Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book Review: Dead Cells by Adam Millard

As a prisoner in one of the most brutal facilities imaginable, Shane Bridge thought that he'd seen it all. Surrounded by murderers, rapists, gangsters
and paedophiles, Shane had managed to survive his three years in one piece. With parole just around the corner, and his wife and daughter at home awaiting
his return, Shane has high-hopes for the future.

When a new inmate is brought in, carrying with him a deadly virus, Shane soon realises that his plans, his release, and his very survival are in jeopardy.

With the virus spreading, turning guards and inmates into flesh-eating zombies, it's up to a few survivors to figure out how to escape the facility, how to get along...


My Review: 
Shane is thinking about the end of his armed robbery sentence where he will be released and get home to his family. His hopes soon end when a seriously ill new prisoner starts to infect other prisoners and spreads a deadly virus.

This will be a short review as I felt that nothing about this book really worked for me. It is very disjointed, moving aimlessly between different characters that have little or no development along with flashbacks to previous events for Shane. There is no flow or cohesion to the plot. As for the characters, they were all criminals as the book is set in a prison where a virus starts to infect everyone. It was a parade of thugs and utter lowlives and the MC was a violent armed robber. Am I expected to care about these asshats and want them to survive? If that was the idea, I didn't feel anything but contempt for the lot of them. There was no decent character amongst them and I didn't care about them all dying so I lost interest quickly.

The idea of a virus in a confined environment was good but I didn't like the prison setting. If it is being set in a prison, the characters must bring out empathy in the reader. Having the MCs as thugs and idiots did not greatly appeal to me. It would've worked better if the book had followed the prison officers trying to restore order instead of having them as the bullies picking on the poor criminals. It didn't work for me and I didn't finish it.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Book Review: Extinction by Mark Leney

A science fiction, survival horror tale in which a group of survivors from an Underground train crash emerge into the outside world and find the world has been over run mysteriously, by dinosaurs. This is the story of how they adapt and survive.

My Review:
A tube train crashes in London, derailed after it hits something on the track. The dazed passengers debate whether to stay on the train to wait for help or move through the tunnel to the nearest station. And as they talk, they see things moving in the dark to eat the dead bodies...dinosaurs.

I liked the idea of the plot. Who doesn't love the idea of rampaging dinosaurs in the centre of London? However, the execution of the story did not live up to my expectations. The initial encounter with the dinosaurs was fine and the group decide to flee and get to what they think will be the safety of the street, only to discover that dinosaurs are everywhere.

This was where the story starts to get silly. Picture yourself coming out the station to realise that London is overrun with dinosaurs...you want to find somewhere safe to hide or get home to family and friends right? Um no, instead you decide to stop and rescue a baby dinosaur and try to reunite it with its mummy while T Rex and other horrors are running around eating people. Yep, that would be my priority. The author seemed determined to showcase all his favourite dinosaurs by leading our group to them one by one in a plot that was encounter dinosaur, escape, move on. It was repetitive and no time was taken after the initial bit in the tunnel to really ramp up the tension.

The other thing that I didn't like was the attempts at humour that the author kept throwing in. It felt out of place to keep trying to throw funny comments into the situation in a dinosaur horror story. It might have been ok if any of these inserts were funny but for me it all fell a bit flat.

Good plot concept but lacks good execution in plot and character.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Stacking the Shelves #138


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

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

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
        
This was a week full of being pretty busy around the house yet not seeming to get a great deal done that you'd notice. Shopping, cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, dealing with rubbish bins and lots of annoying things that need keeping up but all combine to suck the energy out of you. It doesn't help that my dad thinks the carpet is a good place to drop his rubbish everywhere and expect me to pick up behind him. Frustrating. Between that and a lack of sleep due to the EURef, I'm tired today!

The weather has been warmer again this week so I haven't got as much reading done as last week but still a decent amount. The last of the books I ordered after my holiday have arrived now so I'm on a bit of a book buying ban for a few weeks! I still have a pile of downloads I haven't uploaded to Goodreads yet so I'll deal with that next week. 

PAPERBACKS:

             

         

     

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Chuckles Loves Covers!

