Friday, 24 February 2017

Chuckles Chat #6: Bloglovin'

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 All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

Today my chat is all about Bloglovin'. For those unsure what this is, Bloglovin' is a tool for keeping up with blogs and a way to manage blog feeds. You can follow any blog you want through this and when you go to your bloglovin' feed, it shows you every new blog post that everyone you follow has posted. When you click on the post on your feed you are taken straight to it and when you return to your feed, that post is marked as being read so you don't get confused over which posts you have read or have still to read. A useful tool indeed!

Personally, I use bloglovin' daily. It's my first stop for the day when I'm going blog visiting. I look through the general feed and 'mark as read' the posts I'm not visiting ie music, fashion, giveaways, TV shows I don't watch, beauty, recipes, etc. I'm left with just the book reviews, discussion posts, TV shows or films that interest me, memes or other posts that have caught my eye. Then I start checking them out in order of interests or by the blogger in question. Once I've read the posts and commented on as many as I can, I check back a few times during the day to see if anything new has been posted. I find it is a time saving tool that makes it easy to organise my blog visits and I never miss a post on my favourite blogs doing it this way. How do you use bloglovin'?

There are a few things I don't like about it though. I hate the sponsored ads and posts that I can't get rid of. I hate having to change it from My Feed to Blog Feed every time I visit-can't I select Blog Feed as a default??? I want to see the blog posts not everything everyone I follow liked or saved! I hate seeing Blogs You Might Like featured at the side because they are not blogs that ever interest me, they relate in no way to my interests and are there because Bloglovin' wants to promote them. Unhelpful. It's the same when I decide to follow a new blog...I get shoved onto that similar blogs page which only shows popular followed blogs with thousands of followers and have zero to do with what I just followed. And can I say how much I hated it when ads appeared in my actual feed? I also hate when it decides to unfollow a blog for some stupid reason. I detest being asked to claim my blog-it's already mine and I don't need to 'claim' it from anyone!!! What bugs you about it?

What features would you like to see on it? I would actually like to see a notification about who has unfollowed me-not to go and yell at them or anything, but just out of curiosity, rather than going through all my followers and trying to remember who was there who is now gone! Not everyone would like that feature and I do understand why! I would like to be able to see what I want on the feed page and not what Bloglovin' are trying to push on me. I hate that on all social media platforms.

Oh yes, they COULD make life easier by avoiding this follow the person, follow the blog mix up! Why not have one follow button that lets you follow the person AND the blog? Some people new to bloglovin are following me as a person and not realising they need to follow the blog seperately! Make it easy, combine the two.

What are your thoughts on Bloglovin'?


Game of Thrones Gossip #5: Khal Drogo

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

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

This week I continue with the main players who feature only in season one and it is time to look at the fascinating character of Khal Drogo. When we first see him coming to inspect Dany as a potential bride he looks pretty damn scary and I didn't think I was going to like the guy at all. Poor Dany's wedding night was a miserable affair until one of her maids advises her on how to seduce her husband and the whole dynamic of their relationship changes.

"Moon of my life."-Khal Drogo

Watching this fearsome man become a devoted and loving husband was actually quite touching. Yes I know he is a brutal warrior whose army rapes and murders everywhere they go, but I couldn't help but love the character because of his interactions with Dany. You can see his fury at the thought of anyone trying to harm his wife and child, and he does seem to value Dany just as much as their unborn child. The assassination attempt is what provokes him to agree to take the Dothraki to war in Westeros and give his wife the Iron Throne.

What interested me about this character so much is that almost every word of his dialogue was in the Dothraki language, which was a huge task for Jason Mamoa. I think he did a really great job both with playing the intimidating warrior and the kind hearted husband to Dany. His speech where he declares war on Westeros was so incredibly powerful and would not have had the same impact had he said it in English. I was impressed by how good he was in the part. It was an excellent decision by the makers of the show to do it that way.

I guess you could say that two men made bad mistakes with Khal Drogo. The first was Dany's brother Viserys who is unhappy that Khal Drogo is more interested in Dany and her baby than delivering on his promise to invade Westeros to put him on the throne. As an undefeated warrior I think Khal Drogo had contempt for this so called King of Westeros and assisting him was never priority. One of the most satisfying scenes in the whole season was watching the death of Viserys. I hated the way he treated Dany, trying to steal the eggs, his pouting jealousy,  and when he threatened to cut the baby out of her, you just knew it was going to end badly! And I loved seeing him get his crown! It was brutal yet somehow fitting.

The second man to make a bad mistake was Robert Baratheon, who decided to murder Dany and her unborn baby despite the objections of Ned Stark. His act drove Khal Drogo to utter fury and gave him motivation to invade Westeros for revenge. Lets imagine both men had lived and the Dothraki had hit King's Landing in season two instead of Stannis. Unleashing that horror on his people would have been the worst decision ever by Robert-other than marrying Cersei of course!

