Flesh for the Zombies (short story) by Anthony Renfro

Reading has been a tad slow these days and I’m kind of feeling like I’m cheating on this Goodreads challenge because I’ve been reading a lot of short stories and comics/graphic novels but I guess this does work because its really been a whole new adventure. However, the world is much better in smaller doses especially when I finally got around to checking out Anthony Renfro’s new short story Flesh for the Zombies. For those who don’t know, Anthony is one of us bloggers and he is also a writer. You can find him at Haiku, Poetry and Occasional Hullabaloo and his newer blog, One Writer Ranting. Over the years, Anthony has been great and its always great to get a free copy of his book because I do love his writing a lot. Flesh for the Zombies continues with the story of Mike Beem which is a pretty cool character that has been around for a few short stories already.

Flesh for the Zombies
by: Anthony Renfro

flesh for the zombies

When Mike Beem’s community is savagely attacked, he must exact revenge on those who wronged him. He must put aside all the good he has ever accomplished in order to become someone else. A man without a moral compass. A man without right or wrong. A man who is a cold blooded killer. Will he get his justice or will he die trying? The answers lie within the pages of this short story. – Goodreads

What started with A Zombie Christmas turned into A Zombie Christmas 2 and now we have Flesh for the Zombies which follows a very cool bad-ass with quite a soft heart who makes the best out of a sudden zombie apocalypse. Mike Beem is a great character created by Anthony Renfro for these stories and despite these only being short stories, the events Mike Beem goes through and the way he talks and his actions truly allows the readers to see who he is. With Flesh for the Zombies, the story dives a little deeper as the community he built is not destroyed by a group of people who has taken the zombie apocalypse and gone the different direction of how he chose by making things a living hell and when they choose to destroy his community that he’s built with positivity and create a safe(r) haven for what is going on outside, it turns a side of Mike Beem and makes not only us but the character itself question the limits of his actions especially in the face of hard choices. Its not to say that in the face of a zombie apocalypse there won’t be hard choices even before but the tone of Flesh of the Zombies has matured quite a bit from when we first saw Mike Beem and his desire to bring Christmas from the survivors of his neighborhood. To me, that shows improvement and character depth all of which makes me happy to see that the author has chosen this new path. For those who have read A Zombie Christmas, we already know that the author likes to take a different approach to this zombie apocalypse business and its quite creative. The most impressive part for Flesh for the Zombies is it takes it down a very different path with very intriguing results making this a very fulfilling short story.

Overall, Flesh for the Zombies takes a turn down a deeper and darker path for an impressive character that gives it some character depth. Packed with vivid description and some hard choices for the protagonist to make, this short story is a page turner and one that stands together well with the Mike Beem stories from before, A Zombie Christmas 1 & 2 but also should stand well enough by itself as it is self-contained.

Links to buy the short story (if you are interested)

Blog Tour: Before the Tempest (UK Crush Series #4) by Tani Hanes (with Giveaway)

Blog Tour

Before The Tempest
(UK Crush Series Book #4)

by: Tani Hanes

Before the Tempest

Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult Romance/Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

Aileen Foster, poor, orphaned, musically gifted, never imagined her life could change so much, so fast, but getting a job as interpreter for boyband UK Crush pitched her headfirst into tumult and a glamorous life she never thought she’d have. Now, engaged to band member Theo Shelley, and having survived her audition to Hamilton Conservatory in Manhattan, she’s off to the Bahamas with the boys while they write their new album. Life has never been easy for her, but she’s trying.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34664760-before-the-tempest?ac=1&from_search=true

About the Author
Tani Hanes

Tani Hanes was born in Yokosuka, Japan. She spent the first few years of her life traveling back and forth between Japan and the US, making the permanent move to the Central Valley of California when she was five. She visited family in Japan on a regular basis, and attended college in Tokyo for one year at ICU before getting her degree in Language Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has two children, and was a substitute teacher for fifteen years. Hanes currently resides in New York City with her husband and cats, Moss and Lily.

