Review: Sing for the Dead by P J Schnyder

sing for the dead by pj schnyderFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: London Undead #2
Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: November 4, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Kayden, a lone were-leopard allied with the London werewolf pack to keep the zombie infestation in check, is used to working solo—until he discovers a beautiful fae woman surrounded by the aftermath of battle. He’s immediately drawn to Sorcha, but quickly discovers she’s much more than a pretty face.

Half Bean Sidhe and half berserker, Sorcha trained over centuries to become the perfect warrior. She agrees to work with local weres to investigate a new type of zombie capable of coordinated attacks—and is partnered with Kayden. He’s strong, darkly handsome and completely unafraid of her. And his kiss fills her with insatiable desire instead of bloodlust.

As Kayden and Sorcha work together, their attraction grows and their deepest scars are bared to each other. But with the force behind the deadly new zombies poised to overwhelm the city, Sorcha can only pray that the next time her bloodlust strikes, Kayden isn’t among the fallen…

My Review:

bite me by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is the second book in PJ Schnyder’s London Undead trilogy, and reading it right after I finished Bite Me (see review) was terrific! I feel like I’m getting more answers to how this world got so messed up, wrapped inside a very interesting love story and edge of the seat action/adventure

London is going to hell in a handcart. The zombies roaming the city looking for food and fresh “converts” continue to grow in numbers, but even worse, there seems to be a new breed that is less brainless.

I’m not sure whether smart zombies are scarier than totally mindless zombies, but I wouldn’t want to find out. Organized zombies, run for your life!

We’ve met hero Kayden before; he is a were-leopard who is helping to patrol the post-zombie London with the werewolf pack we met in Bite Me. Leopards and were-leopards don’t normally make packs of their own, but the human part of Kayden understands the value of having people at your back that you can trust; while his were-side appreciates the value of banding together to fight the common enemy.

Even the best warrior in the world has to let down his guard sometimes.

Speaking of warriors, the heroine of Sing for the Dead is something different, Sorcha is half baen-sidhe and half berserker, which makes her all warrior almost all the time. Except when she collapses after her berserker side comes out to play.

Bean-sidhe, or banshees as they are more commonly known, have been considered omens of death. They keen for the recently deceased. But in this mythology, it’s only one part of what they do; they also comfort the injured and ease the soul’s passage to the next life. It’s a healing magic that Sorcha can’t share, because of her berserker side.

(For another take on banshees, or a particular half-banshee, try the terrifically fun Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee.)

Sorcha has come to London to investigate reports of fae deaths at the hands of the zombies. Not that everyone isn’t dying, but the deaths of the immortal fae are particularly ominous, especially when it is discovered that feeding the zombies fae blood makes the damn things intelligent.

Just what this post-apocalypse doesn’t need, smart running dead, instead of stupid walking dead!

But Kayden and Sorcha discover that they need each other; both as warrior allies and to light each other’s way in this very dark world. They both face demons from their pasts, but it takes a long while before they figure out that they are stronger standing together than they each are alone.

Escape Rating B+: It was great to find out more about the world that Schnyder has created; the deeper we get into it the more interesting it is. I hope that we find out how things got started, but the glimpses into the origin of the plague really make the overall story deeper.

Based on events in this story, it doesn’t seem like things have been bad a terribly long time. But the road to hell in the handcart has obviously gone downhill fast. It also seems like there is a wider world outside the London hellzone, and not just among the fae. The idea that there are human idiots coming to “big game hunt” the zombies is all too realistic, but I wonder about the conditions in the part of the world they are coming from.

Sorcha and Kayden’s romance starts out hotter than the romance in Bite Me, and it works. They are both experienced warriors who are used to fighting on their own and don’t expect any sweetness or softness in their lives. So their relationship starts out as sexual release, and moves slowly into love. Neither of them is used to relying on anyone else, and trust takes a while to build. This is a story where insta-lust morphs over time into love, and it’s the right thing for this pair.

survive to dawn by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is an action-packed adventure with a love story about two fighters who fight each other first, and for each other second. If you want to check out the third book in the series, Survive to Dawn, take a look at today’s review at The Book Pushers.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Bite Me by P J Schnyder

Fit muscular man exercising with dumbbellFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: London Undead #1
Length: 89 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: June 24, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Few people walk the streets of London since the zombie outbreak, but that’s not an issue for Seth. As a werewolf, he can handle himself and save humans reckless enough to take a nighttime stroll. While on patrol he comes across a group of people under attack. The one woman brave enough to take a stand against the zombies catches his eye—and not just because of her way with a gun. Learning the beautiful woman is homeless and fends for herself only intensifies his urge to protect and care for her.

