Thursday, 23 March 2017

Chuckles Cover Love #17

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 looking at another apocalypse series that I like the covers of. I think the covers give you the sense of various aspects of the apocalypse unfolding. Something about this kind of cover always attracts my attention!

*edited* This post was written before the terrorist attack in London on Wednesday. I have chosen to publish it today and hope that nobody is offended by this decision.

Terror Hits London

I had just finished watching a Resident Evil dvd at two thirty yesterday afternoon and minutes later the breaking news appeared on Sky that there was an 'incident' in London. We now know that an evil scumbag drove a car through pedestrians on Westminister Bridge, injuring many people in a terrorist attack. He then drove off the bridge, crashed into the railings around Parliament, and attacked unarmed police officers nearby at the gate into Parliament, tragically killing one brave police officer before being shot dead by armed police.

Words really do fail you when you watch this unfolding live on TV and online. The horrific photographs and videos online of the dead and dying were heartbreaking. All those people badly injured who might never recover from the trauma. Should people be filming the victims to share online instead of helping them? Should these photos be retweeted before families are informed about their loved ones being injured? Can you imagine finding out your relative might be dead by viewing a photo of it on Twitter? And lets not forget the moronic tosser who was using a selfie stick to pose in front of the carnage on the bridge.

I felt the anger that these scumbags think they have the right to murder innocent people for their twisted ideals. I so wanted to see him face justice for what he did. The other thing we saw a lot of was racism directed at all muslims online, as always happens but a lot was aimed at London's Mayor. The fury I felt that a minority of Trump supporters were saying on Twitter that London was reaping its rewards for having a Muslim London Mayor and having too many muslim citizens. How dare these ignorant people say such despicable things when people are dying? What is wrong with them? To basically say 'serves you right' sickened me and I had to show real restraint not to go and tell them what I thought of them. Would they have liked it if we made such cruel comments after 9/11??? But the poignant moment for me was the sight of former military man and current MP Tobias Ellwood trying to save the dying police offer, working alongside the emergency services. 

My final word on this is to praise the emergency services especially the police. They ran towards danger to protect the people inside Parliament and civilians nearby with no thought for their own safety. Those unarmed police who tackled the terrorist with the knives are true heroes and one lost his life for it. Our intelligence agencies and police have foiled countless terrorist attacks over the years to keep us safe and deserve our praise for that. But nobody can prevent this kind of Lone Wolf attack however good our security services are. Nobody could have saved the poor people on the bridge. All we can do is try to be vigilant and aware and hope not to be in the wrong place if it happens. We must not turn on innocent muslims in our country who are NOT to blame for his actions and who could just as easily have been amongst his victims. We have to carry on and not let these evil bastards win.

My thoughts today are with the victims and their families. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Book Review: Maximum Violence by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #4)

In Canterbury, as the virus rages out of control, one troop of Royal Marine Commandos fights a 360-degree battle for survival, racing to rescue the Channel Tunnel survivors from a relentless siege – before Hellfire missile strikes and carpet bombing kill anyone left alive.

Across the Atlantic, the crew of the John F. Kennedy risks a catastrophic reactor meltdown to get out of the path of a ten-mile-wide tide of the dead; while, onshore at the Naval Air Base, Wesley's tiny team maintains a lonely vigil – which turns horrifyingly dangerous as the edge of the storm hits, pushing desperate civilians ahead of it.

In the air above, Gunnery Sergeant Fick leads a hand-picked fire-team of spec-ops Marines halfway across North America to take and defend an airfield on a remote island – but learns to his cost that it is a place with a terrible history, and very dangerous secrets.

Finally, out on Lake Michigan, Alpha team races toward extraction… but first must fight their most harrowing battle yet – this time against the living, who are both more treacherous and a hell of a lot better armed than the dead.

My Review:
Canterbury is being swamped by the zombie hordes who are closing in on civilians and military resources are being stretched to their limits. Hostile fire and zombies are causing chaos for Fick's men as they try to rescue Alpha Team by securing an extraction point. Alpha Team are about to make contact with a group looking for help which might actually be an ambush. The zombie horde are still marching towards the stranded ship leaving Drake in a state of apprehension and ready to take risks to refloat it.

Lt Jameson and Staff Sgt Eli are dispatched to rescue civilians holed up in a high rise flat. They are expecting to have a very serious battle with the zombie hordes in the area during the rescue. What they didn't expect were dumb civilians making the situation more difficult and friendly fire from the air putting their men at risk. A catalogue of disasters are about to follow as the mission falls apart and difficult decisions will fall to Grews..

Drake estimates that the zombie horde are less than five hours away and the ship is still not ready to move. Wesley's group are aware that the airfield will be overrun by the zombies before Fick and Alpha Team return and as they wait they stumble upon survivors heading their way. As Wesley attempts the rescue, one of his team decides to compromise their safety in the worst possible way.

