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Reviews Written by
Rachel "rachel337" (Brighton, England)
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The Undead Day Thirteen
The Undead Day Thirteen
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Got Chills, They're Multiplying..., 26 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Oh the breathless anticipation with which I waited for this next instalment in the awesome UK set zombie series. So is it any good? Hell yeah!! You betcha. It's a rip snorter. And yet... And yet... Despite a huge amount of bloodshed, thrills and excitement, this is also a more measured, thoughtful and introspective work than some of the previous days. Yes, this is an action persons book. But its also a thinking, feeling persons book. And all the better for it.

We see the harrowing events of the previous novels come home to roost in Howie's head and we see his continuing doubt at his worthiness to lead , the decisions he has made and almost made shake his drive. He was a whisker away from acts he never ever thought himself capable of and it shakes his core. For me, this dose of realism and truth makes the novel far superior. Yes the action sequences are awesome and there are plenty of them. Yes the fights are, as ever perfectly, sweepingly, cinematically described. Yet all of this would be for nothing if we didn't have emotions and heart to pin this on. I cried on more than one occasion whilst reading, moved by the interplay between ordinary people having to do extraordinary things to be safe. I had goosebumps up my arms during one key scene and towards the end, my heart was so firmly in my mouth and I was so absorbed for a moment I literally stopped breathing. No other writer has done that to me.

I love the strong female characters in Mr Haywood's books. A new individual storyline shows that in conflict, brain is frequently more deadly than brawn. There are sections with a lone female using every ounce of cunning and planning (not to mention exploiting a possible childhood spending far too much time watching 'Home Alone') to single handedly engage an enormous zombie count.

I don't wish to add too many specific details and spoil anyone's reading pleasure but again we have the ripple effect present in 13. Howie is like a stone, thrown into a still pool, making storyline ripples speed away from this centre, like the concentric circles on a raccoon's tale. We gain insights into other survivors, emboldened by his growing legend, inspired to take action and overcome their personal anxieties, fears and experiences to truly begin to live amongst the death and destruction. First alone and then, as word of mouth sets in, seeking to find Howie and his 'safe haven' for the hope it represents.

Yet how safe is that 'safe haven'? Beset by horror at every turn, maybe the very bravest thing the characters do is keep their hope alive. Hope that whilst they may individually falter and fall that the human spirit will prevail as long as someone is inspired to hope and therefore fight. Howie grapples with the knowledge that he may not see this through to the end and struggles to make peace with the idea that his destiny may not be to finish the battle, only to give it the momentum that it can BE finished. By someone.

This futile longing for normalcy and word of mouth, chinese whisper effect of news amongst the survivors is just one of the skilfully handled elements in the backdrop to the action-meat of the Undead Saga. It is easy to ignore this seamless tapestry of worldbuilding upon which the main action unfolds. Yet it is such quietly and deftly handled descriptive backdrop details that elevate this from an action horror series to something special. Mr Haywood has not just written a set of exciting zombie tales. He has built a world through his astonishing use of superlative detail, logic, rich understanding of people and their psychological motivations both for good and evil. Yet so seamlessly does this realism support the action that it is easy to overlook what clever writing craftsmanship went into its creation. And it is for this reason that I am still nowhere near tired of this saga. The story remains totally engaging, rich, nuanced and continually, refreshingly unexpected. Thank you Mr Haywood for giving your readers such a brilliant experience. Long may it continue.


The Undead Day Thirteen
The Undead Day Thirteen
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I've Got Chills... They're Multiplying..., 26 Aug. 2013
Oh the breathless anticipation with which I waited for this next instalment in the awesome UK set zombie series. So is it any good? Hell yeah!! You betcha. It's a rip snorter. Emotional thrills and yes, chills abound. And yet... And yet... Despite a huge amount of bloodshed, action and excitement, this is also a more measured, thoughtful and introspective work than some of the previous days. Yes, this is an action persons book. But its also a thinking, feeling persons book. And all the better for it.

We see the harrowing events of the previous novels come home to roost in Howie's head and we see his continuing doubt at his worthiness to lead , the decisions he has made and almost made shake his drive. He was a whisker away from acts he never ever thought himself capable of and it shakes his core. For me, this dose of realism and truth makes the novel far superior to almost any other long running saga I've read. Yes the action sequences are awesome and there are plenty of them. Yes the fights are, as ever perfectly, sweepingly, cinematically described. Yet all of this would be for nothing if we didn't have emotions and heart to pin this on. I cried on more than one occasion whilst reading, moved by the interplay between ordinary people having to do extraordinary things to be safe. I had goosebumps up my arms during one key scene and towards the end, my heart was so firmly in my mouth and I was so absorbed for a moment I literally stopped breathing. No other writer has done that to me.

