive and detailed picture of the global zombie war. The unnamed narrator interviews a wide variety of people from all around the globe ten years after the zombie war. It was first intended as a government report, but all of the human element was removed from it to reveal the facts. The narrator opts to write a book detailing how different individual people felt and what happened to them during that horrible time in human history. For each story, a short introduction of the person and setting is followed by that person's first person account of what happened interspersed with the narrator's questions either for clarification or to elaborate on a subject. It reads as a nonfiction historical book and a harrowing one at that.

None of those interviewed know each other and aren't connected in any way, but their narratives tell the entire story of the zombie war, from patient zero to world ten years after the declared end of the zombie war (although millions still walk the earth). The people interviewed ranged from high ranking government officials to members of the military to scientists to ordinary people trying to survive. These stories showed the best and worst of human nature as well as the simple horror living in such a time. Each character was fully realized with their own insights, motivation, and reactions. Many of the stories were more emotional than I expected and really packed a punch.

My favorite story is about a famous filmmaker working hard to film and show an account of a group of college students staving off thousands of zombies at their university. He thought it bombed at first because people didn't seem too enthused at his showing and he moved on with his life. It was later revealed to be a huge hit and he went on to make many more. Suicides and sudden deaths went down drastically, showing that art can have a profound effect on people. It gave them hope when all seemed bleak. One of the most despicable characters was an opportunistic businessman that created an untested vaccine in the US that didn't work, but made millions of dollars. He justified it treated rabies, which is what the virus was originally called. He has no remorse for the damage he caused, which largely contributed to the Great Panic, the panicked and chaotic realization that the zombies are real.

This war was completely different than any other war. Each and every zombie is working 24 hours a day to end life on earth. They don't tire or weaken or die naturally. Every human casualty weakens us and strengthens them. This is war as no one has ever seen. Existing weapons don't take into account that wounds, even normally fatal ones, don't matter to the undead, so many of them are useless. Tactics and weapons have to be completely rethought to accommodate the new enemies' weaknesses or lack thereof. Most countries don't have many resources or the manpower to completely re-evaluate how they fight, especially when they are trying to stave off the total collapse of their government and society at the same time. These zombies are slow and shuffley, but this doesn't mean they are easy to kill or safe to be around. Their moans can signal zombies from miles around and set off a domino effect until there are thousands of zombies called to your location. Numbers are always on their side since there are more of them and less of us every day.

World War Z is the most well researched, detailed zombie novel I've ever read. It presents itself as history and puts the events in context of actual history. It's definitely one of my favorites and I notice more and more with each reread. The novel is ultimately optimistic. This is the only book I've read where humans actually win over zombies and the majority of people were shown to be decent, resilient, and honorable. Most zombie novels are bleak and incredibly depressing, but this one manages to send out a hopeful message.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 16, 2013

World War Z: the film

** Warning: contains spoilers. **

First, this film bears absolutely no resemblance to the book of the same name. The only thing they have in common is the existence of zombies, the title, and the worldwide scale. This film could only be remotely like the book if it were told in a documentary style with interviews of the various people. This film is basically Brad Pitt (Gerry) goes around the world kicking zombie butt and looking for a cure for the zombie plague. In order to review it more objectively, I am going to pretend the movie isn't called World War Z and put aside all my expectations and hopes based on that title.

World War Z is an interesting film that brings up concepts I haven't seen before in zombie films. There aren't many that focus on what the government does during such a situation. Gerry used to work for the UN and he is basically told to help them find a cure or his family can't stay in the safe housing anymore. He flies all over the world chasing the origin of the disease and narrowly escaping death at each locale. The suspense is well done and builds in the right places. My favorite scenes were the zombies in the airplane and the claustrophobic journey through the WHO lab. The zombies are frightening and super fast. The solution at the end is temporary, but effective. Gerry notices certain people just don't exist to the zombies. He theorizes that those people survived a deadly disease and thus are an nonviable host for the zombie virus. This is proven true when he injects himself with a random disease in order to go bypass the zombies and return to his team with the diseases to test the theory. The film ends with a vaccine being made of a lethal pathogen to render the general public invisible to zombies. It isn't perfect and it isn't the end, but it's a good place to start. I like that all the ends aren't tied up with a nice bow. The theory makes sense and isn't something I've seen before.

