Sunday, 21 January 2018

Prepping With Chuckles #3 Having A Get Home Plan

Let's imagine for a moment that you have good supplies in your home ready for a limited or lengthy emergency. Whether you have the perfect fully equipped prepper house or you are just supplied for a few months, you know that you will have a good chance of seeing it through in your own house. After all, shelter, food and water, prepping equipment and weapons, if relevant, are a good start to getting through a disaster.

If you are all at home when disaster strikes, that's great! You are all together, safe and ready to think about what to do next to secure your home. But what if NONE of you are at home when it happens? What do you do? You need an emergency or get home plan. This post is not a get home plan, just a few things to think about when you put your own together.

1) Think About Your Location
When you aren't at home, where are you most likely to be? If you aren't at work daily, what other places are you at regularly during the week ie visiting other relatives, voluntary work, weekly shopping, meeting a friend in town for a chat, sports club, dropping off kids at school, going to the gym etc. You could be at any of these places if something happens and you need to get home safe from every one of them.

Think about how long it takes you get home by car from each place, and think about the best route home if a car or bike is an option ie you still have power in your car. It's easy to imagine the quickest route but in an emergency will everyone else on the road at the same time be using this route? If so you might end up in a traffic jam and be going nowhere at all. Look at possible alternative routes on quieter roads where there are less traffic lights, less workplaces and shops where workers are all trying to leave from, and where there should be less people. The more alternative routes you have in your head, the better your options if the worst happens. 

Be aware of any roadworks, areas prone to flooding, burst pipes or other issues that suddenly appear on your favoured routes as this can also slow you down. Which routes may be impassable in certain weather? Keep up to date on planned roadworks or when pipes under the roads are being repaired. Look for diversion signs and when this work finishes. Think of which routes you could take if you are on foot as these may differ greatly from roads you travel on by car and be more direct. Is it safer to walk on a longer main road or take the wooded short cut? Can you defend yourself in each circumstance? Plan what hazards you might face if you cut across fields ie angry animals, water  Plan out what supplies you will need for this length of walk and ensure you have suitable footwear and clothing for the journey, and adjust your plan for each type of seasonal weather.

THINK about what kind of area your route takes you through. Is it an area where there is high crime? If so you may be at risk of car-jacking, or robbery if on foot or bike. Try to avoid these areas unless you are confident of getting through before trouble breaks out. If you pass through quieter areas with less trouble, depending on which disaster you face, there may be time to stop for more food, water and supplies. You might be able to stop at small local grocery stores to grab more supplies on your way home, places not already attracting looters. These places might be slower to descend into chaos but be ready to pay cash and inflated prices for what you buy and the shops may already have closed up for safety reasons.

2) Your Family's Route Home
You need a plan for each family member. You have to decide on whether your plan involves getting to your kids schools to collect them, or if they have to make their own way home. For example if their school is a few minutes walk away, you can get them to run straight home and wait for you to get there. If they are young kids ten miles away from home, the situation changes and you may need to go and get them. If you drop off a spouse at work and you have the sole car, do you collect them or expect them to come home themselves? Will the schools bus the kids home in an emergency? Does your school have a disaster plan or require parents to come and collect the kids? Is the route home safe enough for the kids to make their own way back? How long would it take you to reach them by car or by foot? You could look at the route and perhaps find a rendezvous point that your family can get to quickly and wait safely out of sight for you or another family member to reach them. 

Do you gather the whole family at one home or will you all be staying in your own homes? If one of you is a prepper and have a lot of supplies in a defendable home it might be worth getting your family all under one roof for safety. If cars are still usable, decide which supplies you can ask your family to bring for the stockpile or if they can pick up anyone else en route. Do family members need to be collected before they can be brought to you? There are a lot of things to think of and the type of disaster can dictate your actions. An EMP is a long term disaster so you might want to be together for that whereas hurricanes are a short term situation where you can all stay in your own homes if it is safe to do so.

