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Outbreak: The Dark Days Series

Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1) by [Christopher Cole]

The first installment of Christopher Cole’s Outbreak: Dark Days series follows Sonny as he finds his preteen world turned upside down at the hands of a mysterious zombie outbreak that has sparked mass, sanctioned evacuations of families and individuals to military-run communes. Little does Sonny know that once his family and friends, neighbors Carrie and Ashley, depart from their New York state homes, their lives are set to change indefinitely as they battle outbreaks and learn tough lessons about growing up.

The flow is fast-paced, while still providing enough visual detail for the reader to follow each event and action. The characters are well-developed, even considering that the main protagonists, Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley, are all middle-school aged. It is easy to empathize with the many internal conflicts they are faced in the midst of difficult decisions, the most extreme being making choices that can lead to life or death. Readers can feel the deep humanity of each child, yet at the same time are gently reminded that all three are children who genuinely do not know everything, nor should be expected to. The bond the children share with each other is just as simple, yet poignant. It is a pleasure to witness the richness of the children’s character development and interpersonal bonds as they traverse through various trials.

The grammatical errors, however, were rampant throughout the book and at times were distracting from the plot and the action. Every couple pages had some kind of punctuation or use error; for instance, “your” when the contraction “you’re” was supposed to be used was a common error. I also saw a few spelling errors, but these were far less interspersed.

I love the plot of Outbreak: Dark Days, the doomsday theme is certainly relevant in 2020, with some elements such as quarantine being very relatable to many at present. In creating a rich range of emotions and thoughts in the trio of children, Cole invites readers to reflect on their sense of humanity and consider their own reactions to the different challenges that Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley encounter throughout the book. I recommend this book for readers of young adult age and up due to the use of adult language.

Pages: 213 | ASIN: B089CHBN2G

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Underground: Revelations – Trailer

The war the world feared finally came except this was a different kind of war. One fought between the living and the dead. The living lost.

Liam, a former soldier in the war against the dead, had done everything he could to hold back the enemy but in the end he joined the other survivors in the only safe place left— underground.

Now Liam helps keep the last of the living safe in the subway tunnels, scavenging food by day, hiding by night, all the while haunted about how they lost the world above them. He always believed the dead had help but he could never prove it.

He would soon learn he was right all along and that there is no safe place to hide from extinction—underground just might turn out to be everyones tomb after all.

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Horror Collection Volume 1

Ellie Douglas Author Interview

Ellie Douglas Author Interview

The Dead Wake Anthology is a collection of horrifically good stories centered around the idea of zombification. Did you write these stories with the intention of building an anthology or did you write them separately over time?

I wrote with intention of building a short story collection of different ways zombies can cause havoc.

My favorite story from the collection is No More Coochy Coochy Coo! Do you have a favorite story from the collection?

I rather liked Gunslinger and have had a lot of readers wanting it to be made into a novel so I’m doing just 🙂

I really enjoyed the character development in your stories. Each character seemed unique and multilayered. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?

I wanted all of my characters to be as real as someone sitting next to you, so no actual themes as such for them, more along the lines of ‘realism’ given they were short stories, that needed to be focused on a lot more.

Are you currently working on volume 2 or are you working on a different story?

Yes, I’ve written and published a volume 2 and it is up for pre-order, released date ‘Halloween’ this one is without zombies. It is my first short story collection of pure horror without a single zombie. I’m sure you’d love it. The title is Death O Death Horror Collection Vol 2 the one I had you review has had a slight name change, it is now titled: The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1. A link to the second volume: https://amzn.to/2SAI7ra.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Twitter |  Website

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1 by [Douglas, Ellie]The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas is a collection of thrilling short stories. The anthology investigates the idea of zombification threw a number of avenues, exploring what the impacts of an outbreak would be in a variety of scenarios. The anthology sits well within the horror and thriller genres and makes for an exciting though horrifying read. Ellie Douglas often investigates how the transition from living to dead, to living-dead would progress in the various instances of infection meaning that each story is unique in the ways in which this topic is explored.

