Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Book Review: The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

My Review: 
This is one of those books where I wasn't sure what to think of it or how to rate it. I liked bits of it but other bits seemed to drag and I would lose a bit of interest in it.

Charlie works for the Integration task force along with partner Hank who is a siren and an alien, one of many aliens choosing to live a new life on Earth. Now they are tracking a deadly drug that is killing and maiming users and may have come from one of the two planets now linked to Earth. Charlie's informant is killed by strange ninjas and she summons an unknown power to kill them, causing a diplomatic incident and forcing her on the run. What are these strange new powers and how did she get them? Is it connected to her return from death?

It got off to a good start with the beginning of the investigation and the attack on Charlie and her informant. There was a nice mixture of action and Charlie trying to be a good mother and juggle a dangerous job. At this point I had high hopes for the book and for Charlie but things started to go downhill a bit in places. There were parts of the book which really dragged especially the middle part where Charlie was investigating the people who saved her life and hanging out at the club to investigate. I didn't find this greatly interesting and it was becoming a bit repetitive. I actually left the book for nearly two weeks before I went back to finish it. The book does pick up a bit in the last third as we go towards the finale and parts of it were interesting again but I could not face reading that middle section again for anything.

I loved Hank. He was certainly my favourite character. I liked Charlie's sister Bryn who was a bit underused for me. I also liked Charlie at the start with her juggling being a cop and a mother, and trying to get over the trauma of being killed and brought back from the dead. Charlie's death was caused by her ex-husband dabbling in dark magic so I was really annoyed with her for nearly falling into bed with him because she can't resist his touch. Oh please! Thanks for turning what seemed to be a smart and tough heroine into a pathetic whiny little women who melts at the mere touch of a man. Gag! Jeez Charlie he cheated on you, his lover murdered you and you can't resist him??? Stop being so damn spineless!!! As the book progresses Charlie becomes very annoying with that 'I can do everything myself and don't need help thank you very much' attitude which leads to her constantly needing to be rescued. That becomes repetitive and very frustrating and I wanted to give her a good shake. She becomes a royal pain in the butt, frankly, the longer the book goes on. 

One thing I did like though was the ending. The resolution of the story was quite satisfying and overall I did like most of the characters. I also liked the fact that for once we had a male and female team working together without the need to jump into bed. That was good! The action scenes were well written and there were some really good ideas and well written characters. I have complained about a few things that didn't appeal to me but it is not a 'bad' book. It is not poorly written. It has a decent story.

Gah this book had potential but I feel it just didn't fully deliver. The author had several different threads running through it-the Ash investigation, Charlie's love life, Charlie's death. I felt there was so much emphasis on the last two that the investigation into the drug fell by the wayside by halfway through the book-and that was the bit I found the most interesting. The book was mainly about her death and who caused it and it did overshadow a decent drug plot. Yes it was important for Charlie to get answers about her death and new powers but it did drag on a bit too much for me. The whole love life ex husband thing just bored me. I feel this book would have been better if the plot was tightened a bit and lost some of the padding.

There was a decent story in there which was well enough written but the slow sections just switched me off at times. The best characters were there it seems to rescue Charlie, who went from kickass female to idiot as we progressed, which was disappointing. I did finish the book but I decided not to continue with the series.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Book Review: Imperium by Nicholas Olivo

Vincent Corinthos leads a triple life. As a secret agent, he handles paranormal threats; as a god, he protects his followers from evil forces; as a stock clerk, he keeps the back room of an antique store tidy.

When one of his fellow agents goes missing, Vincent begins with the usual suspects. His investigation reveals that Boston’s latest supernatural threat is also waging war on his followers, and has diabolic intentions for the city’s paranormal citizens.

Now, with the aid of a new partner and a gremlin, Vincent must locate the missing agent, defend his followers and learn the identity of his adversaries before they can revive a malevolent force that’s been dormant since World War II.

My Review: 
The cover doesn't greatly inspire me but the story inside is really good and well worth looking at.

In Boston, Vincent is a part time clerk in a book store and a secret agent with magical powers. In another realm he is a God, where he keeps his people safe from disaster and their prayers replenish his magic. When a fellow agent goes missing while investigating missing supernaturals, Vincent's team-including a tech genius gremlin and an eager newbie with lots of gadgets set out to rescue the missing. But with his powers diminishing and his followers under constant attack, Vincent may not have the power to even save himself.

I loved the characters! Vincent is a smart and funny guy who is the ideal MC. He has powers but they are limited and need constant recharging-and of course his power runs out when he needs it the most. I love the way he needs his followers in the other realm to chant prayers for him to help replenish the powers-this was totally different from anything I've read in the genre. Vincent loves his followers and will do anything to save and protect them, while he juggles taking care of new partner Megan. She is new to the team and is enthusiastic and funny, working well with Vincent without any dumb romance getting in the way. We also have Vincent's girlfriend Petra who is made of stone and is quite sweet in a dumb kind of way, and Gearstripper the gremlin who is like a technology junkie version of Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter. I love Gearstripper-he is totally adorable and scenes involving him are entertaining!

