The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Trigger Warning: Violence. Of many kinds. This is a zombie novel so it should go without saying. Some of the violence is directed towards children.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a great and unique take on your typical zombie story. The zombies – or hungries as they’re referred to in the book – are not the main character. They do make a few appearances in the book but most of the time they are referred to by the human characters. Something else that makes this story unique is the origin of the zombie virus.

Also on the unique front is how the book doesn’t focus solely on the zombies, but instead focuses on the human characters and how they interact. The world has changed drastically and not every one is taking to it well.

For me, I believe what truly makes The Girl With All the Gifts an enjoyable read is the mysteries behind the scenes. Melanie is such a lovable individual and she has so much love to give if she could only find someone to accept it. But for whatever reason, no one will get close to her. She doesn’t understand but she is determined to find out.

I really enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts. At times it can be heartbreaking and at other times it can be breathtaking. There is some gore but I still recommend it to my readers.

The Outpost (Outpost #1) by Adam Baker

Moored in the Arctic Ocean, Kasker Rampart is a derelict refinery platform at the end of the world. A skeleton crew of fifteen occupy the place, every day a battle with boredom and despair. As they wait for a relief ship to come take them home, the crew receives word that the world beyond is crumbling. A strange pandemic is ravaging the cities, turning normal humans in to ravenous monsters.

One by one the TV channels die, the radio waves following after. The crew of the Kasker Rampart receive a final message; their relief ship is not coming, help is not on the way. The crew must find a way to survive the long Arctic winter alone, even as the deadly contagion makes slow progress towards them.

The Outpost is one of those titles that had been sitting on my To Be Read list for a while. As intriguing and as interesting as I often find these books, I have to be in the right mood to actually read and enjoy them.

With that said, I enjoyed reading The Outpost and had trouble putting it down once I started. Baker does a good job of creating a tense, enjoyable page turner; one that draws the reader in from the first page and holds them to the end.

There were times, however, that it felt like Baker was trying to add too much to the plot line. Additions that either had little to nothing to give or that ended up going nowhere. Why have the revelation that a character isn’t who they say they are so late in the story? And then do nothing with it? Why have a character go insane yet not reveal what exactly caused them to go down that path?

There is a great deal that Baker unfortunately leaves unresolved. Things that could have easily been omitted and not affected the flow of the story at all. And while what he does resolve is important, at times it also feels rather rushed.

Despite it’s flaws, The Outpost is an enjoyable book. I would recommend it to my readers with the small caveat that it does have it’s flaws. Readers who enjoy a decent thriller will likely enjoy this one as well.


Zombie Island (Shakespeare Undead #2) by Lori Handeland

The course of true love never did run smooth…

Having defeated the zombie horde that had invaded London, vampire and playwright William Shakespeare is on to his next plot. Wishing to rid his true love, Katherine Dymond, of her overbearing husband, the two concoct a plan where she will fake her own death via a potion he acquires. Once she is “dead” all he need to is wait, break in to the crypt where she is to be entombed and the two can live happily ever after.

True love, however, has other plans for the two. Knowing his wife is being cuckolded by a lowly playwright, Katherine’s husband instead takes her body with him when he leaves for America. When their ship is wrecked and all hands believed lost, William immediately goes after them only to find himself wrecked on the same mysterious island.

It is an island that is on no known map and is ruled by a mad wizard. Zombies run rampant and there is more afoot than simply survival.

Zombie Island picks up almost immediately where Shakespeare Undead leaves off.  However, while Shakespeare Undead was a wholly original story with only brief mentions of Shakespeare’s plays, Zombie Island is the opposite. It is based heavily on the play The Tempest, even featuring quotes from the play at the beginning of each chapter.

There were numerous issues I had with Zombie Island, but I believe the most profound one came because of the dialogue. At times it felt clunky and awkward. Also, while the addition of actual Shakespearean quotes as dialogue was nice, because the characters didn’t speak like that constantly it only served to pull one out of the story.

I must admit, dear reader, that I didn’t enjoy Zombie Island as much as I enjoyed Shakespeare Undead. There seemed to be something missing and it just did not hold my attention as well as the first one. Sadly, I can’t recommend this one for every reader.


The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier III by K.P. Ambroziak

Soon after he finds his beloved Byron’s letters to a mysterious associate, Vincent du Maurier finds himself in a precarious position. He must make a choice – to save a dying world or to let the plans he himself had a hand in implementing come to fruition.

The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier III is the third and (sadly) final book in the series. Typing that sentence – and subsequently this review – makes me sad, dear reader. I have been a fan of these books since I picked the first one up on a whim at the library. To see the series ending; albeit on a high note; is somewhat upsetting.

Ambroziak handles the third book slightly differently than the first two. Told in a series of flashbacks and flash forwards instead of journal entries, she has our protagonist Vincent talking to a young man whose importance we don’t find out about until near the end of the book. The young man had the first two journals and Vincent was there to finish the story.

On my earlier review of Ambroziak’s book The Trinity, she had commented it was ‘perfect in its imperfection’. That phrase could well be used for this particular series. It is an imperfect series, each book having its own flaws; and because of that it is perfect. At least in my opinion.

