oregonchick

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Everything posted by oregonchick

  1. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    I second Texas Bill's recommendation of The Trashman. You're dropped right into the crux of the problem, which I appreciated (some stories seem to belabor "an ordinary office worker and his ordinary family, living in the suburbs" to the point of slowing things down). You see the decisions they make and how their narrow perspective and lack of overall knowledge makes it difficult for them to make the best choices along the way, especially at first, and how loss, experience, and picking up skills and know-how greatly improve their chances. I love how this tied into the earlier short story you wrote, Terry, about "W" and how she came to be. One thing I genuinely appreciate is the overall theme that there's a responsibility to do more than simply not die. Helping others when you can - and, if possible, getting rid of people who endanger other good people - are also things that survivors in a post-apocalyptic world may have to deal with. And people need more to focus on than day-to-day tasks, but they also need hope and a purpose that is bigger than themselves. That gives this book (and hopefully others in the series, hint hint) a resonance that other work in this genre sometimes lacks.
  2. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    I wound up reading the last three P.S. Powers books all in a row, and each one was such a treat! The new "Other Places" book, Road Blocks, was great because we're seeing Zack come into his own, but I am surprised that the overlap with the "Keely" series is so significant - it's like the two series are merging together, more like how the "Young Ancients" books work. Loved the insight into Tiera with The Silence Within. She seemed to reckless and impulsive in prior books, and now we see her settling down and really mapping out strategies. The stuff she says when given a truth amulet at the castle is hilarious, too (she flat-out tells them that she dislikes the king, but has no immediate plans to harm him, etc., which freaks out the guards a bit). I also enjoyed her efforts in taking over Morris County. I'm always curious to see where the next book is going to take us. And Goblin was great. Tobin has long been one of my favorite characters because he's so sweet and helpful, but you get a real sense of depth out of this... and a sense of his despair, too. And some of the twists and turns completely shocked me - at one point, I literally said, "No WAY!" out loud. LOL I'm kind of excited to see what happens if an all-out war really comes to pass, although I also fear that some of the characters I've grown fond of may not survive.
  3. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Completely agree. I haven't found a PAW book that I've actually wanted to read in what feels like weeks. It's too bad. Perhaps you need to write one, Texas Bill?
  4. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    I haven't been reading any survival (or zombie) fiction lately, so I don't have any new recommendations. But I am hoping other people chime in with their suggestions, because when I've found new books to try, they seem to have bad reviews on Amazon or are otherwise unappealing. So yes, save me from vampire and werewolf books, people! LOL
  5. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Completely agree about The Marshall. He really was a Dudley Do-Right kind of guy, which made him a little two-dimensional especially in comparison to the other characters, which were more nuanced. Tanner is fascinating and I'm interested to see how things work out with the "first daughter" situation.
  6. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    I'll check out Get Off My L@wn soon. Just read the latest in the Leftovers series by Christian Fletcher, Left on the Brink. This is the continued story of Brett Wilde (aka Wild Man), Smith, and Batfish as they escape the New Orleans enclave that has been overrun by zombies. A series of flares leads them back to the small base where they gassed up in the previous book; they fear that their newfound friends are in trouble. Instead, they are faced with an interesting proposition: try a risky flight overseas to the promise of safety in Scotland. As always, plenty of zombie action AND plenty of "whoa, people are nuts!" going on. Wilde is still a bit nuts, and the character of Batfish isn't exactly evolving, but we are slowly learning more about the mysterious Smith and what makes him tick, which was definitely interesting.
  7. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Almost forgot to review Fallen Summer (Haven Saga) by Richard Hydrick. It's actually a decent novel about Sam, a blue collar worker who is on the cusp of being able to make a living from his family farm, his stay-at-home wife, Sara, their children, and the few family members who all live on several side-by-side plots of acreage in South Carolina. The people are God fearing, salt-of-the-earth types and very likable, and in general I enjoyed the book. However, there is a lot of "we find just what we need as soon as we need it" going on in the book, which I am never a big fan of, and there are some things that occur that I didn't find particularly believable (for example, two guys with bows and arrows manage to attack and harry a group of 60 or so marauders for miles without any more consequences than being a little winded at the end).
