Ravaged (The Hunger #3), by Jason Brant

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:

Welcome to the mountains of Pennsylvania, one of the last vestiges of the human race.

Lance York, a self-described loser in another life, has rediscovered himself in the midst of the apocalypse. Along with a cadre of other survivors, including the hardened, sexy Cass, Lance has taken refuge in a compound, struggling to survive the onslaught of monstrosities descending upon them each night.

The horrors that have devoured mankind are changing, their minds rebooting like a computer. Intelligence, the lone advantage of the humans, is returning to the infected. They ravage the compound with calculated, precise strikes, chiseling away at the defenses Lance and his friends have erected.

With the help of new ally, Major Frank Colt, the flickering flame of the old world must fight to stave off the extinguishing tidal wave of the new one.

My take:

I was lucky enough to be chosen to beta read this book by the author.  This is the third book in The Hunger series, and I didn’t think he could top book two.  Book two was a fast-paced Hell ride through an apocalyptic nightmare.  I was wrong.  Book three blew me away and had me thinking of the book when I had to put it down and walk away and deal with real life.  I desperately wanted to lock myself away from everyone and read this book in one sitting.

The “Vladdies” as they’re referred to in the book are changing yet again.  They’re becoming more than just killing and eating machines, they’re thinking and communicating with each other.  Lance, Cass, Eifort, Doc Brown and the rest of the bunch found safety in the second book, but their safe haven became more of a trap once the Vladdies started planning ways to breach the security measures.  A rouge but small band of “military” also moves in to complicate things.  Making matters even worse, Cass is pregnant, making Lance’s need to protect her even stronger.

This book had non stop action, from beginning to end.  I barely had time to catch my breath before being dragged into the next crisis.  This is definitely a book for those who hate filler fluff, as there is absolutely none in this entire series.  I held my breath one minute, and laughed the next.  I was terrified to read the next page, and even cried a little at the end.

My fiance, who doesn’t read at all, paid rapt attention to my narration of this entire series as I’ve read it so far and insists that Jason needs to find a way to make these books into a movie.  I usually balk at those comments, but I tend to agree with him on this one.  I’d love to watch this and the last two books as movies… as long as:

1. Jason writes, directs, produces and casts said movie
2.  It’s a huge epic movie leaving absolutely NOTHING out.

I give this book 5 heart pounding stars out of 5

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Consumed (The Hunger #2) by Jason Brant

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A review by:  Terri Kinckner

(I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review)

Wow.  Where do I begin?  This book takes off exactly where Devoured (book 1) ends.  This is not really a stand alone, so I recommend that you read the first in the series before this one.  Actually, the awesomeness of this book doubles when you read Jason’s short story, Lotion, that was in Cynthia Shepp’s Apocalypse Anthology.  Lotion was the story that started this entire series, introduced us to this world, and to a couple of the characters.  This latest installment in this series does not disappoint!

The action was intense and pretty much nonstop throughout the book.  That’s not the only great thing about this story.  This book is well-balanced.  What I mean by this is that the characters are written beautifully and grow through the story, the action is intense, the horror is vividly real, and there is just enough humor and even the occasional “Awww” moment to keep the scary stuff from overwhelming the reader.  This book has it all!

When this book starts off, Lance and Cass, Eifort and Dr. Emmett Brown (haha), are living on the Duchess, a boat, in the middle of the Allegheny River to avoid the victims of the Xavier virus.  These vampire-like once humans have taken over the night and have infected or eaten the majority of the population.  When their boat is destroyed, they have to move on and find another safe place to hide out from the monsters.

To make matters worse, a militia-like group of survivalists headed by a psychopath named Ralph are on a mission to wipe them out, too, thanks to Lance unwittingly angering Ralph in a restaurant in the previous book.  This just adds to the horror, as the group of four can’t seem to avoid one nightmare encounter after another.

There are several moments of hilarity in this book.  The banter between Lance and Cass had me laughing even through the scary moments, the Doc Brown and Back To the Future references and jokes made this geek giggle, and the daily ham radio reports from the Wild Man of Monroeville.  The Wild Man seemed to know exactly what was going on in the Pittsburgh area from his seemingly impenetrable hidden location, and his descriptions of the people and events had me literally laughing out loud.

There are some serious developments in this book that I didn’t see coming, and wow… that’s all I can say about that without giving away spoilers.  The end of the book had the stories coming full circle, with characters from the short story Lotion making their appearance, and the ending really threw me for a loop!  I didn’t want to put this book down, and re-read several sections after I finished because I simply was not ready to be done with these wonderful characters in this frightening but realistic world!

 

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

Grownups Must Die, by D.F. Noble

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A review by Terri Kinckner

 

I love when I’m reading a book and I forget that I’m reading. This book did that! I was both horrified and intrigued the entire time I was reading. This is definitely worth reading if you like horror.