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The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1 by [Douglas, Ellie]The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas is a collection of thrilling short stories. The anthology investigates the idea of zombification threw a number of avenues, exploring what the impacts of an outbreak would be in a variety of scenarios. The anthology sits well within the horror and thriller genres and makes for an exciting though horrifying read. Ellie Douglas often investigates how the transition from living to dead, to living-dead would progress in the various instances of infection meaning that each story is unique in the ways in which this topic is explored.

The opening story is placed within a unique setting – space. The isolation of which is felt by the few characters exposed within the claustrophobic conditions of a space craft. When the Captain John Lancaster teases a crew mate, he accidentally breaks a space rock against the crewmate’s head. Upon inspection the rock appears to bleed. The unique nature of this rock leads Captain John Lancaster to send it as a gift to his daughter before the crew launch. Only when the crew are in space however does the full impact of the space rock’s strange qualities come into full effect. The crewmate, who the rock touched, begins to grow ill with flu like symptoms and is sent to the med bay. With the affected crewmate breaking out in lesions, Ellie Douglas explores in graphic detail the vile nature of the character’s transition creating a visual spectacle not for the faint hearted. The crew now in space, rush to find out if the disease is contagious. Meanwhile, John Lancaster, having sent the rock to his daughter on earth, attempts to contact the CDC and his family to see if his daughter faces the same fate as his crewmate. The author creates an intense feeling of suspense as John grows frantic trying to find out if his daughter will be okay.

Some of the stories are intended to be truly horrifying, such as ‘No More Coochy Coochy Coo!’ which takes place in a hospital, somewhere that maybe considered moderately safe in the event of an outbreak. This short story follows the labour of Samantha who is worried that her partner Jeff will not make it time for the birth of their first-born child. As the labour continues Samantha becomes increasingly more distressed. The new mother starts exclaiming that the baby is eating her. Initially the nurse dismisses it as labour pains, but as the doctor – attempting to aid the birth, begins to lose his fingers to the hungry unborn child, all is confirmed.

Meanwhile, Jeff the expecting father, gets distracted and finds his way to a ward where twenty-three babies lay wrapped soundly in blankets. He notices two children looking pale skinned and with sores, their arms blistered. Notifying a nurse of the babies’ condition he is escorted out of the room swiftly by a doctor as the children are taken to be quarantined. An air raid siren begins to sound outside.

Despite some of these more sombre and horrifying stories, some of the stories are laced with some comedy, such as a talking parrot on a cruise ship that yells profanities as it begins to peck at its keeper. Though, this becomes less humorous as the parrot’s feathers shed and it flies frantically around the inside of an elevator pecking at its keeper’s eyes.

The short stories offer snippets of potential scenarios to get the reader thinking and, being short, make for a perfect night time read – though be wary of nightmares.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B078PH4143

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Obsessive Quest

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Finding AJ follows FBI Agent Jules as she searches for a serial killer through a zombie apocalypse. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book 1 and what was a new direction you wanted to take in book 2?

The themes were quite different in Jacob’s Odyssey and Finding AJ. While the main theme in Jacob’s Odyssey was centered around Jake’s internal journey, the main theme in Finding AJ was Jules’ obsessive quest to find the serial killer known as the Calligrapher. However there is a common theme that runs through both novels, and that has to do with the incredible beauty of nature that surrounds us, yet the human race seems bent on self-destruction. At one point in Jacob’s Odyssey, Jake comments on how he’s always thought of the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley as being as “eden-like” as any place on earth. There are beautiful descriptions of nature in both novels.

The town of Gideon is one of the last remaining towns in the apocalypse. How did you imagine a town would come together and survive in a time like this?

The only way the people of Gideon, or any other post-apocalyptic setting, could survive is by working together to solve any problems that came up. “Working together” is the key. Gideon had good leaders and the people there were willing to do their part in order to survive.

Jules is a determined FBI agent, but faces some tough decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to her characters development?

The personal obstacles Jules needed to overcome had to do with her tendency toward being a self-reliant lone wolf. She generally doesn’t connect with or open herself up to others. She has difficulty giving her trust. She doesn’t let anyone in. It isn’t easy for her, but eventually she opens herself up and begins to connect with others. And she has to “trust” someone if she’s going to find the serial killer, and toward the end she finally does.

Will there be a book 3 in the Apocalypse Journeys series and where will that take readers?

