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….

nostrum

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.

Kindle Serials– The Zombie Bible

zombie4

 

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.

More zombies (part three)

ugly

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)!!

sffh

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.

More zombies (part one)!!

zomblog

I have been promising this post for awhile and now it is here!!

This is the first part of a three or four part series.

I have recently read a TON of zombie books, thanks to the Zombie Kindle ebooks page on Facebook.  The zombie writers have the formula right:   offer one of the books of a zombie series for free, and then watch how many sales result from people addicted to the genre and NEED to find out what happens next.

That is how I found the “Zomblog” series by T.W. Brown.

I saw the book  “Zomblog: Snoe” was free and downloaded it.  I realized about 10 pages in that I probably should read the three other books that came before in the series.  Lucky for me, I recently had a birthday and someone was gracious enough to gift me with an Amazon gift card (thank you Patti!)

By the way, if anyone is every hurting for gift ideas for me, I am not offended by an Amazon gift card.  It is actually preferred.

So I started the series in the proper order, with the original “Zomblog”.  Here is the synopsis from amazon:

Samuel Todd is a regular guy: …Failed husband… …Loving father… …Dutiful worker… …Aspiring rockstar. He had no idea if anyone would care, or take the time, to read his daily blog entries about his late night observations. But what started as an open monologue of his day-to-day life became a running journal of the firsthand account detailing the rising of the dead and the downfall and degradation of mankind…

It utterly captivated me.  Extremely well written, well thought out, thrilling, and terrifying.  I finished the ENTIRE series in three days.  I think that’s a new record for me.  Four books, three days.

It’s dark.  Most books in this genre are “dark”, but this one has an added twist of terror.  The zombies are very believable and deadly, but it’s the remaining humans that are more horrific.

What I absolutely love about this series?  Much like “The Zombie Bible”, there is no explanation for the zombies.  No complicated medical jargon or mass casualty event that causes people to become zombies.

As a nurse, I often find myself critiquing zombie books that get too medical or too scientific because I have a general understanding of the human body.  This series entirely omits that process and just tells the story.  I am free to read the book without comparing it to actual medical knowledge and as a result, I am less distracted from the actual story.

Mr. Brown creates amazing characters who the reader feels for throughout the entire series.  And he doesn’t spare anyone from carnage.  You like a main character?  Too bad, they die. 

Too many zombie series have the protagonist survive multiple brushes with death to survive it all.  In this series, it is incredibly more realistic that some of the main characters succumb to a zombie bite, a shooting, or something else.  This is the first zombie series I have read that does this.  And it is refreshing.

“Zomblog: Snoe” takes place nearly 20 years after the zombies began devouring humanity.  It is very intriguing to read about the way society rebuilds itself.  And it hits home that some things never change.

I would caution that there is graphic sexual abuse present throughout this series.  Yes, it is more realistic, especially in light of those three women freed from a decade of captivity in Ohio earlier this month.  But if you have PTSD and things like this are a trigger, I would consider skipping the series.  It didn’t trigger me, however.

Overall, this is an excellent zombie series.  I posted a question to the author via Facebook asking about the next book, and he said it should be coming out next month.  I. Can’t. Wait.

I would love to get into the author’s “Dead” series, but as funds are lacking, that is not happening anytime soon.  Might be a good time for someone to get me that amazon gift card…

Will I survive a zombie apocalypse?

This is a poster in my bonus child's bedroom

This is a poster in my bonus child’s bedroom

Out of all of the horror genres right now, I am a huge fan of zombies.

I love “The Walking Dead”, I love the numerous books and series I have read featuring zombies.  With all of this reading/watching, I have learned one thing:  if the zombie apocalypse happens anytime in the near future, I am so screwed.

Here’s why:

1) I am a walking zombie buffet.  Have you seen any FAT people alive on “The Walking Dead”?  Didn’t think so.  Everyone left is lean and muscular.  My guess is that the fat people couldn’t out run the zombie hoard…

2)  Due to chronic illness, I have limited strength in all of my limbs.  I highly doubt I could use an ice pick to impale a zombie brain in my current state.

3)  I will go blind eventually if I do not have the medications that keep me functioning during my current health crisis.  Yeah, I could knock off a pharmacy if it hits the fan, but injecting medication and trying to run from zombies doesn’t sound too promising.  And some of the side effects of medications leave me foggy and sleepy.  A zombie could sneak up and I would be none the wiser.

4)  Sleep.  At the least, I require 12 hours to even FUNCTION these days, let alone run from a herd of zombies.  So unless I find a fantastic, zombie proof shelter and stay there permanently, I’m screwed.

5) I don’t know how to drive a motorcycle.  In “The Stand” (not zombie, but scary nonetheless), many people choose to travel via motorcycles to drive around the various traffic calamities that plague (ha!) the roadways after the apocalypse.  See Darryl Dixon on “The Walking Dead”.

6) I live in Texas.  Yes, this is a very gun-friendly state, but with the weather, the wildlife and the religious fanatics, I’m not sure I would pick this location to ride out a zombie apocalypse.  In some of the books I read (namely World War Z), zombies freeze.  It rarely freezes in central Texas.  Also living in central Texas, I am an hour to three hours away from three major population centers.  Ask my cousin what happened to Houston after the Katrina survivors showed up.