3) Are You Bugging In or Bugging Out?
This is the question that preppers disagree on most often. If a disaster comes do you stay at home and survive in an area you know, defending your supplies? Or is it not safe in your area and you want to bug out to a safer location? I personally have no choice but to bug in. We have no family outside of our urban environment who can take us in and we have no rural prepper property that we can try to get to in an emergency. We have no guns to protect us and no hunting or camping skills so we will have to stay where we are and hope for the best. If you decide to bug out straight to another location, know where you are going, ensure your routes are well planned and ensure you have the supplies and skills to get there.

3) What do you need to Get Home? A few things that might be useful.
-carry cash as credit card payment scanners may be down if the power is affected in a disaster
-BOB (Bug Out Bag)
-suitable shoes. Wear them always or have a pair in the car/workplace to change into
-paper maps to plan route as SAT-NAV might not be working
-salt/grit in case you need to get out of snow or go off road through a field in a real emergency
-ensure you have a full petrol tank in your car in case you need to take a longer route
-fold up bikes-excellent to store in boot/trunk and are easy to assemble if car is not an option
-if in a car, lock your doors
-if something looks dodgy ahead, don't stop and get away from the trouble

To sum up:
Whether by vehicle or on foot, you need to be sure of where you are going and what you may be facing so do your homework before it comes to disaster. Think about routes, supplies and how your family are to get home or to another location NOW. Don't wait. If a disaster was to hit tomorrow, you don't want your family to be in a panic wondering what to do. It'll do you no good if your kids are fleeing home by one route while you charge to their school by another route and you all miss each other. Make sure everyone in the family knows what to do in various circumstances and there is less likely to be panic.These points are to get you thinking about how to get home, and are a starting point but only you can make the actual plan.

Do you have a Get Home plan?

Chuckles Goes Sampling

Seeing Kermit surrounded and almost buried in leaves kind of reminds me of my relationship with books. I'm pretty much buried in them too! I have no more space in my house for the books I buy and piles are sitting on the floor which isn't good and I can't read them quick enough because I keep buying!!! I've battled to reduce the tbr without success this year but now Kermit and I are embarking on a new plan to reduce the book buying and give me a chance to reduce the tbr at last. The Plan? Download samples and read them and only go on to buy those I liked instead of grabbing everything!

Here is what I read last week! 

1) Matt Shaw-Terror Teds 
Sarah has been chained up in the basement by the man she used to love, forced to make scary teddy bears which he sells for money while she is forced to live like a slave. While watching Jeremy Kyle on TV, she hears a voice that seems to be coming from her now finished bear Smiler, offering to kill her captor if she just says the word. Sarah fears that she is going mad and begs to be let out of captivity but instead is told to make more bears. This is where the sample finishes.

Don't you just love the cover for this book? Those are teddies that you wouldn't want to cuddle up beside but it could be fun to set them on your enemies! Sarah's partner certainly deserves that fate for the way he treats her. I've seen Matt Shaw around Amazon and always been interested in trying some of his stuff and this one certainly had enough in the sample for me to want to find out what the bears do and if her partner gets what is coming to him. This is a short novella at 102 pages and as much as I want to read it, I have no intention of paying £3.50 for a short offering! I'll grab it when it comes down in price.

2) Tim Miller-Clown Night
Reggie has a cloud of bad luck that seems to follow him around everywhere, causing him to lose countless jobs. George is tired of continually telling him the same things over and over but the last straw is when Reggie is robbed at the shop by an old woman with a gun. When out trying to pawn things for food, he sees a clown mask that appeals to him and does a trade instead. Wearing it in the car home, Reggie delights in scaring a fellow car driver. He decides to go and give George a good scare, and is surprised when George empties the till to get him out the shop. Reggie is delighted and that is when his mask begins to talk to him, calling itself Captain Pinky and asking him to go out and abduct and kill a woman, carving her face up like a clown mask.