"My sun and stars."-Daenerys

Watching season one, you just knew that Robert and Ned were in serious danger of not living out the season. I also believed that the behaviour of Viserys was not going to be compatible with long life. But for those watching the series who, like me, had never read the books, was there a more shocking death than Khal Drogo? I never saw that coming at all. I assumed that he and Dany would raise their army and head for Westeros and that he would be a key player in the action to come. My first moment of concern was when Dany asked the witch to help her sick husband, and I did not trust her at all. Of course we know that the witch tricked Dany, killing her unborn baby and leaving her husband as a catatonic shell. Watching Dany kill her husband in a mercy killing had me in floods of tears!

Interestingly, the internet seems convinced that Khal Drogo may be making a comeback. We all saw that witch tell Dany that Khal Drogo will return to his old self only When the sun rises in the west, sets in the east when the seas go dry. When the mountains blow in the wind like leaves. The rumours are that season seven will have these conditions being met and that he will return to Dany. Now I would not object to that storyline! However, would the allies Dany has still support her with a Dothraki husband back by her side? Would Jon Snow back her?

What did you think of Khal Drogo? What did you think of his relationship with Dany? Were you shocked by his death? Do you want to see him return to the series? And how hot was Jason Mamoa in the part! *grins*

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Snowy Updates!


Storm Doris hit Scotland and left us with snow! It was raining most of the night but about 5.30am it turned to snow and it was a couple of inches deep when I got up at 8am. Knowing I didn't have to go out in it made me happy to look at how pretty it was...until I remembered the postman was due and I had to trudge out and salt my path so he didn't go for a skite and break his neck! That left me wiped out for the entire day.

I must say sorry for the lack of discussion posts this week. I've had this dang constipation really bad on and off for weeks now. Cutting out the caffeine from my diet helped my other health issues ie the stomach cramps and nausea every morning, but the constipation has been hell. Being stuck in the loo for 40 minutes at a time until your legs go numb was not fun! Thankfully a visit to the doctor on Tuesday resulted in medication that is slowly easing the problem. But I cannot get rid of this total exhaustion. The doctor thinks it is connected to a nasty winter virus that is going around. Due to me getting a yearly flu jag, I'm not getting the bad bits of the virus but I seem to be getting this awful tiredness that leaves you feeling knackered every time you move. I haven't been able to cook all week, moving from one room to another leaves my legs like jelly and my vision going fuzzy and I just feel useless! Salting the path was a five minute job that nearly brough me to to the point of collapse. I hate this!!!

So I decided to just stick to getting ordinary reviews uploaded and doing blog visits and comments replies most of this week. I'm a bit frustrated at not getting caught up on everything I want to do but I'll try and get the discussion posts up tomorrow if I can-or at least my new Games of Thrones discussion post. 

On the bright side of things I have enjoyed takeaway food all week...yum!

Book Review: Bugging Out by Noah Mann

Get out. Hunker down. Stay alive.

It came without warning. A microscopic enemy that methodically turned the green earth grey. Decimating the food chain until only the prepared were left.

But preparation alone is not enough to shelter Eric Fletcher from the chaos to befall the world as governments fail their citizens. Seeking refuge at his remote property in the north of Montana while society devolves into starving anarchy, he finds himself facing not only the rigors of survival, but also the appearance of a self-proclaimed ruler promising to set his piece of the withered world right for those who follow. Those who don't will suffer the consequences of his sadistic retribution.

Finding another survivor near his refuge, Eric attempts to steer clear of the conflict brewing in nearby towns. But soon he and his new found partner in survival are targeted by the dictatorial leader, leaving them two options--run, or fight for what is right.

My Review:
A farmer in Poland sees something strange on his crops and the Blight is soon spreading across Europe and then overseas, killing crops and animals. Fletch gets a visit from an old friend Neil who tells him the Blight has just arrived in Oregon and Fletch needs to leave for his safe house before it is too late, and ride out the disaster in the countryside. Fletch flees and finds that having supplies won't keep you safe when a violent militia in the area want everything for themselves.

This is a pretty frustrating story in many ways. It was well written and I very much liked the idea of the Blight. I always enjoy a good apocalypse story with a bug out plot. It had action, bad guys and a solid enough plot, along with a really great character in Fletch's neighbour Del, who I loved. There is plenty to like about this book which makes it a solid three star read. But it should have been a higher rating. I just got so annoyed by the countless stupid things that Fletch chose to do, things that a prepper should have known better than to do. It did affect my enjoyment of the book a bit.

Fletch was given warning about the coming disaster and told there would be an alert when things went out of control. He was a prepper, he had a safe place with supplies to go to outside the city, he was given warning and uses the time to move extra supplies out to his bug out location...but he doesn't move there. He stays at home until the emergency alert goes out and almost doesn't get by the cops roadblock alive. Now how stupid is that? As soon as he got all of his supplies moved, he should have moved there BEFORE everyone knew that disaster was coming! He even waits until the US itself goes into quarantine and sits home wondering when a good time to bug out would be. I was yelling 'just GO!' at the book every few minutes! Even when the alert comes he is so slow to get moving!