Alpha Team are back on the water with a working boat but see a boat adrift coming towards them and they are hailed to give medical assistance to those on board, and Ali quickly becomes convinced that this is an ambush situation as she examines a young woman who may be a hostage. As armed men appear on the deck of the boat, Alpha are cut off from Ali and getting nervous about being possibly outgunned. When the gunfire starts below deck, Alpha are ready to engage.

The B17 is bringing Fick and his men to Beaver Island to prepare for extracting Alpha Team when they come under fire from the control tower. It is vital for them to take control of the area to save Alpha Team but they must not suffer damage to the aircraft or they will all be stranded. And the zombies then start to appear out of the woods around the airfield. They can only wait a limited time and the shooter has a disturbing story to share about why the island has so many zombies and the deadly secret they conceal.

When you think this series can't ramp up the tension any more, this book proves you wrong! This time we are following five main pieces of action and switching between them keeps the action going at breakneck speed which I totally love! We are worried that Alpha are walking into an ambush then we are seeing zombies attack Canterbury, and Fick trying to hold the airfield while zombies march on the stranded's just all very exciting!

My one bugbear here is Handon deciding to do a couple of really stupid things. They have gone to all this trouble to rescue Simon and his work from Chicago to give the world hope for an antidote. Surely that mission of getting him back to the ship is way more important than checking a boat to help a few civilians? Military commanders would agree that they should have avoided that boat and went straight for Beaver Island. Risking an ambush puts Simon in danger and should not have happened IMHO. His later decision taken for humanitarian reasons was utter stupidity and I can't believe a soldier would do something so dumb! It did make things exciting though...

This was the last book in the series I read back in March 2016 and I'm getting these reviews posted to help refresh my memory on the events so far, ready to start reading the books and complete the series! 

Read March 2016 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Book Review: Genesis by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #3.5)

In the dark heart of the Horn of Africa, our shadow wars rage. But beneath the violence and terror, a bio-engineered serial killer lurks. Come back in time with ARISEN and live through the beginning of the end of the world...The Horn of Africa, place of various madness and horror – home to depraved warlords, Islamist militias, famine, drought... and regular outbreaks of killer viruses.

Tucked away in a high-tech Tactical Operations Center, inside an isolated safehouse in Somalia, sits Agency analyst Zack Altringham. He is Kenyan-born, Princeton-educated, badly burnt-out – and condemned by his language and cultural skills to a lifetime of fighting America's shadow counter-terror wars. But a threat many times worse than any suicide bombing lurks in the corner of Zack's tortured consciousness – just as it lurks out in the lawless bush of Somaliland. And when another mystery epidemic breaks out, Zack must find out if it is connected to a bio-terror plot he believed he thwarted years ago...

But, terrifyingly quickly, the epidemic reaches a tipping point and chaos descends – and Zack and his team (including two former Team Six SEALs) are trapped between the millstones of the sick and the dying on one side, and heavily armed militias on the other. Soon their “safe” house is in flames, and their only remaining option is to get in their up-armored SUV and try to escape the imploding gravity well of the city, to the safety of the American military base in Djibouti. But by then, will there be anywhere safe left on Earth to escape to?

My Review:
CIA analysts Zack and Baxter are working in a protected building in the town of Hargeysa , along with two former Seals Dugan and Maximum Bob, when news of the terror attack on Britain comes through. As Britain closes its borders to all traffic, a new disease is out of control at the hospital and in town which turns people into zombies. Military patrols in the area are going missing or being attacked by undead civilians. Local militia, the remaining US military and the safe house Seals try to take down this new enemy but they are all outgunned by sheer numbers and the safehouse itself is coming under threat. Do the four men stay and hope for help that might never come or hit the road in a deadly journey to a military base and try to save themselves?

This is numbered #3.5 but it focuses on the events before what happens in book #1 Fortress Britain, following different characters who are at ground zero for the virus in Somalia. They will also appear in later books in the Arisen series so it's a good idea to read this book well before you get to the later books. I bought this after I read book #4 but I don't think it matters too much where amongst the early books you actually read it.

This book does get off to a slower start than the books in the main series as we are being introduced to the current military situation in Somalia and the war between the US military and the local terrorist group Al-Shabab. We get the background on Zack, his interest in bioterrorism and the background that leads to him being in the safehouse. Don't expect the breakneck speed of the first few Arisen books as the first third of the book is slower, because it is setting the scene for the outbreak to start spreading. Some of it was probably unnecessary but it gave good depth to the group of four and to the outbreak itself.

