172 HOURS ON THE MOON is a novel narrated in the third person and is set in the fut...moreReviewed by Becs for www.BookChickCity.com - 2.5 Stars on the blog.
172 HOURS ON THE MOON is a novel narrated in the third person and is set in the future of 2019. As the novel is told from different view points, you are able to follow the main protagonists giving glimpses of each character and their personality.
NASA’s funds, and people’s interest, in space exploration is dwindling, and so they decide to fund another moon landing by holding a lottery to win a trip to the moon for three lucky teenagers. Reality TV is immensely popular and has huge money making potential, which NASA hope to capitalize on to support their next moon mission.
As 172 HOURS ON THE MOON progresses you can feel that NASA is hiding information relating to their reasons as to why they wish to return to the moon and why moon landings had ceased. This element of the unknown helps to create an atmosphere that keeps you guessing as to what may be hiding out on the moon.
The three lucky teenage winners are Mia, Anotoine and Midori.
Mia is a sixteen year old girl from Norway and has overbearing parents who enter Mia into the moon lottery thinking that she would regret a missed opportunity, as Mia has no intention of entering. Mia loves music, and dreams of playing in a famous punk band. Mia is persuaded to go by her friends, to enhance their bands chances of making it big.
Antoine, a heartbroken seventeen year old French boy, needs a way to escape his obsession with his ex-girlfriend, Simone. Antoine enters the competition in the hope that if he wins he will be able to get as far away from Simone as possible.
Midori is a sixteen year old Japanese girl who insists on not following the crowd and wants more from her life than being the expected dutiful Japanese wife. Midori’s dream is to one day live in New York, and hopes that if she is picked to go to the moon, it make that dream a reality.
The three winning teenagers are wanting to get away from something in their lives, be it parents, an ex or a lifestyle, and a trip to the moon offers each person the opportunity to get what they think they want. The trouble is, most things never turn out as good as you expect, and 172 HOURS ON THE MOON teaches a valuable lesson in that the grass isn’t always greener.
There are a few other characters mentioned to help create an alarming situation, mainly an elderly man, Mr Himmelfarb, that has lost his mind and is living in a care home. As the story develops it becomes evident that Mr Himmelfarb used to work for NASA and knows something sinister to do with past moon landings and that his mind is trying to protect him from the memories.
The flight and moon landing takes place without incident and you begin to feel how desolate the moon would be.
Mia could see the surface very clearly now, and she thought she’d never seen anything so lifeless. Everything was just grey. Gray, grey ash, absolutely no sign of life.
I was disappointed that the majority of the book was based on earth before getting to the moon, and the frightening exploration on the moon was rushed and over with too soon. When the story eventually takes place on the moon, 172 HOURS ON THE MOON is more exciting as it’s a race against time as power fails, oxygen supplies dwindle and something evil is trying to prevent their return home.
Johan Hastrad creates a believable plot using actual astronauts and events then adding his own fictional twist, which is interesting. However, due to the third person narrative you never get a full insight into the personalities of the three main teenage protagonists. It is the lack of an emotional connection to the characters that reduced my enjoyment.
I may be a little harsh with my rating as the writing style and plot flowed easily making 172 HOURS ON THE MOON a simple read. However, it just wasn’t my type of book. I kept waiting to feel the tense, scared, heart pounding moment that you expect from a horror/sci-fi, which never came, and I was never fully absorbed with the characters, giving me very little emotional connection to 172 HOURS ON THE MOON as a whole.(less)
One night when Ashley Parker and her boyfriend, Matt, are having a late night picnic and are busy making...moreOriginally published on www.BookChickCity.com
One night when Ashley Parker and her boyfriend, Matt, are having a late night picnic and are busy making out, Ashley feels something’s on her, and at first she’s angry as she thinks it’s Matt getting a bit carried away, but when she shoves Matt off her and he shines a light to see what the problem is, they find a half eaten woman rolling around on the ground, wanting to chomp down on Ashley. They make a run for it but the last thing Ashley remembers are Matt’s screams.
When she wakes up she finds herself in a makeshift med ward, and soon learns that a virus is causing the dead to walk. She also finds that one of her lecturers from university and her assistant Gabriel, have not only survived but are actually part of the team helping to contain the disease.
After Ashley has healed sufficiently she learns that she’s actually a ‘wild card’, which means she’s immune to the virus. Because of this they ask her to join their team, along with a few other ‘wild card’s’ they’ve come across, to help clear the area and rescue any survivors. Thus ensues lots of action, zombie brain splattering, suspense and fab character interaction with a dash of sexual tension.