I am going to be sharing some of the beautiful book covers  that I've seen-some on my tbr, some that I've read, some on wishlist and some I've seen around but don't want to read. It is going to be a celebration of pretty or interesting covers that appeal to me in some way, regardless of genre or whether I've read or liked a book or not.

This Time: Alpha Farm by Annie Berdel: dystopian, apocalypse, prepper fiction! (TBR)


From the beginning, Emma was always looking for modern ways to becoming self-sufficient. Following the signs of a faltering economy and a nagging in her Spirit to return to her family farm, Emma begins rebuilding a life independent from The Grid and away from her high stress corporate job.

Is it any wonder that when a localized Electromagnetic Pulse is detonated over the New Madrid Fault Line and The Grid is taken down, that Emma immediately goes into action? Well, at least until Senator Varga and her personal Army shows up at Emma’s door. That is one curve ball that Emma was not expecting.

Calling her fellow Prepper Chicks into action, follow along as a Modern Day Underground Railroad is formed, a long forgotten way of life is pulled back into action and they all adjust to A World without Rule of Law.


Why this cover? 
It has that 'something is coming' look to the sky and we see the female MC ready to defend what is hers. It tells me that it is going to be one of the genres that I enjoy and I liked the way it looks peaceful, but you know it's not based on her clothing and weapon! I haven't read this author before but I look forward to reading this one! I do like a good post apocalypse story...

Monday, 20 June 2016

Reading With Chuckles


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

FINALLY the Reading Slump is over! Yea! Since I got back from my unexpected holiday, I have managed to get some reading done! I am pleased to have finished 5 books this week. They are all non fiction and based on mountain climbing disasters. I'm considering whether to stick with the theme for this week or try and get back into the fiction. I don't suppose it matters as each book read is one off the tbr...

FINISHED:

Maria Coffey-Fragile Edge
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8184108-fragile-edge 

Maria Coffey-Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1187798.Where_The_Mountain_Casts_Its_Shadow 

Goran Kropp-Ultimate High
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/430707.Ultimate_High 

Cathy O'Dowd-Everest, Free to Decide
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1156293.Everest 

Cathy O'Dowd-Just for the love of it
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/861093.Just_for_the_Love_of_It 

Book Review: Doom by John Shirley

Far in the future...an urgent distress signal is received from a classified Union Aerospace Corporation research facility based on Olduvai, Mars -- and is suddenly silenced. Assigned to either contain or quarantine the mysterious threat, a crack strike team comprised of the most hard-bitten marines around believes that this will be another routine seek-and-destroy mission. But they will soon come face-to-face with the hellish nightmares that the researchers' unorthodox experiments have unleashed on Olduvai -- a place where doom is waiting....

My Review: 
A group of scientists in a research facility on Mars are being hunted by an evil horror from the planet itself. They are able to send a distress signal to Earth and a team of highly trained combat soldiers are sent to Mars to find the missing scientists and end the threat. However, none of them are prepared for what they will find...This novel is based on the film Doom.

John has been estranged from his sister Sam since their parents were killed in the research facility on Mars. Sam followed in their research while John joined the military. Now John has to deal with his sister and his own demons as the team hunt the monsters. He is about to find out what some of the scientists were doing and why they are all missing. Meanwhile, each team member will be in danger and their own personality will determine their fate. There is also the added fun of the deteriorating relationships between Sarge and his soldiers as they deal with the pressure of the situation.

Where the book differs from the film is that there is more background on the team, focusing on the disaster of the last mission they were on and how The Kid came to be the newest member of the team. I did find this quite interesting and it helped to get to know the team members. My favourites in both book and film were Duke and Goat.

I would advise watching the film before reading the book if you can as there are a lot of chase scenes in the dark, with the pairs of soldiers changing quite often, and going back and forwards to the same labs. I could see it being a bit confusing for some readers if you haven't seen the film or played the game. I had seen the film countless times before I read the book as it was not an easy book to get hold of! It was a decent read though and a good horror-scifi read.
 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Book Review: Aftermath Apocalypse by A. Horman

On December 21st, 2012 the world changed forever. Now, survivors of that horrific day have started to emerge. However, not all have held onto their values and, in some some cases, their humanity.....