This was a fun sample to read. Reggie is just one of life's eternal losers and I can understand why he was never able to keep a job. I did have an evil snigger as Reggie decided to scare a couple of people with the mask, and I think this has the potential to be an interesting horror book. It's full length at 252 pages so there should be plenty of things going on as Reggie gets more dangerous. I certainly want to read this one. 

3) PK Hawkins-Titanoboa
Hank is going on what might be his final research project into the Amazon as one of his students is trying to force him out of his job, cutting his funding and undermining him. Now Hank and his students are sailing down the Amazon to study the declining tree frog population and things on the boat are tense. With his friend Captain Morgan offering to introduce Randy to an accident and Erin distracting his mind, Hank starts to regret bringing anyone with him. Then, something is picked up on the radar. This is where the sample ends.

The sample basically sets the scene with who are Hank's friends and who the enemy is. I liked Hank straight away so naturally I want Randy to die a very violent death. Captain Morgan is that grizzly gruff character that I enjoy in this kind of book, and I do like these jungle expedition settings. It gets straight into the story and I'm very much hoping this is going to be a gory tense creature feature book, which I generally enjoy reading. I think there is enough here for me to want to find out what happens. 

Chuckles Cover Love #60

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.

NB: 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 them to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I won't comment on any blog that makes me sign in using another account.   

My final offering from Simone Pond for the moment! I have the first book on my ereader and again I like the colouring on the covers for this series. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

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 social media! I won't comment on any blog that makes me sign in using another account. 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!

This has been a hibernation week for Chuckles with it being cold with a few snow days but the good news is the colds my dad and I started the week with faded away without developing into something nasty. We're lucky-various flu bugs are crossing the UK and I plan to stay far away from them! I'm making home made soup every few days to heat us up and staying as close to the fire as I possibly can! Still, I have got some decent reading done this week though I've been pretty tired at night and had to do most of my reading in the mornings. As long as I get it done I guess! There has been good quality urban fantasy and horror but a few duff apocalypse ones which is a pity. Well, they all count in reducing the TBR so I'm not complaining...

On the book buying side of things I'm still showing some restraint. I've only bought a couple of paperbacks but they are in series that I'm following so I kind of HAD to buy them y'know? I did indulge in a couple of downloads which I'll share with you and a DVD bought for me by my dad! I hope to watch that tomorrow.


Chuckles Blogging World
 It wasn't as good a week on the blog as I'd hoped. I managed to stay on top of regular posts, comments and blog visits and managed to write a few book reviews but I haven't done the posts due up tomorrow so I'll be busy playing catch-up today! Gah! As always I've put a link beside every post so can go straight to anything you missed on the blog last week.

Book Reviews
I was pleased again to get a few book reviews done. I shared a retro review as I'm currently reading the second book in the series, and also reviewed a few books I've read this month. I've reviewed the first two Kitty Norville books as I'm doing a series catch up over the next few weeks/months.

Sonya Bateman-Master Of None (Gavyn Donatti #1) 

Carrie Vaughn-Kitty And The Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville #1) 

Carrie Vaughn-Kitty Goes To Washington (Kitty Norville #3)

Carrie Fisher-Shockaholic 

Carrie Fisher-Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher-The Princess Diarist

Regular Posts 
This week I did a sample post ans went around the blogs to find some good stuff on your blogs. I did my second Prepping With Chuckles post which looked at Bug Out Bags, Cover Love looked at Simone Pond, Top Ten Tuesday was Bookish Goals and Can't Wait Wednesday was a Gordon Brown autobiography.  

Chuckles Goes Sampling

Chuckles Cover Love

Prepping With Chuckles 

Around The Blogs With Chuckles 

Top Ten Tuesday

Can't Wait Wednesday

Discussion Posts 
This week on Chuckles Chat the discussion was all about Books and Films while Game of Thrones Gossip looked at Jaime Lannister.

