Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review: Thicker Than Blood by Claire C Riley/Madeline Sheehan

Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything…Even an apocalypse.

Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves face-to-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize.

Traveling across a broken and infection-ridden country; the road-weary group are pitted against endless violence, improbable circumstances, and the ultimate loss. Everything comes at a price—especially safety, the cost of which could very well strip them of the one thing they’ve tried so hard to cling to: their humanity. Yet along with all the trials they’re forced to endure, there’s also hope in the form of love. Having loved Leisel from afar, Alex attempts to put the pieces of her fractured heart back together. But in such a savage world, is there room for love?

In a place of nightmares-made-reality, where the living should be feared far more than the dead, an unbreakable friendship and a love amongst all odds can mean the difference between life and death.

There are friends…

My Review: 
I have seen a lot of very highly rated reviews for this book and with the zombie factor I was really keen to read it. Sadly, I just didn't like it at all and could not finish the book.

It is set in a grim dystopian future where the zombie apocalypse has occured and survivors seek safety inside walled and protected sanctuaries. But for the women, safety comes at a price. Leisel is forced to marry the compound leader and is raped and beaten on a daily basis. One day she snaps and kills him, and knows if she cannot escape her cell and the compound, she will be put to death. Her best friend Evelyn was also forced to marry a high ranking man and she turns to her secret lover Jami to get help for Leisel. Also wanting to help is Alex, who has secretly loved Leisel and wants a new life for them outside. I liked the idea of this grim world where escaping to be amongst zombies is a better life than being protected by evil men.

I found the start of the book interesting as they try to escape from the compound and I liked the two men Alex and Jami the best. Anyone who has read the book will now know why I wasn't happy with some of the plot choices. I'm not putting spoilers in here but I might say more when I post it on my blog. Some of the situations they find themselves in were interesting and some I disliked but I would have finished the book and set aside minor plot gripes if I had liked the characters.

The friendship with Leisel and Evelyn is what the whole story is built around and I did find it a bit annoying that we are reminded of how great this friendship is on every second page. At times I felt as if I was being hit over the head with it. It did get a bit repetitive with that. To be honest I didn't see it as a great friendship. Leisel is weak, no doubt because of her ordeal, and lets Evelyn dictate to her and at times I just wished she would grow a spine. Evelyn gets angry and jealous when Alex gets close to Leisel and the spiteful bitch does everything she can to spoil this blooming relationship, to keep Leisel's friendship all to herself. The lengths she goes to are pretty shocking and I hated that whole part of the book. It is also where I abandoned it.

Evelyn is someone I hated and despised. It seems she is allowed to have relationships or casual sex with whoever she wants but Leisel is not allowed to grasp some happiness with Alex. Oh no that isn't allowed at all. Leisel must care only about Evelyn or be punished for it. How is Evelyn better than the men who held them captive? Her friendship with Leisel is obsessive and manipulative and is not healthy in any way. I was also expecting it to turn sexual at any moment. However it was the obsessive side of it that bothered me. Evelyn had no interest in Leisel being happy so I don't regard her as much of a friend.

The zombies are more of a background feature in this book so if you are expecting a fast paced zombie novel then you might be disappointed. This book focuses on personal relationships and the evil things that people do during the apocalypse. It is well enough written but too slow for my personal tastes along with the other issues I've mentioned.

Not my thing I'm afraid.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Book Review: Z1N1 by Mitchell Layne Cook

So, what's really going to happen on the winter solstice of December 21, 2012? Zombies are going to destroy the world. That little nugget of wisdom should not surprise anyone. One can never fully discount the apocalyptic emergence of an undead pandemic. How did this happen?

Governments rush to vaccinate their citizens against an exceptionally virulent form of the H1N1 virus. However, certain celestial events cause the sun to release enormous amounts of solar flares and radiation starting on this fateful day. In the span of a few months after the winter solstice, thousands upon thousands of individuals treated with an inadequately tested vaccine become increasingly ill and eventually die. 

