The first book, Zombie, Ohio was a hugely enjoyable story - fun and different. Kenemore was able to combine a witty, first-person mystery with a gory zombie tale, and I recommended it to everyone I knew. I've now bought the Audible version and look forward to listening to it.
The second entry in the series, Zombie, Illinois (not yet on Audible), was a grimmer, grittier story and a more standard entry into the genre, with a few fun characters. I like the independence of the series, with no shared characters, and even the Zombie Apocalypses may be unconnected.
But as the USA Zombies series drifts back east to Indiana, this episode is kind of tired and sordid. The character of the governor can be delightfully reimagined as Toronto's infamous mayor Rob Ford, and that's about as entertaining as it gets. The story follows a few interconnected groups of people; everyone else is nothing but zombie fodder. Each of our "friends" is a tired stereotype, but never a consistent one.
Keisha, the Only Black Girl in The School is "poor", but her father is a newspaper publisher and her mother a city councilwoman. I was mildly uncomfortable with the heavy "black" accent narrator Fleet Cooper provided for Keisha; this is common problem in modern novels (although Cooper did a fine job otherwise). James Nolan has to be the stupidest right-hand-man in the history of henchmen, and the governor is preposterous.
I actually created a better ending for the story as I was listening to it, and hoped I was right about the clever twist I created. Unfortunately, the "hook" revealed at the end is very disappointing, and the climactic scene as the primary characters finally come together is embarrassingly ludicrous and dull.
This is a pretty lame "thriller" about Wall Street during its recent boom, with a young MBA buck fresh out of school hired by investment bankers to help manage their fervent business. The character is boringly-likable -- a Horatio Alger archetype with a vague, hurt past. He's thrown into a deal, way over his head, and has on one side, a sociopathic boss who is Out To Get Him for reason even this boss finds mysterious ("He wondered again what it was about the kid that rubbed him the wrong way") , and on the other, a Millionaire Client With a Heart of Gold who takes him under his wing for reasons NO ONE can fathom. I kept waiting for the old man to make a pass at him! It would have added some needed depth to both characters.
Add to this the absolute dearth of female characters. In the opening scene, a plump girl from grad school has it made clear that she is too ugly for anything but friendship. In the big city, our lad meets the "Geishas" - the on-salary whores of the Investment Banking Firm - who are flawlessly gorgeous, stand around the office as set dressing and have sex with the corporate officers and clients as ordered. Naturally, one falls instantly in love with Our Hero, despite his lack of money and status. Cause, yeah.
I continued listening to this story with a slight hope that eventually the Geisha (the author's designation, not mine), (described as "smart" by Our Hero, but evidence is lacking), would be the one to come up with the scheme that Saves The Day. She doesn't. She gets beaten up by one of the Bankers, but tells Hero "It's okay, it's happened before", so he doesn't do anything except screw the banker out of a deal. Oh, did I spoil something? Were you STILL planning to read this drivel?
This might be the darkest comedy of the decade. I won't spill more of the story than other reviewers have, but I will say that I am a white suburban Grandma with about as much in common with the characters in Shady Palms as I have with Nanook of the North, and I LOVED this book. Allen Dusk writes in a voice of utter solemnity, no smarminess at all, and the fluency with which his graphic horror unfolds is a beautiful and terrifying thing to hear. Topping off this gloriously gooey sundae is the mellifluous, motherly deadpan voice of Rose Caraway, who sounds like she ought to be voicing Mrs.Santa Claus or a kindergarten teacher from central casting, not shamelessly describing the sexual perversions and addictive self-destruction of the seamiest side of San Diego. Her very presence lends an hilarity to the proceedings not to be matched in audiofiction.
Quite a few years ago I paper-read a number of "cozy mysteries" by Margaret Maron, featuring North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott. They were okay, and I read 5 or 6. I recently downloaded "Christmas Mourning" on sale, read by a narrator I have heard (and found "meh"), a woman named C. J. Critt.
This time it's nearly torture. While Critt has a very excellent, rich voice, her reading style is PAINFUL! She inflects a ridiculous amount of inappropriate emotion, virtually baby-talking through simple narrative sentences, and takes pauses SO LONG that I have repeatedly unhooked my iPod from my belt, thinking the battery had died or the headphones detached! She also puts a little smirk into sentences which SHOULD HAVE reflected compassion and sorrow.
I'm nearly halfway through the book, and I think I'll go ahead and finish it, but it was a poor choice for me. The story concerns a teen girl killed in a car "accident" (I personally lost a daughter that way) and the characters' attitudes toward both the dead girl and her parents is dismissive, flippant and cruel. Considering these books are supposed to reflect a small rural community where everyone knows and supports one another, the first-person storytelling makes the Judge out to be a hard-hearted and lackadaisical bitch.
I've been devastated several times by this occurrence: a classic novel which I've always wanted to read begins with a boring BIOGRAPHY of the author and a SPOILER-FILLED summary of the book I'm preparing to begin! How frustrating!
This book is written in a pleasant, joshing tone; a self-deprecating ex-Marine survivalist trying to keep his family and friends alive, under siege in a gated suburban community during a standard zombie apocalypse. I enjoy zombie novels and horror in general, and I've read all the best. Tufo's writing is cutesy and his storytelling clear - he never reaches the literary genius of Jonathan Maberry or the originality of Scott Kenemore, but the character is solid and the narration above par. I *was* enjoying it.
