Book Review: The Scourge: Nostrum by Roberto Calas

In these times of madness, only madness will save us.

Zombies, knights, hilarity, Sir Tristan.  I’m in love….

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This is the second book in The Scourge Series by Roberto Calas, here is my review for book one.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Sir Edward Dallingridge survived his journey through the anarchy that is now England, leaving in his wake the bodies of mad lords, foul invaders, friends, and the risen dead. There was nothing on earth that could keep him from the woman he loves.

Nothing but the horror that has already consumed her.

His journey is over, but his mission is far from complete. As a knight of the realm, he has defended England from every enemy it has. But how does one drive away a plague sent from hell? His only hope lies in the rumors of a cure–a treatment concocted by a strange man on an island fortress. Edward will do everything in his power to find this alchemist and to bring Elizabeth back from the walking terror she has become.

This book is again a serial, and is a bit darker, considering  the end of the first book.  The adventure continues for Sir Edward and Sir Tristan, but with the addition of others such as Belisencia, a “nun” they come across in their journey.  Her presence adds some much needed female comic relief and her interactions with Sir Tristan are hilarious.  And again, Christianity and the church are often the butt of the jokes:

“Barbaric?” Tristan asks. “And why are they any more barbaric than Christians?”

Belisencia scoffs and looks away.  “There’s no sense talking to you about it.”

Tristan laughs.  “Go on, tell me.  I would like to know what’s more barbaric than drinking the blood of our savior every week.  Or eating his flesh.” He laughs again and sweeps his hand to encompass the countryside.  “Maybe all of these plaguers are just good Christians that got carried away.  They’re drinking everyone’s blood.  Maybe they are more devout than any of us.”

I love how the zombie apocalypse in medieval England pretty much mirrors the zombie apocalypse in every other time period and part of the world that I’ve read.  Makes me think that no matter where or when, humans are humans and will probably devolve to their baser elements when the fabric of society is torn apart:

The afflicted are not the worst thing about this new England. Plaguers are hungry and desperate.  I understand those motives.  What, then, are the motives of the survivors?  Power?  Avarice? Cruelty? Of the two groups, the unafflicted survivors are the greater threat.  I am uncomfortable with what this implies about my kind.

Like I said in my earlier review, I know NOTHING about this time period, outside of what I’ve seen in Monty Python.  And this reminds me much of Monty Python.  But Mr. Calas is very gifted at understanding that not all of us readers know what a bevor (?) is, and works very diligently to make sure we aren’t completely lost.  He makes all of the knight stuff palatable.  And funny:

Every priest dreams of sainthood.  Every merchant dreams of riches.  And every knight, no matter how much he may deny it, dreams of slaying a dragon.  It is in our blood. Tristan and I nearly knock each other to the ground in our haste to reach the creature.

Another feature I love of these books, maybe it is just a serial thing, is the historical notes at the end.  Mr. Calas has done extensive research into his writing.  Sir Edward was a real person with a real castle.  A good number of the events were based in some sort of reality.  Even the dancing mania AND the dragon (you have to read about it).  I truly appreciate these types of works that are based in some sort of reality.  And then the author just runs with it.

Again, I highly recommend this series.  Fulfills my zombie requirement, humor requirement, history requirement all in one book.  A must read.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

Book Review: Blood and Fire (The Talbot Trilogy) by Tori L. Ridgewood

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I reviewed the first of this trilogy, Wind and Shadow, earlier this year and was delighted to be able to review the second book.

Here is the syopsis:

What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering… 

The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined? 

In between reading the first and second books, I finally read The Twilight Saga.  Mainly because I kind of knew that all of these vampire books I was reading were making references to it, and I wanted in on the secrets.

 So now I’m going to allude to this series as a more realistic Twilight in which vampires actually do kill people and consenting adults do actually have sex.

So there you have it.  As an adult female with a healthy libido, it makes this series much more enjoyable.

I absolutely love Rayvin.  She has her flaws, but she is a very strong character.  She is fiery, she is alive, and that is probably why de Sade is so taken with her.  I have to admire the strength of anyone who does what she does to get out of his grips.

I’m not entirely sure about Charlotte yet.  I don’t know enough about her.

I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the characters of Marcy and Siobhan.  I have read many, many, many paranormal romance books, most I don’t blog about because its my guilty pleasure, but I can’t remember a duo quite like them.  They are worthy of their own series.

Ms. Ridgewood evokes my rage as a rape survivor.  She accurately captures the smug arrogance that many rapists Tori Headshot 3possess.  In the character of Jason Lucas and to an extent Malcom de Sade, she embodies these despicable qualities and makes me want to scream at my poor, innocent Kindle screen.