My Review: 
Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot resist grabbing zombie books, even if the book itself has had mixed reviews. I like to try things for myself and make up my own mind. After trying this one, I found myself agreeing with the negative reviews I'd previously read.

I found it slow, a bit silly in places and lacking in cohesion. We start with a group of survivors which include a military vet and his sniper sister, yet the group of them cannot deal with ten zombies or manage to shoot them either in the head or disable them to finish off later. A military vet and a sniper can't kill ten shambling zombies? Right.

We then jump back to the end of 2011 and follow the long and dull story of a group of lab workers who are working with new flu viruses. We follow their work through the whole of 2012, focusing on how the world did not end as predicted, and we follow them into another year. It seems there is an agreement that countries can sign up to in order to have vaccines sent out to them should an outbreak occur but corrupt employees are stockpiling some of the virus vaccine to sell to countries not covered by the agreement. This is all about corrupt officials stealing from stockpiles to make money for themselves and we don't even see another zombie until March 2013!!! So that was 30% of the book read before we see the slow start of a zombie outbreak! Even then it is focused on the bad guys trying to cover up the fact that their stupid vaccine is causing the zombie side effects and trying to make sure that nobody survives to tell about it!

Ugh. I like my zombie books to be focused on the zombies and the survivors. This was so far removed from a traditional zombie book that it frankly bored me senseless. I didn't like the characters, I wasn't interested in following the story of how corrupt officials covered their tracks and who they did business with. I just wanted the zombie outbreak and by the time we actually got to it I was no longer interested in reading it. It is all conspiracy and no zombie!

I didn't finish it and if you like fast paced zombie action, you should probably give it a miss.  
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Monday, 22 August 2016

Chuckles Goes Olympic Final Round Up

So here it is, my last medal update for the Olympics and the last few days have seen us secure more medals and second place in the medal table ahead of China! 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze, which beats our tally from London 2012. Brilliant performance from the Brits! There are a few rising stars to watch out for in the coming years. 

Gold for the amazing Mo Farah! Every time he came under pressure in the race, he dug in and found more to hold off the others. You could see how much Mo wanted that win! The guy is amazing to watch! Loved the cheeky moment on the podium when he produces the other gold from his pocket to wear!

Also retaining her Olympic title in boxing was Nicola Adams! Not only is she a superb athlete, that infectious grin of hers is very endearing!

Gold in the canoe sprint for the brilliant Liam Heath!

Another silver in the boxing for Joe Joyce!

Bronze for the womens sprint relay team!

Bronze for Vicky Holland in the triathlon! What a great performance!

And Bronze for Bianca Walkden in taekwondo! Great things are ahead for her I think!

There will be a few more Olympic posts in the next week or so looking at the highlights, low points and updating the drug issues surrounding the games. Look out for those! But for now, Chuckles has done her Olympics and needs a good sleep!!!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Reading With Chuckles

I have renamed my TBR Reading Challenge and changed it back to Reading with Chuckles as it sounds better, especially at times when I have no specific challenge running. So this is where I'll share what I read and abandoned each week, and I'll give the odd update on the state of my poor TBR! It does suffer at times...! The link under the book takes you to the Goodreads page for that book so you can decide whether to read it, and see my reviews when they are posted.

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I last did a reading post which shows you the kind of trough I've been going through with the insomnia and then the Olympics getting in the way of quality reading time. These are the books I've read since my last Reading With Chuckles at the end of July. I hope to get back on full schedule tonight and do my final Olympic post tomorrow!


JK Rowling etc-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

CL Swinney-Robert Black 

Scott Campbell Jr-Giving the Finger 

Josh & Jake Harris-Captain Phil Harris 

Sig Hansen-Deadliest Waters 

I also read a few more Berenstain Bears books in between events but I'm not listing them all here. These can be seen on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Speaking of which I am 5 books away from hitting my 200 book target! Yea! I hope to fit in a lot more before the end of the year!

