Book Review: Nester’s Mistake by Karyn Langhorne Folan

Nester's MistakeNester’s Mistake
The Doomsday Kids Book 2
Karyn Langhorne Folan
K Squared Books, September 2014
Ebook

From the author—

Since the nuclear apocalypse, it’s a shoot first, ask questions later world. Following their perilous escape from their Washington, DC suburb, the surviving Doomsday Kids reach their mountain safe house, only to discover their troubles have just begun.

Their hope of finding the protection and guidance of an adult is dashed: there is no one there to help them and they are still children who must find a way to survive alone. Book-smart fifteen year old Nester Bartlett got good grades in his life before the bombs, but has no skills for his new life of tending animals, keeping the fires lit and defending their cabin against intruders. When circumstances thrust him into the role of reluctant leader, threats bombard him at every turn: from the weather, from a nearby correctional facility and from the kids’ own grief. Inexperienced with firearms and conflicted about killing people, Nester struggles with whether there is a place for compassion in this new, lawless world. Then nuclear winter overtakes them, the crops die and the animals succumb to radiation sickness. But when one of their number suffers a medical emergency, Nester must make a desperate choice that shatters their little community and irrevocably alters their hopes of survival.

Nester’s Mistake continues the tale of a small group of kids, mostly teens, who are struggling to survive a nuclear attack. Nester is perhaps the one who is most challenged by their circumstances and, yet, the most able to cope besides Liam, who grew up with a survivalist father.

Nester’s test comes largely from the fact that he is unprepared on all fronts to survive a disaster but his strength lies in his book smarts and in his ability to rise above his insecurities and do what has to be done. He is now, by default, the leader of the group as Liam has been grievously wounded and the others look to Nester to make decisions and do the heavy lifting, so to speak. Among other things, Nester has to keep the peace between the original group and its latest additions, Katie and Marty, but his real trial is his guilt over the death of his younger brother, Nate, who is now spending a  lot of time in Nester’s head.

Liam’s condition deteriorates and, determined not to let another of their group die, after Nate and Lilly, some of them stay behind to guard the cabin while Nester, Amaranth and Katie head out in the snow to get help from a neighboring veterinarian. What they find will present a test of their collective courage beyond what they could have imagined.

As in the first book, Liam’s Promise, character and plot are both real strengths in this story which takes place just 18 days after the bombs fell. Ms. Folan never slights the horrific conditions that would follow a nuclear disaster down to the details of how children would feel and react when left to their own devices and the fear and anger as well as the protective care for others that quickly develop. Each of these kids have something to offer the group and they soon learn to rely on each other and, unfortunately, to fear the rest of the world. The Doomsday Kids are, indeed, faced with horrors and regrets and anger and deep, deep sadness. Ms. Folan sugarcoats nothing.

As for the kids themselves, every single one is sympathetic in spite of their shortcomings. Amaranth contends poorly with her past while Rod and Amy, who used to be a power couple, looking down on such “losers” as Nester and Liam, prove themselves to have a depth of character no one would have anticipated. Newcomers Katie and Marty are a pair to be reckoned with and have begun to prove their worth to the rest of the group. Taken alone, none of these kids would have fared well, with the possible exception of Liam who’s had survivalist training, but they shine as a group, warts and all.

The only real quibble I have is with the cover. It really doesn’t fit since so much is made of the fact that Nester wears glasses and actually does need them.

TEOTWAWKI—the end of the world as we know it—has come and now the Doomsday Kids must find it in themselves to not only survive but survive with their humanity intact. What will happen next depends largely on how they’ll cope with a split in their number and the need to consider a very long trek to an uncertain safety. I’m already eagerly awaiting the third chapter, Amaranth Returns, due out in December.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.

Book Blitz: Dia of the Dead by Brit Brinson

Dia of the Dead Blitz Banner

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Title: Dia of the Dead
Author: Brit Brinson
Publisher: Big Moon Press
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

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Synopsis

 

Protecting Romero High from all things supernaturally spooky as Dia Muerto
is a tough gig for sixteen-year-old Dia Summers, but it’s nothing compared
to protecting the ones she loves from real, live—well, formerly alive—zombies.
Unlike the zombies that shambled around on set, the real deal don’t follow a script.

At the majorly important birthday party of her boss’ daughter, Dia experiences a
series of potentially career-ruining social disasters. Before the night is over,
she soon discovers that the possible cancellation of her show isn’t her biggest worry.

Armed with what they can find around Bixby Studios, Dia and her friends band
together to find out why everyone they know has begun popping up as
gray-skinned, black-eyed, limb-nomming zombies. With the ailment spreading,
time is running out before Dia is swept up in Hollywood’s latest trend.

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Goodreads

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An Excerpt from Dia of the Dead

Blaze, the studio’s dealer in residence that everyone knew about except me, turned out to be Blake, the makeup artist. Brendan led the way to his regular hangout. We found him in the alley between buildings Eleven and Twelve taking a drag from a cigarette, his bright blue hair shining in the sunlight. The cigarette dropped from his lip, landing on the ground. He stamped out its glow with the toe of his boot and ran his hands over the thighs of his too tight skinny jeans then through his hair before approaching us.

“What can I do for you?” he asked.

Before anyone could question Blake about Z, Brendan lunged at him, grabbing him by his t-shirt and pushing him against the wall.

“Tell us about the drugs, punk!” Brendan yelled, lifting him a couple inches off the ground.

“Put me down, bro!” Blake shouted.

Dia of the DeadBrendan let go, and Blake fell to the ground.

“What the hell, dude?” he asked, regaining his footing. “What was that all about?”

“Sorry, dude. I’m reading for a role as a loose cannon rookie in a cop drama tomorrow so I figured I’d get some practice.”

“Not cool.” Blake adjusted his shirt and frowned. “What do you want?”

“We’re here to see what you know about these.” I pulled Mason’s baggie out of my satchel.

“Did you have a bad experience? I have a no refund policy. Your bad high is your problem, not mine.” Blake folded his arms across his chest.

“Bad experience?” I asked.

“I’ve been…uh…handling these for months and haven’t had any problems until recently. People have been calling and saying their friends have been freaking out on them. I’ve told them that’s it’s probably stress—acting is hard—but they believe it’s a bad batch of Z. I’ve been taking this stuff for a while now and I never had any problems. In fact, I took a couple this morning and I’m fin—“ Blake was interrupted by a pretty nasty coughing fit.

The three of us took a step back.

“Dude, are you okay?” Brendan asked from a three-step distance.

“I-I—I’m c-c-cool.” Blake coughed. “I hope I’m not coming down with something.” He cleared his throat.

“Can I see the pills?” he asked.

I handed them over to him from a distance. He inspected the baggie and opened it. He picked out a pill, pinching it between his thumb and index finger for a moment before popping it into his mouth. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed.

“See. Fine!” His smiled faltered as he grimaced. “Wait.” He hunched forward, holding his stomach and coughed up a torrent of black liquid just like the mess that had come out of Amber.

Blake hit the ground and started to convulse wildly.

A sense of dread washed over me. “Guys, I think we better go.”

“He needs help.” Brendan pointed at Blake’s shaking body.

“Yeah, and someone else can get it for him,” Reagan chimed in.

I nodded in agreement. “I think we’d better head back to Props, make sure Taylor’s okay, wait for help to arrive, and head home.”

I needed to call my mom and ask her to come pick me up. I pulled out my phone, turned it on ready to dial when Reagan interrupted me.

“I need to check on BB. I need to see if she’s all right,” her voice wavered as she started off to find her sister.

“Reagan! Wait!” I called after her. She didn’t stop. I turned to Brendan. “I’m gonna go with her.” I slipped my phone back in my bag.

“I’m gonna go check on the others and see if help has arrived. Maybe they can help him too.” He pointed down at Blake who’d stopped shaking. “Do you think I should try to bring him inside?”

“No. When help comes, just show them where he is.”

My gut told me it would probably be best to leave him there for now.

Brendan nodded and I hurried to catch up with Reagan.

I knew I wasn’t her first choice for company but it seemed like she went out of her way to prove her point. I practically had to run to keep up with her as she led the way to the office building. It stood at the center of the studio, a few stories taller than the other buildings. Its facade was made of reflective glass windows instead of bland beige siding like the rest. I followed her up the pathway leading to the building and through the doors. She breezed right past the receptionist in the lobby and unlike everyone else that entered, she didn’t have to sign in or have an appointment. I sped up and followed her to the elevator. She pressed a button and suddenly we were heading to the building’s top floor.