The action really starts when our team start seeing the zombies in the street and try to save a woman trapped by them. The local Somali men are also out on the street killing the zombies and advising the team to shoot them in the head. It did seem ironic that the locals adapted quicker to the change of circumstances than the military in both sequels did! Perhaps this says a lot about these men accepting what they saw with their eyes instead of reacting with military instincts as the soldiers would do. Either way, the locals are brave and determined to save their town against incredible odds. From this point, we were back on the rollercoaster action that you expect in the series and the action was pretty much non stop. Just the way I like it!

I liked the main characters in the book which is always important. Zach did everything he could to leave his old life behind him in Somalia and get an education in the US, but ended up back in Africa when he joined the CIA and fears he will probably die here. All he wants is to escape Africa forever. And that was before the zombies attacked...Baxter is the new guy who is trying to become part of the team and prove himself. I really liked the two Seals especially Maximum Bob. I mean how can you not love a guy with such a cool name?

The second half of the book has a lot of action as the group need to escape the safehouse and get on the road to the big military base that they have been in frequent contact with. There are going to be a lot of dangers on the road itself including traffic bottlenecks and dangerous bridges to navigate, panicking drivers and 'shoot first' militia patrols, and of course zombie hordes. It is not a journey they want to make but the safehouse is damaged and the town is overrun so they need to get away before another wave of zombies they are tracking move in and cut off their escape. The journey is full of tension and lots of dramatic moments which keeps you interested all the time. I think my favourite scene was the bridge.

I don't want to go any further into plot but there were a few unexpected twists and I liked the ending. I hadn't seen that coming and it should make for interesting moments later in the series!

Read February 2017.  
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Game of Thrones Gossip #7 The Stark Children

Welcome to my Game of Thrones Gossip, where all of us fanatics get the chance to discuss everything we love about this amazing TV series. I did a few spoiler free posts about the series last year but I found that there were other bloggers out there who were also itching to talk more freely about favourite characters and events without spoiling things for those visiting the blog. So I decided to do a whole series of these discussion posts that let us say everything we want and enjoy every second of it! The topics may talk about a death, an event, a character or be season reviews and so on. Please feel free to comment fully and without restriction!

I have to warn you that it is important that you have seen all six seasons before reading any of these posts because these posts and blogger comments will be oozing and exploding spoilers all over the place. If you haven't watched the series and plan to, be warned that it's a bad idea to be here right now! I take no responsibility if you read on and things are spoiled for you nor do I take responsibility for any mistakes on the pages I link you to.

This week I continue with my season one topics and look at The Stark Children.

Robb Stark is the oldest of the Stark children and is already shaping up to be like his father. He looks after his siblings, trying to teach Bran weapons skills and shows just as much love for Jon Snow as the legitimate brothers and sisters he has. I liked the touching moment when he says goodbye as Jon leaves for Castle Black. It becomes more poignant when you watch it again, knowing that this is the last time they will ever see each other. Robb is taking care of the badly injured Bran and running Winterfell while Ned is at King's Landing. He starts to come into his own as a leader towards the end of the season when Ned is arrested, taking the initiative and raising an army to demand his father's release. Had he been dealing with Tywin Lannister directly, who knows what agreement might have been reached. Probably a prisoner exchange of Ned for Jaime when Robb captured him in battle, but of course Joffrey put paid to that. We finish the season with Robb being declared King in the North as his army seeks revenge for Ned's death. 

When we first meet Sansa in season one, she is frankly a spoiled and stuck up little bitch! I would imagine that she is the favoured girl in the family because she is beautiful, obediant and wants nothing more than to marry well, which would please her mother. She has little in common with her tomboy sister Arya and all she really wants is to marry the handsome prince Joffrey. I admit I did not like her much especially when she did not back Arya's truth about Joffrey in the riverside fight, scared she might lose her chance to marry him if she did. It cost the life of her beloved wolf. I wanted to slap her so many times! Everyone was beneath her-her servants, her is only when her dire wolf is killed that we see the start of the changes in her character. She becomes a more sober girl now that she is seeing beyond the glitter of King's Landing. She starts to see what Joffrey really is. She risks everything to beg for her father's life when he is arrested and is devastated that the man she is to marry could murder her father like that. By the end of the season as Joffrey is beginning his campaign of cruelty against her, I had nothing but sympathy for her plight and feared what was coming next for Sansa. 

Our first look at Arya shows that she has more in common with her brothers than her sister. She is skilled with a bow and wishes to learn how to fight with a sword, which Jon gives her as a gift. Arya has no interest in being a lady like Sansa or marrying a spoiled Prince like Joffrey, instead dreaming of a different destiny to the frustration of her parents. Ned seems somewhat baffled by Arya's attitude but does agree to let her be trained by expert Syrio Forel, a character that I loved. He is the one who saves Arya from capture, fighting the guards to allow her to flee King's Landing in the aftermath of  Ned's arrest and murder, with help from Yoren, the Night's Watch recruiter. She is resourceful enough to adapt and survive, and is already planning her revenge on all those who have wronged her family. I related to Arya as I was the tomboy who climbed trees and loved football, and had no interests in dresses or boyfriends! I love her character because she is is smart and determined, and will survive at all costs. By the end of season one, she is moving north disguised as a boy under Yoren's protection. It is the start of a very difficult road for her.

