Thursday, 27 April 2017

Chuckles Guide to the UK Election #1

Welcome to my UK General Election 2017 posts where I'll be taking a lighthearted look at the funny, entertaining and embarrassing side of the campaigning so far. I won't be lecturing or spouting political views of my own or telling people how to vote, just having some fun with politics and poking a bit of fun at all the parties involved! 
The funniest part of the week for me was Jeremy Corbyn showing a more fun side to himself by reading some children a story about a bear hunt. I laughed at the photos of Corbyn telling the children 'It's a BEAR!' Sky News wondered if the scariest thing here was actually a massive Tory majority after the election...

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, follows on from his 'pigs at the trough' photo shoot success in the last election and decides to go and wrestle a sheep. As you do. Kissing babies is obviously for wimps! 

There is no funnier politician on the campaign trail than Boris Johnson. Remember his zip line antics, his 'wiff waff/ping pongs coming home' speech, his determination not to let children stop him in rugby games? Boris was unleashed today by the Tories to bash Jeremy Corbyn. He described the Labour leader as a 'mutton headed old mugwump' and indicated that his policies on defence and terrorism made him dangerous and not the 'benign Islingtonian herbivore' that people see him as. Boris is entertaining in a buffoon kind of way so here are his greatest hits.



UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has had a tough few days. Unwilling to answer questions on the terribly tough question of 'are you planning to stand in the General Election?', Nuttall was said to have locked himself in a room to escape. Then he described himself as being like Gandhi and saying he is ten years ahead of his time, politically speaking. Um, yes. 

You might have the bald head and glasses but I still look at you and see Ade Edmondson's Eddie Hitler character from the hit UK comedy series 'Bottom'...

Nicola Sturgeon has had a less fun week with polls indicating a possible loss of seats to the Scottish Tories. Some SNP MPs are trying to save their seats by distancing themselves from being in the EU as fishermen in their areas voted for Brexit-which goes against official SNP policy of leaving the UK to rejoin the EU. There is also the spectre of former leader Alex Salmond to worry about. Sturgeon is worried about Scottish voters being sick of hearing her talk about independence and tried to not make that her main thing in the campaign...but Salmond today was linking the SNP performance in this election to the right to demand another referendum. Keep an eye on these two in the coming weeks! 

Then there is being called a Ginger Dwarf from the North by toxic Brexit fan Katie Hopkins. 

Still, Nicola did find the time to kiss a baby...!

Book Review: Jurassic Dead by Rick Chesler

An Antarctic research team hoping to study microbial organisms in an underground lake discovers something far more amazing: perfectly preserved dinosaur corpses. After one thaws and wakes ravenously hungry, it becomes apparent that death, like life, will find a way. Environmental activist Alex Ramirez, son of the expedition’s paleontologist, came to Antarctica to defend the organisms from extinction, but soon learns that it is the human race that needs protecting.

My Review: 
I loved the cover and anything with rampaging dinosaurs always gets my attention but I found this book surprisingly disappointing. There were plot holes that you could drive a truck through and it did affect my thoughts on the book.

The book gets off to a strange start with environmental activists Alex and Tony going to where the US and Russian teams are racing each other to drill on their dig sites in Antarctica. They want to protect the lake of biological organisms that the teams are drilling blowing up both operations. Yes we want to protect this fragile area of importance by blowing the whole area to hell. Where exactly does that make sense??? Of course it goes wrong and Tony is attacked by Russian men infected with something deadly. Alex flees to the US side of the lake where his furious dad is leading that team.

His father Marcus has discovered what is believed to be dead preserved dinosaurs from the frozen water but Alex gets a close up view as he crosses the lake and is sure that the T Rex is actually alive. The dinosaurs are to be transported to an island owned by rich expedition leader De Kirk. However as the dinosaur thaws out it is going to cause chaos on the ship, biting people and infecting them with the zombie reptile type virus that has decimated the Russian party.

The next part of the book that I found totally unbelievable. The CIA are monitoring what De Kirk is doing and have placed an agent on his ship, posing as the ship's new doctor. The only problem is, Veronica has no medical training and when faced with the T Rex bites and injuries, she has no clue what to do. She even has to be told by Marcus that she needs to give the victims antibiotics in case of infection. WTF kind of plot is that??? There is no way that the CIA are putting someone without medical training to pose as a doctor! She also isn't very good with a gun as Xander seems able to disarm her at will several times in the book. She is quite pathetic. 
Xander, the biological weapon expert brought on board by De Kirk is much more convincing that our heroes Alex and Veronica. He at least seems to be capable. 

The action switches to the private island where things are starting to unravel. The thawed dinosaurs are loose on the island and everyone who is bitten is turning into a zombie. Even the main compound on the island is not a safe place to be, and Xander, Veronica and Alex realise that if they want to escape alive, they are going to have to work together in an uneasy alliance. While this part of the book has more action, everything becomes stupidly easy for our team. The next paragraph contains spoilers.

