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writeallthereviews

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  • The Last Days of August

  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249

In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she’d been the victim of a Twitter pile-on by fellow porn professionals. A month later, August’s husband Kevin connected with the writer Jon Ronson so they could piece together the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realised was that Ronson would soon hear rumours and secrets hinting at a very different story - something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.   

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Pathos & Bathos

  • By John on 11-02-19

Last Days of August

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-01-19

Poignant and interesting story. Delivered with a surprising gentleness given the subject matter. Recommended listen.

  • Z-Burbia

  • By: Jake Bible
  • Narrated by: Andrew B. Wehrlen
  • Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

Whispering Pines is a classic, quiet, private American subdivision on the edge of Asheville, NC, set in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains. Which is good since the zombie apocalypse has come to Western North Carolina and really put suburban living to the test! Surrounded by a sea of the undead, the residents of Whispering Pines have adapted their bucolic life of block parties to scavenging parties, common area groundskeeping to immediate area warfare, neighborhood beautification to neighborhood fortification.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awsome

  • By kev on 26-03-18

Z-Burbia!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-09-16

As a huge fan of and author in the zombie genre, I tend to be quite picky about the books I read. Not least because I don't want to be influenced (whether I know it or not) in my own writing. That being said, sometimes you hear enough about an author that you have to seek out his work, and Jake Bible falls under that category.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of his audiobook edition of Z-Burbia through an Audiobook boom, in exchange for an impartial review.

And yes, this is impartial. This book is bloody brilliant.
I'm a huge fan of first person-perspective zombie fiction. Whilst it doesn't give you everyone's view of the end of the world, it allows you to get into the head of the lead character, sharing their victories, disasters, indecision and genius, in one chaotic ride.

That is the best summary I can give Z-Burbia. We are thrown straight into the action, and Bible doesn't let up, not once. Strap yourself in for one hell of a backbreaker, because our protagonist, Jason "Jace" Stanford is a man on a mission. In his safe community built up after the US has succumbed to a zombie outbreak, Jace is declared basically as the brains of the operation. On a number of times in the book he appears to demonstrate having no brains at all, so I take this as to be excellent lateral thinking and common sense.

I liked this book so much, not just because of the action (of which there is plenty) but because of the realism of the characters. Jace is one cocky character, and I can see how some folks might find his personality hard to believe. However Bible's consistency in delivery really sells this book, and this careful treatment is given to everyone we meet, from overbearing community leaders all the way to misunderstood cannibals.

The book did fall prey to some genre tropes, but it's such a saturated genre that this is simply to be expected, and when it's done well like in Z-Burbia, it's not unwelcome - rather traditional and good, than leftfield and utter trash.

From a narration perspective, I loved Andrew Wehlren's delivery. He hit the nail on the head with pacing, tone, and expressions. At no point was I jarred out of the story by slopping retelling. I like my narration fast, and I did have to pop the speed up to 1.3, but that's a personal opinion and I'm not letting it sway my overall opinion on a hellride of an action story, and a masterclass in audio delivery.

Bring on the rest of the series - I can't wait to see where this story goes!

  • Time of Death Book 2: Asylum (A Zombie Novel)

  • By: Shana Festa
  • Narrated by: Sarah Tancer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5

The last two months have brought nothing but death and destruction for Emma Rossi. She survived the initial zombie outbreak with her husband, Jake, and their dog, Daphne, but the cost was steep: Sanibel has fallen. In a world where the only constant is change, the group is pushed to their limits before reaching the gates of Asylum, a coastal stronghold in Sarasota, Florida.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Time of Death Asylum

  • By writeallthereviews on 26-05-15

Time of Death Asylum

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-05-15

When I read Festa's first zombie novel, ToD Induction, I read it in one sitting. Her writing style was gripping, and whilst not unique in plot, her storytelling was ruthless, the action non-stop, and I found myself fully invested in the survival story - and tragedies - of the Rossi's.

