Saturday, 30 April 2016

Stacking the Shelves #132

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

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

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
Another week gone and FINALLY my back feels almost back to normal. About time! despite the snow at the end of the week, I'm hoping for a couple of dry days this coming week to get the garden fence painted out the front, maybe get the old paint scraped off the driveway wall ready to repaint that. If I can do these lighter work jobs, my dad can concentrate on the heavier work in the back garden that is physically beyond me! It sounds like a plan and each task done is a step further forward to a pain free, low maintenance garden. Yea! I'll update my progress in my regular Gardening With Chuckles posts!

It has been a great week for getting stuck into my reading as well. I finished reading my Bug Out series and have discovered three spin off series featuring some of the characters which is very exciting! I'm looking at a few other books and authors before I get to them though. My reading has been a bit of a mixed back with some good, some not so good. Details about all that as usual on my Reading With Chuckles post tomorrow! This week's books are recent additions I've grabbed in the last two weeks so I'm not going to be short of things to read! As usual...!



Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Review: Thunder and Ashes by ZA Recht (Morningstar Strain #2)

A lot can change in three months: wars can be decided, nations can be forged... or entire species can be brought to the brink of annihilation. The Morningstar Virus, an incredibly virulent disease, has swept the face of the planet, infecting billions. Its hosts rampage, attacking anything that remains uninfected. Even death can't stop the virus-its victims as cannibalistic shamblers.

Scattered across the world, embattled groups have persevered. For some, surviving is the pinnacle of achievement. Others hoard goods and weapons. And still others leverage power over the remnants of humanity in the form of a mysterious cure for Morningstar. Francis Sherman and Anna Demilio want only a vaccine, but to find it, they must cross a countryside in ruins, dodging not only the infected, but also the lawless living.

The bulk of the storm has passed over the world, leaving echoing thunder and softly drifting ashes. But for the survivors, the peril remains, and the search for a cure is just beginning...

My Review: 
The first thing I need to say before getting into the review is that it will have spoilers to a few things that happen in book one, so if you read this and haven't read book one, it will spoil the story for you! As this is one of my favourite zombie series EVER I urge you to read the books before my reviews if you love zombie action! OK now strap yourself in and lets get into this review.

It picks up exactly where the first one cuts off. Sherman's group get back on the road after the disaster at Hyattsburg and decide to stop at an airport. Mark Styles, bitten on the supply run in town, hides in a comic book store to wait for the end. Anna's group realise that Sawyer knows where they plan to go and is stalking them, ready to ambush them at any moment. Those remaining on the USS Ramage decide to abandon ship and follow the route they think Sherman took, hoping to catch up to them on the road. With everyone now on American soil, they have to be aware of rampaging zombies, unfriendly locals and dangerous bandits.

This book moves at breakneck speed, following three main groups-Sherman, Harris and Anna. The story switches between the three as they all head towards the secure facility, and the tension is pretty much non stop. The action scenes again are brilliantly written, leaving you anxious about your favourite characters. There are zombie attacks, corrupt psycho agents, rescue raids, bandit attacks, and survivors trying to rebuild communities in protected towns. It is not just about the action and zombie gore, it is about groups of people trying to stay alive and remain people, not monsters.

Character wise, I loved the introduction of the community at Abraham, who agree to help Sherman's team repair vehicles damaged by the bandits, if the military men will help to rescue the women that the bandits took hostage. This leads to a whole new danger, not just in the actual raid, but the war that will start between Abraham and the bandits. Anna's group discover that Sawyer has gone rogue and wants to capture Anna because he believes that she already has a cure and he wants it. Her group have to deal with repeated attempts on their lives by Sawyer and his allies, while Sherman is dealing with a full scale combined bandit and zombie attack on the town. There is certainly never a dull moment in this sequel! Harris and his men have to run the gauntlet in Hyattsburg as they correctly guess that Sherman has gone this way and get a few surprises there.