Bran wants nothing more than to be in the Kingsguard when he is older and when he is not climbing walls, he is being taught about leadership and weapons by his father and brothers. Life changes forever for Bran when his climbing expedition leads to him finding Jaime and Cersei having sex, and Jaime pushes him off the Tower. He survives the fall but is left paralysed and in a coma, then barely survives an assassin's attack. When he wakes, his Kingsguard dream is over and he falls into depression. It is the intervention of Tyrion who designs a saddle for him allowing him to ride again that sparks new life into Bran. However he is being bothered by dreams about a three eyed raven and fears for his father's life after a disturbing vision of him in the crypts where the dead are buried-and is then told of Ned's execution. The fall seems to have given him a new gift or curse of visions but he is unsure how to deal with it. I felt so sorry for Bran and it was his fate initially that turned me to Team Stark against the evil Lannisters! With Robb gone to war, Bran is now the acting leader at Winterfell which will be a difficult task for him.

We don't see a great deal of Rickon in season one except seeing him as the annoying little brother who bugs everyone. Rickon may seem like a child most of the time but is just as smart as Bran in identifying that things are not going to go well for his family. He is in the crypt like Bran after seeing his father there in a dream, and he is also certain that their parents and Robb are not coming back from the war. I think there is a bit of the seer in Rickon too. I like that there is still that childish side to him though. His dire wolf is damn scary though...

I know the truth about Jon Snow's parentage is out now but in season one he was regarded as a child of Ned Stark so I'm including him here. I felt a lot of sympathy for the way Jon was treated. His 'stepmother' Catelyn was cold to him, believing him to be the proof of her husband's infidelity and Sansa also despised him probably because her mother did. There seemed to be a sort of love-hate vibe between Jon and Theon Greyjoy, Ned's ward but their goodbyes as Jon went north seemed warm. Jon was much loved by Robb, Bran, Arya and Rickon, and by Ned himself. I sensed there was something going on by the way Ned never wanted to talk about Jon's mother especially to Jon and King Robert Baratheon. Ned promised to tell Jon the truth next time he saw him as he watched him leave for Castle Black, but sadly Jon never saw Ned again. Getting the news of Ned's death made Jon want to break his vows and join Robb's army. It looked as if Jon was closest to Arya who also didn't quite fit in the family and gave her her sword Needle, which brings fans much joy in later seasons! Jon is the outsider who wants to prove himself worthy of being a Stark and sticks with his destiny at Castle Black.

I liked the evolution of the Starks from the start of the season to the end of the season. We see them as a mostly happy family unit until the arrival of King Robert at Winterfell, which is to ruin all of their lives. The circumstances of Ned's death changed them all and forced each one to grow up, but in different ways. Robb seeks victory, Sansa seeks inner strength, Arya seeks vengeance, Bran seeks wisdom, Jon seeks purpose and Rickon, well who knows? We see the way each dealt with the execution, and the coming war and the changes to their family. I found the characters fascinating.

Are you Team Stark or do you favour another House? What are your thoughts on the Stark Children in season one? Who were your favourites? Who did you not like? What moments did you enjoy with them? What did you think of their development through the series? 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. 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!

This week's topic covers books you read in a day/one sitting. Well reading Indie apocalypse books means that covers about half of my book collection so I need to rethink this a bit and just go with Top Ten Short Stories. It's hard to write a satisfying very short story but these hit the mark for me! Some are stand-alone, others prequels to a series.

1) Jude Michael Connors-What Waits Through the Trapdoor (31pages)
A missing teen turns up, rambling about how her boyfriend was eaten, and she is taken to the psych ward and her warnings are ignored. But the Order of St. George listened. Tom Reidy and his fellow monster hunters scour the city in an attempt to find out what terrible fate has befallen the teens. Will the answers be found beneath a fetid corner store? Prequel. 

2) Quent Cordair-Sheltered (36 pages)
Reginald was convinced that he had to build a nuclear bunker in his garden and becomes obsessed with the project. But he feels vindicated when the nuclear bomb drops but is stranded underground for a whole year wondering what happened to everyone else he knew including his family who didn't make it to the bunker. This is a great stand-alone story with a twist.

