Saturday, 25 March 2017

Chuckles Weekend Roundup

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

Please note that I'll be visiting your STS/SP as normal, but I don't follow or leave comments on blogs run by Google Plus or DISQUS as I refuse to join something just to leave comments, and I won't allow DISQUS to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I am the only one who does that on my blog! Sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me because I deleted my account with them but I will persevere as it only happens the odd time!
Another weekend roundup! I haven't got as much reading done this week as I would have liked. I've been tired all week and spent a lot of time curled up in front of the TV watching my Gold Rush dvds. Over the last two weeks I've binge watched seasons 1-3 and enjoyed seeing them again. I do need to put a lot of effort in for the last week of the month to get a few more books read and up the total a bit. I don't think I'll get all 31 targeted books read as a few are over 300 pages and I doubt I'll have time but I plan to get close.

On the book buying front, I had a bit of a field day! I had a few issues with companies online this week and got stressed out so that was the excuse needed to treat myself to a few books to cheer myself up. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy eh? I read Bigfoot War and loved it so just HAD to buy the rest of the books. As you do. I grabbed the newest zombie book by Nicholas Sansbury Smith and another apocalypse series. I did also grab a few downloads. Am I going to get my book target down to 800 by the end of the month? Hmm, looking doubtful at the moment. Oh well, at least I have more shiny books to enjoy! Now I need to focus on what I'm planning to read next month...



Chuckles Blogging World:

On the blogging side of things I had a productive week overall with plenty of posts uploaded and some good discussion posts. I had a few things to do around the house so I fell a little behind on blog visits so I'm sorry if I didn't appear too often at your blogs this week. Hope to do better next week and be a little less stressed! Anyway this is what was going on at The Book Cave last week with links to each post in case you missed it.

Book Reviews: 

This week I featured four more books in the brilliant Arisen zombie series which I read back in February. If you like fast paced zombie action then you really need to check it out. Book #1 Fortress Britain is quite often free on Amazon. I also reviewed a monster book about a megalodon shark which was enjoyable, and did the latest in my Mini Reviews Catch Up where I review several books on one post.

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Three Parts Dead (Arisen #3)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Genesis (Arisen #3.5)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Maximum Violence (Arisen #4)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Exodus (Arisen #5)

Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up: Apocalypse and UF roundup

Regular Features: 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Short Stories 

Chuckles Cover Love: G Michael Hopf

Discussion Posts: 

Chuckles Chat: Blog Content. What attracts you to follow a blog?

Terror Hits London: A look at the terrorist attack.

Game of Thrones Gossip #7: The Stark Children

Book Challenge Updates: 

My Goodreads Challenge total currently stands at 76/250 which is pleasing. 

I'm progressing well with my Monster Month of March, getting lots of sharks, Bigfoots and zombies etc read. Not sure I will get all 31 books read as time is running out and there are big books still to tackle. As long as I get close I'm happy. 

TBR total of books I own but haven't read yet stands at 826. I had hoped to get down to 800 tbr books left by the end of March but a huge book splurge this week seems to have put paid to that! Still, I hope to hit that goal in the first week or two in April so it isn't a disaster!

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, 24 March 2017

Book Review: Exodus by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #5)

The world's last floating nuclear supercarrier looks into the face of oblivion – as her thinned, exhausted, and beleaguered crew face the largest herd of dead ever recorded. Soon, the ship's five-acre flight deck will become the scene of a furious and desperate set-piece battle – like no combat any modern army has seen since Stalingrad. The ranks of the dead are infinite, and those of the living tiny, depleted, and running out of time... and of hope.

Surrounded, cut off, and left for dead, Wesley's band of sailors and survivors race ahead of the city-devouring swarm, desperate for a way off the land. Air strikes and shore bombardment threaten to vaporize them at any instant, the inlet onto which they flee is surrounded on all sides and filling up fast, and the least hesitation will get them all killed, infected, devoured – or all three at once.

Having already dodged a hundred deaths by inches, the operators of Alpha team and MARSOC now fly into two converging storms of unspeakable violence, and must parachute in and reinforce the Alamo – the hopeless and doomed defense of the carrier. A thousand things must go right for them to have a prayer of survival. But it's the job of the operators to succeed even when a million things go wrong...

My Review:
On the USS John F Kennedy, Drake knows the zombie horde is just an hour away from them and he is coming up short on fighters and ammo, and prepares the best he can. Wesley's group are being chased around the docks by the forerunners of the horde and need to get from the road onto a boat to stand any chance of escape. Martin has a risky plan to refloat the JFK but must wait until the zombies arrive to put it into action. Alpha and Fick's team are flying back to the ship just as battle commences below them. Is anyone going to survive the Battle of the JFK?

If there is a better zombie book in the world EVER then I have yet to find it. For the entire book my heart was pounding and my tension levels were through the roof. This is where the zombies reach the beached JFK and everyone is in a fight for their lives. It was non stop drama and panic over all the characters I like! Again we are following different groups and individuals as the Battle of the JFK begins!

