Interview with Ruth Browne, Author of One Thousand and One Nights

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Ruth, and welcome to Manga Maniac Cafe!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Ruth Browne] I’m a writer with escapist fantasies about lawyering.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about One Thousand and One Nights?

[Ruth Browne] It’s the story of a busty biker redhead blasting zombies with a shotgun. It’s also the story of a sharp-witted young woman looking out for her little sister in a hostile universe, spinning stories to keep hope alive. It’s a romance, in more ways than one (but also in the most important, pleasantly erotic way). It’s a retelling of the Persian legend of Scheherazade during a zombie apocalypse. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Ruth Browne] I saw the Entangled ad for a zombified retelling of a fairytale, and took a few weeks to think about it. The mostly European Disney fairytales seemed pretty hackneyed, so I dismissed them. The 1001 Nights idea probably arrived via Aladdin, which is one of my favourite Disney movies. When it appeared in my head I pretended to ignore it so it would hang around. Pretty soon I was fleshing it out in my head, starting from the premise of being chained to the wall by an attractive man. The characters began as generic badasses of urban fantasy and developed from there. So, a combination of erotic daydreaming and Disney musicals. Forgive me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sheri?

[Ruth Browne] Brave, uninhibited, lonely.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Aleksy had a theme song, what would it be?

[Ruth Browne] Iron Maiden – The Trooper. I stole it from Max Brooks, sorry Max.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sheri is never without.

[Ruth Browne] Her sense of humour.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Aleksy’s bedroom?

[Ruth Browne] Pretty pictures. Crime fiction. Boredom.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sheri’s greatest regret?

[Ruth Browne] Sheri tries to live without regret, but leaving Lebanon and her parents for the States as a child is a decision she really regrets, even though she had no control over it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Ruth Browne] Music, like the Beck track that plays in the van. Brilliant writers, like Gaiman and Miéville. And my own long-standing desire to write something I personally would want to read, especially in the genre of apocalyptic fiction. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Ruth Browne] Time, inspiration and Ceylon tea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on One Thousand and One Nights?

[Ruth Browne] I was recovering from a death in the family. 1001 Nights was my distraction.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Ruth Browne] Max Brooks’ World War Z. Detailed, fascinating, epic beyond belief. It froze my blood with horror. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Ruth Browne] Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I wrote an enthusiastic book review on it when I was six.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Ruth Browne] Friendship and good times above all things, except food and sex.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Ruth Browne] I’m on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook so any contact is welcome.

https://twitter.com/browne_rh

https://www.facebook.com/onethousandandonecorpses?skip_nax_wizard=true

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7258617.Ruth_Browne

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?      In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?


Review:

Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out.  It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs.  I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off.  The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters.  Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community.  They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step.  Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family.  Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.

While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book,  I still had a hard time putting it down.  This outing is all about the running.  Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters.  Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness.  Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do.  She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left.  I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way. 

What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her.  She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex.  That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside.  She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger.  She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them.  Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can.  She’s a very admirable character.

One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive.  The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way.  Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before.  The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me.  Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story.  With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines.  Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style.  She knows the land, and knows how to forage.  She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community.  I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.

I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project.  I like her voice and I really like her characters.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

Review: Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

 

 

Title: Under a Graveyard Sky

Author:  John Ringo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few marines.

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope.

For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived under a graveyard sky.


Review:

When I saw Under a Graveyard Sky on Netgalley, I immediately clicked the request button.  I just can’t get enough of zombie books (you won’t catch me watching zombies shows, though – too gross!), and this sounded intriguing.  It takes place right as a plague is decimating the human population, causing chaos and countless, bloody loss of life.  The first 15% of the book felt a little draggy, as the author expounded on the science behind the man-made illness that was causing the infected to attack and eat their fellow humans.  The biology of it exhausted me, but not to worry!  Once things got underway with the out of control sickness, I was hooked, hooked, hooked!  I was reading this everywhere – when I was filling the gas tank, standing in line at the store, even making extended visits to the bathroom so I could have a little peace and quiet time away from the puppers so I could find out what happened next!

This is a blast to read.  The Smith family has fled to the sea in an attempt to escape the certain death that comes after contracting the virus, which is a modified form of  rabies.  The Smiths have been training for the end of the world for years, and they are more than prepared for the challenges ahead.  What they didn’t really count on was their daughters getting caught up right in the thick of things back on shore.  Steve’s brother has promised to keep the girls safe – and occupied – if they are allowed to help back in New York.  While this section of the tale didn’t make much sense to me, it did  get the action firmly moving forward.  Faith, the youngest daughter, seems to have a zombie beacon strapped to her back, because everywhere she turns, there’s another one, ready to bite her face off.  The fact that Steve and Stacey allowed their girls to go ashore once they were relatively safe on their boat didn’t seem like a smart idea to me, especially when they decide to go to a concert in the park. In the dark.  In the middle of a zombie apocalypse.   But no matter, it got my heart racing at the mere thought of being in that much danger, self-inflected or not, and made for very entertaining reading.

Once the family gets back on the water and sets sail for parts unknown, things really get nuts.  After rescuing a young girl, the only survivor after her family turns and tries to eat her, from their yacht, Steve has a new mission in life.  He isn’t going to take this zombie thing sitting down.  No way!  Steve is going to save as many people as he can, and take out as many zombies as he can, because there are people out there trapped and starving on boats just like Tina’s.  Now, I never stopped to think about what it would be like to be trapped in a cabin with no food or water while my family was locked outside, noisily eating each other.  Now that I have, well, I don’t know that being on a ship in the middle of the ocean would be such a good idea after all.  Especially if someone was infected, but we didn’t find out until it was too late.  What do you do?  Try to throw them overboard before they bite your brains out?  Not a pleasant thought, any way you contemplate it.

The sea rescues did get a little repetitive, at least until they got to the cruise ship.  Then it was Holy Crap, you have GOT to be kidding me!  How are a handful of people going to wade through that many zombies?  Despite some lags in pacing, I found this a fun, fun read.  The challenges faced by the small band of survivors made for compelling reading.  I couldn’t put my reader down, and I blew through this book in no time flat.  My one, major complaint?  Those three dreaded words on the last page – To Be Continued.  NO!! Really???  Why couldn’t there be just a teeny tiny bit of closure?!  The wait for To Sail a Darkling Sea isn’t THAT bad, but come on!  It won’t be out until February of next year!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Meet Katie From Laura Bickle’s The Outside

Please welcome special guest Katie to the virtual offices! Katie is on the run for her life, hiding from the undead.  Hopefully, they haven’t followed her here.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Katie} Faltering, but not yet broken.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your typical day like?

[Katie} Before the end of the world, I had a peaceful Amish life. I worked on my parents’ farm. I raised Golden Retriever puppies and helped take care of my little sister, Sarah. There was plenty of work to be done: tending the garden, working the crops, feeding the cattle, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. But it kept me busy, and for the most part kept my mind from wandering to all the interesting things that must be in the outside world: comic books, Coca-Cola, jeans, and make-up.

But after…after the end of the world…I am on my own. I’ve been exiled from my community. With my two friends, Alex and Ginger, we search for other survivors by day. By night, we try to fight and outrun the vampires. We eat whatever we can scavenge and try to find safe places to sleep. Winter’s coming, and there’s less and less food as it grows colder.

I miss home.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Katie} I know that my parents would want me to regret being shunned in the first place. Fearing contagion, the Elders made a rule that no one was to come in our community, and no one was allowed out. But I found Alex, an injured man, just beyond my fence. I brought him into our barn to heal.

I know that my parents would want me to say that I regret this, and that I regret falling in love with him. But I don’t.

The thing that I regret is not being able to make my family and my community understand what terrible evil was coming, that it could affect us just as much as it has the outside world. They didn’t believe me then. But I know that they do now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s the one thing do you prize above all others?

[Katie} Of all things, certainly my faith. Though I wrestle with knowing that God has chosen not to intervene in this evil that has spread over the earth, I still treasure it.

In terms of material things? The only thing I really have is the Himmelsbrief my village Hexenmeister created for me. It is a letter to God, a beautiful and powerful thing. It deters the vampires, and I credit it with my survival so far.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think the world has become such a dangerous place?

[Katie] I have heard many explanations for this. My village Hexenmeister has said that the Darkness has always been with us. He says that it was with us even in the Old Country. He remembers the old ways of dealing with the Darkness: with stakes and fire and sunlight. People believed in it then, and struck it down before it had the chance to take root.

