Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Book Review: The Dead Familiar by JD McKenna (Winterhaven #1)

In the twilight hours of a failing world, one man seeks to bring his loved ones to safety. Jack Hightower: Marine, barkeep, and doomsday prepper. He knows of the coming calamity, and on the final night of an old world he seeks a new beginning. This is the story of that night, the tale of how Jack and his survivor's colony in the north came to be.

My Review: 
War has come to the world and a deal was done with a rampant China to leave Japan neutral and the US and Canada untouched. But when China unleashes the Reaper Virus on Japan, the US is ready to retaliate and Jack puts his disaster plan into effect, sending details to his loved ones about collecting them from pick up points and taking them to the safety of his friend Gary's compound of Winterhaven where they will be safer than in the city. Can he persuade them to trust him and can they all get to Winterhaven?

Jack has not trusted in the peace agreement and prepared for the worst and now it is time to put it into action. With his trusty wolf Fenrir, Jack starts out on the journey out of Minnesota, collecting his friends. He is an organised take-charge kind of guy who knows what he wants to do and you want someone like him on your side when disaster happens. I liked him as an MC. I totally love his gorgeous wolf Fenrir who is seriously hard assed! I just wish that Fenrir was on the book cover! We follow Jack's progress as he starts by rescuing neighbour Nicole and her daughter May, before going to his friends, his brother's girlfriend and his ex wife and her family.

We also follow the progress of people who are not with the main group. Rey and his Uncle Jose are friends of Gary and are travelling from Mexico, trying not to attract any attention and avoiding population centres until they have an interesting encounter in Utah with a group of Civil War reenactors. I really enjoyed this part of the story as they are all interesting characters. John and Olivia are in Memphis and have to make a dangerous stop in a bad part area to stop to pick up vital supplies that Jack has hidden, on their way out of the city.

John's parents are arriving on the doorstep of Jack's ex wife Liz, her new boyfriend Duke, a friend of Jack, and her family, who are less than convinced by Jack's message of doom as they never approved of him as a partner for Liz. However they are now watching their neighbourhood burn and uninvited people are about to gatecrash their home, making escape vital. Jack's brother Sam is at college and persuades his friends to join him on a camping trip, putting off telling them why he is leading them towards Gary's compound until the very last minute. Bear is away on a rugby trip but is in the vicinity of St Cloud, which is locked down. Bear is determined to help other people escape from the area and join the convoy to Winterhaven.

Every book needs a bad guy of course and in this one we have George Lucas, a fanatical despot and racist who is determined to take over and rule Mississippi, removing the 'tainted' from his state. He is recruiting a private army and demanding their loyalty. It is going to be interesting to see how his actions impact on our survivors further north.

There is plenty tension and excitement through the book as you would imagine. At each stage of the journey, Jack's main convoy has to stop to add new people, and some of the stops are more dangerous than others. The apartment block that Meghan and Elizabeth live in is under attack and Jack needs to sneak in to help them. The stop at the armory turns into real danger when an angry mob are determined to stop them taking the weapons. Liz and her family and friends are facing attack and need to escape and get word to Jack that they need help. There are also the stories of all the others travelling towards Winterhaven to enjoy. And if all that wasn't enough, there is a group of escaped criminals very close to Winterhaven who are determined to take it over...

There is one little niggle and that is editing. All through the story, Jack's friend is referred to sometimes as Gary and sometimes as Greg which is somewhat confusing in the beginning. However I can overlook that when I like the characters and the plot. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the rest of this series at some point this year.  

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

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!  http://www.brokeandbookish.com/

This week we have Ten Things That Turn You Off A Book. I'm not being critical of anyone who likes these things in books. This is just what I personally dislike.

1) The Undesirable Heroes 
This is when you get a hero/heroine you just can't stand. The rapist/domestic violence thug. The whiny pathetic female. The criminal/junkie who gleefully robs innocent people. The sexist, racist or bigot. The MCs who are drunk and drugged up most of the book. Characters that are just horrible and obnoxious that you want to headbutt...if I hate the MC I rarely finish the book as I just don't engage with that character.

2) The Half Naked Cover and Sex Overdose
I hate it when I go to look at new urban fantasy books and see the half naked so called hunky men on the cover. You just KNOW that this is going to end up as sex filled paranormal romance instead of the ass kicking action that you wanted to read. If I see this kind of cover I totally ignore it and look for something else, whatever the blurb might say. Even if the book sounds good, I won't risk being overdosed by sex scenes.

