The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

The end of the world finally happened like we all knew it would. Not because of zombies, or some strange virus, or even an alien attack from Planet Xymzko. Nope, it came when meteorites hit the Earth, demolishing the planet and killing millions and millions of people.

But Edgar Hill and his family somehow survived, not that Ed really paid much attention to the warnings that England was sending out. Nope, it was by pure luck that he was up and about in a semi drunken stupor that tragic sunny day when he saw the meteorites falling from the sky. He grabbed his wife, his little girl, and his infant son and basically threw them into the cellar where they lived until the army dug them out.

Living in the army camp with hundreds of other survivors wasn’t all that bad. They had food, water, and shelter, much more that what other survivors had. But some of these other survivors were not nice people. They tried to kill and steal and thought that this new Earth was theirs for the taking.

One day when Ed and a few others from the army camp were patrolling the area, helicopters came to the camp and took everyone to the other side of the country to get on boats that would take the survivors to another country. Edgar and the people he was with missed the helicopters but were told that more will come for them very shortly. The group might have been waiting for Godot because like Godot, the helicopters never showed up.

The only way the group could make it the hundreds of miles to where the boats were  was to run and they only had a few weeks to get there. Not easy when Edgar was out of shape, had to run broken ground, run around valleys that were created by the falling meteorites, and not to mention avoiding some very dangerous people living off the land.

“The End of the World Running Club” by Adrian J. Walker is a fairly decent novel considering it’s very similar to most dystopian books. You know, fending for yourself, looking for water, food, shelter, getting into conflicts with miserable people and dangerous communities.

It was different reading about a group of people who decided to run to get to their destination on time. If I had to run I’d kind of look up into the sky and decline. I have issues with just walking one mile, if I had to run hundreds … nah, not for me.

On their journey Ed and his running mates run into the usual problems that beset all characters in this type of novel. Nothing really special going on but I did enjoy reading the close to 500 pages and it was interesting and easy to get through.

If dystopian books are your cup of tea give this a try. Just don’t expect anything too special.

running club

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Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Back in the early 1970’s, when I was in my 20’s, I worked for Volt Information Sciences. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? We put out the Yellow and White Pages for New York City (all five boroughs), Westchester, parts of upstate New York which Westchester might or not be a part of, Long Island, and a couple of other counties in the metropolitan New York Area. That’s a lot of white and yellow pages.

Now this was just before the World Wide Web. There were no laptop computers, no desktop computers, no i-pads, i-phones, smart phones, flip phones, no nothing so when I tell you we had to alphabetize the White Pages just imagine a group of people sitting with galleys and galleys of names of companies that had to be listed in alphabetical order. AAAaaa Auto, AAAaAA Auto, AAaaAa Auto – which comes first? I don’t remember the rules but let me tell you it was a pain in the ass to do. Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester – hundreds and hundreds of pages, thousands of names of companies and a bunch of 20 year olds trying to remember their alphabet and the complex rules of alphabetizing. Computers did not do this job 40 plus years ago, college graduates did. Me and my friend Anita.

Oh, there were lots of us: Dave Gitomer, Katrina (Trina), Larry, and a bunch of  others whose names have long since left me. But my friend Anita was special because Anita and I shared a talent or something. Whenever we were together something odd always happened and if we brushed against each other in passing something major occurred.

We became aware of this one day when we were busy alphabetizing the Bronx White Pages, or was it Westchester? Eh, it doesn’t matter. Anita’s desk was right behind mine so when she called my name it was easy to hear her. The room was quiet because alphabetizing is not as easy as it sounds when you have 400 pages sitting in front of you.

“Sharon?” Anita said.

“Yeah?” I said as I turned around to her.

Anita looked up and said, “Um, I didn’t call you.”

“Anita, I heard you.”

”I didn’t call you, Sharon but I was looking at this page and had a problem and said to myself, ‘I’ll ask Sharon’ and as that thought passed my mind you turned around.”

We both thought that was a little strange but we laughed it off until things like this happened multiple times a day. We weren’t afraid or concerned but we learned that strange things happened when we were together.

So one day, after a long, boring, grueling summer’s day of alphabetizing the White Pages for who cares which county, we took the long elevator ride down to the lobby so we could get home.

Volt was on the top floor of the AT&T Building in Lower Manhattan. It was considered the 30th floor but it was really the 60th floor because every numbered  floor had a floor of equipment underneath it. I can’t explain it much better than that. The important thing to remember is that our office was really 60 stories up.

