Tag: zombies

Book Review: Unbound, by Byna Whitlock

Image belongs to the author.

Title: Unbound
Author: Byna Whitlock
Genre: YA
Rating: 4 out of 5

Laura Curtis is ready to step out of her shadowed past and into a promising future. With close friends, a prospective romance, and college opportunities pushing her forward, life is finally looking up!

But when a bizarre attack at Central High School sets the world spinning into apocalyptic chaos, Laura is driven into hiding, wanted by the government for reasons unknown to her.

Despite her efforts to stay out of the spotlight, a mysterious stranger hunts her down. Claiming to be a renegade CIA agent, he declares Laura is a key figure in the fight against the virus that’s ravaged civilization.

As the two embark on a deadly cross-country road trip in a race for the cure, Laura seeks to uncover the truth while battling her haunted past. Can she fight her demons while navigating a new world rife with zombie attacks, espionage, and the attention of a man who may not be who he seems?

The answers are slippery, hidden in layers of deceit. In this high-stakes mission, she finds not only is her life in danger… so is her heart.

Time is a relentless enemy.

I do enjoy a good dystopian read and throw in the zombie apocalypse and my attention was definitely caught. Laura and Brandon were quirky characters—his obsession with energy drinks made me laugh, and the way she checked every food expiration date made me roll my eyes a bit—and the gradual way they got to know and trust each other was believable and well-done.

This wasn’t a “scary” zombie book to me, and the focus was more on the espionage and the hope for a cure than gore and chills. A solid read and I’d be interested in reading more in this world.

Byna Whitlock lives in Texas. Unbound is her newest novel.

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, by Jeff Strand


(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.)


Jeff Strand is the author of numerous novels and short stories, many of them macabre. And funny. His new novel, The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever hit shelves on March 1st.

Justin and his buddies have been making movies for a while. Well, they’ve been starting movies for a while. But now they’ve decided to actually finish a movie: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever.

They have a month to make the movie, the script is initially unfinished…and then merely horrible, a budget that depends on the goodwill of family, and they don’t have permission to film in the high school. Not to mention, Justin’s crush has been cast as the star, so he really needs to make this happen if he has a chance with her. What could possibly go wrong?

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is a hilarious misadventure of filmmaking at its best, er, worse.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley.)

Mischief Managed

The Muse is being mischievous.

I haven’t gotten much writing done this week (if any), between working six days and wrestling with trying to decide whether or not to start drafting another story. I’m still pretty torn.  The Muse wants something new to play with, but she still likes Siren Song, too.

Decisions, decisions.

So…I think I’m going to get Siren Song outlined as I continue writing bits of it (I have an outline for the next couple of thousand words anyway). I’m also going to work on brainstorming, then outlining The Fall and the Camelot story. Then…I’ll start drafting at least one of those ideas, albeit in smaller chunks than Siren Song. This will keep the Muse entertained and engaged. I’ll also continue to do my POV-edit on Witches, then do an in-depth edit when I finish that.


Mischief managed.

The Muse has been Blocking Me

I haven’t done any writing for the last couple of weeks, and yesterday I realized why:  I’m not happy with my setting/society in The Fall.  It’s a dystopian zombie story (although the zombies are more of a side note than anything), and my society seemed too bland and smooth. It’s been bothering me for a while–I have a few handwritten notes about it–but I read a couple of books last week that sort of solidified my feelings about it, so now I have a better grip on what needs to be changed before I get any further in. The setting is very important for this story, and the society is part of that, so I think that’s why I’ve been having problems writing lately:  The Muse wasn’t feeling it.

However, the Muse is quite happy with the stream-of-consciousness thoughts about the setting I’ve been getting down today, so I’m going to continue on with that.

Anyone have suggestions for naming a walled-city after the world ends?

Happiness Is…Words on Paper

You know what’s awesome?  Writing.

Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote anything besides random emails and interminable school papers?  At least three months.

Do you know how happy writing again makes me?  Extremely.

