Social Icons

Featured Posts

Monday, September 12, 2016

REVIEW: Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter

Sara Ross





Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
-Anonymous

Most of us are familiar, to some degree, with the story of Lizzie Borden. Though Lizzie was the primary suspect in her father and stepmother’s murders, the events surrounding the day of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden were debatable, the police investigation was full of careless mistakes, and Lizzie’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies. This leaves plenty of room for speculation, theories, and the penning of a novel that presents an alternate explanation for the Borden murders. Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, the upcoming novel by C.A. Verstraete explores one such hypothesis. What if there was more to the story than an angry daughter killing in cold blood? Maybe Lizzie knew something few others did, and taking the lives of her stepmother and father was the only way to protect herself and prevent being infected with a horrible, mutilating “sickness.”

Based on historical details and reports from newspapers of the time, Verstraete has incorporated much factual information from 1892-1893 when the Borden murders and Lizzie’s inquisition and trial took place. Many of the characters in the novel are actual players in Lizzie’s life, and the general timeframe and unfolding of events remains correct. However, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter does take some liberties in tweaking and developing some of the character relationships, while shifting focus from some of the strained relationships between Lizzie and certain family members. Many aspects and details in the story are accurate and are in the order they actually occurred; however, Verstraete does add in a number of fictional events. Most notably being the inclusion of zombies, as the title reveals.

Though the term “zombie” is not mentioned (aside from the title) until two thirds of the way through the book, the undead make an early appearance. Lizzie finds her stepmother, Abby, acting strangely at the beginning of the novel. Lizzie’s description of her appearance, actions, and the scene found in the bedroom when checking in on her make it clear that things are not “right,” and Abby is a zombie. This leads to Lizzy’s murdering her in an act of self defense--if you can call it murder when the victim’s already dead! When Lizzy encounters her father shortly after, it’s clear he’s afflicted the same way as his (doubly) late wife. From there, Verstraete’s novel reveals a growing undead population, which a society of zombie hunters is working hard to keep covered up. As Lizzie works with the defense for her trial, she becomes familiar with the society’s work. Lizzie’s older sister Emma remains a steadfast ally through the trial, and she also becomes involved in the zombie fighting. Both sisters dig through mountains of paperwork and follow a trail through all parts of the city to uncover their father’s secret business dealings in hopes of discovering what happened to their father and stepmother. Lizzie and Emma uncover some of their Father’s secret, nefarious business operations, and find out that the truth is much more gruesome than they had imagined. Both sisters end up paying a steep price for uncovering the truth.

While Verstraete crafted a good story based on historic events, there were some areas of the novel that could use more detail and fleshing out. I found several instances where I felt the story had some jumps, or required the reader to make assumptions, in order to fill in gaps. Several times, characters “disappeared” from the novel without any notice, or were suddenly and inexplicably absent from a scene, when it seems they should’ve been there (or it should be mentioned as to why they were not). I remain puzzled about the time Lizzie et al spent searching for a character named Adelaide, when in the end, it did not seem to add much to the story; additionally, it was not clear how the Adelaide they found was the person they were seeking. Another example of one of these “gaps” has to do with Lizzie’s understanding of zombies. Though she knows she is dealing with a sickness, before she fully understands what it is, Lizzie just knows that it’s transferrable by bite. I found myself getting hung up on some of these types of things, rereading sections to ensure I didn’t somehow miss crucial details.

Despite these issues, I still found myself moving pretty quickly through the book and wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I was rooting for Lizzie, an underdog character, who was also a super-strong female lead. What I appreciated the most about Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter was the historical fiction aspect. I enjoyed the inclusion of historical details in the novel, and I was pleased to reach the end of the book and find that Verstraete provides a fairly extensive resource list. There are websites, books, films, and more covering everything from the newspaper accounts of events to where Lizzie’s pets were buried. I took some time to check out a few links before writing my review of the book. Coming in at about 175 pages, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is a nice, easy read. The novel is due out in August from Imajin Books, so add it to your end-of-summer reading list. It’s a nice combination of history and science fiction, with a healthy dose of zombies and gore.  Verstraete also adds in some romance and a touch of suspense, so there’s a bit of something for everyone to appreciate!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

REVIEW: PATHOGENS--a click your poison adventure!