There are also great cameo characters who pop up from time to time like Orcus the God of Oaths. As Vincent is a God, every rash promise he makes is logged in a book by Orcus, and if Vincent breaks the promise, the punishment is imprisonment in Tartarus. Orcus is a very funny guy that Vincent never likes to see! Vincent starts losing the plot when another promise is made and the grinning Orcus shows up again! I also enjoyed the scenes where Vincent interacts with or visits his followers in the other realm. They are a great bunch of people who will do anything for Vincent, however dangerous it is to them. There are also encounters with the Grim Reaper and the Four Horsemen to enjoy.

There is a lot of action in the book as Vincent has to deal with incidents in two different realms, a complex investigation into the missing, and constant attacks by the bad guys. There is nothing dull or boring in this book, with the added humour and interesting interaction between the characters, who are all nicely developed. I really enjoyed the entire adventure. There were fights, magic, evil experiments, attempted rescues, monsters of all kinds, realms and portals, mythology, and a Nazi storyline featuring the Gremlins activity during World War 2. That was an added bonus that was great for the plot. This plot was so different from any I've read in the genre and it was a lot of fun to read. I really like the imagination that the author has and the way everything was tied together nicely.

Having stumbled onto this book by accident, I was really happy with how good it turned out to be. I might even raise the rating on it once I get the chance to reread it. I have the next book in the series and I am certainly looking forward to seeing what happens next. I hope there is a lot more of Gearstripper to come!

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and fantasy.

star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Book Review: Black Moon Sing by LM Hawke

"A Tony Hillerman/Patricia Briggs mashup that kept me turning pages faster and faster... I want more!" - Aimee Easterling, author of the Alpha Underground series.

A dark force is targeting a secret enclave of shapeshifters in the desert southwest, delivering them to grisly fates. Suspected of witchery and cast out of her human society, it's up to Ellery Chee, a lone coyote shifter, to stop this dangerous magician before her world is destroyed.

But Ellery will have to team up with other outcast magic-users to get the job done. It's a tall order to find witches and fae who are willing to come out of hiding to save the shifters. It's even tougher to convince Hosteen Sikaadii, an all-too-human detective, that Ellery is working for good, not evil.

Without Hosteen's help, she won't have a chance at stopping the slaughter. And she just might be the next shifter who's slated for a bloody end. 

My Review: 
I really don't know why so many people are comparing this to Patricia Briggs or saying her fans would love it, because it is nothing like Patricia Briggs other than the MC being able to turn into a coyote. It's not that this book is bad, as such, but when the blurb compares your writing to one of the best urban fantasy writers ever, you are going to get compared and not in a favourable way.

I do not enjoy angst between my main characters. We have a human and a supernatural working together who are prejudiced against each others races, don't like and don't trust each other. If you want to do the comparison thing, what really worked with the Mercy Thompson series was the way the characters work together and interact with each other-Mercy having friends who are wolves, vampires and fae, as well as human. That doesn't happen in this book.

I found the MC reasonably interesting in that she could shift into more than one form. I think her forms could be quite interesting for the plot but I don't like that the whole beginning of the book was just ruled by prejudice...the people in the bar who hate supernaturals, the Navajo guy who thinks her kind are evil skinwalkers, her prejudice to humans, Navajo and was all a bit grim and depressing. It didn't make me relate to the MC or be fascinated by the world she lives in when everyone seems to hate everyone.

I just wasn't getting into this at all. Putting the Patricia Briggs reference in the book blurb for me was a mistake as it left me looking for another Mercy Thompson type thing to love and it bears no resemblance at all. For me the book had little chance of measuring up so it bound to fall a bit flat. If that reference had not been there, perhaps more people would judge it based on the book itself, but even doing that, I still wasn't getting into it and won't be reading on in the series. There wasn't enough there to grab me.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: Frontier Justice by Arthur T Bradley (Survivalist #1)

The Superpox-99 virus has wiped out nearly the entire human race. Governments have collapsed. Cities have become graveyards filled with unspeakable horror. People have resorted to scavenging from the dead, or taking from the living. The entire industrialized world has become a wasteland of abandoned cars, decaying bodies, and feral animals.

To stay alive, U.S. Deputy Marshal Mason Raines must forage for food, water, and gasoline while outgunning those who seek to take advantage of the apocalyptic anarchy. Together with his giant Irish wolfhound, Bowie, he aligns with survivors of the town of Boone in a life and death struggle against a gang of violent criminals. With each deadly encounter, Mason is forced to accept his place as one of the nation's few remaining lawmen. In a world now populated by escaped convicts, paranoid mutants, and government hit squads, his only hope to save the townspeople is to enforce his own brand of frontier justice.

Halfway across the country, a killer is released from prison. With hopes set on a fresh start, he rescues a young girl desperate to get home. As they travel across the wasteland that once was the United States, they must call upon every bit of strength and courage to survive not only the horrors of the new world but also a violent government agenda.

My Review:
Dr Jarvis is a psycho scientist who decides to unleash a virus to thin out the population and soon people are becoming infected and dying. At a remote holiday cabin, US Deputy Marshal Mason Raines escapes infection and is discovering bodies between him and the nearby town, and takes the time to rescue an abandoned Irish wolfhound which he names Bowie and nurses back to health. When Mason gets reports about a criminal gang taking over the town, he realises that it is up to him to deal with it.

