Audiobook Review: Zombie: A Love Story by Patricia Lee Macomber

30 05 2013

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

Zombie: A Love Story by Patricia Lee Macomber

Read by Chet Williamson

Crossroad Press

Length: 3 Hrs 54 Min

Genre: Zombie Romantic Comedy

Quick Thoughts: Zombie: a Love Story gives new meaning to the term Zombie Road Trip. It is what a good romantic comedy should be, a tale of epic love with a few surprises and plenty of laughs.

Grade: B

The great urban poet, Meatloaf once declared, "I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that." Now, I am not exactly sure what THAT is or why a man would willingly choose to be called Meatloaf, but this concept always leads to an interesting moment of self evaluation…. What exactly would I do for love, and what is MY that. Honest answer, I have no friggin’ clue. Despite the fact that I am quite clever, write excellent Facebook statuses, and am slightly lumpy and awkward looking but not a total train wreck, I am still single. In fact, I scoff at romance novels and movies mostly due to a total inability to buy into them due to an egregious lack of similar life experiences. Sure, I have people who I love, and women who I thought maybe someday I could quite possibly feel an increased level of affection for, but shockingly, I am not much of a romantic.  Now, I am willing to do many things for people I care about. I put up with family members eccentricities and neurosis and act supportive. I spend my weekends when I could be out boozing and whoring with people who I feel deserves my time. I slip my dog an extra meat stick when he looks cute and scratches my leg as I am attempting to write reviews. Yet, a love that defies death, I am not so sure about that. In all likelihood, if I become a Zombie, no matter how much I believe I care about you, I will probably care more about sampling your tasty innards, than professing my undying love in a final grand gesture. Maybe I’m a pragmatist, or maybe I have just yet to meet the right undead girl.

After an accidental exposure to a toxic substance at his job in the New York City subway, Paul Trembley died, only to wake up hours later in the morgue. Now, with his flesh rotting, and unable to properly communicate, Paul must attempt a cross country drive as his mental faculties begin to deteriorate, in order to express his love for his girlfriend and women of his dreams, Linda. This is if he can avoid car jackers, cops and his desire for raw meat. Zombie: a Love Story gives new meaning to the term Zombie Road Trip. It’s a funny undead trip across the country, all in the name of love. Patricia Lee Macomber has created an epic love story that may border on the edge of saccharin sweet, yet the aftertaste is more than covered up by the human flesh. Paul and Linda are the kind of couple that you groan to be around, full of inside jokes, special songs and shared memories, yet, on some level, deep in that secret spot in your soul where you admit to maybe tearing up a bit during the Forrest and Jenny scenes during Forrest Gump, you envy. While the story pushed the edges of slapstick, the humor comes in retrained waves instead of flung into you face. I think my favorite moments came with the outsider perspectives, with Paul’s best friend Matt attempting to explain to the cops about his dead best friend, or the police attempting to justify the image of good guy Paul with that of a cannibalistic killer. It all should be over the top, but it’s not. it’s just a good dose of fun, with some lovey dovey moments. I especially like that Macomber didn’t go for the straight out of Hollywood, romcom ending, but had some moments of emotionally brutality that you just didn’t expect. While everything is wrapped up in a cutesy manner, it still worked, and matched the tone of the book. Zombie: A Love Story is what a good romantic comedy should be, a tale of epic love with a few surprises and plenty of laughs.

Chet Williamson handles the narration for Zombie: A Love Story and gives it just the right feel. His deep voice takes on a whimsical feel that managed to make Paul’s earnestness and Linda’s positivity shine through. He does a good job showing Paul’s mental decline, allowing us to follow his increasingly scattershot thought process. Williamson allows the humor to shine through without trying to sell it, but just letting it come naturally. Matt’s slow surfer dude draw at times seemed a bit like a stereotypical Cali dimwit, but, being that Matt was a bit of a stoner, it fit well enough. There was one moment, where a character was referred to by the wrong name, yet, it’s hard to say whether this was a narrator mistake, or an editing slip in the script. Outside of that, the production was excellent, and made for an enjoyable listening experience.  

Note: This title was provided for me for review by Audiobook Jukebox’s Sold Gold Reviewers Program.