3) P Mark DeBryan-In for a dollar in for a dime (28 pages)
This story follows Ryan Brant as he heads for a family reunion in the northwest. The family is headed for the reunion when a pandemic breaks out and the vaccine created makes things worse... much worse. Zombies! Prequel to a series. 

4) Suzanne Jenkins-Burn District (22 pages)
Hurricane Sandy brings a water-born infection to the US which can only be destroyed by fire. The government are burning towns without letting people evacuate and the Davis family flee as their town is next on the list, making themselves criminals in the eyes of the authorities. Now they need to get to a safe haven...Prequel to a series. 

5) Leonard Little-The Turning of the Spit (19 pages) 
Waking up with a hangover, Wade figures his day at the slaughter house can't get any worse. Boy was he ever wrong. A band of demon possessed pigs armed with AK 47:s and shot guns take over as they gather the workers for slaughter. This was a fun short read and I found it pretty funny! Stand-alone. 

6) Melissa Wright-A vision for the Future (44 pages)
When Elaina meets her partner for the first time, she just knows that he will become President of the United States-in the same way that she knows how she will die, what she was wearing and that it will happen in water. As the time of her death gets nearer, the signs are all there and the couple prepare for the end but even Elaina cannot predict what will happen next. Stand-alone.

7) James R Tuck-That Thing at the Zoo (63 pages)
Deacon Chalk kills monsters and his latest task is to find out what is attacking animals at the zoo. With the zoo in lockdown and only dedicated zoo keepers to help, Deacon has to stop the creature getting loose in the city. This is the prequel to the brilliant Deacon Chalk urban fantasy series. #0.5. 

8) Paige Reiring-Spawn (20 pages) 
When a person has too much of a vice or a virtue, they spawn it from their body into controllable little monster pets to do their bidding. Alice has one of each and they help her in her job as a ruthless assassin. But one of her victims has spawned a huge vice, bigger than anything Alice has ever dealt with and that monster is coming to kill her. Stand-alone. 

9) Richard Schiver-Enter Night (73 pages) 
A night of celebration turns to terror as six friends seek refuge in an abandoned farmhouse and come face to face with their worst nightmares. For there are places even the ghosts of the dead fear. Where nightmares wander the hallways of our dreams, and not every story ends with a happily ever after. Stand-alone.  

10) Joseph Sweet-The Last Day (34 pages) 
On the heels of a perfect vacation, and marriage to the guy she thought to be the man of her dreams, Naomi finds herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak. It is the beginning of the end. And what may be her last normal day, a day that was nearly perfect in every way, ends with chaos and a nightmarish journey home. Stand-alone. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Chuckles Chat #9: Blog Content

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 going to have a general look at Blog Content as my subject. I'll be chatting about what I do and don't read on blogs that I follow, what makes me follow a blog, my search for new blogs to follow, and all related stuff!

Lets start with what makes me follow a blog. Sometimes it starts with a personal connection to the blogger ie through Goodreads, Bookcrossing, penpalling etc. Sometimes a blog I follow will lead me to other blogs. I also look for blogs with a paranormal, horror or urban fantasy theme, similar tastes in films, TV and books. I would love to find more blogs by bloggers who love horror and zombies! 

What keeps me following a blog? This is pretty straightforward really. Interaction. If I follow a blog for months, regularly leaving comments every week and get zero response from the blogger, then they obviously have no interest in me or my blog so I stop wasting my time and unfollow. Sadly this happens quite often...I find a blog with my taste in books and all attempts to make friends fails with the blogger ignoring me, yet engaging on the blogs of my friends. It is hard not to take that personally! I see these people a lot around the blogging world and a couple even follow me yet would not answer my comments on their blog or visit mine even once. So frustrating! If the blogger visits my blog even say once a week that's ok with me and I don't mind if I comment more on their blog than they do on mine as long as effort to engage is made. I like to comment on blogs I follow a couple of times a week or more, depending on the posts for that week. I attempt to answer every comment posted on mine and if a new person comments on my blog I go over to theirs to do the same. I may or may not then follow them depending on what their blog content is like.

Why do I stop following? Lack of interaction is one, as already discussed. Another can be if I'm not finding enough blog posts that I want to comment on. I can usually comment on a Stacking the Shelves, Sunday Post or Top Ten Tuesday but if the blogger doesn't do these weekly posts then I must find enough that interests me in their reviews, discussion posts and other things to keep following. If none of these posts interest me, I will end up unfollowing. This is not a reflection on the blogger or quality of their posts or blog, just that I'm not personally into the post subjects. If the blogger vanishes for months with no reasons given, I might unfollow. I won't unfollow if the person is on a health or family related break from the blog as that happens to all of us at times.