3) Love Triangles
I hate this more than any other trope in the world EVER! As soon as I see any mention of two hot guys on the MCs radar, I bodyswerve the book. I don't want my UF or dystopia being dominated by relationship angst...if I wanted that, I would read romance! Too many UF authors seem obsessed with this and don't get that a lot of us don't want that in every book we read! I will not pick up any book that even hints at a love triangle. Dealbreaker for me.

4) Instaluv
I hate this trope. The starry eyed fourteen year old who sees the boy at school and he is her soulmate. One shared look and the adult female knows this is forever. Yes I get it is fiction but I still get bugged by this in my books. I have no issue with attraction but I hate the exchange of 'I love you' two pages after they meet. If romance is there I want to see a gradual shift in their status not the starry eyed claptrap!

5) You Smell! 
I'm seeing a lot of this in UF and it winds me up. The characters hate each other so much but have to work together. She bitches at him every page, he's a sexist pig to her but it all turns lovey dovey by the end. Gag! I get tired of the juvenile squabbling and I've seen a lot of good UF stories being ruined by the constant bitching which overshadows everything. It's the 'you smell!' childish playground behaviour. I quite often DNF this kind of book.

6) Cliche Story 
How often do you see YA books where MC is bullied by bitchy cheerleaders or falls for Queen Bitch's hot jock boyfriend? MC pursued by every hot guy on the planet? The same old angst storylines? Wanted for a crime they didn't commit? I like to see an author using their imagination and delivering a story that isn't full of tropes or copying a thousand other books. I'm excited when I see something different from an author not just the same tired story plots.

7) Retellings
I'm seeing a ton of these books, retellings of everything from The Wizard of Oz to Dracula. I'm just not a fan of reading an author who is telling a version of a story that someone else wrote. It is only if I really love the subject that I will even consider picking it up but for the most part I give them a miss. I prefer authors with new ideas.

8) Steampunk and Epic History plot
I just don't like this genre at all. I've tried reading it because the idea of it intrigues me and there are great covers out there but I really don't like the Victorian setting with society tea dances and sexism. By epic history I mean like a vampire story that covers all 200 years of it's vampire life before getting to the real story or descriptions of every generation of the family history. That bores me as I find it too slow.

9) Angels and Religion
I avoid books with Angels in them for the most part. I don't know what it is about them that I just don't like in books but often the books go way too far into religious themes which I hate seeing a lot of in book. The idea of mortals breeding with Angels is a particular turn off as is a book that constantly tries to preach and convert. I hate having characters written to just push the religious views of the author onto the reader.

10) Animal Cruelty and Dead Dogs
I cannot bring myself to read sad non fiction books where dogs die or any book that gives out a warning about themes of animal abuse in the blurb or in Goodreads reviews. If a fiction book has a character abusing his dog (take a bow Patrick Ness) then I will likely DNF it at that point. I want entertainment but I just don't find animal abuse something that I ever want to read.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Mythology with Chuckles #1 Kushtaka

The Kushtaka is native to Alaska and is generally described as a half man half otter, hence the name which translates to land otter-man. It is believed to be a shapeshifter who appears to people as someone they know to lure them into the woods or river. They are often associated with the Sasquatch, being of similar height and fear factor. Imagine the head of an otter on the body of a Sasquatch sized beast and they don't sound very cuddily.

In most of the legends these are creatures that you want to avoid, said to be cruel and vicious, luring you to a grisly death or being turned into a fellow Kushtaka. Other legends have these cryptids as being helpful to those who are lost, comforting them with visions of their family. The worst of the legends seem to indicate that the Kushtaka subject their victims to the worst moments of their life by using their fears against them. The following page discusses a book written about the legend of the Kushtaka.


Many people who have had encounters with the Kushtaka have shared their stories online and in books.


Many monster hunter type TV shows have features the legend of the Kushtaka. The first is an episode of Missing in Alaska called . It features the fascinating stories of several people who claim to have seen the beast and one of the men still looks freaked out just talking about it. It was interesting and creepy in the woods but no evidence was really found.

A second show to feature the Kushtaka is Alaska Monsters where the presenters go in search of the monster. I haven't watched this one yet.

Want to read some books about the Kushtaka? Here are some fiction and non fiction books available.


If you hear of any other fiction books about this subject please let me know!This sounds like the kind of monster I want to read about!