Once at his location, Fletch doesn't get any smarter. Despite receiving the warning about a natural apocalypse coming, he forgets to do some very basic things like get medical supplies. The barn where he is storing vital supplies hasn't been repaired and now the weather is going to turn bad and he still hasn't got round to dealing with it. He failed to use all his money to get extra food supplies to last more than a year. What exactly is he going to do when the year is up? He decides to just light fires so the smoke exits the chimney and alerts every bad guy in the area that this house is occupied and has supplies. Even when he knows that people are casing the house, he continually wanders off leaving it unattended and wondering how he got robbed instead of taking care of his problem visitors. The dumb things just keep on coming from him as the story progresses.

I know I'm moaning about it but overall, despite some plot holes, it was a fairly entertaining apocalypse book. There is no shortage of action in the fight scenes between Fletch and Del against the militia. There were plenty tense scenes as Fletch realises that he is being watched, and that dangerous people are nearby. You put your head in your hands at some of the stupid decisions he takes which puts his life in danger. The story gets a bit mad at times but I don't mind that if it is entertaining and it was entertaining for the most part. So I was ok with the story maybe going into far fetched territory.

I was interested in the way the book finished and part of me does want to know what happens next but I'm not sure if I'm going to continue with the series. I'll decide on that at a later date.

Read December 2016. 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Book Review: Polar Yeti by Matthew Dennion

A team from Princeton University searching for a lost tribe in Antartica discover a hidden valley filled with wooly mammoths, saber toothed tigers and other Ice Age beasts. Seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, the team set up camp to study the amazing creatures. But there is something else that lives in the Valley.

Something terrifying. Something beyond imagination.

My Review:
An ancient tribe in Antarctica offer a young woman to the Yeti at regular intervals-some return, some do not. Jun-Tuk's daughter arrives home dying from an animal attack and he tries to save her at a mainland hospital. Here he meets an anthropologist who is looking to study his tribe and he agrees to guide them if they help him prove to his people that the Yeti is an animal and not a God so it can be destroyed. Of course, the team don't believe in the Yeti until they see it and the other creatures lurking in the valley and the caves...

The team arrive and start exploring the valley, getting a shock when they see a pack of woolly mammoths, which leaves them wondering what else might be out there. They soon start believing in the Yeti when it suddenly attacks their camp. To save the rest of the team from harm, Gina offers herself to the Yeti and it seems happy to take her and head for the mountains, while the team start planning to follow and rescue her. This is where the story splits off into two with Henry's team in pursuit being attacked by a variety of creatures while the Yeti does his King Kong thing in protecting and feeding Gina on their journey.

As I said the Yeti is a bit of a King Kong figure in the book. He will feed and defend his women, provide heat and security and look after them as his family. He doesn't harm or mate with them, he takes them for company. I liked discovering the reason behind why some girls are kept and some are returned. He keeps the already pregnant girls as wives so they and their babies can be part of his new expanding family. He only keeps the other girls until the wives no longer need help and then returns the handmaidens to their people. I kind of felt sorry for this lonely Yeti who just wanted to be part of a family after being ejected from his own tribe as a defeated leader. Poor guy!

Gina has no intention of staying there to be in a Yeti family though and has a tracking device that she can activate at the appropriate moment. She is trying to come up with a plan to get away from the Yeti long enough to be rescued. Henry's team are becoming scared that there might not be enough of them left to take on the Yeti and get Gina back as they fall prey to countless monsters on their journey. There are plenty of people in the team who are there as monster bait.

Monster wise we see plenty of them. Mammoths, saber toothed cats, woolly rhinos, carniverous birds, mutant spiders, dire wolves, and mutant creepy insects...ugh! And we do get plenty of attacks on the hapless team as they try to follow the Yeti and rescue Gina. A nice high body count and a nice bit of gore in the attacks which is always fun! We also get a lot of action as the Yeti battles a few of the creatures himself as he tries to get Gina safely to his home. There is no shortage of action in the book.

Overall it was a decent monster book with plenty going on to keep you interested and nice monsters to keep popping up to attack everyone. It's not the greatest piece of fiction in the world but the story is well enough written in a sort of B movie kind of way so you pretty much get what you expect with this one. If you like this kind of monster book or film, you'll probably enjoy a few hours with this one.
Read December 2016.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I'm a day late with TTT as I was dealing with medical stuff yesterday-nothing serious, just a trip to the doctor with constipation! From now until the TTT official hiatus is over, I'll be continuing on with my own topic choices. This week: Top Ten Tudor Fiction Authors! 

1) Philippa Gregory 
The first Tudor book I read was 'The Other Boleyn Girl' (Anne and Mary Boleyn's affairs with Henry VIII) followed by 'The Boleyn Inheritance' (Jane Rochford's fatal plotting with Queen Catherine Howard to cheat on Henry VIII). Since then I've read a few of her other Tudor books and War of the Roses series, along with the excellent Wideacre. She is a good place to start for Tudor reading and scandal! 