How are you guys doing on your reading challenges? Read anything good recently? 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Stacking the Shelves #145

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! Click on the link under the book to find its page on Goodreads or Smashwords. 

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!

Another mad week of watching the Olympics. I've been so nervous that I've felt sick watching some of them. Sport is meant to be fun to watch but I'm getting very stressed with it all! I still have a few nervous moments ahead as we reach the end of the competition. I only hope more of these drug cheats get stripped of their medals and banned for life. I hate seeing convicted drug cheats back in to take medals from clean athletes. Grrr. Anyway, I have also enjoyed the scenery. What a pity about the crime rate there or I'd love to visit!

On the book side of things I have got limited reading done but better than I expected this week. I hope things will be back to normal come tomorrow night! I haven't been on the computer much so I haven't picked up many new books but I still have some I haven't uploaded from 2 weeks ago so these are featuring today. I intended putting more up but blogger is being totally unresponsive and I'm getting pissed with it messing up graphics, deleting the book covers and putting gaps where they were not required-so I'm quitting for the day!




Chuckles Goes Olympic Day Fourteen

Another good day for Britain! I'm NOT getting tired of saying that! I also had fun watching the conclusion of the BMX event which I love, and seeing Tom Daley cruise through to the diving semi final. What a pity that wasn't the final! I hope he can retain that form today.

Congratulations to Nick Skelton on his individual gold in the showjumping. So often he has been part of medal winning teams but now, a well deserved piece of solo glory!

Gold also to the gritty battling womens hockey team who won gold in a nerve-wracking penalty shoot. They held their nerve and made us proud!

A heartbreaking silver for Lutalo Muhammad who lost the gold in the final seconds of his taekwondo final. I'm gutted for him as he has battled to prove that he was the right man to represent Britain in this event. I can tell him now that he IS the right man and that he let nobody down! He is a great performer and there is more ahead for him in the future.

An excellent bronze for the women sprint relay team! They so much deserve their moment of Olympic glory!

I hope I haven't missed anything out as I still need to catch up on a few things from through the night. Today is another busy day with some good medal hopes!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Chuckles Goes Olympic Day Thirteen

Day Thirteen and the excitement continues for Team GB. Another pile of medals with a few more possible today. Should be another nerve-shredding day! 

What better place to start than the awesome Brownlee brothers taking gold and silver in the triathlon. I love this event and I love these guys! They must rank up there with Britain's greatest athletes! Alistair defends his Olympic title with brother Jonny taking silver.  You guys are something very special!

It was also gold again from Jade Jones in the taekwondo! 

Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills finally got their hands on their sailing gold after waiting for the final medal race!

A brilliant silver for Jon Schofield and Liam Heath in the canoe sprint!

Marcus Ellis and Chris Longridge exceeded all expectations by taking a wonderful bronze in the badminton, Britain's first men's doubles medal!

I was so gutted for Adam Gemili after his outstanding run in the 200 metre final-getting the same time but just edged out of bronze. Agony! He ran so well, he deserved something! 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Book Review: Prepper Central by Chad Evercroft

In a world where everything seemed just fine, long time Prepper Jimmy and his pregnant wife Marge have a different view of the world. Prepping as part of a group called ‘Prepper Central’, the little family is responsible for the stockpile of the Doomsday Prepper Community. When the economy begins taking a turn for the worst, Jimmy ensures that his parents are safe as the newest members of his Cul de Sac Prepping group. Before long, people all over the country lose their jobs, homes and their savings as the major banks of the country begin to collapse. With the authorities unable to keep up with riots, crimes and looting, Colorado quickly turns into a state of Martial Law, forcing the members of ‘Prepper Central’ to secure their neighborhood and protect themselves against the Outsiders.