Audiobook Review: This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

9 10 2012

This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

Read by Nick Podehl

Brilliance Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 54 Min

Genre: Comedic Horror

Quick Thoughts: This Book is Full of Spiders is just pure fun for any fan of horror fiction, full of adventure, plenty of creepy scares, monsters, shadowy government types, weird otherworldly weapons, slapstick irreverent humor and of course, a good dog and an even better woman. Fans of John Dies at the End will love this latest adventure with their buddies David and John, and if you have yet to spend time with this duo, go do it now. You’ll thank me.

Grade: A

So, before you start reading this audiobook review, I want to assure you that This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong is not a zombie book. I promise you. Now, you may hear things, people alluding to a zombiesque nature to this book. Don’t worry about these rumors, they are wrong. This is not a zombie book. Sure, I know many of you come here looking for exactly that, audiobook reviews about Zombie novels. I know I have provided the zombie loving public with plenty of reviews of zombies in their literary and audible form over the two year existence of this blog, but this isn’t one. I love zombie novels, but let’s be frank, they are a made up ridiculous creature. A lot of authors have done a wonderful job creating realistic almost scientific reasons for their zombies, but let’s face it, they are monsters of myth, nothing more. Any scientific explanation just pushes credibility. Now, it’s possible that you could pitch me a story about some virus that reanimates dead humans. or some disease that causes humans to become ultra violent and unstable in a realistic way, but I have trouble believing anything could reanimate the dead, turning them into violent eaters of human flesh who can only be stopped by causing major damage to their brains. It’s ridiculous, and This Book is Full of Spiders is terrifying, full of adventure, and even a bit romantic, but it is not ridiculous. This Book is Full of Spiders is a tale of two friends who find themselves pulled into strange situations. This book is about how far people who love each other will go to keep each other safe. This book is about deep conspiracies, government corruption, and what happens when the public gives into mass fear. Yet, most importantly, this book is about spider like parasites that get into humans and change them into something different, including hyper violent creatures that eat other humans. This book is not about zombies. That would be ridiculous.

If you have yet to experience the cultural phenomenon that is John Dies at the End, go do it now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I was actually pretty late to that party myself, but eventually got my hands on the AudioGo audiobook production, and loved every minute of it. I encourage people to experience this book, before the movie version gets its wider release. My prediction on the movie is that it will be one of the cult hits that all the cool kids will be talking about for years, just like the book. Now that that is taken care of, let’s move onto David Wong’s follow up to John Dies at the End, called This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Pick it Up.  I have to say, I was a bit skeptical of This Book is Full of Spiders. John Dies at the End was such a unique, madcap novel told in this sort of avant garde, unreliable narrative style that I wondered if Wong could pull it off in the sequel, without it feeling like a bad retread. Well, let me assure you, from the first moments of This Book is Full of Spiders, I was sold. The novel itself isn’t a retread of John Dies at the End, yet, more of an expansion of the style. The way Wong set the story up, and how each little quirk of the book comes with a big payoff, made me want to go and listen to it again after I was completed. For a book that is full of all sorts of craziness, uproarious comedy, over the top characters, and a scenario that just pushed every boundary of the modern horror outbreak trope, the meticulousness of the plot is simply amazing. Wong does things throughout the book that you see as the author just trying to infuse the story with even more craziness and color, yet, by the end of the novel it all comes together. The main thing you must take away from this review is that This Book is Full of Spiders is just pure fun for any fan of horror fiction. I don’t even know how to describe it beyond that. It is what the sequel to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure should have been, pure fun adventure, plenty of creepy scares, monsters, shadowy government types, weird otherworldly weapons, slapstick irreverent humor and of course, a good dog and an even better woman. Fans of John Dies at the End will love this latest adventure with their buddies David and John, and if you have yet to spend time with this duo, go do it now. You’ll thank me.