Mason is very much a take-charge guy and he refuses to stop being a marshal just because the world has suddenly gone to hell. The idea of the town being taken over by a criminal gang does not sit easily with him and he is determined to mount a defence and take back the town so the people can start a new life as a community in the uncertain future. I liked Mason and was rooting for him and Father Patrick to hatch a plan to save the town. There were several good characters amongst the people in the town and I liked the way they were prepared to work together against the gang, despite their own limitations.

There was a lot to like in this book. The opening scenes where Mason was slowly working out what was happening and getting involved in town affairs was handled in what seemed to me to be a realistic manner. I liked the way the scene was set for battle with the criminals and found that interesting as it evolved. The big battle scene was exciting to read and well written, and yes, as usual I was worrying about the dog! WHY are these poor animals always so close to danger!!! It is bad for my nerves!

The other story that we follow is the prison escape of Mason's father Tanner, and as he heads home, he rescues a child from wreckage, unaware that Sam is being sought by rogue government agents who want to capture and use her. Tanner soon becomes aware that they are in danger and not just from the infected people who are starting to display zombie behaviour. Now every survivor must be viewed with suspicion. I liked Sam and Tanner and I did find their situation interesting to read about.

However, I wasn't greatly impressed by the other side story featuring the President. She is worrying about her husband and daughter who are missing, and this is used to manipulate her into signing executive orders which will kill many other survivors. Her decision not to get more information before taking such a drastic solution did not sit well with me and I thought she was portrayed as a weak woman pretending to be a President, and being easily manipulated by evil men around her. I didn't like her much.

The different versions of infected people were interesting. There were those who died from the infection, those infected who recovered but are still damaged by the infection, and now infected people showing zombie traits, which is making the government decide to kill all infected survivors. We know there are infected people alive in the town who helped in the battle so what is their fate going to be and will the town defend them? There are fascinating scenarios being set up for the rest of the series and I will be interested to see what happens next.

I recommend the book to readers of apocalypse and prepper fiction.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Monday, 29 August 2016

Book Review: Safari by Keith C Blackmore (Mountain Man #2)

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

Not only does he face a corpse-infested urban hell, human scavengers, and unending loneliness, but now a new mystery has risen…

The undead are disappearing from the streets.

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

And it’s preparing to hunt.

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

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

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

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

Gus never makes life easy for himself but he is fun to read about! I plan to continue on with books three and four hopefully this winter, to see what happens to him next. This book does finish on a bit of a surprise so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Book Review: Mountain Man by Keith C Blackmore (Mountain Man #1)

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

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

Contains graphic language and scenes of violence. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall I'm in two minds about whether to give it 3 or 4 stars and I keep changing my mind about it so until I reread it I will split the difference and give it 3.5.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Book Review: Neighbors by Jerry D Young


Hank Smith was a prepper. But he was a prepper with a problem. He lived on a cul-de-sac road, which was good. The bad part of it was it was on a hill. This would normally be good but in this case it put him in full view of the approach to the cul-de-sac and of most of his neighbors. The result of this was that everyone in the neighborhood saw his large garden, his solar panels, his hand well, and the other items that indicated his ability to get by without much help from anyone else. Even though his neighbors thought Hank was a little nutty, they respected his right to live the way he wanted. However, when a world war breaks out, will they respect his right to his own property?

My Review: 
Hank is a dedicated prepper, determined to be self sufficient and quietly prepare for any disaster that should come. However it is impossible on his street to keep his prepping low key and he reluctantly has to tell people what they are seeing in his garden. Hank is getting concerned that everyone is going to come running to him if disaster strikes and decides to start trying to get his neighbors to turn preppers as well.

I liked this story a lot. Hank starts out as a man who doesn't really want to interact with his neighbors but when he realises that they know he is a prepper, he doesn't want to end up looking after them during a disaster. He starts trying to lead his neighbors into preps like food storage and generators with common sense suggestions for why to do it and gradually they start thinking that it wouldn't hurt to do a bit more for themselves. As the book progresses, a community of preppers is slowly born and Hank finds himself a big part of things instead of just being out for himself. I very much liked how Hank's focus to start with was to get other people out of his hair, but he comes to look at them as friends by the time trouble starts.

The world situation is gradually getting worse and we see through Hank's eyes that a nuclear disaster is becoming a real possibility. This is a game changer for this community as they now have to look at how to survive if their country is attacked, and how to protect their small community from the unprepared people who will want to take over what they have.

The book starts its journey as the story of a man who doesn't want nosy neighbors prying into his business but soon evolves into building a prepper community where everyone works together, and I liked the way both Hank and the story developed. It was a good set of characters that you liked and they were normal people that you expect to see in any street, not a group of super skilled military people. I enjoyed seeing how the community developed.

We also get the tense build up to the disaster itself and see what happens to our characters as the nuclear attack begins. It becomes an exciting and nervous read at that point as several dangerous situations threaten the community you have come to care about.

