on Nov. 9, 2013 :
My rating is based only on the story Life Ever After. Please note that I DID NOT read the other stories in this book.
This review focuses on Life Ever After by Claire C. Riley, which is the prequel to Odium. I loved Odium, and I really like Claire C. Riley’s writing style, so I knew I would at least enjoy the story. I did more than enjoy the story; I finished it within an hour because I was so excited while reading it that I just couldn’t stop!
While Odium is the first in the Odium series, Life Ever After gives us a peek inside Nina’s life before we met her leaving the “Sanctuary” in Odium. Throughout Odium, we are given hints into who Nina was before the outbreak, but we don’t really get all the answers we are looking for. Life Ever After provides us with some of those answers. We find out why Nina is still so attached to the memory of her husband, Ben.
This story is very quick. It flows so well that it’s over before you know it. It almost feels too short, but since I read Odium first, I pretty much know what happens from the end, so I don’t feel like I was left hanging. I think the main reason I wanted to continue was because of how much I enjoy Claire Riley’s writing in general. The intensity throughout the story is insane. You can almost feel the adrenaline that the characters are feeling. There are moments of humor and sarcasm, which is something I enjoy because to me, it makes the characters feel more realistic.
It starts with Nina telling us about the distance that has come between her and Ben. An argument over a pair of shoes, a smart ass comment here, a dirty look there. We’ve all been there at some point or another. When Nina goes to the grocery store to prove to Ben that her pretty new shoes are practical, she doesn’t notice anything amiss. As she is leaving the store, there seems to be some sort of disturbance, but she is eager to get home, so she ignores it and heads home.
Soon after, she notices that her neighbors are acting odd. So she stays inside. Ben arrives home and explains to her that there has been an outbreak of some sort and it is spreading like crazy. People are being killed so they need to get out of town and head to his family’s cabin retreat. Life Ever After follows Ben and Nina, and is told from Nina’s point of view.
As Ben and Nina attempt to escape from the Hell that has become their town, they see just how desperate their situation really is. They are encountering zombies at every turn. They are forced to work together and begin to recognize how much they love each other. It was nice to see a couple that can accept that they’ve each made mistakes, and remember that there was a reason they fell in love to start with instead of just giving up. They could have just gone their separate ways. Ben could have taken off and left Nina to fend for herself, but not only did he come home, but he brought her a pair of “practical shoes, a pair of blue Doc Martins. Perfect for the zombie apocalypse!
Nina as a person starts out fairly shallow. She seems more interested in material things than in making her marriage work. She doesn’t seem to have the concept of teamwork. She starts out sounding pretty insecure in her general life and abilities. It almost seems like she is just going through the motions of life rather than actually enjoying what moments of joy that she can. From the beginning of Life Ever After through the end of Odium, there is an obvious change in Nina’s personality. She shows a level of maturity and growth that is very important to her character role. Many books have characters that, to some degree, never change throughout the series. I mean, they usually change their mind about something, or are proven wrong and end up coming to terms with it, but there is no real growth as an actual person would experience. I think this is a definite strength in Claire Riley’s writing style, and I really enjoy characters that are realistic while living in a fictional or “impossible” setting.
Claire Riley really does just have a way with words. She makes them earn a place in her story, and shows them who is in charge. She tells a story that would give the average person nightmares, if not develop daytime fears. Her word choice does more than just tell the story, it creates a whole new environment in which they flourish and grow into a story that will make you want to bring a flashlight to bed at night. You know, just in case.
I absolutely recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good zombie book, and even to new zombie readers. I’ve only recently really started enjoying zombie stories, and a big part of that is due to Claire’s book, ODIUM. You don’t have to have read ODIUM first, as long as you read both of them before ODIUM 2, which hopefully will be released soon. Never fear, dear reader, I will let you know as soon as I know when the release day is scheduled!
Pick up this book for a quick read if you don’t have time to really read a whole book right now. I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Then when you have more time, you can read ODIUM!
(review of free book)
on Nov. 1, 2013 :
Dee Harrison-The Sliver of Abilon:
Junah the Mirrorsmith seeks out fragments of mirrors to be safely destroyed before these slivers infect humans causing death or madness. A plague occurs in Abilon and he goes to investigate. 3 stars!
I'm not a huge fan of this style of fantasy-scifi but I did enjoy this story. It's tough to develop character in a short story but Junah was likable and his quest to stop the plague and find the slivers of contaminated mirrors that came through the planet gateways to infect people was an interesting concept and not one that I had seen before, which is always nice! The side characters that we meet on his journey are all interesting in their own ways and add to the story. It's hard to say much without giving away the story but I liked the way the plot moved on. If anything, perhaps I'd have liked it to be a bit longer just to get some more action and tension into it. I would certainly look at more by this author, and would maybe look at any other books set in this world.