Andy Ross

Soldier, High Schooler, Martial Arts Instructor, Convict, Bank Teller, Mechanic. What do these six people have in common? When you step into their shoes, they're going to survive the zombie apocalypse. 

Lookie what we have here! James Schannep is back with another Click Your Poison book! Pathogens is a spin-off of his earlier CYP book Infected (which I had the opportunity to review when it came out: this link) and I enjoyed it very much.

For the newcomers, Click Your Poison is a modern take on the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” style books many of us twenty and thirty somethings read in school. In Pathogens, you get to choose from one of the above six main characters and play out their story of survival (or their untimely demise, depending on how wisely you choose).I was able to “beta test” the story of Sims (the above mentioned Soldier) and I enjoyed it very much.

The book releases on Amazon on August 22nd, and will be free until August 25th. I am looking forward to being able to take a crack at the five other characters and see how they survive (or how they die, probably often and horribly)!

So, use this link and please go check it out and let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Creeplings now on KICKSTARTER

Todd Jepperson



Creeplings are a new spooky inspired miniature toy line that allows children and adults to celebrate unusual and creepy fun everyday, not just once a year! Creeplings are group tested to make sure both genders love these strange, yet cute little misfits. 

 
If this project reaches their funding goal, then they can inspire both children and adults with their toys. Their hope is to create a little more variety for people to enjoy in the growing blind box market. It will also open doors for more opportunities where a creative individual is behind the creation of the toys rather than the run of the mill corporate tedium.  
 
The creators of Creeplings consist of designer Gus Fink, his wife Emi Boz, and their friend Eric Grenier who is their business advisor/marketing expert. Together they are FrankenToys inc. Their plans are to put a new spin on toys for those who love something that stands out from the norm. 
 
Their Kickstarter launched on August 4th at 5 PM ET and has already reached 30% funding! Follow this link to zero in on your chances to bite in to the bonus freebies you can get by pledging your support for Creeplings: spooky blind box collectible miniatures.  



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Todd Jepperson


Universal Studios Hollywood will never be the same. 

Image result for don't open dead inside

On July  4th, somebody is gonna do what they absolutely shouldn't do. They'll open the doors to the end of the world with the all-new, year-round Walking Dead attraction in Universal City, California. 

"Prepare to fight for survival in a fully immersive journey as you navigate through a world overrun by hungry walkers. Follow in the footsteps of the human survivors as you battle your way through nightmarish iconic landscapes that bring the most popular cable TV show in history to life!"

Our friends over at Attraction Tickets Direct have not only gotten your tickets, but they've put together a pretty great quiz to help you know how you'll fare in the end of days and also a helpful piece about surviving a zombie apocalypse, featuring our fearless leader, the main man, Mr. ZOMBIES&Toys himself, Jason Nagy. 

In the interview, Jason was asked questions about what a person should do when faced with the ultimate losing battle. He discusses the finer points of the end such as what types of survivors a person is likely to face, what to bring along while you can, what not to bring because it won't help you, and how to catch a good night's rest. 

Also, he points out that there are those among us who may not be exactly ready to deal with the departure and return of those they love, and the big mistakes they're likely to make. 

For your tickets to the show, and to read the full article, head on over and find out if you would survive a zombie apocalypse. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 Preview

Todd Jepperson



Next week’s follow-up to the genre bending Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare has been given the full treatment. No longer the simple tower-defense style mobile game, Garden Warfare 2 is being called something akin to Nintendo’s Spitoon meets Call of Duty. 



The beta has been reviewed a couple of times, and each reviewer has come to the same conclusion: although it looks like this game is for kids, it’s definitely fun to play and offers serious interactions for even the serious gamer. 


Plants include Citron, a giant orange-like plant with the ability to knock zombies over or blast them to nothing with a beam of energy. Also, there is Rose, who has the power to turn zombies into goats. But my favorite, Kernel Corn, has gone all out with machine guns for arms.

There are a couple of new zombies in the mix. Super Brainz is an undead Superman/Ryu cross who is a monster of close-combat.Captain Deadbeard is a pirate zombie with a remote control parrot. There’s even a little guy called Imp who’s very fast, but also pretty weak until he jumps into his Z-mech. 

Combine all of this with 12 brand new maps and a whole bunch of free, downloadable extras and Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 looks to be one game you won’t want to miss. 



