Sunday, 22 January 2017

Travels With Chuckles: Ribblehead Viaduct

 

The Ribblehead Viaduct in Yorkshire is such an impressive piece of building work! We stopped at this lay-by so we could hike over to take some closer photos of it before heading to the other side of it to get different views. Being set in a kind of valley made it tricky to get the best pictures due to light issues. We headed onto the hiking 'path' which only goats can negotiate without tripping over uneven bits or stepping in dog poo! Try gagging while shivering in the frigid air and trying to get a breath as the wind howls around you! It was darn cold!!!




Dylan was getting his photo taken underneath the arches at the dedication shrine thing...he's ok, he had fur and wasn't affected by the cold...



Just as we were getting ready to leave and head back to the car, we heard the train horn sound and I was happy to get a few photos of it crossing the Viaduct.




Getting the train was a bonus but being out of shape, I was knackered by the time I got back to the car. It was fun to see something a bit different though. 
 
 


Anyone ever been to this area? I love the Lancashire/Yorkshire/ Cumbria area of England for holidays. Lots of fantastic scenery and places of historical interest!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Stacking the Shelves #165


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 the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't follow you back, sorry! (see below why I say NO)

Authorize DISQUS to use your account?
Disqus is a service and tool for web comments and discussions.
This application will be able to:
*Read Tweets from your timeline.
*See who you follow, and follow new people.
*Update your profile.
*Post Tweets for you.


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 but I will persevere as it only happens the odd time!

Another week goes by and we're already deep into January. My reading is going well and I'm still feeling enthusiastic about my reading, which is good. I need to start deciding what I want to read next month...probably a series catch up, more ebooks and maybe a couple of stand alone paperbacks to get some shelf space back. This week on the book buying side of things, I grabbed some paperbacks from authors I like to get up to date on a few series (The Red and Ranger series both look good plus the 9th book in the Countdown to Armageddon series!), plus a couple of other books I wanted to grab. I plan to start watching The Walking Dead season four on Sunday so I feel as if I'm slowly getting somewhere with my TV watching compared to last year! Just need to get in the mood to watch some films from time to time!

DOWNLOADS:

These are books that I received free through author newsletters so thank you to the authors involved! Very much appreciated!


PAPERBACKS:









NETGALLEY:

Thank you to Headline and Netgalley for these two review titles!


  



















 
 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Witch Song by Amber Argyle (Witch Song #1)


Brusenna is the last.

All the other witches have been captured, their songs stolen and twisted from harmony and growth into chaos and death. She alone must stand against an evil much older and darker than anything she could ever imagine—an evil every witch before her has failed to vanquish.

Brusenna must be the first.


My Review: 
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Senna is an untrained witch who is the last hope for the survival of her kind. On a quest to rescue her mother who is a captive of the Dark Witch, Senna and her allies must uncover her powers and find a way to defeat Espen and save the trapped witches.

This is not my usual type of book. I don't usually read this kind of historical fiction but the paranormal element made me decide to try it and I'm glad that I did. In this book, witches don't have wands or shout spells at each other-instead they sing out their spells in a magical song, which was new and fresh to me. It is always nice when this kind of story produces a new twist to enjoy.

The author does a good job of blending the old historical setting with muskets, sailing ships and superstitious people who fear or adore witches, with a believable and enjoyable paranormal element. There is the good versus evil thread running through the book though the story is not as simple as you first think. The characters are well developed and likeable and when danger strikes you are worried for the safety of your favourites! That is always important to me in a new series because if you hate the characters it is hard to connect with the book itself. I really liked Pogg and I hope to see more of him in later books. Senna is a good female lead who is vulnerable and powerful, and you are rooting for her through all her challenges.

The plot is always moving along at pace. There is a lot of action, fantasy elements, an innocent start to a romance, swashbuckling pirate style ship adventures, magical creatures, duelling witches, magic and lots of adventure. Senna and Joshen make a believable, sweet couple though you know that there are going to be many obstacles to their romance which they will face. The magical fights were well written and I liked the concept of trying to silence each others voices to stop the other casting spells. I was very keen to get straight on to book 2 to see what happens next.