Ivan Amberlake-Diary of the Gone:
A social misfit who is haunted by the dead has to investigate when students at his school start to go missing, with only his diary to protect him. 3.5 stars!
This was a creepy paranormal story with the 'don't go into the woods' warning to it. The plot was a bit different, which is always a good thing and not easy to do with a paranormal theme. The author's descriptive work is excellent, and you can see exactly what he wants you to see through Callum's eyes, right now to the colours fading from life every time the ghosts are coming. One thing that I have noticed about this author is that his word use is always perfect. The descriptions of the world he is building are always new, not a tired cliche that you have seen in countless other books, and it always seems to fit just right into the story. There is plenty detail about Callum's ghost problems and the diary to let you know what is going on but enough enough to bore the reader. I felt there was a nice balance.
Callum is quite likeable and I felt sorry for him because his sister treats him with such contempt, and the school bully seems to be picking on him for no reason. Nathan is the fun friend who tries to look out for Callum so you warm to him despite his appearance being brief. I didn't feel much of a connection to his other friends, other than Vivian as the book progresses, but it wasn't too vital for the story. Gloria was my favourite character though.
I did have a couple of minor plot niggles. I wanted to see a bit more of Gloria and her back story as she was the one who really fascinated me. I felt that she was a bit underused when she seemed so important to the story. I would have liked the scene in the library to have been longer and more detailed, giving us more about the previous missing kids. I also wish the attack at the school had been longer, along with the big finale. I guess I wanted more of these bits because they were the bits of the book that I liked the best. But these niggles are more about what I wanted to see in the book, and no reflection on the author's writing.
Claire C. Riley-Life Ever After:
Nina and Ben are on the verge of divorce when the zombie apocalypse comes. When their plan to stay safe in their house fails, they must make a run for it to try and reach safety. 4 stars!
Really enjoyed this story! I felt that this was a very realistic look at how an ordinary couple would deal with a sudden zombie outbreak. Do we stay at home and wait for help or risk a road trip to get to the country? What do we take? What do we need? Can the zombies get in? It made me think about what I would want to do in that situation. Nina and Ben are nicely developed through their interaction with each other before the zombies arrive, and during the crisis itself and both are likable characters. The zombie incidents are nicely written with plenty tension and a little bit of gore to keep horror fans happy! This was the best story in the book and a prequel to zombie novel Odium.
Scott J. Toney-Novafall:
The essence of dead planets once invited into the human body give the host great powers but using the powers drains their life away bit by bit. 1 star.
I found this story very confusing and not to my taste at all. It starts with a man called Ineal and we get a bit about his back story as he crashes down to a planet with the alien essence. Then we never hear of him again. A man appears later called Ivanus with no back story. I wondered if the author during a new draft had decided to change the name of the character and forgot to do a complete edit. Then there was the jumping back and forward between present and past which was not always clear. I didn't like the way it was written, described or structured and gave up halfway through it.
A man falls in love with a muse who is trapped in another dimension and goes on a quest to deem himself worthy to rescue her. 3 stars!
This was the surprise of the book for me. I'm not a romance type person and that is what the blurb sounded like but it was so much more than that. Our hero is obsessed with his muse who can only visit him for limited times before returning to where she is captive. Other men have tried and failed to complete a mythological quest to find and claim her. The quest was fascinating, testing him in different ways and I was caught up in the story. Beautifully written, well developed.
Cara Goldthorpe-Capturing Perfection:
A greedy man marries a talented artist and forces her to draw things for him to pass off as his own to make him rich. 2 stars.
I just never got into this story at all. There was nothing wrong with the way the story was written-it just wasn't my thing. I'm not interested in art or painting and I'm not interested in love stories so I didn't expect this to be a favourite!
C.M.T. Stibbe-Until the Ninth hour:
The reign of a serial child killer is brought to a halt by the police but there are a few more shocks in store. 3 stars!
I liked this story. The characters are well developed and the plot is excellent. We find out about the last moments of a serial killer's victim from the killer, which is chilling and we get a tension filled side story developing as we follow the victim's father going to confront the man who took his daughter. Chilling, sad, touching all the same time! Very well written and will look out for more work in this genre by the author.
Overall I enjoyed this anthology and will look at further releases from Breakwater Harbor books.
(review of free book)