Book Review: The Fortress by J Walker (ELE #2)

The compound reels from the arrival of unexpected newcomers and a familiar face from the world they once knew. The new arrivals reveal horrifying details of the mercenary faction that has taken control of the area southeast of the highway's divide.

Emily will face her greatest challenges yet as she struggles to come to terms with the past and the very real threat posed by this group.

Do they have what it takes to overcome this new threat while continuing to protect the integrity of the compound and it's inhabitants? 

My Review: 
I read the first book in the series in May 2016 if you want to check that out first.

Emily is shocked to see that her husband is not dead and he has rescued three pregnant girls from the compound of the armed militia that Derek previously encountered.

The arrival of Marcus is a shock to Emily who of course is pregnant by someone else but she can't seem to understand why he is upset about it. She tells him about the rape but decides not to mention her relationship with Derek which everyone else in the compound knows about. She is happy not to say a word until a tearful Marcus finds Derek's dog tags in her room and demands to know the truth. Even then Emily seems to think that Marcus is wrong to be upset and the argument between them ends in a tragic manner.

I didn't think it was possible for Emily to be more childish and whiny than she was in the first book but somehow she manages it. Just seeing women in the group with Marcus has her questioning whether he cheated on her, which is a bit of a cheek under the circumstances and she even asks him if he abused any of them. What a lovely homecoming for your poor husband! She whines non stop about being taken off active duty when she is so pregnant she can barely walk, as if nobody else is capable of looking after things without her there. She just has to be the centre of attention the whole time and she was driving me crazy. Her behaviour after the incident with Marcus after the funeral left me wondering if she ever loved her husband at all. And when Ashley objects to Emily beedding someone so soon after these events, she gets a slap in the face from her mother. Even when planning the raid she was demanding that she was the only one to kill Virtue so she could take the glory again. Selfish woman. It's all 'me me me' with her and not for the good of the compound.

So of course Emily needs a new bed to dive into and Jason proves to me more than willing just weeks later as Emily is so wonderfully attractive that no man can resist her. Important meetings about Virtue and medical disasters all have to wait while Emily chats to or screws Jason. Great leader. Getting laid is so much more important than securing the compound against attack or a dying girl. Bethany decides to give up her rapist's baby to Emily which is nice and convenient but Emily thinks it is because she is so admired by the girls. The ego on this woman is frightening. Pity the all knowing Emily wasn't paying more attention to Bethany's medical condition, fobbing off her worried questions about the fact she was bleeding after the birth without even checking her.

The one part of the book I liked was finding out more about how John got the compound set up and the secret deals he did with Virtue to ensure their safety. This was a fascinating plotline which did not get anywhere near enough attention in the book as we had to keep reading more about The Emily Show.

This book was a massive disappointment. I wanted to read about battles with Virtue's compound, dangerous raiding parties and zombie attacks but that is not what we got. It had the potential to be something really good but frankly it all centered on Emily's sex life and her self centered whining, and babies around the compound.

Frankly this whole book is literally all about sex and babies, with the zombies and madmen taking a back seat to every encounter Emily has with Jason. There are at least four pregnancies that we go through in this book and Emily spends most of the book on her back. Finding out that Emily is the centre of a love triangle in the next book was more than enough reason for me to quit this series.

Read January 2017 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Chuckles Chat #14 Changing Book Tastes

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

This week I'm looking at how book tastes can change over the years. This post is about my personal book journey and how tastes have changed.

As a kid, I was addicted to Enid Blyton's child detective and adventure books. I could not get enough of them! Famous Five, Secret Seven, Five Find-Outers, Secret series, Adventure series, The Wishing Chair etc. I also devoured her girls boarding school series like St Clares, The Naughtiest Girl and Malory Towers and Anne Digby's Trebizon series. I also loved the Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams and Cheerleaders romance books for girls. My dad read me Tolkien as bedtime stories and Gollum was an obsession for a while. I had a horse book phase too.

And yet today, the genres I rarely touch are epic fantasy, romance, crime and contemporary! Where did it all change? I loved those books and had hours of entertainment from them, rereading them over and over again. Those who followed me last year will have seen me talk about my childhood book tastes and phases in a series of posts about my childhood reads and see how different things are with what I read now. What took me away from these books?

In my case the answer is simple. Stephen King and the adult library card! At twelve I was presented with a card for the adult section of the library. Forbidden books were suddenly available to the bug eyed young Chuckles as she prowled the shelves and selected some Stephen King and other books with scary titles! After reading 'IT' for the first time, I never looked back at the kids books! My dad introduced me to James Herbert 'The Rats' and the discovery of Richard Laymon was next. So began my love of horror, which I still read now, recently discovering Ray Garton, Jack Kilborn and Hunter Shea to add to my shelves. However my reading life ground to a halt when I went to college and work and books became a distant memory.

Becoming ill with depression was a game changer for me. I needed something to help occupy me but concentrating on anything was impossible. I decided to join a mail order bookclub in 2003 and one of the joining offers was a box set of the first four Harry Potters, something a work pal had nagged me to read. The moment I started reading it I was hooked. It awakened my dormant love of books for me. After enjoying the character of Remus I wanted something else with werewolves and a search engine led me to Goodreads where I suddenly discoverd the genre of urban fantasy through Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris and Jeaniene Frost. All thanks to Goodreads! I heard about a zombie trilogy by ZA Recht and when I read it, I fell in love! I had always enjoyed zombie films like Dawn of the Dead but this series was my first introduction to fast paced gorefest zombie books and I was blown away by it! Now I am pretty obsessed with zombies, loving the Arisen series and Extinction Horizon.

I had never heard the word dystopia before I joined Goodreads but I started seeing the wide range of apocalype books that were out there in mainstream fiction. I started in YA dystopia and read some good books, some bad. But things changed when I saw a free ebook giveaway to anyone who would review David Estes 'The Moon Dwellers'. I read it and loved it and that was my first experience of an Indie book. It led me to open this book blog to promote indie books and to Goodreads groups that gave away free review books. I don't know how many books I read in that first year but I nearly burned myself out! Reading these books meant Amazon started recommending apocalypses and a lot of indie books.

My impression of preppers was a vague thought of people with guns hiding underground waiting for nuclear war and driving tanks to run over zombies. It wasn't until I started reading prepper books that I realised that was the extreme end of the scale and most preppers are normal people who choose to stockpile and get ready for anything that might come. Amazon recommended two indie authors called Franklin Horton and Darrell Maloney and when I read their books I was actually pretty scared by the description of what might happen if a disaster occurs and you aren't ready for it. What would I do if this happened other than panic? It really made me think. This was my introduction to prepper fiction. To say it has become an obsession is putting it mildly! The tension and excitement I get from these books makes other books look dull by comparison and I can't get enough of them!

Which books inspired you as a kid and do you still read those genres? Which book led you to a genre that you now love? What book phases have you gone through? What are your comfort read genres? What books do you associate with happy times in your life?

This is a topic that is long so if you want to seperate your ideas into several comment postings, please feel free to do so! I am happy to answer each point you raise!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: Z Risen: Outbreak by Timothy W Long

When the USS McClusky (FFG-41) was overwhelmed by the dead, Machinist Mate First Class Jackson Creed, and Marine Sergeant Joel “Cruze” Kelly, were forced to abandon the ship, and take their chances in San Diego.

Now they are stuck in a city that has been completely overrun with zombies and as the days go by they must range farther and farther away from ‘fortress’ in their search for supplies. Relying on military training, guts, and pure force of will, the two of them will face a nightmare world that is intent on killing them one bite at a time.

My Review: 
Machinist Mate FC Jackson Creed and Marine Sgt Joel Kelly were on the USS McClusky headed into port when a zombie outbreak causes chaos on the ship, forcing the men to abandon it and get to the shore. Once there zombies are all over the base and a chaotic escape onto the streets of San Diego takes place where they only have each other to rely on for survival.

This is one of those books that was a decent zombie read but it left me feeling that there was something missing to just take it to the next level as far as star ratings are concerned. There were a few niggles about this book that frustrated me a little and that meant I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to. I do love that cover, which really captures the mood of the story and the events that are taking place.

Lets start with the good points. The cover is great as I already mentioned. The author is a good storyteller and I had no issues with the way he writes the main body of the story. There was some decent zombie action through the book along with encounters with the bad side of humanity. Jackson is an engineer on the ship and is not a great shot with a gun, doing the minimum training that the job permits. He is also vastly out of shape compared to his friend which means he is out of breath on each mission they go on and is a bit of a liability at times. I thought it added a nice element to the story for a military guy to not be skilled and fit for a change. I have no idea if this is accurate from a military stand point but I found it interesting.