This was a well written plot with excellent characters and I really enjoyed reading it. It is the first book I have read by the author and I am certainly going to look to read more of these apocalypse type books he has written. Recommended for fans of dystopia, apocalypse and prepper fiction.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Stacking the Shelves #146

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! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!

I started this week wondering what to do with myself now that the Olympics are finished so, on hearing that the new season of Deadliest Catch comes out on dvd in October, I figured I should watch the last two seasons that I have to get fully caught up. The current plan is that each week I will attempt to catch up on one book series and one TV series that I am behind in. Lets see how we get on with that! I need to feel as if I am getting stuff watched AND book series read at the same time as I'm lagging behind on both.

I did get a bit of reading done since the Olympics finished but not as much as I'd have liked. I've been reading some non fiction sea disaster books since I'm in a Deadliest Catch mood, and I can pass these books onto my uncle to read. Tonight though, I'm moving back onto fiction as I need to start zipping through these books at greater speed! I haven't purchased anything this week but *luckily* I haven't uploaded all my book grabs from earlier this month so I still have lots to share with you! I just hope Blogger lets me get on with it this week without messing me about like last week! I'm also getting rid of unwanted dvds to Music Magpie and other stuff to charity shops to de-clutter the house so we can get it painted.

I also purchased a back support pillow/cushion to help me read in bed and it's very comfy! It has the name 'Batwing' and it does kind of look like a winged shape to it. The only problem is I hear the Batman TV series theme in my head all the time! It is kind of driving me a bit mental but I can't help it! Na na na na na na na na BATWINGS!  


Friday, 26 August 2016

Book Review: A Kiss before the Apocalypse by Thomas E Sniegoski

Boston P.I. Remy Chandler has many talents. He can will himself invisible, he can speak and understand any foreign language (including the language of animals), and if he listens carefully, he can hear thoughts. Unusual, to say the least, for an ordinary man.

But Remy is no ordinary man; he's an angel. Generations ago, he chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth. He's found a place among us ordinary humans; friendship, a job he's good at, and love.

Now he is being drawn into a case with strong ties to his angelic past. The Angel of Death has gone missing, and Remy's former colleagues have come to him for help. But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more; a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.

Only Remy Chandler, formerly known as the angel Remiel, can stop it.

My Review: 
I admit that I bought this book before I noticed the less than enthusiastic reviews of it here on Goodreads. I'm a picky reader at the best of times and I don't like angel related stories so I was concerned that I wasn't going to like it. I surprised myself by liking it and buying the next books in the series.

Remy is an angel who renounced Heaven to live amongst humans and work as a PI, marrying a human woman called Madeline. He has two friends-his cop friend Mulvehill who knows what Remy is, and his beloved dog Marlowe, who he can communicate with. Remy is suffering as he watches Madeline slowly die in a nursing home where staff think he is a younger relative, so the last thing he needs is to hear that an apocalypse could be coming. Someone is seeking the four scrolls, which if opened, will summon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Despite his personal trauma, Remy is dragged into the battle to stop the apocalypse and has to locate and secure the scrolls before they can be used. However, there are those who do want to see the apocalypse and they don't like the fact that Remy and his friends are interfering with their plans. They are determined to stop him at all costs and it leaves Remy wondering who to turn to for help.

Israfil, the Angel of Death has decided to try living in the real world for a while, abandoning his job of taking the souls of the dead, who end up trapped on Earth and in pain. Remy cannot bear the thought of Madeline suffering this fate along with so many people and agrees to get involved. Israfil's story turns out to be quite human and I liked viewing the Angel of Death in a more sympathetic manner. I liked the story which centered around the Bible verses about the Four Horsemen. I thought the concept was interesting and a bit different from the normal urban fantasy.

It was interesting to see characters who were a bit different. It was refreshing to start the series with the cop already knowing who and what Remy is and being happy to be friends with him, treating him like a normal guy and hanging out with him. It is better than having the conflicts and refusal to believe what Remy is for half the book. So I applaud the author for skipping by all of that and having Mulvehill already accepting it all. Remy himself is a nice guy and I had complete empathy for the personal pain he was going through, as I have recently been in that situation myself. I found it harder to read this book second time round for review purposes because the story is now more personal to me. I thought the author handled this storyline well, with real emotion and understanding.

As I said, I don't like angel stories but this was different from the other angel ones I've read. In fact I think it is the first book with an angel MC that I've ever liked! Remy was an angel and has a few angel powers but he lives as a human and behaves as a human, caring more about the human population than most of his kind do. He is basically getting involved in a war between battling angels who want a different future and are willing to sacrifice humans to do it, which Remy finds unacceptable. We even have a group of them that both Heaven and Lucifer want nothing to do with, which was an interesting addition, along with the group of angel outcasts. The book certainly explores angel mythology so to speak but I actually found that and the religious themes quite fascinating as they were woven nicely with the urban fantasy story.

It is quite an emotional story as Remy struggles to deal with the coming loss of his beloved wife, enduring painful visits to the nursing home. Marlowe doesn't quite understand why Madeline can't be at home with them and doesn't get the concept of how ill she is. The scenes with Remy and Marlowe talking about missing Madeline are quite heartbreaking. Marlowe is totally adorable and sweet and I love him to bits! I wish I had a dog that I could share conversations with like that! I think dog lovers will fall in love with Marlowe from page one. I'm certainly going to enjoy seeing what is in store for Marlowe through the series. I admit that man talking to his dog was one of the reasons that I was attracted to reading the book!