It’s always sad when they change narrators in books, especially with Stephen R. Thorne’s wonderful performance in John Dies at the End, but, if you’re going to switch, you can’t do much better than Nick Podehl. Podehl easily accomplishes the most important task of this audiobook, capturing the narrative voice of David Wong. It’s very important for the style of this novel for it to come off as if David Wong is himself telling you the story. Without that, the jokes would fall flat, and the effectiveness of the twists would be blunted. Podehl captures Wong’s voice wonderfully, and combined that with a keen sense of comic timing, really enhanced the experience of this book with his reading. This is one of the novels that really translates to audio seamlessly, and I could even argue that due to the style of the book, audio may actually be the better format for this novel. Brilliance does a wonderful job with this production. Podehl read the novel with just the right amount of restraint. This was key, because I believe that with such an over the top book, the payoff is stronger with a restrained reading. Podehl captures each characters essence, and it all comes together in a way that seems believable. This Book is Full of Spiders is definitely destined to grace a high spot on my end of the year audiobook favorites list.





Audiobook Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

28 05 2012

Dreadfully Ever After (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Bk. 3) by Steve Hockensmith

Read by Katherine Kellgren

Audible, Inc.

Length: 9 Hrs 9 Min

Genre: Romantic Zombie Parody

Quick Thoughts: If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I am sure Dreadfully Ever After will be a hit. For others, it is a decent adventure comedy that suffers only a bit from being the extrapolation of one long running joke. I actually had some fun with it, although I have no plans to run back and consume the novels prequels.

Grade: B-

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After is nominated for a 2012 Audie Award in the Fantasy Category.

My first experience with Jane Austen was all the way back in 8th grade English class. To be perfectly honest, I remember almost nothing of the experience. In fact, until recently, I couldn’t remember if it was Pride and Prejudice I read, or Sense and Sensibility. I was a 15 year old boy, just busting through puberty who had just discovered Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I wanted to read about genetically engineered dogs, and insane supernatural clowns, not manners and marriage among the landed gentry of 1800’s England. Of course, that was over 20 years ago. I am older and more mature. I have experienced the stumbles and pitfalls of romance. My reading materials are much more diverse. This more mature, more open-minded version of myself still has no desire to read about the manners and marriage of the landed gentry of 1800’s England. Perhaps id Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out back when the fifteen year old version of me was still developing his tastes as a reading I wound now be an Austen enthusiast, and married to a landed English noblewoman with a predilection for violence and mayhem in the face of an undead swarm.

I listened to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After as part of the 2012 Armchair Audies. Dreadfully Ever After was nominated for an Audie Award in the Fantasy Category. Now, being a huge fan of Zombie fiction, I was a bit surprised that the one title I dreaded most out of the 16 titles in the categories I was covering was a Zombie novel. Yet, being simply being based on Jane Austen, of whom I have established I’m not a fan of, it was also the third in a series. So, I had to decide, should I listen to the first two in a series I’m not interested in or just jump right into the book. I jumped… or perhaps leaped into it. Dreadfully Ever After takes place after the events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, Elizabeth has retired from her Zombie killing days and settled down as wife to Mr. Darcy. Returning home from a visit, they are attacked by a zombie, leading Mr. Darcy to be bitten, and perhaps doomed. Calling on the manipulative Aunt Catherine, and unbeknownst to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and her family take on a mission to procure a possible cure to the deadly virus. Dreadfully Ever After is an often amusing adventure tale with parodic hints to mission impossible. It is more an absurdist caper that a comedic comedy of manners. While it took me a while to get a good grasp on the characters, I found the absurdist stretches to the source material to be quite well executed. In particular, Kitty Bennett, Elizabeth Darcy’s young sister, often viewed as silly, was the perfect honey trap for a vapid English Dandy, and provided the best moments of the book. Of course, being based on Pride and Prejudice there were romantic elements, yet they were offbeat, funny and in some ways quite touching. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I am sure Dreadfully Ever After will be a hit. For others, it is a decent adventure comedy that suffers only a bit from being the extrapolation of one long running joke. I actually had some fun with it, although I have no plans to run back and consume the novels prequels.

Katherine Kellgren once again proves her masters grasp on accents and diverse characterizations in her performance in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. During the moments where I was not connecting totally with the text, especially in the beginning of the book, Kellgren’s command of the narrative kept my ears glued to the auditory page. With such an over the top comedic novel, I’m glad that Kellgren’s narration, for the most part, stayed clear of over the top characterization. There were moments, particularly when voicing Sir Agnus MacFarquhar that she pushed up against that line but she never breaks it. What truly impressed me, and was a side of Kellgren I haven’t seen before was her sense of comic timing. She displayed the absurdity of the situation wonderfully, capturing just the right wry tone and easily eliciting laughs at the proper moments. This is clearly an instance where the narration of an audiobook enhances the experience of the novel.