Maisie can’t help but admit that she’s attracted to her werewolf rescuer. She’s drawn to Seth’s strength and ferocity, and finds herself opening up to him in ways she never imagined, even though she’s determined to not rely on Seth or anyone else. She doesn’t want another person to get hurt—or die—for her sake. She has enough scars, physical and emotional, from the last time…

But when Seth realizes something is drawing the zombies to Maisie, there may be nothing he can do to save her…

My Review:

Bite Me is a very cool little novella, with some neat worldbuilding and a sweet/hot romance at its center.

It’s also gritty, post-apocalyptic and absolutely a tease for the next books in the series.

pride and prejudice and zombies by seth grahame smithThere are lots of stories where the vampires come out of the coffin or the werewolves stop hiding behind the full moon, but this is the first one I’ve seen where it feels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies got thrown into the mix, and I mean that in a totally good way (I loved the first one, but the joke went on too long).

In Schnyder’s dangerous new world, an absolute pandemic of zombies is hunting London in mindless, flesh-eating packs. No one knows how the plague started, but now there seem to be only two options; you run or you fight.

What little law and order is left to hunt the zombies has been augmented by the London werewolf pack. Weres are immune to the zombie virus. So are fae and vampires, but those supernatural creatures have yet to expose their existence in the light of day (or night, as the case may be).

So the werewolves are attempting to protect what’s left of the city’s inhabitants, along with the help of the police. Most of society’s infrastructure is pretty much gone. The people who remain inside the quarantine zone hang onto life by their bloody fingernails.

Maisie operates a veterinary clinic. A surprising number of insane idiots come from America and other less-infected places to go “big game hunting” for zombies in London, bringing their pets and their hunting dogs.

Seth is the alpha of the London werewolf pack. Their worlds shouldn’t connect. But when Seth finds Maisie calmly shooting down a zombie horde in Hyde Park with pistols in both hands, he’s intrigued. He likes her practicality, and he’s appreciative of the excellence of her aim.

He intervenes, not because she needs help as because he can’t resist her blend of death and moxie. He thinks he has all the time in the world to court her the way she should be.

Then he discovers that the zombies have not only evolved, but that they are targeting her.

Escape Rating B: I always want more worldbuilding. This novella is both short and the first book in the series, so as much as I enjoyed it, I kept wondering how the zombie plague manifested, when, and what happened in the first few years of reactions. Also what was the reaction when the werewolves pitched in to patrol.

I didn’t say “how the zombie plague started” because people don’t see to know that. I can accept that it might not be known, and that part of the longer story arc is the hunt for both cause and cure.

The London that is being overrun by the zombies feels like it is dying. It almost felt like the story was steampunk or alternate Victorian, not because there is steam technology but because life is reverting back to historic patterns as the standard of living falls precipitously.

There isn’t a lot of time for character development, but there are hints. Both Seth and Maisie carry deep emotional scars, and neither of them is used to relying on others for assistance. They wake something up in each other, mostly because neither of them wants to need another being, ever again, and yet they are both achingly lonely. Two practical minded, independent people who are perfect made to face danger together.

sing for the dead by pj schnyderI’m glad I started this series after three books are out; it means that I can dive into the next one (Sing for the Dead) right away!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Author Laura Kaye on Contemplating Zombies – The Walking Dead + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome Laura Kaye, the author of the fantastic (literally, it’s based on Greek mythology!) Hearts of the Anemoi series (North of Need, West of Want) and the brand spanking new South of Surrender (review here). Laura’s going to talk about her other supernatural addiction, ZOMBIES! Go Laura!