  8. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    I just read prepper non-fiction author Dr. Arthur Bradley's first fiction novel. It's called The Survivor (Frontier Justice). This is clearly well thought out in terms of survival, firearms, the need for human collaboration and interaction, and what might happen if world leaders are as ill-prepared as the common citizen (including making terrible decisions with possibly devastating consequences). A few things I absolutely loved is that the characters are more well-rounded than in many PAW novels, and there are some definite literary archetypes at play here, including the lone lawman/cowboy, a tween with true grit, a man on a path to redemption, etc. There are plenty of survival tips mixed in with a lot of action, so the book truly moves along... and I was very happy to see that there's a possibility for future books in the series, too!
  9. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    I loved Sacrifice, but you're absolutely right: it did make me cry. I agree that I'm a little put off by the Bruce show because Mike was so much more his equal in the early part of the series. That said, maybe he'll step up in the next book, because Bruce is going to be seriously off his game no matter how much he was prepped for what went down. Just read Ravage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel by Iain Rob Wright. It's well written, but not a particularly new take on zombies. It's set in the outskirts of London at a largely empty petting zoo/amusement park and sadly all too full (of zombies) manor house/hotel. The group of survivors that we follow is prone to making stupid decisions and ignoring the behavior of those among their number who are clearly cracking up. The most interesting parts of the novel actually are the last 10 percent or so, which shows the worldwide scope and what caused the outbreak, all as the set-up for a second book. If Lily the Orangutan will be in book 2, I'll be interested in it. Otherwise, I'll probably pass. Also read DJ Molles' next installment in his series, The Remaining: Fractured. It ends on a somewhat happier note than I expected, but OH MY GOSH is it the most despairing, depressing path to get there! There are also some truly intriguing plot twists along the way that completely caught me by surprise, and a few people getting their just desserts, which is always satisfying. And you definitely see some of the characters change and grow - or break - under the strain of the new world they find themselves in. It does make me anxious for the next book, too, because it will be interesting to see what happens with the official military and the military folks who now suspect their commander is out of his gourd, whether they can help the folks at Camp Ryder and stem the tide of incoming infected, and just what will happen with the creepy band of marauder/zealots "The Followers" who have some shocking new recruits.
  10. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Can't wait to read Blue Plague Sacrifice over the weekend! From the other books, I know that even the over-the-top, slightly ridiculous parts are going to be completely outweighed by just how much I love the characters and how funny they are. Finished Omega Days by Joseph Campbell. It's well written and there are lots of good zombie action scenes, as well as plenty of interesting characters. But the whole book basically serves to introduce you to a wide, largely disconnected number of survivors in the San Francisco area, only a few of whom are genuinely likable. And of course, it has a cliffhanger ending - well, actually it seems to have several of them since quite a few of the characters are imperiled at the end of the book. It also doesn't cover any new territory, really: a young woman who turns deadly after watching her family turn into zombies, escaped prisoners, an antihero having a crisis of faith, a religious zealot who thinks this will be an opportunity to gain power, a woman who wants to find a way back to her family... Again, the book IS well written and it's certainly a reasonable price. It's the length of a full book, too, which I like. But the fact that the whole thing is just a set-up for whatever will come later in the series - rather than being a decent story in and of itself, with hints of future action - was disappointing. If you like serial stories, it's most likely one you'll want to read.
  11. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Here's something weird: I went to buy Zombie Crusade III and it's only available via paperback right now on Amazon!? Guess I'll keep checking back to see if/when it's released (or re-released, if you have it already) on Kindle.
