My Favorite Zombie Story of All Time

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5stars

This is my very favorite zombie series of all time. Okay, I’ll admit, it’s the only zombie series I’ve read. Truth be known, I’m not usually a zombie fan, but Elle Klass is one of my very favorite authors and thus I’ll give just about anything she writes a try. Her characters absolutely jump off the page,  plots complex and full of surprises, writing style saturated with luscious descriptions and subtle humor.

This is the final episode and completes the Zombie Girl trilogy. This exciting conclusion is loaded with suspense regarding the fate of the numerous characters after they leave the African continent bound for the USA through various means. Tidbits include fascinating explanations regarding what caused the lethal pandemic that resulted in some people turning into zombies while others recovered or were immune. If you liked the movie “World War Z” you’ll probably love this story.

The action never stops, the suspense sustained beautifully. It had been a while since I read the previous books, so it took me a while to remember who some of the characters were and where they joined the story. This is a series best read straight through, which can now be done with all three books now available.

Whether or not you’re a zombie story fan, I definitely recommend this series. I’m usually pretty bored by the usual zombie tale, but Elle’s characters are so real, the personalization of the plot so well done, that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The descriptions are gross enough to make a point, but not so disgusting as to be too much. Some are downright funny, actually, and make perfect sense with the primary character, Maddie, a teenager who would undoubtedly see the humor in it to maintain her sanity. She’s a great kick-ass heroine who refuses to cave into the worst of circumstances and definitely runs the show.

Now that this entire series is available, grab the three of them and get ready to enjoy a great tale that keeps you turning the pages from start to finish.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

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Conclusion to Elle Klass’ “Zombie Girl” Series coming soon!

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I’m excited the final book in this series will be out soon so I can read it. When you read the following guest post, particularly the excerpt, from fellow author, Elle Klass, you’ll probably be able to figure out why. I’m really not a big vampire or zombie fan, but Elle creates vivid and endearing characters along with clever plots with new twists on what are often worn-out themes. This one has a fair share of humor, which will draw me in every time since I can use all the laughs I can get. Check it out! –MF



Maddie is my kinda girl. She’s tough, feminine and even when afraid does what needs to be done. It’s always tough saying goodbye to characters, probably why I have such difficulty in ending a series.

If you’ve been reading you know she started out as a 14 year old girl who hated science and everything related to it until one day when the unthinkable happened.

With the whole apocalypse thing and zombies trying to eat her and the group she’s with they’ve traveled over seas and lived through some extremely treacherous times.

No matter what, the humor was always there and it gives the entire series a light heartedness that makes it memorable. It’s more like Zombieland than The Walking Dead.

zombiegirlbooksI had a ton of laughs writing the story and learned a lot developing a story in a genre I wasn’t real familiar with. Writing horror for kids is different than for adults. I had to watch my words and their words. That’s where the humor comes in. I’d also never dabbled in sci-fi or post apocalyptic fiction. It was a first and I’m proud with how it turned out.

No spoilers here! Read the series. Try the game and see which character you are, share your results on social media and feel free to comment below. Click here to play.

Book 1 Premonition is now free!  (Read my review)

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Book 2 Infection is at .99 through August 1st. (Read my review)

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Book 3 Retribution is on pre-order for .99! That will only last through release day August 1st!

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Excerpt: (one of my favorite parts. Hehe!)

Two dead zombie eyes stared at me. I knew that was more a reflex. It couldn’t see me. Its long gray hair hung limp on its shoulders as it clicked its tongue, blood dribbling from its mouth on its way towards me. Its drip drag stagger-walk was impressively quick. A flowered sundress covered in sprays of blood, chunks of human skin clung to the fabric.

On the floor behind her was a man in a black robe. His mouth was in an O as he screamed, “No!”

I swung the blade of the katana towards her dirty, slimy neck when she came within a few feet of me. It nearly connected then something I’d never seen, nor imagined, happened. The zombie blew apart from the inside out. I was glad my teeth were gritted as I’d have had a mouth full of deader if I hadn’t. Chunks and blood sprayed the walls. It was a definite ten on my disgusting scale.

Chunks of her blew into the man’s mouth. He gagged and spat to rid his body of the nasty zombie meal. His face met mine and he scooted backwards on the floor. His eyes barely visible through the zombie mess covering it. I moved closer to him. He was living. “Are you hurt?”