Chuckles Chat 

Game of Thrones Gossip

 Film Reviews
 none this week

Special Posts
none this week

Book Tags/Blog Awards
 none this week

Book Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge-15/200

TBR books I own but haven't read-843

Currently Reading/Up Next 
 Last week I picked out three books to read but the first two-Lights Out in America's Dairyland and Chicago Fell First were both DNFed along with Orion Enzo Gaudio's EMP. I'll be finishing Rebel Radio tonight to complete that series. I also read a nice horror book called Camp Blaze, a homage to Friday 13th and Sleepaway Camp and got stuck into another urban fantasy book by Sonya Bateman which I hope to finish tomorrow. The stats don't show it but this was a good reading week! Next up are these:

Next week on the blog
I'll be doing another sampling post where I try before I buy, going around the blogs and looking at a Get Home plan in Prepping With Chuckles. Cover Love is another Simone Pond series, Top Ten Tuesday I'll be looking at books I read a while back and liked, Can't Wait Wednesday is Joe Russell, Chuckles Chat is Film and TV reboots and Game of Thrones Gossip is all about Dany's adventures in Yunkai.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Chuckles Chat #52 Films and Books

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! 

NB: 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 them to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I won't comment on any blog that makes me sign in using another account.   

This week I'm looking at Films and Books. There are Harry Potter spoilers from The Order of the Phoenix. There are NO Game of Thrones spoilers.

There's always that debate isn't there when books are turned into films. When a book we loved is announced to have a film being based on it, the first feeling is joy that we are going to see it on the big screen in all it's glory and we really can't wait to see it. That is followed by rumour and debate over who might be in it and if an actor we don't like is mentioned in connection with our favourite character in the book, we start to get that feeling of dread. There is also genuine fear that they are not going to do justice to the book by turning it into some Hollywood version aimed at a certain demographic and ruining the essence of the book.

Here are a couple of examples of what I mean. Every time there was talk of a YA book being put into production, Kristen Stewart was mentioned and the Twilight fans who never liked her as Bella would all go rabid at the thought of her in another film version of a book they loved. We all have an idea in our head as to what the characters look like and who we would want to play the part and sometimes the actors chosen are just not what we would want. That can be disappointing! 

Sometimes we get the exact actors we want and excitement builds for it. When they were casting Lord of the Rings, a rumour came out that Sean Bean was being considered and my first thought was that he was perfect for Boromir, the flawed hero. Yes he would have played Aragorn equally well but I saw him as Boromir and thankfully so did Peter Jackson. In fact, I thought casting for the trilogy was brilliant. When I read Harry Potter, in my head when I read Snape, I saw Alan Rickman, and Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid so it was great to see them in the film shortly after. I was pleased when they said they were finally filming The Forest of Hands and Teeth with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark, GoT) as Mary. I thought that sounded perfect but that was 2015 and we are headed into 2018 with still no word on this film ever happening. Pretty soon, Maisie may be too old to play Mary and uncertainty will start again. 

I like to read the book first where possible, to see where the author wanted the story to go. I read things like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter before the films came out so when actors were mentioned I could imagine them in the parts and think 'yeah, that could work'. These were good examples of when casting were done right. Things so often change when the book goes film and sometimes our favourite scenes could be cut out or changed into something bad. As an example I would like to use The Order of the Phoenix. They cut the scenes that showed Umbridge as being truly evil like when she and her team attacked Hagrid and almost killed Minerva. Instead they had her as being slightly nasty which lost the whole essence of the book. They turned Cho into the one who betrayed Harry and handled the failed romance badly. The end sequences with the Department of Mysteries and the Order duelling with Death Eaters felt clumsy and lacked the tension of the book. The emotional death of Sirius failed to impact in the film. I found it a disappointing adaptation but the director did redeem himself with the next three films. The Maze sequence in The Goblet of Fire was equally poor.