My Review: 
This should have been a really good story. In fact, it WAS a decent enough story which was ruined by one stupid and whiny character that made me want to scream, and dreadful editing!

OK first the plot. Mike has survived the apocalypse and the nuclear fallout with his military unit. Now he decides to set out on his own for the coast to escape the mainland. On the way he rescues Tara from her sex slaver captors but these men are not going to let her go without a fight and Mike becomes a target for revenge.

This book isn't really about the apocalypse, it is about the human filth who use it to behave in ways that were unacceptable and punished in the old world. Now they can rape and murder as much as they want and only people like Mike are prepared to make a stand. I liked Mike and the actual plot as there was plenty of action and interest. It was well written and the story was cohesive, using a flashback to show the moment the world changed-it added to the story because the author used it well and made it fit with everything else.

However. Two things spoiled the book for me. After knowing Tara for a couple of hours, Mike decides he is in love with her. I HATE instaluv in my books, I really do. There is no logic or realism to it and it adds nothing to the darn story. Secondly, who could ever love Tara??? Mike saves her, treats her wounds, refuses to take advantage of her, feeds her, and she starts snapping at him for being a soldier who kills people! If he wasn't a soldier, he wouldn't have been there to rescue the stupid whiny cow! She then gets offended when he refuses her thank you sex ten seconds after accusing him of being a potential rapist. What is wrong with you, dumbass??? Ugh. I hated her whiny self pity and bitchy comments and I hoped Mike would get fed up and shoot her.

Now, self published books do tend to have editing issues and most times I can look by that and focus on the story but the lack of editing in this book was really bad. I'm talking about mistakes on every page and some of them were wowsers. 'as she was drug inside the factor' instead of dragged inside the factory, 'her once betraying the tears' should have had voice instead of once, and so on. It was quite poor and somewhat lazy of the author not to eliminate the worst of these mistakes. I also found the changing name of the MC annoying. On one page he is Mike, then he is Johnson then he is Phantom. Jeez just pick one and stick to it already!!!

This started off nicely but wandered off into something that wasn't great. A re-edit of this book could turn it into something decent.
 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: The Ebola Wall by Joe Nobody


In the story, Ebola has mutated into a vicious, easily transmitted variant. The first outbreak occurs in Houston, Texas.

The healthcare system is quickly overwhelmed, the number of dead skyrocketing. To protect the human race, the entire metropolis is quarantined, a wall of military armor surrounding the city to contain the virus.

The isolated residents find themselves immersed in two desperate struggles; defeating the new strain of a mass killer, and surviving each other.

The Ebola Wall takes the reader on a wild ride of unintended consequences and global events. Fueled by the real possibility of an extinction event, harsh measures are implemented to protect mankind. The ramifications will change the world forever. Decisions on both sides of the wall are exploited by basic human emotions. Fear, revenge, and an undeniable desire for freedom are in play. The future of the species depends on the outcome. 


My Review: 
I liked the idea of this book. Ebola has contaminated a city and the nervous government have blocked it from the rest of the country using a ring of soldiers who don't want to be there, repulsed at having to shoot those who try to escape in case they spread infection to the rest of the states. l I abandoned another book by this author based on my opinion of the main character and sadly I found an issue with the characters in this book.

We start with the soldiers at The Wall, soldiers who are scared to be there and who hate the idea of shooting those trying to escape the dreadful conditions in the city. The officer in charge of one group of soldiers understands why the government had to do it and resolves to do his duty-until an escape attempt causes a breach in The Wall, leaving the officer on the wrong side of the barrier, assumed infected, and threatened by his own soldiers if he tries to leave Houston city limits. Ok now I have a plot issue here. If the infection is airborne, what is stopping it from leaving the area and spreading on the wind? If it is NOT airborne, then the officer does not pose any risk to his colleagues and should be allowed to rejoin them. It doesn't work for me!