The people on the JFK are going through final preparations as the zombies are only an hour away. Last minute weapons training, ammo collection and battle plans are sorted out and everyone takes up their positions. The fighter jets are in the air trying to take out as many zombie targets in their range as they can before they reach the ship. The Murphy are in position to fire the big guns as the horde race forward. Martin has been looking over all his data and has a radical plan that might just refloat the ship but it can only be done when the tide is in the right position and the zombies arrive. Can they live long enough to even try the plan?

Wesley's group are hauling ass in their vehicle with the first wave of zombies right behind them and their only chance is to make it to a boat on the nearby docks. But blocked streets and zombies coming from everywhere are making it a suicide run until they are spotted from above by jet pilot Hailey Wells. Having been recalled to the JFK she is faced with a terrible choice. Obey orders and return safe to join the battle, or use the last of her weapons to give the group on the ground a chance and run out of fuel?

On The Murphy, Abrams knows he has two vital possible roles in the battle. First, to do everything in his power to save the JFK even if it means sacrificing The Murphy. Second, being ready to leave with Simon on board if the JFK should fall to the zombies. If he has to sacrifice his ship, how is Simon going to be transported to London if Alpha delivers him alive? But can he just sit there and watch the JFK go down without trying to help?

The B17 is coming in over the JFK and it is decided that there are too many zombies to make an attempt at landing on the JFK and everyone is to try for The Murphy instead. But at the last minute, the B17 needs to take evasive action which puts it in the path of fire from down below and everyone has to just jump and hope for the best as their transport starts to break apart. The raging storm reduces visibility and with fires, big guns shooting and zombies below, it will be a miracle if they make it to the sea alive...

We are following the main people that we have through the book like Alpha Team, Fick, Wesley, Martin and Drake on the ship but we also get viewpoints of military men on the ship and those like Hailey in the F35. As the B17 starts to crash we get views from each of the escaping team members as the storm splits them up over the battle scene. It really gave you the sense of chaos that you would get in a big battle like this and it kept the tension up high enough to worry me over my blood pressure. I liked seeing lesser characters and it was great to see the actual Captain wake from his two year depression to take a role in the battle. I loved his scenes so much! Having the extra views really added to the plot and it kept it very fast paced as we switched between each group or person.

I run out of words to describe this series and how much I love it. The book is the best of the whole series, of which I have now read up to and including book eleven. And it does get more insane as it goes! 

Read February 2017. 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Book Review: Megatooth by Viktor Zarkov

When the death rate of sperm whales rises dramatically, a well-respected environmental activist puts together a ragtag team to hit the high seas to investigate the matter. They suspect that the deaths are due to poachers and they are all driven by a need for justice.

Elsewhere, an experimental government vessel is enhancing deep sea mining equipment. They see one of these dead whales up close and personal...and are fairly certain that it wasn't poachers that killed it. Both of these teams are about to discover that poachers are the least of their worries. There is something hunting the whales...

Something big. Something prehistoric. Something terrifying.

My Review: 
Four people are on a scientific boat trip to observe whalers from a safe distance. ManneEx has a three man crew out on an experimental mining project. Both are about to come into contact with a very intelligent super sized shark that is determined to kill them all.

I liked the characters in the book. Emily is very dedicated to the anti-whaling cause and is delighted to be invited along on the trip, where they plan to stay well away from the whalers and gather evidence of what they are doing. Steve has come along more out of interest in Emily than anything else and soon gets bored, but he seems quite genuine as a person in spite of his stalking. I liked Zoe as she seemed like a person I could get along with. It is while en route to the position of the whaler that they first see the movement in the water. It becomes clear that it is a megalodon from the size of it and it is getting closer and closer to their small boat...Over on the mining vessel are Carl, Trevor and Bo, who are getting a bit fed up with each other's company on a long trip. They put differences aside when they are called to the aid of Emily's boat and come face to face with the shark.

The shark was very cool. It is intelligent and hell bent on destruction but seems capable of planning its next move which means our survivors are trying to think of ways to trick or defeat it. We see lots of the shark, which I liked, and there is tension on virtually every page as they wait for the next attack or death. It certainly kept up a good pace as they wait and hope that the coastguard will rescue them.

The sexist rubbish that appears in the book did annoy me a bit. The men seem to think that a driven woman can't possibly ever marry as she would be too focused on other things to look after her husband and it is such a waste because Zoe is so pretty! Gah pass the vomit bucket please. So because she is pretty, Zoe must have a man to complete her in some way? Jeez. Thankfully it was just a minor thing near the start of the book but I just felt it didn't need to be there. It added nothing to the story when the main interest was people being eaten. It didn't detract from the story though.

I've now read three books by this author and I very much like his work. He knows how to write exciting plots around dinosaurs and sharks and I look forward to more from him in the future.  

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Chuckles Cover Love #17

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

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

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

Terror Hits London

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

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

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

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

My thoughts today are with the victims and their families. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game of Thrones Gossip #7 The Stark Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 20 March 2017

Chuckles Chat #9: Blog Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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