Harris realises that they may have the key to a cure if they can get to the facility safely and they have no way of contacting Anna or Sherman for help or to tell them of their discovery. Sawyer has sent people ahead to the facility to lay a trap for Anna. Anna and Sherman are both en route to the facility...and things are getting very exciting! I'm not going to go into details of the plot or who survives and dies but each time I read this series, I am still caught up in the story even when I know what will happen. It was so good to read and so well written.

It was sad that the author died after completion of this book, at the age of 26, which was tragic on an epic scale for his loved ones. These were his first two books and we can only imagine all the wonderful stories that he had planned for a future that sadly he never got to see. His publisher and author Thom Brannan, agreed to use his notes to complete the trilogy which was a fitting tribute. I can tell you that the third novel does not disappoint and will be reviewed by me shortly.

Zombie fans really need to treat themselves to this brilliant series!
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Book Review: Plague of the Dead by ZA Recht (Morningstar Strain #1)

The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. Death. But it doesn't end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the plague of the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened General surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility-all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army Colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public... The Morningstar Saga has begun.

My Review: 
This is without doubt one of the top five zombie books that I've ever read. This series along with Glynn James and Michael Stephen Fuchs 'Arisen' series are probably the best zombie series ever. I did not want to put this book down and I read it in one day. Yes it was that good! Who needs to eat or have toilet functions when there are deadly zombies to enjoy...

Anna, a Lt Col. has been studying the Morningstar Strain in animals and is concerned about how deadly an outbreak would be, warning General Sherman of the consequences. It is Sherman's troops who have to make a stand at the Suez Canal when the African outbreak gets out of control and Anna and the General are aware that victims are becoming zombies. The outbreak is now a plague and African quarantine fails, putting the world at threat.

The story follows key groups. First we have General Sherman's group featuring the soldiers under his command and rescued aid workers and civilians who fled with them as the quarantine failed. My favourites apart from the General in this group were Mbutu, the air traffic control guy who witnessed the first attacks at his airport and Denton the photo journalist attached to the soldiers. I liked the different characters of the soldiers that we follow here and you do care what happens to everyone. We also follow Anna who gives the story of the outbreak to a journalist to leak, putting both Anna and Julie in danger as certain government officials are determined to shut them down, led by the psychopath that is Sawyer.

The action is non stop which I love in zombie books! The airport outbreak where we meet survivor Mbutu is where the infection begins, which leads to a 'dead' man from here attacking the coroner and infecting others. The action moves to the troops at Suez trying to blow bridges and block all routes from Africa as a mass of zombies come towards them. The military don't factor in the arrival of a ship full of the infected to give them a war on two fronts. The battle of Suez was tense and exciting, with death and disaster in abundance. The survivors flee north to Sharm el Sheikh, with attacks by the dead as they pass through towns, to seek the safety of their ship. But that becomes a death trap when people hide evidence of bites and an outbreak starts on board. It really is non stop zombie action in this book, with the story being carried along by well developed and interesting characters.

When the people on the ship split into two groups, the journey gets even more dangerous for Sherman's group. They need supplies and spot a small town that looks deserted and you just KNOW that going in there is going to be a very bad idea. Can they find supplies? Are there survivors here? Where are the zombies? This was the very best part of the book for me. The tension levels built so high that I was a nervous wreck just reading it! I felt as if I was in that town with them, my heart in my mouth with every step, and here we break off into different groups amongst our survivors as they get into different types of trouble. Worrying about favourite characters who are missing or in trouble made this a nerve shredding read.

Anna has her own mission-evade the psycho agents trying to capture and kill her, and find her way with her companions to a lab where she can continue to work on a vaccine or cure. She contacts Sherman about the plan and he decides that this is their best chance and decides he is going AWOL to join her along with anyone who wants to leave the ship. The only problem is, those who choose to follow him are going to face a journey across American soil where the undead are now rampaging, along with human criminals and bandits. The story switches between the two main plots which keeps the action fast paced and there is never a dull moment.