Anyway, we finally got down, walked across the street to One Police Plaza, walked up the loooooong flight of stairs that would get us to Pace University which we also had to walk through to get to the train. The AT&T Building was in the middle of nowhere back then.

Anita and I finally got to the Pace University Campus preparing for our three or four block walk to the train station. It was a hot day in July and maybe 6:45 pm. The campus was deserted being that it was summer, late in the day, and very few students were around.

So we were strolling along when Anita looked up and asked me what was hanging in the sky. “Well,” I said,” it’s obviously a huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie.” She agreed. We stopped and stared at it for a while wondering why it wasn’t moving and just what it might be.

Through the years that Anita and I were friends we were very use to strange occurrences. At times it was almost exciting to see what we could conjure up during the day but we were very careful and knew when to keep on moving along. Which is exactly what we decided would be best to do at that moment.

We walked a few steps when we saw a man walking our way. Anita and I glanced at each other getting ready to run if we had to. The man walked towards us, smiled, and then his eyes started to glow red. This was not the sun reflecting off him, this was not some shadows playing tricks with our eyesight, the man’s eyes glowed a deep red. Believe me or not, it doesn’t matter, but Anita and I were not happy about this encounter.

He walked past us. I looked at Anita, she looked at me, and we both turned to look at the man, who wasn’t there any longer. There were no buildings he could have ducked into and even if there were it would have taken him longer than two seconds to get to one.

So the man was gone and all that remained of him was his glowing red eyes that Anita and I saw. We looked up to the huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie still hanging in the sky. Anita turned to me and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I didn’t disagree and we practically ran to the train station for safety. Speaking as a native New Yorker, when you’re seeking “safety” in an underground train station something pretty bad must be happening because “safety” and underground trains don’t go hand in hand.

What was that cigar-shaped “thing-a-mahooie?” I don’t know. Can men really have glowing red eyes? I don’t know. If Google were around back in the 70’s maybe I would have research these things but I doubt if even Google could have come up with an answer.

Do I believe in Aliens with glowing red eyes? Hell yes! Along with my belief of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night I believe that aliens from other planets have landed here thousands of years ago and are preparing to attack. Well, maybe not attack, I don’t believe that, but I do think that we are not alone and neither does my good friend in New Jersey who has seen her share of space crafts as she walks her dogs. She calls me every time she sees one. No, my friend in New Jersey doesn’t indulge in a nip of alcohol before her walks. Maybe a cookie or two but never alcohol.

One thing that has happened to Anita and myself did frighten us. I still wonder/worry about it to this day and I have no idea how to explain it but that story is for another time and another day.

 

The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

Author Stephen Baxter has continued where H G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” ended. The Martians might have been defeated by Earthly germs 14 years earlier but they are a smart species and have figured out how to get around that so they came back to Earth to take over not just England but the rest of the world.

The new battle is worse than the first and it appears that the only person who could defeat the Martians is a journalist and sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins. Some kind of new germ was put into her bloodstream and all she has to do now is get near enough to the invaders to let the germs work its magic against them. But it won’t be easy getting close to them and she needs a lot of help from some British soldiers and other people she meets along her journey across occupied England. And now that the Martians have landed in the United States’ New York, things are looking gloomier every day.

The Massacre of Mankind” by Stephen Baxter is a good enough book even though it’s well over twice as long as Wells’ original novel. Stephen Baxter, who is an excellent science fiction writer, does tend to like descriptions and this book is filled with them bringing the page count to close to 500. I tend to scan descriptions preferring to read the story itself not really caring how green the grass is or isn’t. But Baxter did a nice job at describing what the Martians were doing to their human captives, the experiments that were being run on them, and how the humans were forced to live. I’m not sure if there was supposed to be a Nazi comparison but it kind of felt that way to me. Ah, what do I know?

I’d recommend reading this novel if it’s your cup of tea but be warned that is long and a bit drawn out at times. And if you’ve never read H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” Amazon’s Kindle edition is free as of this posting. The original is very good and with only 230 pages you can get through it in no time flat.

massacre

The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

I’ve always enjoyed short stories and I especially enjoy horror short stories. With “The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1)” by David Tallerman horror lovers get a great mix of scary tales.

The mix includes ghosts that roam a hotel; An expedition onto a cold, snowy mountain where aliens want to take over the Earth; A hidden cave where a young girl gets lost while the boy who loves her attempts to save her from a life with some strange creatures; A man living in a seemingly jail cell, not knowing how he got there and discovers that the door isn’t locked and wonders what is going on outside; A strange beast who has to create scarecrows to protect his crops; A soldier during WWI stuck in a bunker where two groups of rats battle each other; A 7 year-old little girl who has a strange friend; and many other tales. All told there are about 23 thought provoking, chilling stories that are sure to keep you up at night reading them.