The character issue involves the rebels inside Houston to want to get out and go home or find family outside the wall. They have been trapped there with no supplies from the government and we should feel sorry for them. But they are written as cold and nasty people who seem willing to kill anyone and infect the planet to achieve their escape. An innocent girl who escapes then coldly kills a cop to evade capture and shows no emotion about it. The dumb thing is that her dad was just outside Houston to meet her but didn't bring clean clothes so she wouldn't look like an escapee and therefore the whole situation could have been avoided if he hadn't been an idiot.

As it is, the way the rebels were portrayed left me with no sympathy for them and carrying on with the book became a struggle so I stopped reading. I won't be trying anything else by the author, based on what I've read so far. Not for me.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Stacking the Shelves #137


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

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

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus 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!
                                  
I am pleased to report that I've had a good reading week and the slump is officially over. During a slump I lose interest in fiction for some reason-lack of concentration I guess-so I switched to non fiction and I'm going pretty well so far! I reckon I'll get 5 or 6 books read by Sunday so I'm happy with that. My dad has been watching racing and football so that doesn't give a peaceful atmosphere to read, so I've got lots of blogging done during the day. Reading is at night in the peace of my own room. Overall it has been pretty productive so I can't complain. I just need to find a balance so I can also get films and TV series watched! It's June and I've watched 2 new films all year which is very poor and no new series except a few Masterchefs!
 
Things have been good on the book buying front as well. I have had a post holiday splurge on Amazon to grab a few historical fiction and mountain climbing non fiction books. Not all have arrived yet so I think some will be on next week's STS. Naturally I picked up some ebooks as well-not sure if I'll have space for all of them this week...yes normal service has been resumed at Chez Chuckles! I'm beyong caring about the tbr at the moment-it'll come down at some point but I'm not going to stress about it!
 
DOWNLOADS:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PAPERBACKS:
 
 
 
 
 
 
DVD:
 
 
I know, I know, a bit mad  buying GOT5 when I've never seen a single episode but even if I don't like it, my dad should love it! I had to buy the German versions of Bitten as Amazon UK only stocks the US versions which don't play in my DVD player. Very useful.
 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Book Review: Ultimate High by Goran Kropp


Goran Kropp's account of his 7,000 cycling trek to the summit of Mount Everest. Kropp set out from Stockholm, Sweden on bicycle and traveled 5 months carrying 240 lbs. of gear with him. He ascended Mt. Everest in May 1996, unassisted and without the use of supplemental oxygen, days after the tragedy that claimed 8 climbers. He then returned to Stockholm on his bicycle. The entire trip took one year. This is his account of his training, preparation, and accomplishment of the most self-sufficient combined approach and climb of Mt. Everest ever. The hardcover edition for "Ultimate High" has already received a great deal of praise.

My Review: 
On the surface of it, a guy who wants to cycle from Sweden to Nepal, climb Mount Everest unaided and without oxygen, then cycle back to Sweden, sounds like a self obsessed nutter! Perhaps some people who read this book will agree that he was that, and more. For most people, the travel or the climb are outwith their capabilities, never mind combining both along with strict rules about only using food he has bought or brought himself, carrying all his own gear and finding a solo route through the Icefall.

I found Goran to be interesting on so many levels. He wants to go to Everest unaided partly for publicity to fund his future climbing, partly to see if it can be done and partly in disgust at the piles of rubbish from the fancy expeditions on the mountain which are an environmental outrage. I've seen the photos and TV programmes that show the discarded rubbish, tents, oxygen bottles all lying there in huge rubbish dumps and I think it is pretty shocking. Expeditions should be forced to remove their crap from the mountains. Bodies are a different matter and I understand why they are left where they die. Goran was determined not to add to the rubbish already there which I admire.

His 'unaided' mission leads to a few conflicts with himself. Trying to get up the mountain alone meant living on freeze dried food that didn't give him the energy required to do the climb. At one point he was refusing to take a tiny bit of cheese from a friend because he hadn't brought it to the mountain personally. When he dropped something during the bike ride he screamed at his support team not to pick it up for him as that was giving aid. He insisted on nearly killing himself in the Icefall after a sneering journalist said he shouldn't be using the 'safe' route through that the Sherpas set out for everyone. These were somewhat extreme rules that he enforced on himself to stay unaided. For me climbing the mountain alone was unaided enough without these extreme rules! Still, for the most part he was able to stick to it until his second attempt on the climb, where he had to eat a proper diet or fail.

