Thursday, 31 December 2015

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...!

I decided to do one last post for the year and it seemed fitting to make it a Reading with Chuckles post! I've been watching live coverage of the darts and getting through a pile of biographies and a few zombies in between!

FINISHED:

Dan Germeinhart-The Honest Truth
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24880403-the-honest-truth 

Mark Eden-Who's going to look at you?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14901402-who-s-going-to-look-at-you 

Johnny Briggs-My Autobiography
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21238616-johnny-briggs 

Chris Gidney-Street Life
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9933275-street-life 

Julie Goodyear-Just Julie
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11448720-just-julie 

Jamie McGuire-Red Hill
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114980-red-hill 

Jamie McGuire-Among Monsters
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22060868-among-monsters 

Amanda Barrie-It's not a rehearsal
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7780687-it-s-not-a-rehearsal 

Bill Tarmey-Jack Duckworth and Me
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9686509-jack-duckworth-and-me 

Michelle Collins-This is me
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22515113-this-is-me 


So that's it from chuckles for this year. I hate Hogmanay and plan a nice quiet night reading and maybe watching a film or two. Whatever you are doing tonight, whether you are out celebrating or not, be safe, drink sensible and have a peaceful and healthy New Year!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Book Review: Les Battersby and Me by Bruce Jones

The story of the man behind the character that people love to hate on Coronation Street-Les Battersby.

My Review:
I must admit here that Les Battersby was one of the Corrie characters that I never liked though I thought the actor took the part well, and there were some good storylines that he was involved in. Again, the main reason I read this was because of a recent obsession to read Corrie related biographies and I have to say that this was one of the best I've read.

Bruce talks about how he nearly died as a child of rheumatic fever. Now I'd heard of it but I assumed it was like TB or a lung infection but it sounds so much worse than that. He describes a ward full of kids who spent day and night screaming because of the pain and agony all over their bodies with no respite. I can't imagine how Bruce got through it, I really don't. It was a horrifying thing to read so his suffering must have been awful.

I had no idea that his story actually featured run ins with two infamous British serial killers. Firstly he thumped Trevor Hardy, The Beast of Manchester, in a pub for insulting boys with Downs Syndrome. This evil man killed three women and Bruce admits that he wishes he had killed him in that fight as it might have saved at least one victim. Now that is scary stuff. Then poor Bruce found the body of one of the Yorkshire Ripper's victims, something that haunts him to this day. This was the Ripper's sixth victim and it caused Bruce not only to be off work ill for a year, but to be considered a suspect by police. Those incidents are pretty damn scary to think about and I certainly don't envy him.

Bruce talks about his first wife Sue and is honest about how his pub visits put a strain on his marriage on a regular basis. I do admire the fact that the couple worked hard to sort out their problems and didn't just give up the way these young celebrities. I hate seeing divorces after a year as that says to me that you haven't tried hard enough unless there is something like cheating or violence of course. When they called it a day they certainly tried hard to make it work. Similar issues appeared with second wife Sandra and again, the couple worked hard on staying together. Money issues when Bruce lost his job after an accident led to depression and excess drinking which would have been hard on both of them, yet they stayed together. In fact it took Bruce attempting to kill them both on a motorway that finally seperated the couple. That episode was pretty frightening to read about and led to rehab for Bruce.

I liked reading about his Coronation Street escapades and the various celebrity shows he appeared on which I had never watched like Celebrity Wife Swap and the one where he had to live as homeless on the streets. That was fascinating. I was also shocked to read Bruce telling the story behind his sacking in Corrie. Like many others I thought he was sacked for his drinking but he was sacked after being set up by the scum that were the News of the World. They tried to get him to cheat on his wife with 'fans' that were a set up, tried to get him to spill soap secrets and then twisted what he said and did. And Corrie sacked him for it. I think he was treated quite badly based on what I've read here.