As I said I generally prefer to read the books first but it doesn't always happen. I had decided I was going to watch Game of Thrones on dvd before I tackled the books because of the huge cast list and my poor memory! I figured that I would do better if I could imagine the show cast in my head as I read and that has worked out well, especially for the background characters. The difficulty with this, however, is that the books do go off on their own arc and feature people and events never shown in the series. I am not going into spoilers here but there was a big storyline that GRRM really wanted in the series that the TV people insisted on cutting. To be honest, seeing both I prefer the TV version but that is personal taste. It's also weird how much younger the characters are in the books. I imagine the book readers were taken by surprise at some of the deaths in the series too. 

The other thing about a good book being turned into film or TV is that sometimes they don't work out so well. I enjoyed the atmospheric character based book of The Girl with all the Gifts but I was disappointed by how dull the film actually was, other than the performance of Glenn Close. It just didn't work for me. Along came a Spider was a good book but despite the great cast, I felt the film just fell flat. I love The Other Boleyn Girl but was disappointed by both film versions of it. I liked the Twilight series when I first read them years back but I wasn't overly impressed by any of the films. I'd probably find the books too slow for me now as well though, as my book tastes have changed.

On the other hand there are certainly films that were much better than the books with Jaws being a great example. I thought the book was boring with all the focus on Ellen having an affair with Hooper, rather than the shark being the main event. Jaws is one of my favourite ever films. I liked The Killing Fields film better than the book and had the same thoughts on Jurassic Park 2 Lost World. I really didn't like the book and much preferred the film. I wasn't a fan of The Silence of the Lambs book either but I liked the film. Never let me go was ok as a book but I liked the film better. Lolita was a poor book for me but I liked the Jeremy Irons film. I liked Q&A as a book but hated Slumdog Millionaire as a film.

Sometimes they do get it right. I liked the books of The Godfather, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and loved the film and TV adaptations as well. I seem to be in the minority here but I liked The DaVinci Code book and film! I enjoyed the first version if It, which is one of my favourite books and I've still to watch the new version which I'm looking forward to. Sometimes it all goes wrong. For me I didn't like His Dark Materials either as books or film.  

Do you prefer to read the book first or see the film/show first? Which books were better than the adaptations? Which films were better than the books?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

My Review: 
This is the last of the Fisher diaries that I read, having looked at them all in the space of 24 hours because the three were all very short reads. I had high hopes for this one because it was a diary kept during the filming of Star Wars and there had just been the revelation in the media about her off screen affair with Harrison Ford. I was looking forward to this one but I admit that like the other books, I was disappointed by this one.

The book starts with a monologue talking about the things that appeared in the diaries themselves. Carrie goes to be interviewed for two films at the same time-the part of Carrie for the Stephen King film, and of course Princess Leia. She admits that her performance at the audition contained endless nervous chatter and she was surprised to get a call back to read with Harrison Ford. She talks about how long it took for them to find that iconic hairdo, how she never expected the film to be a huge hit and how she was so nervous around Ford that she tried to avoid him when they weren't shooting scenes together.

The main issue running through the book, as expected, was the affair with Harrison Ford. He was in his thirties and reaching the end of his marriage, while she was just 19 with only one boyfriend previously in her life. She talks about how they actually got together and frankly it was a very sinister story involving crew members getting her drunk at a party and trying to take her away from the studio, with Ford stepping in to stop this happening. Carrie seems to recall this incident without much alarm but I find it quite disturbing and can't help wondering if any of these crew members are being investigated in the current sexual harrassment/assault Hollywood purge.

The next stage is where to me the book falls apart-the actually printing of her diary pages. Her thoughts are completely undiluted here and to be honest, some of what she was saying was confusing and incomprehensive. Her obsessed state with Ford is like part hero worship where she could barely speak to him, and part destructive emotion where she is aware that this is not a good relationship for her. Her mood swings are there but most of the material is actually hard to read because you can see how depressed and anxious her mental state was, and how she was struggling to keep it together. It was sad and a little unsetting. She also writes a lot of poetry, which I skipped past as I'm not a poetry fan.

 I actually found the initial descriptive narrative interesting enough to read as Carrie was able to give a clear report on what she had previously written. I didn't like the actual diary part of the book which is why it is rated 2 star. 