Firstly there is a ton of bad language and the 'guy jokes' which starts to become annoying as the book progresses. I don't find the constant swearing and bad taste jokes to be amusing banter-it was just downright annoying and set this book lower than other military reads that I have on my shelf. I prefer real conversations in my zombie book characters instead of the cliche foul mouthed US soldier that we see in these books too often. The obsession with grabbing beer instead of water really annoyed me when they are military men trying to survive in the city heat. Water and energy giving foods should be your priority, not dehydrating yourself with beer when zombies are chasing you across the city. When the guys meet Roz, of course Jackson flips into non stop comments about her attractiveness and wondering if he stands a chance with her. Is it not possible to work with her without rating her by her looks? I also found it strange that military people would refer to the USS McCluskey as a boat rather than a ship.

The first main action of the book follows the guys as they attempt to get to a house known to belong to a survivalist who might have supplies. They are sneaking into the area trying not to attract zombie attention. They know that there will be a lot of supplies in the house that could keep them going for a while. So when they find the door secured, do they look for tools to open it or another way in? No they use explosives, blow the door open and attract every zombie and looter in the city. It means they can only grab a few items before they have to run so they leave the food and grab the beer! This whole sequence was mad. Yes it was interesting from the zombie attack point of view but I thought the characters were being dumb in not looking at other quieter options and being sensible about what they take.

Poor decision making by military personnel occurs through the book. The two men have put a sign up on their hideout warning looters to stay out. Roz has done the same to her property. If there was ever a way to advertise that you have supplies worth stealing it is by doing that! One night they can hear somebody prowling around outside their property. Is it any surprise that when the boys go out later that they return to discover that their supplies have been stolen? This seemed really stupid to me. You want to hide yourself and your supplies and not make yourself an obvious target! Knowing that they were now attracting attention, their first act should have been moving their things to a new hideout. Every time they go out on one of their missions they do too much talking, make too much noise and attract too much attention.

I would have preferred to see the action unfold in a straightforward timeline to add a bit more tension to the book instead of using frequent flashbacks to fill in the gaps. We know there are only the two of them and they talk about the guy that died, then eventually go back to show what happened to him. As we already know that the zombies get him, there was no real tension in reading the scenes as we know what is going to happen to him. This is not a plot device that I greatly enjoy. I would rather see the action unfold in real time as it delivers a greater sense of anxiety and excitement to what is happening.

Overall I'd say it was a decent enough zombie book but with plot flaws that reduced my personal enjoyment. It is by no means a bad book and if you don't mind the sarky rude type of banter between characters you'd probably quite like this one.
Read March 2017
2.5 stars.

Book Review: Playing God by Douglas Moore

Shifts in the ocean’s currents due to the melting polar caps have led to the collapse of a large section of the western continental shelf triggering a massive tsunami that hits China, killing millions and leaving the country in ruin. In its wake a pathogen emerges that threatens the entire world. Jake Miller is a former combat pilot and soldier of fortune haunted by his past. He is the only survivor to an outbreak years earlier while working in the jungles of Panama with parallels to China’s epidemic. His blood runs cold when CNN confirms it’s ‘mouse pox’ and it’s spreading fast. How could this be? 

Jake enlists the help of a friend and private investigator and start to dig but someone wants to bury him and the events of Panama. Jake and his family flee across America amidst the breakdown of society, the fall of man and the rise of a new dominant species while being hunted by those who want him silenced. Jake may be the last man on earth who can piece together the truth and save his family if he lives long enough.

My Review: 
Former Vietnam veteran Jake is part of a pest control clean up crew in Panama and it has been three days since base camp has heard from the jungle camp when a mystery illness broke out. A quarantine zone is set up to stop the dying men spreading the mouse pox further and it seems to be contained. But years later, a tsunami in China brings mouse pox back into the world and Jake has to save the people he loves from it and those who seek to stop him talking about the previous outbreak.

This is more of a thriller than an apocalypse read which I found out when I started to read it but I still enjoyed it. It focuses on the characters fleeing for safety and the government conspiracy so don't expect to see people coming down with mouse pox like an ebola outbreak or something as that is not what the book is about.

Jake lives next door to June, the widow of his friend Robert who died in a car crash after escaping the mouse pox in Panama. Her daughter Leslie and her kids are fleeing Florida and Hurricane Gabrielle to seek refuge with June, and everyone is worried for the safety of Leslie's husband Paul who is on a media assignment in China. Jake panics when he hears from Paul that journalists are being expelled by China and rumours about mouse pox are circulating. Now Paul is in a race to get out of China and back home before quarantine starts closing borders to him. Jake is trying to think of somewhere safer to evacuate the rest of the family before mouse pox arrives in the US.