The film has a lot of flaws. I've ranted about it before, but I really don't like fast zombies. It doesn't make biological sense for their muscles and tendons to be magically invincible and able to take the stress over long periods of time. World War Z takes it a step further and makes them swarm in an insectile way using bad, cartoony CGI. It just looked horrible and made me roll my eyes. The film is PG-13, so although there are numerous zombie attacks, there is very little blood and gore. I'm not just being a gorehound here. It's a realistic part of being in a zombie apocalypse: people are torn apart and eaten everywhere. I felt like I was watching a watered down or censored zombie film. The zombie virus takes hold quite fast. There really isn't enough time for a person to board a plane and go somewhere else to spread that the disease. It just doesn't work in the scope of the narrative. The characters were less than compelling. Gerry only agrees to help save humanity because his incredibly generic family is threatened. I'm not sure if he thought that through, but his family is included in all of humanity. The situation with his family also makes the film just like every other disaster movie ever. It was frustrating in a lot of ways. It just goes to show that being the most expensive zombie film ever made does not make automatically it a good film.

Overall, the film was ok: nothing spectacular and definitely does not live up to the hype. The novel is clearly superior on all possible levels. I would watch the sequel to see where it goes next, but I don't anticipate greatness.

My rating: 6/10 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3

This last season of The Walking Dead was a mixed bag for me: lots of good stuff and lots of cringe inducing stuff. This post contains major spoilers for Season 3.

The Good:

* Merle and Daryl -  Daryl is an amazing and popular character. Although he started out rough around the edges, he proved to be a loyal friend and a central part of Rick's group. He shows more of his softer side through his growing friendship with Carol and helping care for Judith, Rick's baby. He is still fiercely loyal to his brother and opts to abandon the group, but returns later to help Rick save Woodbury. Daryl is one character that keeps me interested in the show. Merle is racist, offensive, violent, and tortured Glenn and Maggie for the Governor. Normally, I would not like him, but his exit from the show was poetic and made up for all of his previous actions. He viewed himself as just as horrible as everyone else did, but proved himself to be a good person willing to sacrifice himself to save his friends. His last encounter as a zombie with Daryl was the most heartbreaking scene of the whole season.

* Glenn and Maggie - This couple is the most consistent bright point in the whole series. Their love is unwavering and even if they fight occasionally, they are always there for each other. I just love their relationship!

* the Governor - The Governor is the deliciously evil, two faced villain that makes this season special. At first, he seems to be a great guy that just wants to make a normal, safe place for people in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Under that Stepford husband exterior lurks a depraved mind. It's revealed that he keeps his undead daughter chained up, brushing her hair and singing to her as if she was alive. He also has fish tanks full of heads (both from zombies and living people) and he won't hesitate to kill or torture or use anyone for his own ends. He maintains his "good guy" facade to the residents of Woodbury to keep them on his side and keep them against Rick's group until he finally breaks and slaughters his own men. The Governor has just the right amount of insanity, manipulation, and delicious evilness to maintain a threatening presence for the entire season.

* Michonne - Michonne is an amazing character both in the comic book and on TV. I would say she's the strongest character on the show in general. She has the most ingenious methods of survival, the best being having 2 zombie pets with arms and jaws ripped off to keep other zombies away. She wields a katana with expert precision and isn't afraid to do what has to be done, no matter how unpleasant. Her voice of reason kept me sane watching this season with so many horrible decision-making going on.

* Carl - Carl is a horrible character who does stupid things and gets in trouble because he doesn't stay where he is supposed to. However, at the end of the season, he kills a young man from Woodbury who was possibly going to surrender. After Rick confronts him, he shows no remorse and insists that the kill was necessary for their safety. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next season and how growing up during a zombie apocalypse can affect children.

The Bad:

* Andrea - UGH! Andrea is still alive in the comic book and easily one of my favorite characters. In the show, she's dead, but not before having everything that makes her awesome become completely obliterated. It all started in previous seasons when she encouraged depressed people to commit suicide and shot at her friends. In this season, she starts by ditching Michonne after being saved by her and staying by her side for 8 months for a seemingly idyllic town and a guy she just met. So then she falls for the Governor and even after a huge amount of red flags (including seeing the fishtanks full of heads), she STILL doesn't see how horrible he is. Even her death scene is terrible. She has pliers to get herself out of the restraints in sight, but she spends way to much time talking to and staring at Milton. I really don't understand why the writers took such a strong, amazing character and ruined her.