  12. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Read two books about CMEs/EMPs and the resulting chaos that might might follow, and one where the story picks up several weeks post-event. Dark Days: Long Road Home by LM May Obviously the first part of a series, this book actually reads in many ways like a romance novel. Gemma's best friend dies after a long illness and makes her promise to take care of her son, CJ... including informing CJ's father that he has a child. The catch? CJ's father, Christopher, is the man who broke Gemma's heart in high school. Leaving CJ with his grandma, Gemma takes a train 300 miles into the city to break the news. She and Christopher barely have time to speak before his law office - and the entire city - is plunged into darkness. As a client in another room dies when his pacemaker fails and a plan crashes a few blocks away, they realize this is much more than a normal blackout. Realizing that panic will quickly set in, they start making plans for how to get away from the masses and find their way back to the safety of their rural hometown and the little boy who is waiting for them. This is a good but not great story. Some ideas about handy items to be found in an office environment and good warnings about calorie, electrolyte, and hydration needs when traveling long distances, but little that is new in terms of survival ideas. The book does give you a close look at what it would be like to wind up within a migrating horde, trying to escape an unlivable situation. Into the Darkness by Doug Kelly Dylan and two coworkers are on a business trip in Helena, Montana, when they are awakened by what seems to be the craziest Aurora Borealis ever. When cars, phones, laptops, etc. are plunged into darkness, Dylan quickly realizes that the lights in the sky were part of a giant CME and that they have a limited time to gather resources and start the long journey back to their families, who are located in Omaha and Kansas City. A brochure in the hotel lobby inspires Dylan to suggest a trip down the Ohio River via inflatable rafts, a journey they hope will save them a lot of time and keep them away from potentially dangerous people. What they don't consider: the Ohio River has a LOT of dams and big cities tend to be founded on major waterways. Fairly good from a survival perspective in that they forage for food (like cattails, etc.), try to make smart decisions about where to camp, don't always make a huge fire, etc. However, they also make some stupid decisions, too, which end up delaying their progress and putting them in harm's way. And some of the things that happen don't make sense to me (the bad guys let down their guards at opportune moments, etc.). The pacing of the book is a little weird, too, because a ton of time is spent on the journey but the most dramatic events in the book happen in quick succession. This reads a bit like a standalone because it has a definite conclusion at the end, but it also seems possible that there could be follow-up books, because there are some questions about what happened to Dylan's family during the journey and so on. Friends of the Family (Colter Saga) by Joel Baker This is written like a family history, the story of how the family patriarch brought his family to Haven, Tennessee in search of peace and prosperity several months after a major SHTF event. It's more a family/Christian values, keeping it together and being willing to make hard decisions - like killing dangerous people - to make the world a little safer for the family and their neighbors. The central figure is Jesse, and there are warnings about how people might think he's a cold-blooded killer, but the story really paints him as a stoic, righteous sort of man. There are some interesting characters and they show the varied ways that people can endure and ultimately thrive during dire situations. The story doesn't cover any particular new ground, but it is very well told. There is one odd element - a group of spooky dogs found in an abandoned facility - that make this surreal instead of a realistic story of struggle. But overall, it was a very satisfying read and I'll look for the next in the "Colter Saga" to see what happens down the road.