Imagine a world where grown ups have gone insane. This is what happened to Jake, Dean and Alex. All three boys were struggling with personal issues. Jake’s father was deployed overseas and his mother was abusing prescription pills and sleeping around on his dad. To make matters worse, his best friend, Ronnie, was killed by a neighborhood thug. Dean was dealing with an abusive stepfather and a mother who was too weak to protect her son. Alex was a bit of a nerd and never really fit in with other black kids, or any of the kids at school. The three found friendship in each other and it’s a good thing, because they really needed each other when their world turned upside down.

The day after a signal from outer space was heard, electronic devices started going haywire. The static sound transformed adults into absolute monsters. They tore their own eyes out and attacked their own children. After saving a group of kids on the school bus from the deranged driver, Jake headed back to school to look for Dean and Alex, both of whom were still at school. Meanwhile, Dean had managed to save several kids in his detention and rescued Alex from the library. Jake came to the rescue in town, where Dean and Alex were being attacked by the grownups.

This book had me repeating to myself in my head “this is only fiction” the entire time. The author did a wonderful job creating these middle school characters. This is NOT a book for children, though! The absolute nightmare world they now faced would drive most adults insane. The action in this book was intense and graphic… a perfect combination! The great thing about D.F. Noble’s books is that even with all of the terror, there is always some humor. This is also true with this book. I found myself terrified one minute and laughing the next!

I give this book 5 terrifying stars out of 5!

Apocalypsis: Book 4: Haven, by Elle Casey

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest and fair review. Any review I can do providing detail will be nothing but spoilers, so I will not. This final book was incredible! I gave the previous books in this series a five star rating, and if I could, I’d give this book ten!

When you get to know a group of characters like you do when reading a series, they become your family. Everyone wants their family to have a happy ending. There were plenty of those, but not without their fair share of heartbreak and loss. This post-apocalyptic America was so believable, these characters so unique and diverse, that one can’t help but be drawn into this world themselves. These young people are adjusting to their new life, and finding ways to make it better. Bryn has transformed. We all knew she was tough and rational and hilarious, but it was really nice to see her mature and let her kindness show. I laughed and cried with her (A LOT) during this book, and held my breath in the tense situations. I loved that she wrestled with her guilt, and chose honesty over the easy way out. Bodo has grown a lot in this series as well. Looking back to the first book, the change in them both is evident, and for the better. I am going to miss them both immensely! I’m sad that I won’t get to know Jackson and his sister better. They were a really cool addition to the book!

The “canners” in this book got even more horrible. They were vicious, heartless killing machines, and they truly scared me. I forgot that they were humans, let alone kids! On the subject of gore, being a post-apocalyptic world, they had a lot of unpleasant things to do. These scenes turned my stomach, but they were integral to the book and frankly, written extremely well! The combination of horror and characters that you absolutely forget are fictional is an amazing combination.

The book did NOT end the way I thought it would. I knew Elle couldn’t end the series on a cliffhanger (that would be so mean!), so I was prepared for her to find a way to stun us in the end. She sure delivered! Oddly enough, it’s not the ending I imagined, but it was perfect. At first, I literally yelled “NO!”, but by the time I finished the last page it seemed that there was no other way for it end.

I only have one gripe, and that is with the epilogue. Five years later. This tied up the entire story…almost. I loved it, but I wish I knew what happened to a certain someone that left Haven. I don’t want to spoil the story by giving a name, but man… I really wish I knew what the future held for them! I am now forcing myself to let these characters go, but even just typing that brought tears to my eyes. This is definitely a series I’ll keep reading over and over again!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars (and a tissue rating of one whole box…sniff sniff, I’ll miss you!)

Cannibal Fat Camp, by Mark Scioneaux and David Hayes

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A review by Terri Kinckner

17 year old Miles had a problem. A huge problem. He was morbidly overweight and could not control his eating. After getting in trouble AGAIN for stealing his classmates’ lunches, he had a choice: go to Camp TumTum and get his eating problem under control, or face expulsion. Feeling a bit hopeless, he agreed to see the doctor to be recommended for the camp. After meeting the once obese but now athletic and perfect counselor, he was looking forward to going to the posh resort-like camp hidden away on a secluded tropical island. On his second day at camp, he and the other campers found themselves alone when all of the counselors died from drinking poisoned protein shakes. In a panic, the campers stress ate all of the camp’s food, leaving them to find a way to survive until they were rescued. Some campers had other plans.

I loved this book and flew through it quickly. The characters were great! It was interesting to delve into the psyche of Miles. I wanted him to succeed! Charles was by far the most twisted character I’ve read in a while. Jenny was kind and smart, the perfect person to save these kids, but the right thing doesn’t always happen. I loved learning parts of the experience from journal entries and letters home.

The writing was excellent. The transition between journal entries and regular text was seamless. The doctor’s report was hilariously offensive and made me wonder what doctors REALLY put in reports of these types! The adult characters in this book were as unique and the children, making the entire story flow nicely. This book has two authors, and I couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began. I love that!

The violence and gore. Oh yes, this book has that in abundance! A veritable buffet of insanity, guts, blood and sex! Those scenes were very descriptive and lived through the horror with these kids, albeit with an adult thought process (which included me adding a lot of WTF’s and OMG’s out loud. My only gripe with this book, and it’s really not a big one, was that I didn’t get to “see” the final battle play out. I think that scene would have been better if it wasn’t done as a newspaper article, although the article was quite interesting.