Granted, I didn’t write much.  But school started again this week, and I decided that, in addition to my piles of school work ( I feel like a fifth year at Hogwarts), I would make time for writing.  And blogging.  No exceptions.  No more procrastinating.  Just me and my characters and heaps of trouble.

And you know what?  Once I made myself start, it felt fantastic!  I’ve missed writing so much.  I can never not write this long again.  It’s unacceptable.

How else am I going to capture the magic around me, if I don’t write?  Besides, I have to keep my characters safe from the zombies.


Decisions, Decisions

In my Creative Writing class, the reading assignment for next week is about Revision. Revision is not my favorite part of the writing process. It is, quite possibly, my least favorite. (Okay, perhaps tied with writing the first sentence, but that’s a whole other phobia…) Revising is hard work. Sometimes I can see what needs re-worked right away. Sometimes I might as well be trying to read it in Braille or Swahili, for all the sense it makes to me (I speak /read neither, by the way). I know revising is necessary, that it is essentially where the magic happens, but I don’t really enjoy it or anticipate it.

That being said, while I was reading about revising, all I could think about—all the Muse could think about—was the werewolf story. I love the characters in that story, the world, the conflict, everything about it. The writing is done. It’s even been revised (once). But it could use some more work, some fresh eyes. I’m wondering if the Muse is trying to tell me something. Perhaps I should put in a little bit of revision time on this story, as well as drafting The Fall? (And it would only be a little bit of time, because that’s all I have to give.)

I could do it. Maybe only an hour a week, but I could. Then I could start writing the next one…ah. Delusions of grandeur are on the agenda today, I see. Considering my weekly writing goal for The Fall is two measly pages, and I’m doing good to hit that, now I’m mentally gearing up to write something else. I really have to stop trying to do too much.

What do you think? Add a small bit of revision into the mix, or stick with just writing for now?

The Muse is Awake

I haven’t talked about writing in a while. I haven’t written in something like 15 months. To be honest, I’ve barely managed to do anything besides work the day job, do school stuff, and try to rest and recuperate from both those things. Writing…has more than fallen by the wayside. It’s dropped completely off the radar.

I had started to wonder if the Muse inhabited that part of my brain that was damaged by my stroke. I’m happy to report that it doesn’t! Yesterday, I was at work, and walked by my boss’s office. He had Enya playing, and I felt the Muse sit up, take a deep breath, and stretch. It was like she’d been resting for a long time. (Apparently, she moonlights as Rip Van Winkle.) Now she’s awake, and ready to play. And all it took was some Enya to shake her up and get her moving again (I’ve written to Enya a lot in the past.)

Now I can feel her in there, tinkering with the edges of The Fall, teasing it with her tiny, ever-moving hands as she searches out the bits that no longer fit, so she can rip them to shreds and build something new and shiny. She likes shiny, and at this point, The Fall is pretty much new and pristine, so it counts. Plus, she knows we have a lot of work to do to get it into shape for our new vision of it. It’s no longer going to be the same old dystopian zombie tale. It will still have zombies and be dystopian. But now it will be more.

I’m glad the Muse is back. I’ve missed her.


Getting Over Feeling Guilty

So, I know I said I was going to do some writing-related work every week and post about it here to keep myself accountable, but…that just didn’t happen last week.  At first I felt guilty.  I had an entire week, why couldn’t I carve out some time for writing?  Then I thought about it:  I was busy last week.  Really busy.  It wasn’t like I did nothing last week.  I just didn’t have enough hours to fit in everything I had to do, much less the things I wanted to do.  I have valid reasons for not getting to the writing.  I may not be happy about the situation, but it is what it is, and I’m in the process of making my life more conducive to doing things I want to do, instead of merely what I have to do.

My (excellent list) of (valid) reasons I didn’t have time for writing last week:

1)  I worked an extra day at the day job.

2)  School. (And registering for summer classes, which I wasn’t planning on taking.)