In my favor:

1)  I know how to load, fire and shoot various firearms.

2)  I live near a small reserve post for the Texas National Guard, and about 20 miles from a huge military instillation and about 60 miles from one of the largest army bases in the country.  Supposing the military isn’t evil, like some of the books I read (Zomblog), I would have either a nifty location to stay in, with fences and barbed wire, or a place to scavenge.

3) I live about 10 miles from a prison.  See “The Walking Dead” for the reasons prisons are a good idea.

4)  I’m a nurse.  I have knowledge that others lack. I am the daughter of nurses and my husband aspires to be a nurse.  We will not be dying of any preventable infection or from bleeding out.

5) I live about three miles from a huge hospital.  In the zombie books (Apocalypse Z, Zomblog, Zombie Games), hospitals are usually bad places to be near, but if someone has the knowledge on how to lure zombies out (apparently all zombies like noise and light) and how to get in…jackpot!

5) I live in Texas.  I know that I also listed this on the “why I’m screwed” list, but I have several relatives and friends who live in the middle of nowhere, complete with fences and livestock.  They also tend to be heavily armed.  Also, the Texas landscape (at least in this part) is so wide open, you can see zombies and other people coming from a mile away.

6)  Dead bodies and gore don’t freak me out.  I have been a nurse for over a decade. I spent a part of my early career in critical care.  I have seen disgusting, infected wounds, horrible hatchet jobs by less than stellar surgeons and one 500 lb lady with green ooze seeping out of her gargantuan legs.  At one time she also harbored a colony of maggots.  I am definitely not squeamish.

7)  I have read so many zombie books and post apocalyptic books that I have a wealth of knowledge on how to kill zombies, flee zombies, trick zombies, provided that the zombies are the ones depicted in popular culture.

I guess it’s a mixed bag.  I hope the zombie apocalypse doesn’t occur until I can at least get this weight and my health conditions resolved.

I am currently reading the “Zomblog” series by T.W. Brown.  I am not disappointed. Look for a review for that series soon.

Here are my postings on the zombie books I have read so far:

Memoirs of the Walking Dead

The Zombie Bible

Westmarket

Zombie Games

World War Z

Apocalypse Z

The Zombie Bible

I love my zombie stories. I have posted about this series before, but the last book was just so incredible, I had to make another post.  You can read about my past posts on this series here.

Stant Litore is an amazing writer. The way he constructs sentences and weaves them into paragraphs is a true art form. I always appreciate great writing, and these books are incredible.

Some background info: although I grew up Catholic, I know next to nothing about the Old Testement. I have no clue who these main characters in his books are, other than “oh, I might have heard that name before”. The books take the supposition that zombies have always existed. They are a fact of life from the beginning of time.

The protagonists in his books are usually some know Biblical figure. In the first one, its the prophet Jerimiah (although he uses the Hebrew spelling). In the second its Polycarp. And in the third, its Devorah (Deborah).

The characters literally leap off of the page. They are so real and so textured that you *KNOW* these characters. You understand their struggles, understand their emotions. The reader can also watch them evolve throughout the book, as they struggle against the walking dead.

I love the relationships discussed and expounded upon in the books. The relationship between Regina and Polycarp, between Devorah and Hurriya. Jerimiah and his wife. You can literally feel their emotions. Their love for each other.

I appreciate the strong female characters, what they have endured and who they are by the end of the book. How they accomplish the impossible. How they can still move on after witnessing such gore and having those close to them devoured.

And the reader is treated to a history lesson as well. The settings for these books are so real, you can almost feel the stones in the streets of Rome on your feet. You can feel the oppressive environment in which Jerimiah finds himself. You can literally feel the heft of Devorah’s sword.

And in each is a deeper meaning to hunger and the walking dead.

There are heart pounding elements of a thriller as well. Page turning passages that you cannot put down because you cannot bear the ignorance of not knowing. The passage with Regina being carried through the streets of Rome with zombies in pursuit is so well written, the reader can feel the terror that she experiences. Tachycardia inducing, hyperventilating, abject terror.

The zombies are of the variety of the common zombie. Due to some failure, they are doomed to walk the earth in search of flesh to feed their insatiable hunger. The zombie scourge sweeps through cities, villages and settlements, nearly decimating the population. It usually falls to the main characters, who occasionally have a special gift or talent, and who understands the zombie hoard, to rid the land of the walking dead.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series to any lover of novels. Even if you have a particular aversion to this genre, try these books because they are so well written, the stories so artfully told, they deserve a wide distribution.

I can credit these books with sparking an interest of ancient characters from the Bible. In the course of writing this post, I googled some of the characters. And I spent hours just reading about about the real people on whom the characters are loosely based. That spark alone is worth the extremely reasonable price of these books (right now I think the most expensive one is $3.99 for the kindle edition).

I know Stant Litore is writing more, because he occasionally posts passages from the emerging book on his facebook page (look up “The Zombie Bible”). I can’t wait to see further works in this series. However, if you are deeply religious, you may not like Biblical figures in battle with the walking dead. I think that Litore is planning on mentioning Jesus in an upcoming novel.

Give it a shot, see if you like it. I most definitely did.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: