Goodreads Giveaway: Campbell!!

I reviewed this book in November.  It absolutely floored me.  The writing, the imagination, the creativity, the characters.  Excellent book.

Here is the synopsis:


It’s been ten years since a virus wiped out the entire adult population. Across the world, opportunistic kids worked to reestablish order through the creation of uneasy, fractured territories.

A decade later, the rules are changing.

Desperate to stop his western territory from coming apart at the seams, 23 year old President Connor Wilde sends his oldest confidante to Campbell, a swelling northern empire, to negotiate with its leader.

Tal Bauman isn’t expecting Lucy Campbell to be so impossible.

Or intriguing. Or beautiful.

He’s also not expecting their negotiations to leave them both fighting for survival in a part of the world neither are familiar with.

Spanning a dystopian North American landscape, Campbell is the story of two unlikely companions who find themselves reevaluating their loyalties, beliefs, and futures.

Now Goodreads is giving away a copy in anticipation of the sequel’s release April 15.  I was going to post a synopsis of West, the sequel of Campbell, but there are spoilers. Put it this way.  This book, once I get it, will jump the line, and I will probably devour it within a day or two regardless of my work schedule.  But here is the cover:

Book Cover - West V1

So here is the link for the giveaway of Campbell at Goodreads.  It is for a print copy, which actually makes me a little jealous.  I always hope that authors will send me a print copy just to have once I’m done reviewing.  Regardless of my preference for Kindle, sometimes it’s nice to have a healthy bookshelf.  And I’m kind of scared that the apocalypse will hit and I won’t have anything to read…

I should point out that this is NOT YA.  Yes, the characters are young, but the content deals with so much more than the usual YA fare.  The author touches on something that everyone can relate to going through in this part of growing up regardless of the world essentially ending.  Excellent writing.


Amanda’s Favs for 2013 Part Two

Here is the second part of my favorites list.

These are books that I have read and haven’t reviewed. Most I get from my monthly Kindle Lending Library allotment. Some are series I picked up when the first book was offered for free.  Some of the larger press books come from my weekly library run.

Favorite zombie book:  Apocalypse Z:  Darker Days by Manel Loureiro translated by Pamela Carmell.  I found apoczthis series a year ago, and I have already pre-ordered the third installment.  I have to wait til May!! Very well written, I love the European take on things.  A page turner.  Definitely recommended.

Honorable mention:  The Zomblog Series by T.W. Brown and The Remaining by D.J. Molles.

Favorite self-help book:  Invisible Scars:  How to Stop, Change or End Psychologicalinvisscars Abuse by Catharine Dowda.  I left an abusive marriage nearly five years ago.  He never once hit me.  But the verbal and emotional abuse has caused deep wounds that I am still healing.  What I liked about this book in particular is that it gave me a name to put with some of his behavior.  That I can name some of the abuse I suffered is extremely helpful.

Favorite history book:  Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff.  I reviewed his new book this year, Frozen in Time and just had to go and read this book.  

Favorite romance/erotica:  Entwined with You by Sylvia Day.  I love me some Crossfire series.  Much more realistic than “Fifty”, deals with deeper issues on the part of both characters.  Can’t wait for the fourth one.  And I think I would love to see this one made into a movie more than “Fifty”.

draculaFavorite paranormal romance:  Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta.  So not what you think of when you think “paranormal romance”.  And not a typical romance either.  I loved it.

Favorite YA romance (paranormal):  Significance Series by Shelly Crane.  Very sweet, very intriguing.


Favorite YA romance:  Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa.  Very heart-rending.  Extremely emotional.

Favorite mash up:  The Fridgularity by Mark A. Rayner — humorous, apocalyptic, with a technology twist.   Loved it. fridge

And my total for this year is 152 books.  And counting…

Amanda’s Favs for 2013 — Part One

It’s that time of year again.  Time for me to review (ha!) my year in reading and pick favs.  Which is kind of hard.  So this year I’m going to do something different.

I read many other books outside of what I review.  Mainly the larger press, more famous author books that I come across.  So I will divide my picks for the year into two parts.  Part one being my favs of the books I have reviewed, and part two being the books that I read “outside” my reviewing.

I am also going to ask Ms. Charliegirl to make a favs list as well.  She has been busy being Ms. Teacher, but I’m sure she can write a quick post.