This is not an all action book. The plot centres around locating the scrolls and evading the bad guys. Yes there are a couple of action scenes but a lot of the plot centres around Remy and his conflicting emotions, and the choices he makes. I feel that this helped to develop him as a character and made him easier to connect with, as did his relationships with Madeline, Marlowe and Mulvehill. I am certainly interested in where the story is going in the next book.

A few reviewers have indicated that they were not impressed by the author's writing but I honestly didn't have a problem with it. I found the plot cohesive and entertaining and I can't ask for much more than that. Have I read better urban fantasy? Yes. But I still liked this one and hope to get through the rest of the series soon.
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Book Review: Stone Age by ML Banner

Our Earth is fighting a daily battle, shielding us and our life-giving technology from the electromagnetic ravages of the sun. Every 100 years or so, we are hit by an epic solar storm which could devastate our world’s electrical-based society were it to strike today.

It happened last in 1859, when we had little technology… over 150 years ago. We are past due!

A vacationing family is separated;
A friend readies them for a catastrophe;
A young love blossoms;
A prophet's fame rises;
A prepper waits for the violence to come;

All are unprepared for the apocalypse about to strike the Earth, one so great and unprecedented, it will bring humanity into a new Stone Age.

My Review:
I've given this book three stars but I'm still not really sure if I actually liked it or not. I really liked bits of it but other parts of the book I really disliked.

Lets start with what I liked. I liked Max the prepper, who has his home on a Mexican beach, but is fully prepared for the disasters he believes are coming. His neighbours are Lisa and Bill, who are in their Mexican holiday home with daughter Sally on vacation and Max is ready to look after them when trouble hits. The other kids Darla and Danny are stuck in Chicago after missing their flight to join the others in Mexico. Another prepper called Wilbur lives on a rural ranch and he is about to get an unexpected visit from Steve and his dad. I liked these people and Darla's grandparents so I was certainly interested in what is going to happen to them during the disaster.

But the problem with this book is that there are other story threads running through it that I just don't like or don't get. Steve and his dad are trying to solve an online computer puzzle which gives us a whole chapter full of hacking, algorithms, prime numbers, open source programs, cryptology and digital steganography and so on that I didn't understand a word of, cared little for, and was bored to tears by> I nearly quit the book at that point. They are on somwe kind of quests which will lead them to some kind of secret society or something and this plotline bored me. I also don't get what is going on with Gord. It is not clear who he is, what he is doing or when his story is set in relation to the others we are following. That part was just plain weird.

What I really want to do is just follow the groups of people I like through the solar flare disaster story but it just gets over-complicated by too many other things going on. We get a full back story on Max and his drug cartel contacts but I can't keep track of who is in what drug gang and who hates who or who Max does favours for. The whole 'what is Cicada' side story is also confusing and it isn't helped by the jumping POV and timeline, leaving you unsure at times what is going on.

There are some good elements and good writing in this book but it feels like the author wasn't sure exactly what genre it was to be and kept adding other random stuff he found interesting. It makes the plot too cluttered and confusing. As much as I'd like to know what happens to Max and the others, I don't really want to read about the other things, so I won't be continuing with the series.

2.5 stars 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child by JK Rowling/John Tiffany/Jack Thorne

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Review: 
I feel as if I've waited so long for this book that I didn't want to read it when I got it in case I was disappointed! I know it sounds dumb and it took five days to pick it up and read it. Now as it is the script for a play, it is set out that way so there are no sweeping descriptions like in the Harry Potter books just a line or two about the changing scenes. It did take me a bit of time to get used to reading that style but once I got into the story I didn't really notice it that much.

I admit that in the first few 'chapters' I wasn't sure if I was going to like the story but once the quest began, I was totally swept up in it. It reminded me of the end of the film version of the Prisoner of Azkaban but more detailed and complex, yet I found it pretty easy to follow. A few people have said that they found the plot confusing but I had no problem with it at all. Once the story hits full pace it just steams along like a rollercoaster ride with non stop action and interest and I couldn't devour it quickly enough. I liked the idea of the quest and what happened in the aftermath.

OK this is the paragraph where I set out what the plot actually is-there are no big spoilers, just a general overview of what the story centres around. Harry Potter is struggling with his workload at the Ministry and his dissolving relationship with son Albus, who seems to resent having the famous Harry Potter for a dad. Albus himself feels useless as he doesn't measure up in any way and has only one real friend-Scorpius Malfoy. When Amos Diggory begs Harry to use the last remaining time turner to go back and save his son, Albus decides that he and his best friend will use it to save Cedric and right a wrong he blames his father for. When I realised that this was the plot I was so intrigued and the plot does centre around The Triwizard Tournament in book four. We get to see extended scenes from this time as the boys decide to stop Cedric winning to save him from Voldemort. There is a lot more happening than just that of course, as meddling with time has consequences the boys are unaware of.