* Woodbury - In the comic book, the whole town is complicit in pitting humans against zombies for entertainment. This is an important point because the people of Woodbury are not innocent in that situation and can't be trusted by Rick's group. The horror is much greater in the comic book because it shows how bad it's gotten when people are willing to kill for entertainment. The Woodbury in the show is just as innocent and unaware as Rick's group (except for Milton, the Governor, and the small group of followers that helped torture Glenn and Maggie). The Governor consisently manipulates them and lies to them, so after it all goes down, many of them go to the prison to join Rick's group. I just found this aspect lacking and it could have been much more horrific.

The Walking Dead season 4 starts October 13th on AMC. What are you looking forward to? What are your thoughts on Season 3?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zombies at Disneyland

I went to Disneyland yesterday just looking to take in a nice show and relax. I've become fond of the Mad T Party in California Adventure over the last month or so. It features Wonderland characters as a band in fun, rocked out outfits playing dance music, pop songs, classic rock, and mashups. There are also dancers at the House of Cards and a White Rabbit DJ to entertain in between the band's sets. I had no idea there would be zombies there! As you know, it was Friday the 13th, which is a big Villain Day celebration at Disneyland. Plus they chose that date to kick off their kickass Halloween decorations and Halloween themed rides (the Haunted Mansion invaded by The Nightmare Before Christmas and Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy).

Anyways, the set starts out like usual. The band is energetic and plays through their usual three sets (with half hour breaks in betwee). But at the end of each of them, they close with this awesome song:

Do they look different in the second version to you? They started out with normal stage makeup and then with each set, the make up got darker and more sinister, hollowing out their cheek bones and eye sockets. They also would randomly shuffle, walk stiffly, or look like they felt woozy in the middle of songs, slowly succumbing to the zombie plague.The final transformation included black light makeup, heavier zombie makeup, and cobwebs.

Their final set was all new and never before seen. They performed Enter Sandman by Metallica, Bring Me to Life by Evanescence, Devil Inside by INXS, One Way or Another by Blondie, Disturbia by Rhianna, The Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Thriller by Michael Jackson. Here are my favorites of the set:

This show was amazing. The crowd was the biggest I've ever seen there and the energy and excitement were contagious. So, zombies at Disneyland. Who would've thought?

* First picture from Dani Kerry's Facebook and the rest from Melanie K Photography.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th Giveaway!!!!

Guess what day it is? It's Friday the 13th! This notorious day brought me lots of fun, wonderment, and zombies, so I would like to pass it on. Who wants some books?

Here are the zombie romance books up for grabs:

*Warm Bodies by Issac Marion
* Married with Zombies by Jesse Peterson
* Flip this Zombie by Jesse Peterson

What to do:

* Just comment with your email address below. That's it!

Ends 10/13/13. Open internationally. One lucky winner wins all 3 books!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Internet Awesomeness: Zombie Edition

Various internet findings involving zombies!

1) Victorian Undead

This short film is fairly basic with no dialog at all, but the costuming and zombie makeup are pretty awesome. I could definitely see this as a scene from a feature film and I would love to see it expanded. I like period zombie films and books because they don't have the technology we have today and it makes it even harder to beat them or escape them.

2) Zombies Run! 2 app

This is a fitness app to make working out a little more fun. Instead of just running or walking or bike riding, you can do it with a cool zombie story. There are over 60 missions. As you go, you pick up various items needed, save people from zombies, run from zombies, and so much more! You can hear the zombie horde as it tries to catch you and the reporter tells you when you are clear. I hate running, but adding this cool feature would definitely motivate me to run more. The app is 50% right now for $3.99 and they also have an app to train for a 5k. Available for both Google and iOS.

3) Undead Teds

Undead Teds are adorable zombie teddy bears! They are handmade and adorably macabre. The creators of these take existing dolls and add blood, gore, and bones to them. There are a huge variety of them, but unfortunately, they're all sold out! What zombie fan wouldn't want one of these creepy cute dolls to grace their homes? Besides their website, you can follow them on their Tumblr or Facebook. Below are some of my favorites.