Others tell me that it is a scientific evil. That something has crawled out of a radioactive experiment in a place half a world away. Chernobyl? I can’t remember what it was called. Some think that a meteor fell. Others think that it is a virus.

I don’t know the answer. All I know is that there is Darkness and light, and that one must choose a side.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think you have survived, while so many others have not?

[Katie} Alex says that it’s because I’m used to being without modern conveniences: that I know how to make my way without electricity, cars, and telephones. I know what’s edible in the forest and which animal tracks to follow and which to avoid.

I think it’s partially because of the Himmelsbrief. Without it, I would have been devoured long before.

And it’s also because I am not truly alone. I have my friends, Alex and Ginger. We have a horse and have just been joined by a wolf. The wolf is good with hunting…more dog than wolf. He is good with finding chickens, and he shares what he finds.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Katie} No more blood and Darkness.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Katie} Thank you so much!

Purchase link:

About the book:

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

Waiting on Wednesday–To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I enjoyed the heck out of Under a Graveyard Sky, so I am quite eager to get my hands on To Sail A Darkling Sea by John Ringo.  Check back tomorrow for my review of the first book in his zombie apocalypse series!

 

BOOK II IN THE BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Sequel to Under a Graveyard Sky. A family of survivors fights back against a zombie plague that has brought down civilization.
A World Cloaked in Darkness
With human civilization annihilated by a biological zombie plague, a rag-tag fleet of yachts and freighters known as Wolf Squadron scours the Atlantic, searching for survivors. Within every abandoned liner and carrier lurks a potential horde, safety can never be taken for granted, and death and turning into one of the enemy is only a moment away.
The Candle Flickers
Yet every ship and town holds the flickering hope of survivors. One and two from lifeboats, a dozen from a fishing village, a few hundred wrenched by fury and fire from a ship that once housed thousands…
Light a Flame
Now Wolf Squadron must take on another massive challenge: clear the assault carrier USS Iwo Jima of infected before the trapped Marines and sailors succumb to starvation. If Wolf Squadron can accomplish that task, an even tougher trial waits: an apocalyptic battle to win a new dawn for humanity. The war for civilization begins as the boats of the Wolf Squadron become a beacon of hope on a Darkling Sea.

What are you waiting on?

Review: Solstice by P J Hoover

 

Title:  Solstice

Author: P J Hoover

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity….


Review:

When I discovered that Solstice was a post-apocalyptic novel with Greek gods, I was all over it.  I love mythology, and the thought of Greek gods meddling with human affairs during an environmental disaster sounded so cool,  I couldn’t wait to sit down with this book.  Ultimately, though, I was disappointed for one main reason -  I didn’t like the love triangle, and found it trying, to say the least.  Technically I guess it wasn’t even a love triangle, because Reese uses magic to get Piper to love him, so she’s basically a mindless love zombie whenever he’s around.  His scent enchants her, making her believe he’s the sweetest boyfriend in town, which is quite a feat considering that he’s a god of war.  Though I guess if you can fall for a god of the dead, you can certainly fall for a guy who lives for conflict, warfare, and bloodshed.

Piper is a high school student in Austen, amid the Global Heating Crisis.  Temperatures are far beyond the red zone, rain is rare, and deadly heat bubbles threaten to kill thousands.   Raised by her overprotective mother, Piper yearns for her 18th birthday so she can get out from under her mom’s suffocating control.  Homeschooled until recently, they have spent her entire life moving from town to town, hiding from her father, a terrorist.  Her mom refuses to tell her anything more about her father, and she seems to be terrified of him, so Piper doesn’t push the issue.  Much.  When handsome Shayne enrolls in her school, Piper discovers that everything she has believed about herself is a lie, and that her mother has never been honest with her. 

While I loved the premise of Solstice, I didn’t care for the execution.  Most of the major characters knew the truth behind Piper’s background, and none of them would clue her in.  I know, I know, Shayne was bound by a curse to not tell her or they would be condemned to the worst pit of Hell, but still. Every time it came up, it seemed like he was saying Neener, neener, I know what’s going on and you don’t, AKA, I can’t tell you the truth because it’s too dangerous.  Really?  Shayne is a Greek god, for cripes sake, surely he could come up with some clever way to clue her in without breaking the rules of the curse.  Instead, off Piper goes, into mortal danger, to find the answers for herself. 