I love the strong female characters in Mr Haywood's books. A new individual storyline shows that in conflict, brain is frequently more deadly than brawn. There are sections with a lone female using every ounce of cunning and planning (not to mention exploiting a possible childhood spending far too much time watching 'Home Alone') to single handedly engage an enormous zombie count.

I don't wish to add too many specific details and spoil anyone's reading pleasure but again we have the ripple effect present in 13. Howie is like a stone, thrown into a still pool, making storyline ripples speed away from this centre, like the concentric circles on a raccoon's tale. We gain insights into other survivors, emboldened by his growing legend, inspired to take action and overcome their personal anxieties, fears and experiences to truly begin to live amongst the death and destruction. First alone and then, as word of mouth sets in, seeking to find Howie and his 'safe haven' for the hope it represents.

Yet how safe is that 'safe haven'? Beset by horror at every turn, maybe the very bravest thing the characters do is keep their hope alive. Hope that whilst they may individually falter and fall that the human spirit will prevail as long as someone is inspired to hope and therefore fight. Howie grapples with the knowledge that he may not see this through to the end and struggles to make peace with the idea that his destiny may not be to finish the battle, only to give it the momentum that it can BE finished. By someone.

This futile longing for normalcy and word of mouth, chinese whisper effect of news amongst the survivors is just one of the skilfully handled elements in the backdrop to the action-meat of the Undead Saga. It is easy to ignore this seamless tapestry of worldbuilding upon which the main action unfolds. Yet it is such quietly and deftly handled descriptive backdrop details that elevate this from an action horror series to something special. Mr Haywood has not just written a set of exciting zombie tales. He has built a world through his astonishing use of superlative detail, logic, rich understanding of people and their psychological motivations both for good and evil. Yet so seamlessly does this realism support the action that it is easy to overlook what clever writing craftsmanship went into its creation. And it is for this reason that I am still nowhere near tired of this saga. The story remains totally engaging, rich, nuanced and continually, refreshingly unexpected. Thank you Mr Haywood for giving your readers such a brilliant experience. Long may it continue.


The Shining Girls
The Shining Girls
by Lauren Beukes
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only Shining in Parts, 18 July 2013
This review is from: The Shining Girls (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book but I didn't love it. I wanted to and there were moments of brilliance. It is certainly original, head scratchingly so at times and keeping the overlapping time frames straight requires concentration or a note pad to hand. I think for me, the flicking from view point of victim to killer to survivor happened too frequently. This is one of those rare books that could have been a bit longer, giving the reader time to reconnect with each story strand for longer than just four or five pages before switching point of view. I wanted to dwell and revel in each branch of the narrative, not be hurried back and forth through time. The central characters are well drawn, the interconnecting time frames well delivered and there are moments if great tension. But not enough of them to make this feel five star for me.


The Undead Day Twelve (Book Twelve of The Undead Series)
The Undead Day Twelve (Book Twelve of The Undead Series)
Price: £2.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and Face the Strain...., 25 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Another day dawns for Howie, Dave and their crew. And it's not an easy one. Their faith will be shaken, their security breached and their knowledge of the foe they face proven woefully incomplete. Buckle up, readers for another riveting slice of action horror. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll rage at some twists and clap your little mitts in glee at others.

Day 12 begins with an emotional gut-punch and further disputes at the fort as the confines affect sensible judgement. Tempers are fraying, factions forming. There are those who have failed to truly comprehend the seriousness of the situation they're in, attempting to bureaucracise the war zone in a way that can only produce a tragic result.

What should be a reasonably straightforward fuel run by Howie's crew quickly spirals out of control into one of the most perfectly described pieces of action writing I've seen this year. Cinematic in quality and so real, one can almost smell and feel the searing heat of the scene.

The sections with Howie and the gang out and about are so strong and run the gamut from laugh out loud funny to deeply thrilling. These characters have stolen my heart and absolutely light up the page. In a triumph of character development we've seven total individuals with distinct traits and moods, depicted in a convincing and realistic style. They're so well drawn, their actions and dialogue so deftly handled, they feel like people you know. And like all good horror fiction, they form the beating heart of a bleak tale, giving us a human face and reflecting the emotional impact of events. This whole series only works because they do.

Meanwhile, the virus has a few more tricks up its sleeve for us. The zombies as we've come to know them are continuing to evolve and there are several jaw dropping surprises to come. I couldn't possibly undermine the twists and turns to come with a spoiler. You need to go on this journey yourself. No matter what you're expecting, I'd guarantee the author has a surprise for you.

If you've enjoyed the tales so far, you'll love this one too. It's another strong slice of original, exciting, emotional storytelling. Sweeping changes that open up exciting further story possibilities are present.