Previous books in the UK Crush Series

Author Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tanihanesauthor/
Website: http://tanihanes.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaniHanes
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tani-Hanes/e/B01M4PYCA6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1493136660&sr=8-1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16028512.Tani_Hanes
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tanihanes/
Swoonreads: https://www.swoonreads.com/a/tani-hanes/6QA49L/

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Before+the+Tempest+by+tani+hanes
Pre-order Link for “Surviving the Hurricane” Book #5: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072HKLYYV?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

Giveaway:

5 digital sets of the UK Crush series and 1 complete print set of the UK Crush series, signed by author

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f4/?

Archie, Volume 2 by Mark Waid

If you missed the review for Volume 1, you can find it HERE.

After a whole ordeal of getting this book in my hands, it finally got here and after a tiring week (or weeks), I’ve been in the mood for lighter reads and comic/graphic novels fit that bill perfectly. I’m actually thinking of diving into my other comics sitting around the house for a change of pace. I do have a pretty cool TBR list for this year that I hope to complete. Maybe I should post it so that you all can keep me accountable.

Regardless, back on track, I enjoyed the revamp of Archie. I still like the old comics and they give me fond memories and so much nostalgia when I see them around but the first book impressed me. I’m ready for the second one.

Let’s check it out!

Archie, Volume 2
By: Mark Waid (writer) & Veronica Fish (illustrator)

Archie, Volume 2

In the second volume, we are back to somewhat of a more traditional familiar territory. Archie is now determined to find any way to convince Mr. Lodge that he is useful and worthy of Veronica. At the same time, Betty amd Archie’s friendship is still cracked.

While I love the original Archie comics, Volume 1 did capture me quite a bit. Modernizing the characters but keeping the essence of their personality still there is probably incredibly hard and they did do a great job in the first one. It have us a look again at who everyone is and sets the stage for the story which is good for old and new people starting this series. Volume 2 was so much fun to read and I finished the book excited for the next one. This book had a lot of the silly Archie bits and showed us a story arc for Archie and Veronica while still giving space for Betty’s side. It worked really well.

Visually, Volume 2 still has wonderful illustrations. The color palette and the environment help with the tone and atmosphere. There are some pretty dramatic moments and it does a great job and reflecting it.

Overall, I don’t have a whole lot to say but I do urge those still unsure to give it a shot. It feels like the writer is truly finding his footing as to where to take the story and I am excited to read Volume 3 which was just released a few days ago and since my bookstore here had an online discount, I already put in my order for it. Hopefully it will be on its way.

On the same note of Archie, I have also wrapped up Season 1 of Riverdale and the TV binge post is coming up.

Have you read the modernized Archie comics? What do you think of it?

Titan: An Alternate History by Michael Tymczyszyn & Andy Stanleigh

I have been reading more graphic novels and comics lately. It is a much more relaxing experience and pretty fun to discover or rediscover cool stories. Some of you who saw my Toronto Comiccon haul will know that I got two books from AH Comics.

I remember AH Comics from the year before and remembering that I hadn’t had time to go back the year before. But this year, I just had to pick it up. Lets start with Titan: An Alternate History.

Titan: An Alternate History
By: Michael Tymczyszyn (author) and Andy Stanleigh (illustrations)

titan: an alternate history

Traveling through four distinct periods in history, this graphic novel follows Peter Tytan, an unassuming archaeology professor until a brutal mugging leaves him broken, bloodied, and hallucinating. Through this alternate history he sees a world similar and yet very different from our own—from the Steppes of ancient Russia to the Crusades to the Industrial Revolution. With every hallucination Peter experiences his world spins further and further away from the one he recognized, creating astounding changes that overcome him, transform him, and ultimately make him a titan among men. – Goodreads

First of all, Titan is very unique. The first thing that will catch your eyes is the art. As we travel time and through different scenes, we start seeing a change in the style and yet still incredibly well-drawn. Of course, I’m rather new to the graphic novel world however, the art here appealed to me a lot. It created a different tone for each part. While I’m not very well-versed in history, the book features some characters that are widely known as general knowledge and jumps back into events that are also known to others. The idea here is in the alternate history where it is familiar to the readers and yet, seeks to show something different. The way it is presented, particularly the dialogue works so well here and makes it rather unique.