Read January 2018
2 stars.

Game of Thrones Gossip #51 Jaime Lannister

Welcome to my Game of Thrones Gossip, where us fanatics get the chance to discuss everything we love about this amazing TV series. I decided to do a whole series of these discussion posts that let us say everything we want and enjoy every second of it! 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 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.

Now I'm looking at the main characters introduced in season three, what our season two characters were doing and looking at all the bests bits. Enjoy the season three posts! 

Jaime and Brienne are still on the long road to King's Landing, and Jaime spends most of his time sniping at her and looking for an escape route. They pass a peasant on the road and Jaime tells her to kill the man in case he recognised Jaime and reports it to someone but Brienne refuses to kill an innocent bystander, choosing to believe that the man does not know who they are, which annoys her prisoner. They reach an open bridge and Brienne reluctantly chooses to cross it quickly and get back into cover but Jaime grabs her other sword and begins to fight her in the open where anyone can see them. He is impressed by her fighting but his time as a prisoner weakens him and he is defeated. At this point Locke leads the Bolton men to the bridge and both are captured, with a grim Brienne noting that Jaime was right about them being betrayed by the peasant.

Locke and his men take them both back onto the road, cheerfully singing The Bear and the Maiden Fair, while Jaime quietly warns Brienne that when they stop for the night, she will be gang raped. He advises her not to fight them and think of Renly to distract herself, as she has no value to them and will be killed if she resists. A disgusted Brienne indicates that she will fight them to the death if necessary and he knows he would do the same. As the scenario plays out, Jaime watches as the men drag Brienne into the bushes and he decides to act to save her, telling Locke that she is from Tarth, the Sapphire Isle, and the men will be paid in the jewels if she is returned to her father intact. Locke agrees and Brienne is brought back to the camp.

With Brienne safe for the moment, Jaime turns his attention back to his captors, trying to convince them of exactly how much Tywin would pay for his release. Locke grows tired of Jaime trying to bribe him and always falling back to thinking he can get out of trouble because of his rich father, and shocks Jaime by cutting off his sword hand. Forced to ride on a horse with his severed hand hanging round his neck, he is unable to stay mounted due to pain and infection, falling to the ground. He is mocked by the men despite Brienne pleading for them to help him. A failed attempt to fight the laughing men fighting left handed gets him nowhere and warned he will lose his other hand if he tries it again. Jaime is ready to give up but Brienne forces him to stop whining and eat, so he can have revenge later. He won't tell her why he decided to save her.

'There it is. There's the look. I've seen it for 17 years on face after face. You all despise me. Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. A man without honour.'

On their arrival at Harrenhal, Roose Bolton is furious about Jaime being maimed and later offers to let Jaime go back to King's Landing if he tells the truth over his injury and Jaime agrees. Roose tells a relieved Jaime that Stannis was defeated at King's Landing and that Cersei is alive and safe. Qyburn is still at the castle and successfully treats Jaime's hand, stopping the infection from spreading, saving his arm and his life. It is when Jaime is bathing later with Brienne that he starts telling how he really came to be Kingslayer. He tells her that The Mad King was paranoid about betrayal and ordered wildfire to be put under every building in King's Landing. As Robert won the war, Tywin brought his troops to the city gates and Jaime told his King to surrender peacefully to avoid Tywin rampaging through King's Landing but instead the gates were opened and the sacking began. The Mad King demanded Jaime bring him Tywin's head and ordered the pyromancer to burn the city and kill everyone. Jaime killed the pyromancer and the King, saving everyone. Brienne is shocked to hear the truth and Jaime bitterly says that Ned Stark and everyone else weren't interested in the truth. The pain overcomes him and he collapses, with Brienne rescuing him from the water.