Spoiler alert! This is how the escape goes. Run to roof where there is a helicopter. Oh no, we've crashed the helo but right near the crash site is a jeep. Oh no the jeep has now run out of gas but there is a secret shelter just ahead hidden inside the nearby volcano. Lets wire it to explode and kill the they are stuck inside after setting the explosives but a handy fork lift truck is right there to force open the back exit along with a nice motorbike to use! *sigh* Every place they get to, there is a nice quick escape option which lets them avoid most of the zombies. Too convenient and not convincing for me.

Safe to look again! I know you have to suspend disbelief to a certain extent when you are reading books about dinosaurs and zombies but there has to be a realism of sorts where you can invest in the story and I did not find it in this book. I found the characters to be unappealing with the cliche rich psycho being like a James Bond villian and the heroes were unconvincing cardboard cut outs. The plot holes were silly, and then it throws in the dumb attraction between Alex and Veronica which as well as being an silly added afterthought, has no chemistry or interest to it at all. It is almost as if the authors though 'darn, we forgot the obligatory romance. Throw it in here!'

Disappointing and I know that Rich Chesler is a much better author than is shown in this book. 
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace (Sin du Jour #1)

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings? Welcome to Sin du Jour - where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

My Review: 
Darren and Lena share an apartment and have both been blackballed from working in any New York eating establishment which is a problem when you have bills to pay. It is a relief to get a call from Byron Luck, owner of the shortstaffed Sin De Jour...until they discover that the clients of SDJ are actually demons, the food ingrediants have their own dangers and you really don't want to go into the pantry...

Byron has solved his temporary staffing issue but he has an important event to cater when rival groups of demons are coming together for a summit. The problem is that they have provided something for the menu-a live Angel to be sacrificed and eaten by the guests. Some of the staff have issues with the prospect of doing this and want to provide something else that tastes like Angel instead but if the demons find out they've been duped, the event will turn into a bloodbath. Now his best team are being dispatched to steal a recipe that might allow them to get away with the deception.

This is a funny book with a few good sniggers along the way. I was particularly amused by the team doing the guided tour of the Henley's factory as they plan their theft of the chicken nuggies recipe, to be confronted by a photo on the wall of company mascots Postman Potatohead and Monsieur Udders, the beret wearing cow! For some reason the name Monsieur Udders just cracked me up and I kept getting the giggles! This whole part of the story kept me entertained.

I was amused by what happens to Moon in the opening sequence and his tendency to die several times in one day because of it. In fact the opening scene was pure slapstick as they try to resusitate him and fight a praying mantis at the same time. It was smart of the author to start with something fun like that to give the book a good start, and it lets the reader know that the content is not to be taken seriously. The dumb behaviour of some of the characters had me thinking that this book is like Hell's Kitchen meets an adult version of The Goonies!

I also liked the wide range of characters in the minute they are fighting with each other and the next they are working together to make the demon dinner a success. I very much look forward to what these characters are going to get up to. I very much liked Byron who is a very harrassed man at the start of the story and I liked him from the start. I loved the team he sends out to solve his problems...Ritter and Cindy are competant but Moon is totally crazy and a dumbass so I look forward to seeing a lot more of them. I didn't really form an opinion of Darren and Lena in the beginning but I think my thoughts will develop as the series continues.

Overall I thought this was a fun read and an entertaining start to the season. The book really hits its stride in the second half with a mixture of the heist story and the frantic preperation for the demon event working well together. It was different from my usual reads and I liked the chance of genre. I will certainly be reading on to see what happens in the next book.  

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Game of Throne Gossip #13 King's Landing

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.

After my three part look at The Night's Watch I figured I should also look at the major players at King's Landing in season one to set the scene for future posts about them. 

Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, was one of those characters I had mixed feelings about in season one but he goes on to become a favourite for me later in the series. We meet him in Robert's enterage arriving at Winterfell where he is bodyguard to Prince Joffrey. His murder of the butcher's boy Mycah after the boy is bullied by Joffrey will set The Hound on a collision course with Arya later in the series. While he seems to care little for those he kills, his defence might be that he is following orders. 

His behaviour towards Sansa is more complex. He seems to enjoy scaring her as seen when he introduces her to the frightening  Ilyn Payne and knows that she finds his burned face repulsive. But he steps in when he realises that Sansa is about to throw her life away by trying to throw Joffrey from the battlements after his execution of Ned Stark. This would have been a death sentence for Sansa whether she failed or not. It could be argued that he was doing this to rescue Joffrey from death but at the time I believed he was stepping in as much to save Sansa as Joffrey. When in season two, Tyrion rescues Sansa from a public beating by Meryn Trant, it is Clegane who covers the girl with his cloak. It is clear that The Hound finds the behaviour of Meryn Trant revolting. He also offers Sansa the chance to escape King's landing with him during the Battle of The Blackwater and rescues her from a group of rapists when Joffrey abandons her to the mob and Tyrion wants her located. 