Yes, this series is dark.  It is not for teenagers.  Definitely not YA.  It is for adults who like the paranormal romance genre and like an added adult aspect to it. As I said in my review of the first book, even without all the magic, vampires, etc, it would be a wonderful story just because of the relationship issues that are explored.  The entire “going back to your roots” the “dealing with your past”.

But that is what makes it more realistic for me.  Vampires of classic literature don’t sparkle.  They are cursed.  They aren’t beautiful, they are parasites.  I love how Ms. Ridgewood brings this element of vampirism back to these types of novels.

Overall, I loved this book, can’t wait for the next one.

Kindle Serials– The Zombie Bible

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I haven’t been too enthusiastic about the Kindle serials.  I’m of the mindset that I want to read it all, and I want it now.

But this one is teaching me the value of delayed gratification.

I have written several posts on this blog praising the writing of Stant Litore.

He is probably one of the best writers I have come across during this journey of book blogging.

His writing, on its own, is just fantastic.  He weaves lyrical prose that is truly spellbinding.  His sentence structure, word choice, metaphors, are unlike any writer I have read before:

She felt small and caught–by him, by the Law, by her bereavement.  As though it were not his hands that held her but God’s, pitiless and demanding.  God’s hands that demanded that she live a certain way, fulfill commitments that were made before her grandmother’s grandmothers were born and always without any sure promise from God beneath her feet, only shifting sand, pulled out from under her by the vanishing tide.

Add in the elements of an ancient and mysterious religion (to me at least) and then zombies?  Wow.  It just adds to the satisfying smorgasbord that Litore’s writing presents.

At first I was wary of the serial concept.  But now I’m seeing it as an adventure.  Like watching “The Walking Dead” every week.  I have to wait.  To anticipate.  To wonder to what dark recesses of humanity Litore will take me.

Here is the synopsis of the serial and the story to date:

A first-century Israeli village lies ruined after zombies devour most of the coastal community. In their grief, the villagers threw the dead into the Sea of Galilee, not suspecting that this act would poison the fish and starve the few survivors on land.

Yeshua hears their hunger. He hears the moans of the living and the dead, like screaming in his ears. Desperate to respond, he calls up the fish.

Just one thing:

The dead are called up, too.

No Lasting Burial ushers readers into a vivid and visceral re-interpretation of the Gospel of Luke and the legend of the Harrowing of Hell. The hungry dead will rise and walk, and readers may never look at these stories the same way again.

Episode List
An additional episode will be delivered every week until the book is complete. New episodes will be added to the same book on your Kindle, keeping your place and retaining your notes and highlights. You’ll be notified via email when a new episode has been delivered.

Episode 1: November 12, 2013. 40 pages. When a stranger arrives in the starving village of Kfar Nahum, his eerie cries call fish up from the bottom of an empty lake—but he calls up the dead, too. 
Episode 2: November 19, 2013. 40 pages. As his town burns in the night, Shimon and his neighbors fight to survive an onslaught of the ravenous dead.
Episode 3: November 26, 2013. 40 pages. The dead have been beaten back, but Shimon’s crippled brother, Koach, and the other survivors may face even graver threats…from the living, as the priests and warriors of the land decide who to blame for the rising of the dead.
Episode 4: December 3, 2013. 40 pages. A young woman shelters Koach from a zombie-killer who is eager to stone him, and Shimon must decide what to do with a strange visitor whose body bears the bruises of stoning but who can call up both the living and the dead.

The only criticism I have is that I have absolutely no clue what some of the Hebrew words used in the story mean.  Litore tries to convey the meaning in following sentences, and the onboard dictionary helps somewhat.  But I am utterly clueless when it comes to words such as “nagar”, “navi” “shedim”.  It would just help to have a glossary or some other form of direct confirmatons on my suspicions of a words meaning.

Like I have said before, forget that this has “zombies” and “bible” in the title.  I was skeptical myself when I first discovered the series.  But the title itself intrigued me.  How can someone combine such polarizing topics in one book and make it readable?

But Litore suceeds.  Way beyond what I expected. Beyond what I dreamed was possible to be contained in a novel in the horror genre, or any genre for that matter.

I am no longer a skeptic.  This experience has totally sold me on the Amazon serial thing.  I now eagerly await the delivery of the next installment to my Kindle each week.

Check it out.  Even if you don’t think you’ll like a zombie book.  Even if you are an ardent atheist and avoid anything with “bible” in the title.  You will not be disappointed.

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