Bruce Jones comes across as a normal guy who would be great company on a night out. He is nothing like Les Battersby and I found myself liking the guy a lot more than I expected. It was a fascinating book with a lot of interesting stories about his life and some good humour. This is well worth a read.
 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: From the Heart by Kym Marsh


KYM MARSH is one of our most-loved stars, but her life has been a rollercoaster ride through love, laughter and tears.

Now Kym's ready to tell her full story for the first time, describing her difficult childhood growing up on a council estate in Wigan, and struggling at school with bullying and an eating disorder. She describes falling in love at 17 and finding herself pregnant while still a teenager. By the time she was 21, she was a single mum with two very young children, David and Emily, and it was a real struggle to make ends meet.

But Kym had always dreamt of performing and even though the odds were stacked against her, she was determined to make her dream a reality. One day she auditioned for a new TV show called Popstars and her life changed forever. Kym now stars in the nation's favourite soap, Coronation Street. But her life off-screen hasn't been easy. She reflects on her marriage to Jack Ryder and how hard she tried to make it work. Kym found new love with Hollyoaks star Jamie Lomas and after tragically losing their first baby Archie in 2009, the couple were over the moon to welcome little Polly Lomas into the world earlier this year.

Entertaining, funny and incredibly honest, From the Heart is a fantastic read all about how sometimes the best things happen in life when you refuse to give up hope.

My Review:
This was another biography that I picked up cheap based on being interested in reading about the Coronation Street cast and it was one of the better ones I've read.

Kym starts by talking about the terrible bullying that she suffered at school while trying to start a showbiz career by singing in pubs and clubs in her spare time. I think she should have set her punk sister on the bullies at the time as that would have sorted them out! The one bully who did meet her sister was put in her place. Kym is obviously a better person than I am because I would have used the book for the ultimate revenge and named every one of the bitches who had caused her such pain and misery. Kym is also very open about the eating disorder that she developed and how she felt that she never measured up to the other girls at her stage school.

I found it interesting to see how well Kym was doing in her career before she fell pregnant. She never seemed to be short of bookings and had recorded several songs which she performed on This Morning. It would've been interesting to see how her singing developed had she continued with her career path at that time. Instead of course, she fell pregnant at eighteen and just after splitting with her boyfriend, discovered she was pregnant again. It didn't take long for her to realise the prejudice she would now face as soon as she mentioned being a mother of two, and work became more difficult to come by. Where she was lucky was that the father of her children turned out to be a great father and friend during everything that was to come. It must have been tough for her, knowing that she could be a mother and a singer but having few people give her a chance. I fully understand why she felt the need to keep quiet about her kids when Popstars came along.

Nasty Nigel treated Kym in a horrible manner when she was with the group, humiliating her like a naughty schoolgirl when she admitted to being a single mother, and calling her fat all the time. She was never fat! The man is a bully and a hypocrite! If it was so important to know whether contestants had kids perhaps that should have been a question on the application form. They didn't ask so Kym never mentioned it and yet she was treated as if she was in the wrong. It was terrible! She talks a lot about being kept apart from her children while in the band which started a rift with the others who wanted to be clubbing and enjoying their fame while Kym tried to snatch moments with her kids, leaving her isolated from them. Then came all the petty fights and comments and people being jealous of this or upset about stupid things.

Kym mentions all these fights and misunderstandings in the book but doesn't blame everything on the other members. She admits that if they had all discussed these issues as a band or had a strong management to sort things out between them, they might have sorted their problems out but instead all the bitching and fighting festered until Kym decided to quit. Based on what was written, it was inevitable really. At the time I found it unfair when she was fully blamed for the demise of Hear'Say. They could have continued on with a new member if they had hired someone through the public auditions instead of rigging it so that the winner was a dancer who had performed with the group and was a fiance' to a Steps singer, won instead! Is it any wonder that the public turned on them?