Author, David Tallerman knows how to tell a story suitable for scaring listeners by the campfire on a chilly night.

As with any anthology, some of the stories are a little better than others but all of them achieve the purpose of introducing readers to strange people, creatures, and places that only live in the depths of a horror writer’s mind. It looks like I’ll have to find the second book to of this set and see what else is living in Mr. Tallerman’s head.

I have no problem recommending this terrific horror book of short stories to anyone.

“I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.”

the sign in the moonlight

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy Peterson lives in the spooky town of Castle Rock, Maine. Strange things have been going on there for decades but the inhabitants take it all in stride.

Twelve-year old Gwendy is more or less an average teen. Maybe a little too chubby but she does love her chocolate. I can relate. But Gwendy is determined to try to get a little slimmer so every day she runs up the Suicide Stairs to get to Castle View where there’s a park where you can sit for a spell and a baseball field if you’re inclined to play ball but Gwendy just wants to run up the steps for the exercise.

One day she gets to the top of the stairs and sees a man sitting on a bench. He’s wearing black jeans, a black coat, and a black hat. He calls Gwendy over and gives her a box and tells her to hold on to it for him. The box has some buttons on it. If she presses one button a piece of chocolate will come out in the shape of an animal. The chocolate button is good but he tells her that the other buttons might have serious consequences if she presses them. She’s told she can press any button she wants whenever she wants but she’ll never know what will happen if she does.

Gwendy takes the box and every day presses the button for the chocolate and even though she comes close to pressing one of the other buttons she always stops herself.

Changes are happening to Gwendy in the course of the years she has the box. She’s lost a lot of weight, has become beautiful, has lots of friends, her grades in school are phenomenal but those other buttons are calling her name. Just to see what happens Gwendy presses one of the non chocolate buttons – just to see what happens – just to see.

“Gwendy’s Button Box” by Stephen King is a wonderful story. You can read the 180 pages in one day. You won’t be able to put it down because you want to know what happens.

Author Stephen King is an amazing storyteller. His short stories are much better than his longer novels because he cuts to the chase without long drawn out descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, I read his novels too but I think his short stories far surpass them.

The ending of “Gwendy’s Button Box” is unique and not really expected but let’s just say that Stephen King does his best writing when he talks about the innocence of children.

Pick up this short book, visit Castle Rock, Maine and find out what’s going on with Gwendy’s button box.

Gwendy

 

Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson

Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson

Robots have won the war against humans in just a few days and now the human race lives in despair and poverty. If they’re lucky, or really unlucky, they can make it to age 50. Many of them are put in prison for any infringement of the law like not bowing down to the Hu-Bots when they’re told to do so. But the human species never goes down without a good solid fight and even after ten years of the Hu-Bots ruling over them, humans are still determined to fight and get rid of the robots that man had created.

Six and Dubs are two teens who do whatever they can to get back at the robots including stealing a car from the Hu-Bot Elite Police. Soon the robots are after them, determined to kill the two teens. But Six and Dubs hide from the Hu-Bot Police and find a trusted friend in MikkyBo an Elite Hu-Bot Police Detective. Together they plan to somehow rid and reprogram the world of the robot tyrants so the world will be safe for humanity again.

“Humans, Bow Down” by James Patterson is a dystopian novel so I thought I’d enjoy it. I kind of didn’t care for it much. First of all it reads like a Young Adult book. I have nothing against YA I’m just not a fan of them.

In “Humans Bow Down” you have a teen girl, Six, who gets the best of adults and robots and knows more than they do too. Of the few adult figures in the book the closest one to Six is the Hu-Bot MikkyBo. At first MikkyBo is a strong adult character but eventually she ends up being almost child-like and acts younger than Six. The reasons for the change in the character is explained but I think the authors take the change too far.

I say authors because Patterson wrote this book with Emily Raymond and it’s illustrated by Alexander Ovchinnikov. Yes, there are pictures in the book. They’re nice but I have to wonder why an adult book needs a half page picture on every other page.

This is far from one of Patterson’s best stories. The novel ends too fast without really explaining how things occurred. I mean, how did the humans gain control over the robots? And worse yet, I think Patterson might be planning a sequel to “Humans Bow Down.” If that happens I doubt if I’ll read it.

“Humans Bow Down” is not a good science fiction book or a good dystopian novel. Not really worth the time to read.

Stick to Patterson’s earlier novels before he started writing with others.