There may be a 3rd novel. I’m not sure yet. It depends on how well Finding AJ does. Simple as that. If there is a third novel, it will combine characters from the first two novels. They will be at the underground government complex that is mentioned in Jacob’s Odyssey. This is the same complex where the virus was developed, and there are still experiments going on there. The conspiracy will be revealed, and virtually everyone (Jake, Sarah, Becky, Jules, Caleb, and others) will be in danger. Lukas Melzer will, of course, be there, as well as the new president of the United States. And deep in the complex are a host of grays (zombies), including the alpha called Eve. And don’t be terribly surprised if the Swimmer from Jacob’s Odyssey makes a return. He’s the baddest alpha around. Can’t leave him out.

Author Links: GoodReads | FacebookWebsite

Finding AJ (Apocalypse Journeys Book 2) by [Melrose, Russ]The world has fallen apart, the FBI gone, but former Agent Jules Vandevelde won’t stop. She can’t. She’s driven to find the psychopathic serial killer known as the Calligrapher.

Her search leads her to Gideon, Utah, a small town in the southern part of the state. There, amongst the 116 survivors, a serial killer hides in plain sight. There’s only one clue to his identity. Using a scalpel, he inscribes the letters AJ into the abdominal area of his victims–postmortem–in an ancient Chinese text called Tsao, the lettering precise and artistic.

Jules knows the key to finding the Calligrapher lies in discovering the identity of AJ. If she can find AJ, she can find the Calligrapher. But the Calligrapher knows who Jules is. Jules must survive the infected and find the Calligrapher before she becomes his latest victim.

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Finding AJ: Apocalypse Journeys 2

Finding AJ (Apocalypse Journeys Book 2) by [Melrose, Russ]We meet the protagonist of Russ Melrose’s Finding A.J.: Apocalypse Journeys 2 as she sits on the side of a gravel road in the Mojave Desert, head in her hands. Jules is not the crying kind, but that’s exactly what she’s doing. The tough FBI agent pulls it together despite the crumbling world around her to work on a case that she can’t let go. A tough case for this tough agent is made tougher by the apocalyptic state the world is now in. The dead, also known as “grays” or the “infected”, walk the streets hunting for their next meal while Jules goes from town to town hunting for a serial killer whose case she hasn’t been able to solve.

Finding A.J. stands alone as a book even though it is part of a series. You do not need to know anything more than this book provides to understand the plot of this book. (But, I’d like to go back and read part 1 now!)

Jules is an independent, no-nonsense kind of girl. She is more than self-sufficient. She seems like she could be a loner and wouldn’t mind keeping it that way. However, she doesn’t stay alone for long. She finds a teenage girl in desperate need of her help and rescues her from her captor. Addy, the girl she rescues, then becomes sort of a foster daughter to Jules despite Jules’s objections. Addy would likely have been a loner too, but with the world falling apart and her recent captivity and abuse she needs to cling to someone. She needs someone to trust. That someone will be Jules.

Jules and Addy make an eventful trek to the town of Gideon. That is where most of the story plays out. Gideon is a town that is still hanging on, even if by a thread. There is still a mayor and policemen, which is more than can be said for many post-apocalyptic towns. A large chunk of the population has been infected and died, but anarchy hasn’t quite reached Gideon yet. The townspeople cling to any semblance of normalcy they can even while they are uprooted. Readers will get to know many of the people in the town. They will also be suspicious of everyone they meet. The townspeople all have jobs and duties to perform for the sake of self-preservation. The dead are walking, there is a killer among them, and all they have is each other.

Parts of the book reminded me of scenes from The Walking Dead. Tasks as simple as grocery shopping become major undertakings with the “grays” wandering around. Supply runs put many characters in danger. Every seemingly menial task becomes exceedingly difficult. You will breathe sighs of relief as plans come together, and hold your breath when they don’t.

The book is very well written. It is not hard to follow, and the plot flows well. Characters are well developed and enough backstory is given to assist with that development. As the events of the story play out, you will question each character.  No one can be trusted. You will hang onto the edge of your seat waiting to find out who the serial killer is and if Jules can catch them.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B07CZ4VS2R

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Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32

Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!

I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.