The other thing I have to comment on was her relationship with Jack Ryder. Why they married is beyond me as he was a complete idiot. If you are going to quit a high profile job like Eastenders at the height of your popularity, you need to establish yourself quickly by accepting different types of roles and showing off your talents to get bigger and better jobs. Actors can't afford to be that choosy when they need to work, as they must keep themselves in the public eye to keep getting offers. By refusing to take anything but the perfect role, he sank into obscurity and left Kym having to take on everything offered to her to keep a roof over their heads. That selfishness, his whining and jealousy were so childish and I feel that Kym was too kind in the book, making constant excuses for him. She had to take on things she wasn't interested in while he sat about in a mood getting jealous as the offers kept coming in for her. The fact that she had to lie about adultery to get a quicker divorce and his lack of contact with her kids afterwards shows how childish he was.

I would have liked to have read more about her Corrie time but perhaps that will be covered in another biography. I have a lot of respect for how hard Kym had to work as a single mother in real poverty prior to her big break and the way her children always came first. She has had to work hard for her success and the heartbreak of losing baby Archie was so sad to read. I really enjoyed this biography and hope to see her in Corrie for many more years to come.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Chuckles goes to the Christmas Sales!


This is my last post until Christmas is over with as I will be spending my time cooking, cleaning and browsing the Amazon online sales! So there will be no time for blogging for at least the next few days!

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog over this last year and thank you for taking the time to leave a message when time allowed. I know how busy life can be and how little time we have for the fun stuff, so I appreciate your time! 

For those who celebrate it, have a Merry Christmas. If you are taking a festive blog break I'll see you in the new year. Those who are online over the festive season might see me lurking around their blog and leaving messages. I'll be back on my blog for a Stacking the Shelves post at New Year for sure, maybe sooner.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season. See you soon! 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Book Review: Behind the Laughter by Sherrie Hewson

Join Loose Women's Sherrie Hewson on her rollercoaster ride through the laughter, tears, and tantrums of an extraordinary life lived on and off the screen

Sherrie Hewson is one of Britain's best loved television stars. From her dazzling performances in the Carry On films to Russ Abbott's Madhouse, to her favorite character Maureen Holdsworth in Coronation Street to the green hills of Emmerdale, Sherrie's warmth and good humor won her a place in the heart of the nation. And now an adored presenter on Loose Women, which she joined eight years ago, Sherrie has become a friend and confidante to the millions who tune in for her naughty sense of fun, openness, and quick wit. But behind the laughter Sherrie has been hiding a secret heartache. After 30 years of marriage, she is finally divorcing the man who cheated on her and squandered all her money, leaving her bankrupt, on the brink of an alcohol problem, and suicidal. It has taken her nine years to reach this point; but Sherrie is now ready to share her story—and it's one that at times seems more fitting to a soap opera than real life. From living in a brothel to being ditched at the altar, to living in fear of her stalker to nearly murdering her Corrie co-star (by accident, of course!), to the on- and off-screen lovers, friends, and foes, to struggling to conceive her much-loved daughter, Sherrie always manages to see the funny side and tells it like it is with warmth and a cheeky smile. Brimming with brilliantly funny anecdotes and larger-than-life characters, Sherrie's story will delight, entertain, and, above all, make you laugh.


My Review:
I am not a fan of Loose Women-in fact I never watch the show, and that meant I had never heard the stories in the book that Sherrie shared with the viewers. So I was reading everything 'new' so to speak which is why I enjoyed the book more than expected. I only read this because I was interested in the actors and actresses from Coronation Street but I did like it.

Sherrie really was the child from hell-sticking knitting needles down her brother's throat, stealing from shops, charities and other kids, all before the age of 6! What a monster. Mind you, her brother was no angel either. Makes we wonder if I was that badly behaved as a kid and just don't remember it! I like that she was willing to write about it as a lot of celebrities are selective about missing out things that could make them look bad.

The humour is what made this book fun to read and some of her stories are very funny. Being asked to escort Steve McQueen around London and vomiting on him, her legs going weak in front of Richard Chamberlain and collapsing at his feet, getting tongue-tied in front of Robert Redford at an audition and screwing it up...all very funny to read about but so embarrassing for her! It was also funny to hear about all her clumsy moments on the set of films and Coronation Street-a one woman disaster area at times, which I could certainly relate to! I had always thought I recognised her from before Coronation Street but it was only when I read this book that I realised it was from Russ Abbot's Madhouse which we watched every week. As soon as I read it I could remember her with Bella and the gang. Now that makes me feel old!