I see The Hound as a complex man who does not like a lot of what he is doing or who he is serving, someone who has an image to maintain and does not like to be seen as kind in any way. Yet I believe that he does have honour and decency in him which comes to the fore in later seasons with the Stark girls. Can't help thinking that there could be a showdown between the brothers before the series ends and I'd be cheering on The Hound...

Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain, is frankly a monster. As a child he held his brother's face in a fire for the crime of playing with his discarded toy and he is no better as he gets older. His unpunished rape and murder of Rhaegar Targaryen's wife and murder of their children during Robert's Rebellion causes a rift between The Lannisters and House Martell which comes to a head in series four after Tyrion's arrest for murder. Clegane loses a joust to Loras Tyrell and tries to murder him, leading to his brother Sandor intervening to fight him instead. Ned Stark is one of the few who sees The Mountain for what he is and orders him stripped of his titles and sentenced to death for the murder of civilians in the Riverlands on Lannister orders. Ned's arrest for treason prevents action being taken against The Mountain. He continues to work for the Lannisters as their attack dog.

Oberyn Martell agrees to fight for Tyrion in his trial by combat to give him a chance to avenge his sister by killing The Mountain. Despite having the upper hand Oberyn's desire to make Gregor confess before he dies leads to a fatal error and The Mountain uses his last strength to kill Oberyn before submitting to his own wounds. However what he becomes next at the hands of Qyburn turns him physically into the monster he was inside but is totally devoted to the will of Cersei Lannister.

Having had his tongue ripped out by the Mad King, in the Baratheon/Lannister reign, Ilyn Payne serves as the Royal Executioner. He is ordered to kill Sansa's dire wolf Lady but Ned Stark insists on doing the deed himself. His next duty is to behead Ned Stark himself on the orders of Joffrey and to inflict 'justice' on sujects who the new King dislikes. In season twoat The Battle of the Blackwater, Cersei tells Sansa that Ilyn is with the women in the chamber not to protect them, but to kill them should Stannis Baratheon take King's Landing. We may not have seen the last of him.

Meryn Trant is a knight in the Kingsguard for Robert Baratheon but his first actions are on behalf of the Lannisters when we meet him. He is seen leading his men to capture Arya Stark after her father's arrest but is thwarted by her sword teacher Syrio, who it is presumed died during the encounter. (I'm hoping he is in the King's Landing dungeons...)We also see him inflicting pain on Sansa at Joffrey's instruction on several occasions. He refuses to do his duty to protect by telling Tyrion that he answers to only Joffrey and will not take his men out to look for the missing Sansa, a task that The Hound steps up to do alone. Trant is a coward and a bully who is happy to inflict misery on other people and has no honour as a Knight. He meets a deserving end at the hands of Arya Stark in a brothel in Braavos, as she takes her revenge on him for Syrio.

Polliver is one of the men who accompanies Lorch in the attack on the Night's Watch convoy which kills Yoren. During the fight, Polliver takes Arya's sword from her and kills fellow recruit Lommy. Arya convinces him that Lommy is Gendry and the attack ceases, with the prisoners being taken to Harrenhal, where Arya witnesses his cruelty. When she is travelling with The Hound, she encounters Polliver attempting to rob an inkeeper and rape his daughter. She and The Hound dispatch his men and Arya gets the chance to reenact Lommy's death by using Needle to kill Polliver.

Amory Lorch is loyal to the Lannisters and leads a group of men to search the Night's Watch recruits for Gendry. He is the man who murders Yoren and delivers the prisoners to Harrenhal where Gregor Clegane is torturing them. After Arya begins working for Tywin Lannister, Lorch catches her with a stolen letter and goes to inform on her but he is killed by Jaqen H'ghar just in time.

Janos Slynt is Commander of the City Guard at King's Landing when we meet him and is loyal to the Lannisters, gaining the title Lord of Harrenhal from King Joffrey. He oversees the murder of King Robert's bastards and sens his men to hunt Gendry down after hearing he has joined the Night's Watch. As acting Hand of the King, Tyrion takes the opportunity to replace Slynt with Bronn and sends the forner to join the Night's Watch. There he becomes friendly with Alliser Thorne and shows outright contempt for Jon Snow. Slynt counsels Thorne to let Jon take his men to deal with the mutiny that killed Lord Commander Mormont in the hope that Jon will be killed and Thorne will be the next Lord Commander. During the Battle of Castle Black, Gilly finds Slynt hiding in the kitchen in fear instead of fighting the wildlings. When Jon becomes Lord Commander, Slynt refuses to follow his orders and Jon beheads him. It was a fitting end to a coward and a bully!

What are your thoughts on these season one characters?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

Mythology with Chuckles #1 Kushtaka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chuckles Chat #14 Changing Book Tastes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: Z Risen: Outbreak by Timothy W Long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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