What do I like on blogs? I like the weekly posts like TTT, STS, SP, discussion posts, weekly or monthly roundup posts, challenge updates, cover related posts, travel posts, book tags.  I will look at reviews of books or films I'm interested in or have read/seen, and some I'm just curious about. I will sometimes look at blog tour posts depending on the book. The things I never look at: beauty, fashion, makeup, jewellery, music videos, updates on shows I haven't seen or haven't caught up with, recipes, art, poetry, reviews on classics romance erotica and contemporary books and films, things where you have to pick random passages from books or random quotes, sex related posts. Again this is no reflection on the blogs in question, these are just blog subjects that don't interest me personally so it's difficult to comment on them.

On the subject of blog graphics, I don't bother much about how other bloggers choose to decorate their blogs as that is a personal thing. I would never decide not to follow a blog based purely on design. However reviews and posts covered in gifs do bug me and I tend to avoid them! I like to give links on my roundup/weekly posts to take visitors straight to the books on Goodreads so I like other blogs that do the same but it's not a dealbreaker.

So what do you like on blogs? What do you generally avoid? What makes you follow a blog or unfollow it? How important is interaction to you? Do you comment on blogs you follow and answer comments on your blog? If not why not?

Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up

I review everything I read, on my blog and on Goodreads. Most reviews are of a decent length but sometimes you don't have much to say about the book because of its length or you DNFed it or various other reasons. In cases like that it makes sense to write a few mini reviews in one post and clear them out your way! So lets catch up with reviews from earlier this year.

Andrew Cunningham-Eden Rising 
Ben is about to ask Lila out when the world decides to end and everyone around them seems to be dead. With their families dead or missing they decide to gather a few things and move south to better weather before winter comes.

I didn't get far with this one. They have just lost their families yet seem to pretty much accept it and move on by the next day, suddenly deciding on a bike ride or walk from Boston to Florida to find better weather? How many teenagers would just decide to do that? They seem to immediately have a plan and know everything they need and it all seems too easy to me. I want more tension in the start of my apocalypse books but these bland teenagers just don't provide it and I got bored. Nothing really wrong with it I guess but just not what I was looking for. 
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Andrew Baze-The Road Home
Robbie thought he was ready for a camping trip in the mountains near Seattle. After a city-busting earthquake strikes the Seattle area, Robbie and his father have to rely on their wits and some new-found skills to get home safely, dealing with many unexpected obstacles on the way. To make matters even worse, they still need to rescue the rest of their family from an insidious danger that made its way to their doorstep.

The book has pages of info dumps on how to operate a HAM radio, all about signals and times it is more like a manual than a novel and I found that quite dull. The first part of the book leading up to the earthquake are not greatly exciting because of the lecturing. The story of how Robbie has to get his injured father home is interesting enough as a story but the world'd worst burglar sub-story isn't very good. The city is in chaos, houses are abandoned as people can't get home but Luis decides to break into one that is occupied by Robbie's mother. Yeah. Clever idea. This is aimed more at the YA reader as it lacks the brutal violence and rape you usually see in the genre and the characters only face mild danger. Decent enough read but not enough of interest to read on in the series for me personally.  
Read January 2017. 
2.5 stars.

Devon C Ford-Survival
Everyone got sick. By the time the country realised it was everywhere, nearly everyone died. Being one of the few left alive wasn't the freedom he would have expected. Banding together those he found along the way, he has to fight to keep them safe. To keep them alive. To survive.

Dan and Neil find each other in the aftermath and decide to stick together and look for survivors for safety in numbers. For some very stupid reason they decide to communicate with each other like idiots with dumb conversations that sound like the British airmen from British sitcom 'Allo 'Allo. We were getting the chin chin and old bean, tally ho old chap nonsense during every interaction they had, plus Yoda impersonations, quotes from was really stupid and annoying. Just act like normal people instead of this dumb crap and get on with raiding the shops! It's not cute and funny, it's driving me mad! The longer it went on, the more pissed off I got with the steriotype rubbish.
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Rachel Rawlings-The Morrigna
I'm Maurin Kincaide, a psychometric, and until a few days ago I was working for Salem's Preternatural Task Force as an interrogator. I cracked more cold cases and got more confessions than anyone else in the department. Of course that was before I traded in my badge for an ancient Celtic sword. Now, I'm the Special Liaison for the Council, the governing body of the Others, and I take my orders from witches, werewolves and vampires.  