Jake's PI friend John is interested to hear that the CIA searched June's home after Robert's death and discovers that five of the CDC doctors from Panama all died around the same time as Robert did. However John makes contact with someone in a mental institution who knows about mouse pox and a cover up, and his questions start to attract the attention of the NSA, who want to silence him at all costs. The relentless pursuit of Jake and his loved ones is about to begin.

This was a decent little thriller with good characters that you are rooting for and the evil government agency who will kill anyone trying to help Jake and John. It is not really a dystopian apocalypse book because it doesn't cover the effects of the mouse pox in the US. It is about this group of people trying to find a safe place to stay while avoiding the government agents that pursue them. 

Read February 2017. 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Chuckles Cover Love #22

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 splurged on a new set of zombie books. The first reason was, y'know ZOMBIES! so I had to grab them and the other reason was the range of covers in the series! So here is the The Zombie Apocalypse series by Jeff DeGordick!

I like the look of these books so much and it is a female MC who is single mother to an eight year old boy, born on the day of the apocalypse. Hope it turns out good! 

Have you read this? What do you think of the covers?

Saturday, 22 April 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!
I'm a bit annoyed with myself this week. I had big plans to get lots of stuff read but it just didn't seem to happen. During the day I was preparing bags to go to charity shops from a clearout of my room and getting general housework done in amongst the blogging so at night I just flopped in front of the tv with Masterchef and a few other things like Missing in Alaska and Alaska River Run. I've been watching the news a lot with the General Election being called by our PM which was a massive surprise, and of course coverage of another terrorist attack in Paris. I struggled for days to start getting through the non fiction books that I need to start dealing with. I do have two finished so I guess that's something! Blogging went better but I really need to get more disciplined with the reading!
On the book buying side of things, I decided to buy a whole zombie series without trying the first one. That was REAL restraint, not! I'm only showing the first book as I'll be showing off the whole set in my next Cover Love post! I have pre-ordered a Tudor colouring book which is pretty exciting and a few more non fiction disaster books just to cheer myself up. War with North Korea is looking like a worrying possibility so it set my panic radar sky high and off I went to buy more scary books about nuclear war! *shakes head* I know, I'm a worrier but I've read so many apocalypse books that I just act compulsively sometimes! It doesn't help with these supposed psychics predicting WWIII this year! Erk! I think my dad wonders about my sanity but just lets me get on with it!
My dad bought be a Game of Thrones charm bracelet for a surprise gift which I LOVE and I treated myself to the carved wooden Night's Watch oath to attach to my bedroom door! After such excitement there is only one thing to say...HODOR! 


Chuckles Blogging World: 

It was another good blogging week. I managed to answer all comments posted on my blog within two days I think except those left on posts over a week old. It can take me longer to find out about them but I get there eventually! I was able to do some decent blog visiting too. I'm looking at finally getting started on the mythology posts I planned in January and I haven't decided yet whether to continue with the music post I did for the first time last week. Click on the link provided to go to each item if you missed it during the week and feel free to stop by and leave a comment!
Book Reviews: 

My book reviews this week were a mixture of urban fantasy, apocalypse and zombies (cue Julie Andrews singing 'these are a few of my favourite things...'...!) I hope that adds a few new books to your expanding tbrs! If I'm going down, I'm taking you lot with me!
David Nelson-A Long Road Ahead (Blaine Family Chronicles #3)
Ben Reeder-Zompoc Survivor: Exodus (Zompoc Survivor #1)
Caethes Faron-Magic Born (Elustria Chronicles #1)
Judith Post-Wolf's Bane
AZ Green-Beasthood
Eric Methven-EMP: No Finger on the Pulse
VM Zito-The Return Man
Kenneth Cary-Curtain Fall (The Gatekeeper #1)
Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up
Regular Features: 

Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Things that make me want to read a book
Chuckles Cover Love-JA Cipriano
Discussion Posts:
Chuckles Chat-Diversity 
Game of Thrones Gossip-The Night's Watch part 2
Game of Thrones Gossip-The Night's Watch part 3
Book Tags:
Rest in Purple-Prince Book Tag 
Book Challenge Updates:
 I've enjoyed the start of my Morganville Vampires series catch up, having read six books and a lot of short stories.I've also started trying to read more non fiction to get the sods off my shelves and give me some space back!