The other sticky point for me was Reece.  He’s an evil guy, and for the most part, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be nice.  He knows what’s going on, and since it’s in his best interest to keep Piper ignorant of her past, he obviously does his best to keep her that way.  When she repeatedly resists the spell he casts over her to make her love him, he resorts to violence and attempted rape instead.  Ick – not a favorite plot device, so your mileage will vary here.

As far as my feelings for Piper, I liked her a lot.  She wasn’t content to just sit around and be a brainless puppet like everyone expected.  When she wasn’t getting any answers from the people who supposedly loved her, she was taking the bull by the horns and trying to find the answers herself.  This, of course, put her in terrible danger, which gave Shayne the opportunity to prove how brave he was by saving her. And still not telling her the truth. Ugh.

While I found Solstice to be a mixed bag, the beginning and the end made it hard to put the book down.  It’s the relationships that I didn’t care for, but if manipulative relationships don’t bother you, you should enjoy this book more than I did.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

 

Title: The Testing

Author:  Joelle Charbonneau

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust


Review:

When I first started reading The Testing back in April, I just couldn’t engage with the plot.  I set it aside, thinking that I just wasn’t in the mood for a dystopian adventure.  After a few months, I picked it back up, and I’m glad that I did.  Though the book is very reminiscent of Matched and The Hunger Games, I found it an engaging read in its own right – it just took me a while to figure that out.

Cia Vale has been accepted for Testing, and if she passes, she’ll be attending classes at the University.  This is a dream come true for her, and she has worked hard her entire life to earn a chance to go to the University.  She is bewildered and hurt when her father tells her she shouldn’t have been chosen, and she doesn’t believe him when he implies that there is something more sinister than just academic testing going on in the capital, Tosu City.  He tells her that he and her old teacher worked hard to ensure that none of the students from their small colony were accepted for The Testing.   Though his memories have been wiped of his own Testing experiences, he is plagued by nightmares of the ordeal, and he never wanted his children to suffer through the Test.  Cia dismisses his warnings at first, but as she begins her journey to Tosu City, things don’t add up, and she begins to believe her father is correct.  She soon realizes that his advice is something that she can no longer ignore.  Trust no one.

There are a few things about YA dystopian novels that I have a hard time buying into, and I think it’s because I have read so many now.  The first being – what is wrong with all of these adults?  The leaders of these bleak societies think nothing of their children murdering each other to get ahead in life.  Really?  The United Commonwealth has suffered the loss of countless citizens during a horrific period of war and environmental catastrophe, and they are willing to weed out the most cunning and brutal young adults to become the next leaders of the government?  Isn’t this part of the reason that the planet was inches away from total destruction?  There are 108 students in Cia’s Testing class.  108!  Only 20 will be allowed entrance to the University.  While we don’t know for certain what happens to the students who survive all four stages of the Test, but aren’t chosen for the Univesity, we do know what countless numbers of them were killed or murdered during the Tests.  It’s to the point now that I have to be in the correct frame of mind to enjoy stories that revolve around kids being victimized like this.  At least in The Hunger Games the brutality against most of the populace had a purpose, and that was to keep the downtrodden so frightened they would never rebel again.  In The Testing, the candidates who survive have their memories of the Tests wiped, so I’m confused about WHY all of these adults sit idly by while their charges slaughter each other.  These are the brightest and the best that their society has to offer.  I hope it’s explained in the next book, because that was the major stumbling point that kept me from completely enjoying this story.

What’s the second thing that drives me nuts? They talk about food. A lot.  More than I do, and I am a big foodie.  Reading these survival type stories makes me hungry. Except for the possum. Not so sure I would ever want to eat that.

I did love the in your face narrative.  Cia thinks, at first, that it’s a huge honor to vie for a place in the University.   She wants to help revitalize the country, which has been decimated by warfare.  Like the humans, all life in the Commonwealth teetered on the brink of extinction.  Water sources have been polluted and rendered undrinkable, animals have been mutated into scary monsters, and plant life struggled to survive in the poisoned ground.  Cia’s dedication to assisting with the healing of the land is one of her defining characteristics, and it’s an easy one to like.  It keeps her going, even when everything else has become a nightmare for her.  She also resists acting like an animal during the final, deadly stage of The Test.  She was raised to see the value in all life, and she has a hard time killing anything.  To give her a personal challenge, she is constantly threatened with death, so she must re-evaluate her personal ethics.  I loved this about the story, too.  Even though she is good and just, she doesn’t hesitate to defend herself or her friends.  She doesn’t sit around and wait for some guy to save her, either.  Most of the time, she is the one doing the saving.  I thought that Cia kicked butt, and I am curious to see what happens in the next book, when she is in, presumably, less harrowing  surroundings.