I also enjoyed the fact that the author had two different types of zombies-shamblers and sprinters. The sprinters are physically intact and can move at high speed, hence the name, and are deadly monsters trying to kill you. When you shoot these guys, they die and reanimate as shamblers, who look and act like your traditional zombies. Shoot them again and they remain dead. So if you take down a group of sprinters, you have a certain period of time before they reanimate so you better remember to kill them again! This was good, and it led to some very exciting scenes when characters seem to forget these safety rules!

The author did a great job with the action scenes. There was excitement, gore and he had a great way of continually ramping up the tension to unbearable levels. I loved the characters, I loved the zombies, I loved the way he told the story. I searched a long time for a copy of this book years back when it was so hard to get, and it was worth the wait and all the money I had to pay to get it. As soon as I finished I was grabbing the second book to see what happened to everyone.

I recommend this book to those who love fast paced zombie books! 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Gardening With Chuckles: The Plan!

Yes it's that time of year when we reluctantly cast our eyes towards the garden, when the hedge is growing, the grass is full of dandelions and the weeds are doing a conga up the garden path! I've never had green fingers and a mixture of ill health, bad weather and family issues means my dad and I have neglected the garden over the last five years and now we have a ton of work to do! You can follow our 'adventures' through the summer!

For those of you who are following our painful progress, I figured I would set out what needs to be done to the front garden to get it looking ship shape by summer's end. There are a few tasks that are niggly and time consuming but the heaviest work is over. So take a stroll with me through the front while I share our plans! This is how it looks now:

You can see the driveway on the right of the photo...over time it has lowered slightly so we need to top up the red stones you can see there. We'll recycle the red stones from beside the new path over to build up the levels on the driveway. We are looking at getting either yellow/gold stones or that purple/blue shale to go along the path to add a bit of colour. Not quite decided yet. If you guys have used the purple shale, maybe you can tell me if it looks good on sunny days and when wet? Also the wall seperating the path from driveway there needs repainting but both these jobs are ok for me to get stuck into when the back calms down a bit.

The above photo is the bottom of the driveway, under our living room window. Here, we need to paint the wall, change the red stones to the same colour we put beside the path, throw out those bags of rubbish, fit that red slab to finish the path and replant the flower bed and deweed it. Nothing too bad there. 

The above picture is where the real changes will be seen. Starting from the top of the garden, we plan to lift up every second paving stone from the row against the fence. We will plant something colourful there to brighten the garden up and move the rubbish bins right down to the left of the photo. The huge bag of sand will be gone as we plan to use that for the patio. We'll paint the fence before we do that though. Final task can be seen in photo one-add on a garden gate!

I'll be putting up before and after photos as we progress with it. I hope to work on the front, getting things done while my dad and neighbour get the patio done out the back. So there is the plan! It'll look like a new garden when we're done!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Book Review: Forget Texas by RJ Spears (Forget the Alamo #2)

The sequel to Forget the Alamo

In Forget Texas, Grant and the gang find themselves in a refugee camp that is about to be overrun by zombies. They are forced to fend for themselves as they must find a way out of the camp and then out of Texas as the zombie hordes chase them north. The undead aren’t their only obstacle as the President has closed all state borders. In other words, Grant and his people are about to run out of luck or they're going to have to make their own if they want to survive. 

My Review: 
I read and loved the first book in the series 'Forget the Alamo' and looked forward greatly to reading this one. It was still a good read though I prefer book one.

Grant and his friends are not stuck in the 'safe' refugee camp, policed by the army who seem to be diminishing daily, and some people in the camp are resorting to bullying to get more rations. Grant senses that it is time to flee and get out of the state as rumours start of zombies coming their way and refugees who try to leave being shot. After meeting Jay, Jane and Hank who have a guard contact, Grant comes up with an escape plan as the zombies close in...