  13. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Me, too. Because of how conversational it feels, it almost seems like someone trying to reinterpret the way Mark Twain used vernacular dialogue and slang in his work. I'm not sure that TJ Reeder is going to be our next Samuel Clements, but once I linked those two ideas in my head, it made it easier for me to relax the mental editing and just enjoy the reading part of it. LOL I liked Dark Days Rough Roads by Matthew Mark, and I read it mainly because of the "bad" reviews. Yes, he is a pig and he is a "meanie", but he is also totally focused on helping his family, even including is ex-wife and her new husband. The descriptions of the areas around Detroit were pretty funny, too, and pretty much on point based on my reluctant visits to the area for work over the years. I think both of those instances were illustrative, though they were a bit questionable (especially if you were trying to build up Roger into a major hero). What did we learn? 1. Well, if you're going to steal your neighbor's stuff, at least have the common sense to HIDE IT FROM HIM just in case he decides he wants to take it back - or suggest somebody else does. 2. Karma doesn't mind the occasional helping hand. 3. Don't look for trouble when there's already plenty of it in the world. Just because someone looks kind of pathetic - like a toothless homeless woman, for example - doesn't mean they are safe to taunt or victimize (or even help!). Stranger danger is much more severe at the end of the world, so those who survive are those who don't engage unless necessary. Yeah - if I were in a gang of marauders in a WROL situation, the first places I'd hit would be gated communities because they would likely have the best treasure AND people who aren't used to doing their own dirty work who would easily be subdued/killed off. It seemed kind of crazy to think that a vicious gang would be roving around mere blocks from this subdivision and not try a concerted hit on it... especially if it were obvious that the people in the gated community were out looting stores themselves (increasing the value of them as a target). Plus the infighting and lack of resources within the community itself made it almost wholly untenable from the outset.
  14. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    LOL Too funny, Texas Bill! I just assumed that his writing was improving the more he did it, not that he'd brought in a top-notch editor such as yourself to help with the job. Regardless, I've thoroughly enjoyed his work! Because I was in a PAW reading mood, I picked up The End - A Post-Apocalyptic Novel by G. Michael Hopf. The story focuses on Gordon, a veteran who joined the Marines post-9/11 and had his idealism and fervor stripped following a devastating incident in Iraq. He's gone on to build a good life for himself, his wife, and their two kids in San Diego. When a series of Super EMP attacks devastate the US, Europe, and other "western" countries, they decide to hunker down in their fairly well-prepped suburban home... and slowly realize that their own neighbors may be more dangerous than the bands of gangs roving outside their gated community. In the meantime, Gordon's brother, Sebastian, is pulled out of Afghanistan and on his way back to the US. The plan originally is to have their ARG put in near Washington, D.C., and help with recovery efforts following the nuclear attack that left the Speaker of the House as the new President, but power-grabs and political machinations soon leave him wondering whether he should "turn traitor" and seek his own family out instead. It ends with a big set-up for book two, which will be out this summer. Definitely a compelling story, but plenty of conspiracies and questions raised about where loyalty should lie when TSHTF or when your chain of command perhaps can no longer be trusted. I also read Dark Days Rough Roads by Matthew Mark. The main character, Roger, is thoroughly prepped for a SHTF situation, and when an EMP hits, he puts his plans into action. First up is grabbing his home supplies and locking down his house, then checking on his parents, before making a 300+ mile trek to pick up his daughter from college and get his family to safety. It doesn't take long for things to go crazy WROL, and when the travelers reach their destination, they discover their neighbors are a "militia" who are hellbent on disarming the local citizenry and confiscating all food and fuel "for their own good." This book is not too remarkable in terms of its plot or the scenarios the author envisions - they are all ideas that have come up time and again in other similar books - but there are quite a few lengthy descriptions of ideas for preps, remaining grey/maintaining OPSEC, logically making choices about who to help and who not to help, and some pretty smart and interesting ideas about creating a defensive perimeter at your BOL. There's also some guerrilla warfare and action-adventure type stuff woven in that makes the novel pretty heavy on descriptions and actions and fairly light on character development, but it's definitely a worthwhile addition to the genre.
  15. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Just read the TJ Reeder series, A Long Lonely Road. An EMP attack on the US leaves a Texan and Vietnam vet stranded in southern Montana. He begins his long trek home, running into friends and dangers along the way. There are eight books in the series so far and it's a pretty fun story. Lots of different kinds of action, likable characters, and a combination of realistic and unrealistic plot developments (not the least of which is that a guy in his mid-to late-60s winds up with a firecracker hot redhead 30 years his junior) that keep the story moving. I also really appreciate that each book truly ends, and not with a cliffhanger. You want to learn what comes next in the series, but it's not like, "Suddenly, a shot rang out. I tumbled to the ground, aware of people yelling, but everything faded to black. The End...?" or anything along those lines. One thing you should be prepared for is that the books are written in a stream-of-consciousness way. It reads just like you are sitting and listening to the main character, Johnny Long Walker, telling his story. The grammar, punctuation, and even spelling is sometimes seriously botched, and there are plenty of occasions when the narrative winds down into a tangent before resuming the main story line. But if you allow yourself to be immersed in the way he thinks/writes, it's easy to follow and fun to read.