2) Jean Plaidy (aka Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr)
Jean Plaidy starts her Tudor series (Tudor Saga) with Henry VII on the Throne and paranoid about the pretenders threatening his position. It then follows through the whole Tudor dynasty and it keeps pretty good standards. There is also an equally good Queens of England series which includes Tudor Queens. She has Plantagenet, Borgias and Stuarts series as well so lots of historical books to enjoy. 

3) Margaret Campbell Barnes 
These books were written in 1953 and are surprisingly good! I expected old fashioned writing but these feel modern which was great. The series focuses on different characters like Elizabeth of York and Will Somers-Henry VIII's fool, as well as books on Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves. I've read The Tudor Rose (Elizabeth of York) and Brief Gaudy Hour (Anne Boleyn) so I have high hopes for the other books.  

4) Emily Purdy (aka Brandy Purdy)
Another excellent author I've discovered and her book The Tudor Wife is a great read. It tells the story of Jane Parker in a loveless union with George Boleyn, leading to her plotting the downfall of Queen Anne Boleyn. The Boleyn Bride is about Elizabeth Howard, mother of Anne Boleyn, The Fallen Queen is about Lady Jane Grey...lots of good Tudor women to read about. 

5) Alison Weir 
Author of fiction and non fiction on Tudors, the author has recently started a new fiction series about the wives of Henry VIII. I read an ARC of the Anne Boleyn book and it was a great read so it looks like a series well worth following. 

6) Judith Arnopp
This author was a recent discovery and her books cover the War of the Roses and Tudor times. A Song of Sixpence is the first book I've seen that explores the well known pretender Perkin Warbeck and has him as one of the Princes in the Tower. It was a really good read. I've still to read her books on Anne Boleyn and Katherine Parr which I'm looking forward to. 

7) Diane Haeger 
I've read The Secret Bride, the story of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's sister and enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to reading her other books about Catherine Howard, Bessie Blount and Jane Seymour. 

8) Ella March Chase
Three Maids for a Crown was an excellent Tudor novel covering the Grey sisters Jane, Katherine and Mary as they fall foul of their family plotting to steal the Crown away from Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. I loved the struggles of the three sisters with Mary being my favourite Grey. Also published as The Nine Day Queen, as I discovered to my cost. 

9) Elizabeth Fremantle 
A newer author that I discovered and I really enjoyed The Queen's Gambit, the story of Katherine Parr and I'm looking forward to reading Sisters of Treason which covers Queen Mary and her issues with the Grey sisters. 

10) Robin Maxwell
I've read a few interesting books by this author including To The Tower Born which focuses on The Princes in the Tower, a mystery that fascinates me as I belive Richard III was innocent! I think it was Henry VII and his scheming mother who did it so I enjoyed this book a lot. 

Chuckles 2017 E-Book Blitz

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

Well I've picked out another pile to tackle from now until the end of the month and we'll see how we get on with this lot. As it stands my physical tbr stands at 875. Need to get that down a fair bit this year!

Jack Lewis-Fear the Dead
John W Vance-Grid Down
Kyle Pratt-Through many fires
Jeremy Dyson-Rise of the Dead
Joshua Jared Scott-Sanctuary
K Michael Gibson-Dead Pulse Rising
Mike Carey-The right to bear arms
Kyan Yauchler-Homeostasis Lost
L Michael Rusin-Avalon The Retreat
George Rippey Stewart-Earth Abides
Douglas Moore-Playing God
Scott B Williams-The Pulse
Kurt Gepner-Pavement Ends
DJ Mitchell-Ordinary World
JZ O'Brien-Surviving Abe
Brad Manuel-The Last Tribe
Ira Tabankin-The Shelter
Devon Sagliani-Undead LA
Ike Hamill-Extinct
SM Stirling-Dies the Fire
Ryan King-Glimmer of Hope
Nathan Van Coops-In times like this
Richard McCrohan-Pandora

Monday, 20 February 2017

Book Review: Saber Tooth by Lou Cadle

A time gate...
A team of teen scientists...
A desperate fight to survive...

Park Ranger Hannah Kates is leading a group of gifted teens on a fossil-hunting field trip when a rock slide uncovers a portal through time. They are whisked back to an era when giant predator mammals roamed the earth. They want, desperately, to find their way home. But first, they have to survive a world where bizarre--and hungry--mammals ruled North America. They have to survive the Dawn of Mammals.

In Book 1 of the series, Hannah and nine teens are thrown back thirty million years to the world of saber-toothed nimravids, ferocious carnivores. Will all of them be able to survive this vicious world of tooth and claw?

My Review: 
Ranger Hannah and paleontologist MD are taking a group of teen scientists through an area of fossils when MD falls through a shimmery curtain of light after an accident and most of the group follow him out of curiousity. Now they are suddenly stranded in a prehistoric land with no way back, limited resources and hostile animals. How do they get back? Can they use their knowledge to survive?