So here goes:

Favorite zombie series:

Hands down, The Zombie Bible series by Stant Litore.  Earlier in the year, I read Strangers in the Land and I am currently reading Mr. Litore’s Kindle serial No Lasting Burial.  Even if you don’t like zombies, READ THESE BOOKS.  They are by far the best written books I have read this year, possibly in my life.  The writing is lyrical, thezombie4 author evokes strong emotions within a few words.  He has made me more interested in a time period that I was never really interested in before.  He makes me want to actually GO to these places that he features in his writing.  And he has ignited an interest in ancient history.

I have never read the actual Bible, I am a former Catholic and I know next to nothing about biblical stories, characters, events.  I feel so much more enlightened by this series, and even better, it includes ZOMBIES!!  So check it out.  Unless you are strictly religious and have objections to the collision of the bible and the undead, I can promise you that you will enjoy these books.

 *Honorable mention*  Undying by Valerie Grosjean is pretty awesome too.  I love her characters and the way she builds the relationships between them.  She also evoked some pretty awesome memories of the relationship I share with my husband.

Favorite sci-fi (not including zombies):  About Time by Michael Murphy.  This one was a hard category.  Butabouttimepic going back over my posts, this one stood out.  I still think about the issues brought up by this book, and it is hilarious as well.  I love books that make you think, and this one definitely did that, and more.

Favorite history book:  America’s Greatest Blunder:  The Fateful Decision to Enter World War One by Burton Yale Pines.  This book involves a time period I know absolutely nothing about.  Much of my historical reading focuses on WWII and the U.S. Civil War.  The author sent me his book and thought that given my historical preferences, I might like it.  And I did.  It went very far to help me understand the causes of WWII and it is written in a very engaging way.

Favorite historical fiction:  Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You by William E. Thomas.  These books are more than just historical fiction, they are also romance novels.  Mr. Thomas has literally reduced me to tears (in a good way) with the amount of emotion packed into his novels.  These two books aren’t serial, but they do feature some of the same characters in both books which is an interesting twist.  I can’t wait for the third book to tie it all together.

Favorite memoir:  Lucky Girl:  How I Survived the Sex Industry by Violet Ivy.  An amazing look at the sex industry written in a very engaging and intelligent manner.

Favorite dystopian (without zombies):  This category was really hard, especially since I have read so many 51K-+0aHQ4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_good dystopian books recently.  It is definitely a tie.  Campbell (Book One) by C.S. Starr is a very engaging story.  It not only includes a dystopian future (or present), it also closely examines how people come of age.  Very intriguing and insightful.  The Rebel Within and Rebels Divided by Lance Erlick is a little more political, but extremely inventive and engaging.  All of these books are very character driven and include extremely strong female lead characters, which makes me happy as a mom to a little girl.

Favorite mashup:  Being that I’m drawn to these books, and that several of the ones mentioned above can be considered a mash up in some way, this was extremely difficult.  But I kept on thinking about The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door by Stephen Stark.  This was the book that made me take notice of this kind of writing.  Several different elements, all melded into one amazing book.

Favorite humor:  Midlife Mouse by Wayne Franklin.  This book is absolutely delightful.  Very well written, imaginative, hilarious, I loved it.  If you have ever been to Disney, have kids that are Disney obsessed, you have to read this book.


Look for my next post about the other books I read this year.  What are some of your favs?


Book Review: Campbell (Book One) by C.S. Starr


I guess this qualifies as a mash up.  Part young adult romance, part dystopian, part apocalypse. Right up my alley.

The author kindly sent me a Kindle copy in return for a review of her book.

Here is the synopsis:

It’s been ten years since a virus wiped out the entire adult population. Across the world, opportunistic kids worked to reestablish order through the creation of uneasy, fractured territories.

A decade later, the rules are changing.

Desperate to stop his western territory from coming apart at the seams, 23 year old President Connor Wilde sends his oldest confidante to Campbell, a swelling northern empire, to negotiate with its leader.

Tal Bauman isn’t expecting Lucy Campbell to be so impossible.

Or intriguing. Or beautiful.

He’s also not expecting their negotiations to leave them both fighting for survival in a part of the world neither are familiar with.

Spanning a dystopian North American landscape, Campbell is the story of two unlikely companions who find themselves reevaluating their loyalties, beliefs, and futures.

I absolutely loved this book.  It is extremely well-written, very intriguing and tender at the same time.  The author alternates between the present and about 11 years prior when all of the adults start dying off.  It is fascinating to see how it all evolved and how kids essentially rebuilt society.