Ok I think that is enough of the plot without telling you everything that happens! Lets switch back to the characters. There are high expectations on Albus to be like his father but he just can't seem to measure up. He and Scorpius are more like Neville Longbottom than their parents! Albus resents being a Potter and feels sorry for Amos, and is determined to make things better for him by saving Cedric. It is a lovely idea in theory but of course, the boys have no idea what they are actually doing so chaos is about to follow! I loved Scorpius Malfoy! He is such a sweet and kind boy, smart and funny, and totally dedicated to his best friend despite all that he is suffering personally. I see their friendship as a bromance and not as a gay relationship as other reviewers portray it. Boys should be able to hug their friends without being labelled in any way.

I've seen reviews that question why Harry is such a 'bad' parent to Albus and that it isn't true to his character from the books. Actually, I liked the portrayal. Harry never had a father to be there for him so it seems logical that when things get difficult, he struggles. His son James seems very like him and is easier to understand but Albus is totally different and Harry is unsure how to relate to him. I also liked that Harry was struggling to keep on top of his paperwork at work. When you remember back to his homework struggles, this seems to fit perfectly. Draco Malfoy is also struggling to throw off the stigma of death eater, and the slurs cast against his son, and I found him to be a very sympathetic character. Ron and Hermione are just the same as they always were! We see a few other favourite characters too which is great but you'll find out who they are as you go along.

There is one issue I had with the plot which I just did not take to and I was surprised that JK Rowling approved it. Gah I can't talk about it without spoilers though! Lets just say I did not believe it would ever have happened and if you've read the book you'll know what I'm referring to. Please do NOT talk about this openly in the comments section and ruin it for those who haven't read it! I just put aside my own opinion on this thing and enjoyed the rest of the story and I found it didn't greatly affect my overall opinion. For other readers, I suspect it may be a dealbreaker and I fully understand that.

My overall opinion of the book is that I enjoyed it so much! It was GREAT to see the characters again and I loved the idea of the boys quest and everything that occured on it. There were things to laugh at, exciting scenes, plot twists and a few bittersweet moments. This was always going to be compared to the JK Rowling books and it is hard to compare a screenplay fairly to that amazing series. My view is that the play writers did a pretty good job overall and delivered an exciting Harry Potterverse adventure. I will certainly reread it many times and enjoy it again. It has made me hope for more plays or stories in the future. Now my brain is thinking how great a film this could have been if circumstances were different or if it had been filmed last year. I know that sounds a bit cryptic but some of you might understand what I mean. And yes, I am going to buy the final screenplay copy when it is released to see what was changed. I just have to know!!!

I do recommend it for Harry Potter fans. Give it a try and make up your own mind about it. 
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Shafted by Clifford James: Beware the Online Purchases!

No it isn't a review for a porn book, it is a customer complaint issue! I purchased two support cushions from Clifford James from Amazon as my dad and I both have issues with our backs and I thought these would be good. I paid £37 for the pair.

Clifford James took the money, 'dispatched' them AND gave me a delivery date. And suddenly today I get a message cancelling the order and saying the items are permanantly unavailable. WT actual F???? I was told the bloody things were dispatched when they had never actually existed? What numbnut company advertises products they don't have and LIE to customers that the package has been dispatched when there is no physical way on this earth that it could have been dispatched? And they are sorry??? Well that's big of them!!! What a shoddy customer service!

Now I ask myself what else they are selling to customers online that doesn't exist! I'd say do yourself a favour and don't bother ordering from this crowd online as you'll probably get the run around and get no product to show for it.

Thankfully as I ordered through Amazon, my money is safe and has been refunded but that's not the point. Now I have to waste more time looking for an alternative product and I'm in a foul mood today. Hurrah! Bloody muppets. I am Angry and Sad Chuckles today and I'm now itching to buy some dvds or books to cheer myself up...


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review: Voodoo Plague by Dirk Patton (Voodoo Plague #1)

John Chase has just arrived in Atlanta on a business trip when America experiences the worst attacks in history. Nuclear bombs destroy cities and the widespread release of nerve gas sends the majority of the surviving population into a murderous rage. Rescuing a woman who survived the attacks he must lead her to safety as Atlanta burns, raging infected roam unchecked and society disintegrates into savagery.

My Review: 
John Chase is ex-military and is in Atlanta on business when nuclear bombs start to fall in cities, and releasing nerve gas. He knows he needs to find a way back to his wife in Phoenix along with two rescued companions-Rachel, a student and part-time stripper, and Dog the abandoned German Shepherd. There are going to be big problems ahead of them-armed guys, psycho rednecks and of course to make things more difficult, the local population are turning into crazed zombies. Will they make it to Arizona alive and unbitten?

This book really did have everything I love about zombie books. It was fast paced and the action scenes never let up. There is lots of zombie mayhem with slow moving males and fast moving females. We have two great MCs in John and Rachel who work well as a team and you care what happens to both of them from the moment you meet them. There is a gorgeous dog who features heavily in the plot, though I worry about the poor furry guy on every single page! There are tense survival scenes, all out guns blazing attacks, rescues and running away and great writing to tie it all together. It is certainly one of the best opening books in a series that I've read.