For a full review of the beta, jump on over to Metro.co.uk where the feeling is that Garden Warfare 2 is “coming up roses.”


Monday, February 1, 2016

REVIEW: LOST SOULS by Seth Patrick

Sara Ross






Lost Souls, written by Seth Patrick, is the second novel in a trilogy, and is the follow up to 2013’s Reviver. Published by Thomas Dunne Books in November, 2015, it is a solid second installment of the story, but it also stands alone quite well. As it had been about 2 years since I read Reviver, I wondered if I would remember the characters and events well; it turns out I had no reason to worry. Patrick did a great job of crafting Lost Souls to provide enough background to help a reader recall the previous book (his language even allowed me to recall whole scenes in great detail).He has also doen well to create enough support that it is possible to begin with Lost Souls and understand the characters and events without having read Reviver. While not a traditional zombie novel, the aspects of forensic science, the supernatural, and traditional thriller lend appeal to a wide audience of readers.

The story picks up with the main character, Jonah Miller, about a year and a half after the previous novel ended. Jonah is a Reviver, or an individual with the special talent of bringing the recently deceased back to life for a short period of time. Only certain people are capable of the job, and their services are used forensically (to get a victim’s own testimony in a criminal case) or privately (for a chance to say one last goodbye to a loved one). He’s still working as one of the best forensic Revivers in the business, but is worn out and tired from the stress of the job and ghosts of some physical injuries. Since the first book in the trilogy, though, the Afterlifers (a group of Revival oppositionists) has gained more standing and money, making them a very viable threat to the continuation of public forensic Revival. Things quickly turn for Jonah when he is involved in the Revival of the son of a powerful Afterlifer, and he finds himself quitting his job for the better of his company and the profession as a whole.

Especially with the profession of Revival in danger and more free time on his hands, it doesn’t take long for Jonah to learn that so many of the people around him are not who they seem. While working with a few trusted friends to uncover these mysteries, Jonah is eventually forced to flee and hide, as he is being hunted. Jonah has to learn to trust people he did not before in order to survive. He also learns of another new skill he has. Without giving too much away, Jonah can see things that most other people can’t, making his talents useful in combating a new danger to society and surviving in the ensuing adventures in the novel. Jonah and his crew end up in a new research facility, touted to be the place where the science of Revival would be studied and documented, as it is a ruse for activities much more dangerous and deceptive. When the novel ends, things are in a rather messy state in the research facility, but the world is safe...until the final novel in the trilogy! The setup is there for Jonah and his friends to find themselves in even more trouble in Patrick’s final installment, where it seems Jonah’s ability to see what is usually unseen will keep him as a key to the world’s survival.

To me, Lost Souls was more about the characters and the thrill and danger as they are in hiding and on the run than Reviver. It was certainly a good novel; very suspenseful and kept me up late turning pages. I did miss that less of the novel was focused on Revival, as it is such an original concept and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the process and all of the varied cases of Revival found in Reviver. It’s worth a read, whether or not you’ve read Reviver, and will especially appeal to lovers of supernatural and thriller novels. I’m waiting for the last book--I can’t wait to see where Jonah goes next--and I’m rooting for him as I’m sure his next challenges will be even more suspenseful than those in Lost Souls!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jane Austen, Hollywood Stars, and Zombies Oh My!

Todd Jepperson



(KEVIN WINTER/GETTY)

The undead horde grew to record breaking numbers last weekend when they invaded Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Bringing with them the brightest stars from the upcoming film adaptation of Jane Austen/Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they packed the theatre to the walls and grabbed the Guinness World record for most zombies reading Jane Austen at the same time. 

The A-listers showed up in their trendy best, but the zombies were clad in the disastrous ruins of once magnificent Romanticist gowns and Dapper period suits. By all accounts, everyone had a shambling good time. The stars aligned to present attendees with photo opportunities and even prizes for best makeup and costume. 

Interestingly enough though, everyone’s got a copy of the 1813 Jane Austen book and not the 2009 Seth Grahame-Smith adaptation that the upcoming movie is actually based on. In case you have forgotten, or haven’t read the book, here’s the blurb from the back:

“So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers--and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to [see].”

To read more, hop on over to People.com. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is slated to infect theaters nation-wide on February 4th.