PLAGUE TOWN is such a fun read. Full of zombie munching, gory entrails, sassy heroine and a hero you ‘love to hate’, but soon end up just loving. The descriptions of the zombies are great, and worthy of any horror novel. They are gory and detailed, just the way I like ‘em.
The world Fredsti has created is fantastic, very visual and realistic. The dialogue is very smooth and I was completely immersed in the characters and their lives. There were a few scenes that made my hairs stand on end, which is great, exactly what I want when reading a book such as this.
“In here!” Lil joined me and banged on the front door. We watched as zombies peeled off from the steady stream wandering past and staggered to join the ever-increasing crown in front of the store. I glanced at Lil, and could tell from her set expression that she was scanning the crowd for a familiar face.
One I hoped she didn’t see.
“Maybe we should–” I stopped short as the zombie that used to be Annie suddenly let go of the gate and veered off to its left, pushing through the crowd with what almost seemed like a sense of purpose.
“Okay, now that’s just weird.”
“Do you think she remembers the back door?”
A chill ran up my spine.
Ashley, the main character, is a firecracker; feisty, sassy and not afraid to get into the thick of it. She deals with what life throws at her with ease, sometimes a bit too easily, but I did like her for it. Ashley’s love interest and mentor, is Gabriel. When we first meet him, before the virus and zombie outbreak, he was an absolute pig. He acted superior and talked down to Ashley and tried to embarrass her whenever possible, but as the story moves along, he thaws out and becomes a sweet guy, but also doesn’t lose that hard edge. There’s also a twist to his character I saw a mile off, but it is a good one.
I loved the first sexy scene between Ashley and Gabriel. There had been a bit of sexual tension between them but the intensity of Gabriel’s feelings which showed in this scene shocked me as much as it did Ashley. Did he let the side down by acting like a jerk a little later, yep, but the lead up was sexy and hot.
I gasped in shock. Without warning, his hands tightened painfully on my upper arms and he pushed me up against the wall, his body pressed against mine. His eyes darkened so much I thought I must be imagining it.
My breathing quickened as his hand shifted from my arms up to my face, fingers twining though my hair. Anger and desire warred in his gaze. Heat coiled in my stomach even as fear shuddered up my spine. I tried to shake my head, but his fingers held it in place as he muffled any protests by covering my mouth with his.
Fingers massaging my scalp, he slowly increased the intensity of the kiss, his tongue entering into play as he tilled my head back and slip it in.
I felt like I was following along in a dance, being led by someone who knew the steps much better than I did. I discovered that I was content to follow, matching the pressure of his lips with mine, letting my tongue play with his as he pressed his body into me, emphasising the move with a low, throaty sound.
He was definitely packing heat, and it wasn’t his sidearm.
Ashley and Gabriel do have one other hot scene, unfortunately this isn’t handled as well as the one above, in my opinion, which is a shame as they totally get it on and it’s what I’d been waiting for since their first connection. The reason is, I have a thing. It may just be me but I can’t stand it when people snog first thing in the morning without cleaning their teeth, or, as in this instance, kiss after throwing up. It’s just icky. And it’s all I think about while the scene is unfolding, and I’m unable to enjoy it.After finding out Gabriel’s secret, Ashley is so disgusted she rushes to the bathroom and throws up. She rinses her mouth out but that’s it. In bursts Gabriel and one thing leads to another. The first thing I didn’t like is the above mentioned sicky mouth, but also the fact that it was all too rushed. Why did Ashley and Gabriel have to get it on then and there. With the enormous revelation I would have thought Ashley would have been a little bit more miffed and needed some time to mull everything over.
There’s an AMAZING action scene near the end of the book and I would have much prefered Ashley and Gabriel to have waited until after this scene. I think it would have been much better, but then… I’m not the author.
One of the other ‘wild cards’ I loved is Lily. She’s a really sweet character. At first she seems a bit naive and shy, but put a pickaxe in her hand and she turns into a zombie killing machine. She reminded me a little bit of Jenni from Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy in that she becomes a little nuts with everything that is going on, and to cope she goes out with guns blazing pulverising zombies whenever she can.