Goran was attempting this feat during the infamous 1996 season when the storm killed climbers from several teams. I've read a lot of books about other climbers on the teams but it was really fascinating to be with Goran at Base Camp as the disaster unfolded and him feeling helpless about being unable to do more to help. He delves into the anger of the Sherpas over loose morals on the mountain angering Her and causing her to seek revenge on all the climbers. He talks about the South African team tearing itself apart because of it's alleged racist and sexist leader, the rude and glamorous socialite who was getting everyone's back up with her attitude, the sexual affairs going on, the people who were climbing without the necessary training or pedigree and the rulebreakers. I found the behind the scenes drama as interesting as the actual climbing.

We also get a bit of the cycling journey to and from Nepal which is written with a bit of humour and it sounds like a journey never to be attempted! Men and boys in Pakistan throwing stones and trying to knock his head off with an iron pole, Iranians wanting to take him home to quiz him on western life, Turkish men shooting at him...sounds like a lot of fun!

I also liked that the author did not go into mass detail about the monastries, culture and religion which bogs me down in a lot of expedition books. He touches on certain aspects very lightly, focusing instead on the actual journey and the people from the expeditions that he meets. He also talks candidly about Sherpa complaints of being overworked and underpaid and not always treated well by clients and their own government, which many books gloss over. He talks about his opinion of the people he met, including his obvious dislike of contraversial socialite Sandy Pittman, who he claims never thanked the men who dragged her off the mountain to safety and saved her life, and who was dragged up and down sections of the mountain by disgruntled Sherpas. He also looks at the decisions of various climbers and offers reasons for what they did.

Overall I liked this book as it covers the 1996 disaster from new angles as well as the journey and ambitions of the author. It was with a degree of sadness that I discovered that Goran was killed in an accident while climbing in Washington in the US in 2002.
 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: 299-The Preperation by Glen Tate


Meet Grant Matson: lawyer, father, suburbanite husband who awakens to the fragility of modern society and embarks on a personal journey that introduces him to a world of self-reliance and liberation. 299 Days: The Preparation, the first book in the 299 Days series, depicts the inner struggles Grant must face as he exists in a social system he recognizes as unsustainable and on the verge of collapse, but one in which he has built his life around. What begins as a return to his roots, self-sufficiency and independence, becomes a full blown move to prepare for what may come. Engaging, insightful and a bit suspenseful, follow Grant’s transition from a self-perceived “sheeple” to a full-blown “prepper.” Will his fears come true? Is he an extremist? What if nothing happens? What if something does?

My Review:
When I saw that this book was called The Preperation, I assumed it would focus on his prepping for disaster and the disaster itself, which is exactly the kind of apocalypse book that I love.

Boy was I wrong! The first 86 pages are the entire life history of our hero-his violent dad, the mother who won't protect him, the school bullies that torment him, his schooldays, his college days, meeting his wife, getting married, having kids, every single job he ever had, work disputes, his views on government corruption...and no sign of the type of preperation I was expecting! None of this stuff is greatly relevant to the story for me but if the author wanted to include some of this, why not do it through a few short memories as the disaster approaches ie watching his wife getting the kids up could trigger a brief memory of them meeting or something. Gradually introducing his past in this way is way better than the massive 86 page info dump!

At page 86, our hero starts to get interested in prepping, certain that the government are not capable of protecting the people if disaster should strike. I usually enjoy this part of a book as we watch the family get ready for what the reader knows is coming, but not in this book. Instead it felt more like another info dump with every detail of his fitness regime, every single purchase, every single political thought. While this was relevant to the story, I felt that the way it was written made it sound boring and repetitive instead of interesting and educational.