The Great Chuckles Spring Clearout

My Goodreads Challenge total currently stands at 98/250 which is good but I didn't really make inroads this week the way I wanted to.

TBR total of books I own but haven't read yet stands at 809.Not doing much to help myself get below 800. Stop buying books!!!

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! 


Friday, 21 April 2017

Book Review: Curtain Fall by Kenneth Cary (The Gatekeeper #1)

A troubling, prophetic dream plagues retired army officer John Anderson, encouraging him to prepare for an unknown disaster. When he hears of seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park, John realizes what’s coming: the Yellowstone Caldera is about to erupt.

In the hectic days before the eruption, John tries to warn family and friends with varying success. Although he convinces his wife and children, others dismiss him as a nut-job survivalist.In preparation for the disaster, John lays in food and other supplies as he struggles to understand dreams that prompt him to action.


Written by disaster preparedness consultant Kenneth Cary, Curtain Fall is a realistic, day-by-day portrayal of how to prepare for and survive a major disaster. The last time the Yellowstone Caldera erupted, thousands of square miles were covered with volcanic rocks and ash, devastating what is now Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Will you be ready when the curtain falls?

My Review: 
John has always been aware that his dreams mean something and the latest dream of dead children and falling ash disturbs him all day at work, especially when he hears about volcanic activity around Yellowstone. When an image from the dream comes true at lunchtime, a frightened John takes time off work, removes the kids from school and starts getting his family ready for disaster. With only days to get ready for a life changing apocalypse, they have to work fast...

The first chapter came very close to putting me off reading the rest of it. There was a detailed info dump covering every second of his tedious drive to work which I couldn't understand being there as it added nothing to the book! Thankfully, this was the only part I found frustrating and the story kicks off when he is at work. So push through that boring part and the book improves.

I read a lot of apocalypse books but this was the first time that the MC has had a dream warning of the coming disaster. I know some reviewers didn't like this but I found it pretty interesting. I've always been the kind of person who believes in listening to your gut or the voice in your head telling you not to do something or whatever, so I was intrigued by the prophecy dream plot. I think it's nice to see something different. John is quick to link his dreams to the ongoing news reports about the Yellowstone volcano showing signs of activity. A creepy experience during his lunch break alarms him almost to the point of panic.

What I liked about John was that he did start to panic. I read a lot of books with various types of prepper characters and John is different. He is prepared for trouble ahead but when he realises that it is about to happen, he gets scared and almost has a panic attack at work. I liked that the enormity of the looming disaster had him so scared for his family and their survival. It made him seem like a more realistic character. He isn't the totally calm prepper, he forgets about important details and he berates himself for not being as ready as he could have been. I liked him as a character and I liked the family dynamic that he had with his wife and kids.

There is a lot of detail about the preperations and projects that John is doing which some readers might find boring but I really enjoyed it. He only has days to get ready, there is a lot of work to be done and it feels as if there is this looming deadline of doom, like a giant clock ticking down as he works to get things done. Each hour he fills with tasks brings us closer to disaster and the tension slowly builds through each chapter as we wait for the eruption. John contacts his family and friends to warn them what is about to happen but gets little response so we don't know if they are going to follow his advice. We also see some interaction with a neighbour who asks for help in preparing his own family after his wife has a similar dream to John's. I hope we see more of Paul and Marissa through the series.

I liked the addition of John having a daughter with diabetes and the issue he faces trying to stockpile her medicine in the few days he has left. He and his wife Jenna are scared about how they are going to cope with helping her when the medicine runs out. This adds another aspect of fear to the normal disaster plot.

I loved the tension in this book. Disaster apocalypse books are my favourites because I love the detail, the planning, the prepping and the countdown to diaster. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Chuckles Retro Reads: The Return Man by VM Zito

The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.

But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you.

My Review: 
Henry is one of the few people alive in the zombie wastelands, looking for his missing wife, and being hired by grieving families to have their zombie relatives put to rest. Now the government have found out about him and they want to hire him to track down a doctor who was working in a prison lab to find a cure-and they won't take no for an answer. Henry and his military escort have a dangerous journey ahead and Henry is not aware that his escort is actually a Chinese agent who plans to kill him after the mission.

This really was a great zombie book, one of the best that I've read. It had all the action and excitement of a zombie book complete with death and gore. Three scenes that really stand out include the pair trying to get some supplies from a train that has been overrun by the undead. There was some serious tension and scary moments in that scene. The dead end on the highway with the crazy guys chasing them was another very exciting bit that had me on the edge of my seat. And the very gripping series of events in the prison were so well written that I didn't want to put the book down. Having all these exciting action sequences are exactly what I look for in this genre. But it is not just action. The tension that the author builds during these scenes is excellent and it keeps you hooked on the story.