However, the only thing that I did have some minor issues is was the transition between scenes. Perhaps the novel-reading me takes over in this department but there does seem to be gaps. For sure, these are hallucinations and yet, there’s something that doesn’t always piece together well enough. It may have to do with the fact that this is a short graphic novel. However, there is still an indie charm immediately apparent when reading Titan. There’s heart and some fun ideas thrown together along with no barriers to what can be accomplished and achieved.

While, there were some moments that pulled me out of the story a little, the art and the dialogue and even the characters has me intrigued to see where this continues. The best achievement here is being able to smudge the line of reality and history in terms of Peter Tytan.

Archie Vol.1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid

Archie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale
by: Mark Waid

Archie The New Riverdale

America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist. – Goodreads

I love Archie, you know the old comics in those little books. I remember Archie being one of the first comics I ever read along with Garfield and Peanuts along with For Better or For Worse and of course, Calvin and Hobbes. Man, the memories of all these comics are just great. I loved the simple art and the colorful characters particularly in these books. I probably read Archie before I should be however, they were on sale at some second hand book sale that we went to for a quarter or something and my mom let me have it. If I look hard enough, I’m sure I still have them in one of my boxes when I moved. While I am skeptical of renewing the Archie series, the new series Riverdale which is really just inspired by the Archie characters gave me slightly more confidence to finally pick up the first volume to give it a go.

The New Riverdale is the title of the first volume of the new Archie. Let’s just start with the art. The art style is beautiful and a little more graphic novel-esque, which I do enjoy. On top of that, the characters are a little more developed than from what I’ve read when I was younger however still holding their personality and individual charm. All the familiar faces are still there and it does stay true to the old comics while giving it a little more flair. Perhaps I’m a little skewed in my mind because I have been introduced to a darker Riverdale because of the new TV series so I like the fact that this one seems a little more mature and somehow seems like it grew up as I did (kind of…).

It is nice to see these characters in a more modern setting to give it a renewed audience. For one, the story now has Archie and Betty in a fresh break-up as Veronica Lodge moves into town with her rich family. Jughead is still the burger-loving chill guy who helps Archie out in his own way. You have Reggie who is the bad guy here who wants the rich girl or if not, the pretty girl and tries to stir up drama. Its a nice way to give an introduction to the characters in the series and let us see how they are created now. To be honest, I haven’t read a ton of Archie despite liking it a lot however, there are a lot of issues out so its a huge game of catch-up to even remember more of them.

Overall, Archie: The New Riverdale  Volume 1 is a nice start to modernizing the characters in the Archie-verse. Everyone get a first look and stays true to their characters and the art style of this new one is really nice as well.

As a side note, I’m waiting on Volume 2 to get here now, except the postal service is being stupid so my package is stuck in the Undeliverable Mail Office somehow. My guess is probably the packaging fell apart but I’m waiting for them to get back to me on either what happened or when it’ll be ready to be on its way to me. Anyways, that is coming up.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Its been a long time since I’ve had a book review go up. I’m so sorry! I started about 3 books on my Kindle and just couldn’t get into it. It was time to admit that it is time to pick up one of my physical books and see if it will do better.

Illuminae has had a lot of buzz about its awesomeness. Being not so into Young Adult books and really not much of a sci-fi enthusiast, I still decided to give this a go because I just can’t miss out on what others call awesome and I needed a change in pace. I’ve read books like this before where its comprised of telling a story through reports and such. It is one of my favorite sorts of reading because it does feel really authentic most of the times. World War Z had a similar set-up and Carrie was definitely this type of story except a different genre. Anyways, just when you pick up the book, it looks so intriguing and fun!

Let’s check it out!