Over the course of twelve books we've been treated to a new breed of zombie novel. One that remains loyal to the genre yet refuses to conform in entirety, making it a truly fresh and exciting entry in the canon of zombie fiction. The ending will have you snapping your teeth and drooling for Day 13 as it's a cliffhanger beyond compare.

Well done, Mr Haywood. This reader certainly can't wait for your next instalment.


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars The cat approves..., 13 Jun. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My cat approves of these but not as thoroughly as he does the chicken ones. Which is a bit weird because he loves fish more than chicken. Capricious creatures, cats so its entirely possible it's just him. The idea of buying these in bulk with a saving plus having them home delivered is great. I will definitely order like this in future. However the huge quantity ensures I won't need to do that for ages!


Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Light Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)
Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Light Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)

5.0 out of 5 stars The Cat Approves!, 29 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My big, fat moggy couldn't wait for me to open the box. He knew what it was alright, from the mystical munchy rattling as it shifted in the box when I took delivery from the postman. Cue him climbing all over me, wildly sniffing the bags before I even got them open. He is a rescue cat but a surprisingly fussy eater. Somehow he has managed to attain the size of a Labrador, round his middle. I can report that his highness notices absolutely no difference in taste between this supposedly slimline version and the Iams standard chicken. Hopefully, this means it could lead to weight loss over time. So a good product, delivered in bulk and at a competitive price, plus a happy cat means I will be ordering again and hoping for a slimline moggy.


Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Hairball Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)
Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Hairball Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm guessing its delicious..., 23 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Obviously I've not chowed down on this myself but my cat really seems to love it. He tucks in with gusto. At present it's too soon to tell if it helps fur balls, from which my fluffy cat suffers at times. Since the Amazon Vine programme has now instigated very strict timescales for reviews to be submitted, I am unable to wait and tell you. This is a bit of a shame. However, I will come back and add to the review in a few months time, once a judgement can be made. Buying in bulk this way, with free delivery and a competitive price is a great way to get these delivered though.


The Undead Day Eleven (Book Eleven of The Undead Series)
The Undead Day Eleven (Book Eleven of The Undead Series)
Price: £2.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 6 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I just couldn't wait to tear into this one and I'm thrilled it exceeded my expectations. The Undead saga continues to be one of the freshest and most engaging slices of action horror on the market today and this is one of the strongest instalments yet.

If Day 11 was a movie's eleventh offering, expectations would be pretty low by now, the narrative formulaic and tired. But thankfully (and potentially because this is a self published work with no editor making mundane suggestions that align with some narrow view of what a readership wants), this is another unique, strong, dramatic and sweaty instalment in a superbly rich, post apocalyptic zombie saga that has the potential to run and run, zigging and zagging through our imaginations.

Two fascinating new story arcs are present in Day 11, sinuously departing from the beating heart of the action with Howie and the lads, like a set of pumping arteries, carrying the lifeblood of this tale in new and exciting directions.

With a deliciously ironic twist and some subversive humour, we meet Paco Maguire, a toothsome Hollywood action hero. Paco is in the UK filming a zombie thriller that takes an unexpectedly graphic and realistic turn as the reality of the zombie horde obliterates the carefully structured fantasy. He finds his sleek, egocentric and wrinkle free, womanising existence unravelling at a pace he cannot cope with, becoming less leading man and more snivelling potential cannon fodder, to his utter surprise and terror. However, RR Haywood wouldn't give us something so mundane, now, would he? Instead we get another gripping character journey as Paco learns if he wants that Hollywood ending, he's going to have to make it himself.

The scenes of Paco fleeing and panicking in the initial stages of the outbreak are equal parts terrifying and hilarious. His supreme self interest knows no bounds and at the start of the narrative, he's so odious and self absorbed I was rooting for a brutal and drawn out death. But the author does what he does best and after breaking Paco, puts him back together, first as a tentative survivor and finally as...well, you'll have to read it and see.

The other new significant character introduction is a courageous and intelligent female- and she dominates a good portion of this narrative. I'm not going to spoil the surprise but let's just say, come the zombie apocalypse, she's the kind of fiercely loyal fighter you want on your side. She faces danger after danger, terror after terror and my heart was in my mouth rooting for her survival.

Howie, Dave, Nick, Cookey, Blowers, Clarence and Lani are all still a strong presence, doing what they do best. They and the other fort survivors appear to be over the initial stage of needing an immediate sanctuary and are now able to think about what comes next; how they go from surviving towards preparing to truly live again. Day 11 gives us a look at just how far they still have to go, if that's to be even remotely possible. People band together at the start of a disaster but these allegiances often prove fragile and potentially deadly. Day 11 shows the hierarchy wobbling as people become snappish and self interested. Will the structure hold?