The characters are so real.  You understand their motives, their wants, their desires.  You understand why they do the way they do.  They literally leap off the page.

I love Lucy Campbell.  She is a survivor.  She is an excellent and capable leader who is very stubborn but very compassionate.  Her goal is to take care of the people in her area and offer a decent and fair lifestyle to anyone willing to work for it.  She doesn’t see the need to amass material goods.  She doesn’t need to have absolute power.  She just wants kids to have a better life.  But she isn’t perfect.  I love that about this character.

Tal Bauman just followed the lead of his spoiled and exploitative friend after the collapse.  He wrestles with his conscious constantly, but never finds the way to make a real difference.  Until he meets Lucy.

This is not a young adult book.  It is an adult book about young adults forced to grow up way too fast.  There is sex, violence, drug use throughout the book.  Nothing is gratuitous and it is all necessary to develop the characters and understand their motives and actions.

The author also paints a very realistic portrait of the aftermath of years of sexual abuse.  Lucy has PTSD as a result of her experiences and her description of what happens to her with the nightmares, the flashbacks, her choice of sexual partners is entirely authentic.

The author doesn’t go into graphic details, and it wasn’t too triggering, but I need to make it known that the subject matter is present.

Despite their difficult ascendance into adulthood, they are still in their early 20s, still trying to figure out who they are, what they want in life.  That theme is found repeatedly throughout the book.  That no matter how fast someone was forced to grow up, especially without the influence of others who have gone before, they still mature at a similar pace regardless of situation.

I was (still am) very intrigued about how they built it all up again.  There is electricity, cell phones, they some more wealthier regions fly planes.  Hopefully the “how” is more forthcoming in the next book due out in February.  It is just a little bit difficult for me to understand how 12 year olds restarted the whole shebang.

Overall an amazing read.  I loved all the elements of the story.  Eagerly awaiting the next part.

Book Review: Rise From the Ashes Part One: Lena’s Story



I was sent this book from the author for review.  I am a huge fan of post-apocalypse tales, so I was eager to jump into this one. Here is the synopsis: The Taliban have bombed the US with a chemical agent. It wiped out over half of the population and left the country in shambles. Those who are left find unexplained things happening like premonitions in their dreams and enhanced senses. Lena, a young woman from Vermont, and Mick, a young man in the US Army, grow close and become leaders as they trudge north to meet up with a military camp at Lake Champlain. Their dreams continue to get more peculiar and have even synced up in a historical setting. With the power out and gasoline a scarce resource; motorcycles, horses and bicycles have become the new mode of transport. In another group that is trying to survive, a priest leads discouraged parishioners north and is faced with tough decisions as he has to put the well-being of the group ahead of individuals. They have to band together to make it through this new chaotic situation, relying on their intuition and basic survival skills. This motley crew must reorganize the country just as was done after the revolutionary war. The clock is ticking as the persisting threats of the Taliban, drug lords from south of the border and rival gangs across the country put US freedoms in jeopardy. Unlike many books in this genre, the author uses something that is very real in this world, the threat of terrorists from the Middle East.  Instead of imagining some enemy, she draws on reality to provide the basic backdrop for the action. And that is where the similarities end. I might be arrogant when I say this, but I really don’t feel that the Taliban would have the resources to pull off such a wide spread attack across the globe.  Their biggest hit to date (with Al Queda) was 9/11, and that was over a decade ago. When I read stories like this that use realistic elements, my mind immediately goes to the probability of such an action.  I have explained this before in my review of “Zomblog”, how the author just bypassed this step for me altogether and took my analytic brain out of the equation and allowed me to just read the story and not compare it to real life. This author removes that when she bases the apocalypse in reality. The story itself is interesting with people from different segments of society banding together for the common.  The characters are strong and memorable. For the YA audience, this would include the relationship between Mick and Lena. I love their relationship and the way they treat each other.  Apparently they are connected in a past life, which completely came out of left field.  But the way their story is woven throughout the book is unique. There is some confusion with more minor characters.  I understand what the author was trying to do by linking the actions of different groups of people in the same area, but it wasn’t as clear as it could have been. I also do not feel that the issues of “superpowers” and similar dreams were fully explained.  It is intriguing, especially with the element that links them all, but it was very vague. I did like reading about the ways they try to rebuild society, and I look forward to reading more about the story of Mick and Lena in the future.  I just feel the story idea could have been executed in a better way.