There is no graphic sex or foul language so it is suitable for most YA as well as adult readers.  

Read December 2013.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Book Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid #3)


Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.


My Review: 
Atticus now has to pay his debts, firstly breaking into Asgard to steal apples that will give Laksha the immortality she craves when she plants them to grow her own. Atticus uses the trip to get a lay of the land so he can then settle another debt to a vampire friend by bringing Leif, Gunnar and a few others back to settle their personal vendettas with Thor. Knowing that he will probably have to go on the run if he survives Asgard twice, Atticus starts to settle his affairs and prepare for a new war against the Norse Gods, The Hammers of God and an angry Bacchus, making leaving Tempe an urgent priority.

I found the original trip into Asgard a little confusing to be honest. I'm not greatly familiar with Norse mythology (haven't read the books I own on it yet!) so all the place names and travelling between them just kind of overloaded my brain a bit and I found it all a little hard to follow. It was the same on the return trip in places-my short term memory isn't great so I struggled to remember which God was where, where they were and where they were going. People with better memories will probably not get that confused though. I just found that and the Druid ethics lectures to Granuaile a bit heavy in places.

The actual plot was still interesting. We are introduced to new characters who all have a grudge against Thor for ruining their lives and I loved the campfire tales that they sat and told about it, just before battle, which really united them as a group. It made me want to hurt Thor myself and I had no sympathy for whatever was coming to him. I particularly liked Perun with his humour and hard drinking! I hope to see more of him through the series. I also enjoyed the planning stages of the second raid where Jesus comes to hang out with Atticus and try to persuade him not to attack Asgard. There are a lot of funny moments here when the Hammers of God attack, though some Christians may be offended by this part of the book. I actually enjoyed the addition of him into the plot and found the whole scene funny and entertaining.

"This is one of those situations where I have to stop and ask myself, 'what would I do?'.."-Jesus

The downside to this plot of the attacks on Asgard is that we do see a bit less of Granuaile, Hal, Mrs McDonagh and Oberon, as none of them go on the adventures. Hal is fearing that if something happens to his Alpha Gunnar on the trip, he might be forced to become the new Alpha, and begs Atticus to protect Gunnar. What we do see of Oberon is pretty funny as always. He is just the coolest hound and I'd love to see him hang out with Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones...that would be really entertaining! This time Oberon is becoming obsessed with the perfect drink.

"Out of the steam and the foam and the froth, a man in white with poor eyesight will craft a liquid paradox and it shall be called The Triple Non Fat Double Bacon Five Cheese Mocha!"-Oberon

The action scenes in this book are excellent as always. The Hammers of God attacking Atticus in front of Jesus, the raids on Asgard, the Frost Giants determined to kidnap a half naked Goddess, the fight against the Norse Gods...it was all fast paced, exciting and devastating all at the same time. The humour is there but this book is a bit darker and more emotional than the previous books with several situations that ensure the series will be taking off in a new direction.

I still enjoyed the book and I'm curious as to what will be coming next. 

Read November 2016. 
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Game of Thrones Gossip #2: Westeros


Before we hit the serious topics I wanted to start with a look at Westeros itself and places we visited in season one. All photos used below in this post are of the pop-up guide to Westeros which I got in the Black Friday sales a couple of years ago along with a few action figures! 


Here we have Samwell and Ghost at The Wall. Can you actually imagine the security of your country being handed over to criminals and unwanted sons, most of whom only chose to go there rather than die or be disinherited in some way? It's a pretty scary concept isn't it? I would love to see The Wall if it existed for real-the scale of it is incredible...might get vertigo with the view from the top. Seems ironic that Tyrion Lannister's first idea is to piss over the side of it...! Would you like to see The Wall and Castle Black? Would you join The Night's Watch? I'm too much a coward myself...


Here is Ghost at Winterfell. This is the part of Westeros that I might feel most at home. I relate to the values of the Starks, I LOVE wolves, I would rather wear the warm furs than a fancy dress, Winter is a time of year that I can put up with better than hot summers...I can see myself at Winterfell, sitting reading by that gorgeous tree and pool, enjoying the solitude. How would you cope with living there? Do you like the idea of having your own wolf? I'd love a whole tribe of them! I love the whole look of that amazing Castle!