There was a more serious side to the book as she talked about how young actresses would be treated as sex objects by perverts, with your career suffering if you didn't do what they asked. I find it disgusting that so many women are forced into sex with directors and actors for fear of never getting a part. You can see now how Jimmy Savile got away with his behaviour for so long. I admire that Sherrie had the belief in her ability as an actress to say no, under such pressure. Then there was the abuse she received from Kenneth Williams when she worked on the Carry On films. He sounded like a nightmare to work with. I don't like people who make themselves feel big by bullying others.

Overall it was a good mix of drama and humour and I enjoyed reading it.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Sunday, 20 December 2015

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...!

Can you believe we are nearly at the end of another year? I swear, I don't know where time is going and it's depressing! Despite the winter viruses and a dose of depression, I've kept up with my reading this week which is good. If I can just avoid buying books in the upcoming festive sales, I might wrestle back control of the tbr a bit! Well, I can hope can't I...

FINISHED:

Bill Podmore-Coronation Street: The Inside Story
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7577108-coronation-street  

Daran Little-The Women of Coronation Street
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2682736-the-women-of-coronation-street

Thomas Jenner-Kellie's Diary
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17839590-kellie-s-diary-1

Ken Mooney-The Astrocytoma Diaries
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28180224-the-astrocytoma-diaries

Betty Driver-Betty
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1603641.Betty

Ken Morley-Knowledge is Power
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28237515-knowledge-is-power

Beverley Callard-Unbroken
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20863297-unbroken


ABANDONED:

David Hanson-Access all areas
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/310687.Access_All_Areas_Behind_Coronation

Jamie Thornton-Germination
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24998247-germination

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Stacking the Shelves #114


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. So if you use DISQUS, I can't visit you! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress so you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
           
I'm not sure exactly where this year has gone but I can't believe we are racing through December. I won't be doing a STS next week so I'll be back sometime between Christmas and New Year, depending on how tired I feel. My dad and I are still trying to get rid of this infection which most of the people I know in our area seem to have as well. Just as well we have no plans at all for the festive period!
 
So these are the books that have recently arrived that I forgot to add to my Goodreads pile. I hope to get some decent reading done over the next couple of weeks while I enjoy the darts! So for those who celebrate it, have a good Christmas. I wish you all many many books!
 
DOWNLOADS:
 
 
 
 
 
BOUGHT:
 

 

 
 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Book Review: The Astrocytoma Diaries by Ken Mooney


23rd May 2014. The day I was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

I faced diagnosis. I faced surgery (awake!) I faced radiotherapy. I faced chemotherapy. I got my treatment and I'm still here.

During treatment, I tried to keep a diary, a place to share my hopes and frustrations. It was also a place to discover a lot about myself, where humour and movies and music made the experience all the more bearable.

This is not something anyone should ever have to go through. But this is how I came this far and tried to kick its ass.

Some of the proceeds for this book will go to charities and services that helped me through this war, and the international charities that encourage other people to keep up the good fight: Beaumont Hospital Foundation, The Friends Of St. Luke's, The Irish Cancer Society, FCancer & Stand Up To Cancer.


My Review:
It is very difficult to read and review a true story about a cancer battle, which is why it has taken me several days of drafting my review before I could start writing it for real.

I came into contact with Ken online when I applied to review his book 'Godhead' on Goodreads. I always had fun reading what he was doing on Twitter, so it was a shock to hear about his brain tumour. I tried to follow his progress where possible as at the time my mother was losing her own battle with cancer. I was a little nervous to read it after my own experiences but I'm glad that I did.