Jaime and Qyburn head off from Harrenhal with other Bolton men as an escort but Brienne is not allowed to leave. Jaime promises her to free the Stark girls as promised. When Jaime discovers that Roose has given her to his men for entertainment, he blackmails Steelshanks, the leader of the group to take him back to Harrenhal. Jaime finds Brienne in a pit with an angry bear armed only with a wooden sword and already clawed. He jumps into the pit to defend her, forcing Steelshanks to shoot the bear to save Jaime as his orders were to deliver him safely to Tywin. The men are unhappy but Jaime and Brienne leave to go south. When he arrives at King's Landing, his first thought is to find Cersei, who is startled by his condition.

Book Review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. "But it isn't all sweetness and light sabres." Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It's an incredible tale - from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

My Review: 
This book covers a lot of the same ground that appears in Shockaholic. She talks about her electric shock therapy to treat her depression and the effect that it had on her short term memory. She talks about her best friend dying and what it was like to wake up with his dead body beside her. She also goes into the break up of her parents caused by Elizabeth Taylor and the lack of a relationship with her stepfather and how he caused Debbie Reynolds to lose all her money. With the shortness of these books, I really did find it annoying that so much of the story we do get is rehashed in two books rather than a lot of new material.

The newer things she mentions is her relationship with singer Paul Simon and her brother accidently shooting himself. There was not a lot on Paul Simon and it was more of an overview about them with most emphasis on the songs he wrote about her. The shooting of her brother did lead to an amusing story concerning John Wayne but I won't spoil that in case you decide to read this. There were also a few brief mentions of StarWars and I was amused by the story about underwear shortages in space. I could at least see a little more humour in the provided stories.

Again, the style of this was rambling and lacking in any kind of structure or order, which makes it difficult to imagine a timeline as I read it. I'm not a fan of the way it was written, the similarity of topics to Shockaholic and the actual content. This book was a bit better to read than Shockaholic but again, the main reason for reading it was how short it was, rather than enjoyment level. 

Read January 2018
2.5 stars 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Book Review: Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Infused with Carrie Fisher’s trademark incisive wit and on the heels of Wishful Drinking’s instant New York Times bestselling success, Shockaholic takes readers on another rollicking ride into her crazy life.

There is no shortage of people flocking to hear what Princess Leia has to say. Her previous hardcover, Wishful Drinking, was an instant New York Times bestseller and Carrie was featured everywhere on broadcast media and received rave reviews from coast to coast, including People (4 stars; one of their top 10 books of the year), Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, and scores of others.

Told with the same intimate style, brutal honesty, and uproarious wisdom that placed Wishful Drinking on the New York Times bestseller list for months, Shockaholic is the juicy account of Carrie Fisher’s life, focusing more on the Star Wars years and dishing about the various Hollywood relationships she’s formed since she was chosen to play Princess Leia at only nineteen years old. Fisher delves into the gritty details that made the movie—and herself—such a phenomenal success, admitting, “It isn’t all sweetness and light sabers.”

My Review:
I have to say that I was looking forward to reading these three memoirs by Carrie Fisher as they are given very good reviews and are said to be very funny. I must admit that I was actually disappointed in what I read in this book.

The book starts with an honest discussion of her electric shock treatment to treat her mental health issues. To be honest, I knew she had issues connected to drink and drugs through the years but I didn't know that she actually has mental health disorders or how bad things had got for her. She leads into discussion of how she went into a downward spiral after the death of close friend Greg Stevens, She talks frankly about the ECT treatment, what she recalls of how they administer it and the effects afterwards. I was surprised to hear that ECT made her depression better for a period of time, but it did cause her to lose some short term memory and have struggles with her vocabulary. That was interesting and a bit scary.

The worst section deals in depth with a date she had with Democratic Senator Chris Dodd while having dinner with Ted Kennedy and his date. The topics at dinner seemed to be all sex related with Kennedy quizzing Carrie on her sexual practices and quite frankly being an obnoxious git as far as I was concerned. Carrie answers all his questions frankly rather than choosing to ignore him which is what he deserved. This whole section was not interesting or amusing to me in any way and I failed to see the point in including it in the book. I didn't care what the answers to these questions were or that she was proving that Kennedy couldn't embarrass her. 