John is very much of the attitude of never leaving anyone behind so when his companions are in trouble, he is willing to do whatever it takes to rescue or protect them. He is also determined to get home to his wife to see if she is safe. John is the guy you want as your hero in the zombie apocalypse. He is capable but not perfect and he makes mistakes that will have you yelling at the book. I liked him very much because he is a proper good guy. I also liked Rachel as she was tough in her own way and has to deal with some bad crap on the trip. She is feisty and determined and I was so pleased to see a book where the male and female MCs don't feel the need to jump into bed. They are friends and a team. I do hope it stays that way at least until we hear about John's wife at some point in the future.

I love Dog and wanted to adopt him and keep him safe. He is loyal and brave, and is a great addition to the book. Now I know that a lot of you are going to be thinking 'does Dog survive?' I know that because I've already been asked! (yes Barb, I'm talking about you! *grins*) I understand your fears as I panic over the dog more than the human in these survival stories. I know a lot of you can't bear not knowing the outcome for the furry companion and need to know more about it before getting engaged in the book. So to let you decide whether or not you want to read the book I will insert a hidden spoiler to tell you if Dog lives or dies. If you are reading the review on my blog you need to view the hidden spoiler on my Goodreads review!

My favourite scenes? There are so many. It is a road trip where they travel by different methods so the action is always evolving. I think my favourite sequence was from the car breaking down near the zombie herd and fleeing towards the lake along with the rescues to follow. There was angst, tension and fear...and that was just me! I was really on the edge of my seat reading this book and I barely put it down until it was finished. That says a lot about the storytelling ability and skill of the author. I was fully engaged in the plot and I loved the characters.

Am I planning to read on in the series? Oh yes! I have purchased the rest of the books so far and plan to reread this book and then binge on the rest of them. I am very much looking forward to whatever is going to happen next. I recommend this to fans of fast paced zombie and apocalypse fiction.

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Book Review: Thicker Than Blood by Claire C Riley/Madeline Sheehan

Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything…Even an apocalypse.

Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves face-to-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize.

Traveling across a broken and infection-ridden country; the road-weary group are pitted against endless violence, improbable circumstances, and the ultimate loss. Everything comes at a price—especially safety, the cost of which could very well strip them of the one thing they’ve tried so hard to cling to: their humanity. Yet along with all the trials they’re forced to endure, there’s also hope in the form of love. Having loved Leisel from afar, Alex attempts to put the pieces of her fractured heart back together. But in such a savage world, is there room for love?

In a place of nightmares-made-reality, where the living should be feared far more than the dead, an unbreakable friendship and a love amongst all odds can mean the difference between life and death.

There are friends…

My Review: 
I have seen a lot of very highly rated reviews for this book and with the zombie factor I was really keen to read it. Sadly, I just didn't like it at all and could not finish the book.

It is set in a grim dystopian future where the zombie apocalypse has occured and survivors seek safety inside walled and protected sanctuaries. But for the women, safety comes at a price. Leisel is forced to marry the compound leader and is raped and beaten on a daily basis. One day she snaps and kills him, and knows if she cannot escape her cell and the compound, she will be put to death. Her best friend Evelyn was also forced to marry a high ranking man and she turns to her secret lover Jami to get help for Leisel. Also wanting to help is Alex, who has secretly loved Leisel and wants a new life for them outside. I liked the idea of this grim world where escaping to be amongst zombies is a better life than being protected by evil men.

I found the start of the book interesting as they try to escape from the compound and I liked the two men Alex and Jami the best. Anyone who has read the book will now know why I wasn't happy with some of the plot choices. I'm not putting spoilers in here but I might say more when I post it on my blog. Some of the situations they find themselves in were interesting and some I disliked but I would have finished the book and set aside minor plot gripes if I had liked the characters.

The friendship with Leisel and Evelyn is what the whole story is built around and I did find it a bit annoying that we are reminded of how great this friendship is on every second page. At times I felt as if I was being hit over the head with it. It did get a bit repetitive with that. To be honest I didn't see it as a great friendship. Leisel is weak, no doubt because of her ordeal, and lets Evelyn dictate to her and at times I just wished she would grow a spine. Evelyn gets angry and jealous when Alex gets close to Leisel and the spiteful bitch does everything she can to spoil this blooming relationship, to keep Leisel's friendship all to herself. The lengths she goes to are pretty shocking and I hated that whole part of the book. It is also where I abandoned it.

Evelyn is someone I hated and despised. It seems she is allowed to have relationships or casual sex with whoever she wants but Leisel is not allowed to grasp some happiness with Alex. Oh no that isn't allowed at all. Leisel must care only about Evelyn or be punished for it. How is Evelyn better than the men who held them captive? Her friendship with Leisel is obsessive and manipulative and is not healthy in any way. I was also expecting it to turn sexual at any moment. However it was the obsessive side of it that bothered me. Evelyn had no interest in Leisel being happy so I don't regard her as much of a friend.

The zombies are more of a background feature in this book so if you are expecting a fast paced zombie novel then you might be disappointed. This book focuses on personal relationships and the evil things that people do during the apocalypse. It is well enough written but too slow for my personal tastes along with the other issues I've mentioned.