3)  I started packing my apartment in preparation for moving in 3 weeks or so.  (Blech.  I HATE packing.)

4)  Pre-vacation planning and packing (I leave on Thursday.)

5)  Extra schoolwork so I don’t have to do it while on vacation.

To me, those are excellent reasons (not excuses).

I did just sign up for a webinar Thursday with Holly Lisle and Booknook.biz about e-book formatting, so I’m counting that as writing-related for next week…

Also, I took a few hours out to go see Divergent.  I haven’t read the book, but I loved the movie.  I thought it was really well-done.  Also, since my WIP (which currently stands for Work I’ve Paused) is dystopian, the movie got me thinking about the genre, which seems to have gotten big with the success of things like The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead (yes, I’m counting that here).

So, I’d really like to know:  why do you like (or dislike) dystopian stories?

Julie Kagawa’s “The Eternity Cure”

The Eternity Cure (Harlequin Teen)
The Eternity Cure (Harlequin Teen)

Julie Kagawa, best-selling author of The Iron Fey series, has a new book out in her The Blood of Eden series, The Eternity Cure. Set in a dystopian future where a deadly virus has destroyed most of the population, human beings are now reduced to scavengers…and to nothing more than food for vampires.

Allison Sekemoto has lost everything she cared about. Her friends. Her humanity. Her love. But she still has a chance to get one thing back: her creator, Kanin, kidnapped by the Psycho Vamp who almost destroyed her once. Following the call of blood, Allie follows Kanin’s trail and finds more than she ever bargained for.

Forced to work with an old enemy—and someone she never thought she’d see again—she races to rescue Kanin in an effort to find a cure for the disease that will wipe out all life on earth if they can’t stop it. A psychotic vampire, a vindictive Prince, and heat-wrenching betrayal aren’t enough to deter Allie, but will a more devastating loss finally destroy her?

The dystopian world of New Covington is darker and more dangerous this time around. Allie is stronger, but she’s struggling to hang on to her humanity—and her hope. The Eternity Cure takes the reader from the pinnacles of hope to the very depths of despair, on the roller-coaster ride to save earth from complete destruction.
(Galley provided by Harlequin Teen via NetGalley)

The Habits of Readers

What makes you want to read a book? For me, there’s one sure way to guarantee I’ll read a book: if it’s by an author I’ve read and enjoyed before. That’s a safe bet. But for a new (or new-to-me) author, what’s a good way to get me to pick up the book–and then make an even bigger investment of time and money–and buy it?

The cover of the book is one way. It’s hard to place too much importance on the book cover. Honestly, I can’t even tell you the number of book covers that have intrigued me enough to actually buy the book. Here are three book covers that intrigued me enough to buy the book:

Before I Wake, by Rachel Vincent
Before I Wake, by Rachel Vincent

Flirting with Forty, by Jane Porter
Flirting with Forty, by Jane Porter

Alice in Zombieland, by Gena Showalter
Alice in Zombieland, by Gena Showalter

There aren’t really any common elements between. They are all just really well-done covers. If it catches my eye on a bookshelf, at the very least I’ll pick it up, flip it over, and read the back cover copy.

Cover copy is another way to attract readers. Last week, I saw the blurb for Coleen Patrick’s new book Come Back to Me:

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

 She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning-after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy. A happy she ruined. A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.

I was so intrigued by the description of the book, I clicked on the link and bought it immediately (Great read, btw!)  Again, there’s no list of ingredients for how to write great cover copy, but using active descriptions instead of boring passive-voice is a must, as is giving the reader just enough details to whet their appetite (and have them chasing the carrot).

A great title is also a way to get me to commit to a book.  Gena Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland is a fantastic example of this.  I would have bought this for the title alone (even without the great cover and fantastic cover copy).  As a writer, coming up with the perfect title is something I tend to obsess about, so I love to check out other authors’ titles, hoping to find something that will give my own Muse a nudge in the right direction.

What about you?  What gets you reading?