Henry is a great hero because he isn't a super hero. He's a normal guy who has adapted to a new way of life and is doing what he can to give peace of mind to the families of the dead, yet sadly he cannot find that peace of mind for himself. He is constantly looking for his wife amongst the undead and takes a detour from the mission in a last hope of finding her. This gave him a very human and sympathetic side and I felt so sorry for the pain he was going through. We see more of his story as he remembers the worst moments of his life just before the zombie outbreak and those incidents become related to his current mission.

Wu is a complex character. On the one hand he is the bad guy who has killed people to get close to Henry, and he plans to dispose of him when he is no longer any use. On the other you see moments when he really seems to connect to Henry, and the reader knows that he is working under orders for his government. Are you bad for doing what you are ordered? Well that is the million dollar question. Then we have the people who have threatened Henry to make him do this job against their will. They have information Henry needs and the power to hurt his friends and are willing to use it against him, which in my eyes made them worse than Wu. We also have the survivalist gang who want to kill them and there is no doubt that you want them to be zombie chow! Having some good bad guys to yell at is always fun!

The zombies are dang scary and dangerous, as we see from the opening scenes of the book and the mayhem just keeps on coming. The descriptions were good with the perfect mix of tension, action, danger and gore. There really was a lot to like about this book and I recommend it to fans of The Walking Dead and the ZA Recht zombie books.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Rest in Purple-Prince Book Tag

The lovely Barb over at http://bookertsfarm.blogspot.co.uk/ has created this excellent book tag in memory of Prince who died a year ago. I thought it was a great book tag so I decided to do my own answers. Make sure you pop over to Barb's to see her answers too!

1) Sign of the Times-your favourite apocalyptic or dystopian novel
Favourite genre alert! Too many choices! I'm going to go with the co-written Glynn James and Michael Stephen Fuchs zombie apocalypse series 'Arisen'. I totally love this series which delivers action and tension on every page! 

2) Purple Rain-a book you've read with purple on the cover
I love purple bookcovers and have quite a few on my shelves! I've chosen Patricia Briggs 'Frost Burned' which is my favourite book so far in the Mercy Thompson series. Always happy to plug a favourite series!

3) You've Got The Look-a book you purchased strictly because of the cover
I never buy just on the cover...I have to like the blurb too but one book I lifted from the shelf because of the gorgeous cover and ended up buying was Rachel Caine's Glass Houses. It glittered and shone in the lights of WH Smith and it had vampires...had to buy! 

4) Lets Go Crazy-a book or series that is a tad crazy and all kinds of fun
I don't really read crazy books so I've picked Robert Boren 'Bug Out!' The plot is varied and the situations our heroes get into are hairier by the minute. Armed militia, civil war, nuclear blasts, Islamic terrorists, serial killers...this series has it all. It is a bit mad plot wise but I love it!

5) Little Red Corvette-one of your favourite classics 
I don't read 'the classics' so I'm going to cheat and mention what for me is the classic horror novel...Stephen King's 'IT' Killer clown that is a shapeshifting child killing monster is always going to be loved by Chuckles! 

6) Kiss-a character you'd love to kiss
I don't do the book boyfriend thing so I'm going with a gorgeous beagle called Woof who has a terrible time of it in a horror book by Jack Kilborn called 'Afraid'. I want to cuddle the poor boy and assure him that he's going to be ok!

7) I wanna be your lover-steamiest book couple
I'm going to agree with Barb here and go for Cat and Bones from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. I don't look for romance in my UF books but this series gives you a couple to really root for while enjoying vampire action! 

8) When Doves Cry-a book that made you cry
Take a bow JK Rowling! It has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as I blubbered my way through this book. I was distraught about Hedwig and Moody at the start but bawled like a baby over Dobby and Snape and Remus! Darn you author! *shakes fist*

9) Alphabet Street-book you've read with the longest title
Erk! I don't think any of my books have very long titles. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time would be right up there I think.

10) Controversy-a book everyone loved but you 
How long a list do you want?! Fight Club, The Girl on the Train, Hitchhikers Guide, 5th Wave,  His Dark Materials, Catch 22, The Reader, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wicked, The Lovely Bones, Wuthering Heights, anything by Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman...endless list!