“You killed her!” he growled. “You are a murderer!”

What? I hadn’t expected that one and I hadn’t killed her; she blew up like one of Deavers’ grenades. “I didn’t kill her. She was infected and there’s no cure. Did she bite you?”

“You killed my wife.” He continued sliding backwards.

That’s when I noticed it. The beam from my flashlight caught the silver barrel of a gun, only a couple feet from him. I moved towards him. “Don’t think about or you’ll be dead like your wife.”

He scooted again and I moved quicker now and jabbed the end of the katana’s blade into his chest. Keeping it centered on him, I side-stepped and kicked the gun. It flew across the floor.

“Get up!” I ordered with a sneer.

He pushed his back against the wall and slid up it. His short, dark hair was coated in zombie film. I jabbed the blade lightly into his chest so he knew I meant business. When I did, it slid through a hole in the dark robe hanging around his shoulders. “Did she bite you, Professor?” I didn’t know what else to call him and it looked similar to a graduate’s robe.

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “That makes no difference. Go. Go now!”

Well, this wasn’t going well. The patter of rain stopped, meaning the worst of the storm was over. I glanced over the hallway. A collar of sorts clung to the wall in the muck. I grabbed it. “You’ve been keeping her alive, treating her like a pet?” That was sick. Really sick and morbid.

He narrowed his eyes into tiny slits. A chunk of deader flesh dropped from his forehead. “She was my wife.”

The memory of my father turning seemed like a million years ago but it was still fresh in my head. I knew he was turning and that I should kill him, but I didn’t. Instead we tied him up. This guy did the same thing. He put a collar around her neck. I brought the katana to my side. “I don’t want to kill you and I didn’t kill her. She exploded. I’ve never seen that before. When did she turn?”

“In the beginning. The very beginning.”

That begged a lot of questions like how did you get her past the military? What has she been eating? Was that why her drip-drag was so quick?

The rain stopped and I was on a mission. “We have to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I rolled my eyes. I needed some answers and he would provide them. “Yes, you are. Remember I have the weapon and you don’t. I also have your wife’s collar and I bet it’s a shock collar. The kind used for training dogs.” I smirked.

“Fine,” he seethed.

I lifted the katana towards his chest again and spread the cloth of his robe. What I saw didn’t surprise me. A set of round, fresh, human-deader teeth marks. I lifted the collar towards him with my free hand. “Put this on just in case.”

Reluctantly he grabbed the collar and wrapped it around his neck. The motion caused a chunk of flesh to fall from his robe, revealing a name tag.

“You first, Mitchem.” I read the tag.

For the next hour we steadily walked towards the marina and I pried all sorts of information from him. He was a Duval County judge. That explained the black robe. He and his wife were visiting family in Gainesville when the end of the world went down. She was exposed immediately but didn’t turn until a couple days later. Dumb luck saved them from the military. They’d spent the night in their RV deep in the woods. When he woke up the next morning his wife, Gloria, was eating their Pomeranian. I imagined large puffs of fur stuck between her teeth and chuckled.

“It’s not funny!” he growled.

He was wrong. It was funny. In this new world I had to find humor where I could and that was hilarious. However, I stopped laughing out of respect and let him continue his story.

“I tied her up with bungee cords and glanced a peek out of the window. I would have waved my hands and let them take me, but they’d have killed Gloria. I couldn’t have that. A soldier approached the RV, I stood inside with my gun loaded and waited. A radio voice came through, “Need help now! Surrounded by them.” That was it. They never returned and I got us out of there.”

Copyright Elle Klass 2018 Retribution

I don’t enjoy giving poor reviews, but…

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I’m not sure where to even start reviewing this book, because I’m having a very difficult time deciding how to rate it using the conventional 5-star system. I hate to leave a poor review, because I know they can be painful. They can be useful for new writers, however, when they are thus motivated to find ways to improve. It was a 3-star review that really got my attention and drove me to re-edit one of my books with regard to comma usage. Writers tend to be blind to their own work, making it difficult to improve unless specifics are pointed out for them to work on.