Post your own zombie internet awesomeness below!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Roberta is the new kid in school and hates it with every fiber of her being. She doesn't know anyone and just gets made fun of for sounding American. Her class is coming home from a ski field trip and they stop in a small Scottish town to have lunch in a cafe. Roberta decides to stay in the bus to escape her classmates. Lucky for her she completely avoids the ensuing zombie apocalypse. Her classmates, teachers, and random bystanders all collapse and then get up to eat living flesh. The only ones exempt are her, Smitty the rebellious troublemaker, Alice the cruel and popular queen bee, and Pete the very pale and unpopular nerd. Although they pretty much despise each other in normal life, they have to put aside their differences and band together to survive.

Undead is a fun zombie adventure, kind of like The Breakfast Club meets Night of the Living Dead. A bunch of teenagers that would never, ever spend time together in real life are thrown together and have to work together to live. Each of the characters can basically fit into a typical high school stereotype, but over the course of the book, they prove to be much more. Roberta spends a lot of time being angsty over her life. Some of her lamenting is legitimate, but it does get tiresome after a while. The zombie outbreak brings out a bravery and strength in her that she didn't even know she had. Smitty, although an annoying bad boy, proves to be self sacrificing and good at heart. Alice is a horribly annoying queen bee whose snide and insulting comments flow freely. Just because the world might be ending doesn't mean she's going to magically turn into a nice person, but she does come to feel some loyalty to their little survival group. Pete is very brainy and shy, but he gets to come out of his shell, really get to know the people around him, and put his knowledge to good use. Each character shows their true colors and is allowed to break out of the social constructs of high school.

 The novel has a good mix of humor and horror. The teens provide the humor with their scathing or silly comments and quips. The horror comes with the zombies and with other people. The incubation period for the virus varies greatly from seconds to hours, so it's hard to tell who is infected and who isn't. The bus driver helped them multiple times and fell into unconsciousness only to rise and try to eat them a little later. Random people keep backstabbing them and trying to lock them up for mysterious reasons, so the danger doesn't rest solely on zombies. These zombies are slow and constantly shuffling towards their prey. Their entire class turned into zombies plus everyone in the surrounding area that drank the zombie veggie juice. The big climactic zombie attack at the end is heartpounding and edge-of-your-seat exciting.

Undead is a super fun, entertaining, and exciting zombie read. I like how the people behind the zombie virus was revealed in the end and how it tied to our intrepid heroes. The only things I didn't like were the ending and the book cover. The ending felt very abrupt and was a cheap cliffhanger, which is frankly overused in YA books. The cover doesn't have a whole lot to with the book, seeing as there are no cheerleaders, and the tagline "Die young, stay hungry" doesn't really make sense. I will be picking up the next book, Unfed, as soon as I can.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The End Games

*Mild spoilers.*

Seventeen year old Michael and his younger brother Patrick have had it. Their stepfather is abusive and unpredictable, causing Patrick to have severe psychological problems including catatonia and selfharm. On Halloween night, they decide to run away to show their mother how bad it is for them, but the world coincidentally goes to hell. The dead walk the earth and eat the living. The brothers are stranded in a hostile world full of monsters and have to fend for themselves. Patrick as also only 5 years old and needs to be protected from the horror of this new world. Michael, with ingenuity and not a small amount of lying, successfully keeps them alive and happy for 3 weeks until everything changes. The boys run into other living, normal people and they discover the zombies are changing and evolving. Can Michael and Patrick stay alive and sane through all this craziness?

I love the concept of The End Games. Michael invents a video game scenario and a game master to shield his little brother from the cold, hard reality of the radically changed world. The game master gives them tasks, awards points, and sets the ultimate goal as getting to the safe zone. After three weeks of successfully dodging Bellows, they finally encounter normal people, but all doesn't go as they imagined. They wanted an idyllic reunion with their mom and a perfect, protected world, but what they found was much different and threw the game into chaos. Real life and real people don't follow the rules. These brothers are fully realized, nuanced characters.They tease each other, have their own inside jokes, and have a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie that felt real. The author based this relationship off his own relationship with his little brother and it showed. Their background story, revealed in bits and pieces throughout the novel, is heartbreaking. Hearing the nitty gritty details and seeing the physical and psychological toll the abuse has on Patrick had a much bigger impact on me than I thought it would. I really felt for these boys, related to them, and felt proud that they persevered through the abuse and through the zombie infested world.

I really liked the type of zombies Martin created. Instead of just conventional moaning and groaning, these zombies bellow. These Bellows will latch on to whatever was heard last and repeat it at length, distorting the words and their meaning. This type of zombie is quite dangerous because they can be fairly silent until close to people and then attract other zombies with their loud bellows. I also find it chilling that zombies can speak even if the words have no meaning to them. Imagine having your own distorted words echoed back at you as they close in.