Find out if Jimmy will be able to protect his pregnant wife, his eccentric parents and the loyal and committed members of his community, ‘Prepper Central’. 

My Review: 
Jimmy and Marge are dedicated preppers and are part of a local group that call themselves Prepper Central. Together the friends and neighbours in this cul-de-sac have planned for disaster with everyone doing their part. As a financial meltdown hits the country, the group are ready to act to protect themselves and their property from those who did not prepare and who want to take what they have.

I liked the idea of everyone on that street being concerned about what would happen in a disaster and how they would cope, realising that there would be safety in numbers. they have their meetings and plans, their stockpiles and people with skills ready to take responsibility for everything from health to security. I liked the community spirit that these neighbours have for each other and the actual characters were pretty likeable.

Jimmy and Marge have one final task-persuading Jimmy's parents that it is time they left their own homes to come and stay with them, but that is not easy when Jimmy's dad is not the sharpest tool in the box! For example, when Jimmy is telling his dad that things will get bad and the shit will hit the fan soon, Jimmy's dad is angry about the mess that will make of the bedsheets! He is a very funny character and I had hoped to see a lot more of him in the book but when he joins Prepper Cental, he just fades into the background which is a bit of a shame.

The book begins just before disaster strikes, and final preps are taking place to get ready. Those outside the cul-de-sac don't seem to be concerned by the turn of events, perhaps thinking that the government will take care of things as has always happened-and these people are about to get a terrible shock. Society breaks down quickly when people run out of food and water and basic services are no longer being supplied. They now look to start stealing from Prepper Central, meaning that full fences are going up to protect the small community, turning it into a prison whose walls must be guarded. And that is just the start of the trouble...

I liked the idea of this book and I'm always a fan of seeing how ordinary people survive in disaster situations. It was certainly a decent read but I felt that there was just something lacking to make it a great book. I felt that some of the best characters were underused and that there could have been a bit more fleshing out of the story in places.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Chuckles Goes Olympic Day Eleven

AWESOME night!!! I had some really nervous moments in the cycling and diving and gymnastics but it's all good! First though, lets congratulate the American gymnast Simone Biles for her outstanding performances and for having that huge smile on her face all the time!

But now to the Brits! It's time to take the hat off to the thunderbolt that is Jason Kenny for holding his nerve during the false starts in the keiran. I was shaking with nerves but he held his to win another gold for Britain, equalling the amazing Chris Hoy!

And his fiancee' Laura Trott became the first British woman to win FOUR gold medals and she's only about 24! 

Giles Scott finally got his chance to grab a gold in the Finn class in the sailing. He's waited a long time for his chance so he fully deserves the glory!

After struggling in the diving prelim and semi final and just squeaking into the final, Jack Laugher pulled off a fantastic set of dives to take silver! Well done young man!

Back at the cycling it was another brilliant silver for Becky James! Katy Marchant took a wonderful bronze which means that every track cyclist in the team won a medal! What a great team performance!

Now to the gymnastic! 16 year old Amy Tinkler, youngest team member got a wonderful bronze in the women's floor! 

And I was so pleased to see Nile Wilson get Britain's first ever medal in the high bar, getting a wonderful bronze! He was outstanding in the team event so I was thrilled to see him get bronze!


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Chuckles Goes Olympic Day Ten

A quieter day in the medal side of things but a lot of Brits trying to get to later stages of things like badminton so still hopes of medals to come. I really need to get some sleep but I'm finding the excitement of the events right before sleepy time is leaving me too hyper to doze off! So lets take a look at yesterdays medals for Team GB.

It was gold in dressage for Charlotte Dujardin, making her the second British woman to win three Olympic gold medals. Well done to her and her beautiful horse Valegro!

Mark Cavendish gets his silver in the cycling omnium after a strong all round performance and good tactics in the final race!

Sophie Hitchon gets a wonderful bronze in the hammer, finishing ahead of a convicted drug cheat in 5th. Great stuff Sophie!!!