This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.

Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.

Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V

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A Creepy Science-Gone-Wrong Scenario

Ryan Grimbly Author Interview

Ryan Grimbly Author Interview

In Typhoon of Fire we follow Ace Mcdagger who teams up with Captain Loxwell of November squad to rescue her teammates scattered in the forests of Malaysia. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

During Call of the Conjurer, when the characters were new recruits to the hidden world of modern, magical combat; they spent a lot of time in a regulated, clean environments. The characters were usually safe. I wanted to go the opposite way in Typhoon of Fire. I wanted the situation throughout to be very rough, challenging and dangerous. My very first thought, visually, was of Vietnam era war films like “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now”.

The jungle is wild and hostile, and Malaysia is a location brimming with different environments which greatly inspired the events throughout. The characters explore flat, arid plains and damp rainforests, a rundown laboratory overrun by plants, an abandoned mine, a floating fortress above the clouds… I had a great time using colour schemes to set the mood. The use of natural environments also helped me to emphasise major themes in the book. Subjects such as ‘corruption of life’, ‘man versus nature’ and ‘Hell on Earth’.

I felt that the novel was very well paced and kept me engaged throughout. Did you plan the novel as you wrote or did it all happen organically?

It happened organically, for the most part. From my perspective, Typhoon of Fire is a prequel to another book I have written – but I decided it would be better to publish them chronologically. Certain events had to happen in Typhoon of Fire, and with that in mind I just had fun writing what I wanted: a creepy science-gone-wrong scenario!

Developing the supporting cast and their stories happened organically as well. They were new characters, who would not necessarily be seen again; so their personalities, roles and fates were all blank slates. I enjoyed unravelling these characters, adding little twists to their personalities to surprise the reader. A lot of the characters are very different people by the end of the story, for better or for worse. I suppose in essence, the main plot of Typhoon of Fire was an after thought for me. The subplots, however; the individual character arcs which pave the way for future instalments, are the real meat and bones of the book. Away from all the magic and sci-fi, this is a book about humanity and frailty.

Ace, Shimon, Tiffany, and Loxwell have brilliant dialogue and they feel like living characters. What things did you focus your character development on to bring your characters to life?

I absolutely adore writing flawed characters. I like my characters fumble their dialogue, on occasion, or misunderstand information given to them. It makes them more human, to be far from perfect. I enjoy the concept of the “unreliable protagonist” and bear that in mind when I write. Sometimes the characters make mistakes, and sometimes they lie, even to themselves. They are supposed to be human, despite any super human magical powers they possess. Careful dialogue keeps them grounded and relatable.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

Tricky one! I actually have two books in the proof reading stage now. One is a direct follow up to Typhoon of Fire, called Bloodfest, which was the book I had written before this one but decided to release later. The other book I’ve completed is a supplementary story called The Sardonyc, which focuses on the Science Department mentioned throughout Typhoon of Fire. The Sardonyc is a very different book to what I have written before, but it is still within the same self contained universe.

Bloodfest will be a straight up action horror / macabre comedy, continuing the adventures of Ace Mcdagger. He is more grown up and world weary by now, and is deployed to a mysterious island to dispatch a rising army of the undead. Definitely one for zombie fans!

The Sardonyc is more of a psychological thriller, about a troubled new character named Sidney. He is part of a research team stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and everybody is slowly going mad. Sidney must figure out why it is happening before he succumbs as well, and there are plenty of twists along the way.

I hope the Literary Titan will review my next book soon – whichever one is out first!

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Typhoon of Fire

Three years after training; learning about magic combat and of monsters that terrorise our world, soldier Ace Mcdagger and his allies join Captain Rafaella Loxwell of November Squad for a rescue mission. Her team mates have been scattered following a disastrous attempt to seek out a rogue scientist deep in the forests of Malaysia. Their path is mired by many obstacles; treachery, psychic warnings, scientific abominations, and an overwhelming storm – the Typhoon of Fire, slowly closing in on the region without a known cause.

Worst of all, Ace has to contend with a personal challenge – keeping his mad cousin out of trouble.

Can Captain Loxwell save her team mates and complete the mysterious mission? And will Ace and his friends survive out here in the midst of true, heated battle?

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