There was an interesting part where Carrie talks about her dentist being Evan Chandler, father of Jordy, accusers of Michael Jackson. She was disturbed by Evan bragging about how attractive his boy was and how much time he spent with Michael at his ranch.  Carrie talks about Michael and makes it very clear that she believed he was innocent of the charges. I did find this small part interesting. The other topic she covers is her contempt for stepfather Harry Karl and she goes into gross detail of all of his revolting habits. She talks briefly about her relationship with Elizabeth Taylor who broke up her parents and how she was reconsiled with her father Eddie Fisher. 

Basically the book just covers a few topics in depth and is not the full memoir I was expecting. There is no cohesion either in subject matter or in establishing a timeline, and massive chunks of her life are not really covered. It jumps about all over the place and is somewhat rambling in nature. I don't really like the way it is presented and the lack of structure. It is certainly frank and honest, but I didn't really find the humour in the material that I was waiting for. It wasn't what I was expecting and I didn't really enjoy it the way I had hoped I would. I completed it because it was short.

Read January 2018
2 stars

Book Review: Kitty Goes To Washington by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #2)

Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen. So when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, and her face gets plastered on national TV, she inherits a new set of friends, and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an über-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight.

My Review: 
After being expelled from the city by her Pack, Kitty takes her popular radio show on the road to difference cities over six weeks-until her lawyer Ben calls to tell her that she has been called to appear at a Senate Hearing into the supernatural. As a werewolf Kitty will be the star attraction. She and Ben don't trust the man leading the hearings as he has shown his contempt to Kitty when appearing on her show but she is interested in hearing what scientist Paul Flemming has to say about his research on paranormal creatures. Kitty tries to find out more about Flemming's work while dealing with the local Master Vampire and the shifter population who are very different from her previous Pack.

I enjoyed the start of the book where Kitty is doing her radio show and has managed to get Dr Flemming on as a guest. He reluctantly answers her questions but she knows he is hiding things from her, especially when he leaves without taking any questions from the public. She is determined to use her time in the city to find out more about his work and discover the reasons behind the Senate hearings. Kitty is very surprised when religious fanatic Elijah Smith is also called to give evidence and she notices that something about him tries to reach out and control her wolf, which alarms her. She teams up with Ben and paranormal reporter Roger to find out where Elijah is, what his power is and where the missing vampires and werewolves are.

On her arrival in the city, Kitty is stopped by the police on the orders of Master Vampire Alette, who offers her hospitality and protection while she is in DC. Kitty doesn't fully trust her or sidekick Leo but has little choice but to stay with the vampires after being told that the local shifters are dangerous. After a chance meeting with Luis the were-jaguar, Kitty sees that the Pack has no leader but operates as a community with a local club as their safe retreat. She is intrigued by their set up compared to her own Pack and is fascinated by Luis and his life. I did find the club and its residents interesting but I didn't really feel the chemistry that we are told they had. However the romance is background in the story and doesn't take away from the main plot. 

I liked Alette and her almost mother-daughter vibe with Kitty, an interesting dynamic for a vampire and werewolf. I also found the DC version of the Pack to be interesting. I very much enjoyed her new friendship with Ben and Alette, both characters I hope we see more of in the series. I really liked the Elijah storyline and finding out who and what he is and the secret of the camp and the followers there. This was one of my favourite parts to the book. Kitty of course manages to land herself in a bit of trouble just after this, leading to a really good ending for the book. The final third really does pick up speed as it goes along.

My one complaint was that the Senate hearings weren't very interesting. Kitty spends each day there, listening to scientific and moral evidence around vampires and werewolves but it didn't really add much of interest to the overall story-in fact these parts were a bit slow. Kitty's adventures outside the Senate were a lot more interesting. I liked the book but I just feel there is something lacking in the books to make them higher starred reads but I can't put my finger on what it is. I like Kitty, her friends, the radio show and her adventures though and I am going to keep reading the series, at least for now.

Read January 2018.
3.5 stars.