Audiobook Review: A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells

5 04 2012

A Night of Blacker Darkness: Being the Memoir of Frederick Whithers As Edited by Cecil G. Bagsworth III by Dan Wells

Read by Sean Barrett

Audible, Ltd.

Length: 6 Hrs 21 Min

Genre: Comedic Horror

Quick Thoughts: A Night of Blacker Darkness is the perfect audiobook for when you need to infuse a little levity in your life. It’s a quick listen and will provide you plenty of laughs and cause you to look at some literary dignitaries in a new light.

Grade: B+

I really feel there is a lack or well written comedy in literature today. Now, I’m sure upon writing this someone will school me with a plethora of top notch comedic talents writing today, but on my own I have found quite few. In fact, the only author who consistently gets a laugh out of me is Tim Dorsey with his Serge A. Storm novels. There are plenty of authors who write within other genres that have genuinely funny moments, yet rarely do I find novels that are straight comedies that actually make me laugh.  The few that have over the past year or so have been absurdist comedies without much need for plot or character development. Yet, sometimes you just need something that is both a cleverly written comedy as well as a good story.  For this reason, I had been looking forward for quite a while to take a listen to Dan Well’s vampire farce A Night of Blacker Darkness: Being the Memoir of Frederick Whithers As Edited by Cecil G. Bagsworth III. I had first heard about it on Well’s Blog and during one of Larry Correia’s Book Bombs. The Night of Blacker Darkness is a bit of an oddity for Wells, heck it’s an oddity for the publishing industry, so Well’s ended up releasing it as an independent eBook, and eventually an audiobook on Audible. So, I decided I just had to check out something written by Well’s that was a little too strange for traditional publishing, and just might give me a few laughs at a time I needed them.

A Night of Blacker Darkness is a comedy of errors that actually gets both aspects right. The plot is a mishmash of misunderstandings, betrayals, bad assumptions, strange obsessions and delightfully demented characters that comes together in a hilarious way. Fredrick Whithers is planning the crime, and the only thing that is keeping him from pulling it off is the fact that he has already been arrested for it. When Withers pulls off a prison escape in a coffin meant for another, he is greeted by a group of vampires who mistakes him for The Great One of Legend. Now, tailed by his vampiric groupies and hunted by a Vampire Hunter, Fredrick must find a way to pull off his caper while preventing a stake being driven into his heart. Dan Well’s Vampire farce is the perfect antidote to the emo vampire trends that are plaguing the undead. It reads like a classic Laurel and Hardy episode, with quick witted humor, over the top plotting and some delightfully kooky characters both historic and fictional. The story is set in the Victorian England, allowing Fredrick to interact with some classic literary figures before they became the legends they are today. From one poet’s annoying habit of turning every conversation into a rhyming poem to the morbid late night activities of a budding horror novelist, Wells cleverly sets up each appearance so that it will give the reader moments of dawning realizations. A Night of Blacker Darkness reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies/plays "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." It’s the type of novel I know I could read multiple times and find jokes I missed with each reading.  A Night of Blacker Darkness is the perfect audiobook for when you need to infuse a little levity in your life. It’s a quick listen and will provide you plenty of laughs and cause you to look at some literary dignitaries in a new light.

I really enjoyed Sean Barrett’s reading of A Night of Blacker Darkness. Barrett is the straight man in this audiobook comedy duo. He delivers his reading with the audio equivalent of a straight face, giving the dark humors and goofiness its proper place. His reading reminds me of the Victorian characters of old time radio shows, delivered with a bit more polish and some sardonic wit. I love his voice for John, Fredrick’s seemingly dimwitted companion and struggling poet. He handles all the voices well, including the female characters. Barrett also delivers the witty back and forth dialogue breathlessly, transitioning from one character to the next, never breaking stride. He never overdoes any of the characters, allowing the goofiness to bubble to the surface through the language and situations. A Night of Blacker Darkness is a hidden gem of an audiobook that listeners should consider if looking for something fun and funny.