Dead Sea Games: On Sale Now!
It’s finally here. The complete Dead Sea Games is on sale now at Amazon in paperback, ebook, and Kindle LendingLibrary. You get all four episodes in one beautifully designed novel. The book is also in the Amazon MatchBook program, so if you purchase the paperback you get the ebook for a buck. If you love zombies, The Walking Dead, or any adventure series with a smart-ass hero, you’re going to love this book.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Since there’s no much to be gained by reviewing classic novels, I’ll keep this brief. I adore Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island was one of my all time favorites as a kid. In my eyes, he can do no wrong, and certainly for the time period his tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lives up to my memory of the author. This book has rightly earned its place in the pantheon of great horror novels.
Dr. Henry Jekyll, kind hearted and well loved in the community, has a secret. His experimentation to bring about the division of light and dark in the soul of a man has been successful, and it will be his undoing. The chemically-induced birth of the horrible Mr. Hyde begins the book with the deliberate trampling of a child. If that sounds bad, you’ve only just begun to indulge in the wicked ways of the alter-ego of the respected physician. Once Mr. Hyde strikes down a respected member of high society in cold blood, the fate of Dr. Jekyll is sealed. Suicide or the gallows is his destiny if Mr. Hyde can not be made to disappear forever.
I’d put this book in the psychological horror category, and as such there’s a lot to like about what’s going on here. The transformations that start out as a release for an upright moral rock of society quickly turn to dread and fear. If you’ve ever had a problem with substance abuse, this book may hit a little too close to home. The best part of the book is told in letter form as Dr. Jekyll explains how his life spirals out of control after indulging in Mr. Hyde’s crimes, greed, and licentiousness; a lifetime of suppressed desires carried out in absentia. The novel is rife for plundering philosophical themes: addiction, duality of man, animal nature of mankind, the burden of honor, etc. It’s a thinking person’s horror novel.
It’s a thinking person’s horror novel. I can certainly understand a fourteen-year-old picking up this novel and hating it. The Victorian sensibilities, the purple prose, the unusual style of narration, the lack of gore and flash in telling Mr. Hyde’s side of the tale, all could be seen as drawbacks to someone used to modern genre fiction. It’s closer to Poe than King, and that could be a turnoff for younger or less experienced readers. It’s too short and doesn’t age well in several places so I can only give it four stars, but I did genuinely enjoy the book.
I’d recommend The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to anyone who loves horror, classic literature, and Victorian era period pieces. There’s nothing graphic in the book that would be inappropriate for young teens, but style may be an issue. The book is short and free, so there’s no reason not to at least give it a try.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I didn’t like Eastern Standard Tribe. The writing is engaging and clever, the editing is spot on, the topic is interesting, but something about the book is just … off. Maybe I’m not hip enough, not a proud enough member of the target technorati audience, or simply not plugged into the prevailing zeitgeist of cultural change. If that sentence sounded pretentious to you, boy do I have some bad news for you. Of course it’s also possible that Eastern Standard Tribes is a snapshot in time of a futurist’s view from 2004 … one that no longer feels relevant in 2014; a story degrading over time is nothing new.
Art Berry is a User Experience genius who somehow gets himself talked into leaving the place he loves, the EST coast of New York, Boston, Toronto, etc., and moving to London to actively try and sabotage the UE efforts of Virgin/Deutsche Telekom (a multinational corporation based in GMT). Things would have been fine for Art had he not accidentally hit Linda with his car. Relationships ensue and soon Art is embroiled with Linda (a firm PST’er – you know those California hippies can’t be trusted) and caught up in trying to hash out a money making scheme with his fellow EST’er Federico. Things go sideways and Art finds himself trying to escape a looney-bin in time to sell his mega-awesome music licensing idea to the Jersey folks before it’s stolen out from under him.
I genuinely laughed out loud several times, so it is humorous in places. I wish it were funnier, but Doctorow’s characters aren’t that likeable to be honest, so you’re never really rooting for them when the inevitable weirdness does come along. The book does have some interesting philosophy attached about our cultural preferences that extend outside the digital world. It did inspire me to think about where our culture and subcultures are headed now that communication-at-a-distance in no longer a limiting factor. It also cleverly slipped into my head the idea that anyone stupid enough to dedicate their life to a shadowy and vague cultural identity formed by something as ordinary as a time zone…is actually crazy and therefore belonged in the nut house all along.