Having spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last few years, I could relate totally to what Ken says about the endless waiting. Waiting for the appointment, the waiting to get called, waiting for the doctor or nurse to start telling you what is going on...it can all be pretty soul destroying when you just want things to start moving. I remember vividly the expressions on the faces of the other patients and families in the waiting areas, all having had similar experiences. I do remember the look that Ken mentions passing between each of you, silently wishing each other luck and showing solidarity.

I know also what he means when talking about the urge to google all the scary sounding words to scare yourself with what it says on each page. Oh yes, done that. We can't seem to resist the urge to torture ourselves with that worst case scenario when it will do nothing to help. Human nature eh? Then is the fear of saying certain words beginning with C, as if saying them finally makes them real. I was totally on that page with him. I certainly understood quite a few things that he was talking about and could relate to it.

The descriptions of the surgery is pretty damn scary. I'm scared of the dentist drill so hearing a bone saw chomping it's way into my head with the smell of me burning alongside is far from appealing and must have been bloody scary to go through. The number of surgeries, the ooze and other complications...I just can't imagine how frustrating, upsetting and exhausting it must have been. And to then have radiotherapy and chemotherapy to face after that, well, Ken proves how strong he was to face it all and still keep a sense of humour in his online posts. I remember one post after one of the surgeries which said along the lines of 'still here bitches!' which really made me smile. Plus all our jokes about which X-Men superpowers the surgeries were going to give him!

I can imagine that some readers might want more details about the treatment or the appointments etc, I imagine others would have set it out a bit differently. However I think this book is powerful because it was raw and largely unedited from when Ken first noted down his thoughts on the experience. It is no surprise that you would have random thoughts running through your head at a time like this and putting things down in a nice neat order would not be your priority! These are the thoughts of a man facing something scarier than the rest of us can imagine and writing about it at all would have been beyond most of us. It's a book that has a lot of emotion in it and must have been hard to write.

Books like these should be published as they can be a help to others facing the surgery and the complications and all the uncertainty. I hope that more people choose to pick this up and read it.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: Ways to live forever by Sally Nicholls


My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead. Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer. "Ways To Live Forever" is the first novel from an extraordinarily talented young writer. Funny and honest, it is one of the most powerful and uplifting books you will ever read.

My Review:
This book is certainly aimed more at children than adults but adults can still enjoy the story. Sam has recurring leukaemia which affects his family and friends in different ways. His sister Ella is angry that she has to get sent away to school while Sam receives minimal home schooling classes, his father is in complete denial about his son dying, his mother is determined to hold the family together and best friend Felix, a fellow cancer sufferer decides to help Sam fulfill a very fanciful wishlist. Sam is also determined to find out why adults never answer the questions that he asks.

I wasn't sure about this book in the opening chapters as Ella was behaving like a spoiled brat and Felix was mildly annoying but both grew on me as the book progressed. Ella seems to be hiding her fears for her big brother behind her anger and we see as the book progresses how much he means to her, which is touching. Felix is a livewire who is always up to something and decided to help Sam study why questions are not answered while injecting some fun into his days.

The book really covers the day to day issues of a dying child from his POV. He is full of questions and thoughts which he notes down in journals in a haphazard manner. While this kind of writing doesn't appeal to me, it would be logical that Sam would just write things down as he thought about it, skip things, come back to things etc as kids can be like that anyway, so it works for this book. We really see what Sam is thinking the whole time and how hard it is for an 11 year old to face his own mortality.

I liked the way the book also covered how hard it is for the family to watch their son dying. His mother is the proactive one who seeks out medical help and wants to do everything she can to keep her son alive. His father is in utter denial, convinced that Sam is actually getting better, talking about sending him back to school, smiling every time Sam indicates he feels ok today. It causes friction between his parents every time his dad retreats from the truth which he refuses to confront. It was well written and you really could feel the pain of this normal family.