OK so this plot might sound dumb but I'm not bothered how modern humans come into contact with extinct species-I just like it when they do because it makes for lively and interesting plots. However a word of warning-the blurb makes it sound like the group is being continually hunted and picked off by a pack of vicious sabertooths but that is kind of misleading. This is not the all out gorefest that you might expect. The saber tooths are in the book and have a couple of encounters with the group but they aren't the main focus of the story. The main story is the survival in a hostile environment, dealing with food, water, security and medical dramas as well as interaction with animals that are extinct. There are tense scenes, a few action encounters but it is not a gory horror, more of an adventure story.

Hannah is a good character, with knowledge, intelligence and can connect with everyone on the team. MD has the knowledge but he also has an addiction problem which is going to cause a lot of issues for Hannah during the crisis. I liked Rex, the nerdy astronomer who is very smart and he is the one who first realises that they are not still in the modern world due to the position of the stars and lack of GPS. The kids in the group are smart and capable, and only Dixie is a bit of a whiner. But they do work pretty well as a team to deal with their environment. MD is the one who gets on my nerves as his addiction issues and withdrawal endanger the group.

Only Mimi, her mother and two other kids stay where they are and don't follow the group through the curtain. We don't know what they do next or if they raise the alarm because we don't see them again for the duration of the book. I don't know if we see them again in the series or not.

It was a decent enough story but a bit more YA adventure than gory horror which I had been looking for. If I see the rest of the series cheap I might consider continuing with it but I wouldn't pay full price to read on. 

Read December 2016.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Book Review: Jurassic Sea by Viktor Zarkov (Jurassic Adventures #2)

Fresh off of a horrifying trek to a fabled island where dinosaurs nearly killed him, B-list celebrity Colt McKinnon finds himself heading directly back into the world of the unexplained. This time, his new employer is sending him into the area known as the Bermuda Triangle. Recent storm surges and electromagnetic anomalies have seen an upswing in strange activity in the area. Happy to dive back into a journey into the unexplained and out of the shadows of the dinosaurs that neatly killed him, Colt happily packs his bags

But when the Triangle dumps him into a sea stranded somewhere in the cracks of time, Colt soon learns that he may not be done running from dinosaurs after all. 

My Review: 
Colt escaped with his life from Jurassic Island thanks to the arrival of Nyoko and now he is flooded with offers for interviews and tv appearances. But Nyoko has been monitoring the Bermuda Triangle and wants to fly through it as an experiment. When their plane crashes, the couple and pilot Heath are stranded and there is a jurassic sea monster and a long missing boat in the area. Colt needs to solve the mystery, avoid the sea monsters and find a way home...

You would think that Colt had had enough of risky adventures but when Nyoko tells him what she studying, they decide to hire a pilot who survived a bizarre flight through the Bermuda Triangle so they can do scientific tests on a repeat flight. But of course things don't go quite according to plan and they find themselves in a different time and place, with Jurassic sea monsters and a liner last seen in 1945 along with two people who have been missing for two weeks. Where are they? How are they going to get home?

This doesn't have the all out action that we saw in Jurassic island but it is still a decent enough short thriller. It doesn't have a lot of sea monster action compared to the dinosaurs in the first book and it focuses more on what the liner was there for and who had been using it. As a plot it was ok but I would've liked a lot more of the monster action that I was expecting. The second half of the book is much better as we do get the monster stuff as Cole develops a plan to get them back home, a plan that is going to endanger their lives.

I liked Cole and Nyoko as main characters and they work well as a team. I wouldn't mind reading more about them if the book had more action and more monsters. This was a decent enough read but not anywhere near as good as Jurassic Island so I was a bit disappointed with it.
Read December 2016.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chuckles Cover Love #14

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

This week I'm going to look at survival in the apocalypse. I love that kind of book whether it is about ordinary people struggling to adapt or preppers who are ready for disaster. I haven't read this series by A American yet but I've heard good things about it, it sounds good...and I really love the covers!

I like the mix of colours and scenes and that the covers match the story that they are telling about the apocalypse. I'm not sure if there are going to be more in the series but I want to read the whole thing this year as part of my series catch up!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Stacking the Shelves #169

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

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

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't follow you back, sorry! (see below why I say NO)

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

I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me but I will persevere as it only happens the odd time!
The end of another week. I've been feeling ill on and off over the last few weeks with crippling stomach pains, nasty toilet visits, constipation and feeling sick and stuff so I was about to go to the doctor when I spoke to a friend who swears by alternative medicine. She said coffee is one of the biggest issues in triggering irritable bowel syndrome. I take one iced latte every morning and that's all but I decided to stop taking it. The results were surprising. I have had no nausea, stomach pains, IBS symptoms of any kind for five whole days. I couldn't believe it. I feel human again. Something about the caffeine was throwing my system into chaos and now I feel so much better. If you are having IBS issues it might be worth experimenting to see if any of your regular food and drink could be upsetting your system. There are lots of health pages about foods that trigger IBS so you can google 'em.
Feeling ill at the start of the week meant I actually had to stop my hot streak of reading for three days as I couldn't really concentrate on books. I'm back on track now thankfully and as a bonus, I caught up on a rewatch of the first two seasons of Bering Sea Gold which I LOVE! I enjoy these tough job reality tv things better than films or drama shows! I might need to do a post about them and what I need to get watched. Nyargh. One of those author newsletters pointed me to an urban fantasy free book bonanza with all new-to-me authors so I grabbed a pile. It would've been rude not to! I'm starting to wade through the emails and decide which authors don't write my kind of books and unsubscribe. But I've also found a few more who write my kind of books! Exciting reads ahead!
The first six books were all free thanks to the kindness of authors who put them into an urban fantasy giveaway! The next three were through author newsletters and were happily grabbed! My tbr thanks you...sort of...

