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Undead Annihilation (Undead, #1) by Matthew Doggett

Honestly, Undead Annihilation is a “Must Read” for end-of-the-world, we’re-all-gonna-die, zombie apocalypse story lovers!

On the night the bombs dropped and killed untold numbers, former police detective Kurt Weller was in a no-tell motel with two shady ladies and a bag of cocaine trying to forget he’d been set up and railroaded out of the police department earlier that week. But as the emergency transpired, he received a call from headquarters that all was forgiven and ordered to report back on duty immediately. Escorting the ladies home, he realizes there’s more to the bombs than first thought; there are also hordes of zombies roaming the city, picking off the survivors of the blasts. Arriving at police headquarters, he finds the place under siege by a crowd of these survivors wanting answers that the brass can’t give them. They don’t want to listen to what Weller has observed either.

In another part of town, a vampire named Diirek had witnessed the attack from the deep shadows of a downtown alley beside a dive bar. The spectacle stopped the vampire in his tracks just as he prepared to feed on an unsuspecting bar patron who had come into the alley to relieve himself. Both he and his intended victim hustle away to find out what is going on.

While Kurt is checking on officers posted at a hot spot downtown, he sees one of the officers get thrown from the roof of one multi-story building through the air to smash through a window several stories up on a building across the street. The body is soon followed by a large, mysterious creature that glides from one roof to another. The vision is too outlandish for Weller, and he convinces himself he was seeing things.

Later as people die and reanimate and city officials refuse to accept what is going on, Diirek approaches Weller for his help (during daylight hours) to track down the creature who is killing the city’s vampires. Together they seek this ancient menace and try to discover what’s behind the attack, the zombies, and Weller’s frame-up and dismissal from the police force.

Matthew Doggett’s new zombie apocalypse story has everything that previous books of the genre have and more! Mindless, ravening hordes of zombies? Check. Impending extinction of the population from an unknown threat? Check. The true-blue hero fighting evil all on his lonesome against impossible odds? Err…well, sort of.

We actually have two wonderful heroes. First, we have Detective Kurt Atticus Weller, a recently disgraced, hard-charging homicide detective discharged from the department for purportedly taking money from a crime scene. (“This was such bulls***!”) As his story begins, he’s partaking of some of the vices (cocaine and prostitutes) that he’d fought against all his years on the force, making up for lost time, so to speak. Weller’s is the voice of reason throughout, but his commentary is laugh out loud funny. I got looks and questions from family members I was reading near.

Hero number two is a centuries-old vampire named Diirek. (That’s Dee-rick, thank you very much!) Diirek is trying to find a much more dangerous monster than mere zombies. Something big and dark and deadly is picking off the vampires in the city one by one, and he is out to stop it. He makes for a fabulously mysterious and romantic black-clad stranger who still has human feelings and sentiments compelling him to try and rid the city of this unknown nemesis.

Action and chaos are happening on every page. The writing is exciting and entertaining with clever dialogue and plot twists. It truly is a page-turner of a book, and better still, the first entry in the new series, Undead. So, with a never-a-slow-moment pace, the coolest of cool characters, and all the apocalyptic tropes your heart could desire (but done better) to top things off, I can highly recommend UNDEAD ANNIHILATION to readers of the genre that would enjoy a more humorous take on the end of the world.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

See my original review of Undead Annihilation (Undead, #1) by Matthew Doggett at Reedsy Discovery!


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Babble (The Cosmic Conspiracy #1) by Orrin Jason Bradford


Angela and Brian Cagle were happy. An unlikely match, they had worked hard to make their marriage work, and when Bobbie was born, their happiness just expanded.

As Bobbie grows, he begins to exhibit some unusual traits. As an infant and toddler, he doesn’t develop speech as expected but babbles in an extraordinary way that the members of the Cagles’ charismatic church family claim is “speaking in tongues.” But the babbling doesn’t fit the known patterns for it to be  glossolalia. Too, the boy doesn’t engage with others at all but has spells that come over him in which he repeatedly builds towers out of bits and pieces he finds at hand.

Against Brian’s wishes, Angie takes the boy to the nearby university medical research hospital to try and determine why their son is the way his is. But when Homeland Security takes an inexplicable interest in Bobbie, too, Angela grabs the boy and flees leaving Brian and everyone she knows and loves behind.

Now, after a decade on the run, they are closing in and Bobbie’s father is with them. As Bobbie approaches his sixteenth birthday, things are starting to come together, leading them to a mysterious location in the West Virginia mountains.

