What’s Zombie Joe Reading?

Of the pair of you reading this blog – maybe even three or four if I count friends and family – I’m sure at least one of you is interested in what I am reading these days. Not the least of which relating to new winnings of a Kindle Fire stocked with books (about 14 or 15 of them I believe) and a gift card for Amazon (fortuitously on the heels of winning the Kindle). So allow me to share what I am reading. I will additionally venture to update my 52 Weeks page with the books that I have completed over the year. If for no other reason to keep a count and see if I can hit 100 by the end.

KoKo-readingAlso this year I have taken on a role as a reader for Barbara Vey, which means many of my choices will be controlled by the books I am asked to blurb for her. Ironically that hasn’t really changed my reading list much, but has given me access to books similar to those I am already reading that I might not have considered before. For instance, the book I am on currently reading (after finishing Kim Harrison’s Ever After) is Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar by Lexi George. While not against reading paranormal romance, this is not an author I am familiar with. Barring my running into her at a panel or the like during a convention, I likely would have never picked up this book.

I have two more that I am finishing. One for a book club, and one because it is a zombie book from a local author. Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils is the book club read. Though, realistically it is a Wizards of the Coast book club that I don’t have much time to frequent on the forums. If you do have the time, it is a definite benefit as Erin Evans (the author) is involved in the discussion. My local zombie author read is Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon. I have had two friends tell me to read this book (more to do with their friendship to the authors than knowledge of my penchant for zombie media). So I had to pick it up. Plus it fits in nicely with my Local Author Rule.

Reviews of both the above mentioned books will follow once I am able to put my thoughts down.

As for what I’ve read in the last month (other than Tarnished which is the last review I’ve posted), you can find the running list under my 52 Weeks page. If you get there through the tab above you will need to scroll down to the month to month listings.

Audiobooks will be a challenge. I have a number that I purchased for my wife that I have yet to get to, but I also have more I need to blurb. Likely I will catch up on the blurb books before I dive into anything new. The drive to Kansas City for Romantic Times this year should help with that. At least 16 hours worth of it anyhow.The last audiobook I listened to before the year started was Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole. I had read the print book, but I picked up the audiobook for my son to take to work with him. An excellent military urban fantasy listen.

For what I have purchased this month, the last two I picked up (using the aforementioned gift card) were Gilded by Karina Cooper (since I won said card during a Tarnished blog event) and Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart.

What about you? What are you reading?

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Surviving NaNoWriMo – Reading

I have had some difficult years making it through November in tact. Especially due to reading. Like the year an ARC of My Life as a White Trash Zombie mysteriously showed up in my mailbox. During the first week of November. I hold this as proof that evil does truly exist in the world. Somewhere around Louisiana. But there is hope (at least for me) and it comes in two forms.

Time Management

If you plan for 1667 words every day and get up early to do it, you can skip watching television or whatever else you do at night to read a chapter or two. Depending on how wound up I am, this number may increase for the night.

Audiobooks

In his book On Writing, Stephen King makes the claim that audiobooks are reading. They are what allow him to hit 75 or so novels a year. He also sites the benefit of being able to “read” an audiobook while doing things that would be otherwise dangerous while reading. Like lion taming. NASCAR driving. Juggling knives and burning torches. You get the idea.

Additionally, with my wife having a long commute every day, one of our luxuries is an Audible account. Originally it was so that we could collect up the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Since we were up to date on them, it has lead to getting books I want my wife to read, or simply getting ones I want to read but don’t have time to read. Although the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne are practically on auto-purchase at this point.

The Audible Gambit

From this point on, it is me discussing why I love Audible and touting the deals they have this week. Partially it is due to my level of happiness over being able to “read” while doing daily activities, thus optimizing my time. But more so it has to do with some of the titles that are on sale. On sale, and I would suggest to any with similar interests in genre fiction.

Shocktober had four weeks, each week a different theme. You can get any of these for $6.95 through the month of October. I’ll hit them by week, but I don’t think anyone will be surprised by my favorites. 😉

Week 1 – Vampires

I think I might be a little burned out on vampires. Especially paranormal romance vamps. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll read a good one, and there are a couple of authors in this list of their that I would consider, but only a single title really made my trigger finger itch for this week.

Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore. Nothing more really needs to be said there, does it?

Week 2 – Zombies

Anyone shocked by the amount of titles drawing my notice here has not been paying attention in this blog. Seriously. It’s in the URL you hit to get here. I’ll get through these as quickly as possible, condensing ones in a series…

My Life as a White Trash Zombie and Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland. By far one of my favorite authors, this series is solid. Not your typical zombies, it makes for a fun look at the genre. Also one of the best lunch time conversations ever has a cameo in book 2. Seriously, the whole thing started with, “The funniest autopsy I ever saw was…”

Married with Zombies, Flip this Zombie and Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen. Though I’ve only listened to the first one, it was an excellent look at zombies as a form of marital counseling. I’m sure the others will be just as darkly humorous, and the narrator is easy to listen to. Not in my top picks, but definitely not in the bottom. (Yes, I’ve been watching too much Face Off on the SyFy Channel.)

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. I cannot stress enough how much I love this book. It is a bit A-Team meets the Unit meets X Files. With zombies. Further books in this series aren’t all zombies, but it is a strong series. Well worth it. Narration is strong in this series as well. For me that is nearly as important as the writing.

Greywalker series by Kat Richardson. Excellent series. Not sure on the narrator as I have the print copies so far. Definitely something I would purchase to check the narrator on it. Being on sale makes it even better.

Allison Hewitt is Trapped and Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux. The first book takes place in Madison. The familiarity of it made it easy for me to jump into it and immerse like Leo DiCaprio at the end of Titanic. It will be interesting to see how the narration is on this series. She also gets the “local author bump” from me, driving it to the top of my list.

Week 3 – Werewolves

Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring the feral side of man. There was a wolf-boy show that was one of my favorites as a kid. At the same time, shifters don’t make me howl like some. Even when authors I like are writing them.

I have heard good things about Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld series (I even listened to one from the library). Same goes for Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series (I’ve actually read one of these). But at the same time, there’s not enough of a siren song to them to draw me from my favorites. Not even Frostbite and Overwinter by David Wellington can make me pull the trigger. Although it is odd his werewolf books are represented but not his zombie series. I suppose that was a decision by the publisher not to make audio format copies of that series.

Week 4 – Ghosts

I haven’t discussed it much, but I am considering ghosts in this next book (thus in this next NaNo), so I’m keyed into the ghost stories right now. Less Ghost Hunters and more Paranormal Witness. I like the narrative more than the, “what was that over there” element of Ghost Hunters.

That said, What’s a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie looks like an interesting series. Though I have been looking at Ghoul by Brian Keene for a while now. Zombies brought me to him, but with a movie production in place for this book, I’m in. (Or was it a television series?) The Ghostfinders series by Simon R. Green looks interesting. I’ve heard good things about him, but the final call will be a question of how many are deal-breakers in this list. (Have you noticed how long it has gotten? I have.)

Speaking of deal-breakers, this series has to be on the list. It will be on my iPod. The Downside series by Stacia Kane. The narrator will really make or break this series in audio, but the books alone are worth the look. By far, another of my favorite series. Favorite authors too, for that matter.

Rounding out the list was one I was pleasantly surprised to find in their stacks for the sale. Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due. I haven’t heard much about this book, or the narrator, but after picking up a couple of her books this year, I am very interested in it. She was half of the husband and wife team that wrote Devil’s Wake, the YA zombie book I reviewed for Wicked Lil Pixie’s site.

The Summary

This sale will go a long ways towards not only keeping my wife in books for her drive, but also keeping me reading through November. At least reading during odd times and I can fit it in. I’ll still likely be reading my Nook or a print book a night before bed. Of course I’ll be doing that while my wife plays an audiobook from her alarm clock/iPod before bed, but that’s another story.

A Tale of Two Readings

This tale started with the author Amber Benson’s review challenge mentioned in my last post. The summary of which was to post a review of Serpent’s Storm using the word chicken in it to be entered into the drawing for a Skype lunch. Now I own and have read all three of the Calliope Reaper-Jones novels, but the last one was read almost a year ago. I knew to write a review I would need to reread the book.