I paid more for this than I wanted but it was the only main part of Pack story that I didn't have and I loved the cover. Short read but loves the wolves in it!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Safari by Keith C Blackmore (Mountain Man #2)

Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when “they” will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain since the demise of civilization, Gus knows that his next visit to undead suburbia could be his last.

Not only does he face a corpse-infested urban hell, human scavengers, and unending loneliness, but now a new mystery has risen…The undead are disappearing from the streets.

A force is gathering, beyond the mountain man’s darkest nightmares, even more relentless and terrifying than the roaming tides of dead flesh. And it’s preparing to hunt.

My Review: 
This is the second book in the series and from the start of this review, there are spoilers about the end of book one so read with caution!

Gus is still reeling from the recent events and waiting for his injuries to heal. He is worried about when he will be able to get his home repaired, and that becomes critical when he realises that the zombies have been attracted by all the gunfire and are trying to break down his gate. Gus is facing total disaster unless he can kill all the zombies and repair the damage, and then he needs a plan for new supplies and surviving the winter alone again.

Oh dear. The stupid decisions that Gus made in the last book have really put him in a bad spot and threaten his safe mountain hideout. I did try to warm him but he just wouldn't listen! Now thanks to his obsession with Roxanne, he has lost his only friend, his safe house, a pile of supplies and his health. The zombies have located him and he has to do something to stop more zombies coming up to him. He devises a plan to dispose of all the bodies and that is when he notices that his previous kills have vanished. Are they still alive and reanimated again or has something taken them?

The current situation and going back to being alone really messes Gus up and he starts doing very stupid things. He comes up with the insane plan of going out before winter to kill as many zombies as he can to reduce their numbers. A nice plan in theory but other people in town are not very happy with what Gus is planning to do as it brings the zombies out into the open and threatens them. Now Gus is in conflict with other survivors which gives him a whole new set of problems. And of course his actions cause him more trouble when he fails to think through the plan and it is then that he finds out to his horror what has happened to the zombie bodies. Now his plans evolve into something really drastic!

Gus never makes life easy for himself but he is fun to read about! I plan to continue on with books three and four hopefully this winter, to see what happens to him next. This book does finish on a bit of a surprise so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Read August 2015.  
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Chuckles Retro Reads: Mountain Man by Keith C Blackmore (Mountain Man #1)

Samurai bat.
Motorcycle leather.
And the will to live amongst the unliving.

Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when "they" will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain after civilization died two years ago, Gus knows that every time he goes down into undead suburbia could be his last.

A novel of the zombie apocalypse. 

My Review: 
The first thing that catches the eye about the series are the gorgeous covers which show the area that our anti-hero lives in. And Gus is certainly an anti-hero! I first encountered him in a novella prequel called The Hospital, and I certainly enjoyed that enough to grab the main books in the series though I haven't read them all yet. If you get the chance, grab The Hospital which sets the scene for the life that Gus is living.

Gus is basically an overweight, unfit, anti-social alcoholic who talks to empty bottles of alcohol when he isn't grabbing supplies and killing zombies. He is so far removed from a hero but that is what I like about him. He is a man who has survived two years in the mountains in a world knee-deep in zombies by a mixture of planning and luck, and when he gets it wrong, it goes bad quickly. He is not the smartest of guys, and is obviously under mental strain which I can understand, and can be downright dumb at times but it makes him more of a real character.

Scott and his friends are also scavenging in town and are about to fall foul of a gleeful serial killer who is using the zombie apocalypse to kill as many survivors as possible on his road trip. Scott is about to get in his way which leads him to Gus. Scott is then torn between helping Gus and living in safety as his assistant or going after the killer to get his revenge. I liked Scott and it certainly livened the book up when his story began to intersect with Gus. With him around, Gus starts to look a bit more normal.

Now there are a couple of things about this book that did detract from my enjoyment of it. There was way too much about Gus getting drunk in his house on a daily basis. I get that he is mentally damaged from the stress of living in this world, mostly on his own, but it did get a bit wearing to hear about every drink he took and every hangover he has. Frankly if he was this drunk all the time he would've been eaten by zombies a long time ago. I certainly hope the drinking thing reduces as the series goes on as it wasn't greatly interesting to read about all the time.