  16. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Wow - just read through the whole Corrupted World series. That was a great recommendation! The action is fast-paced, and the Corrupted are scarier than just about any zombies I have read recently (even though they AREN'T zombies in any real sense). After the third book, I definitely wondered whether the author hates the Air Force for some reason. The characters are likable, if not downright lovable. And they make smart decisions about survival, fighting or fleeing, etc., which is always a bonus in stories like this. I really enjoyed these books and am so glad that you mentioned them, Texas Bill!
  17. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Just read the whole Apocalypse Babes series. It's a little light on zombies (they are really only a factor in the first book or so, and even then aren't a huge danger for most) and heavy on the kind of drama that would be worthy of a follow-up to the Twilight books. But if you like vast conspiracies, time travel, psychological experimentation, and so on... well, this has all of that. LOL May have to check out Bloodfire and its predecessors, though!
  18. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    I hope you thoroughly enjoy Cyberstorm. Yeah, it definitely freaked me out in terms of survival in a city, and I think you'll be shocked and impressed at turns by what happens during the course of the story. Okay, I bought Surviving Home because I really liked Going Home, but I almost couldn't make myself do it. Did you notice that the author changed his/her name from A. American to Angery American? And apparently didn't notice that this is not how you spell angry? LOL I have a couple of books ahead of it in my queue, but am looking forward to it!
  19. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    I completely understand! If you aren't into all of the bars, gambling, shows, and shopping that the big casinos offer, then staying in them is not all that exciting. It just means more crowds, more noise, a longer jog from lobby to room, etc. Just finished a book called Meat Camp. The title refers to a (supposed) favorite campsite of Daniel Boone, where he and a small group would go and do all of their hunting, then smoke and make jerky out of the elk and deer they killed. Set in the present day, it's now a struggling camp for "at-risk" youth - who, along with dogs, goats, and other wildlife, wind up becoming infected with something that turns them into zombies. It's hard to find people to root for in the book: The camp director seems so admirable as to be fake, and doesn't really do much in the story except flee from cannibalistic campers. Her father is a crotchety old mountain man who is mildly amusing, but I get the feeling the author thought he was really funny. The town sheriff is a washout from a larger city who still can't seem to pull the trigger when he needs to. The camp counselors are a primly virginal tease and a guy who is pretty sure she'll give it up if he only says "I love you" and promises marriage. Two developers nosing around could be introduced as Slimy Senior and his sycophant. The youths themselves are either completely unrepentant, or you don't get "introduced" to them until they are already zombies ("the thing that was Billy, who was always a bright kid and loved school until..."), so instead of being invested in them or feeling the tragedy of their undeath, it's mostly annoying because it slows down the action. There's a lot of gore, not a lot of effective fighting back, and a lot of death. The infection doesn't seem to stick to normal rules (some bites cause you to turn, but it appears that some don't; it infects animals; a blow to the head doesn't actually kill them), which is also confusing and of course makes it that much more difficult for the characters to survive. I didn't dislike the book, but it's definitely a second-tier read, maybe something you choose for atmosphere while you're out camping or if you really like horror stories set at summer camps.
