Odd Men Out by Matt Betts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review Excerpt: These characters’ journeys from outcast to hero set in a creatively-built playground made Odd Men Out an enjoyable read and Matt Betts an author to follow. The genre mashup between steampunk, alternate history, horror and monster-catching thriller excited me in their introduction, but often let me down as they faded offscreen for another genre element to show up. The focus of the story is clearly on characters becoming heroes, but the above genre elements felt too quickly used and discarded.
Full review: http://www.adventuresinscifipublishin…
(disclaimer, I’m changing my rating from a 3 to a 4 star because of a recent distinction I will make between the two. 3 Stars have elements I enjoyed, but not enough to make me buy the sequel. 4 Stars are books I will buy the sequel for, but which had areas that took them down from being a 5 Star. As I say in my full review, I want more Matt Betts books!)
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REVIEW SUMMARY: The zombie apocalypse has never been more engrossing, heart-wrenching, or personal. I rooted for this hero with held breath.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A pair of drug addicts open their window to a zombie apocalypse, run for their lives and fight for what they’ll love more: sober life or death.
PROS: Front-to-back engaging; phenomenal ending; emotionally powerful characters; scary zombies; survivalist setting.
CONS: The sexual descriptions, while consistent with the gory details throughout, were more than this reader preferred.
BOTTOM LINE: Best read of the year. Best zombie book, ever. Masterful illustration about how painful and overwhelming addiction can be – over love, over family, and over being a good human being, even in the face of losing one’s life to a zombie horde.
Read the rest of the review at SF Signal.
Stay tuned for my podcast interview with Peter at Adventures in SciFi Publishing.
I reviewed this book over at SF Signal today. Here’s a sample:
Children of the Night begins with a preface of the author’s first hand research visiting Romania and historical locations important to Dracula’s life, and the tragedy of that country’s orphan problem. The story begins with a team of Americans visiting Romania to investigate the orphanage system in order to report back with recommendations for aid. The characterization is interesting enough to keep you reading, and when this section ends, the reader is left with a haunting revelation about the vampires’ plans.
Dr. Kate Newman is the main character, and the book follows her struggle to fix a long-broken system of treating orphans with inadequate supplies and methods. Kate is a strong-willed character who shows how much she’s willing to lose to save an abandoned baby. Once she returns to the States, an amazing scientific discovery leads to her heading up a team of researchers eager to cure AIDS and remove the vampires need for human sacrifice. They, of course, don’t like that idea, and life-threatening action ensues. The consequences of this action are where the story fails. After this twist, the direction of the story takes a hard left away from the initial premise. Kate goes to Romania with her priest friend, Michael O’Rourke–whom readers of Summer of Night should remember and root for–and together they try and take down the Vampire Mafia.
What ensues is a cross between Dracula and The Bourne Identity, but fails to deliver like either.
Read the full review at SF Signal.
Other books/stories I’ve reviewed by Dan Simmons:
SUMMER OF NIGHT
“This Year’s Class Picture” in the zombie anthology, The Living Dead ($2.99 for Kindle).
I first discovered Michael Montoure last year through his book of short stories, Slices. I was so impressed that I spotlighted individual stories, invited him to do short interviews on them, and for a few, had him read samples. I’m not much of a short story reader, though, so I didn’t end up finishing Slices in order to do a formal review, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fantastic. Hearing about his new release prompted me to get back into Slices, and I was pleasantly reminded of what I’ve been missing.
Permanent Damage is classic Montoure mind bombs. The stories are grounded smoothly enough in the people and settings so that they are easy to get into, but like a Chinese finger trap, getting out is much harder than you’ll expect. Michael has a fantastic gift in Continue reading
The Narrows by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ronald draws the reader in with strong description and interesting characters. I am a big fan of Horror, but not so when it relies on cheap tricks and bland characters. Ronald has a poet’s mastery of language and the ability to evoke the right feeling. His pinpoint details make reading this book more like watching a movie, and it’s instantly and thoroughly chilling. He makes all of his characters interesting and rich. The combination compels you to read on. I really enjoyed it. Continue reading
I first learned of Dan Simmons from his story “This Year’s Class Picture,” in the Living Dead anthology, and loved it so much I wrote a Saturday Spotlight about him and this story. One of the benefits of this blog series has been learning new writers to follow, and notice when I’m perusing spines at the book store. This was how I found SUMMER OF NIGHT, at Half Price Books. The idea of a bunch of sixth graders fighting ghosts in a small town one summer sounded appealing, and fit right in as research for a Cub Scout zombie story I was working on. The paperback is 600 pages long, but I finished it today concluding that it is one of my favorite Horror reads. For me, the difference between a 4 and a 5 star book is whether you finish it with a “wow” feeling. That’s how this book ended, and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Continue reading