Doctorow uses a few tricks like POV shifts and a flashback-heavy narrative to try and milk the most from this story. If you deconstruct the plot, it’s clear that the tricks are there to distract the reader from realizing than there’s not much going on until very late in this relatively short book. At page 30, I found myself not really understanding what was going on or why. By page 100, I realized I no longer cared. As I mentioned, the characters aren’t particularly likable; Art is kind of a prick, Linda is a stereotypical bitch, and Federico is a slimy backstabber. Anyone else populating the book is simply a cardboard cutout for Doctorow’s mini rants, some of which are funny, but most of which are superfluous.
I’m going to have to recommend you pass on this one, unless you’re a huge Doctorow fan or want to indulge in some cultural archeology from a decade ago. The book is chock full of cursing and has a few sexual parts that definitely bump it off the early teen list. I have a strong feeling that this book would have gotten more stars in 2004 at its release, but alas time catches up to us all.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don’t normally review non-fiction books, but I’m going to make an exception in this case. Okay, I hear you, “But, hey man, zombies aren’t real! This has got to be fiction.” Well, sort of. The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse, besides having the longest title of any book I’ve ever reviewed, is more than a cookbook. It occupies a weird, but cool, niche at the intersection of three popular subjects: zombies, apocalypse survival, and food.
Be assured that this book is far more than a series of recipes, in fact you don’t get into recipes at all until page 58, and to be honest I didn’t care one bit, because this book is flat out fascinating. You start reading and then flipping and pretty soon you’re imagining yourself setting up game snares, water filtration teepees, rooftop gardens, and mud ovens for baking quick breads. It’s a preppers dream guide to the essential elements that will keep you alive in the z-poc (or any apocalypse for that matter); safe food and clean water. If you’re like me, this isn’t the kind of book you sit down and read through cover-to-cover. It’s divided into various subject matter areas that you can pick through as your interests meander, anything from making blackberry mead to the proper way to clear a building of zombies and scavenge supplies.
Clear, concise, and well illustrated guides for all the pertinent subject matters. The illustrations were great and fit right in with the grungy zombie vibe and showed detail in the places where you’d really need a little extra guidance from the text. The other great thing about this book is that it’s fairly comprehensive. I went looking for every food-type and scenario I could think of and the book covered it all (at least at a cursory level). How to skin a rabbit? It’s in there. Which insects are safe to eat? It’s in there. Why you should NEVER go to Wal-mart after TSHTF? It’s in there. How to spit-roast a pheasant? It’s in there. The best thing about this book is that there are hidden treasures all through the book, like my favorite: how to make kick-ass variations of the best damned grilled cheese ever.
It’s essentially non-fiction and it’s a guidebook, which means that the text is dry at times. I’m not sure that’s a negative in the z-poc, as the last thing you want to read is the author making jokes while you’re starving, but in the comfort of our living rooms with a full belly it’s a consideration. The only other minor knock is that you shouldn’t expect the recipes to be your Julia Child-type concoctions. Most of them are short, fairly common foodstuffs, and require more ingredients than you’re likely to have on hand in an emergency. As with most recipes for us lazy cooks who can’t be bothered with another grocery run, you’re going to have to wing it most of the time.
This book is an easy recommendation for almost everyone. There’s nothing in the book that could be a problem for young teens or children. Preppers, zombie fans, homesteaders, campers, and survivalists should all get this guidebook and stash it away in their bug out bag. It makes a great companion to other more technical survival guides and bridges the gaps necessary to keep that belly filled for zombie-killing action!
The ink is drying the presses are warming up. It’s almost tie to get your grubby, zombie-gore encrusted hands on Dead Sea Games in paperback.
I’ve been waiting for it. You’ve been waiting for it. The zombies have DEFINITELY been waiting for it…
I give you the Dead Sea Games cover (by Blue Harvest Creative)
One year after the Emergency, the island of Manhattan has become a prison. The survivors of the Colony have carved out a living a few stories above the sea of millions of shambling corpses. With no escape and no hope for the future, the teenagers entertain themselves by participating in brutal gladiatorial games, betting the only thing they have left – their lives.
As a contestant, Jeremy Walters is among the best of the best, but his adrenalin-addicted recklessness has done more than earn him the nickname Deathwish; it’s gotten him noticed. Now the race is on to recruit Deathwish as opposing forces maneuver to take advantage of his zombie-killing gifts. If he somehow manages to navigate the maze of bribery, threats, extortion, and intimidation, and not get himself killed, he’ll still have to face every teenager’s greatest fear: an angry mother.
Coming in November 2014.