With interesting world-building and a heroine who is not afraid to take charge and control of her own destiny, The Testing is a hard book to put down.  I thought that the pacing of the 2nd half of the book was  much better than the first, and read most of it in one sitting.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Demitria Lunetta, Author of In The After

Please give a warm welcome to Demitria Lunetta,  She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her newly released In The After. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Demitria Lunetta] I love books, esp. sci-fi & fantasy. I also love chocolate, traveling & big, slobbery dogs. I have 0 survival skills, unlike my characters.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about In The After?

[Demitria Lunetta] They hear the most silent of footsteps.

They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.

And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Those three chilling sentences describe the horrific world in which my MC, Amy has to now live. IN THE AFTER isn’t just a horror book, it’s also a book about adapting. It’s about humanity and human nature. It’s about survival.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Demitria Lunetta] I love horror books & movies, especially those that feature scary creatures. Most of these creatures stick to the shadows and use night as a cover…and I thought about taking these norms and flipping them. These creatures (referred to as They) are ravenous, flesh-eating monsters, but they have poor eyesight, making them more active during the day when it’s light out. They also hunt by sound. This means that my MC, Amy, lives in a world of silent darkness. She only goes out at night, making the usual world of frightening shadows her comfort zone. The day becomes a time of terror, when They own the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Amy?

[Demitria Lunetta] Survivor. Smart. Determined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Amy had a theme song, what would it be?

[Demitria Lunetta] I think the theme song for IN THE AFTER would be the Marilyn Manson remake of Sweet Dreams. Sweet Dreams makes you feel out of place, in a horrifying dream world that you don’t really understand. It’s perfect for Amy’s first experience of the After, when normality is shattered and all she’s left with is the horror that remains.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Amy is never without.

[Demitria Lunetta] A way to distract the creatures, whether it’s a can of food to throw, a bag rigged with a remote activated car alarm, or simply some poppers she can set off to create a diversion.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Amy’s pockets?

[Demitria Lunetta] Tic-tacs…they’re way too noisy. ? She wouldn’t carry a flashlight, since the creatures are attracted to the light. She also wouldn’t have money…it would be completely useless in the post-apocalyptic world of the After.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Amy’s greatest regret?

[Demitria Lunetta] Amy’s biggest regret is how she took Before for granted. She often thinks of the times she acted out or when she was a brat to her parents, particularly her father. Her regret is mixed up with her longing for the past, remembering the bad with the good.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Demitria Lunetta] There are so many! I love anything YA or anything Sci-fi or Fantasy…and combine them both and I’m done. I used, and as an adult I love THE ABHORSEN TRILOGY by Garth Nix, and the BARTEMAES BOOKS by Jonathan Stroud. I’m always excited for new books and I’ll read anything sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, historical fiction, or anything that’s just plain good!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Demitria Lunetta] The only thing I really need is my laptop and a glass of water…I drink a lot of water and always keep a full glass nearby while I’m writing so I can chug while I’m thinking. Other than that I do like to have a snack handy, something full of sugar like cookies or Twizzlers. Not exactly healthy, but sometimes the sugar rush helps me write!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Demitria Lunetta] This is a tough one, because I read so much and love so much of what I read. Besides sci-fi I also read a lot of historical fiction and IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters really got to me. It’s scary and poignant and just a great story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Demitria Lunetta] I used to read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA compulsively as a child. C.S. Lewis’ fantastic creativity inspired me to write.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Demitria Lunetta] Walking my very large slobbery German Shepard. I’m also a movie addict and try to go to as many movies as possible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Demitria Lunetta] I’m all over social media…here are some links!

Blog: http://demitrialunetta.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @DemitriaLunetta https://twitter.com/DemitriaLunetta
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DemitriaLunettaAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12157407-in-the-after
Epic Reads: http://www.epicreads.com/books/in-the-after/9780062105455/

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase link:

About the book:

They hear the most silent of footsteps.

They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.

And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.