King's Landing and the Court is one part of Westeros that would never have appealed to me. I very much identify with Arya Stark in that I'm not a girlie girl so I'd hate wearing those big fancy dresses, and I would not enjoy Court life with the scandal and intrigue especially under Lannister rule. I don't like the idea of being told to marry, and ending up with idiots like Joffrey! I would not feel happy or comfortable here as things like jousts don't appeal. Do you like the idea of being at King's Landing with all the tournaments and celebrations? Would you like to be dressed in fancy clothes and invited to Royal events? 


The Eyrie is absolutely stunning from a scenic point of view and I really love the interior with those big sweeping staircases and pretty gardens. The whole Moon Door thing scares me though...I'd be too busy reading some day and fall through the darn thing! I don't much like the idea of being ruled by Lysa and her son but I wouldn't greatly mind living here if I was in command of it. It looks like a pretty safe place to be during a war with its defences. What do you think about living here?


I used to ride horses as a kid under supervision but wasn't confident enough to keep doing it. I loved the smell of the horse, the warmth on his coat on a summer day...but I don't really see me as being Dothraki material y'know? I'd love to be able to speak the language though. I'm not cut out for hot desert living or raiding. Does this appeal to you?

For an added bit of fun, I tried a bit of name generator fun:
http://rumandmonkey.com/widgets/toys/namegen/14783#.WICP5VzE_ct 

As a knight I would be Alyn Blacktyde, fighting on the side of Balon Greyjoy in his rebellion. That is kind of accurate as I have always been drawn to the water. What is dead may never die!

As a bastard I would be Alyn Flowers, again associated with an island lifestyle by the water. I can live with that! The other two options I didn't bother with.



Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Chuckles Chat #2 Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

This week I'm looking at Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends. When I visit blogs, especially blogs of YA readers or see lists on Top Ten Tuesday, this subject comes up. Pick out ten book boyfriends/girlfriends you love, followed by gushing and fangirling/fanguying(?) over the hottest fictional loves! I see it a lot but it never interests me to join in!

I get that there are incredible characters that some of you like to swoon over who would maybe make great lovers in real life, or who are too darn perfect to ever exist. I get that people find it fun to talk about it and compare lists etc. But as much as I enjoy good characters in my books I just don't think about dating them and don't ever bother thinking about them like that. Ever. It just never interests me! I just see them as characters I guess! I just want to read the book, enjoy the plot and characters and then forget about it, move on to the next. I have never felt interested in claiming book boyfriends, comparing their hotness or obsessing over fictional book characters or discussing the perfect dates with Hagrid or whatever/whoever floats your boat! I guess that whole thing has kind of passed me by! 

So, I'm curious about your opinion on the subject. Do you do the book boyfriend/girlfriend thing? What is it you enjoy about it? Do you make lists, chat about it on forums or something else? Do you feel left out when the focus is mainly on book boyfriends if you prefer girls or aren't you bothered? Do you hate the whole concept or not get it at all? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

Chuckles Retro Reads: Sign of the Throne by Melissa Eskue Ousley


Abby is haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.

Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.

As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.


My Review: 
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Abby has strange dreams about a boy and evil creatures that threaten them. Both are real. David is the unknowing heir to the throne of a different land and his enemies will do anything to stop him getting there through the portal to claim his crown. Abby must convince him of his real identity and help fix the portal before both worlds are consumed by evil.

My first thought on seeing this book was how beautiful the cover was. It has that spooky supernatural look and with the raven and cat, it fits the book perfectly. The majority of the book takes place in our reality with crossovers to David's real world to set the story and a lovely flash of Greek, Scottish and other mythology thrown in for good measure! I'm not usually a fan of these Courts in a different universe type of book but I really enjoyed this one and I'm glad that I took the chance on it.