We stepped out of the elevator at the end of a long hallway I’d never been in before.

“Hurry up,” Reagan called. She was already out of the elevator. “BB should be in there.” She pointed at one of the three doors on the hall.

I hurried to join her.

“BB, where are you, bitch?” Reagan called as she opened the door and stepped inside the darkened room.

No bitches made their whereabouts known.

I hesitated at the entrance, a little afraid to follow Reagan inside. Not only was the room dark, it was quiet. Too quiet. Reagan had disappeared farther into room. Other than the little light that filtered into the room from the hallway, I could barely see past my nose.

“Reagan?” I took another step inside.

She didn’t answer.

I took a few steps back toward the safety of the light.

“Come on, Dia. I know this place is giving you the creeps but you can do this,” I whispered, trying to psych myself up to step into the room again.

“Maybe this will help.” I flipped the switch on the wall, expecting a light to turn on. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still no light.

“Reagan!” I called louder. She still didn’t answer.

Something isn’t right.

I stepped further inside.

A light flickered on in another room spilling into the room I was in. It definitely had BB Bixby flair—tons of purple and white one-of-a-kind furniture and decor plus lots with shiny, sparkly things. Heavy purple drapes covered the windows, blocking sunlight. Looking up, I saw why the light didn’t work. Wires snaked out of a hole in the ceiling and the chandelier they were once connected to was in pieces on the white carpet. Joining the broken light was a knocked over table, a broken vase, and a dozen trampled lilies.

Reagan had to be in the other room. There was nowhere else she could’ve gone. My stomach clenched as I slowly approached the doorway, stopping just outside.

A thud from the other room made me jump.

I took a step and hesitated.

“Come on, you’re Dia Muerto. You can do this,” I muttered.

Fearless Dia Muerto would’ve headed into the next room without a second thought. She lacked the ability to think things through—you know, being a zombie and all. Dia Summers, on the other hand, was well aware of the creepiness in the air, and I wasn’t one for barging into unknown territory without at least some of the facts. I held my breath as I walked toward the doorway and peeked my head inside. Reagan rushed past me, her hand cupped over her mouth, a terrified look in her eyes. She nearly knocked me down as she ran out into the hall.

A low ominous moan came from the room Reagan fled. My stomach dropped to my feet.

I turned on heel and ran from the room as quickly as Reagan did. I didn’t want to know what was responsible for the sound, and I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. Reagan frantically beat on the door at the end of the hall, crying for her dad to open up.

Dread crept over me as I watched Reagan jiggle the doorknob with one hand and pound the door with the other as she screamed for Mr. Bixby. The door didn’t open. Something was wrong. Whatever was in the other room had frightened her to tears. I turned around, ready to run back to the elevator when I saw what had caused Reagan to run.

Her sister, BB Bixby, stood between the elevator and me in a shimmery silver mini dress. She limped toward us, covered in splatters of red, one foot in a strappy silver sandal and the other foot bare. Her hands were tipped in red liquid, one clutching a lock of hair. Red rimmed her mouth like a gruesome lipstick. It streaked across her cheek toward her hairline where a chunk of pink matter settled on a wisp of dark hair while the rest was a wild tangle. Her skin had gone gray and she had the same blue rash as Amber. She cocked her head to the side, setting black eyes on me. She bared black-stained teeth and let out a low growl.

BB didn’t look like any heiress I knew. She didn’t look like an actress either. She looked like a monster. Like something from Dia of the Dead but way more terrifying. I gasped, covering my mouth and took a step back. I knew what I was looking at. The realization made my blood run cold. I’d watched dozens of movies about them as research for my role. It didn’t dawn on me earlier but now, looking at BB, it clicked. The walk. The moans. The stench. The appetite for flesh. Barbara Bush Bixby was a zombie with blood stained hands and a walk that put Dia Muerto’s to shame.

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About the Author

Brit BrinsonBrit Brinson was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After time away to attend college and graduate school, she returned home.

 

When she’s not writing, she enjoys doing nerdy stuff with her friends. She lives for all things horror, paranormal, and sci-fi. Dia of the Dead is her first novel.

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