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01)
by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. – Goodreads

 WOW! I don’t go all googly eyes and crazy about books. Illuminae is definitely something. It is nice to feel the same passion and excitement as others. There is so much creativity in this one and the way it shows off the situation through hacked documents and camera footage and making it authentic and forbidden by striking out sentences and having spaces and having little images created through words and binary numbers is so smart and suitable for a story like this one. It takes us not only in the future of 2575 but a dystopia. We can believe in the Kady and Ezra who has broken up over something that seems so random now. Aren’t most teen break-ups like that? However, life does throw them lemons and that comes in the form of a war that they can’t control and are split up over the two ships that remain. There’s a lot of politics as the captains of the ships have to make difficult decisions. And we see these in memos.

Other than the creative elements of using different mediums to tell their story so we get a pretty good picture of what is going on, it is the progression and pacing of the events that make it so fun. Also, the fact that we are zeroed into various characters more and the story makes the feeling of well-rounded, its easy to forget that other things are happening and then when it does have a reveal, the moments tend to build up in several surprises and twists that truly make this one big. What starts off as a sci-fi, war and dystopian novels quickly turns around and becomes a futuristic “zombie-esque” movie. Somehow revealing that probably makes it worse because that was one of the bigger twists in Illuminae that I embraced and was shocked because I didn’t read any synopsis before jumping in.

In terms of characters, Kady and Ezra are an interesting pair of characters. There’s a clear connection between them and right away for two kids nearing adulthood (aka 18 years old), there is a striped away innocence that we can’t push away. Both of them have their secrets while Kady seems to have something more. As the readers, we get a third person view of reading these reports and we get a clear idea of where everyone stands and how they both feel and what they are going through. Aside from them, perhaps the other character is the all powerful AI called AIDAN who takes on a huge role as it takes control in this 2575 future of almost everything and humans are rendered almost dysfunctional and slow when they lose the power to use it. I won’t tell you why but it brings on a whole new meaning to technology and aritificial intelligence being a double-edged sword.

Illuminae is a book that you jump into to take an adventure. It almost feels like watching a movie and yet, I don’t want this to be adapted into a movie (although its already announced that it will be – of course). There’s something about reading these passages that work so much more than what a movie adaptation can do. The fact that its like we are watching this in third person recap from different footages gives such a nice imaginative journey. It does so much more to what we can see going on. There are twists that can only work because of the between the lines and hidden facts on paper along with the imagery. Illuminae is a must-read. It has been a long time I haven’t felt this excitement for a book before: a pageturner full of thrills and twists and some compelling characters, moral and ethical choices. It is so awesome!

Rambling about adaptations ahead… skip if you’d like

Before I go, I just need to ramble about movie adaptations because both my darling husband and fantastic co-host has heard about it. I’m all for adaptations, heck, I’m starting a freakin’ segment on it, right? However, there are exceptions to the equation. It is why I wish some people would realize why its okay to not adapt every book (or video game) that is popular. The whole execution can be the death of what was a great book: look at I Am Number Four. A great book series that just didn’t take off as a movie which is a shame because it can do so well in the right hands. Another example more along the lines of this one is World War Z which was a great movie but it wasn’t an adaptation or even an inspiration, it was a zombie movie that leeched off the idea of World War Z. The book wasn’t about that: it was about survival and the different citizens and their stories and escape. It wasn’t about almighty Brad Pitt solving the mystery of it all. I liked the movie but calling it an adaptation is just trying to sell it as something it isn’t. To be fair, Carrie did a fairly good job for something with similar structure. There are some great adaptations but with something that works so well, perhaps I’m just not creative enough to see how they can make Illuminae great and I think part of it is how much involvement the authors have in this matter to use their creativity to work it all out. I’m happy that the adaptation will probably get a bigger reach for Illuminae, however, I will try to tuck away the subjective views and wait for the first trailer to see how they approach it all.

Rambling done…

Have you read Illuminae? Are you planning to?

