Day by Day Armageddon: A Review

31I6DaHu2aL__SL160_J.L. Bourne’s Day by Day Armageddon is a interesting book that tells the story of the zombie apocalypse from the point of view of a military officer who is struggling to survive it. The novel originally began as a series of blog entries by the author that gained quite an audience on the web.  The book was then self published and eventually picked up by Pocket Books.

The reactions to the book are certainly polarized; people either love it or hate it.   There are certain criticisms that seem to come up repeatedly regarding this book.  Among them are:

People compare it to World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: I can’t tell you how many times I have read, “I read World War Z and liked it, so I thought I’d read this one….”  In this case, this is a recipe for disappointment.  I think that Max Brooks’ book is absolutely brilliant, and it is certainly at the top of my zombie reading list, but the book is really atypical for the genre.  Just because a person likes one doesn’t mean that they will necessarily like the other. DBDA should not be criticized for NOT being like World War Z.

People say it lacks character development: The criticism that there is no character development is also somewhat unwarranted. Because the main character’s nature is not really effusive (he’s a military man, remember?), much of what is written in the book is about events, rather than feelings. Often, the feelings about the events are not stated directly and generally do need to be  inferred.  Other times, the feelings are very direct and evocative, such as when the main character wonders if his parents have survived or if he could manage to get to their home to check on them.  Throughout the book, the characters do act in ways that are consistent with their nature.

I think that part of the difficulty in perceiving the development stems from both the lack of a baseline and the limitations of the journal format.  In the book, the narrator starts keeping the journal right as the zombie outbreak begins.  We have very little material written before the outbreak which means we have little information with which to judge any level of character growth. 

People say it has an extremely boring plot: I personally find criticism that the plot of this book is boring to be somewhat amusing.  Rather than having a frantic paced activity level, the author (very effectively, in my opinion) uses inactivity to good effect to create tension. By using prolonged waiting to get the reader to almost a fever pitch, it heightens the suspense. Because of that, there are parts in this book that are so suspenseful, they are scary.

The journal format itself is, as others have noted, both problematic and limited and may help foster the idea of a slow moving plot.  Most zombie movies and books are usually told in the present tense.  A journal would of necessity be written after the events in question have already happened. A certain immediacy is lost because of this. And since DBDA is predominantly a survival story,  the author is more concerned with telling a story about survival than he is with telling a story about zombies.  Typically in a zombie book, there are lots of scenes of people getting eaten by zombies, and like the films, much of the emphasis is on blood and gore.  In this book, the author seems to pay more attention to describing the MREs, guns and ammo than he does the zombies.

People say it is too full of typos and grammar errors:  There are definitely two schools of thought on this one.  Some people think that the grammar errors are deliberate; others think that they are examples of extremely poor writing/proofing/editing.  I myself am torn on this one.  The author’s website and Twitter entries are generally grammatically correct.  However, the book contains numerous instances of poor punctuation and spelling (such as “putting on the breaks” instead of “putting on the brakes”).  I have never in my life been so tempted to take a red pen to a book and would have loved to introduce the author to the proper use of the comma and the semicolon. And I read the book on a Kindle!

If these errors are deliberate, it would be extremely helpful for the author to note that in a forward to a future edition.

People say the ending is horrible: I have to agree that I do not like the ending to the book at all. Without spoiling the ending, all I can say is that it ends too abruptly and that it could have been handled in a much better way.

Despite the some of the issues with the book, this is an interesting and compelling read that is enjoyable.  If you are a true fan of the zombie genre,  this book is too important to miss. A sequel, Day By Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile,  is currently in the works and is due to be released in July of 2010.

You can learn more about the series at the author’s website,  http://jlbourne.com/.  You can also follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jlbourne.

The Internet Cookbook: Black Bean, Chicken and Roasted Corn Stew

When I found this recipe, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. So, I was totally blown away when I tasted it and found out just how good this stew really is.  And so easy! There are a lot of “adaptations” of this recipe out there on the web, so a lot of evidently people like it enough to make it their own. 