By the time Grant starts prepping seriously, the book is getting bogged down with the fights between him and wife over his spending and prepping. She does not believe what he is saying about coming disaster so everything has to be done behind her back. He's buying a cabin as a bugout location, lying to her that it is a holiday home, and forming a prepper community with likeminded people, buying guns and storing supplies there. He is hoping eventually to persuade Lisa to move there with him despite her not liking the cabin for holidays. This conflict with his wife was annoying and took away from the fact that this was the most interesting part of the book. I liked the slow breakdown of society with Grant watching anxiously. It does take until page 209 before the disaster actually begins.

Frankly I did find this boring with too much info dumping and conflict, padded out with things we really didn't need to know. A good editing to take out the padding and tighten up the plot, and there is the basis for a decent book there, which is frustrating. I decided not to read on with the series for fear that the following books might follow the same formula.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: Bloodshot by Cherie Priest (Cheshire Red Reports #1)


VAMPIRE FOR HIRE

Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.


My Review:
Raylene is a vampire thief, hired by a blind vampire to steal his medical files from people who experimented on him in the hope that he can be cured. Along with Ian's loyal ghoul Cal and an ex military drag Queen, Raylene takes on government and military enemies.

When I read the back of the book and saw that the team had a vampire thief, blind vampire, ghoul and drag queen, I grabbed this off the shelf and rushed to buy it. I certainly wasn't disappointed! Raylene is a tough kickass vampire whose cocky attitude leads to her making some life threatening mistakes which makes her a much more interesting character. I like a flawed hero better than one who is totally invincible. She lives in a warehouse and allows two homeless kids to sleep there in an unorthadox alliance which makes an interesting side story when intruders break in. She pretends not to care about the kids as that is a human trait but you know that her cool attitude to them is just a front.

Now Raylene is taking on Ian's case. It sounds at first like a simple matter of stealing Ian's files back from a known facility but when a contact looks into the case for her, he barely escapes an ambush with his life, and the flagged email file he sent her now places Raylene in danger and she goes on the run, getting Ian and Cal somewhere safer. The files also tell her that Ian's files were stolen by an AWOL military guy, meaning that she must find him first by breaking into the facility for his file. I liked this part of the story which was all action as Raylene risks her life to get a lead on the case. I liked Raylene because she was the feisty kind of paranormal heroine that I like reading about and the plot was fast moving and never dull. These two things are vital for me to enjoy an urban fantasy adventure!

Her research leads her to a missing girl who was a fellow victim of the people who tortured Ian. She finds out that the AWOL soldier Adrian is her brother who is estranged from his family for making a living as a drag queen called Sister Rose. Adrian is a brilliant character and it was great to see a bit of diversity in the main characters in the book with him and a blind vampire. Adrian is more than capable of kicking ass in both of his personas and I loved his friendship with Raylene. They made a really great team and the action scene at the club when they meet is really well written. I also liked the tension in Cal's relationship with Raylene and his devotion to his boss. Cal grows on me throughout this book. In fact, I liked all the main characters.

There is a sideline of a growing attraction between Ian and Raylene which I actually liked. Those who follow my reviews know that I'm not a fan of romance but having the tough MC getting involved with the vulnerable blind vampire was great as it added diversity to the book. Usually a character with an impairment of some kind is left in the background and doesn't often get to be the love interest, so it was nice to see the author going in a different direction. However the romance element does not overpower the story in any way, for those worried about it. This book is proper urban fantasy, not sex filled paranormal romance.

This book has plenty of action with the various break ins, attacks and hiding from the bad guys but it also takes the time to develop the characters and make you care about them. The bad guys are proper bad guys that you want to boo and hiss. There are a few plot twists that you might or might not guess and the whole book is well written, exciting and entertaining. What more could I want in an urban fantasy series?

There was only one let down-there are only two books in the series as the publisher decided not to continue with the series. Cherie Priest has no current plans to continue as self published which is a shame but maybe in the future we might see more of the gang. 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Book Review: Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow by Maria Coffey


Climbers who court danger in the world's highest places risk far more than just their own skins. When tragedy strikes, what happens to the people who love them? Why would anyone choose to invest in a future with a high-altitude climber? What is life like in the shadow of the mountain? Such questions have long been taboo within the international world of mountaineering. Now Maria Coffey breaks this silence. She recounts climbers' stories of near-death experiences, and gives a voice to the families and loved ones of Chris Bonington, Ed Viesturs, Anatoli Boukreev and Alex Lowe, amongst many other famous names. Her riveting narrative weaves tales of adventure with first-person accounts of the people left behind, highlighting the conflicting beauty, passion and devastation of this alluring obsession.