Friends with Partial Benefits (Friends with Benefits #1) by Luke Young

It does feel like forever since I’ve written a book review. Maybe not, the last one was A Good Marriage, I believe. (It’s been really busy…) Either way, I figured after some awesome reading, I’d go for some contemporary book that has been just sitting around in my Kindle for a long time. I have to admit that the reason I’ve been straying away from this one for so long is because the cover kind of makes me laugh a little. While there has been a lot of these sexy novels in my readings in the past year (not erotica because I can’t quite categorize this one in there), there has been some surprises. Some quite pleasant surprises, in fact. So, I really go into these with an open mind and hope to just finish this with a light and fun time. Expect to see some more of this alternating between genres just to keep things interesting for myself.

Let’s check out this first book and I’ll tell you if I’ll consider continuing on with this series!

Friends with Partial Benefits
by: Luke Young

Friends with Partial Benefits

Jillian Grayson is a disillusioned divorcée and best-selling romance novelist who suddenly can’t write a chapter without her hunky male heartthrob suffering ED, an STD, or even worse. Brian Nash is a tennis-obsessed college senior who’s unlucky in love and the roommate and best friend of Jillian’s son, Rob. When Rob brings Brian home for Spring Break, and Brian meets the surprisingly young and tennis passionate Jillian, their shared interest quickly develops into an intense mutual attraction. After nearly giving in to their feelings, they hatch a plan, while under the influence (of something more than just the perfect Miami night), to be Friends With Partial Benefits, complete with rules to define the boundaries. Will the lonely pair continue with this distinctive relationship, actually explore their desires, or discover all of it is a really bad idea? – Goodreads

Friends With Partial Benefits is really not a bad way to start a series. In fact, it redeems itself quite well in finding the balance between being sexy (not erotic) and romantic. Sure, its a little hard to relate because of the age of the character and just how daring she is but a part of books, just like movies, are appealing because they lead us to a experience something exciting and differently from our own reality. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are criticisms. A few of them that drew me away from the immersion however, for the fact that finds a good balance and keeps the style pretty easy to read, if you like this genre, its not a bad read especially since its a legit length for a debut and its free which I always think is a nice and smart way to get audience.

Contemporary romances are so hard to find nowadays where our sex and manhoods are not mentioned. Don’t blame me. That is what these books like to refer to these body parts so just using the lingo to also prevent a ton of odd search terms.  However, what I am getting at is that, while attraction and emphasis on mesmerizing over “manhoods and sexes” seem quite key to having greater attraction, making it seem pretty creepy, there is a nice way of making it about building on that relationship and not hopping on for a ride right away. (Did I just write that? What have I become?) While Friends with Partial Benefits does have its attractive young guy and lovely best friend’s mom, there is still an effort to focus on the development of these relationships despite still adding in the rather fun/funny and to me, a little far-fetched circumstances. However, I do believe far-fetched ideas are acceptable because it is an imaginary story so you can let these fantastical courage happen even if its a little ridiculous. These characters are fun so that is a huge plus.My main issue with this one is really in a bit of clunky writing. The writing style sometimes feels like it doesn’t flow well into the next scene. Especially as it takes on the views of two characters (or maybe three).

I’ve commented in previous reviews of similar genres about these things but I feel that this book is also commendable as a free debut because it is a full size book that sets up the stage for the further sequels and its free to legitimately see if you like the characters to invest into the series. Its characters are pretty fleshed out and even if you don’t continue the series, its not an open ended conclusion but a point in time that can be continued with other life events for these characters. A side note that I have been appreciative of in the past year particularly. Being self-contained is very important and really showing that respecting the reader makes this one even more appealing to myself. Along with the fact that it wasn’t just a thousand sex scenes stringed together. There is an actual story building up in this one as crazy as a lot of the character decisions were.

Friends With Partial Benefits has its issues but it also does have some fun characters and scenes. There is a nice development and foundation built for these characters despite some clunky dialogue and flow problems in the writing. The passionate scenes are done well and seeks to be seductive but never into the full on sexual area. Finding that middle is hard but this one definitely is on the right track. It will be interesting to see where this goes although I have this odd feeling of watching a soap opera at times or potential for it, so for now, I’m putting this one on hold but in consideration to continue on. If this is a genre you enjoy, you might like it.