Contemplating Zombies – The Walking Dead

by Laura Kaye

I’m very excited to be at Reading Reality today to celebrate the release of my Greek-mythology-inspired South of Surrender, the third book in my Hearts of the Anemoi series. This book is about the Supreme God of the South Wind and Summer, Chrysander Notos, who literally falls into the life of human mortal Laney Summerlyn, who is nearly blind. Chrys’s hard landing into Laney’s life forces her to confront a new reality—that other, supernatural beings exist in the world.

The Walking Dead (2010-)One of my favorite things about reading paranormal stories is watching the human characters learn that paranormal things exist in the world and try to figure out how to accept and deal with that. And I think that’s why The Walking Dead TV show has become my newest paranormal obsession. Yes, I’m late to the party! But within the past week, I’ve watched the whole first season and the first episodes of the second, and I am hooked. This is interesting for me, because zombies in general do not attract me. I mean, I write Greek gods and vampire warrior kings—the definition of sexy! LOL

One of the reasons this show has hooked me is because zombies are truly horrible to contemplate. Real people you used to know and love become mindless, flesh-eating attackers. Everything about that is horrible to think about. And you MUST kill them to save yourself. The sheer horror of that makes you think how you would deal with it, and this tweaks my interest in watching the human characters learn about and deal with the paranormal. Put zombies into a kind of dystopian, post-apocalyptic framework where their presence has led to the downfall of society and government and now you’re forced to think about what it would be like to live in that kind of world—and whether you’d think it was worth fighting to do so.

Another reason The Walking Dead appeals to me is that there’s plenty of that old-fashioned horror movie goodness of things jumping out at you and making you bury your fashion in a couch pillow. There’s tons of moments where you find yourself holding your breath alongside the characters so the zombies don’t hear you either. And, when you turn the TV off late at night, you find yourself peering outside your front windows to see whether Walkers are shuffling around in the street outside your house LOL. This is horror done well.

A final reason the show is so much fun to watch is because they’ve given us characters to love and root for. We don’t want the small children to die. Or the family that fought to be reunited. Or the kind-hearted old man. Or Daryl! For Pete’s sake! LOL And so we worry about them every step of the way, and that certainly invests us as viewers.

South of Surrender by Laura KayeNow, zombies have absolutely nothing to do with South of Surrender, LOL, except that as a life-long fan of all things paranormal, both of these are the kinds of stories I love! But, to give you more of a taste of my story, here’s an excerpt of the moment right after heroine Laney Summerlyn has been attacked by one of Chrys’s enemies:

Needing to see her more clearly, Chrys willed on the lights and dragged gentle fingertips over her cheek. Her shirt and shorts were badly singed. Sweat beaded over her red, puffy skin. And, good gods, was she on the verge of blistering?

Enough! She needs you!

Too hot. He had to bring her temperature down. Fast.

Without a moment’s debate, Chrys willed all of their clothing away. The more of him that touched her, the faster he could syphon the heat from her body. He moved to cover her, and hated himself a little more—if that was possible—for having to push through the ancient anxiety that gripped him as he anticipated all that skin-on-skin contact.

His chest settled on her chest. His hips on her hips. His legs covered and surrounded hers.

Scorching. She was absolutely, intoxicatingly on fire. It would’ve been mind-numbingly arousing if he didn’t know the threat the heat posed to her well-being. Still, blood filled his cock and turned it to steel between them. He gritted his teeth, unable to control his body’s natural reaction to the temperature.

Breathing deeply, he concentrated on pulling the heat into himself.

Please let this work. Gods, maybe the amulet hadn’t protected her after all.

He absorbed what he could. And then he took more. He would take whatever he had to. For her.

Chrys pulled the energy in until it turned volcanic inside him. Restraining that amount of power had him shaking so hard he feared hurting her. He locked his jaw and muscled through the burn, intent upon his life not to fail at this one thing.

Come on, Laney! Come back to me.


Laura KayeAbout Laura KayeLaura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

To learn more about Laura, visit her website and blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


How many of you are addicted to The Walking Dead, too? If you are, what about it most appeals to you? One commenter who leaves their email address will win a $5 gift card to either Amazon or B&N. Open to international. Good luck!