One of my favourite scenes was when Ashley and Lil head out on their own to go back into the zombie infested town to rescue Lil’s two cats Doodle and Blinkey. I love animals and I know that I would have to do everything in my power to save them and I loved that this is what the characters in this book decided to do too. It was heart-warming and sweet. The love Lil had for her pet’s was really sweet. She couldn’t concentrate on what she was doing without knowing they were ok. Once they were safely with her and Lil and Ashley were safely back at the UNIT she slept.
I opened the door.
“Lil?” No answer. She wouldn’t have bolted, would she?
Gabriel came in behind me.
“What is it?” he asked. “Is she okay?”
I pointed to the bed where Lily had collapsed, giving in to exhaustion. Blinkey was draped around the top of her head like a furry halo, Doodle curled in the crook of her arm…both cats purred loudly and the contented smile on Lil’s face – even in her sleep – brought tears to my eyes.
“Yeah,” I said quietly. “She’s okay.”
There are lots of secondary characters and they all had distinctive personalities. I didn’t become lost in the sea of names as I have done with other novels. They all added their bit to the story and I ended up liking them all, hoping they would all survive.
Other than one or two aspects, I think PLAGUE TOWN is a great zombie book. I really enjoyed it and Ashley is a fantastic heroine. I can’t wait to see how she grows in subsequent books. Fredsti is now on my auto-buy list and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Zombie Nation.(less)
I was really looking forward to reading "The Greatcoat". I was hoping it would be an atm...moreOriginally posted on www.BookChickCity.com - 5/10 on the blog.
I was really looking forward to reading "The Greatcoat". I was hoping it would be an atmospheric, romantic ghost story, and although very different, written with the same richness and depth as 'The woman in Black' by Susan Hill (my favourite ghost story of all time). Unfortunately, it didn't really deliver.
"The Greatcoat" is a ghost story set in Yorkshire during the Second World War and the 1950s. It's a strange little novella in that to me it didn't have much of an atmosphere at all, which is what I expect from a ghost story. It wasn't eerie or creepy. I did, however, think the author managed to capture the essence of Yorkshire quite well and I could visualise the house and street where Isabel and Phillip lived.
Isabel and Phillip are married and move into a house with a rather grouchy landlady. Phillip is a doctor and is working long hours, leaving Isabel alone for long periods of time. The house is cold and one evening Isabel finds an old greatcoat, which she uses to keep warm, and thus begins the ghost story...
I felt that all the characters were very superficial, especially Isabel. They didn't have any depth to them and I didn't get to know them at all. Isabel's husband Philip and her lover (and ghost) Alec, were also a bit on the flat side and rather uninteresting. I didn't care about them, which made the reading of this novel slightly hard going. The character that did pique my interest was Mrs Atkinson, the landlady.
The romance between Isabel and Alec just didn't capture my imagination or my heart and unfortunately I didn't become emotionally attached to either of them. Half the time I didn't know who Isabel was and so I couldn't fully invest in their relationship.
Isabel's narrative was difficult to follow as it alternates between her true self and someone else entirely. I think I have an idea what the author was getting at, but ambiguity is not to my taste. There's also a fair amount of repetitiveness with Isabel doing and saying the same things again and again. The structure of the story is also irritating as it jumps about far too much, which made it feel disjointed.
Although I didn't particularly enjoy "The Greatcoat" I continued reading with the hope that the ending would make all the preceding pages worth while, but sadly the ending was abrupt and obscure.
Unfortunately "The Greatcoat" wasn't what I expected, which was disappointing, and the writing style wasn't to my taste. I couldn't connect with the characters or their relationships with each other. However, this is just my personal opinion - you may love it!(less)
"Dust" creates an action-packed world of zombies and horror, with the author not afraid to shy away from wr...moreReview by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
"Dust" creates an action-packed world of zombies and horror, with the author not afraid to shy away from writing scenes of extreme and sometimes sickening violence from the very first chapter. (Warning, the violence in this novel is not for the faint-hearted!)
As the first book in the series it does all it can to grab your attention from the very first page, with the first chapter throwing you straight into the action of a deer hunt with zombie gang, the Fly-by-Nights. However, by throwing you straight into the action the author tries to give you a taster of information so you want to read on, but I’m not sure she really achieves her goal. She introduces many characters and new supernatural concepts in this opening chapter, but I don’t think enough of an emotional connection was made to the zombie gang, so I wasn’t really passionate about reading on.