Some of the execution of the novel was lacking for me. Something about the writing would make me feel as if I'd missed something. Some phrases are repeated throughout, but never really explained and I think I know what the author meant but I was never really sure. The main human villain was kind of boring and one dimensional, which was disappointing compared to how well written Patrick and Michael are. Other than these small issues, I felt the novel was very enjoyable.

The End Games is a unique zombie novel with a wonderful fraternal relationship at its core. I would definitely read upcoming books by T. Michael Martin.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flesh and Bone

** spoilers for the previous books in the series**

In spite of tragedy, Benny Imura surges on to find the airplane he saw flying through the air with the help of his friends, Nix, Chong, and Lilah. They still traverse the Rot and Ruin towards the unknown, but their hope stays strong. The world is a wild place now. Exotic animals hunt them. Zombies attack them in swarms and not just slow, normal zombies, but faster, evolving zombies. A death cult grows large and picks off towns and villages one by one, leaving a wake of blood and death. A small band of survivors try to fight back, but the odds don't look good. Benny and his friends must remain constantly vigilant that everything in the Rot and Ruin willy try to kill them in order to survive.

Flesh and Bone is the third in the series and it's going very strong.  Benny and his friends are in emotional shambles at this point because of Tom's death. Benny is acting recklessly to prove to a disembodied Tom in his head that he can be the samurai he was taught to be. Nix is distant and lost in her own thoughts much of the time, making her relationship with Benny strained even further. Nix's journal is interspersed in between the chapters, giving insight to her emotions and thoughts that she keeps from the others. Her journey to find the airplane means more to her than the others know. Lilah and Chong are both suffering from the loss, but maintain more of who they were before. Through most of the novel, these characters are separated and each go through their own struggles. I enjoyed seeing the story from each character's point of view and I especially liked the insight into Lilah who has a weakness for classic romantic literature underneath her steely exterior.

A new Big Bad is introduced in this novel: the Night Church. They are a fanatical death cult that see survivors as an affront to God's will because the zombies were created to destroy the human race. The cult feels it's their duty to "open red doors" in people and release them into the bliss of death. These people are incredibly frightening because of their stalwart faith that what they are doing is right. Saint John of the Knife is the most zealous and frightening of the bunch, thinking of bigger and more effective ways to accomplish their goal. The leader of the cult is Mother Rose, who doesn't believe in the dogma at all and uses the cult to gain power and eliminate the opposition. These two main villains are incredibly dangerous in their own way and are the best of the series so far. Their dynamic together is interesting and you wonder who is really fooling who in the situation and when they will find out the truth about each other.

Flesh and Bone has character development, super creepy villains, and, of course, zombies. Interesting things happen with these zombies that I never saw coming. The zombies still have a huge presence in the novel and become even more frightening than before. Paired with the human villains, the odds against our heroes are astronomically high. I can't wait to read the final book in the series, Fire and Ash.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time!

I've been looking forward to this game for years. I played the original Plants vs. Zombies after my boyfriend suggested I play a demo on my laptop and I got completely hooked. In the following months, my friends and the rest of the world also got hooked on the adorable art, cheerful music, and addictive game play on eventually almost every platform imaginable. It's won a slew of video game awards and everyone from casual to hardcore gamers have played and enjoyed this lighthearted game. Right now, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is only available at the iTunes store for free. We'll return to this later.

The game play is very fun. It has all the old mechanics paired with new situations, new mechanics, new game modes, new plants, new zombies, and new backdrops. It makes the game new again and not just the same old stuff from the previous one. The story line is silly. Crazy Dave wants to go back in time to eat his taco again, so he and his talking time machine car take you to Ancient Egypt because Dave's crazy. The backdrops in ancient Egyptian style and even the lawnmowers are decorated with pyramids. New zombies include sandstorm zombies, zombies protected by tiles, sarcophagus zombies, explorer zombies, and mummies. New plants include Bloomerang, Coconut Canon, and Iceberg Lettuce with old favorites returning. The other two worlds are pirate and cowboy themed. I just find the whole thing charming, silly, and super fun to play. One of the new mechanics I like is the plant food that when given to a plant makes it perform a much more powerful, far reaching version of its usual ability. The other new thing I'm a little iffy on is powerups using the touch screen to electrify, send zombies flying, or pinch their heads off. It's interesting, but I would not like to personally use it because it is too powerful. It also costs in game coins to use, which I simply opt not to.