That was only one of the variables involved, the other aspect of this tale takes us to YouTube. You heard me right, YouTube. Back around the time of release for Serpent’s Storm, Amber Benson did a joint reading/signing in California with Patrick Rothfuss. At this joint reading they decided they would both read the sex scenes from their books. Someone in the audience shot a video of Amber simply losing her shit (in the most awesome way possible) and Patrick reading the part of Frank in the book, complete with southern drawl. If you haven’t seen it, you really should click over and watch it. (I’ll edit this to add the link once I am home and not on my iPad in the middle of Starbucks.)

Cut to this month and I have an unused credit sitting in my Audible account and  all three of the Calliope Reaper-Jones books are sitting in there calling out to me. Sure I own them all in print, but getting the books in audio offers me an easy way to reread the one I have to for this challenge and also gives my wife the opportunity to listen to them on her long commmute every morning. Ironically she is completing the book that Patrick Rothfuss had read from minutes before the video mentioned above was shot.  Also, should I wind up winning the challenge you can be sure at some point during the Skype lunch I will likely ask how many takes that scene took to record for the audiobbook without her completely losing it.

Full disclosure: At the point of writing this blog I haven’t gotten up to that point in the audioobook.

Now let me put in a shameless loocal author plug. (Yes, Rothfuss is, in fact, from Wisconsin.) I have seen authors that aren’t very comfortable public speakers. At least once I have noted a rather eloquent published author stutter through a public speaking, only making it due to having the whole thing scripted out. I have even heard of authors that refuse to do readings and speeches of any kind due to discomfort at speaking in front of people. Patrick Rothfuss is the polar opposite of these types of authors.

Seriously if you find yourseelf with the oppoortunity, you really should go to see him speak in public. He is engaging and entertaining, at equal comfort discussing his books as he is discussing the craft or writing, business, living like a college student in Stevens Point Wisconsin or the article he wrote for a college paper about his pet guinea pig he had while living in the dorms.  Specifically I remember  going to the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of  Books to get my books signed by a Milwaukee author who was going to be there. I saw that Rothfuss was speaaking later that day so my wife and I stuck around. Not only were we able to pick up a copy of The Adventures of Princess and Mr. Wiffle before it was available in stores, but he had a slideshow of the book and read it to the room – twice. Shoud you pickk up the book, reading through it the second time makes it a very different story.

Had he not been there, I would have eventually seen the book. I may have even picked it up. Because of that reading I decided to spend my money to get the book from him directly that day (probably earning him more of a percentage of the sale) and had the book signed. Also stuck in my memory of the day was the bright look on his face when my wife asked him to make it out to Zombie Joe and his six grandchildren. Somehow I think the idea that I would read this twisted childrens book to my grandchildren made the geek in him giggle. Or maybe he was just being polite to the guy that just spent money on his book.

As for listening to the audiobook of Serpent’s Storm to prepare for the review of the book, there is one thing I noticed before we ever signed up for an Audible account  – the narrator for the novel makes the book in many cases. James Marsters ranks up as my favorite so far.  His readings of the Dresden Files  drove me to pick up the books in audio as well as in print. Lorelei King, who narrates the Stephanie Plum novels – is another. This means that the narration for an audiobook means a lot to me.

As an actor, Amber Benson is narrating her own books, which works for me. As it is when I read Cal’s story, I hear Amber’s voice in the dialoge portions. I did watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural (among other shows and movies she’s been in). But at the same time the reading so far has been engaging and there is a difference of voices to the characters that helps me to identify who is speaking if I am doing something (like baking) at the same time I’m listening to it.  Although I must say that when Frank was introduced, I was hearing Patrick Rothfuss doing a southern drawl over her voice.

To wrap this up, should you decide to take a run into the world of audiobooks (say if you have a long commute, a desk job that begs for some background noise, etc.) Audible is running a sale on first books in series through noon, February 14. Death’s Daughter (first in Amber Benson’s series) isn’t in the sale, but Name of the Wind is. $4.95 for an audiobook the size and quality of Name of the Wind is an insane deal. So, you could start your account, taking Death’s Daughter as your initial “free book” and then you can pick up a number of great books like Name of the Wind, Storm Front (Dresden Files), Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles) and more for $4.95 each. We’ve found new series that way more than once.