This book was baffling. I felt like I'd been thrown into book three in the series with no backstory and it was very confused. We see Maurin interrogate someone but fail to get the psychic information because the person is too powerful so her boss suspends her without asking anything about what happened, tells her to 'get better' and she doesn't try to explain what happened or defend herself. What kind of police department do that??? There is no backstory or history to her 'crimes', what she needs help for or any kind of history to help this very bemused reader. I feel as if chunks of plot were missing! We get mentions of nightmares and witches and something happening on another case but it is not explored and is very disjointed. Every character is an asshat especially her partner who hangs up on her when she reports being stalked by the suspect. It is just poorly constructed, badly written, horrible characters and was a waste of time. 
Read January 2017.
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Thomas Sherry-Deep Winter
From a relatively normal American life to a survival situation in moments, this story follows the Drummond family as they learn to adapt to a now, very different community...and world. Beginning on a bitter cold January night, the story begins with a series of earthquakes tearing through the Pacific Northwest....and in the following days the family--and the nation--face challenges from unexpected sources....

The info dumps in this book are extreme. When the earthquake damages the house we get the complete description of everything in the house, everything that is salvaged or destroyed and everything stored in the barn and what order it was all done in. The other random irritations is that Carl says 'K' in response to every question at least once a page, the women are only seen when it is time to feed their all action menfolks and there is so little conversation between the characters that it is impossible to get any idea of their personality or care enough what happens to them. They are just cardboard cutouts! And HOW can a prepper whose brother lives in Seattle near the volcanoes have to look up a dictionary to find out what a lahar flow is??? I mean really? I just felt I was plodding through endless details I didn't need and getting bogged down in stuff that didn't matter when time could have been spent getting to know the characters better.
Read January 2017. 
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John Grit-Apocalypse Law
A plague wipes out ninety-five percent of the world's population, taking Nate Williams' wife and daughter and leaving him with his thirteen-year-old son to survive on their farm. In the bedlam of lawlessness and starvation, hungry, desperate men arrive from the nearest town to take their meager supplies. A benevolent stranger keeps coming in the night to steal food. Sensing the stranger means no harm, Nate leaves food out as charity. But the stranger ignores offers to join them, then comes to their aid when a gang of prison escapees, led by an old nemesis of Nate's, raids their home. In the end, it is the kindness of a father desperate to save his son that may give two families and the stranger an opportunity to build a new life in a post-apocalypse world.

I couldn't say if the book turns out to be any good or not because I had to DNF. If there is one thing I really hate in books it is a dumb whiny kid and 13 year old Brian would have tested the patience of a saint. His mother and sister are dead, the apocalypse rages around him but Brian just doesn't get it at all. He whines and argues about everything and seems to have no clue what is happening around him. Why can't be go into town dad? Why can't I have a hamburger for tea dad? Why are we locking the doors dad? Why do you carry a gun everywhere dad? Why are we hiding in the forest as people break into our house dad? Because it's the apocalypse you stupid little git! Jeez! I was more mature at eight than Brian will ever be! I could not put up with him and quit the book.
Read January 2017. 
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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Three Parts Dead by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #3)

Alpha team, the world's best and last surviving Tier-1 operators, are adrift on Lake Michigan - and fast drifting into what looks like a damned hostile shoreline. Deep in the National Forest nearby, a former police officer and survivalist battles to keep her family alive - and tries to decide whether the commandos of Alpha are more dangerous to her alive or dead. 

Meanwhile, the John F. Kennedy, the world's last floating supercarrier, is run aground off the coast of Virginia - and facing a veritable hurricane of the dead, blowing in fast. And finally, back in Fortress Britain, the terrible outbreak from the Channel Tunnel turns out not to have been so contained after all - and a death grip is beginning to close on London, and shaping up into humanity's very last stand...

My Review: 
The drama continues as we follow Alpha Team, the USS John F Kennedy, and those who seek to defend the UK from another zombie outbreak.

Alpha Team against all odds made it to the extraction point but with no rescue available and zombies closing in, they are forced onto a boat with no controls. With no way to steer and the boat drifting close to the shore, danger is all around them. The USS John F Kennedy is beached on a sandbar after the battle and they are tracking a herd of zombies coming their way. Ficks has set up a temporary land base nearby to try and get help sent to Alpha Team while Wesley's group scavenges nearby for crucial supplies. The escaped Foxtrot in Britain is now finding new victims in and around Canterbury...

Gah more danger! The USS John F Kennedy has taken big losses during the recent outbreak on the ship and crucially it is stuck on a sandbar on the Virginia coastline, leaving it vulnerable to a zombie land attack. The last thing they need is to see while attempting repairs is a huge zombie herd from North Carolina bearing down on their position. Fick is searching the air base for something he can use to rescue Alpha Team and get them safely back to the ship and he finds something that might just do the job if they can get it to fly. Wesley has his team collecting supplies and using a helicopter to get everything back to the ship, aware that time is limited and the zombies are on the way. And there are still stragglers ahead of the main herd to watch out for.