It was well written with good normal characters, a few things to smile at and a few things to shed tears over. I'll certainly look out for other books by the author as I felt she handled the difficult subject matter nicely and presented the story in a way that gets the reader emotionally involved. Well worth a read.
 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Book Review: Zombie Crusade by JW Vohs (Zombie Crusade #1)


Former Ranger Jack Smith watched an Army bio-warfare experiment go horribly wrong in an Afghan village in 2001, escaping only after he turned to a makeshift mace and bayonet to destroy the skulls of the infected creatures that bullets to the chest could not stop. With the traumatic experience seared into his mind, he earned his Ph.D. in ancient history and began developing medieval weapons-making skills after he left the service. When the virus broke free from the Hindu-Kush Mountains a decade later and rapidly spread across the globe, Jack knew how to fight the monsters created by the infection: 21st century technology combined with deadly medieval tactics and weaponry. Jack and his former squad-mates lead a resistance against a zombie apocalypse in a crusade to ensure humanity's survival.

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

Jack and Carter meet in Afghanistan and witness a zombie outbreak which is barely contained. When returning to the US, both men begin work on a fortress capable of housing their loved ones with supplies to survive should the virus escape and come to their land. And then comes the day when the news reports a new pandemic outbreak in Afghanistan...

The book starts strongly with the outbreak in Afghanistan where Jack and Carter see their first zombies, going through the whole experience fighting together to survive. The book then jumps forward nicely to the completion of their fortess project ten years later, with the Castle ready. It is just in time as disturbing news reports catch Jack's attention and he knows that the virus has escaped and a deadly invasion of zombies is coming.

I liked the detail in the world building in the early days of the outbreak. It all happens just the way you would imagine it. We are with the men day by day as they watch the news reports, strengthen defences, gather supplies and start bringing their loved ones to safety. We then have Jack trying to help those in the local area, trying to convince the authorities to work with him. There is a lot of tell rather than show but the detail is interesting as we see the progress of the outbreak and how the Castle prepares for the coming war. The tension builds slowly as the zombie incidents get closer to them. I also like that the survivors are trying to keep quiet to avoid attracting the zombies and using old fashioned quiet weapons to do most of the battle with.

The other good thing about the book was the building of the three safehouses to house civilians who didn't want to remain in their homes, and having the response teams ready to go to the aid of those still in their homes when zombies invade the area. This leads to some exciting zombie action on a regular basis in the book, which nicely breaks up the described preperations. I found it all pretty interesting to read, and was looking forward to what the next problem would be. The action at the safehouses and the zombie attacks did not disappoint! I liked the fact that Jack made glaring errors in his planning which would happen when you're trying to man manage every detail and overlooking the obvious. It added in realism.

In a few reviews that I've seen, readers say that their main complaint was a lack of character development and I agree. Jack is our fully developed character as he is the hero, so we get a lot of what he thinks and does. I had no problem with that but sometimes it did seem to be all about him and nobody else. He is trying to be sheriff and organise a resistance movement but insists on being involved in every action incident ie the gas station attack. It felt sometimes that we missed the opportunity to get to know Bobby or the others because Jack kept dealing with it all himself and the team would arrive after Jack saved the day again.

This leads me to the lack of character development in the people at the Castle. Carter is the only fully developed character that we have due to him featuring at the start. We barely see Jack's family through this book and we only get to know a couple of the team members as the book gets to the end. I'd have liked to have seen more meetings and conversations early on with the major characters in the squad all talking, sharing ideas etc and leading the missions on their own, so we could get to know them better. I'd have liked to have seen Jack and his team spend time with their family, sharing a few emotional scenes with them. Again, we only get that in the phone call with David. It would be impractical to meet all the characters but I'd have liked a few of the characters running things at the Castle or on the teams to get more of a starring role. It would've added more depth and emotion, and could have taken the book up to five star status.

My biggest issue was the speed of romance with Jack and Andi. They talk briefly a couple of times and then suddenly they are kissing and in love. Having Andi become a major character first and having her spend time working with Jack and the teams first, then introducing romance in the later stages of the book would have worked better. The lack of dialogue between them meant a lack of chemistry. I do like Andi but I think it needed to happen slower to work for me. There are actually only a couple of characters outside the team that get enough page time to have us worry when they are in danger. There needed to be more of that so we can really invest in the main cast of characters. And if you plan to kill someone popular, don't do it off page as I too felt a bit cheated by that. It reduces the impact of the death to more of an afterthought. 