Abby is a great character that you instantly warm to and like. Her interactions with Jon, and Cassandra's family develop her character perfectly. For me it is vital that I like my main characters and in this book, I did. David is the type of guy you wish you had been at school with because you know you would have loved him! Jon is funny but you do want to slap him for his performance after the dance! I loved Cassandra and Riordan, especially his interest in my country Scotland! His world mythology talks and Cassandra's logical theories were beautifully woven into the story when Abby first meets the demons for real. The other characters were wonderfully written as well-brave Cael, adorable Fergal, regal Eulalia, sweet Nysa and loyal Brarn. You just loved all of them, except nasty Moira of course! If you didn't guess her secret, you must have been asleep!

The plot just keeps you interested the whole time. It switches effortlessly between the kidnap sequence to Abby's life to Cael's quest to David's awakening, without becoming ragged or losing the flow of the story. Each sequence seems to fit perfectly where it is, and each injection of mythology is just the right amount, which takes a lot of skill by the author. She builds the tension in the book with the demon creatures, and especially in the portal scene, beautifully. I lost it at one point and started yelling aloud at everyone to just GET THROUGH THE PORTAL!!! There is just the right amount of desciptive work and dialogue, no incomprehensible info dumps and just that sprinkling of mythology to inform the reader and Abby of what is really going on. The storytelling and world building were excellent on both sides of the portal.

I don't have any negatives about the book and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. There are a few characters that I hope to see more of, and plot has taken an interesting turn. Guess I'll just have to be patient for book 2! This book has no sexual content or swearing and is suitable for YA, NA and adult fans of paranormal and fantasy. Very much recommended!
 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!  

Please note that I do not allow third party companies like DISQUS access to my blog or social media so if you use that, I can't follow you or comment on your blog or posts. Sorry! This is why I won't give DISQUS my details, for those who have asked:

"Authorize DISQUS to use your account? Disqus is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. This application will be able to:
*Read Tweets from your timeline.
*See who you follow, and follow new people. 
*Update your profile.
*Post Tweets for you." Um, NO WAY, NOPE, NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!


This week's topic is ANOTHER review of last year. Guys, I did all my review posts at the end of last year and have no desire to repeat them 17 days into a new year. I've moved on! I don't want to look back any more! Onwards! etc... So here are Ten Wishlist books I want to buy this year!
 
1) Alison Weir-Katherine of Aragon
I love The Tudors and seeing another series of books started about the six wives...cannot say no! Just waiting to get my hands on a paperback copy! 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26236852-katherine-of-aragon-the-true-queen 

2) Craig Oliver-Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit
I feel I've been waiting AGES for this already. Waiting again for the paperback edition to be released so I can grab it. 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31847328-unleashing-demons 
  

3) John D Randall-The Yellowstone Conundrum
I spent all of last year looking for a copy of the first book in this series and I'll do the same this year as it sounds like a great megavolcano disaster story.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18137265-the-yellowstone-conundrum 

4) MC Magill-Last Alive
I like my family surviving the apocalypse books and this one sounds like just my thing! I would like to read it this year if I can find it.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32491150-last-alive

5) Nicholas Sansbury Smith-Hell Divers
I loved his zombie books and now we have a series about brave scavengers jumping from airships in the aftermath of WWIII to get supplies and battle monsters? Oh YES!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29343106-hell-divers

6) Darrell Maloney-Red
Another apocalypse series focused this time on a woman determined to survive the apocalypse without becoming a victim. Love this author, want to try this. 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25454298-red 

7) JA Cipriano-Pound of Flesh 
Half cop half demon who likes to chomp on the bad guys while saving the innocent and the city? Get the feeling this should be a film or TV series!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32787078-pound-of-flesh 

8) Jeff DeGordick-Fall of Man 
A woman and her eight year old son have to face 100 miles of zombies, cannibals, lunatics and bandits to reach a safe place. Zombie road trip!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33071454-the-fall-of-man 

9) David P Forsyth-Deluge of the Dead 
I've been waiting on a paperback copy of this book for YEARS now and the author was nice enough to reply and say he might release it when the next one comes out. There's hope!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16281256-deluge-of-the-dead 

10) Stuart R West-Demon with a Comb-Over 
Never make fun of demons who have a comb-over or they might just decide that you and your family are going to Hell. Loved the idea of this one!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28800423-demon-with-a-comb-over 

Chuckles 2017 E-Book Blitz January Update #2


Owls are wise right? So when Mr Owl says that 2017 is time to tackle my e-book pile, I think I better listen to him! This year I really need to reduce the pile of bargain books so I'm having an ebook blitz through the entire year. It doesn't matter how many I finish or how many I DNF as long as I get them off the TBR!

Here is my mid-challenge update. I made huge progress and dealt with 35 ebooks so far.

The Chosen Ones:
1 Justin Sloan-Teddy Bears and the Christmas Pirates (read-3 star)
2 Robert Hodam-The Ark (DNF)
3 James Hunt-Static #1 (DNF)
4 James Hunt-Static #2 (DNS)
5 Hugo Navikov-Spinosaurus (read-2.5 star)
6 Jason McPherson-Dead Ascent (read-3 star)
7 AR Shaw-The China Pandemic (DNF)
8 Sam Sisavath-Purge of Babylon (DNF)
9 Nathan Jones-Fuel (DNF)
10 Devon C Ford-Survival (DNF)
11 Joelle Charbonneau-The Testing Guide (read-1 star)
12 Lesley Jepson-The Secret (read-3 star)
13 Robert J Crane-Called (DNF)
14 Stephen Knight-Preparing for the dead (read-2 star)
15 Stephen Knight-Waiting for the dead (DNF)
16 Stephen Knight-Fighting the dead (DNF)
17 Jasmine Walt-Burned by magic (DNF)
18 Caethes Faron-Magic Born (read-3 star)
19 Tricia Owens-Descended from dragons (read 3 star)
20 Ella Summers-Magic Edge (DNF)
21 Rachel Rawlings-The Morrigna (DNF)
22 Ben Reeder-Exodus (read-3.5 star)
23 JR Rain-The dead detective (DNF)
24 LG Estrella-Unconventional heroes (read-3 star)
25 Alexandra Engellmann-Sky Ghosts (read-2 star)
26 Viktor Zarkov-Megatooth (read-4 star)
27 Boyd Craven III-Agony of the World (read-3 star)
28 George RR Martin-Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (read-2 star)
29 Eldritch Black-Night of the Christmas Letter Getters (read-2 star)
30 Morgan Nyberg-The Fixer (DNF)
31 Robert Brown-The last blade of grass (read-3.5 star)
32 Andrew Cunningham-Eden Rising (DNF)
33 David Nelson-The Journey (read-4 star)
34 Andrew Baze-The Road Home (read-3 star)
35 Albert Yates-The Dead Rising (DNF)

So after 17 days it's time to pick another pile to tackle!
1 Owen Baille-Aftermath
2 Matthew Gilman-After the Day
3 David Nelson-Coming Together #2
4 David Nelson-A long road ahead #3
5 Stephen Birch-New World
6 Devon Vondarin-The Crash
7 JD McKenna-The Dead Familiar
8 Kenneth Cary-Curtain Call
9 Thomas Sherry-Deep Winter
10 John Grit-Apocalypse Law
11 J Walker-The Fortress #2
12 Belinda Frisch-Cure
13 Eric Methven-EMP
14 Josh Hilden-The Rising
15 Dell Sweet-Earths Survivors Apocalypse
16 Matt Wallace-Envy of Angels
17 Alan Spencer-TRex
18 Andrew J Morgan-Noah's Ark
19 Rick Chesler-Jurassic Dead
20 K Gorman-Into the Fire

Lets see how I get on with this!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Chuckles Cover Love #10


If there is one thing that makes a great book even better, it is when it has a cover that we love! The cover design is what catches the eye as we browse through a bookstore shelf or check out the Amazon or Goodreads recommendations. The right cover makes me look closer at a book, to read the blurb and maybe make a purchase. A poor cover might mean I never look at the blurb at all. 

This week I'm going to look at a GORGEOUS set of covers that some of you will be very familiar with...AG Howard take a bow!



These books are beautiful! I read the first one and felt underwhelmed by it because I didn't like the male MC very much. So sadly I was not able to purchase the rest of them to look at and croon softly to as I stroked their shiny covers...I see that the author is keeping up the same standard of cover with the Phantom of the Opera story below...


What do you think of the covers? Does anyone plan to read or have read Roseblood?