More zombies (part three)


In this massive post about my recent zombie books, I look at two “stand-alone” books. This means that they aren’t a part of a series.

The first is “U.G.L.Y” by H.A. Rhoades. I think I got this one at the Zombie Kindle ebook extravaganza in April. That day I picked up over 10 FREE zombie books.

Here is the synopsis:

When a pharmaceutical company dumps a contaminated batch of a new tranquilizer into the Los Angeles water supply, its people are poisoned.

The city is plunged into chaos.

And a desperate adventure is about to begin.

As violent rioting breaks out, millions are killed. Duncan Stevens narrowly escapes infection – and sets out to find his estranged family. But when he loses all trace of his children, he joins a group of Marines for a final, brutal assault on the city – that aims to destroy the mob within.

‘U.G.L.Y’ is a gritty, terrifying but also moving glimpse into a violent, broken world.

It will appeal to fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ and Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’.

I loved several things about this book. First, the method of infection is believable and realistic. With levels of antidepressants found in some municipal water supplies and the recent contamination of steroid injections used in spinal procedures, it is entirely possible for this to happen. I love how the author included references in the back of the book that illustrate where he got the idea.

This book has to be the most graphic zombie novel I have ever read. The descriptions of the zombie attacks literally had my heart pounding. I don’t usually squirm when reading horror, but I did with this book. I’m thinking specifically of the scene in which someone gets devoured.

And the zombies are different than the classical ones depicted in some books. These ones are fast. And they get stronger when they feed. Terrifying.

I was slightly confused with the difference between the first “wave” of infection and the second. Also, I had issue with the way it ended. It seems like the author was searching for a way to end it and took the easy route.

I do recommend this one to zombiephiles because it is a different and novel take on some of the aspects of zombie-lore.

More zombies (part two)!!


This is the second part of a multi-part blog post about my recent experiences with the zombie genre.

Six Feet from Hell by Joseph A. Coley is a fantastic series. It’s inventive, somewhat realistic, engrossing.

Again, I found one of the books from the series for free or a really low price. And then I had to read all of the other books.

Here is the synopsis from amazon:

Six Feet From Hell: Response

Six feet from hell is where it all started. A coal mine accident in the hills of Southwest Virginia has unleashed a deadly toxin that not only kills the living, it brings them back as ravenous zombies. Follow the men that try to escape the chaos in the first book of the Six Feet From Hell series.

Six Feet From Hell: Escape

After the events of Six Feet From Hell: Response, Joe and the remainder of his crew must now face a difficult decision. Do they stay and try to fight off the hordes of undead that seem to have no end? Or does he rally the troops and try to live with a bold decision that will impact the lives of all the people that he has tried to save thus far? In the second book of the Six Feet From Hell series, they must make their escape and pray that the zombies are their worst enemy…because there are far worse things out there than the undead.

Six Feet From Hell: Salvation

They responded to the zombie outbreak, they made their escape, but now what? Simply living the life of being on the run just won’t cut it for Joe and his ever-increasing band of survivors. Their saving grace may not have been found yet, but they must keep seeking their salvation. In the third book of the Six Feet From Hell series, Joe and his group try and find a stable life even though it might not be what they wanted. They have to come to terms with the fact that the help they want may or may not be the help they get…

One thing I absolutely love about this series?  Joe and most of his friends are zombiephiles just like me.  They have seen all the movies, read all the books, and know exactly what is going on very early in the crisis.  The have not only done their homework, they are also prepared for the apocalypse.  I know so many people who are prepping for some sort of world-ending event in the near future, so this was very humorous to me.

Also, the characters make references to the zombie books/movies that have defined the genre.  I particularly like the nod to “Monroeville” as I grew up about 20 minutes away from the actual town outside of Pittsburgh where Dawn of the Dead was set.  I have been to that mall too many times to count.

I also like the way the zombies were created.  Very creative, imaginative, and makes the situation that much more dire in this series.

Like other series in this genre (see the previous post here), the zombies are just part of the problem.  Apparently when the world ends, morality and a sense of right and wrong take a vacation.  Example:  the Governor in “The Walking Dead”.

Hell, even when humanity experiences a crisis, there is always those who seek to profit from the misfortune of others.  There are those that loot, create elaborate hoaxes to get money or use the calamity to kill or hurt others.  This happens all over the world.

Overall an engaging and page-turning zombie read.

I would love to read future books about Joe and his little band of survivors.

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