The other thing that I really disliked was Roxanne being introduced to ruin the team dynamic. I never liked or trusted her from page one and I was suspicious of her motives. To be fair to the author, Roxanne was put there for a specific plot purpose and I liked the way that bit of plot played out into a near disaster for Gus, and into a Scarface style 'say hello to my little friend' finale! That was actually the best bit of the book and was very well written and exciting. So as much as Roxanne annoyed me, she was crucial to the plot and it did turn out to be a very satisfying storyline to read.

The scenes where Gus encounters the zombies, the bad guys and Scott encounters the serial killers are all very well written. The author does a good job of bringing action and tension into the plot and keeping the reader interested in Gus and his life. It does get a little slow in places but it is worth it to read to the end as it finishes with a serious bang.

Overall I'm in two minds about whether to give it 3 or 4 stars and I keep changing my mind about it so until I reread it I will split the difference and give it 3.5.

Read August 2015.  
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Chuckles Retro Reads: The Hospital by Keith C Blackmore (Mountain Man #0.5)

"Mountain Man" Augustus Berry is a survivor in undead suburbia. He scavenges what he can from what's left over. He is very careful in what he does and where he goes, taking no chances, no unnecessary risks, and weighing every choice... until he decides to visit the hospital at the edge of town, and experiences terror the likes he's never encountered before. 

Seemed like a good day to do my retro review of this book as Bark has done one over on her blog too! 

My Review: 
Gus lives in the mountains, away from the 'gimps' seeking to shred the flesh of the living, but needs to come down on supply runs. Today he is seeking medical supplies and needs to take the risk of looking at the hospital just in case it hasn't been looted. It looks deserted but you never know what might be lurking in the dark...

This was a good introduction to Gus, learning about his habits and personality while he creeps around the dark corridors, looking for anything that can be used. We know he likes a drink to help him sleep, we know he has the worst zombie nightwares and we know that he is a guy who is doing everything he can to protect himself and survive. That does not mean that he cannot make mistakes. There are blood trails leading into the dark and Gus is unsure exactly where the medicines might be. Leaving too soon means losing the chance at hitting gold. Staying too long means danger has a chance to creep up on you. And then he hears the strange noise...

I liked the tension and the action in this short story. It certainly makes you want to find out what happens to Gus in future adventures. He comes across as a normal guy who learns the zombie rules from watching crap films. He is no superhero but tries to prepare the best he can when he goes out to salvage supplies.

The one thing that was a slight niggle was that in the first half of the story, the author overdosed a bit on fancy descriptions that just weren't needed. The vending machines were raped and punished. The squeaky wheel on a hamper was 'whistling its tune the whole way, like a high dwarf going home to see Snow White'. It was a bit over the top for me and didn't add to the story. When the author concentrated on just describing what happens to Gus, the writing is transformed into something so much better, and we get caught up in his story. It becomes tense and gritty and entertaining! Sometimes keeping it simple and putting the author right beside Gus in the story is a better idea.

Does this prequel make me want to read the full novels? Hell yes! I think Gus is going to be an interesting guy to go on an adventure with. The writer also adds enough realism with the setting of the hospital to show good attention to detail that bodes well for a novel. I look forward to reading more.

Read February 2015.   
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: Trudge by Shawn Chesser (Surviving the ZA #1)

For Cade Grayson, husband, father, and former Delta Force operator, that one warm sunny Saturday in July - later to be labeled Z-Day by some anonymous person probably long dead - began like all the others before, and none since. 

Whether the virus was naturally occurring or an escaped lab experiment Cade hadn't a clue, and he wasn't especially concerned until he learned of its unprecedented virulence, unusual method of transference, and the fact that, according to the talking heads on the news, it brought the newly dead back to life, semi-mindless, and with an insatiable desire to feed on the flesh of the living.

Armed with this new information and now seeing the bigger cities such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles rocked by the rapidly spreading scourge, Cade ignores the volley of contradictory edicts drawn up by the White House and set into motion by FEMA and DHS, dusts off his tools of war, and loads his truck with supplies. Unable to get ahold of Brook and Raven and unwilling to leave them at the mercy of some distant politician's inability to hold the nation together, he begins an impossible 3,000 mile journey across a reeling United States with presumably millions of infected in his path and only one acceptable outcome: find Brook and Raven alive-or die trying.

My Review: 
Cade isn't paying much attention to outbreak reports in the media until his neighbours Ted and Lisa are trying to eat him. He arranges to meet his family at a military base and starts on his journey, meeting up with other survivors fleeing the area, while his family get out on their own dangerous road trip. But the dead are going to be the least of their problems.

This goes with the typical type of zombie story that I enjoy reading. We have the motivated and capable characters, trying to get back to their loved ones on seperate dangerous road trips, with the threat of zombies and psycho people who take advantage of the lawless situation. It has the mixture of action and tension as we switch between Cade and his wife Brook and what is happening to them. I also liked that we were following Mike, Cade's old friend at the military base as he is sent on a mission to investigate the situation at The White House. There is certainly plenty going on through the book which kept me pretty happy.