  20. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    I do like holing up in a hotel and reading myself. If your wife were going (instead of you), I'd recommend a complete self-spa while there - I adore doing that in hotels because it's like you have unlimited hot water AND unlimited towels, so facial masks, hair treatments, pedicures, manicures, etc., are much easier in that situation. But somehow I doubt you'd be very engaged by the process of painting your own toenails. LOL That said, I looked for "unusual things to do in vegas" and came up with some really cool options: http://www.shootingsafaris.com/index.html (check out "Shooting Through History" for some real fun) http://www.sunbuggy.com/ (drive a real dune buggy!) http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ (play pinball at the Pinball Museum) http://www.vegas.com/attractions/museums-galleries-las-vegas/ (some amazing museums and galleries are in Las Vegas)
  21. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    You're right, but that's sort of why it would make sense. It's been said that one of the curses of being a writer is that to come up with a good novel, you have to create characters that you love, then torture them relentlessly. That would count, right? I think you're probably right about Robert, though. It also explains all of the tension (foreshadowing?) between Michelle and Jack about putting Robert in harm's way. This definitely could be the thing that causes Jack to completely snap, though. It could be interesting to see who emerges as a leader, in case this is a way for Jack to transition to handing over the reins - something he definitely seems to want to do.
  22. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Oooh, I hadn't thought about whether Robert could survive what others couldn't, and whether sudden trauma following a bite might speed up some of his Jack-like transformations. Interesting! I wonder, too, if that might make it possible for him to connect to his mom (and make her more of a real character in the future), if some kind of telepathy is possible even with "recovered" night runners? I have fears that Bri might also be at the end of her story arc, because she's kind of unbalanced, but doesn't really seem to have much to do that is critical to the group... and because the loss of Bri after losing Nic would really do something to Jack, as you mentioned. "Old Testament" is just the beginning of it. Yeah, the submariners is fascinating because they could almost become their own sub-series even if they don't come back to be part of the larger group.
  23. oregonchick

    Against the Grain - New Fiction Book

    Agree with Texas Bill. Sorry I didn't notice this thread earlier, but I've already talked about what I liked and didn't enjoy as much about this book in our Survival Fiction thread (somewhere around page 37-38, I think). I do think the prequel will be fascinating, so please let us know when it's available so we can buy it on Amazon!
  24. oregonchick

    Survival Fiction or Learning is Fun!

    Always excited to read a new P.S. Power book, even if he insists upon making Trice into a heroine when she's not the most interesting character. Still, the rest are so interesting - and Timon definitely has more to say. You could practically hear the wheels turning in his head in Tor's book! For another recommendation, check out CyberStorm by Matthew Mather. It's a great description of urban survival, what would happen if multiple cyber attacks flattened some of the U.S. military and energy infrastructure - and then a bad weather system socked in the East Coast. Completely fascinating in terms of how to survive (and how NOT to), and thoughts about missing your window for bugging out, at what point you stop helping other people, how dangerous others are, etc. Some of the things seem a little far-fetched (the "meshnet" may make you roll your eyes) but it's ultimately fascinating and really well-written. The cast of characters is especially interesting, from an upwardly mobile couple with a baby and a shaky marriage, to die-hard preppers, to elderly neighbors who survived the Siege of Leningrad, and more. All of the different perspectives combine to make the situation - and people's responses - somehow more vivid and more realistic.
  25. oregonchick

    Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

    Okay, loved Takedown, but like you mentioned, the cliffhanger ending is infuriating. I would read the next book in the series anyway, so to end it that way just seems to be almost an insult to O'Brien's fans! There are already plenty of unresolved things that I want to know more about: what Greg's group encounters, if Robert will have adverse effects from the bite, whether Julie will eventually become a threat, what happens along the way for the submariners and SEALs heading to San Diego, what will happen for the other group of Night Runners, and so on. I genuinely love the action in these books, and the insight you get into what it means to be a leader: necessary planning, self-sacrifice, the occasional need to stay out of the fray, agonizing over how to prepare your kids without needlessly risking them, and all of that. So, while I'm glad that the series continues and think this was a good contribution to the series, I am disappointed to have needless anxiety (whose blood WAS that?) until the next one comes out.