The narration of Sarah Tancer plays a definite part in how enjoyable this title is. Her delivery and timing is en pointe, and if you aren't a fan of audiobooks, I would recommend this as a definite starting point to try. You won't find many ZA books with better narration.

Asylum itself didn't get devoured in the same way as Induction - life got in the way, somewhat. So this time, I found myself mulling over characters and motives. The Rossi's have somehow escaped Sanibel with their lives, and through trial and error, find out about a safe-haven called Asylum. They decide to make their way there, and spend around 2/3 of the book doing so. There is no mundane filler in this title - the Rossi's do not collide around the US like hapless hobbits. They carve their way through the zombie apocalypse, and Asylum's action was as hugely enjoyable as the first.

I enjoyed more, however, the character development in this book. The events that the main characters endure are really starting to tell on their personalities, and Festa has taken time to make sure this creeps in throughout the novel's timeline. There are no blunt and unjustifiable changes in mentality that leave you scratching your head, trying to figure out what went wrong.

The twist at the end, whilst perhaps predictable in parts, was grimly satisfying, and we've been set up on a grand cliffhanger for the next novel. I can't wait to get my hands on the next installment in this series, and this is one zombie writer I implore you to try. You won't regret it.

  • Time of Death: Induction (A Zombie Tale)

  • Book 1: Induction (A Zombie Novel)
  • By: Shana Festa
  • Narrated by: Sarah Tancer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

In a few short days, 37-year-old Emma Rossi's hard work will finally pay off. She will don her cap and gown and graduate with a degree in nursing, but not before she loses her first patient and is confronted with a new reality. In Cape Coral, Florida, a storm approaches. The dead are coming back to life. And they're hungry.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Better than I expected it to be.

  • By M. Paddon on 15-03-15

Time of Death Induction

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-03-15

The narration of this Audible edition is excellent - I've both read and listened to ToD now, and largely prefer the Audible edition, primarily because the narrator absolutely nails Emma's characterisation.

I tried desperately to find a flaw in this book. Really, I did. Not so I could be nit-picky in my review, but so I could turn around and give a reason, any reason, for me to not say “I wish I’d written it”.

don’t waste time – pick up your copy now

This is the book many post-apoc authors wish they’d written.
Keep in mind, folks, this is a debut novel.

Author Shana Festa is well known in the horror circuit for her excellent work on the Bookie Monster, as well as blogging and being a good egg in general. Given the amount she reads, it’s perhaps not surprising that she’d be able to turn her hand to the written word, and to zombie fiction in particular.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of strong female lead characters. Forgive me, then, for being predisposed towards Emma, Time of Death’s protagonist and all-round buttock-thwacker.

She is a refreshing lead in a genre where the trope is for women to be weak, mere bit-part players in an alpha male hip-thrusting competition to zombie glory. Don’t get me wrong; Emma has her weak moments. This makes her more real to the imagination, and makes her eminently more readable than a battle-hardened post-Middle East war veteran that just happens to be on home soil when the world explodes. Emma cries (a lot) and relies heavily on her husband Jake for mental and physical stability. But where a man is lacking, her pet dog Daphne steps up to the mark (and God help anyone that tries to hurt the dog).

The story in ToD flows well. We’re straight in to the action (well, right after a Code Brown, which made me want to bring up a little bit of dinner). Festa’s prose is second to none. There is a lot less dialogue in this book than I see in many books of zombie fiction. This is perhaps accurate; who’s going to want to gossip when the world ends. She also avoids needless filler; where there needs to be a passage of time, it is there. We don’t get a fortnight of laundry and horizon-spotting.

The gore is there – in spades. It’s close to the bone, and more than once I had to close my eyes to shake off the pictures being put in to my brain. There is skill in the action crafted in ToD and I didn’t want to put this book down. It has a neat balance between civilian and military conflict, and I wasn’t overloaded with military jargon, which I feel happens in some similar books. I read it in two swift sittings, though the book perhaps deserves more time and effort – so I got it on Audible, too.

Well worth the buy and read AND a listen – consider me a fan.

I can’t wait to see where Emma and her group head to next.