Though I am saddened to see this series coming to an end, I am also looking forward. Paige is a wonderful writer and I have enjoyed her works immensely. I look forward to what she writes in the future.

Aftertime (Aftertime #1) by Sophie Littlefield

Waking up in a bleak landscape and covered in scars from unknown injuries, Cass Dollar is vaguely aware that she has survived something horrific. She has no idea how much time has passed and as she tries to remember what happened, she recalls one horrifying truth – something, or someone, has taken her daughter Ruthie.

Not only has Ruthie disappeared, but all of civilization has gone with her. Where once there were busy cities there are now ghost towns. The people long since evacuated leaving only Beaters behind. Beaters, once human themselves, now turned in to flesh craving monsters by a government experiment gone wrong.

In this broken and barren California, Cass must search for Ruthie. Few trust an outsider, especially one like Cass who seems to have miraculously survived a zombie attack. One person agrees to help Cass, and outlaw named Smoke; and in him she finds safety and a savior.

For the Beaters are still out there…but the remaining humans might be far more dangerous.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by other zombie novels, but I didn’t find myself particularly impressed with Aftertime. While the author’s take on zombies was certainly a new one – the zombies don’t go after their victim’s brains but their skin instead – I found it to be almost all the book had going for it.

I found the characters to be a bit one dimensional, especially the character of Smoke. Very little actual information is given about him and while I’m guessing it’s supposed to make him mysterious in the reader’s eyes, I found it to be irritating. The character of Cass was given more of a background which did help in being able to connect with her.

One thing I did enjoy about Aftertime was how background story information was given. Too often an author will do what is referred to as an ‘info dump’ where they will just dump a whole slew of information on the reader with no justification. Rarely does this help move the story along and more often than not it is aggravating to the reader. Littlefield does not do this. Instead, she gives information out piecemeal; as our protagonist learns about what has happened during the weeks she was missing, so too do we. This allows for a more natural understanding of the surroundings and moves the story at a far better pace.

Despite it’s weak points, Aftertime is a fairly decent book. Not the best zombie apocalypse novel I’ve read but not the worst either. Readers should possibly give this one a try, but I doubt I’ll be seeking out the subsequent books in the series.


The Reapers are the Angels (Reapers #1) by Alden Bell

For over twenty-five years, humanity has survived in small meager enclaves, guarding against the plague of zombies that have infested America. Among the survivors is a young woman named Temple, who prefers to travel the blighted landscape than stay still. She doesn’t remember a time before the zombies but she does remember the old man who took her in and the younger brother she once cared for.

Moving across the brutal frontier, Temple is haunted by her past and soon becomes pursued by a killer. Surrounded by death and danger she must search where to try and make a home and find the redemption she needs.

This is one of those books that it rather hard to describe. While many categorize it as a sort of post-apocalyptic zombie novel, in truth that barely begins to describe things. Yes, the setting is a post-apocalyptic America; where an unnamed event has decimated the land; and yes, zombies do play a part in the narrative. Yet, there is so much more.

The Reapers are the Angels is coming of age story as well. Temple, our narrator and main character, is barely a teenager searching for a place to call home. Every place she finds herself, events occur and Temple finds herself leaving either by choice or by force. All the while she is trying to come to terms with events that occurred in the past that set the story in motion.

There are some who might have issue with the narrative style of The Reapers are the Angels. It has a very stream of consciousness feel which can be disconcerting at times. There are no actual quotes to indicate when a person is speaking, sometimes leaving the reader wondering who has said what.

Much as I enjoyed The Reapers are the Angels, it is doubtful I will be reading the subsequent books in the series. Certain events occurred, which I will not reveal due to spoilers, that rather ruined the ending for me.

Though the book itself is rather slim, I found it to be a good read. I would recommend it to those looking for something to entertain and perhaps make them think, but know that you might be disappointed too.

Feed (Newsflesh Book 1) by Mira Grant

In the very near future, everything from cancer to the common cold has been cured. But in doing so a new infection was created – one that there was no cure for and could not be stopped. This new disease was unlike anything any one has seen. It took over the body and mind, the infected with only one thought on their minds; to FEED.

Twenty years after the original outbreak, now dubbed the Rising, sibling bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason have uncovered the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. They are determined to find the truth and publish it, even if it kills them.

I have to admit, dear readers, I was a bit put off when I first started reading Feed. It was touted as a zombie novel but as I read I quickly realized that it was any thing but. Yes, zombies are a part of the plot but only minimally. They are more of a background set of characters, there to help move the story along and to sometimes give the main characters something to react to.

In truth, Feed is more a political drama. Georgia and Shaun Mason, two of the main characters, have been picked to follow Senator Ryman; one of the presidential candidates as he moves from winning his party to hopefully winning a spot in the White House. Tragic occurrences however follow the Senator and that is where the story really picks up.

At times Feed is fast and furious, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. Other times it is heartbreaking, as some learn that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing and not every one makes it to the end. While I don’t normally cry over a book, Feed is one of the few occasions where I actually did, several times.

Grant has done excellent work in writing a tense nail biter of a novel. While it is the first in the series, it can stand alone fairly well.

It’s not a zombie novel, it’s not a horror novel, but it did keep me up at night. I definitely recommend this one!