This series continues to impress, to resonate and to be an absolute must read for the discerning post apocalyptic fiction fan. Well written, with a growing strength for description and narrative and no danger of being derivative or formulaic, I want more please, as fast as possible! Seriously recommended.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2013 12:07 PM BST


900 Miles: A Zombie Novel
900 Miles: A Zombie Novel
Price: £2.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 2 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm guessing you came here looking for a good zombie tale. Whilst I'd love to recommend this to you I really can't. It started off very well, with a glimpse of the first moments of the outbreak. The tight, driven and exciting opening had me really glad I'd purchased this. However it quickly lost the tension and became an utterly pedestrian meander from point A to B in an utterly predictable fashion. The good start is what earned the two stars.

There were a few clumsy attempts at intrigue but so gobsmackingly well telegraphed you could see them coming 900 miles off. The characters were two dimensional and I found myself looking for excuses to stop reading- that never happens to me! A book or a kindle is my permanent accessory! I got as far as "The Arena" sequence mentioned by another reviewer and their clearly described feelings echoed mine exactly. Gladiatorial combat, zombie style?! Really? After four days?! You actually expect me to believe that do you? And to root for the survival of these utterly tedious characters you've given the lead to?! It did smack slightly of an attempt to cash in on "The Walking Dead".

My disbelief, already hanging by a tenuous thread came crashing down and I decided life was too short for this twaddle. This became one of a handful of books I've not finished. Possibly, I bailed just as it got good. But I doubt it. If you are looking for a truly engaging, action packed and believable, down and dirty, rip snorting zombie novel, I recommend saving your money for trying one of these:-
Rise Again by Ben Tripp
The Undead: The First Seven Days by RR Haywood
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
The Return Man by VM Zito


The Undead Day Ten (Book Ten of The Undead Series)
The Undead Day Ten (Book Ten of The Undead Series)
Price: £2.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution, baby!, 2 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Welcome to Day Ten and evolution is the name of the game. Evolution of a virus; of a story; of a world and of a writer.

Day Ten of the saga I've fallen in love with gives us new characters and a widening scope of Howie's world. It also gives us a significantly richer set of dialogues, in a wide range of styles, carefully attuned to the ages and experiences of the new characters they depict. I'm also really glad to say it introduces two strong female characters.

Day Ten sees Howie, Dave and the lads continue their fight against the undead but this time they are not alone. Not only do we get treated to the continuing development of the existing characters plus the new recruit, Lani, a strong female, met in Day 9, we also see a new set of characters introduced.

Day Ten is split into two complementary narratives; Howie's continuing tale and that of a very different hero/antihero. We see how another strong leader, Maddox, younger, more street wise and significantly more suspicious builds his own community, in a bleak council estate, gathering the dysfunctional youth of the area about him into their own version of safety. Assisted by Lenski, a strong young woman, with a ferociously moral side, Maddox balances on the cusp of whether to become a force for good or perpetuate anew the cycle of abuse he has known before.

This powerful commentary on the survival instincts of the disenfranchised makes for compelling reading. The street talk of the crews of youths echo realistically through these portions of the story, clearly delineating what appears to initially be a very different set of values. But with his growing evolution as a writer, RR Haywood gives us yet another shake to our own prejudices, showing safety, security, love, friendship and trust are universal truths, desired and actively sought by us all, no matter our beginnings or our social standing.

There are plenty of the excellent action sequences for which Mr Haywood is fast becoming known. Including a monumental standoff between zombies and three disparate groups of survivors, with three different sets of motives that ends in bloodshed and carnage. And yes, there is zombie killing aplenty. But where this novel really succeeds is in the introduction of a new threat: the danger the human race is to itself. Day Ten is darker and more real than the more raucous Days 8 & 9 and far superior for that.

The greatest and scariest threat of this chapter in the saga is scared people killing and threatening other scared people in a desperate attempt to feel safe. And sadly, this has the echo of truth. There is no refuge from human nature. And Day 10 proves we take our values with us, for good or evil. Disaster rarely allows a mending of old prejudices for long. When Maddox's crew and Howie's group meet there is a fraught and breathless altercation where we truly wonder if Howie's sense of justice and kindness will be his undoing.

Wisely, the author also brings the background characters of Nick, Cookey, Blowers and Clarence more to the fore, they too evolve in this segment of the saga from light relief and background hum into real, distinct individuals. The story as it stands would not be as engaging without us able to empathise, admire and fear for these people.

This saga has evolved to a very intriguing place. There is considerable mileage for continuing development and with the widening scope of the world in these pages, an exciting set of story arcs shimmer with possibility. I for one eagerly await the next phase of evolution in this saga. Roll on Day 11!


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