However, I really liked Turner’s own spin on the zombie legend, describing each gang member’s varying state of decay in graphic detail complete with bugs nesting in their skin. Turner’s zombies don’t need human flesh to survive, but can survive on the flesh of animals (although of course there are those whom prefer the taste of fresh human). I wasn’t so sure about their unique way of communication, with the zombies talking via brainwaves that are connected to music, each gang member having a different mental instrument. They refer to humans as ‘hoos’, with humans living in fear, denying zombie existence despite knowing otherwise.
The book still follows some typical zombie conventions, such as the storyline of a zombie apocalypse, but I thought the author’s plot was interesting. The apocalypse is brought about by a disease that is making the undead human again and making the humans undead. Of course our heroine is the first to figure out what is going on, becoming deeply connected to ascertaining the cause of the disease.
Jessie is a very likeable heroine, strong, confident and determined with her heart in the right place. It was easy to slip into her first person narration, and was very easy to forget that she was only 15. Her interactions with the other characters are interesting, especially when her suspicions set in and she feels unable to trust the others. I particularly loved her strength of character, as she is particularly kickass and yet still vulnerable when it comes to her family (both her human family and her undead family).
A romance plot is somewhat avoided in the novel, with Jessie trying to hold onto her relationship with her zombie man, Joe, rather than a will-they-won’t-they storyline. I didn’t find Joe to be a very likeable character, as he was very much an alpha male trying to control Jessie at every opportunity and dismissing her intuitive speculations about other members of the group. I found Linc to be a much better character, the quiet, sensitive supporter of Jessie along with new group member Renee who is placed under Jessie’s tuition. Jessie also has a particularly strong bond with the eldest member of the gang, Florian, who is very much her wise guide and whose knowledge proves invaluable towards the end of the novel.
I found the rest of the book to be intriguing, but to a certain extent the events began to feel like too much of a convenience, taking away my enjoyment of the plot twists and making them feel more predictable. There were several characters that I felt no connection with at all, as I think there were too many members in the Fly-by-Nights as some weren’t developed to the same level as others. The book still has some shocking moments, with shocking deaths and revelations that I didn’t expect, and the ending leaves you wondering what will happen after this great apocalypse and how the world will move on from there.
This book was better than expected, with the author creating an interesting change to your typical zombie stereotypes. However, some of the events were just too convenient for me and didn’t make the book flow naturally. The ending left me wondering where the series would go from there, so I definitely wouldn’t rule out reading the second in the series.(less)
Looking at the cover, the title as well as the fact Carina Press classes "Lure of the Mummy" as...moreOriginally posted on Book Chick City. 5/10 on the blog.
Looking at the cover, the title as well as the fact Carina Press classes "Lure of the Mummy" as a horror, I was expecting more. The writing is good but the horror is non existent, and with just 72 pages to play with I felt that the story was just too short. It felt as if it was from a much longer work, but to keep it at novella length the author removed huge chunks of the story. It read a little thin.
There wasn't a lot of depth to the characters, and the world was very narrowly focused, mainly on an apartment and an office. The fact the story was set in Egypt should have given the author a lot to play with but unfortunately the opportunity was lost.
"Lure of the Mummy" is set in Egypt and should have conveyed the colourful Egyptian atmosphere, lifestyle and people. It did for the first couple of pages and then disappeared inside an office building and apartment. I would have like much more descriptive detail of the Egyptian museum and wish that it was set there rather than alternating between a boring office and apartment. I think it would have added to the story of the mummified cat and the strange goings on.
Bert is the main character and who most of the story centres around. He's a hieroglyphics expert, but he is bypassed for a more dynamic colleague when a new artefact needs translating. When he's out at a market he's offered a mummy to buy, which he does, but things are not as they seem with this mummified cat. When Bert thinks that a certain someone should just drop dead, they actually do...
When I finished the last page I was relieved. Bert is a very distasteful character and incredibly unlikable. He's selfish and bitter, filled with jealousy and anger, basically he's just a nasty little man. When he eventually gets his comeuppance I didn't feel any sympathy for him at all. In fact I was rather indifferent.
"Lure of the Mummy" is interesting character study but not an immensely enjoyable piece of fiction. There wasn't enough depth to the characters for me to connect with, and although Bert did get under my skin it was not in a good way. There's also not enough world building, and with Egypt being the setting this novella should have oozed atmosphere. Although this isn't an awful novella I personally wouldn't recommend it, but if you like short, quick reads then you may enjoy this one more than me. (less)
I don't often read short stories. Not because I don't think they are good but because I prefer...moreOriginally posted on Book Chick City. 7/10 on the blog.