As a reader of apocalypse, zombies and prepper related fiction, I can tell you now that I would NEVER want to be stuck inside one of these hellish camps, relying on meagre handouts, hoping to stay safe and being in with a bunch of strangers that you don't trust. I can understand why so many Americans declare that they'd never be forced into FEMA camps based on this camp in the book. It sounds like a nightmare and is pretty much an all you can eat buffet for the approaching zombie hoard. It was an exciting start as our group plan their escape and the zombies attack the camp. This was probably my favourite part of the book.

The moaning faced Bill and his wife Freda from book one have a grudge against Grant for what happened to their kid. I found them annoying and unreasonable then but in this book I frankly hated their guts. None of them would be alive if it wasn't for Grant and I wanted to personally present them as zombie chow! Obviously their daughter has the family brains. There are lots of far from pleasant characters in this book including the redneck rapists, trigger happy idiots, and the spouse of one of our group members who is a total asshat.

There is a decent amount of action on the journey with zombies, army roadblocks, redneck roadblocks, cow stampedes and dangerous people so there was enough action to enjoy. I wasn't keen on the way that Grant, who is meant to be clever, almost got everyone killed and the women snatched by making bad choices in the obvious trap that everyone except him could see! Still, it's not something that ruined the book or anything.

I'll probably look out for the next book when I get the chance.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Reading With Chuckles

I have renamed my TBR Reading Challenge and changed it back to Reading with Chuckles as it sounds better, especially at times when I have no specific challenge running. So this is where I'll share what I read and abandoned each week, and I'll give the odd update on the state of my poor TBR! It does suffer at times...! The link under the book takes you to the Goodreads page for that book so you can decide whether to read it, and see my reviews when they are posted.

Well I admit it, I've grabbed so many free and cheap books over the last 3 months that my tbr is fully out of control so for the moment I'm going to forget about it and go with the flow...a lot of these books are short so I'll catch up on them at some point and get the numbers down again. I refuse to care right now! Fun reading is more important than stupid numbers!!! 

So the plan for this coming week is to get more reading done and get a pile of book reviews done. I have a few other posts of interest planned so it is time to get this blog rocking! This week wasn't a great success but I have high hopes for better things this time. I'm sticking with my mood reading for now and might tackle a few of the shorter books on my tbr to delude myself into thinking that I'm getting the numbers down! How did you get on with your reading?


Bessie Lawson-Ebola

Robert Boren-Bug Out 10

Robert Boren-Bug Out 11

Robert Boren-Bug Out 12

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Stacking the Shelves #131

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

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

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
It hasn't been the best of weeks at Chez Chuckles! Those who viewed my gardening post on Tuesday would know that me, my dad and our neighbour got the slabs for a new path in the front garden put into place and were going to secure them into position with sand the next day. Weather wise, Wednesday was beautiful so we set about the task. It was a day of hell-we had to start getting sand under the stones to secure them in place to stop them wobbling when you walk on them but the damn things were so heavy they had to be levered up with garden tools. We'd sit it back in position and then lift it again to make adjustments, crawling about the concrete for nearly four hours to get nine stones in place. We were both knackered. Next morning I woke up and realised I'd done my back in. Great. The pains in my lower back, hips and legs have made it so uncomfortable to sit in my computer chair for more than ten minutes at a time that blogging was cancelled this week. I'm still suffering it but I need to get my Saturday post done so I can go and have a rest! Still, the slabs look good and are secure and it will have been worth it when the pain goes! Thankfully my dad didn't have any more problems with his back!
Trying to find a comfy position to lie in and get my concentration sorted hasn't been easy so I haven't got much reading done, which is annoying! I've mostly been leafing through those women's weekly magazines with true life stories. That always reminds me that many other people in the UK have worse problems than a temporary sore back! Anyway, a few reads was better than nothing and I did have some new Amazon purchased paperbacks arriving to make things better! I do like a bit of retail therapy from the comfort of home! This week the downloads are mostly from a couple of weeks back but a few are new grabs this week. Exciting!