We meet quite a few characters on the journey. Cade finds two orphaned kids Leo and Ike, and along with neighbour Rawley decide to get on the road as a group. I liked this early part of the story as Rawley was a really good character and I was curious to see how the kids were going to develop. They link up with the grumpy Harry who doesn't offer much to the group effort yet moans to himself that nobody values him or his opinions and that kind of gets on my nerves. There is also the addition of the twins Shelly and Sheila, and former military man Duncan. They decide on safety in numbers and travel together at least for part of the journey.

I very much enjoyed Brook's adventures. She is suffering the pain of her father turning and attacking her mother, and is now taking her brother Carl and her daughter Raven to meet up with her husband but the journey is difficult. They deal with the behaviour of panicking motorists, zombie hordes and violent looters as they try to get to safety. I liked when we went back to their story as I thought it was well written, tense and quite nerve-wracking. Mike taking his teams into The White House to look for survivors was really tense and I liked that unexpected sub plot. Mike was a really good character and I want to see more of him.

Cade's journey is a bit more frustrating. I was annoyed at how many of his companions we lost on the road trip as I liked the group and wanted to see them survive more than a few chapters! I at least wanted the majority to make it to the next book so I did feel a bit annoyed, especially with their lives being thrown away by stupid mistakes. Cade decides to teach Ike and Leo to shoot in an area he hasn't checked for zombies and has not set a proper guard to keep everyone safe. Later he lets civilians go into a public restroom that he and Duncan have not checked for zombies. And of course knowing that the raiders set up an ambush ahead of them, instead of taking an alternative route away from it, lets drive into it and die! Great choices by a so called military man!

The copy I had was full of editing mistakes, which is a bit annoying. The names of the twins are continually being mixed up in the second half of the book, which is annoying when one is alive and one is dead. I feel as if the author changed his mind about which twin to kill at some point and didn't correct all the mentions of the names. These are the kind of things I don't want to see in something I paid good money for.

I liked the book overall but there were a few niggles concerning the Cade side of the story. I think I'll look at the next book before I make a final decision about whether to stick with the series right through. 

Read December 2016.   
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up

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

Peter Cawdron-What We Left Behind
This is an example of a dreadful MC putting me right off the story. Haze is a moaning faced, immature, whiny little bitch and I frankly hate her. She spends most of her time complaining about her friends and pointing out every fault they have and why it makes her so much better. She thinks she is more mature than Jane because she calls them zombies while Jane calls them monsters. Oh yes that REALLY proves your maturity.

Haze whines about being stuck inside a safe commune in the zombie apocalypse because she wants more out of life. She doesn't want to be stuck there doing boring jobs every day for the good of the community. Well take your whiny ass out there into the world where you have to fend for yourself and see how you enjoy the zombies! What an ungrateful little snot! Most people would be grateful to live in a safe commune away from the zombies but not Haze. Most people would realise that the community need to work together and share the load as that is fair. So the jobs might be boring but you do your share and get on with it! Haze is just lazy, spoiled and needs a good kick up the ass. She is very snotty about preppers who are successfully living beyond the walls of their community, calling them 'sad lonely paranoid hermits' and then wonders why they don't like or deal with people like her. Um, maybe because you are rude and snotty? And now she decides she is going out into the world to collect a zombie sample to prove a scientific theory of her father? Oh yes that should be worth a giggle!

I really cannot stand idiot main characters like this in my zombie books.  

Read December 2016.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Robert Kirkman-Rise of the Governor
Philip is the capable brother, determined to look after daughter Penny in the zombie apocalypse, ready to leave town with his trusted friends Bobby and Nick. He is also forced by bad luck to take his brother Brian, who he meets by accident and was planning to leave without. The group are trying to get to the safe zone in Atlanta.

Basically, this book was just way too slow for me. We had so much description about the characters and what they were doing without really taking the story forward. It was a day to day existance for the group with not much in the way of exciting zombie action. I just found it pretty dull. By p90 I was bored and decided to DNF.  

Read December 2016.
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Glenn Bullion-Dead Living 
This book started really well as the zombie apocalypse explodes, leaving Joe trying to get to his pregnant wife Sarah who is in labour and on the way to the hospital with her friend Margie. Denise works at reception as hell breaks loose while Frank is there looking for his bitten sister. I found their stories interesting and exciting, it was well written and I was fully invested in it. I couldn't wait to see what happened to them.

Then we suddenly switch to 14 years later when Joe's baby is a teenager and the group are fully settled and adapted to this new life. And suddenly, Frank and Joe are shot on a raid and Margie and Denise decide to stay with the dying men and get eaten by zombies instead of getting Aaron and fleeing. I felt so cheated by this! They were the characters I liked from the start of the book, the ones who drew me into the story. Now we are left with the one dimensional kid with no character development or social skills, and a girl living in a group with asshats and would be rapists. Sam is obnoxious and rude when Aaron saves her so now we have two MCs I don't really like and I lost all interest in continuing with the book.

Frustrated as the opening proved that this is a good storyteller who could do something great with zombies, but chose instead to go into teen angst drama instead. Not for me.  

Read December 2016.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png