I don't often read short stories. Not because I don't think they are good but because I prefer the longer story and character arc that a novel can give. But when I found that one of my all time favourite series had a companion volume of short stories, I had to read it.
I'm not sure if readers coming in as a completely new reader will find this small collection of short stories as riveting as I did. The first two stories are short and I think were written for readers already familiar with the 'As The World Dies' trilogy. Because I had read the first two novels in the series, I was able to read the short stories with a mind already full of the world and the characters and the groundwork and foundations had already been set so to speak. However, as a companion to the trilogy they are fab.
The Broken Heart ~ Lydia's Story
This was the story I was most looking forward to reading, as well as dreading. Katie, one of the main characters in the full length novels in the 'As The World Dies' trilogy is such a wonderful character. Her sorrow and pain she feels about the death of her beloved wife, Lydia, is really poignant and one of the reasons I love Katie so much, so to finally see how Lydia died is sad but a must read all the same.
It was lovely to see Katie and Lydia together in happier times, good to see Katie smiling and buoyant rather than fighting for her life and tormented by memories of Lydia as a zombie. But at the same time the ending to Lydia's story is inevitable, we know what happens, and it's this ending that is so sad and heartbreaking, but very fitting to the trilogy and Katie's ongoing story.
Dangerous Highways ~ Monica's Story
It was nice to see Monica's journey before she arrived at the Fort. Not a pleasant journey by any means having been threatened at gun point by a man who had lost his sanity with hungry zombies all around. After seeing his wife being bitten and turned into a zombie and then see her kill and turn their children into zombies, you can understand why he's gone a little bit loopy.
But this is a different world now and it boils down to survival. Monica has to do what she can to stay alive so she can get to her home town and her family in one piece. As with all of Frater's work, there's an abundance of tension and suspense that makes this story exciting and heard to put down. But because it's very short, you don't have to wait long before it's ended - far too short in my opinion, but a great little story.
Vacation of the Undead ~ Eric's Story
I didn't find Eric particularly charismatic in 'Fighting to Survive'. He was a bit weedy. But this short story, which is a much better length, changed all that. Eric is actually pretty cool.
This short story is Eric's journey to the Fort and what a journey it is. After a huge fight with his girlfriend, Brandy, Eric finds himself, and his little dog, Pepe, in a bed and breakfast with zombies shuffling outside the front door. Before he enters the Fort we see him fighting off hordes of zombies, saving lives and falling in love.
The first half of the story seems to have been influenced by the novel, 'I Am Legend' by Richard Matheson. Although Matheson's novel deals with vampires rather than zombies, there are many similarities; a male character, who thinks he's all alone in a post-apocalyptic world, barricades himself inside a house, drinks himself into a stupor on a daily basis in despair, who owns a dog...
However, despite these similarities, Frater puts her distinct stamp on Eric's Story. Her ability to draw you into the action, of which there is plenty, to captivate you with her descriptive prose, to capture your heart with endearing characters, is now a definitive Frater trait, and as with everything I've read by Frater so far I enjoyed it immensely.
I loved the duo of Eric and his dog, Pepe. The relationship between them is sweet, and a man who loves animals is a great man indeed in my opinion. However, the human facial expressions Frater continually plasters on Pepe does become a bit unrealistic. Whether it was intended to be how Eric interprets his dogs behaviour is unclear. However, the love Eric has for his little dog is one of the reasons I like him so much, and a love I can totally understand. I heart animals.
I was surprised at how strong, capable and dynamic Eric became throughout this short story. He grew in my estimations and transformed into a sort of unwitting hero. Now that I have a better understanding of who he is, I hope he has a larger role to play in, 'Siege', the third novel in the trilogy.
I LOVED 'The First Days' and 'Fighting to Survive' - they will both go down as two of my all time favourite zombie horror novels *I can't wait to read 'Siege'. When I began reading this volume of short stories I was instantly pulled back into the zombie infested world Frater had created in her full length novels and I didn't want it to end. As this is a self-published work there are a few editing issues and some repetition, but Frater's writing talent shines through and these small issues soon became insignificant.
'As The World Dies Untold Tales' is a great insight into some of the lesser known characters, but Lydia and Monica's stories were not long enough for my liking, but that's probably just because I love this world so much. A wonderful companion to the 'As The World Dies' trilogy. I hope there's a volume two. (less)