For a chance to win the grand prize on Laura’s blog tour, use the Rafflecopter here:

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Dearly, Departed

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel is an excellent read. It’s also absolutely the best YA post-holocaust steampunk zombie romance I’ve ever read. Admittedly, it’s also the only YA post-holocaust steampunk zombie romance I’ve ever read.

Nora Dearly is the daughter of the late Dr. Victor Dearly. As in Dr. Victor Dearly, the recently departed. The title of the book is a pun. Oh is it ever.

Miss Dearly’s world is that of the Neo-Victorians. You see, we screwed up. Climate change happened, and it sucked. The survivors ended up in our equatorial regions, and they were the hardiest of the survivors. They deliberately looked back in history for an era of peace, stability and civilization. What did they choose? The Victorian Era! Even as they recovered our technology, and even surpassed it, their society became further entrenched in the cultural and societal norms of the Victorian Age.  So by Miss Dearly’s time, we have airships, steampower, electric power, digital diaries, parasols, crinoline, and corsetry. In other words, we have steampunk.

The Neo-Victorians are at war with the Punks. The two sides have somewhat different views of how technology should and should not be used. And everybody wants everyone else’s territory. War is like that. But there’s a much bigger, badder threat from the outside, and both the NVs and the Punks are using the war against each other as a smokescreen to cover up who they are really fighting. They’re really fighting–zombies.

There’s a mutated disease out there in the wilds. It’s called “The Laz”. That’s a bit of appropriately gallows humor, as Lazarus was a man raised from the dead. Well, the Laz does that too, sort of. Victims of the Laz may or may not be as functional as the biblical Lazarus when they come back.

Nora’s father, Dr. Victor Dearly, figured out a way to keep victims of the Laz mentally functional and as physically capable as possible for as long as possible. For that, he became Director of Military Health of the Department of Military Health. It’s usually referred to as DoMH, pronounced “Doom”.

With the aid of Dr. Dearly’s research, there are now zombie troops fighting zombie incursions. In secret, of course. Nora knows none of this. All she knows is that her father is the only one who treats her like an intelligent human being, instead of a decoration, which is what girls are supposed to be. Then he dies and leaves her an orphan in the care of a cold-hearted Aunt.

Then the zombies come to New London. Opposing forces converging on Nora Dearly. One set to protect her, one to capture her. Nora finds herself whisked away from her home to the base for the NV Zombie unit in the care of Captain Bram Griswold, and her entire universe falls apart and reassembles itself, much like the human body does when it is attacked by the Laz disease.

It should be the end of the world as Nora knows it. A proper Neo-Victorian young lady should fall apart. But Nora is done falling apart. The new Nora kicks aside convention and kicks some serious ass. I like her a lot.

Escape Rating A: This turned out to be a great book. There was a tremendous amount going on, but all the elements were needed to make it work. I couldn’t figure out how anyone could make a zombie the hero/love interest, but it honestly does work in this book. On the other hand, if this were a contemporary book, and Nora actually wanted to have sex, I’m not sure how that would be managed. But since it is totally realistic for her not to even think of going there, it works. Nora wants someone to treat her like a real person and not a decorative object. Bram completely does that. This is about emotion, not body parts.

I’m looking forward to the next book, Dearly Beloved. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. I hope there’s a cure. I want Bram and Nora to have a happy ever after. That’s not realistic, but I want it for them just the same. Call me an optimist. Or call me a romantic.

What could Abraham Lincoln and Elizabeth Tudor possibly have in common?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies coverThere has been a trend in pop literature in the past two years to re-write great works of literature to include horror elements, usually for comic or satiric effect. Some of the results are hilarious, some are fairly dreadful. Patient Zero in this trend (to mix metaphors in the extreme) was the strange, bizarre and absolutely screamingly funny in-joke that was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, written by the great Jane Austen and edited or amalgamized (or whatever) by Seth Grahame-Smith. This crazy thing, I personally think at least partially on the strength of a truly fantastic cover, was a surprise commercial success. Therefore, it begat sequels, spinoffs and sideways imitations.

Now they have slipped sideways into a variation of alternate history where real historic figures were supposedly vampire slayers or vampire hunters. I kid you not. On the surface, two historic figures less likely to imagine as even having the spare time to stalk vampires during the night than either Abraham Lincoln or Queen Elizabeth I could hardly be found. Why pick them? What could they have in common to make them likely, or even compelling, targets for such a treatment.