I do try to find the positive elements in a story and recognize the thought and effort that went into it. However, when I don’t particularly enjoy a book, even find it a chore to finish, I tend to break it down into what I expect from a 5-star story to see how it measured up and thus give it what will hopefully be a fair and somewhat objective rating.

I realize (and so should you) that all reviews are subjective. What one person loves, another abhors. I admit I’m not a big fan of vampires and zombies. I’m also a grammar Nazi and a long way from being a young adult, this story’s target audience. (Nonetheless, I’ve read some YA vampire and zombie stories that I’ve enjoyed and awarded 5 stars, largely because they were well-written, original, kept moving, and drew me into the characters. Therefore, my age and interests don’t mean I’ll automatically give a book a poor rating, but will compare it to others in that genre that I’ve read.)  To its credit, this one was clean as far as language and sex are concerned. It’s definitely in the PG range, maybe even G.

Thus, in this case, I’m reverting to my scientific training and breaking it down to the many things I consider important when rating a book. That will help me understand my own reaction and its rationale as well.

So let’s see what the numbers say.

Plot: This story had a new twist on the somewhat worn-out vampire/paranormal themes as Casey, a young woman in her late teens, begins the physical transformation process into something that isn’t at first clear, to either the protagonist or the reader, since the story point of view is first person narrative. This was fairly well done. You could understand her concern and relate to her confusion and worry about what was happening to her. The sense of mystery and suspense started out well. Information about who the strange people surrounding her really were evolved naturally, as the novel progressed. The structure of the vampire culture was well-developed and it was interesting how certain individuals were linked in different ways. These were supposedly decided in previous lifetimes. So far, so good.

However, as the story progressed and by the time it ended, these original parameters were not always the case. I don’t feel as if there was adequate explanation for some of these diversions. There was also at least one major, unanswered question, that I won’t specify, because it would constitute a spoiler. Maybe it will be answered in the next book, but it seemed like a question that the main character should have been asking, too, since it related to her parents.

How the ending fit into the established cultural order was also vague. If there was as much predestination as implied early on, it seems the other characters would have been aware, even if the protagonist wasn’t.

Rating: 3.0

Character Development: Most of the characters had discernible personalities, though I never really connected emotionally with the protagonist, even with the book written in first person. I could sympathize with her, but only in a general way. Some of the others were annoying, the way they got so spun-up, specifically Takota, but given they were teenagers, this was in-character. Just because I didn’t particularly like all the characters is no fault of the author’s. We don’t like everyone we meet, and they are real enough.

The adults were pretty flat, which is forgivable in a young adult novel, but Dr. Avens was a major character and not fleshed out much better. However, through the eyes of a teenage girl, I suppose discerning where an adult may be coming from may be expecting too much.  In that case, I would expect the main character to have more concerns that he was such an enigma. Getting back into Casey’s deepest feelings is the issue again, and the lack of rendering the depth of her emotions about what was happening to her.

Rating: 2.5

Cover, formatting and interior design: The cover is intriguing and well-designed, the interior nicely done with glyphs before each chapter. The appearance over all was pleasing and looked professional.

Rating: 5.0

Quality of Writing, i.e. editing, grammar, spelling, style, and word use: I was nearly overwhelmed with typos, grammar, missing words, and wrong words. With regard to the writing style in general, the story could have been told in a lot less pages. There was too much irrelevant detail, economy of words was lacking, and it needed some serious line and content editing. There were so many mistakes I was continually jolted out of the story, especially when the wrong word was used, such as canape (an appetizer) instead of canopy (such as over a bed) and shutter (window protection) used instead of shudder (shake with fear or emotion).  The usage of adverbs and adjectives was overdone as well. This undoubtedly affected my entire reaction to the story because it was distracting and downright annoying. A simple spell-checker or grammar checker would have picked up the majority of these, which tells me such details were entirely off the author’s radar. As a reader, they are not off mine.

Rating: 1.5

To determine if a story is well-rounded, I look at five elements I remember by the acronym IDEAS, i.e. imagery, dialog, emotion, action, and suspense.

Imagery: Clearly the author has a very vivid imagination, such that she can describe scenes in vivid detail. However, in many cases it was too much physical detail which slowed down the story. I could have used a few reminders about what some of the characters looked like; some may have never been described. It was okay to describe a place or room in laborious detail once and then drop in a few reminders later, but in some cases it was reiterated too many times and slowed down the story.