I added a cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the recipe when I made it.  I also reduced the Cilantro to a small amount and just used it for garnish.  I served it with sour cream and tortillas  for a great meal.  My family went wild over the dish and it is one of my new staples!

To try later: I also thought that this might be tasty If I substituted the chicken with cooked pork or cooked shrimp for a change of pace.

The Demon Hunters: A Review

The Demon Hunters
The Demon Hunters

This is the second volume in Linda Welch’s Whisperings series. And, believe it or not, as good as Along Came a Demon was, this sequel is even better.

In The Demon Hunters, Tiff Banks has made some major changes in her life, including starting a new detective agency with her partner, Royal.  But as Tiff tries to move her life forward in a new direction, things don’t exactly go as planned. When money becomes an issue, she is reduced to rescuing a kidnapped kitty for the reward–with the help of her faithful Scottie, MacKlutzy, of course.  And she discovers that she may not have as much choice as she would like in choosing which jobs to take, or how to handle them once she’s gotten them. 

As the book unfolds, a lot more is revealed about Tiff’s past and how she uses her gift. The book also introduces the demons known as the “Dark Cousins,” an interesting group that I hope we learn a lot more about in future volumes in the series. And, of course, her roommates Jack and Mel are irrepressible.

Author Linda Welch is always a talented, thoughtful writer and does a great job with the writing of humor–the kidnapped kitty section is hilarious.  Most impressive is the skillful recreation of a period journal that provides a vital clue to solving the mystery.  It is so well written and feels totally authentic. Like the first book, this one is a suspenseful, fast paced, fun read that I highly recommend.

Like the first volume, the book is available for the Kindle at a very reasonable price.

At the end of the book is a preview of the first chapter of the next book in the series, Demon on a Distant Shore. That volume promises to give some insight into the background of at least one of Tiff’s ghostly roommates.

You can learn more about the author, Linda Welch, on her blog where she posts updates on the Whisperings series.  You can also follow her updates on Twitter.  There is also a fan page on Facebook for Whisperings here.

Zombieland

Zombieland
Zombieland

Okay, I’ll confess: I love zombie movies. Heck, I love zombies, period.  Wait until I get around to posting the reviews on the last few zombie books I read.  You’ll see.

So I was really excited this week when Zombieland finally came out on DVD because I had missed it when it was out in the theaters. Now, I know that it is supposed to be more comedy than horror,  but still.  We are talking zombies here (see above, paragraph one). My husband (who does not do horror films) was even willing to watch this one with me for movie night on Saturday.

Nearly twenty-four hours later, I am still trying to figure out how to describe this movie. It started out really funny – laugh out loud funny. The ending was so-so.  The middle was totally blah.  Even Shaun of the Dead was better than this. The character development and the acting were just about as uneven.

And the zombies? I don’t even know what to say about them.  Nowadays, you have to distinguish between traditional, slow-moving zombies (Romero), fast-moving zombies (28 Days Later ) and everything in between.  These zombies were incredibly inconsistent,  making it hard for the average zombie afficiando (moi) to figure out what’s going on. This one was so poorly explained, I am not sure these zombies were actually dead (or dead dead, if you know what I mean).

One of the special features said that this idea was originally conceived as a one hour pilot for a TV series. This definitely explains why the beginiing was the best part of the movie.  Ironic isn’t it –  if they’d left it as a TV series, it might have actually been a good one!

Update 2/10/2010: Just heard that there are plans for Zombieland 2…Why!?!?

The Internet Cookbook: Sweet English Breakfast Porridge

Probably more than any other food, hot breakfast favorites really seem  to trigger memories.  Whether it is simple childhood favorites or newer dishes that speak to a more “adult”  sophisticated palate, we tend to equate breakfast foods with comfort.  This oatmeal recipe from InnCuisine.com is so good, breakfast is definitely a memorable experience!

I prefer steel cut Irish oats to rolled oats and make this in my rice cooker. I use 2 cups water and 2 cups milk to one cup of McCANN’S Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Cook in the rice cooker on the porridge cycle, then follow the recipe as written. One taste and you will never want instant oatmeal again! I now make this once a week (and not always for breakfast!).