There are so many differences. Male and female, obviously. An elected leader vs a queen by right of inheritance. They are separated, not just by an ocean of salt water, but by an ocean of three centuries of time. And yet, they are both figures that fascinate in history. They both led their nations during eras when those nations were on the cusp on becoming, but had not yet become world powers. Times when their people were under grave threat. From our modern viewpoint, they are seen as leaders in times and places where personal leadership particularly mattered, and that they rose to the challenges they faced.

Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer CoverThe Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer, is written using a time-honored literary tradition. Elizabeth’s secret diaries were supposedly unearthed during the very real fire at Windsor castle in 1992 and the first volume is now being published, after the public events mentioned in the diary have been verified. The story is told in Elizabeth’s voice, her perspective on events in the very first weeks of her reign as she discovers that she is the heir, not just to the throne, but also to the powers of vampire slayer, the first in a millenium–the first since her ancestress, Morgaine, better known to history as Morgan le Fay.  And the King of the Vampires that Elizabeth must face is none other than Mordred, the illegitimate son of King Arthur.  Tying the vampires to the end of Camelot makes for masterful storytelling, and leaves the door open for a sequel.  Because there is a question that runs throughout the story.  Mordred may not be Elizabeth’s enemy.  Historically, England in Elizabeth’s time had many enemies, particularly Spain, as the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada showed.  Those enemies are very much present, as are the foes she has within her court.

Lucy WestonHowever, as much as I enjoyed the story itself, and the melding of the real history with the supernatural elements, trying to sell the idea that the editor of the diaries was the Lucy Weston from Bram Stoker’s Dracula was just one stage too far.  There’s a concept called the “willing suspension of disbelief” and that just tore it.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter coverAbraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, also pretends to be a publication of secret diaries.  But at least the “real” author (Seth Grahame-Smith again) isn’t claiming to be someone else fictional.  The author tries to make the diary entries sound like Lincoln, and to therefore sound like someone writing in the mid-19th century.  It’s a difficult trick to manage, and whether he completely succeeds, I’m not certain.

But the premise is compelling, if strange.  Abraham Lincoln experienced several deaths in his early years of the people surrounding him.  Deaths that contributed to the man he became.  Both his mother and his first love (if you subscribe to that belief in the first place).  In Grahame-Smith’s version, both of those deaths were caused by vampires.  And Lincoln becomes a vampire hunter out of a desire for revenge.  Unlike Elizabeth, he has no special talent for the work, he is simply big and strong and wants to kill as many as possible.

The Civil War, the defining event of the 19th century United States, is not left out.  In this version of both the War and Lincoln’s life, vampires control the Southern States, and are slave owners.  The vampires want to expand slavery, because slaves are not merely property, they are food.  No one questions what happens to someone else’s slaves.  Humans are always food to vampires, but this objectifies the practice even more.  Human slave owners are colluding with the vampires, either out of a desire to be on the winning side, out of a hope to be spared, or merely out of the knowledge that as collaborators, they will be taken last.  Discovering what vampires do to slaves makes Lincoln a firm abolitionist in addition to a vampire hunter.

But Lincoln has no particular talent for this work, he is just strong and vicious.  At the age of 16, he is nearly killed on a hunt.  He is saved by a vampire named Henry Sturgis, who, along with many of his fellow vampires, believes that slavery is wrong, that killing humans other than criminals for food is wrong, and that the slave holders and other “evil” vampires must be stopped at all costs.  Henry also declares that he has had glimpses of Lincoln’s destiny, and that Lincoln is “just too interesting to die.”

Martin Luther King Dream speechThis book was not about changing history.  Everything that needs to happen, does happen.  The world we know, does come to pass.  But history is viewed through a different lens.  “What if?” asks the author, and then views that “if” through Lincoln’s point of view.   The North still won the war.  Lincoln was still shot and killed at Ford’s Theatre.  The difference?  The vampires found the new Union without slavery inhospitable and fled the country.  John Wilkes Booth was a vampire.  But the image that sticks with me from the book is the ending.  Lincoln and Henry standing in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial, watching Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.