My Review: 
This is the second book I've read by the author and I liked this book better and would give it 3.5 stars if the option was available. This book gives a voice to the dead climbers and their thoughts about the dangers of climbing, and juggling climbing with family life. It also tells the stories of the wives and girlfriends who have lost one or more partners to death and disaster on climbs. It concludes with an excellent bibliography of the books written by the climbers about their expeditions and the books completed by their grieving families. It has added quite a few books to my wishlist.

In this book, Maria explores the question of risking your life to climb and the effects that this has on your family and loved ones at home waiting for news. It goes into how different people reacted to the situation-the children who rebelled against their absent fathers, the children who developed their own love for the mountains and the children who never felt they could live up to their famous parent. It meets the women who lost a partner in the mountains to find love again with a similar partner, the women who suffered more than one loss to the mountains and the women who accepted the strange life they were living without question. There is a mixture of climbing stories and human stories which I enjoyed.

One theme that seems to go through a lot of stories can be summed up by the climbing career of Jim Wickwire, who promised after each climb that cost a friend's life that he was finished with climbing and would stay safe for his family. The third timed he missed his son's birthday, he watched two friends die in Alaska and swore to cut down the climbing, yet a year later he was seriously ill on K2 and thinking of quitting climbing. Then he was watching a friend die on Denali, and lost another friend on Everest straight after. It seems more like a compulsion than a hobby so I fully understand why his biography is called Addicted to Danger. Others followed similar patterns despite the fears of their loved ones.

There are other stories of death on the mountains-Alex Lowe on Shishapangma, John Harlin on the Eiger, Mick Burke on Everest, Bruce Herrod on Everest and quite a few more. In each story the thoughts of the loved ones are written, some who were there to witness the death and others who received the news at home. These parts of the book were excellent but tragic to read. The book also looks at the different views when a female climber dies. British climber Alison Hargreaves was the darling of the media when she climbed Everest but was the devil when she was killed on K2, with people calling her a bad mother for leaving her kids behind. Female climbers seem to have a much harder time of it when the media are looking into their lives but nobody gets critical of the countless men who leave their kids to climb.

On the other side of it are the women who seem almost addicted to men with this dangerous hobby. Linda Wylie lost her partner Greg Gordon to an accident on Pumori in 1993, and a year later went on a pilgrimage to Everest Base Camp where she met and soon fell in love with Anatoli Boukreev, who died in 1997 on Annapurna. The widow of Dave Cheesmond married his climbing partner as did the widow of Alex Lowe. Going through such a loss once would be bad enough and most people wonder how these women can risk it a second time. The author herself chose a different path, removing herself from the climbing community and moving to a different country to marry.

I looked through my large mountain climbing collection and noted with grim interest that quite a few of the book authors are dead or were dealt life changing injuries because of their love of climbing. It sobers you to the dangers these people chose to face but I can't be critical of their choices, as I love reading about their exploits. This was a fascinating book which will appeal to climbers and non climbers alike.

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Walk Away The Pounds!

Groan! I hate exercise. Exercise is for fit people! But my doctor thinks I should be getting more and the healthy eating alone isn't shifting the weight so I have little choice I guess. *sulks*

I decided that I am in no fit condition to be jumping around in lycra doing aerobic punishment sessions so I stumbled across this dvd which is a get fit workout by power walking in the privacy of your own home. This one is a mile walk but I'm starting slow by doing a quarter of a mile and a warm down to get used to the pace. Next week I might look at maybe trying the half mile if I feel up to it. But I'm at least showing intent and making a start while the weather here is wet and miserable!

So what kind of exercise do you guys do, if any? Do you find it helps? Any tips for weight loss for someone who doesn't like vegetables and isn't much of a cook???!!!