The original Foxtrot who escaped the Channel Tunnel is on the move across England, infecting anyone it finds and bearing down on Canterbury-where the survivors from the Tunnel have been rehomed, including Wesley's French girlfriend Amarie and their child. Lt Jameson is furious to discover that his men there took bitten colleagues to a hospital, starting a fresh outbreak. Now he has two messes that are going to need cleaned up with the resources they have and his men are in greater danger. And when the sirens in Canterbury go off, the refugees are unsure what to do.

Alpha Team are relieved to get onto the relative safety of the water to escape from Chicago but when their boat is attacked by Foxtrots and a team member goes missing, events rapidly spiral out of control and the boat is no longer safe. They are forced back onto land in an emergency retreat and are going to need local help after getting themselves trapped by more zombies. Is there any safe place for them and Simon?

New characters come into the book in the form of Sarah the prepper and her family. They have been living in relative safety in their cabin since the outbreak began but their lives are about to be turned upside down when they run into Alpha Team. I found Sarah's story interesting as she is no longer in love with husband Mark and finds it hard to connect with her son, and now she is stuck alone with them in a zombie apocalypse. I liked seeing a normal woman as the prepper instead of a few of the mad steriotypes that we see in books. The arrival of Alpha Team allows Sarah to have some purpose again as she helps them to plan a way out of the mess that they are in, as well as find someone other than her husband attractive. I was also able to feel bad for her spurned husband, who is hostile to the change in circumstances. The saddest thing here is her son who Sarah finds hard to love, and the authors show this by never giving him a name.

There is no let up in the drama as we follow the various groups and individuals in dealing with their zombie problems. It was another great book and I look forward to sharing more thoughts in my next review!
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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Chuckles Weekend Roundup

Welcome to my new feature Chuckles Weekend Roundup where I will be looking at what books I've received, anything interesting I've done or bought or watched and other random stuff. I'll be taking a look back at what happened in my blogging world too, sort of like The Sunday Post that some of you do! 

Please note that I'll be visiting your STS/SP as normal, but I don't follow or leave comments on blogs run by Google Plus or DISQUS as I refuse to join something just to leave comments, and I won't allow DISQUS to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I am the only one who does that on my blog! Sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me because I deleted my account with them but I will persevere as it only happens the odd time!
Another week has passed and this is the first full week of my new weekend post. I kind of feel like the fox at the moment but he looks way more comfy than me! I'm bone tired this weekend and can't get rid of a sinus style headache so I'll probably sulk and feel sorry for myself! Or have some book buying therapy...! On the reading side of things I'm still going along at a good pace, well ahead on my Goodreads Challenge, ebook blitz and series catchup so I'm happy about that. It's nice to get some good hours in each day! I haven't been buying much but I did manage to pick up the latest books in a few series I'm following, and have downloaded some more ebooks to share so lets get down to business!
Chuckles Blogging World:
With the health stuff rumbling on I haven't totally been at the top of my game for getting everything done each week but I'm not doing too bad. I'm uploading reviews from this year at last so the review pile is being taken care of, sharing some older retro reviews of books I've enjoyed, I'm getting some great  imput from you guys on various posts and I'm happy enough with blog content overall. It doesn't mean there won't be new stuff coming at some point though. It's time for a round up of what I've been doing this week! Links will take you straight to the post.
Book Reviews:
This week on the blog I featured the first two books in what is the best zombie series I have read so far-The Arisen series. Love zombies? Check them out! Also reviewed an apocalypse book by Nathan Jones. My Mini Reviews Catch Up is where I talk briefly about my thoughts on books I DNF, are too short to justify a long book review or books where I can't say much without bringing in spoilers.
Michael Stephen Fuchs-Fortress Britain (Arisen #1) 5 stars.

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Mogadishu of the Dead (Arisen #2) 5 stars.
Nathan Jones-Fuel 1 star
Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up

Regular Features:

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I want to read by the start of April

Chuckles Cover Love: Looking at pretty book covers by Lish McBride
Discussion Posts: 
Chuckles Chat: Serial Novels. What do you think of them?
Game of Thrones Gossip. This is where fans can talk about the topic of the week in the World of Westeros. Be advised, you must have watched all six seasons of Game of Thrones as spoilers are all over these posts! This week the topic was the incest between Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
Missed the previous GoT topics and want to check them out? It's not too late to leave your thoughts! Here are the links:
1) Maester Aemon
2) Westeros 
3) Robert Baratheon
4) Ned Stark
5) Khal Drogo
Book Challenge Updates: 
The Monster Month of March. An update on how I'm doing with my challenge to read a pile of monster related books this month. Bigfoot, sharks, dinosaurs, spiders, zombies are a few of the monsters I've been enjoying this month! 
I have also read 73/250 books for my Goodreads Challenge. Yea!
TBR total of books I own but haven't read yet stands at 829. I hope to get down to 800 by the end of the month but it's going to be close! 
That's all for this week! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog and leave comments. You guys are great!