There was a serious lack of dialogue in the book overall. We get Jack giving orders and explaining plans but there is no real conversation about normal things which means we don't get to know the people as well and don't really feel it when someone dies. Dialogue delivers emotion and impact and the book would have benefitted from this.

To sum up, I did very much enjoy the book. I liked the detail and world building, and the action scenes. I liked the overall plot and there is so much potential in this series going forward. The few niggles I mentioned about characters and plot issues were never enough to stop my enjoyment of the story, which kept me hooked enough to want to read the next one.

The authors have mentioned that they feel they improved the books as the series developed, based on feedback they got, which means I'm quite excited to see what changes are made and how it moves forward. There are already a good few more novels in the series and I'm coming to it rather late, so my niggles here might already be outdated opinions! Either way, I'm keen to read on! I would certainly recommend it to fans of zombie fiction.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

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...!

There was no Reading with Chuckles last week as I'd only read one book and decided to add it to this week's haul which was certainly much better! I did get a few books read which was nice.

FINISHED:

Kevin Kennedy-The Street to Recovery
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20795062-the-street-to-recovery 

JW Vohs-Zombie Crusade
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16133221-zombie-crusade 

Sally Nicholls-Ways to live forever
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25520798-ways-to-live-forever 

Glenda Young-A Perfect Duet
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21864408-a-perfect-duet-a-diary-of-roy-and-hayley-cropper-an-unofficial-coronat 

Glenda Young-Deirdre: A life on Coronation Street
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25828943-deirdre 


ABANDONED:

Mark Lawrence-Prince of Thorns
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12891111-prince-of-thorns 

Ransom Riggs-Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9460487-miss-peregrine-s-home-for-peculiar-children 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Stacking the Shelves #113


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. So if you use DISQUS, I can't visit you! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress so you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
          
My dad and I have a stupid cold and we're not getting much sleep because we're up all night coughing and choking. I HATE coughs! I can't seem to get rid of this one and it's driving me nuts. Three nights with little sleep is leaving me very grumpy indeed! I think I might be heading to the local chemist when it opens on Monday if this continues. *sulks*
 
I'm still trying to keep up with some reading this week with a bit of zombie fun, getting a review book looked at. I was pleased to enjoy it and hope to get a review up this weekend, time allowing. This week's downloads are ones I grabbed this week. The bought book list are what I grabbed in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. There will be no more book buying until after Christmas when the sales begin so I'm not sure if there will be STS posts over Christmas unless I find a lot of freebies!
 
DOWNLOADS:
 
 
 
 BOUGHT PAPERBACKS:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


My Review:
I thought the book started well enough...I liked Jacob's grandfather and his tales from his childhood about evil monsters and strange children. However that was as good as it gets.

Jacob is an idiot with little personality and nothing much to make you really care about him one way or the other. His father is a self obsessed man who is too busy being a failed author and bird watcher to care much about what his son does. Jacob wants to visit the island where his grandfather grew up as therapy to help him deal with the death of his grandfather at the hands of a monster. Jacob's lovely dad has no interest in helping him recover-he only agrees to go to Wales when he hears about rare birds on the island. Even after being told that the area near the children's home may be dangerous for Jacob to visit, he prefers to watch the birds instead of protecting his son. Nice.

The people on this island are the usual British steriotypes that appear in all the American written books. The men are eccentric drunken weirdos, the kids are all mean to the poor American hero boy, the weather of course is terrible, the accomodation is disgusting and not fit for Americans to stay in and the community is sub standard. Of course, us Brits are all weird morons with drinking problems unlike the perfect American visitors turning up their nose at everything. This attitude infuriates me in novels.

Add to this the fact that the book is slow, boring, uninteresting and filled with photos that add nothing to the story and I decided to find something better to do with my time.  

star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg