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Publisher's Summary

It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead.

Layla Petrovich has spent her whole life running away from her hometown of Hamletville. Raised by the town's medium, and dubbed the "weird" girl for her fascination with swords, the last thing Layla wants is to go home.

But when she receives a desperate call to return just as a mysterious outbreak sweeps the country, Layla's instincts urge her to go. Good thing, because the dead are rising.

Layla, however, isn't entirely on her own. With her psychic powers growing, surely everything will turn out okay, right?

Not so fast. Just when Layla believes she might survive the apocalypse, a sinister and ancient force rises from the shadows to finish mankind for good.

Because the truth is, we were never alone in this world.

Begin The Harvesting Series with The Harvesting, Book 1.

©2012 Clockpunk Press (P)2015 Clockpunk Press

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Our main character is in the middle of a zombie (oops, undead, no zombies in this book), and she starts having a memory of a white elephant sale in which she bought her sword. Often in the middle of action scenes, she reminisces about her past. Not that the fight scenes are that exciting to begin with. Here is how she described one such encounter: I STABBED HER IN THE EYE, SHE FELL. That's it. Pretty much through the first 2 and a half hours, which was all I could take. There was one good scene in which you felt you were there and in which you got that ick feeling. It was when she took her knife out of a cub scouts forehead. It was a showing not telling moment. All the rest were telling moments and were narrated like reading a shopping list.

Within two hours of her killing her dear grandma and her ex-boyfriend watching his wife and kids killed, these two are going at it. She is hot for him and he is hard. Now at the last minute she does call it off, but I find it hard to believe it went even that far.

As another reviewer mentions, it was real hard to believe that this whole town turned to her for leadership. We are not shown anything that would make you believe they had that kind of confidence in this young girl and no older man thought he should be in charge. Then they decided to protect the town from the Undead, Diseased, Sick (not Zombies) by covering the bridge and the two roads coming into town. Cause the undead are not going to walk through the woods?

To top everything off this narrator was very uninspired.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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a spin on surviving the zombie apocalypse

The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak is a riveting horror and love story. Layla Petrovich is summoned home by her elderly psychic grandmother. Grandmother Petrovich gives Layla duties to perform and vague instructions; like a dutiful granddaughter, Layla follows them to a T – well, except for the part that makes her deal with her past boyfriend who dumped her to marry someone else.

Shortly after arriving home, Grandmother Petrovich becomes an undead victim of the vicious and deadly virus that has hit humanity. Layla must make hard decisions that may save her small piece of the world or condemn all those she has loved and cared for to die. Inheriting her grandmother’s psychic visions, Layla receives help from many unseen allies – forest sprites, animal totems and grandmother Petrovich.

Layla thought her only concerns were the walking zombies but she soon discovers there are far more deadly monsters out there that want to eat her friends.

The Harvesting is an interesting spin on surviving the zombie apocalypse by using the spirit world for guidance and the tie in of other monsters threatening humankind. I enjoyed the twists and turns, the romance was not sickening but rather presented in a stand-offish manner making it more believable. The dialog was well utilized in every aspect of the book.

I enjoyed the characters – Karsak presented each character with the right cues to make them loved, hated or indifferent. Layla is the sword wielding, Russian warrior who will save her friends regardless of who gets in her way with deliberate and deadly thrusts and slashes of her Shashka. Tough as nails but vulnerable as well, Layla is exciting and what most every girl wants to be when she grows up – a woman warrior! She does not dwarf the other characters, they are allowed to grow and show as much depth as Layla.

The presence of other beings simply affirms Layla’s acceptance of savior and wise, warrior woman.

Kristin James did a good job of narration given the accents and Russian words she had to pronounce. Both Kristin and the book kept my attention! Karsak being a B.R.A.G. medallion winner is icing on the cake – this is a must read for lovers of horror!

There were no issues with production.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

16 of 23 people found this review helpful

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The Harvesting

I enjoyed this book very much. It first when the book start down the Zombie path, I thought I would not like it because I feel Zombies are a bit over done. But I loved it! I want to read more of the series. The Narrator did a great job as well. I love how there voices change with each character and I must say Layla was my favorite. But I loved everything about this book and all the other characters and all of Layla's friends as well. I am excited to read book 2. "This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com."

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gypsycat
  • Madison, WI, United States
  • 05-29-15

Adult PA zombie tale with Russian folklore

I was excited to check out Melanie Karsak's zombine series after reading and really liking her Airship Racing steampunk series. I previously read the novella "Midway", which is set in this same world but centering on Cricket, a girl that used to run the Tilt-A-Whirl in a carnival. This book centers on Layla, and introduces the world of this series most fully.

It starts as the usual zombie story does: a flu-like epidemic sweeps the US. The dead come back to life and violently attack any survivors, spreading the disease upon contact or by biting. The undead can be killed only with a headshot that destroys the brain of the creature.

What sets this story apart from other zombie stories? Layla is a medievalist who teaches fencing and sword combat - so she is uniquely suited at the sort of combat with the zombies. She's Russian, raised by a grandmother who was a bit of a woods witch and clairvoyant. We are treated to the mysticism and wisdom of grandmother Vasilissa, who forsees and prepares for the upcoming apocalypse. Before the attack, Vasilissa gives Layla a special tea that opens her psyche to the spiritual world, which adds a new dimension to the tale. She sees/meets forest spirits, kistune (fox spirits), and others. There are hints of Russian folklore showing up, which I found intriguing.

The story goes back to mundane matters as the survivors of the town bond together. Of course, Layla's ex-boyfriend and his hunky brother both survive, and Layla is caught in a love triangle (a subplot I could have done without). After a hard winter, mysterious strangers arrive to offer the Hamletville survivors a place with other surviviors that seems too good to be true. Layla mistrusts the strangers, and her supernatural spirit guides help her see them for waht they are. Layla will have to outwit the strangers and rescue her townsfolk all over again.

As far as a zombie story, this was only okay - nothing new here. The love triangle felt contrived (did they have to be brothers?!). The addition of the Russian folklore beings and the new, unexpected threat helped up the ante of the story and took it in a different, unexpected direction and I am eager to see what is reveled about the formerly hidden non-human world when the series continues. I have to say that I am sorry that Grandmother Vasilissa is more or less out of the stiory as she is pretty awesome. Layla is a pretty great heroine - practical but not too cold or too damaged, tough, and not immature or too sassy. Layla is an adult, not a teenager and I appreciated the emotional maturity after reading a few too many YA post-apocalyptic books lately.

Karsak can write a really readable and enjoyable book. Her prose is smooth, her pacing is practiced, and her dialogue is believable. This book moves so fast that there is not a lot of room for character development, but I suspect that the series will reveal more layers of the characters that make it there.

NOTE: I recieved a free copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jami
  • hiawatha, ia, United States
  • 04-09-15

A paranormal - horror mashup that works!

I loved this book when I read it last year, listening to it just makes it that much better.

The main character Layla has everything going good in her life. Likes her job, loves her city, and finally got a date with the guy she had been eyeing for a while. Then her psychic grandmother calls and tells her to come home immediately. Being the good grandchild, she drops everything and takes off within the hour. When she gets there she finds Grandmother prepping like crazy, but she won't give an explanation as to why. People start coming down with a flu like sickness, and anyone who enjoys zombie books knows that will never end well.

Layla needs to protect the people of the town where she grew up, and she does it well. Then mysterious strangers show up with a deal that sounds way too good to pass up on a 'safe' island in a big, fancy hotel. Layla has to follow the towns folk against her better judgement to keep them safe from the next monsters.

There is no shortage of action in this book,and it has a little of everything included.

This was my first time listening to Kristin James narrate, and I think she did a fantastic job. Different voices and accents for the different characters (loved how she read Grandmother!) and she really relayed the emotions present in the book.

Audio book received for an honest review.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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So many different paranormals!!

This book was soooo good!!! It has a bit of everything.

When Layla is called home by her grandmother, she knows something must be seriously wrong. Her grandmother doesn't call her home in such a mysterious manner for no reason. When she arrives, she finds her grandmothers home changed! There is a chain link fence all around the property and her windows seemed to be boarded up. Layla wants answers but all her grandmother does is hand her a massive shopping list and tells her to buy everything on it. Layla obeys as she knows her grandmother won't answer questions till she is ready. Layla heads off to get everything from food, bottled water and batteries to odd things like holy water. It reads to Layla like a list for someone preparing to hole up in preparation for a storm.

A storm is coming in the shape of a mysterious virus. As Layla watches events unfold on the news, the virus hits her small town and the dead seem to be rising! Layla realises her grandmother saw this happen, which is why she called Layla back. Laylas grandmother tells her she must protect the town and its inhabitants. What follows is one heck of a ride for both Layla and us!!!

I think the best thing about this book, for me anyway, was Layla!! She was absolutely kick ass and awesome. This is a woman who teaches people how to use old weapons like the Shashka and Katana. Her blade of choice is the Shashka and it comes in extremely useful when a Zombie apocalypse comes ;) She is level headed, brave and smart and it's hard to not to root for her. On top of the Zombies, she is also dealing with the fact that she seems to have inherited her grandmothers physic ability and is now seeing forest spirits talking to her!! Yet she never loses her focus and does everything she can to keep everyone safe.

Another major plus for this book was the world building! We start off with the Zombies but interwoven throughout is the introduction of various other supernatural beings. Like the forest spirits, ghosts and other things! It was spectacularly done!!

This book is such an amazing one that I'm surprised it isn't more popular! The characters were all amazing, especially Layla and her Grandmother, the world may be bleak but it is extremely well built and developed and the whole book is full of twists, turns and action, that I flew through this in no time! I can't wait to dive back into this world and see what happens Layla and her crew!

Kristin James did a great job with the narration. She was easy to follow and had plenty of different cadences. I loved her voice for Grandmother!! I will definitely check out more by her.

*I received a copy of this for review. This in no way affected my thoughts.*

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Yvonne
  • Southfield, mi, United States
  • 07-09-16


One of the enjoyable things about these novel is when a woman can kick ass. Well Layla is able to do that. But her kick ass training is ancient sword fighting at the Smithsonian? Oh, her girlfriend did get her to go to a taekwondo class. While she is fighting an ancient vampire she is thinking how lucky she is that she took the class. Being a sword fighting expert does not mean you can throw a punch or stealth do a search and rescue.

Over a weekend her grandmother gives her a shooting class where she uses various guns and automatics. When she wakes up 2 days later at she can shoots anything in her way. Really?

There are former soldiers who are more qualified to lead the town and a 24 year old girl with no combat experience is leading the townspeople.Really??

There is too much for me to accept as plausible in this story. I am not getting book 2.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A bit too easy..

3.5 stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

To be fair to The Harvesting, I read the majority of it when I was in an extreme reading funk - and it was the first audio book in a string of audio books that I didn't quit. So maybe that alone should earn it more than 3.5 stars - but it still didn't have that special something that made me love it.

I think that my problem - the thing that kept it from being great - was that everything came a bit too easy or was a bit too convenient. It's the Zombie Apocalypse and this town is dealing with it way too well in my opinion. I mean they did lose a lot of people, but it never felt truly catastrophic.

And the main character just so happens to be a medieval warfare and sword fighting expert who speaks Russian dialects fluently. How handy! I think I just like to see things not be so simple.

Despite those negative points, the story is a good one. I liked the way zombies worked in this world and the way the author blended multiple mythologies. Definitely some good world building that kept me curious and - because of how it ended - left me with questions for book 2.

The narration was pretty good as well - I ended up listening at 1.5x-2x speed, which isn't great for most narrators performance. But Kristin James held up under the high speed pressure. I still heard good accents and, for the most part, good variation in voices. There were a few points where characters lost their distinctive voices and blended into each other, but not enough to bother me. I would continue listening if/when I read book 2 in the series.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • anne
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 05-02-15

Really enjoyed this!!!

What did you love best about The Harvesting?

This was a kick butt adventure!! I love a strong heroine and Layla is one of them!!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Layla and Grandma!!!!! Layla is strong and smart.....and Grandma is just awesome!!

What about Kristin James’s performance did you like?

She is a great narrator...pleasant voice...good characters.. right amount of her!!!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

dislike this question...but this would make a cool movie!

Any additional comments?

This was a bit of a slow starter for me...but once the action started rolling it was hard to put down....I would rate it overall really a 4.5...and I loved the last 2hrs.....super exciting!! Layla is one of those strong female characters that deserves her own series....and I absolutely adore all the supernatural elements of this story...Vampires, shape shifters...ghosts..fairy like people..zombies...YES PLEASE!! Mix in a little bit of humor and snark and some was great!!!! Cant wait for #2 and to see how Crickets crew ties in with this one...This series is a winner!!!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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New favorite!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It is a zombie book and so much more!! It is like Mark Tufo's series with a twist!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Harvesting?

When Ian did right by his brother! Best sacrifice ever!!

What does Kristin James bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Perfect compliment to the awesome book!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes!! I started not to get it because it was only 7 hours, but because it was so full of intrigue, it felt like it was a lot longer in the best possible way!

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • NormaCenva
  • 08-30-16

Great characters and back-story's

I enjoyed this book so much, the portrayal of the main characters had so much detail and it was so accurate (in relation to the old immigration wave, older generation immigrants). I will be waiting for book 2 in audio, because for me personally, the audio version of the story is so much better. Who knew, that by complete chance, I will be able to find a gem!