Not my thing I'm afraid.
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Book Review: Z1N1 by Mitchell Layne Cook

So, what's really going to happen on the winter solstice of December 21, 2012? Zombies are going to destroy the world. That little nugget of wisdom should not surprise anyone. One can never fully discount the apocalyptic emergence of an undead pandemic. How did this happen?

Governments rush to vaccinate their citizens against an exceptionally virulent form of the H1N1 virus. However, certain celestial events cause the sun to release enormous amounts of solar flares and radiation starting on this fateful day. In the span of a few months after the winter solstice, thousands upon thousands of individuals treated with an inadequately tested vaccine become increasingly ill and eventually die. 

My Review: 
Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot resist grabbing zombie books, even if the book itself has had mixed reviews. I like to try things for myself and make up my own mind. After trying this one, I found myself agreeing with the negative reviews I'd previously read.

I found it slow, a bit silly in places and lacking in cohesion. We start with a group of survivors which include a military vet and his sniper sister, yet the group of them cannot deal with ten zombies or manage to shoot them either in the head or disable them to finish off later. A military vet and a sniper can't kill ten shambling zombies? Right.

We then jump back to the end of 2011 and follow the long and dull story of a group of lab workers who are working with new flu viruses. We follow their work through the whole of 2012, focusing on how the world did not end as predicted, and we follow them into another year. It seems there is an agreement that countries can sign up to in order to have vaccines sent out to them should an outbreak occur but corrupt employees are stockpiling some of the virus vaccine to sell to countries not covered by the agreement. This is all about corrupt officials stealing from stockpiles to make money for themselves and we don't even see another zombie until March 2013!!! So that was 30% of the book read before we see the slow start of a zombie outbreak! Even then it is focused on the bad guys trying to cover up the fact that their stupid vaccine is causing the zombie side effects and trying to make sure that nobody survives to tell about it!

Ugh. I like my zombie books to be focused on the zombies and the survivors. This was so far removed from a traditional zombie book that it frankly bored me senseless. I didn't like the characters, I wasn't interested in following the story of how corrupt officials covered their tracks and who they did business with. I just wanted the zombie outbreak and by the time we actually got to it I was no longer interested in reading it. It is all conspiracy and no zombie!

I didn't finish it and if you like fast paced zombie action, you should probably give it a miss.  
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Monday, 22 August 2016

Chuckles Goes Olympic Final Round Up

So here it is, my last medal update for the Olympics and the last few days have seen us secure more medals and second place in the medal table ahead of China! 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze, which beats our tally from London 2012. Brilliant performance from the Brits! There are a few rising stars to watch out for in the coming years. 

Gold for the amazing Mo Farah! Every time he came under pressure in the race, he dug in and found more to hold off the others. You could see how much Mo wanted that win! The guy is amazing to watch! Loved the cheeky moment on the podium when he produces the other gold from his pocket to wear!

Also retaining her Olympic title in boxing was Nicola Adams! Not only is she a superb athlete, that infectious grin of hers is very endearing!

Gold in the canoe sprint for the brilliant Liam Heath!

Another silver in the boxing for Joe Joyce!

Bronze for the womens sprint relay team!

Bronze for Vicky Holland in the triathlon! What a great performance!

And Bronze for Bianca Walkden in taekwondo! Great things are ahead for her I think!

There will be a few more Olympic posts in the next week or so looking at the highlights, low points and updating the drug issues surrounding the games. Look out for those! But for now, Chuckles has done her Olympics and needs a good sleep!!!

Sunday, 21 August 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.

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I last did a reading post which shows you the kind of trough I've been going through with the insomnia and then the Olympics getting in the way of quality reading time. These are the books I've read since my last Reading With Chuckles at the end of July. I hope to get back on full schedule tonight and do my final Olympic post tomorrow!


JK Rowling etc-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

CL Swinney-Robert Black 

Scott Campbell Jr-Giving the Finger 

Josh & Jake Harris-Captain Phil Harris 

Sig Hansen-Deadliest Waters 

I also read a few more Berenstain Bears books in between events but I'm not listing them all here. These can be seen on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Speaking of which I am 5 books away from hitting my 200 book target! Yea! I hope to fit in a lot more before the end of the year!

How are you guys doing on your reading challenges? Read anything good recently? 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Stacking the Shelves #145

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! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!

Another mad week of watching the Olympics. I've been so nervous that I've felt sick watching some of them. Sport is meant to be fun to watch but I'm getting very stressed with it all! I still have a few nervous moments ahead as we reach the end of the competition. I only hope more of these drug cheats get stripped of their medals and banned for life. I hate seeing convicted drug cheats back in to take medals from clean athletes. Grrr. Anyway, I have also enjoyed the scenery. What a pity about the crime rate there or I'd love to visit!

On the book side of things I have got limited reading done but better than I expected this week. I hope things will be back to normal come tomorrow night! I haven't been on the computer much so I haven't picked up many new books but I still have some I haven't uploaded from 2 weeks ago so these are featuring today. I intended putting more up but blogger is being totally unresponsive and I'm getting pissed with it messing up graphics, deleting the book covers and putting gaps where they were not required-so I'm quitting for the day!