This brings us to my huge problem with the game. The game is completely free to download and play, but to unlock certain plants and large spaces of the world, real money is needed to unlock them. It's not just a little bit either. It costs $2.99 per plant and so far there are 6 plants available that can't be obtained through free game play. As the ads shove in your face, you can buy packages of coins, upgrades to the game (such as starting with 25 energy or an extra seed slot), or you can buy bundles that pair some of these things together. I hate this type of game. You basically have to spend endless hours slogging through insanely hard levels because you don't have the more powerful plants to unlock them or pay money around $25 to unlock everything in this level. To get to another world, you either spend $5 or 25 stars in game that are extremely hard and time consuming to get. I assume other levels unlock more plants, prompting more money to be spent.

This is completely disingenuous to the fans of the game. I would rather just pay the $20 for the PC version and have the full game to play with than be prompted to spend much more than that and have extremely limited access in the worlds if I refuse. This new version of the game can be attributed to EA buying Popcap and using the same money grubbing antics that have ruined other games. This is a casual game. Hardcore gamers may be happy spending hours upon hours earning passage to other worlds and plants, but many of the target audience won't find the game fun because of this. I am not a great video game player and I'm not frankly don't have the time or interest to do this. The mere fact that the entire game is not available without loads of real money is ridiculous to me. (Just a tip: Disable downloads for the game to ensure that you won't accidentally buy any of the upgrades if you aren't interested.)

The other thing I find saddening is that Plants vs. Zombies 2 does not feature the music of Laura Shigihara that made Plants vs. Zombies such a success. Her themes are remixed in different styles to reflect the levels (pirate and ancient Egyptian). It seems the remixing and additional music (written to mimic Shigihara's style) were done by an unnamed third party because I haven't been able to find any mention of the composer anywhere. It's just not the same without her wonderful music.

The game play is fun, addicting, and everything I wanted it to be. EA's moneygrabbing ploys are incredibly annoying and undermines the spirit of the game. I hope there will be a full PC version with access to the full version. If all versions of the game have similar tactics, then I'm done. Until then, I will continue to play the game for free until I can longer go forward without paying and then delete it.

My rating:

Game play: 5/5
EA, ads, and want for $$$: 1/5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Upcoming Zombies 1

These are some upcoming zombie projects that I am looking forward to!

1) Warm Bodies sequel by Isaac Marion

Yes! You heard me right. Isaac Marion will be writing a sequel to Warm Bodies that is as yet untitled. This is what he has to say about it:

"I wrote Warm Bodies having only the faintest hope that it would ever see publication. I never dreamed that I'd have the opportunity to continue the story in another book, so I tried to make it self-contained. But in my head, I still went ahead and created a big, complex world full of history and mystery and people and monsters and strange things in-between, all moving toward something only hinted at in Warm Bodies' brisk 256 pages. Those pages end with hope on the horizon, but the world that R, Julie, M, Nora, Rosso, and Perry inhabit is still very dark, very wild, and not even close to "saved."

I love that world. I love those people, and I want to show you what happens to them. So I'm writing another book about them. Another book-and-a-half, actually...but I'll explain that later. For now, just trust that I have a story to tell and a reason to tell it, and I'll try my best not to ruin everything."

You can read the full post on his blog, Burning Building, here. I am excited about a sequel and since the original was so brilliant, I have complete faith that the sequel will be as well.

2) Tom Savini's Death Island

Tom Savinin remade Night of the Living Dead over 20 years ago and wants to make another zombie film. I was not a big fan of that film, but the premise for this one sounds unique and very interesting. Tony Todd is an amazing actor that has a commanding presence in any film (just look at the Final Destination movies), so I would love to see him as the villain here. If you like it, you can help fund it yourself and help make the film a reality here. Watch the pitch!

3) Maggie

Maggie will be a film about a teenage girl slowly succumbing to the zombie virus as her family watches over about 6 weeks. All that has been confirmed is that Arnold Schwarzenegger will play the father and Abigail Breslin, of Zombieland fame, will play Maggie. It will be directed by Henry Hobson, who has not directed any films before. The premise is intriguing and I love Abigail Breslin, but Schwarzenegger is not known for good acting. I guess we'll see what happens. Keep an eye out!