The ending. Oh my! I didn’t see that coming! I closed that book…er shut off my kindle… with a grin. I can see no more perfect ending than that! All in all, AMAZING book!

I give this book a big fat 5 out of 5 stars!

Beer Run of the Dead (Book 1) by D.F. Noble

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon: An epic drunk romp through the wasteland of a zombie apocalypse, Beer Run of the Dead is the first book in a series sure to wet your whistle. Follow Kip, Rock and Steady, as they struggle to survive and stay completely shit faced in the face of certain undead doom. These three unlikely heroes hold the key to humanity’s salvation, but will they succeed being inebriated as they are? Not everyone who saves the world is a rocket scientist, a super hero, or a handsome actor turned politician. Sometimes people who save the world… they’re fucking idiots.

My take:

I first saw this book in a giveaway contest and was intrigued. I didn’t win but I bought it anyway. I’m so glad that I did! This story is an excellent combination!

Kip is an awkward teenager with a cougar mother who believes her drug-using gym addict boy toy can help make him a man. Passed out and stoned for the first time, Kip wakes up to find out that his entire world has changed and that he’s alone. A satellite has crashed and brought with it a virus that is turning everyone into zombies. Kip finds out later why he was spared when he finds Rock and Steady.

Rock and Steady have lived their lives in an eternal party state. They never grew up, just drink, smoke and go to concerts. This is usually not the best lifestyle choice for adults to keep, but it is the best possible way to stay alive in this apocalypse! They are holed up on the roof of a sporting goods store when Kip stumbles upon them. With Kip as the brains of the operation, they not only survive, but manage to rescue others. They even find the “cure” for the virus, all while still managing to have a great time.

Hilarity is a word I would use to describe this book. I know people like Rock and Steady. In fact, I used to BE Rock and Steady! I genuinely liked the characters, and loved watching Kip make progress in his journey to manhood. The banter between the characters had me laughing out loud constantly. I must say that I read this book in one sitting and eleven beers, and enjoyed every minute of it! There was one point in this book when they were in a boat and I was about to take some man cards away, but they redeemed themselves quite quickly, and had me laughing again (before those tears that had started welling in my eyes could fall). The rescued characters were an absolutely wonderful addition to the cast of main characters. So many different kinds of personalities combined to make this rag tag group of friends work. The girls had me laughing. I’d be a mess if I was stuck in a zombie apocalypse without razors and makeup, too!

I absolutely loved the way the zombies were killed. There were so many creative “games” that they came up with; both to keep their base safe, and to stave off the boredom. Some of those games had me laughing and wishing that I could have been there to give it a try! Their creative use of “bait” also had me laughing (an evil laugh this time). The apocalyptic world they were thrown into was made very real to me. The sounds, smells, sights, were all related so perfectly. I read this book weeks ago, and I still think about it. The ending of this book was epic! Seriously! I will not ruin the surprise by mentioning any details, but D.F. Noble, I bow my head to you… I am not worthy!

If you’re looking for a fun book that is so good it reads like a novella, this is it!

 

The Dark by Jason Brant Release date Friday, February 8, 2013

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:

Christy Barnett is sleeping when her aging German shepherd Molly growls into the darkness outside her bedroom. She wakes to a dim glow provided by her Kindle’s screen, thankful that she had fallen asleep while reading again. The power has gone out, the world outside her window has gone eerily dark and silent. And Molly is weary of something that waits in the hallway, hiding in the shadows.

A dark cloud has fallen over the city of Aberdeen, MD. The population disappears in an instant. For the handful of survivors, those lucky enough to have a light source not connected to the power grid, it’s more than terrifying. They’re left alone, walking through a nightmare, and that is a fate that could be worse than death itself.

The darkness is alive and it is the reason we fear the night.

My take:

I was excited to get this book to beta read, and it did not disappoint! From the very beginning, I had goosebumps and was looking over my shoulder. Jason has a way of making you part of the story, as if you’re following the characters around and experiencing everything they do. His characters were all unique from each other, yet they combined to make an excellent cast.

As the town was shrouded in darkness, I knew no more than the characters did. Being kept in the dark just added to my terror. The psychological horror that happened to these characters were just as bad as the tangible events they faced. The reference to another one of his books, The Gate, just made me think about the cause of this plague of darkness even more. That’s one thing I love about Jason’s work. It’s never only what you see, there is always some epiphany that hits you out of nowhere. This book is no exception.

The banter between the characters was great, they felt so real to me. I found myself chuckling at the amateur attempts at chivalry from the smitten teen, sympathizing with Walter, and rolling my eyes at Scott. It made me smile when I realized Christy was saved by a kindle, and her dog reminded me of my German Shepherd Sadie, who lived to be almost as ancient and completely as loyal at 12.

The ending to this book was excellent, and answered a lot of questions. It also left room for perhaps a sequel? Please? I truly enjoyed this book and really hope I get to hear more from these characters. This book was excellently written!

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!