Rating: 3.0

Dialog: For the most part, this was well-done and convincing. Conversations were authentic, though sometimes there was confusion with regard to which character was speaking. This can be done without constantly saying “he said” or “she said”, such as by using action such as pacing, or describing their expression or reaction. Including the other person’s name in the dialog itself, is another technique.

Rating: 3.5

Emotion: My ultimate judge of a book, which will earn a story a high ranking, is whether it makes me laugh, cry, or seriously worry about a character. I never became emotionally connected with any of the characters. While they displayed emotions, they were not rendered in an effective enough manner to draw me in. Feelings weren’t ignored completely, just described with a modifier as opposed to rendering what the character was really going through, which is what generates empathy or at least sympathy. There was a lot of anger, but no heart-wrenching emotion, which would have been appropriate in various situations.

Rating: 1.5

Action: There were some scenes that dragged on and on, such that I got so tired of them that I would actually put the book down until the following day, right in the middle of something that should have had me tearing my hair out with regard to what was going to happen. Instead, many times I found myself tearing my hair out with frustration, thinking, “Get on with it, for heaven sake!” It was actually painful to finish this book, between the typos and slow-motion action.

Rating: 2.0

Suspense: The suspense, as defined as wondering with some level of concern what was going to happen next, was moderate, but as noted under “Action”, not developed or sustained enough to drive me to read into the wee hours of the night. There were plenty of questions to be answered, some of which were, others that weren’t. The fact I even finished the book is testimony that there was enough suspense for me to wonder how it would end, so I’ll give it credit for that. The ending was moderately unexpected, but also lacked a certain level of credibility. However, since this is a series, I assume such things will be explained in subsequent volumes.

Rating: 3.0

SUMMARY

So, by rating the various story elements on a 1 to 5 scale as noted above, including plot (3.0); character development (2.5); packaging (5.0); quality of writing (1.5); imagery (3.0); dialog (3.5); emotional impact (1.5); action (2.0); and suspense (3.0), the average came out 2.78. or a weak 3.

This book has potential, but desperately needs copy, line, and content editing to pass muster and even possibly be viewed as a professional work. This is one instance where judging a book by its great cover is very misleading to what lies within.

Review of Elle Klass’ “The Vampires Next Door”

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This fast-moving tale is populated with engaging characters whom you feel you know personally as this intriguing story unfolds. Freshly transplanted to St. Augustine, Florida, Alison is a shy teenager with the usual insecurities inherent to her age who lives with her recently divorced mother. The two of them reside in an apartment where Alison engages in some people-watching, particularly Rodham, whom she has the hots for, as well as a bunch of young women who occupy the apartment next door. These particular neighbors are given to loud, boisterous partying into the wee hours of the night while her mother, a shift nurse at a local hospital, is typically gone. Of course the title of this story serves as a spoiler as to who and what those nuisance neighbors actually are.

Much to Alison’s horrified delight, Rodham introduces himself and the pair begin a warm friendship moving toward a cozy romance as they investigate exactly what’s going on with these weird neighbors. A variety of surprises and plot twists quickly ensue, presented in Elle Klass’ outstanding, character-driven style with which she’s developed a unique vampire culture known as Bloodseekers with whom an eternal war wages with their mortal enemy, the Slayers. Skillfully woven into the history of the USA’s oldest European-established, continuously occupied settlement, you’ll find a liberal dose of paranormal phenomena intermingled with magic that will satisfy Harry Potter as well as other fantasy fans. You’ll have to read this exciting tale to find out where the young hero and heroine fit into this fascinating tale, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed.

Even better, since you’re bound to fall in love with Alison and Rodham, this is the first volume of a trilogy which promises further exciting adventures. While this story contains plenty of action and intrigue, it’s well within the PG range and thus suitable for adolescents and teenagers. It gets creepy and a little scary, but not terrifying, just exciting. The author’s former life as a junior high school teacher comes through beautifully in her understanding of teen motivation, behavior and emotions. Nonetheless, the book contains enough substance, character development and plot twists to satisfy readers of all ages. I’m not a big vampire fan myself, yet thoroughly enjoyed this suspense-laden tale by this up and coming multi-genre author.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.