This story is definitely not over! The action was fast and tense and as much as Angie is in the dark about what is going on with her son, the reader is as well. Is the human race ready to evolve to a new level? Are aliens guiding our development? Is it God’s plan? The story is well written, entertaining, and fresh. Recommended for a variety of readers because this is a thriller, a mystery, and an epic scifi tale!

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Welcome to the Apocalypse: Pandora by D.L. Richardson

Three friends (since their teens) pay to participate in the grand opening of the next generation of virtual reality games called “The Apocalypse Game.” Players pay $5,000 each to be enclosed in a glass pod, interface with the gaming system to try and outlast an apocalyptic scenario of their choosing. Those that perish during the game wait out the rest of the 24-hour session in a “death dream” – a pleasant interlude tailored for the player while the clock runs down.

Of course, something goes terribly wrong and when Jack, Kelly, and Reis successfully survive the first game, they are sent into a second scenario. At first, players think they’ve been rewarded for their initial successes, but as they keep continuing into new games and the scenarios keep getting more bizarre, it becomes apparent they are trapped inside the system while their physical bodies deteriorate inside their glass pods.

The author touches on many different end-of-the-world game scenarios and it is very entertaining. The main characters all have interesting back stories that slowly come to light as the games unfold. Kelly, the young, grieving widow, looking to reunite with the spirit of her game programmer husband. Jack who is there to watch out for his sister (Kelly) and scope out the Apocalypse Game for his adventure tour company, undergoes some real soul-searching and revelations. Reis, Jack’s partner in the adventure tour company is, and always has been, in love with Kelly. Interesting NPCs (non-player combatants) and other players pop up throughout the various games, a few of whom I really became attached to. The story ends well but somewhat abruptly leaving several loose ends and questions. Only one of the three main characters (I won’t say whom) is featured in the ending and we have no idea what has become of the other two, let alone the rest of the players. Significant looks and pauses between others in this scene lead me to believe there was way more going on in the world than just a malfunctioning game though. I look forward to reading book 2 to resolve the cliffhangers.


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Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

In this second installment in the Shinobi Mystery series, Matsui Hiro and Father Mateo return to try and find the killer of one of the shogun’s chief samurai. Set inside the shogun’s mansion and grounds, the story features murder, political intrigue, and romance within another mental trip to medieval Japan for the reader. This book is just as entertaining and interesting as the first in the series and once again, we get an authentic glimpse into the life and culture of 16th century Japan.

My only disappointment with this series is that the next isn’t due out until 2015, of course. I highly recommend this to historical mystery fans especially those that have enjoyed the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rowland.

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Prison Nation by Jenni Merritt – a future where justice goes very, very wrong

In this view of the future, the United States has become a land of “mega-prisons” where a large majority of the population lives out its days laboring at jobs to sustain the prison population (and society’s elite we later discover). Millie 942B is a “Jail Baby,” born in one such prison – Spokane – to “lifer” parents. She has spent her entire existence within the walls of the prison never having experienced the outside world, touched a tree, or studied the stars.

The story begins as she is approaching her 18th birthday and her impending release to the outside when she is discovered and stalked by a senior prison guard, Carl. Carl wants Millie for his own purposes, and all Millie wants is to be a citizen, good and strong, and free. However, free means leaving everything she has ever known behind in the prison including her parents and her secret friends, Jude – a young night guard and Orrin – an inmate in a nearby cell – both of whom she’s never actually met face-to-face, only through the grill of the closed cell door after “lights out.” And “outside” may not prove to be as free as she’s been led to believe.

Prison Nation is a fascinating vision: horrible, threatening, and exciting to read. The characters Merritt has created seem like ordinary people surviving under extraordinary circumstances (that have become the new normal). Millie is “street-smart” in the prison and naïve (yet wary) when she gets outside. She is a nice, regular girl – someone that you’d like. The supporting characters are well-developed and give us good variety. Carl, the villain, is suitably evil and creepy, and single-minded in his pursuit of poor Millie.

Fans of young adult dystopia should enjoy Jenni Merritt’s creative story of the United States in the future where justice has gone very, very wrong. The setting of Spokane to Portland is both changed to support this future and familiar enough to make it all the more devastating a vision. The story ends at an appropriate place but poised to continue with book 2 – Lady Justice – coming sometime, I most fervently hope, in 2014.

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