Then I reached past the midpoint of the novel, and the few female characters began to be featured in more-detail. I had to check the publication date to be sure I was listening to a book written in 2010, and not 1940. Tufo's female characters come in two types - aggressive whores and mean, inept feebs. How has this Master Survivalist raised two teenaged sons who stand side-by-side in battle with him, can shoot like marksmen and reload with their eyes closed, yet his daughter - their *older* sister - doesn't know which end of the gun to put the ammunition into. His wife is equally useless, pouty and sullen, and isn't motivated to kill a zombie until she spots the dead slut who almost ruined their marriage years ago. The daughter has value ONLY because she brings a gun-toting boyfriend into the group.
ALL the women in this book are useless at best, and evil detriments at worst. The wife is a chain-smoking bitch who petulantly withholds sex and says things like "If you don't know what you did, I'm not going to tell you!" and cares more about damage to the carpet and the resale value of their house DURING THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. If this is meant for laughs, it's not even a little bit funny. The "other wives" -- and that phrase is used -- are a bunch of similar sniping harridans, more interested in stabbing each other in the back than doing anything remotely helpful.
Tough white guys are pretty standard in this variety of fiction and I'm accustomed to it. I read the Walking Dead series and have been very glad that the often-brutally sexist portrayal in the graphic novels has been largely corrected in the TV series. But even in the original format, women may have been victims, but they were also strong, smart and worth having around.
I understand that there are a half-dozen more books in the Zombie Fallout series, but I fear that Mark Tufo has too many personal issues he dumps into his novels. I won't be reading or recommending any more of them, and will warn half his audience to stay away or risk being greatly insulted.
The second book in the phenomenal Joe Ledger series is possibly even better than the first. I've purchased some of Jonathan Maberry's earlier works now to read on my Kindle, but Ray Porter is THE MOST WONDERFUL NARRATOR IN AUDIBLE HISTORY and handles Maberry's deft prose with compassion and style. I was so thrilled to find out there are 3 more books in the series as well as two scheduled for publication. I have left all other fandom behind. If you're a fan of fantasy fiction, scifi, military novels, martial arts, police procedurals, dystopian thrillers or plain old superb writing, start with PATIENT ZERO and carry on from there.
I've been painfully disappointed in Stephen King many times. From his pompous re-write of the perfectly lovely original "The Stand", adding 500 pages an editor had wisely removed, to his obnoxiously adolescent wind-up of the otherwise pleasant character studies of "Under The Dome".
I had no intention of reading 11-22-63 until several online friends in an eBook club recommended it. I knew they had also felt the same misgivings about the novelist, so I finally decided to take the gargantuan plunge.
I'm so glad. This book is wonderful in both its humility and its enormity. The passionate protagonist is entirely believable and lovable, and his opinions become your opinions, his experiences, your experiences.
I had some misgivings about Craig Wasson, whose voice at first struck me as too ordinary for a monumental story, but I was wholly in the wrong. Wasson's voice is a perfect fit, his accents are wonderful, his characterizations superb. He "gets it" when it comes to voicing a female character, as well, casting his voice slightly lighter but not doing the falsetto which mars many a reading. I definitely detected an imitation of Jimmy Stewart in one character, and James Mason in another, but those were beautifully done and gave distinction to each male speaking.
No spoilers, I won't betray the ending, or any particulars, but to say, for a change, you can TRUST the author to handle the ending of this delicate work with satisfying energy. It's NOT the ending I feared, it's NOT the ending I guessed! And it doesn't disappoint.
Best book I've ever read? Nah! Best Stephen King book ever? Nah! But entirely worth the investment, especially the Audible version.
When I choose a "cozy" mystery centered in traditional women's worlds of cookery, needlecraft or typing, I look forward to clever story told with warmth and humor. This story had a fairly surprising windup at the end (rather abruptly), but the characters were tired and not very likable. Two sisters who know nothing of one another's lives, yet there is no explanation of an estrangement. They had a happy childhood and are close in age. One falls on hard times and comes to live with the other knowing NOTHING about her sister's life, career, friendships or finances. They treat each other as virtual strangers. One is surrounded by friends and everyone loves her, so why has she been so cold to her sister? It would have made more sense to make them old college roommates just back in touch. Anyway, it was a completely humorless tale and the writing was mechanical at best. The solution to the mystery comes out of left field at the end. Susan Boyce did a fine job reading. I found her delivery a little stilted after a while but I don't think there was much more she could do with the prose she was given.
An almost perfect presentation of a brilliant, engaging, clever, wry and gripping story. The characters are brand-new, yet so tenderly brought to life that you feel you'd recognize them on the street. This book packs an emotional wallop and still manages to be wholly believable. I just learned that the second book in the series is out, and I know what I'm listening to next!
The main character may be closer to a charming Andy Carpenter or young Spenser, but his story places him in sinister company and surroundings more familiar to readers of Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Adrian McKinty and Dennis LeHane. Anyone who appreciates great storytelling and flawless characterizations will love this audiobook.
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